Vanessa Daniels, Malika Redmond, Kim Tran, Kathleen Cruz Gutierrez, Darren Arquero

Building a Transformational Women's Movement: Feminism at Crossroads

By: John Paraskevopoulos

The Transformational Feminism panel opened with a discussion of what feminism means to each of the speakers. Kim Tran, a doctoral candidate in the UC Berkeley Department of Ethnic Studies and Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies, said that feminism entails emancipation from all forms of oppression, a point agreed upon by all speakers. Vanessa Daniels of the Groundswell Fund added that it means creating a world in which everyone can be his or her whole self, such that we can be a whole society.

Women cannot be whole people until they are free and equal in every regard, and men cannot be whole until they replace patriarchy with feminist consciousness (in the same way, she added, that white people cannot be whole until they replace white supremacy with racial justice.) Within this rubric, however, there has been fracture, including the parallel feminisms of women of color and white liberal feminism. Moreover, Tran said that while many people agree with the project of ending all forms of oppression, the majority of these people don’t feel that this is a Feminist project, or identify as Feminists otherwise. This poses an obstacle for those working to build a transformational Feminism, as they must raise awareness about its goals and relevance to the lives of many people around the world.

 Malika Redmond of Women Engaged stressed that however new our present-day struggles may feel, they are part of a much longer historical struggle. On that note, Tran added that we must address the issue of intergenerational violence among men and women and especially among colonized and formerly colonized people because of how deeply such forms of structural violence run and are perpetuated. With regards to structural violence, Kat Gutierrez of UC Berkeley discussed the pervasive complicity of academia surrounding issues of sexual violence on college campuses.

 Gutierrez offered deeper insights into what transformational feminism means, arguing that the movement’s future cannot be seen as simply a reversal of the white male power hierarchy, and that representational politics must be avoided. She shared the story of a white dairy farmer from Fresno County who mortgaged his farm and equipment in 1972 in order to pay Angela Davis’ $100,000 bail—an example of what a transformed society might look like: one in which white men with resources are willing to put everything they own at risk for women of color. This was connected to the larger idea that a transformed and progressive world must be willing to inclusively share its power and resources.

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