“The First Time I Read This Quote from BA I Cried”

A Revolution Club Member Responds to Bob Avakian on the Liberation of Women

December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


My reaction to the compendium Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on Women’s Emancipation and Communist Revolution has been twofold: 1. visceral, which I will dig into after the period ends this sentence, and 2. understanding its importance in unleashing women and all kinds of folks around the “woman question” in order to make an actual revolution, one worth fighting for, and ALL the way emancipation (number 2, I am also calling “every ‘feminist’ and everyone, period, needs this in their stocking/holiday bag”).

As promised, expanding on number one: The first time I read this quote by BA in the Break ALL the Chains! compendium sampler, I cried:

Recently I heard a startling statistic: one out of every four women in the U.S. will be the victim of a sexual assault during her lifetime. One out of four!, and the number is expected to rise to one out of three. Right there, even if this “way of life” did not produce any of the other seemingly endless outrages and genuinely monstrous crimes—all the way to world war—that it does produce, even if what stands behind the statistic were the only thing seriously wrong with this system, that alone would be enough to rise up against it and not stop until it had been overthrown and something better put in its place. (“Provocations,” Revolutionary Worker #228, October 29, 1983)

Even re-reading it to others, and as I write this I tear up. The words “that alone would be enough to rise up against it and not stop until it had been overthrown and something better put in its place” are in fact the words that make me cry. Reading it, processing it, hearing that the violence against women ALONE is reason enough to make a revolution takes my breath away. I have never heard anything like that before, something so powerful, something that validates the experiences of women. Something that decries the horror of what happens to women here and around the world as just that. Not some side issue. Not something that women complain about. Not something small or insignificant. A horror worth fighting against, and making great sacrifices to get rid of. Not ameliorate. Not hold safe space for. Get rid of once and for all.

A wave of emotion rushes over me. I am reminded of my childhood. I am reminded of the men I adored and loved who violated me. Assess you part by part. Relate to you not as a person but as a girl, and then a woman. You become to them the same as the women they watch in porn, the women they hoot and holler at. You hate your body. You feel disgusting. You feel ashamed. You have no name for it. No category except pain. You carry it with you every day; sometimes it’s more present than other times. I imagine all of the times I’ve been harassed on the street. A constant reminder of who you are. A piece of meat. A thing to be used.

Stop the War on Women!

I imagine, as if a slave being auctioned, a woman on a block being evaluated based on how sexually titillating she is to men. Whether or not she can reproduce. I imagine the young woman in Ethiopia who is kidnapped and then raped. I imagine the woman in Harlem raped by police officers. I imagine the women in prison shackled as they give birth, perhaps an unwanted pregnancy because a CO officer raped her. I imagine the women in Mexico working at maquiladoras, U.S.-owned factories, disappeared, kidnapped, and raped, whose bones are found later on. I imagine the women in Middle Eastern villages being stoned to death after a white sheet without blood is used to claim she is not a virgin. We are each other and they are me. We are suffocating. We can’t breathe. We are, as a comrade has said, plants growing underneath a rock.

Imagine unleashing women to be a part of a revolution to put an end to the anger, frustration, shame, degradation, humiliation, beatings, self-hatred of women here, and around the world. Imagine women fighting to emancipate not just themselves but to emancipate all of humanity. Imagine a world without the constant threat of rape. Without women holding back for fear of being brutalized. Imagine women seen as human beings, girls as contributors to society, and not as things to be bought and sold. Imagine women did not have to keep moving to stop themselves from grappling with their oppression because it causes them too much pain. Imagine women not having to choke on their anger anymore!

Bob Avakian synthesized the experiences of women in a few sentences. They are bulky and smooth all at the same time. And by that I mean it is easy to read and yet encompasses the heaviness of experiences of a whole section of society in a way that packs a hard punch. Reading through the compendium I feel as though he’s writing to me. I think at the same time how it actually is nonsense to think that only women would have access to the truth on where women’s oppression comes from and how to end it. Bob Avakian isn’t just a man, he’s a revolutionary communist, applying a scientific method and approach to get at reality and how to transform it. How and why women need to be unleashed in order to make a revolution and struggle over the “woman question” in order to make all the way revolution! He breaks down the origins of women’s oppression. He actually goes there: boldly speaking the truth about the social role of women, and why and how this revolting culture must be resisted, and gotten rid of. His approach gets under the surface and gets at the heart of what it’s actually going to take to fully emancipate women and how, and why. And it is exciting. It is fucking exciting to know there is someone out there who has done this work and that there is in fact a solution to the horrors of this system.

I urge everyone, especially in light of the ongoing assault on women’s right to abortion, to read, to dig into, to refresh on Break ALL the Chains. To quote one of my favorites:

You cannot break all the chains, except one. You cannot say you want to be free of exploitation and oppression, except you want to keep the oppression of women by men. You can’t say you want to liberate humanity yet keep one half of the people enslaved to the other half. The oppression of women is completely bound up with the division of society into masters and slaves, exploiters and exploited, and the ending of all such conditions is impossible without the complete liberation of women. All this is why women have a tremendous role to play not only in making revolution but in making sure there is all-the-way revolution. The fury of women can and must be fully unleashed as a mighty force for proletarian revolution. (BAsics 3:22)



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