In October 2014, while we were at the Anarchafeminist Conference in London, we visited Feminist Fightback during one of there meetings at the Common House. A lot of interesting things take place there. In the same building, you can e.g. find London’s Plan C. So we took one of their bamn magazines, in which Tanya Serisier’s article ‘Is Consent Sexy?’ was published, with us.
German (queer)feminism often combines the fight against sexual violence with the ideal of ‘consensual’ sex. We even have a banner that says ‘We love consent’ 😉 Apparently, this is the case in English-speaking contexts, as well and those debates also have an impact on ours. Serisier criticises ‘the’ concept of ‘consent’ from a feminist point of view.
Reading her article, our wish to ‘import’ such debates (this also applies to articles about safer spaces,…) grew. Perhaps this can help to stop German debates from going round in circles or getting stuck in the same discussions over and over again – which is why we translated Serisier’s article.
Translating texts is, however, quite a lot of work and often one of the first things to be left undone, when there’s a lot going on (just have a look at the things that have been going on in Dresden over the last months…). This article took us half a year. If you speak German and English (or any other languages) and are keen on helping us with translations, let us know. Anyway, here‘s the German translation and this is the English original:
Is Consent Sexy? (Tanya Serisier)
‘Consent is sexy. Sex without consent is rape.’ This slogan comes from a US-based campaign (consentissexy.org) targeted at university students and aimed at promoting a ‘culture of consent’ on university campuses. But the slogan could easily come from any number of campaigns aimed at reducing sexual violence and changing sexual behaviour. The political logic of this campaign is so commonplace in countries such as the US and the UK that it is essentially a form of ‘common sense knowledge’ or even a hegemonic truth, broadly shared across the political spectrum. This logic is, mainly speaking, that rape – defined as sexual activities that one of the parties does not consent to -is a terrible thing and should not occur. Therefore, what we need to do is promote, socially and culturally, sex that is the opposite of this illegal, harmful and unethical sex. Following from legal definitions of non-consent, consent becomes the primary criterion for judging good, ethical and even ‘sexy’ sex.
Reply from Feminist Fightback London: After we had wished them a successful action on May 19th, this answer fluttered into our letterbox:
We were very happy to receive your letter in solidarity with our action. The pro-choice action in Stratford, London against “Helpers of God’s Precious Infants” on Sat 9th of May 2015 was vibrant and loud. Feminist protestors –both from Feminist Fightback and other allies that came for the action- blocked the anti-choice religious group as they tried to march from a church to the abortion clinic. The action took place outside the church –with the intention of not interfering nearby the abortion clinic- and attracted passer-bys who stopped and engaged with us. The group ranged from women to children to male allies around colourful handcrafted banners. We made noise with pots and pans, whistles and the stereo that was playing punk songs as well as feminist classics. There was a brilliant moment where we sang along to Aretha Franklin’s Respect, summed up why we were there: RESPECT women’s choices! The feminist presence managed to delay the anti-choice group for over two hours until we were pushed back by the police (who escorted the procession), though the anti-choice demonstration only had ten minutes in front of the clinic. A great achievement!
We would also wish to express our solidarity with your action on the 1st of June in Annaberg-Buchholz in Germany. It is great to make connections with and be inspired by comrades working on similar issues elsewhere. Attempts by religious groups to make regressive demands in terms of reproductive rights and harassing women against making choices regarding their own bodies, are merely the last desperate acts of a dilapidated dogma. We will continue to engage in action to stand against fundamentalist religious attempts to control and dictate women’s lives. We very much appreciate engaging in on-going conversations with comrades around the world on this issue!
We look forward to hearing about your experience and in combining efforts to overcome the challenges to our reproductive rights!
Information to the protest will be found here.
The fight concerning repoductive rights is an international one. Even so the situation is mostly different in each country it is possible to find similarities. One example is the Pro Choice – Action against a religious, right wing demonstration on May 9th in London.
The group Feminist Fightback organizes a counter action.
Here is their announcement.
A religious anti-abortion group are planning a procession from a church in east London to a nearby abortion clinic. We can’t let this go unchallenged – they might have a right to express their opinion, but they don’t have a god-given right to stand outside a clinic, peddle lies and intimidate and harass people. As well as making sure people can access the clinic safely, we want to do a lively action that makes a stand against the religious right-wing and their anti-women views that are dressed up as concern and counselling.
More details to follow but pls save the time and date! The location is near a tube station in East London.
There will be a banner and placard making session on Tuesday 28th April at the Common House 7-9pm. We can use the riso printer to print off your own ‘pro-choice’ designs. We will also discuss plans of action for the day.
Spread the news to all your networks!
Abortion is not just a ‘women’s’ issue. And not just about a woman’s individual ‘right’ or ‘choice’**, which is hard to come by in a capitalist system, especially for black and working class women who always bear the brunt of such policies – either by not being able to access abortions if they want one, or being forced to have one because the state doesn’t want them to reproduce, or having to have one because they can’t afford to have a baby. As communists/anarchists/socialists of various types, we should all recognise the importance of reproductive justice, linked as it is to capitalist production and control over working class bodies. We all have an interest in defending ourselves against the state and religious powers.
Abortion is a class issue! All genders welcome!