Women have fought against the ruling class for long enough, I would have thought, not to fall into its intolerant habits. Yet one of the dangers we face is that the women who have worked longest often lack understanding of their less experienced sisters. As a sometime computer whiz I understand how annoying it can be to try explaining advanced concepts to someone who does not know RAM from ROM. It is easy to shrug and say-"Come back when you have educated yourself, and we'll talk". Perhaps, if she seems particularly promising I might recommend a text or two, or the right community college course. Then if she never shows interest again, if she keeps right on doing things the old way I can always say, "Oh, she's just computer- phobic, she secretly hates hackers". It may even be true by then.
Some women like reading, and spending time in libraries and bookstores ransacking the shelves for that one definitive text that will explain everything. Others don't. The majority just don't have time.
While it may have worked for me, consciousness is not most easily raised by frequent applications of politically aware toes to the rears of those less knowledgeable. Would it be so difficult to educate gently? Lend books? Exchange reading lists? Discuss differences without blaming those who are different? It is not easy to discuss racism or classism without the words 'white' and 'middle-class' sounding like curses, but it is possible. We must recognize that our priorities are not going to be everyone's priorities. The ruling monolith can only be disassembled by people working on all fronts. While dynamiting one boulder, we cannot afford to drop rocks on those undermining other areas.
Lastly, though it may be even harder, it is also important that we discuss our similarities. While various feminist sects have different final goals, our intermediate goals are remarkably similar. We are fighting sexual abuse, abuses of working women, and the many abuses of women of colour. We are fighting for choice, and for resources. I have not decided whether my utopia is communist, socialist, anarchist or liberal democratic. Is it important? Must I find the right answer, by myself, before you can talk to me?
Some sisters (dare I call them such?) say that one should not work to reform society because it just delays The Revolution. This implies that change cannot occur slowly. No revolution yet, but ask your mother or your grandmother or your unmarried aunt who lives with a female 'companion' whether or not our society has changed radically.
It is important to teach those, feminist already, who come seeking involvement. It is also important to welcome the uncommitted, and encourage their explorations. To do this we must be able to show a caring and supportive community. A strong and united movement which has had victories, and celebrates them, but which also has a vision for the future can attract converts. Given the choice between conservative vision and no coherent vision at all, people are either joining the conservatives or giving up in disgust. The result is Toronto municipal elections with a 30 percent turnout, and a mayor who thinks 'world class' means miles of cold glass with no place for people.
Let us get together to create a common platform, a feminist dream which can give hope to people too disillusioned to vote. A dream which is broad enough to espouse the separate visions of our community for a world that does not discriminate on the basis of class, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.
A dream for a world that does not exploit the resources of nature or humanity in the pursuit of more capital for the 10 percent of society that already owns 70 percent of it all.
A dream which includes planning and action, the wisdom of our veterans, the enthusiasm and fumbles of our converts.
A dream which welcomes and encourages those who are discovering that the world is unnecessarily harsh and unjust, and beginning to dream better. A dream like Pat Parker's "simple dream," for a world where we can all take all our parts with us wherever we go without fear of rejection.
This article is reprinted with permission from Kinesis (June 1989).