Crucial issues like the need for childcare, male violence against women, women’s broader responsibility for reproductive work, what constitutes knowledge and the conditions of its production, are still not a significant part of radical discourse. This is the material basis of sexist attitudes. We need a radical movement that programmatically places at the center of its struggle the eradication of social inequalities and the eradication of the divisions between production and reproduction, school and home, school and community, inherent to the capitalist division of labor. I hope I will not be charged with gender bias if I say that it is above all the task of women to ensure that this will occur. Liberation begins at home, when those who are oppressed take their destiny into their hands. Challenging sexism and racism cannot be expected from those who benefit from them at least in the short term, although men should not be exonerated from the responsibility of opposing inequitable relations. In other words, we should not expect that, because we are in a radical setting, the forces that shape relations between men and women in the broader society will have no effect on our politics. This is why despite the leap in the number of female students in the classrooms, the terms of women’s presence on the campuses and in radical groups has not qualitatively changed. What has prevailed, instead, has been the neo-liberal ideology of equal opportunity that has validated gender and racial hierarchies in the name of merit and valorized the social qualities needed for competition in the labor market. These are all essentially the traditional attributed of masculinity: self-promotion, aggressiveness, capacity to hide one’s vulnerability. I cannot stress enough that radical politics cannot succeed unless we challenge the existence of these attitudes in our midst. It is time, then, that the broader transformative vision which feminism promoted at least in its initial radical phase, before it was subsumed under a neo-liberal/institutional agenda, be revitalized. This time, however, we must fight for the eradication of not only gender hierarchies but all unequal power relations in our schools, in this process also redefining what is knowledge, who is a knowledge producer, and how can intellectual work support a liberation struggle rather functioning as an instrument of social division.
« Political Work with Women and as Women in the Present Conditions: Interview with Silvia Federici » in Reclamations, Issue 3, December 2010