Anarchist Towns: Anarcha-Feminist
Well, this one should be interesting. I will go out on a limb and say that this is probably my least understood flavor of anarchism. Very little of my reading has even tangentially covered topics typically associated with anarcha-feminism, and many sources I read are (to put it charitably) not kind to third-wave feminism and its current incarnation. Hopefully, I can challenge myself to hit the same half-charitable/half-strawman style parody of this flavor anarchy as I did with my favorite flavors.
The more I think about these wildly different approaches to anarchy, though, the more I see the goodness in such a wide variety of anarchists. I have not encountered one yet where I don’t see the underlying power and logic to its approach. Each has at least one fundamental aspect of modern society that it questions that could use a grand overhaul. Weirdly though, while I become more panarchist in general, I am even more strongly anarcho-capitalist personally. What an interesting journey life is.
The Town’s Philosophy
Gender constructs and rulers have oppressed society. While the female oppression is obvious, given a patriarchal society, even males have been captured by and wounded by such a system that breeds unrealistic standards and devastating social constraints. This manifests as an illegitimate hierarchy just as much as government and needs to be overthrown if people are to be free of unjust power dynamics that make up the core of anarchist critique. Without rulers must be extended to include the disembodied rulers of societal constriction through gender normativity.
“Authoritarian traits and values—domination, exploitation, aggression, competition, etc.—are integral to hierarchical civilizations and are seen as “masculine.” In contrast, non-authoritarian traits and values—cooperation, sharing, compassion, sensitivity—are regarded as “feminine,” and devalued.”
The History of the Town
It started with the grumblings of a few bitter, enlightened women and their allies: those outspoken opponents of hierarchy and patriarchy of the local nobility. Things really began picking up steam when, on a whim, they took up the cause of the burly miners and surly sailors when work conditions became harsh. More than a few deaths were caused by a relentless push for war production. The empathy displayed by the anarcha-feminist movement was enough to win over these ‘manly men’ to honestly hear out what the feminists were saying. The miners and sailors, with their eyes finally opened to the self-destructive nature of gender roles forced on them, joined in heartily with the anarcha-feminists. Having shattered the misconceptions held by men, the feminine philosophers turned their awakened supporters and with a hasty alliance to the noble’s war-weary detractors, ousted the nobles. A fresh victory put the anarcha-feminist leaders in a powerful position, they have could taken up leadership as many clamored for them to do, installing a matriarchy to correct past wrongs. Whether due to taking the moral high ground or more likely the practical limitations of subduing an already armed and rebellious people, they instead spent their hard fought goodwill on bringing the people together to work towards eliminating the gender hierarchy. With everyone free to express themselves, the people would be truer to themselves and never again will any government be able to subjugate them.
Without the continual flux of lower class emulating the rich who need the next big thing to impress along patriarchal lines, everyone is allowed to be comfortable being who they are. Whether that means having six of the same dress or never wearing the same thing twice. This ends up leading most people to get invested into their regional/traditional quirks with a personal flair, notwithstanding a large minority of eccentrics.
The morality of these people centers around keeping love free, leveling the power dynamics between people, and elevating the historically oppressed through opportunity and platforming. They value equality and helping those less fortunate to stand on their own and find their voice.
Community based judgement are handed down by conventions of the locals when someone brings forward a charge of criminality. What is unusual about their system is that charges are based on the well-being costs associated with any given action. It could be a crime to produce goods if the means of production were exclusionary or the goods were being used to hold power over others. Theft or even assault could be the natural and appropriate actions against someone who wields unjust power, and would not only be perfectly moral but may even be added to the charges against the ‘victim’ for necessitating such extreme measures.
Generally, these things don’t come up much but when they do, full weight is given to every person’s testimony, with added weight being given to those seen as the lesser or weaker of the two complainants. History, socioeconomic status, and all manner of identity markers are taken into account when judging any particular case. The community as a whole decides these things. The powerful and advantaged within the community hearing are expected to notice any unearned privileges they may have and correspondingly speak less or give more platform to those lesser than them to even the balance.
