Our Split from AF3IRM: Shedding light on our issues to encourage our growth towards a real, revolutionary feminist movement
Update 2/28/23: AF3IRM Leadership, led by chairperson Connie Huynh, responded to this article by slandering the women and workers who accused her partner Martin Manteca of sexual and workplace abuse. The original source, PayDay Report, responded on 2/28/23 and can be read here: Responding to Attacks on Payday’s Investigations into Sexual Misconduct in the Labor Movement
Note: To message those of us that split, and who are engaged in building a new organization from the ashes of our struggle against liberal opportunism in AF3IRM, please email: InterimRevFemCommittee@proton.me.
Introduction and Background
We are former members of AF3IRM who have voted to split from the organization after attempting to struggle against the liberal opportunist line promoted by national leadership in order to advance a feminism that is both revolutionary and grounded in our principles. This document was created as a compilation of criticisms and concerns of over 40 members, with representation from nearly every chapter and organizing committee, and including 2 chapter coordinators and 2 organizing committee coordinators.
We initially created this document to encourage open struggle across the organization in hopes that we could push a more revolutionary line on women’s emancipation, defeat the liberal reformist line, and encourage greater political unity and ideological development. Unfortunately, the national leadership rejected our honest attempt at building political unity through struggle, and instead consolidated around a liberal, reformist, and opportunist line which we will outline in this document.
We do not seek to “cancel” or harm any individuals, even if through their actions they have harmed us and our comrades. Therefore, in a spirit of solidarity we will remove the names of those involved and only include their titles. Despite our experience, we seek to remain principled and take the high road.
When we have attempted to raise concerns in the past, the National Executive Council (NEC) has taken a commandist, anti-democratic approach in attempting to silence and isolate members with concerns, paint them as “infiltrators” or lazy, and intentionally keep members separated, thus unable to discuss these criticisms openly.
We now share it publicly in hopes that the next generation of revolutionary feminist organizers can learn from our experience in order to better struggle against liberal opportunism in their own movements, and in order to create a stronger movement that is resistant to the mistakes we witnessed here.
Many women and people from oppressed genders come to feminist organizations believing that they will be safe from abuse and from the contradictions that tend to present in male-dominant organizations. However, our experience has shown us that without a strong ideological basis in militant and revolutionary feminism, one that decries liberal opportunism and unprincipled peace, that these contradictions can show up here, too.
We believe strongly in the necessity of a revolutionary and anti-imperialist women’s movement and have done everything in our power to struggle against the liberal line and for a revolutionary line. While we have shown our commitment to this organization throughout the years, it must be stated that we are more committed to the political movement for the emancipation of women, oppressed genders, and oppressed nations, for the abolition of sexual violence and the commodification of sex, and for the transition from capitalism to socialism. We therefore refused to allow these issues to go unaddressed or suppressed by the commandist, reformist leadership in the NEC. Because, in the words of Assata Shakur, “we don’t have no time to play around.”
One Divides into Two
There has been an increasing divide between the two lines in the organization, namely the liberal reformist line and the revolutionary feminist line. These two political lines have developed from a background tension into a full-blown antagonism. The NEC and the founders, have led the reactionary line in the organization and have fought us, at every level, when we have tried to push the organization to live up to its principles and advance our ideological development.
Those of us who have been pushing for a more revolutionary line have also been the ones who have developed the politics, propaganda, and programs which the reactionary leadership takes credit for. And, when we have tried to make our voice heard throughout the years, the NEC and the revisionist leadership clique have fought us at every step, even resorting to anti-democratic practices to ensure that they retain ideological and organization control over AF3IRM.
National Executive Council (NEC) Scandal
NEC Chair’s Partnership with an Accused Serial Abuser
Our NEC Chair has been in a long-term partnership with Martin Manteca who is an accused sexual harasser, abuser, and union buster. Manteca has been accused of sexual harassment in 16 separate depositions. He was also a catalyst that pushed one of our members into full-time prostitution after firing her upon starting her gender transition. And, at least one buddy in Los Angeles did not want to stay with the organization upon finding out who The NEC Chair’s partner is.
Despite this, our chair has stayed with him and even brought him to events to meet and interact with survivors and AF3IRM women, such as the Dia De Los Muertos event in LA. While it might be considered her personal choice to stay with a man who allegedly abuses and harasses women he supervises, the act of bringing him in contact with AF3IRM women at official AF3IRM events is an organizational decision with consequences that go far beyond the individual and personal sphere.
