Manifest english – long version
What we desire!
LAZ reloaded, launched jointly by women of the former LAZ and young radical lesbians in 2018, wishes to draw attention to this revolutionary movement by creating a culture of shared memories. We want to communicate our experiences with the next generation – also in a self-critical manner – in order to benefit from this mutual exchange of information and experience, thereby combining our energies. Although we have achieved quite a lot, there are still many battles ahead of us for the liberation of women and lesbians and against varying forms of discrimination: in the professional world, science, education, legislation, politics and the media, associations and clubs, art and culture. We are still struggling against the misogynistic structures of our continuing male-dominated society.
Nowadays as the reasons for the invisibility of lesbians are being fiercely debated, we wish to recall the foundation of the autonomous lesbian movement and reconnect with it. Well over 40 years ago, HAW women’s group set up the Lesbian Action Centre West Berlin (LAZ), an autonomous movement separate from the gay men of HAW (Homosexuelle Aktion West Berlin). Ideas and modes of action and resistance against the discrimination of lesbian women – compulsory heterosexuality, prevailing gender role stereotypes, the power of churches and patriarchal and capitalist structures of society – have been numerous and trailblazing.
Space for solidarity!
It is, therefore, important for us to establish new structures and female-only spaces in which we may undertake networking and in-depth discussions and exchange ideas and different viewpoints. We need areas of our own for dealing with lesbian-feminist theory and practice once more, while acting freely, aiming at a feminism that has a chance to become a lived reality among lesbians. In order to achieve this goal, the highest underlying principle is that we should respect and appreciate each other personally in a sisterly way, as well as in the wider lesbian-radical feminist community. We are cultivating critical dialogue, striving for a culture of debate that is characterised by fact-based criticism and respect for each other when dealing with a range of opinions. We reject the denigration of women/lesbians in public as well as on the Internet and social media.
Our events focus on, but are not limited to, lesbian feminism, lesbian culture and history. In general, all women (XX) – lesbian, bi or heterosexual – who share the values laid down in the German Basic Law are welcome.
We are aware that even in feminist circles, racist structures may be replicated and white women are not immune to this. We welcome women and lesbians of colour in our midst where open and critical discussions about racism are part of our ongoing awareness. As lesbians, we have the same differences among us as everybody else – whatever pigeon-hole one wants to put us in in order to defame us. What unites us is the vision of a world in which women are born free and our planet will survive.
Strengthen feminism – against patriarchy!
We are part of a worldwide movement for the liberation of women from male domination. We recognise that the world in which we are living is primarily characterised by patriarchal rule and its inherent logic of dominance and submission. We understand as essential the worldwide, millennia-old domination of men (as a group) over women (as a group) as a systematic one, as well as the exploitation, oppression and violence arising from it. We assume that patriarchy, as a self-stabilizing living system, is based on various pillars that maintain male domination: one pillar stands for hierarchically organised institutions; another is the ideology sustaining the heterosexual, patriarchal nuclear family and compulsory heterosexuality; a third encompasses legislation, religion, education, literature, media, sport, arts and science; the last includes all explicit and subtle forms of male violence against women.
We understand our shared oppression as women as being primarily sexually based, that is, targeting our female bodies, and it is intended to weaken female autonomy at all levels. We speak out against all forms of male violence and domination: domestic violence, sexual violence, femicide, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, forced pregnancy, and sexual harassment. We understand prostitution, pornography and sexual sadism to be expressions of that same male violence. As lesbians and women, we are systematically demeaned, our intellectual potential and achievements are degraded, our creativity curtailed. We do not understand “gender” as innate, but rather as a conglomeration of culturally varying, learned patterns of behaviour and feelings, role expectations and attributions, which are ritualised, eroticised, while each is linked to biological sex. We, therefore, understand “masculinity” and “femininity” as being code words for male dominance and female submission and we reject ideologies that advocate an innate “gender” and the notion of a freely chosen “gender identity”. This is a trivialisation of the complexity of gender which we renounce.
Furthermore, we recognise that patriarchal rule – with the inherent logic of dominance and submission – has created and continues to perpetuate other serious forms of oppression on a global scale. In addition to subjugation of a vast majority of human beings, patriarchal rule includes subjugation of our planet Earth as an exploitable object. The consequences for survival of all species cannot yet be fully assessed.
We are keen to create exclusive areas in which we as women/lesbians are free to share our experiences of discrimination and domination. We need spaces for women/lesbians who are fed up with the sexism and misogyny inherent in patriarchy and who feel free and comfortable among women. In addition, we strictly reject attempts by lobbyists and politicians to make women’s safe spaces, such as women’s refuges and cultural establishments, available to all. We support the continuation of existing women’s institutions that have been hard fought for, as well as the creation of new spaces. Female-only spaces would allow us to analyse the circumstances of our lives as lesbians/women without having to consider the sensitivities of men. In this way, we can experience and build up sisterhood, strengthen our lesbian identity, as well as shape the feminist movement more effectively. This does not mean that there cannot and should not be any mixed-sex spaces and activities.
We understand women-only spaces as being a fundamental principle of our liberation and our right.