Posts Tagged ‘Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp’

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Nonviolent Resistance (edited on the next day – in italics)

January 16, 2013

(Written with a feminist intelligence, this is, not like Gandhi or Martin Luther King would have.)

In the Avanzado 2 textbook, unit 4 is devoted to Warfare. Being a pacifist feminist, I suppose I should try to balance things a bit, posting here about nonviolent resistance, because History books, until the 20th century, like Science, and so many other areas of knowledge, have always been populated by men and wars, and men’s wars against other men. To make matters worse, they have always silenced Man’s war against women, for instance, never including in the description of casualties in war the fact that women were always raped – trophies or rubber dolls for the men that prevailed.

Humankind has been much kinder, throughout its History, but not until the 20th century did we start trying to find out evidence of this. Universities started setting up Women Studies and Peace Studies, both doing research to restore what was obliterated by men in power – kings, people with tons of money or richess, warriors, the clergy or religious reps. And then, we got the Internet, where zillions of people are leaving track of their existence, which makes it harder for manipulators to keep tricking us all. Consumerism is the new war to divert our attention from real life and real people, but it is obvious we have options, we have innumerable sources of information. We, the Jane Doe’s and the John Doe’s in/on the planet, have access to information and means of communication that allow us to travel around the world.

Nonviolent resistance is a method of social change that employs strategies such as strikes, sit-ins, boycotts and civil disobedience. In unit 4 we find some info on famous movie scenes and Spartacus is mentioned. This is an example of one of the most empowering and powerful actions human beings can undertake together without replicating the violence that tries to annihilate them. In class, I mentioned a similar example, much closer to our times: nonviolent resistance against the nazi occupation in Western Europe. People are so beautiful and powerful when they use their imagination and kindness, which is to say their intelligence, to learn to solve conflicts without generating more violence and more injustice!

Women have used nonviolent resistance constantly. But women have always been invisible in patriarchy, so they have not been acknowledged as rolemodels (and certainly not as “people who struggle”). (I don’t believe women are “natural” pacifists. The fact that women cannot use violence is part of the patriarchal rationale. I believe that if we overcome the patriarchal gender role system, we’ll develop our intelligence more, in a good way, and any kind of person will then tend to use nonviolence.)

Fortunately, the time has come when we are finally realizing that any human being is capable of using their intelligence, and that any of them should be treated with respect. Human rights is as new a notion as 1945, so it’s taken us far too long to get to this good idea. But we made it. And if we uproot the patriarchal dogmas that we have been brought up in, if we overcome them, we’ll have a chance of developing more civilized societies.

Here’s a video, “Women, War and Peace,” linked to in this Peaceful Protest Lesson Proposal. It’s just an example of all the nonviolent struggle going on that is not considered “struggle”, because patriarchy has taught us that only violent struggle is struggle, and honorable. And this is false.

564393_289129831196530_26175878_n(1)With our social movement on the streets in Spain, which we call 15M (mostly, I suppose, because “indignados” yet again just made men visible and this was unfair and feminist women and also less machista men protested — not necessary feminist, but some starting to understand or develop a feminist intelligence), and which is called the Occupy movement in English speaking countries, we have a very clear example of how good it feels, how right it feels, how intelligent it is, to use nonviolent struggle. The means should be an example of what we strive for, of the ends. Nonviolent struggle is non-hierarchical, every one can take part, from kids to the elderly, men, women, intersex people, hets, homos, bis, trans, all kinds of people, believers and people who do not believe in any kind of god (it’s not only believers like Gandhi or Luther King the ones fighting for justice through nonviolence)… not only what happens in armies around the world, right? Haven’t you seen how many things are happening where people are helping each other to protest home evictions, and also using nonviolent direct action?, this is, occupying the house, to defend the people being evicted? Or the street markets set in many neighbourhoods, where people are going back / rescuing “trueque”, bartering!

There’s the Arab Spring, too — and I know women were raped in some demos in Egypt, for instance, and we have to denounce that, but women were there fighting, too, they were taking part in this revolution, called nowadays social change, or the social movement.

On TV, have you noticed that when the demonstrations are just by young men, they’re full of violence and that when there are women, and other kinds of men (not only the Brute Force type), and all kinds of ages, from kids to old people, demonstrations are very definitely nonviolent, in spite of provocation?

Do you think there has ever been a time before where so many millions of people are demanding a better world, with less violence and injustice, to “their leaders”?