To focus on minor errors of our comrades is of course, not right. However, the overall attitude of acceptance towards allegedly abusive and imperialist men among leaders in our organization, and the inviting of these allegedly abusive and imperialist men into organizational events, is itself the problem. Everyone makes their own decision on who to date and marry. But leaders can and should be held to a higher standard. Their decisions affect the entire organization and being in leadership requires a sense of responsibility and understanding of how their personal actions can affect the entire organization and its members.
It raises questions about why the national leadership of AF3IRM fights against violence against women and imperialism in public while tolerating and even embracing men who commit violence against women and oppressed nations in their personal lives. Isn’t the personal the political? Isn’t that what feminism taught us?
Below is one of several news reports about the abuse inflicted on the employees of Manteca, the partner of the current NEC Chair:
“Manteca served as Organizing Director of the 95,000 member SEIU Local 721, the Southern California Public Service Workers Union.
Over a several-year period, Manteca has been accused of inappropriate behavior and retaliation by multiple junior staffers who said they felt pressured into sexual relationships with Manteca then banished to an undesirable assignment if they rejected his sexual advances.
In the spring of 2016, a former SEIU staffer told SEIU international that she had reported to SEIU that Manteca sexually harassed her. The report was not the first time Manteca had been accused of sexual harassment. However, the staffer said she felt she was retaliated against and transferred to a more remote local.
In depositions, obtained by the Payday Report, 16 SEIU staffers provided testimony against Manteca. The staffers painted a picture of a boss who not only sexually harassed women in the workplace but one who would become physically confrontational and harass those who tried to stand up to him in solidarity with his accusers.
“He was an absolute sociopath,” said one staffer who wished to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation. “If he was on the floor of your office, you hid at your desk. You didn’t want to see him. He was such a terror.”
After the first investigation by SEIU into Manteca in which no action was taken, another staffer, who was subordinate to Manteca, reported that he behaved in a way that he made sexual advances on her while she was drunk. After the incident, the staffer said that she no longer felt comfortable working there. She also said that she didn’t feel comfortable at first coming forward with the allegations against him due to the culture within the union.
“I didn’t feel comfortable coming forward because of the contentious relationships between organizers, managers, and senior staff at that time,” the former SEIU staffer, who declined to give her name out of fear of retaliation, told Payday Report.
In the spring of 2018, the staffer, after receiving encouragement from friends, finally felt comfortable about coming forward and giving testimony to former longtime SEIU General Counsel Judy Scott about Manteca’s alleged sexual misconduct. However, no action was taken against Manteca.”
Former NEC National Communication Officer’s Employment at DOJ and Marriage to US Military
In 2023, members spoke up about the marriage of the NEC Communications Director to a man who was consciously enlisting in the US military. NEC and members of the LA chapter knew about this marriage when it happened and even raised concerns about it since November 2022. However, no action was taken and this information was kept from membership.
Additionally, even before marrying this person in the military, the member in question was working for the Department of Justice. While her actual role is unknown, due to the lack of transparency in our election process, it raises questions about whether or not AF3IRM should allow people who work in a professional or political role with federal agencies to be a part of membership, and whether or not this counts as infiltration. Indeed, there is a difference between being a janitor that is a government employee and an attorney that assists the DOJ with their strategy. Additionally, DOJ employees are subject to increased surveillance that could prove dangerous to our organization. And, it raises ideological questions about whether or not we think working in the state is even a viable strategy.
Lastly, it was stated that this information wasn’t public knowledge and that NEC acted on it when they found out. This is a lie. NEC knew about her marriage when it happened. However, they used liberal feminism to justify it.
Indigenismo and bourgeois spiritualism
This member left her job at the Department of Justice to sell “decolonial” psychic services, at a rate of up to $4,400, to teach people how to connect with “precolonial ancestral ways.” She specifically markets her services towards “Indigenous folks in occupied homelands.” She was doing this while working as a national, public-facing leader of AF3IRM.
Of course, this is impossible to do. There is no pan-Indigenous spirituality. Different Indigenous groups have their own distinct spiritualities and knowledge, much of which is guarded and kept secret. Connecting new age spirituality, such as tarot cards and “chakras,” to some idea of pan-Indigenous spirituality is both inaccurate and anti-Indigenous.
