Dear RAG followers,
We are overjoyed to announce that after three long years, the newest edition of The Rag is complete! It was touch and go, and there were a few late nights put in, but everyone rallied together and Rag #6 was born! There are so many great articles in this issue, it would be difficult to only name a few. If you're in London, you can find it for sale in The Feminist Library and Housman's Bookshop. If you're in Ireland, we will be distributing the magazine after our launch, which we are planning in a few weeks time (more on that later!).
RAG members Leticia and Angela (the person writing this blog entry) headed over to London from Dublin on the "Sail and Rail," a journey enjoyable to some but grueling to others, especially when weighed down with piles of heavy magazines!
But the trip was worth it on Saturday, when folks began to approach our stall to get their hands on the newest edition of The Rag. It was so wonderful to not have to disappoint people looking for the next issue, and to say, "Here it is! The issue you've been waiting for!" And to show that interest in anarcha-feminism is far from waning, we sold a few hefty stacks of back issues as well.
AK press kindly asked RAG to participate in their anarcha-feminist panel discussion: Unreasonable Demands. The description read, "Gender hierarchy is entrenched in our society – and, unfortunately, is frequently reproduced within anarchist movements, even as we oppose other kinds of hierarchies. Meanwhile, as 'mainstream' feminism becomes increasingly accepted and co-opted by liberals and neoliberal bootstrappers alike, anarchist feminists often find ourselves sidelined." Also on the panel was Zoe Stavri, author of the Another Angry Woman blog. Though I was there on behalf of RAG, I actually spoke about the Abortion Rights Campaign, which I've been heavily involved in, and the challenges faced in creating the campaign goals and strategy. I talked about how the Abortion Rights Campaign settled on "Free, Safe, & Legal" as their ultimate goal, although it's considered an "unreasonable demand," even amongst pro-choice advocates.
The packed room listened with great attention, and several people asked questions about the campaign and the history around how Ireland became an "abortion-free" country. Overall, people were curious about the specific strategies needed to make abortion available in Ireland beyond the very restrictive and punitive new legislation. I explained that abortion cannot be legal without appealing the 8th amendment. And to do that, we need a referendum. I was very surprised that many people in the audience did not know what the 8th amendment to the Irish Constitution was, though, admittedly I shouldn't have been, as many people living in Ireland don't know either.
Anarchism is obviously about smashing the state, so I think some people were frustrated in the fact that we are working within the existing political structures. One woman even suggested we get to the streets with our guns! But that wouldn't change the fact that we still need a referendum. We need to repeal the 8th amendment while we're waiting for the Revolution!
People also wanted to know about existing networks in Ireland that support women going through crisis pregnancies, both during and after their terminations. I mentioned the UK organisation Abortion Support Network (ASN), which helps find accommodation and funding for women in Ireland traveling to the UK for abortions. However, as for Irish support, I was at a loss. This question would come up again later in another panel discussion, and it begs discussion.
Another question which has haunted me ever since came from a person wanting to know what people in the UK can do to support us in Ireland in our campaign for free, safe, and legal abortion. I responded that they could spread the word and help us educate people in the situation in Ireland, support ASN of course, and I should have probably stressed more that people can also donate to and follow the Abortion Rights Campaign on facebook, Twitter, and by signing up to receive their electronic newsletter. But I return to this question because there must be more that our throngs of supporters all around the world can do. Hopefully the campaign can have a think about it and come up with a more comprehensive list of actions.
The bulk of the discussion, however definitely went to Zoe, who spoke compellingly about how we should "kill all men." I couldn't possibly sum it up, but let's just say it was entertaining, and many of the attendees described it as "refreshing."
Many thanks go to RAG friend Criostoir, who manned the stall for us when both Leticia and I were participating in the Bookfair. And to Andrew, Aileen, and Farah from the WSM who arranged for us to share their table.
The second panel I took part in was organised by the WSM, was "about the hidden, yet central role of anarchists in the pro-choice campaign" and "the importance of international solidarity with the abortion rights struggle." To that end, I described the non-hierarchical structure created by the Abortion Rights Campaign and the five working groups, as well as how decisions and strategy are made. Farah spoke about the article she wrote for the most recent Irish Anarchist Review about intersectionality in the pro-choice movement, which led to an interesting discussion.
We left the Bookfair empty handed, having unloaded all of our Rag #6 issues that we lugged over! Hooray! Thanks to everyone who chatted with us, bought magazines, asked questions at the panels, and who were generally awesome. And thanks to the organisers, who made sure everything ran smoothly.
STAY TUNED FOR MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE DUBLIN RAG LAUNCH PARTY! It will definitely be a fun time. WOO HOO! PARTY!