And there are people in Africa devoting their lives to nonviolent struggle, in the midst of brutal poverty and terrifying violence. And we should all learn to appreciate that, the best options we have if we want to survive as a species.

There’s much to learn from nonviolent struggle and I encourage you all to look for information, to discuss it on/in the street, at home, in bars, anywhere you can! The Franquist dictatorship taught people that we should never talk about politics or religion, and that is still operating, in spite of the fact that it is a crazy idea for democracies. It’s in our cultural unconcious memory, and we have to fight it, because it is not right. Politics is about us people living together and that should be built in cooperation, and via nonviolent struggle.

More hints:

  • Lysistrata
  • The nonviolent theory was developed by Henry David Thoreau in his essay, Civil Disobedience (1849). Thoreau’s argument that it was morally justified to peacefully resist unjust laws inspired Americans involved in the struggle against slavery and the fight for trade union rights and women’s suffrage (see also third wave feminism).
  • The Civil Rights Movement in the USA, with Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, thousands of students doing Nonviolent Direct Action, NVDA).
  • Gandhi and the Salt March. (If you are interested in more ideas about nonviolent struggle and today, you might want to read Por qué no soy gandhiana (Why I’m not a Gandhian), written from an anarchist pacifist feminist approach.)
  • The movement of Insumisión (by MOC people, who openly rejected violent action because they were/are pacifists — thought they call themselves “antimilitarists” because the term “pacifist” is not cool.
  • Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp and other pacifist feminist groups or networks, like Women in Black.
  • Indians in America (which is a continent, and not a country) have also used nonviolent struggle, against acculturization, too. And Mayan people were incredibly creative since the European invasions.
  • People’s demonstrations all over the world against the Iraq war in 2003. People all over telling their leaders: we don’t want more wars; solve conflicts differently!

There’s so much, people! Just look around you and learn to see it as valuable, empowering, powerful, intelligent! Because we’re extremely lucky to live in this extraordinary time, when people traditionally pushed to slavery and harship, like most women and a lot of men, have finally the chance to lead their own lives.

Oh my! I can’t possibly keep writing this! There are so many experiences, books, handbooks (how to do this and that), people, peoples… and I really got to relax now a bit! So mull over it! And if you’re interested, some other day I can keep posting on this! 😀

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“Going on an adventure”, Speaking in Public & Textbook Blues

November 20, 2012

In today’s monolog(ue) by Ana (Avanzado 2), on Childhood Memories, we wondered about how to word this amazing childhood experience of “going on adventures.” Ana’s sentence was something like “We used to have many adventures” (sorry if I’m misquoting). This sentence of Ana’s is correct. Still, we wondered. Jorge suggested “get into many adventures” and I mentioned “get into trouble” was quite common but wondered about “getting into adventures”. Well, Jorge, look what I found!:  “Harry and his friends get into an adventure with Voldemort.” (Harry Potter book review) Well done! Then, I don’t understand why I didn’t think of this!!: “We went on very many (childhood) adventures”, because when I was living at the wimmin’s peace camp in England (Greenham Common, remember?) one of the questions we were all often asked was “Do you feel like going on an adventure?” or “Shall we go on an adventure”? (meaning “Should we trespass on to the airbase?”).

Talking about adventures, do you miss that feeling? Well, if you like, I can tell you about how to get it! I’m kind of an expert in this! 😀 When you have to speak in public — in a Speaking Test, a speaking activity at Plenary, at an international meeting representing your company, at a meeting of any kind, in an assembly in Sol, whatever! — if you are a Spaniard and you see that you’ve got to speak in public 😀 you should count of the fact that your body is going to follow a different path to that which your mind will take! Your body will tremble, your heart will beat faster, your hands will feel icy cold and sweaty, your mouth will go dry, and generally speaking, you won’t be the best looking You! But if you practice, you’ll feel how your mind, this amazing organ we have (that becomes more intelligent and kinder the more you learn and work with it — and not against it!!), becomes amazingly focused on the activity you have to perform. Your only world at that moment is the task, not your looks, what people think of you, or the typical self-destructive assessment of “I should’ve –.” I know it sounds like scifi to the people who have not been often confronted to this arduous task, but it’s true. And this means that your mind will rapidly take over your body. You might still have a dry mouth, but your body will feel much better. I even think your body feels gratitude then, a kind of admiration to its mind! Perhaps just a minute or two will have passed, but all that body storm will be nothing because your mind will be TOTALLY ABSOLUTELY FOCUSED ON DOING THE TASK! Obviously, once the event is over, your knees will feel weak, and you will need to drink some juice and eat some chocolate or some crisps, but then you won’t care about it anymore. You’ll have succeeded in your mission, your Mission Possible! (I always visualize athletes at the Olympic Games when I have to speak in public. Well, that’s with Oposiciones, so that’s over, and when I read poems and stuff at events or in squats. I do have a hard time, in spite of being a teacher — an earthling who spends her days speaking in public. But practice helps so much! You’ve got to experience it this year!