Furthermore, this person has been using AF3IRM members to market her psychic services. This is inappropriate for a serious political and revolutionary organization. It is one thing to respect the individual spiritual and religious beliefs that members hold. It is entirely another thing to allow national leaders to sell psychic services as a luxury commodity, which itself is just a misappropriation of spiritual concepts from traditions which she has no connection to — such as chakras which are from India — and then sell it to Indigenous people as if she can teach them how to reconnect with their “precolonial ways…” which she has no connection to or knowledge of.
The lack of ability for members to make constructive criticism of leadership has led us directly into this scandal, where we cannot criticize leaders or express disagreement over what is really a violation of our principles and our safety.
The National Communications Director made the correct decision in stepping down. However, NEC should never have allowed this to be an individual decision and they should have addressed this issue when the marriage happened rather than waiting months until information was leaked to general membership. And, the NEC should have respected the original demand sent on January 30 to hold an open forum among membership across chapters. The NEC claims that an Extended NEC meeting (ENEC) satisfies this demand. However, given the control the current corrupt NEC has over chapter coordinators, such a meeting does not in any way satisfy that original demand. As the section on anti-democratic practices below illustrates, the ENEC meeting would allow decision-making to remain in the hands of the current NEC and allow for concerns of membership to be downplayed or disregarded. Lastly, the reluctance of the NEC to implement a rule that leaders cannot have intimate ties with military or police shows the ideological decay of leadership, reluctance to live up to our anti-imperialist mandate, and willingness to put all members at risk of surveillance and state repression.
Anti-Feminist and Anti-Democratic Practices
Removal of a democratically elected NEC member
Upon the 2019 election of Khara to the NEC, she was subsequently cornered by the current NEC chair and was pressured to resign. One of the primary arguments was that she would be unable to fulfill the duties of the National Organizer role given that she just gave birth to a baby. The NEC Chair claimed that they had a private plan unknown to membership to use Khara in a side position outside of the NEC, which would of course mean outside of the decision making process and which would leave the Hawaiʻi chapter without the national representation it sought. By kicking her out of the decision making process, they were able to isolate her and other members who wanted to raise concerns over the mishandling of issues by the leadership and general direction of the organization.
After they successfully pressured her to step down, they installed someone they hand-picked as the National Organizing Director. This is both anti-feminist, for using the sexist “reasoning” that being a new mother would prevent her from being a good leader, and anti-democratic by not respecting the will of the membership. The revisionist leadership clique has used tactics like this to install their people into power and prevent anyone with dissenting views from being in a position of leadership.
The campaign against Khara has also intensified into the NEC’s bias against the Bodies Back Model, which was developed by the Hawaiʻi chapter. The leadership clique engaged in a secret organizing campaign to prevent the chapters from voting in the Bodies Back Model, thus pushing us into tailing the liberal line on this issue and disrespecting the work of the Hawaiʻi chapter in their first steps towards creating an anti-imperialist program on the sex trade.
Whisper campaigns aimed at demonizing dissenters
There have also been observations that the revisionist leadership clique launches whisper campaigns to paint dissenters as “lazy” and “disengaged”.” For example, when Khara expressed views that differed from the current NEC, a founding member began calling people to do “temperature checks” on them and tell them that Khara “doesn’t even go to meetings” and “doesn’t even do any work in her own chapter” so “why should she even get to have a say in this.” These tropes have been repeated to delegitimize anyone who speaks up, including when members raised concerns about the post about Iran or the marriage of a national leader to a military man.
To call mothers “lazy” and spread gossip about them is anti-feminist. Especially when those mothers have to change their role within the organization to adapt to their role as mothers and take on other but equally rigorous and time consuming work. Since the undemocratic installation of the National Organizing Director to the NEC in 2019, the revisionist leadership clique has iced Khara out from any decision making process in the national space by attempting to isolate her from other members she might influence. The whisper campaigns against her intensified when she spoke up about some of the issues in this document, and encouraged leadership to take member’s concerns more seriously and live up to their principles.
In fact, when Khara was hired to be the Commissioner for Commission on the Status of Women in Hawaiʻi, she immediately resigned from her local leadership position in AF3IRM because she stated that it would be inappropriate for an AF3IRM leader to be working for the settler-colonial state.
