Anti-Oppression in the EF! Movement

Speech written and recited by Bee at the RRR 2012

In response to the out-reaching participants of the Challenging Male Supremacy Workshop at this year’s Round River Rendezvous, I’m echoing appreciation of well-intended cis-males who stand in solidarity with  anti-oppression in the EF! movement.

Despite the best intentions of the group, things got heated and the attempt to end patriarchal silencing ended up doing exactly that.

After speaking with attendants of both the workshop for cis-males and the workshop for women/trans/gender queer, one clear sentiment is that this dialogue is vital and should have happened earlier in the week. Preferably for next year, we need a mandatory orientation highlighting how we must treat each other in this great social struggle and within the EF! Movement.

As many have expressed after the workshops, what we discuss and learn from workshops carry with us outside of those intentional spaces and in to our every day interactions. This is the point. Anti-oppression work is relevant to our everyday interactions, which inevitably effect how we work together as a movement.

If this is indeed a movement and not just another campaign, we need to prioritize the direction and strength of how we move together.

There is not one solution to these complex and compounding issues, and it takes lifetime commitments of vigilant challenging and unlearning of oppressive behaviors. Earth First!ers are particularly good at challenging dominant paradigms and we know direct action is effective. We can do this.

What I hope is that the questions stirred up in all of us will serve as a compass for some serious self evaluation and homework. We need to support each other. Anyone opposing anti-oppression work within the movement is standing on the toes of revolution.

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  1. I think that this statement looks like a great start. I think the controversy involving the presentation is the kind of thing to be discussed at the rondy or on closed listserves, not to be airing our dirty laundry on a public forum viewed by people who are just encountering us on the first time via the internet. When I see stuff like this I think of 2 things, the first is the animal rights movement who have closed listserves where things of this nature are settled by commited movement activists. The second is where a portion of the anarchist milieu opens itself to any cointelpro operative or troll who feels like studying them or stoking hostilities. Which seems more appropriate for Earth First? Yours truly, Cautious in Carolina.

    • This is not a start, this is a continuation. Anti-oppression dialogue has been happening in earth first for well over a decade. Don’t diminish the work of those of us that have been addressing this issue for so long. It hasn’t been easy but ef! has a long history with this discussion. It really is old hat and the only people I have seen that think the issue of oppression hasn’t been addressed are people that are new to the movement and are ignorant of the history

      • “a good start” was simply a way of saying it wasn’t done. way to totally miss the point of my comment.

  2. i love almost everything earth first does – but this is the reason you’re so marginal and small – and that’s the reason the earth is burning and there’s no one capable of fixing it. it’s wrong to be oppressive, sexist, homophobic or racist. it’s also stupid to be so uptight that you can’t get along with anybody and you turn into a cult. this is what i see happening to earth first – a small, ineffective cult of i.d. politics.

    • The article that follows in the link below was written after the 2012 OC in Utah, but also feels pretty timeless. As usual, there were challenges in social dynamics among people present at the Rondy (although thankfully it was not a dramatic blow-out). But more than in years previous, it felt that people were able to navigate through them in healthier ways. This article, along with discussions at the Rondy, represent some recent emotional growth in the EF! movement…

      “My Flaming Arrow To The Heart Of The Movement:
      A Response To The Give EF! A Kick In The Ass/ Anti-Oppression Discussion At The 2012 OC Winter Rendezvous”

      • As a member of the Earth First! Journal collective, I would like to echo some of the concerns raised about this post. The Newswire has a looser standard for publishing than the printed Journal, as it would be impossible for us to discuss every post that goes up online.

        While i personally disagree with some sentiments in the post (ex. a definition of anti-oppression which equates to veganism and the language of mandatory participation, which does not tend to result in the desired effect of challenging oppression), i would point people to the EF! Journal’s policy, which is quite thorough and was created and shaped through open, inclusive meetings during the Rendezvous:

        That said, I applaud the courage of Bee for reading that out to the movement and am glad someone chose to re-post it, as i feel its worth the dialogue that it has sparked.

        For the wild,

        (p.s..”Wild” as in liberated and in touch with the Earth, as opposed to “wild” like the drunks throwing beer cans at each other in the Loxahatchee River last week, or around the rowdy fire the week before that…)

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