Economy here has been expanded to include a lot of work traditional done by women and minorities. Things included to be considered work worthy to be paid for by the community are care work, house work, child rearing, and other roles generally ignored as part of the productive sphere. All production in the area is expected to contribute a fair share to the community pool to be paid out for these historically unpaid jobs. Value and coinage here is priced in the well-being it provides rather than tied to resources or subjective sale value. In most cases, this works out to roughly the same price, but it puts the focus on how things create value for others rather than a profit for the producer.
With full freedom to escape traditional norms, people have surprisingly stayed mostly with what works. Traditional home styles, with personal flourishes, are pretty common, with people taking pride in their town identity now that it is not a forced norm. Although, it is not uncommon to find wildly eccentric new homes, architectures, and furnishings as people feel free to experiment. Without the force of hierarchies or worries of appearing low-class if they fail to switch to the new “hot thing”, most people stay relatively static and modify their own lifestyles only after significant evidence of improvement.
1D6 PEOPLE YOU’LL MEET
- A male protestor that won’t leave you alone. He hates anyone who would choose to be in a traditional or traditional-seeming gender role. He assumes the worst and strawpersons everyone.
- A body modification trans-humanist who speaks with lots of psychobabble about non-traditional medicine and chakras. Zhe is open minded to new beliefs and is very much more interested in listening than in talking, but will gladly do so if asked.
- A kind hearted, if senile old man content with the changes and happy to be living with his life partners, having raised over two dozen bright young minds between the five of them.
- A childhood trauma victim from a nearby war-torn place happy to have found peace in an accepting place. Understands power dynamics and hierarchies more viscerally than most others and calmly and rationally advocates for the weak.
- A gender nihilist calmly working to erase all gender and its related expressions. Thinks that any and all gender and sex differences amount to hierarchy and power dynamics, and therefore must be eliminated. Is unsure of how to do this, but it will most likely require force to get people to abandon their coping mechanisms called ‘genders’. Xe may inevitably express sympathies towards a benevolent dictatorship run by people like xir to establish such a thing.
- A free loving asexual, flamboyantly poetic-romantic and lyrical man. He is all about the idealization and proliferation of love as the perfect expression of human-value and utility. He is less than interested in the physical dealings of it though, seeing it as a sort of deviation from the platonic ideal. He has interesting theories about how much more productive he is able to be since he doesn’t need sex.
1D6 THINGS THAT MIGHT HAPPEN
- A traditional harvest festival is taking place except that it has been updated to be also about the liberation of the people from government and gender hierarchy. Free love is encouraged and many out of town folk have shown up with plenty of gifts. Getting tangled up with someone may lead to misunderstandings in the future if players aren’t clear with their midnight rendezvous.
- A homeless man is being berated by a well dressed young woman, demanding that he renounce his male hierarchy and take consideration of her troubles. She has plenty of friends in town and they would probably rule in her favor unless extreme measures are taken.
- A couple is in the middle of a knock-down drag-out fight, with the larger more shouldered on winning. Turns out to be the larger woman beating up her smaller androgynous woman partner. She will fly into a rage if approached, she was infected with rabies.
- An androgynous preteen wearing a kilt and a blouse starts following the players silently, curiously investigating the things they do. The child copies their actions, mimicking deep voices for the men and high pitched sing-song voices of the woman. The child is exploring their gender roles, but it could very easily seem like mocking. A positive interaction may net the players a follower eager to learn about adventuring.
- A female baker is struggling to keep her shop afloat, after expressing an enjoyment of traditional gender roles after moving here with her husband and children. Without some new business, say hungry adventurers, she may have to close up shop. She won’t starve thanks to the begrudging equality of the town, but she really loves baking and won’t ask but needs help convincing the town. The husband is just about fed up with these shrill women. He’s really just angry and frustrated and scared because they have nowhere else to go, traditional gender roles of their old town forbids their multi-ethnic relationship.
- An eccentric witch in full garb spots the players and invites them in. She moved energetically despite her age, and will hit on attractive players. Even if her advances are spurned, she will take kindly to gentle and generous characters, letting them know they are welcome anytime. She may ask for some favors and knit the players scarves or hats or the like as favors in kind. If they get to know her well, she may request some rare and dangerous magical ingredients from her old coven, which she left long ago due to abuse.