Additionally, other members who have raised concerns about ideological or organizational issues have been labeled “infiltrators” and deemed to be “lazy,” not “even attending meetings,” and portrayed as not doing any work. The paranoia around infiltration has also been weaponized against the Bay Area chapter when they dissolved and used to isolate anyone across chapters who still associates with them.
The forced dissolution of the Seattle Chapter
After the 2022 Congress, the former National Organizing Director and new National Program Coordinator told Hazel, the coordinator for the Seattle Chapter, to step down or she would be suspended. The NEC had “concerns” that she “didn’t vet new members well enough.” The concerns were also that she allowed non-binary members in her chapter and that those members engaged in ideological struggle. The NEC barred at least 2 members of the Seattle chapter from coming to the 2022 Congress despite qualifying as congressional delegates.
One member, in particular, was demonized by the NEC. Prior to the 2022 Congress, a non-binary member had some ideological issues that they wanted to struggle out and they shut it down after a tense interrogation. Afterwards, NEC wouldn’t allow them to come to Congress even though they met the eligibility requirements. There was also some ideological disagreement over whether women were an oppressed sex / oppressed gender or a political class. And instead of struggling that out, they pushed the chapter out.
The Seattle membership was also upset that their congressional delegates weren’t allowed to come to congress. National said that they couldn’t go because they could be a “security risk.” In fact, that’s why a founding member told Esperanza that she couldn’t post photos, because this member might, “hack us and track our location and disrupt us.” When Portland OC asked about the dissolution, the National Organizing Director lied, saying: “Hazel stepped down from the coordinator role. Since they did not have anyone else ready to take on the coordinator role, they went on hiatus. A chapter/OC cannot operate without a coordinator. NEC does not have the capacity to run their meetings.” The National Organizing Director also told the Seattle coordinator to not say why she had to step down, and to let the NEC tell membership and vet any statement she releases. This mistreatment of a long-time AF3IRM leader with generational ties to the organization, the NEC’s anti-democratic practices, and their dishonesty to membership is unacceptable and reprehensible.
AF3IRM leadership’s definition of “Women of Color” makes room for white supremacy (and potentially antisemitism)
The way AF3IRM identifies women of color presents contradictions based on how AF3IRM defines membership qualifications. Both statements have been said: AF3IRM is open to anyone with a “racialized” experience and also identifies as a woman of color (woman as a political category). It has also been defined as: “Any transnational woman residing in the United States who subscribes to the aims, processes, and philosophy of AF3IRM can become a member.” Notice how the requirement to be or identify as a woman of color is absent from the second definition, which has been shared with organizing committees as being the official definition of who qualifies.
AF3IRM has thus far allowed for white women from certain “ethnicities” such as Latinas, to self-identify as a woman of color and join the organization. For example, a white woman from Argentina with a Nazi grandfather (aka white German) was able to join AF3IRM easily, but when we requested that we should therefore consider opening up our membership to white Jewish women, especially immigrant and refugee white Jewish women (as a racialized group of people who experience said form of oppression globally), we were told that they are not considered women of color and not able to join.
After pushback, the Central Texas chapter coordinator was told — privately and not within the public forum they initially raised their concerns — that white Jewish women can join but ONLY if they “self-identify” as a woman of color. However, this type of declaration isn’t required for white Latinas who want to join AF3IRM. There are several white Latinas throughout various AF3IRM chapters, and (as far as we are aware) a non-Latina white woman in at least one chapter.
This threatens the psychological safety of unambiguously Native and Black members of the organization who are asked to work in “solidarity” with their oppressors simply because they share an identity imposed on them by nationalists/colonialists from their respective nations. There seems to be a genuine lack of understanding on how white supremacy functions in Latin America and how white Latinos orchestrate and contribute to the subordination of Native and Black communities in their countries (and diasporic communities).
If we are truly to be a transnational feminist organization, we need to take a hard look at who is accepted into our organization and who is not and why. We have already had at least one member that we know of step away from the organization due to concerns that it not only isn’t the safest space for Native/Black Latinas, but also potentially antisemitic in how members involved in the conversations responded to this. There seems to be an assumption that white Latinos are not as capable of white supremacy as other white people, let alone white Jewish people.
There is nothing wrong with allowing white Latinos to join AF3IRM, we should just then re-define who qualifies for our membership in order we don’t perpetuate harm (alongside the exclusion of non-binary individuals addressed in this document as well).
