An Invaluable Resource?

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[Organizing] [Gender] [ULK Issue 52]

An Invaluable Resource?

Few things are more dangerous and detrimental to a revolutionary movement than over- and underestimation, in particular underestimation. Battles have been lost, tides and balances of struggles have ebbed and flowed, and slide from one side to the other. And all because of this simple mistake. Whenever we underestimate someone, group, or thing, we commit this mistake of relegating that persyn, group, or thing to unimportance. Or we ignore it or them as being trivial. This is something no revolutionary can ever afford to do. Especially those in the anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist movements.

Unfortunately, our movements, as so many others, can be plagued by machismo, a particular form of male chauvinism. In revolutionary circles this happens and wimmin are undervalued and most often underestimated. Wimmin are a force without equal in any movement. In the fight against capitalist and imperialist governments wimmin are an indispensable resource. A clear example of their worth can be found in recent Cuban history, the 26th of July movement.

Everyone knows of Fidel, Raúl, Frank País and Abel Santamaría. But their fame and successes would have been unattainable save for the revolucionarias, wimmin revolutionaries. While there were many wimmin later in the movement, there were only two in key roles at the beginning: Haydée Santamaría Cuadrado and Melba Hernández Rodríguez de Rey. These two stood out as invaluable and the personifications of wimmin to a revolutionary movement. Together they were key to printing and distributing "History Will Absolve Me," the famous Castro speech. They also took up arms during the attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. Although, triumph eluded them during the assault, their efforts spread the movement from the eastern provinces throughout all Cuba. Haydée and Melba were both imprisoned after the assault. But their efforts never stopped and they even became more active in overthrowing the U.$.-backed Batista regime. Their imprisonment, isolation, and cruelty suffered at the hands of a proxy of U.$. imperialism only served to strengthen their resolve and commitment. As the movement spread, so did support which finished in the triumph of the revolution in 1959. Without them the revolution may never have been achieved.

Wimmin are often undervalued, underestimated and ignored. Let us not commit such mistakes. While the capitalists and imperialists do, let us recognize this fault and exploit it, using their fallacy for our advantage to progress the movement. We need our wimmin to be involved because they are the life blood of any movement and an invaluable resource. As revolutionaries and persyns, wimmin are integral to the success of our movement.

Let us take note of this history lesson and put it to good use. We need wimmin, prisoners and captives, to exceed the examples of Haydée and Melba, leading other compañeras from behind the walls as they did. Directing others in constructive methods, organizing study groups and educating other wimmin about the present struggle, as well as how to champion it. Their efforts will give breath to our movement and once it has spread, triumph will shortly follow.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer gives a good historical example of wimmin who have overcome barriers of machismo to make significant contributions to the liberation of their nation. There are innumerable examples like this one that we can point to for anyone who is hung up on their sexism so much that they think only "men" can liberate the oppressed nations.

This author is advocating for a necessary first step: first, we must accept that anyone is perfectly capable of being a strong theorist, warrior, contributor, to the national struggles. We don't see many people writing in telling us wimmin are too weak or otherwise should be excluded from revolutionary organizing, so while this sexist indoctrination will ultimately affect how we approach organizing, at least on a conscious level we might be already doing good on step 1. So what's next?

If we continue to see wimmin as a resource, even for revolutionary aims, we are not going to get very far in resolving the gender contradictions that plague our struggle for unity and liberation. Rather than asking ourselves how can we mine this resource, we need to ask "what are the contradictions inhibiting this growth of our movement?" and "what can we do to help resolve these contradictions?" A study of dialectical materialism, including Mao's essay "On Contradiction" is imperative for this discussion.

Similarly, we can't fetishize organizing of any subgroup in our movement, lest we lose direction for the sake of getting some wimmin on board. That's the mistake made by people who believe who is saying it is more important than what is being said. It's the same trap that got Obama elected as a Black persyn, and Hilary campaigning on the platform of being a female. Even if the tokenization is of an oppressed group (queer/trans people of color appear to be the token of the day), identity politics is always dangerous and an antithesis to materialism.