collective writing on the zapatista womens encuentro

February 20, 2008 at 11:15 pm (anti-racism, anti-sexism, chiapas, Motherhood, women of color)

okay so this is the second article i found online on the zapatista womens encuentro

unlike the previous article that i cited, this article is written by 4 women, rather than one man.  at least one of whom i have met a couple of times and hung out with at the encuentro.  and we had a good strong conversation on the role of women and community in the encuentro and in the states.  so good for them for creating collaborative work.

For centuries, indigenous and poor women have carried the responsibility of these tasks. Their backs have held the weight of the survival of their families, communities, and cultures. Their resistance is inseparable from that of their communities, serving as an integral source of strength. The Zapatista women emphasize a dynamic relationship between derechos y deberes [rights and responsibilities]. As young women born to white feminists in the US, we joined many 2nd and 3rd wave feminists in the crowd who’ve been taught that women’s liberation means equal rights, that it is a movement towards independence and self-determination. Our politics of feminism and solidarity are perhaps tested, seeing the women of this indigenous Zapatista movement declare their rights as integral to their collective responsibility, for the well-being of their community. Indigenous men, standing at the edges of the auditorium, shading their eyes from the sun nodded in agreement as the voices of the Zapatista women demanded the right to education, emphasizing the responsibility to become promoters of education. As their voices demanded the right to choose their own partners, they emphasized the responsibility of participating in family and community matters. By having a women’s encuentro, they sought to have their voices heard and not spoken over or marginalized. But when questioned about whether this was the beginning of their own women’s movement, and if they wanted to create more women-only spaces; they emphasized that the movement included their brothers, husbands, children, elders…everyone in the community. This appeared as something distinctly different from women’s liberation; more like collective liberation. Or better yet, described as Zapatismo.

i am really grateful for them writing about the relationship between zap women and first world women in a cogent critical way.   but i really want to point out that there is a strong history in mujeristas, black feminism, red women movement, womanism that has had this same critique (for decades).  one of the leaders of third world feminism is rebecca walker, who is the daughter of alice walker, one of the primary articulators of ‘womanism’.  my primary critiques of third wave feminism is the emphasis on ‘choice’ and how this emphasis on ‘choice’ reinscribes the erasure of a class critique on feminism.   and by (kinda) erasing the history of the ways and strategies of women of color struggling for community liberation, by just lumping all feminists from the first world, under this banner in which our primary goal is individualism, this paragraph denies the complexity of womens thought in the first world.

i also question the dichotomy of ‘women-only spaces’ and  collective liberation.    in nearly every community i have seen womens only spaces already exist. often by the ways that ‘womens work’ is circumscribed.  the question is (in my humble opinion) how and when are these women only spaces utilized. and in the same way that i know that my liberation is experienced through motherhood, in part because motherhood is one of those social spaces in which i connect with women across the social borders and hierachies, i also see my experience and enjoyment of motherhood to be part of the collective liberation of our communities and our worlds.


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