March, 8th is International Women’s Day! In the spirit of celebration and international struggle, AAR would like to honor and defend the strengths and growing solidarity occurring within the struggle for women’s equality. This ongoing struggle opposes all forms of oppression against women which are often portrayed as “culturally traditional”; which in turn provides these oppressive behaviors space to fester and grow. To the individuals, businesses and communities brave enough to speak out and/or act out against these injustices, we commend your struggle and we feel your pain! We also want to specifically acknowledge women, queer folks, and trans people of our community here in WNC who face bigotry both institutionally and personally on a daily basis. We recognize you and stand with you. Not only as we work to dismantle systems of oppression but also as we hold hands and support one another.
Foremost, we have an immense amount of gratitude for the feminist revolutionary forces fighting in Rojava, in so-called Northern Syria! Following the collapse of Assad’s power in Syria in 2011, the three northernmost counties of Syria (known in Kurdish as Rojava) gained their autonomy under the leadership of the Kurdish PYD (Democratic Union Party) and the protection of the YPG/YPJ militias (People’s/Women’s Protection Units). The Charter of Social Contract, commonly known as the Constitution of Rojava, stresses absolute gender equality, people’s right to self-determination, and sustainability. On the ground, the contrast with ISIS-held regions is remarkable: secular Rojava has outlawed forced marriages, polygamy and underage marriage, and 40% of political positions in each council is held by women. Currently these revolutionaries are in the fight of their lives defending this autonomous region, and the millions who’ve flocked there, against fascist attacks on all sides by Turkish and Syrian State forces and allies.
For more on the Rojava Revolution, check out these links:
Next, we want to declare our solidarity with an incredibly empowering movement occurring within the struggle for women’s equality here in the so-called United States. #MeToo, a virally spread movement which emerged in October of 2017, is a hashtag used on social media to help demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. Through publically calling out misogynists and career sexual predators, the #MeToo movement continues to highlight the power of solidarity among all intersectionally oppressed people in the work place. This nationwide demand for accountability is a big step that barely scrapes the surface, yet we are so glad to see communities support and fight together, both on and offline. Here in Asheville, we continue this conversation through individual and communal discussion and accountability. We know sexual harassment and assault is inexorably tied to the violent capitalist patriarchy we all exist in and by addressing the root of the problem we seek to rebuild a foundation that supports and promotes the safe and enriching lives we all deserve!
Our work within Asheville AntiRacism is inherently feminist. As individuals and as one cohesive group we incorporate a feminist ideology in the approaches and actions we take. We do this through critical group discussion and analysis, safe and thorough debriefs, as well as providing a safer space for folks of all genders, sexual orientations, races and ethnicities. Holding ourselves and our comrades accountable in a firm and compassionate way is essential to dismantling all forms of oppression. We also take an active approach to keeping all types of oppressive behaviors out of our community, by maintaining a presence and watching/confronting perpetrators in the community head on. Our work is important and necessary in order to stay engaged with the community and help create a culture around addressing these problems as they arise. We cede no space for their presence here, actively create space for inclusion, and motivate and encourage the larger community to fend off the isolation that comes with being the target of oppression.