The WoCo Leadership Committee had a really heated meeting last Thursday, during which we discussed our burgeoning leadership structure - what it is, where it's headed, and our vision(s) for what it should become. It got me thinkin' about what (radical) feminist leadership/organizing means, and I want to know how other people feel as well.
I want to share my thoughts to start things off, but I understand that they're equitable to one tiny amoeba in a whole ocean of ideas. I'm excited to get feedback and hear your challenges - whether it's in person or in the comments section. That said -
For me, truly collective, visionary, feminist leadership is necessarily non-hierarchical and transparent. When we organize ourselves hierarchically (even without meaning to), with unequal distributions of power and little discussion about what that means, we're simply mimicking the very patriarchal, capitalistic systems of organization that we purport to resist. I think that it is truly disingenuous and conflictual to claim radical feminist ethics and a grassroots approach and yet organize ourselves in the same bullshit bureaucratic way as the rest of the world. In fact, I think forming that way would ultimately make our larger goals impossible.
That doesn't mean that I think some people shouldn't have definitive positions, or that I'm delusional enough to believe that the power will be distributed evenly at all times. Instead, I think that we should make a conscious, consistent effort to spread the power as equitably as possible, which ultimately means realizing when we're doing (or simply receiving) too much, and when we're doing (or receiving) too little. We need to brave enough to both step up and step back (the latter is particularly difficult for me). This sort of horizontal organization is crucial because it's the only way each individual's talents and contributions can be realized, and it's the only way we can prevent a stagnant, traditionally bureaucratic organization from forming.
I don't think this is an easy task. It takes a group of truly committed, passionate, largely selfless people to achieve something like this. It also requires that each person is open to fair criticism - including personal criticism. We need to think critically about ourselves and our roles and constantly reevaluate our motivations. We also need to think carefully - and compassionately! - about our fellow organizers, and be brave enough to approach each other with legitimate concerns.
Here's a link to an excellent essay on anti-authoritarian organizing. I read it my freshman year of college and it really informed how I think and feel about leadership structure. Near the beginning of the essay, the author posits two questions I hope we're all working to answer:
How can leadership development help us build mass-based, multiracial, anti-racist, feminist, anti-capitalist movements with visible leadership from women, queers, transgendered people and working class people of all colors? How can we talk about leadership without creating the image of two or three people leading us, but the millions of people, in their communities, who are right now leading progressive social change around the world?
Thanks for reading! Lemme know what you think!