Women activists in the UK discuss anarchism, feminism and the relationship between the personal and the political in extracts from interviews carried out by myself and Lynn Alderson in 1977. The whereabouts of the original tapes, or longer transcripts, is unknown, though we still have hopes of recovering them. For now, these partial transcripts are all there is. See Anarchism and Feminism: Voices from the Seventies for the other interviews and further information.
Note on Text: In line with the original intention that the interviewees would remain anonymous, I have given them pseudonyms, and made one or two minor alterations. Editorial amendments are indicated with square brackets [1977 edits] or square brackets and italics [2014 edits]. Ellipses appear in the original transcriptions, indicating cuts. In a couple of instances I have made additional small cuts, indicated with […], to remove repetition or obscurity.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Key Words: anarchism, anarchafeminism, feminism, gender, politics, women’s liberation, 1970s
Revolution without fun was pointless.
[Left student politics] was so joyless, and I was beginning to get into ideas that revolution without fun was pointless … at the same time I was beginning to realise how important my personal life was to my politics, and that all seemed to be lacking in what I heard from the socialists … I started an affair with a woman and think that the first four hours were the biggest political revelation of my life. I’d known about the women’s movement … it all immediately fell into place, like a jigsaw … It was the personal is the political connection that I hadn’t been making. The whole thing that I was an individual, and my personal experience stopped being a separate thing from the ‘class struggle’. …
[Monogamy] serves to deny the autonomy and ultimate aloneness of an individual … it’s not that I feel it’s evil, but the pattern relates very much to competitive oppressive power structures in society … [It’s] closely related to the way men oppress women in society, it implies possession and the rights of one person over another.
Racism … all these things [are] linked with personal power of one over another, with competition and structures and elitism … what I really feel now is that seeing those links is the most important aspects of political thought … attempting to get some consistency, but not feeling that consistency is the be-all and end-all. …
Recognising that women as a group are oppressed by men as a group: in looking for the reasons for that … it’s become necessary to examine not just the fact of their oppression, but the connection with the structures used to oppress women, and one of the major components of that structure is the mass line and group identity — having common ideas about women as a group. To fight that has meant grabbing hold of individuality, and insisting on it as a good thing, and turning the male idea on its head.
There’s a difference between individualism in a co-operative society and hierarchical, capitalistic individualism. If you’re going to be individualistic here and now, it is always reacting away from, and being eccentric, but in a co-operative society your individuality is part of group organisation. …
[Working politically with?] [men]: No.