Furthermore, the label of “women of color” has allowed AF3IRM to have a very low number of Black women, yet claim to represent the voice of women of color and nationally oppressed women in the US.
Steady march towards liberalism
Celebration of liberal imperialists
It is concerning that our leaders have been celebrating liberal imperialists as it shows serious errors in ideology. One example is that our founder has consistently referenced Gloria Steinem as her close friend. Steinem was a self-admitted CIA agent. Another example is that our Chair posted that she was “mourning RBG” on Instagram in 2020. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, of course, was an imperialist who used the “Doctrine of Discovery” to make anti-Indigenous rulings against Native sovereignty. Our chair also bragged about Obama liking her tweets during the 2022 Congress, as if Obama isn’t a war criminal. Our founder publicly celebrated the win of Kamala Harris and Joe Biden, and continued to quote and celebrate them for the last 3 years on her Facebook. It is one thing to celebrate the defeat of Trump, it is another thing to promote the Democrat imperialists. There have also been situations where the organization has deferred to liberal feminists to determine their political line on issues, which is what occurred with the statement about Iran.
These actions are inconsistent with an anti-imperialist world outlook and they raise questions about the ideological influence these people hold over AF3IRM. Are we liberal or are we revolutionary? Who are our friends and who are our enemies? Is it appropriate for public leaders of AF3IRM to celebrate and quote imperialists on their public facing social media accounts?
AF3IRM’s founder deserves respect for her sacrifices made towards the Filipino revolution and to the women’s movement. At the same time, like any leader, she is not immune to veering into liberalism and revisionism. No one, no matter how great their contributions, is above criticism especially when they still hold such strong influence over the organization. We should be able to offer respect to our movement elders while also being able to recognize their errors.
NEC leadership have often deflected important ideological questions to the founder, showing that (1) they themselves cannot answer them and that (2) they do not want us to be able to struggle ideologically as the founder has immense respect among the membership and it would be frowned upon to challenge her.
To focus on small errors made by people on social media is silly and wrong. But the leaders of our organization, especially public-facing leaders, should be called to account when they celebrate carceral feminists and imperialist statespeople like Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Kamala Harris. These people are not friends of oppressed and exploited women and they do not advance the revolutionary feminist struggle. We must demarcate ourselves from the liberal feminists. These observations are offered not to police social media accounts, but to show the importance of political education, struggling against liberalism, and prioritizing the ideological development of our leaders and members.
Upon raising concerns over AF3IRM’s use of the monarchal flag in our post about Iran, members in LA were met with a quote from the founder that read “Marxists don’t care about the murder of women.”
When members suggested reading Philosophical Trends in the Feminist Movement in the LA chapter, they were told that the NEC had to be present and facilitate the discussion because “Anuradha Ghandy was a Maoist.” Yet, this intense supervision never occurred or was suggested when reading authors from other political ideologies, including authors like Gerda Lerner who, through their decisions, can be understood as a Zionist.
Other members have reported hearing that socialist states are “authoritarian” and other state department characterizations of socialism while being in ED’s and BWO’s. This kind of fear-mongering about socialism is reactionary. While there are critiques to be made of socialist states, and of Marxist men, this blanket demonization of communism ultimately works against the interests of oppressed and exploited women.
Another example is that AF3IRM members are not allowed to be in a communist party. This does indeed make sense, until you realize the double standard with bourgeois parties. A member is allowed to be a registered Democrat, donate to Democratic candidates, and even campaign for them. Yet this is not seen as an infiltration of liberalism and capitalist ideology into the organization.
The organizational leaders that split from the National Democracy Movement in the Philippines also maintain a written rule that members cannot work with or be in contact with members of organizations from the ND movement, even though we agree on more than we disagree on. This has taken the form of bashing the revolution in the Philippines and demonizing them. We shouldn’t have to inherit a 12-year old conflict against the most advanced active communist revolution in the world. Our founders might have betrayed the revolutionary forces in their home countries, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to.
Economism and the Influence of Business Unionism
The influence of the business-unionism structure over AF3IRM has led to the organization downplaying ideological struggle in favor of “keeping the work going.” Political questions, such as the type of society we are fighting for and how we get there, are pushed aside for small reforms to the legal code. The only time the organization addresses the former is when the leadership spouts empty platitudes like, “women’s liberation completes the revolution.” But they never explain what revolution they’re referring to, or how to get there.
