What does feminism mean to you in 2019?

Bootcamp graduate and Sisters Uncut organiser Angelica explores what it means to be a feminist in 2019.

This is a cross-post from actbuildchange.com by Bootcamp Graduate, Nonhlanhla Makuyana. See the original post here.

Angelica is a London based activist, she organises with Sisters Uncut, in prison abolition campaigns and black feminist organising. In this blog post, we’ll hear about what feminism means to Angelica…

What does feminism mean to you?
To me, feminism is a movement to dismantle patriarchy and all unjust systems of oppression which is very important to me. Feminism is key to how I understand and define the world around me, particularly how gender is important in understanding how power works. Also because of feminist thinkers and activists such as Audre Lorde and Angela Davis, feminism to me is an understanding of how different forms of oppression are connected to one another and reinforce each other. Feminism forms an essential part of all anti-oppression movements. It forms a part of most campaigns, which may not be explicitly feminist. Feminism is central to dismantling oppression and therefore should not be a separate movement from anti-racist and anti-capitalist struggles such as fights against austerity and cuts which have been shown to hurt women the hardest. Moreover, because of this feminism to me is also about global solidarity with women in the global south to dismantle patriarchy in all its different forms.

Tell us about the feminist campaigns you’re involved in?
I’m part of Sisters Uncut, we are a feminist direct action group fighting against domestic violence, something women and non-binary people face at a disproportionately higher rate. We take direct action to campaign against cuts to domestic services and public services as a whole because women are hit hardest by regressive fiscal policy such as austerity. That’s because women are more likely to rely on state support, more likely to care and do domestic work.

A campaign we launched that I was really glad to be involved in was the Reclaim Holloway campaign in 2016. We occupied Holloway Prison in London, reclaiming the closed down prison site to protest prison and detention, which we were organising around at the time due to the government closing down an old prison with a view in investing in prison development to build super prisons.

For the occupation, we made the prison site a community centre holding workshops, talks and classes to the community of Holloway. We occupied the space for the women who’d lived there such as Sarah Reed who had died in custody, to say that these women deserve these services that the government was/is violently cutting. We also occupied the Holloway Prison to reclaim the site to say it belongs to the community rather than property developers who’d turn it into luxury flats. We reclaimed the space for a week and turned it into a community centre, creating a vision for Holloway.

What are you hopeful for in the future of feminist liberation?
I’m hoping we become more connected, that all of us who want to overthrow patriarchy and all kinds of oppressive systems that lead towards violence and girls come together. I hope we show genuine solidarity towards each other and our trans sisters. I hope we learn from each other, listen to each and we build up our collective power.

How can we show up as feminists and show each other genuine solidarity?
Solidarity is putting your words into action, as I think sometimes it’s easy for us to speak about solidarity without actually doing it. This could look like taking direction with groups to calling out patriarchy when you see it in your own circles, but to me, the most important way of showing solidarity is taking accountability to when you’re feminism is exclusionary and upholding those structures of oppression that feminism tries to dismantle. This is most evident in campaigns that call themselves intersectional yet excluding and being harmful towards trans women, women of colour, disabled women and working-class women. Intersectionality looks like a genuine lifelong commitment to tackling our own privilege in order to show up for our sisters.

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