Summary: Adapted from a speech to the Women’s March in Santa Barbara, which drew several hundred people on January 20, 2018– Editors
We tend to think of violence as a violation of the norm, but I want to argue that violence is built into the everyday dysfunction our society. The task of our movement must be to recognize the violence of those systems we take for granted, and work to dismantle them.
As an anarchist and a Marxist-Humanist, much of my understanding of systemic violence begins with the state, but it is deepened through connection to a wide range of queer, anti-racist, anti-colonial, and anti-capitalist struggles.
In the U.S., the state has shown that it is incompetent in protecting women from interpersonal violence. The police are twice as likely as civilians to abuse their spouses. They routinely kill civilians, especially people of color, and deport our friends and family. Transwomen of color are more likely than any other group to be victims of violence, and the state responds by imprisoning those women who defend themselves. The state’s failure to properly fund public healthcare has shown that it does not care about the health of women, mothers, and children. Abroad, our imperial state enacts violence against women by, through war and economic exploitation, introducing and deepening coercive structures. Under state flags, capitalism is destroying the planet, and most of those consequences fall on women.
If you care about ending violence against women, you have to be anti-racist. You have to be anti-colonial. You have to be anti-capitalist. You have to be anti-state.
From here our work must be to dismantle the systems that define the status quo and stop asking for their help or their blessing. We postponed our march today so the police could be here. Even within this movement we think they are here to protect us. We are safer when they are not present, that goes especially for our undocumented sisters.
What this means for our movement to end violence is that we can’t simply pass laws and hope for the best. We need to create a culture where violence against women is morally unthinkable.