Furthermore, we do not discuss what it means to be a “militant” organization that only runs legislative campaigns. Rather than considering a diversity of tactics, leadership has pigeonholed us into advocating for “Survivors not Criminals” bills which, while providing us with small wins, fall squarely into liberal feminist analysis as it views the state as a neutral entity which can be used to advance women’s conditions.
But, looking at history, we cannot expect to end prostitution or violence against women with the patriarchal capitalist state. We need to be figuring out how to push for real, revolutionary change to the very fabric of our society. But to many in our organization, this talk of revolution is just something that will happen far off in the future. It is not an urgent necessity of the present. We can push legislation as one of many tactics, but to forgo all other tactics in favor of only legislative ones is to lapse into liberal feminism.
Economism is also illustrated in the election of leaders, who are voted in because they are either good organizers or good at the bureaucratic tasks of leading an organization, with very little if any attention paid to their ideological development. This is backwards, as ideological development should be the primary factor in deciding upon leaders. And the neglect of this question has led us into the problems we are currently facing.
We say that our ideology is transnational feminism, yet how many members can define transnational feminism and differentiate it from other feminisms? In reality, our ideology is a mixed bag of different feminist theories with different liberal and revolutionary theories that we use, mostly, to argue against the sex trade. But, because we lack ideological clarity, our line on most other issues is unknown.
What is our line on China? What is our line on socialism? What is our answer to the question of who is our primary enemy? What do we consider to be the primary contradiction in the US and around the globe? What is the method of resolving that contradiction? What is revolution and how does it work? These questions are important and have regrettably been sidelined in order to advance the economistic “pragmatic” campaigns of the organization.
Furthermore, the very core of our ideological canon — Gerda Lerner — is a self-avowed reformist who maintained connections with, and normalized, the Zionist occupation. One of our Palestinian sisters called out a concern over her having traveled to “Israel” to receive an honorary doctorate from one of the occupations universities in 2004 and how middle eastern feminists take issue with her methodology, yet leadership did not discuss the issue any further. Even if we choose to keep her in the curriculum, we should include context and criticism. Why are we not vetting the readings and authors better?
Social Club with Friendship Cliques or Serious Political Organization
There is also tension in certain chapters between AF3IRM as a social club versus AF3IRM as a serious revolutionary organization. For example, the criticism over an NEC member marrying an imperialist soldier was swept under the rug because many were friends with her. Additionally, many members have expressed feeling isolated in certain chapters due to the cliquiness of the membership and leadership.
We have not done the work of challenging the patriarchal conditioning that tells women (usually middle-class) that they have to be conflict avoidant and submissive. Struggle is not a masculine quality. We have to remold ourselves to have confidence in criticism, self-criticism, and ideological struggle.
Response to criticism
Rather than respond in a reflective or principled way to criticism, leadership has often painted members who have criticisms as “infiltrators.” For example, when the SF Bay Area chapter was dissolved they were painted as infiltrators rather than having their concerns acknowledged and worked through.
NEC and founding members have also been observed slandering members who present any ideological challenge or struggle to the organization. This often takes the form of accusing someone of being an infiltrator or of painting them as lazy or “not engaged” and “not doing the work.” The founder suggested in a chapter group chat that those members bringing up concerns might be “COINTELPRO.” Other leaders have spread gossip about Khara, saying that she “doesn’t even go to meetings or do work” and therefore doesn’t have a right to offer any critique or suggestion. This trope has been used to delegitimize different members for speaking out.
There is also no serious commitment to criticism and self-criticism. Rather than acknowledge mistakes, list what we learned from them, and move on, leadership has instead tried to bury them and refuse to acknowledge them. This shows a lack of integrity and a lack of principles.
Part of the vetting process for membership is requiring a video being linked to the Google form. This is concerning for our organization because of several reasons, including:
- Google tracks emails and other analytics
- Video footage can easily doxx members
- We have just established that a former NEC leader, and current member, is a former DOJ employee who is married to a member of the US military.
We learned several things over the course of our organizing that we’d like to share with the larger movement of women and gender oppressed people.
- While friendships form naturally, it is important to keep politics in command and make sure that all members are able to put their principles over alliances with friends, such as just agreeing with someone because of a preexisting friendship/relationship. This is especially important for leaders who must make decisions based off of politics and principles before friendships and relationships.
