To change our situations the strategies we use will be as diverse as our oppressions. For them to be successful the solidarities must be built on more than middle class political analysis and mainstream categories.Solidarity is built on shared experience, common concerns and trust. In a society whose biggest weapon against us is our isoltion, gathering to share, to shit, to argue, eat, criticise and play is essential in building solidarity. When I meet with other womyn, I do so to build not to divide.
From December 5th-12th 1986, I and about 60 other womyn met for such a gathering - an Australian Anarcho-Feminist camp.This was held miles from urban civilisation, in a secluded glen, near an ice-cold mountain stream on northern Victorian crownland. I dug shit-pits, screamed in the freezing river - it was the only way to warm the water; worked in the food preparation groups; tumbled with squealing children in a game of leeches and lemmings; and collected firewood' and sunburn, an ant bite on my bare white buttock and a thorn- removed by a team of womyn with tweezers, needles, tea-tree oil and a poultice pre pared from the mountain's herbs.
The camp was severely battered by heavy rainfall in the first few days.Car loads of womyn were washed to the nearest laundromat and then back into the few crowded dry tents. Others went further to warm beds in Melbourne. I ended up with a group of womyn, none of whom I'd met before, in a vandalized shack a couple of miles from the drenched campsite. We cleaned the shack and lit the fire and it became our shelter during the wettest weather. Other womyn visited and together we removed the walls' violent and predominately anti-womyn graffitti, painting instead our own multi-colored pictures. I talked and listened, sang, slept and finally back amongst tents came down with a strange virus which threw me into 'sleeping bag' despite copious amounts of camomile and peppermint tea.
What did we talk about? Anarchism, organisation and group dynamics; Anarchism, feminism and anarcho-ferninism; class, work place and lifestyle; addiction and co-addiction; paedophilia and incest; separatism; police protection and bashings; street theatre; feminism Anarchism and ecology; centralisation; spirituality;motherhood, children and education; affinity groups; Government funding; peace bike ride; womyn's refuges; squatting; how we each live; Anarcho- syndicalism and the ASF; networking; racism; direct action strategies; WFS peace camps; co-operatives and apathy; monogamy, polygamy and sexuality; prison; the 1975 Anarcho-Feminist Conference; the AACC, the 1987 Anarchica Conference; the camp's aims, direction and organisation, etc, etc.The list is in many ways meaningless. We talked a lot yet not enough about many things.The topics were important but the unusually high number of clear, demanding, active womyn prepared to argue with and listen to each other was exhilarating. As was the ease with which the children established their right to find their own friends - most of whom were adults, having a great time.
I wanted more time, better weather and a bus load of unknown womyn from Sydney to arrive spontaneously - they didn't. The camp was attended by Melbourne and Canberra womyn plus 2 womyn from Sydney. So much for the Australian centre of Anarchist bookshops. Why were there so few womyn from Sydney at the camp?