Gender and Class (Jim Craven)

nancybrumback at cs.com nancybrumback at cs.com
Sat Aug 10 21:21:12 MDT 2002


From: Craven, Jim
Subject: RE: Gender and Class
Date: Thu, 08 Aug 2002 21:05:24 -0700

From: nancybrumback at cs.com
> how the marxist
> movement could support the anti-war movement of the 60s (definitely a
> cross-class movement) but not the feminist movements of the 60s and 70s.

Response (Jim C) But I have to be really blunt here: I have seen very few self-described
"feminists" (of the variety that are into women/feminist only groups) that
have supported tangibly Indian struggles; I have seen few Gay activists
among those who are members of Gay only groups, that have tangibly supported
Indian struggles against genocide and for self-determination; I have seen
very few "ethnic" activists who belong to a group with only particular
ethnic group members in it that have linked-up with and supported Indian
struggles. This may be my limited experiences or biased sampling but this
has been my experience.

So Nancy, what have you done tangibly (in writing, demonstrations or
whatever) to support the just struggles of Indigenous Peoples against
colonialism, imperialism, racism and genocide and for independence,
self-determination and sovereignty of nations? Or, to take it to the gender
level, what concrete struggles of Indigenous women have you participated in
or even written about? How many reserves/reservations have you been on?
Which women Indigenous activists do you know and how many have you tangibly
helped?

I respond:

I will talk about my most protracted contribution to the struggles of indigenous peoples, because the tangible would include the demonstrations and pow wows
attended, agitation around and participation in Indigeneous Peoples Day, etc., which I can't remember each one after almost 40 years of activism.  But I can
remember teaching at New College of California for the past 15 years, where
I have included the struggles of indigeneous peoples in my curriculum in
various ways: hiring native american women to come to my class and talk
about their lives (i can specifically remember three or four who taught for me)
and some native american men as well, including books in my reading such
as Kirkpatrick Sales, The Conquest of Paradise; Carolyn Merchant, Ecological
Revolutions; Howard Zinn, A People's History of the US; John Opie, An
Environmental History of the US; and several others which i cannot remember
the names of right now -- it was about ten years ago that i used them. At this
moment, I'm helping one on my best students, a native american woman, try
to get grants to go for and get her Ph.D. (Oh another book, Jerry Mander's
In the Absence of the Sacred, and I hired Jerry to come teach some classes
for me too.) For all this time, I have been trying to write my own book, and
maybe I actually will do so before I go senile.

I will add -- because I think you have a picture of me as a rich ivory-tower
feminist, that the college i work for is an activist college, focused on social
change, and none of us make much money. I make less than your local
grocery story clerk, and the president makes about 10% more than i do
just because the accrediting association will not allow an egalitarian pay
scale. The program i work for is a degree-completion program for
working people, usual age range is 30-50, mostly working class people
who for whatever reason, usually poverty, did not get their Harvard degrees
at the age of 22. We work all year round with no summers off, no retirement
benefits, and only minimal health insurance. The retirement thing is getting
to be a big problem, because most of the faculty are old activists from the
1960s -- probably we are the only ones who are still idealistic enough to
keep working for the lowest wages paid to any college faculty in the US.
Qualified younger teachers do not consider New College as part of their
career path, and I must say that now, at age 65, i don't blame them.

But don't get me wrong. I love the college and its weird mix of radicalism in
all things cultural, artistic, and political. I've learned a whole lot working
there and experienced a great deal of gratification.

Jim again: Notice I am asking not assuming what you may or may not have
done in a particular area. You may want to try the same as I am sure that on this
list you have both women and men activists who have perhaps paid a whole
lot more dues and know a whole lot more about Marxism than you.

I respond: Of course I don't think that I have paid more dues or know more about
Marxism than anyone else on the list. I am sorry you interpreted my post in this way.
What I meant was not that there was no participation, but that there was no
integration of feminist theory and marxist theory wherein women are regarded
not only as producers (in the places of production), but also as reproducers (in
family).

nancy

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