- The struggle against liberalism must be made primary. Liberalism encourages people to put their own personal wants and desires above the good of the collective. So, people excuse potentially harmful actions by justifying it through individual choice and agency.
- Ideological development must be prioritized among membership and leadership must be chosen based on their level of ideological development, not simply because they are good organizers or good at bureaucratically running the organization.
- Without a strong commitment to the mass line and democratic centralism, the centralism becomes primary and the leaders can take a commandist approach to the organization, essentially breeding resistance and dissent.
- Without a strong and coherent theory then political unity will naturally dissipate as members develop views that ultimately oppose each other.
- Ideological struggle must always be encouraged in a comradely and principled manner. Ideological, inter-organization struggle builds political unity and allows us to put all our cards on the table.
- Cults of personality, no matter how small they might seem, ultimately become toxic. There should never be a single individual in the organization that no one wants to challenge, or that people listen to religiously, as if they begin to slide into liberalism then the entire organization will.
- It is necessary to guard against different forms of right opportunism, such as careerism, where the organization is used to advance ones career and income, or where the individual’s desire to climb the career ladder is prioritized to the point that they are compromising key organizational principles.
- We need to build a robust theoretical line that critiques choice feminism beyond just the sex trade because when we hyperfocus on anti-liberalism only in one area, we are unable to develop our politics into a comprehensive revolutionary program. And, in hyperfocusing on anti-liberalism in only one area, we are unable to recognize when liberalism and choice feminism manifest in other areas of our lives and practice.
- We must bring class politics back to the center of our politics. Otherwise, we end up advocating for politics and implementing practices that are antagonistic to the masses of oppressed and exploited women.
- We must take consideration of the mass line in addition to democratic centralism. Otherwise, the focus becomes too much on centralism and leadership takes a commandist approach to membership.
- It is important to hold struggle sessions, organizational assemblies across chapters, and creating spaces for consistent ideological struggle and criticism/self-criticism.
- In an organization comprised of oppressed genders, we must fight against patriarchal conditioning as expressed by tendencies to avoid conflict and actively struggling through issues.
- It is important to clearly define an organizations ideology and political and theoretical lines and for them to be coherent.
- Launch an internal struggle against liberalism in our organization.
- We must develop a code of conduct that takes into account the expectation of members and leadership and the ways in which their personal lives and decisions affect the wellbeing of the organization and its members.
Visions for the future of the revolutionary feminist movement:
1. We want political education and ideological development to be at the forefront of our organizing efforts.
- this applies both within our organization and in our mass work with oppressed women and people of marginalized genders who have yet to be organized. There is no future for our revolution without a full commitment to political education and the struggle that comes along with it. Any movement that puts this on the back burner will slide into hegemonic liberalism. we know that our minds and our ideas are a weapon. If we do not adequately wield them, they will be wielded against us. As proletarian women and gender minorities, we are systematically gate kept out of spaces that develop intellectual work. We seek to upend this. A militant commitment to political education is one of our greatest tools against patriarchal imperialism. Without it, we will never be free.
2. We want to work with, expand and build off of the Bodies Back Model
- we understand that the sex trade is an arm of the imperialist world system. We seek to abolish it through struggle waged by the most oppressed and exploited sectors of women and people of marginalized genders. Our foundation and starting point for this goal is the Bodies Back Model. The Bodies Back Model is principled in its stance against carceralism, white supremacy, the militarized police state and the commodification of sex. This model is just the beginning of a revolutionary line that builds a United front amongst women and gender minorities against every arm of the imperialist apparatus that keeps us in chains.
Demands and Signatories
It should be emphasized that the problem is not with the general membership. The fault for these errors lies squarely with the NEC and the revisionist leadership clique who act as if they are above the democratic mandate of the organization by installing their own leaders and manipulating outcomes of Congress.
Given the state of organizational and ideological decay;
Given the harm inflicted on members and former members by the NEC and its revisionist leadership clique;
Given the way in which current leadership defends and promotes leaders with intimate relations to imperialists and that the current chair has defended and promoted an alleged serial abuser;
Given that there were anti-democratic practices which prevented qualified congressional delegates from attending and voting in the 2022 Congress;
We unilaterally resign from AF3IRM and will continue to advance the revolutionary feminist movement elsewhere, in unity with the movement of women and oppressed genders everywhere.
Many of us are committed to building a new space for revolutionary feminists, and we invite you to join us.
- Esperanza Fonseca (Los Angeles)
- Khara Jabola-Carolus (Hawaiʻi)
- Nadine O (Hawaiʻi)
- Jacqui Méndez (Los Angeles)
- Rachel (Los Angeles)
- Sharon P (Los Angeles)
- Abigail P. (Los Angeles)
- Elaiza Armas (Los Angeles)
- Alex R. (Los Angeles)
- Tai Lee (New York)
- Kenzie N (New York)
- Gigi V (San Diego)
- Shanice L (San Diego)
- Anonymous San Diego Member
- Marisol A (San Diego)
- Anu W (San Diego)
- Anonymous Texas Chapter Coordinator (Texas)
- Jen (Texas)
- Lidia M (Texas)
- Audry (Texas)
- Lais M (Texas)
- Swati B (SF/Bay Area)
- Feroz (SF/Bay Area)
- Aly C (SF/Bay Area)
- Sonal C (SF/Bay Area)
- Laila (SF/Bay Area)
- Jenny H (SF/Bay Area)
- Anonymous Former NEC Member (SF/Bay Area)
- Anonymous Former SF/Bay Area Chapter Coordinator (SF/Bay Area)
- Anonymous former SF/Bay Area Core Member (SF/Bay Area)
- Anonymous Former SF/Bay Area General Member (SF/Bay Area)
- Anonymous former SF/Bay Area Core Member (SF/Bay Area)
- Anonymous Former SF/Bay Area Chapter Coordinator (SF/Bay Area)
- Kiera U (Portland)
- Jamie Villeda (Portland)
- Jess S (Portland)
- Julie H (Portland)
- Ariel W (Portland)
- Maria R (Portland)
- Anonymous Former Member (Portland)
- Hazel Koons (Seattle)
- Aisha U (Seattle)
- Sammi M (Seattle)
- Xuan T (Seattle)
- Tabatha D (Seattle)
- Minerva A. (Seattle)
- Graciela O (Seattle)
- Maya (Seattle)
- Kali, Chicago Chapter Coordinator (Chicago)
- Sydney Ribera, South Texas Chapter Coordinator (South Texas)
- Andrea (South Texas)
Quotes on Criticism
“We stand for active ideological struggle because it is the weapon for ensuring unity within the Party and the revolutionary organizations in the interest of our fight. Every Communist and revolutionary should take up this weapon.
But liberalism rejects ideological struggle and stands for unprincipled peace, thus giving rise to a decadent, Philistine attitude and bringing about political degeneration in certain units and individuals in the Party and the revolutionary organizations.” Mao, Combat Liberalism
“We change ourselves through active revolutionary work and conscious struggle against our wrong ideas, habits and behavior. By continuing to do revolutionary tasks and always being cautious of our own weaknesses and mistakes, we can mold ourselves in the midst of the storm of struggle against the enemies of the Filipino people. We shall become stronger, overcome our weaknesses and become more correct and more efficient in advancing the revolution.” Araling Aktibista, Activist Study
“For communist women, it is not enough for them to participate in class struggle, inner-party struggle, and inner-struggle. Often they may remain in the minority even if they belong to the majority line within the party. And because they are the product of this patriarchal structure, hence their inner-struggle consists in not only struggle against themselves as individuals but also struggle against the effect of patriarchal values on them, such as fatalistic tendency, inferiority complex, guilt syndrome, victim syndrome, etc.” Comrade Parvati
“Women have to wage a longer struggle because of their double oppression. However due to lack of subjective efforts they lose half way. For example, where they have successfully rebelled against feudal values, they have not been able to sustain themselves in class struggle. And where they have been able to wage class struggle, they have not been able to sustain in inner-party struggle. And by not participating or participating poorly in inner-party struggle they lose sharpness on ideology, thus robbing them of their chance to determine the course of the communist movement, which has so much relevance to their own liberation. Their lack of subjective effort is manifest in many ways. In the field of ideology, they fall prey to pragmatism, economism, sectarianism because they are not serious enough to study theoretical knowledge and be involved in inner-party struggle to overcome their objective conditions, which in turn breeds these tendencies because of their past objective conditions.