Don’t forget this — speaking in public in class is not like speaking in public at work or in an exam. It’s much safer, it feels much safer, so please — give it a try. We’re all there to learn! You’ll be sharing your world with people and offering language material for us all to work with. You should never feel ashamed of making mistakes — that’s arrogant. When we are learning, the natural thing is we make mistakes, till we master that language item. And most importantly, mistakes — in my view — are opportunities for exploration and (self-)discovery! Mistakes are open doors to improvement. (Work on your List of Mistakes, will you?! Check above, the Page called Learn 2 Learn) Mistakes at Plenary are acts of love! because you’re offering people the chance to remember how to avoid that mistake just because you made it and they remember! (Sometimes I sound a bit demented! 😀 It’s exclamations in English! 😀 Plus, I suppose, the passion teachers are able to bring out when trying to help people understand something.) (But don’t be afraid — I’m a harmless! A pacifist!)

(And I’ve got sweets/candy for people who volunteer to speak at Plenary!)

(We could even buy a box of chocolates! /chóklits/ I’ll check prices!)

Last, I’m going to start skipping pages in the textbook, if you allow me to. But you should do it all, and ask me to post this or that. If I don’t start skipping stuff, or selecting what we WILL do together and what you need to do on your own, we will sink into the traditional lesson of learners not using their mouths or ears much and all that. In my defense I have to say that if we spent (we will not, it’s a hypothesis) all of our time together just listening to people speaking and analyzing their performance in terms of language use and in terms of textual structure and communicative strategies, and to people reading out their checked writings and we doing the same sort of thing, you would probably forget about exams and learn so much that then you’d pass the exam. Because all of this would also bring up sociocultural issues that would give you a richer knowledge of your own culture and some of the English-speaking cultures.

But academic freedom, this Constitutional right, has been crushed by an issue that should not even affect slightly academic freedom — that “parents” (really?) complain about the prices of textbooks (or that textbooks are very expensive)! What does that have to do with teachers?! Why do people who have houses and cars and all kinds of gadgets and fancy clothing complain about how much they spend in BOOKS?! This does freak me out! (What can I say? I’m a teacher!)

How much do people spend in books a year? I WONDER! (Incidentally, how many books a year do people read?) So teachers are not allowed to pick the methodology they work best with because parents can’t afford textbooks or because publishing houses are just interested in money-making! Hello, humankind in Spain: can we solve the problem rationally? And allow teachers to use the methodology they choose because transmitting knowledge and helping people learn skills is fucking difficult, and double hard if you cannot pick your method!! (We’ve got the National Curriculum, and the Local Curriculum to make sure teachers teach the same stuff in the same levels, so why can’t we let them do their job?!) I’m so angry! And so sad. Because I don’t really want to set up my own language school. I love public (state-run) education. I think it’s beautiful! Hard but beautiful. (Hard as hell in primary and secondary, but beautiful.) Just think of the people you relate to in class: it’s people from all walks of life! That is what free education for all creates: the chance of meeting all kinds of people, which is to say, the chance of learning about people, about ourselves, and also about the world. All gathered around the  shared interest in language learning. Who do you relate to in your private life? Like-minded people? Well…

OMG! I gotta go. I should be listening to your audios! 😉 Nightie night

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Greenham Common Wimmin’s Peace Camp

October 16, 2012

Today in the Avanzado 2 Tuesday group I was trying to explain that in order to be good listeners — to develop your aural skill — we need to work in different ways, and that not being a gifted listener does not imply one can never be a good one. I said I was not a gifted listener myself, and found a good contrast mentioning Nathalie’s case. Nathalie is a francophone Canadian friend (or “sister”, she’s an activist and we met in an activist location) who I met at camp (Greenham Common’s). This peace camp was in England, I was a bilingual Spanish/English, Nathalie’s English was not great, but from the start, she managed to understand all the very many different accents other women had (England is full of different accents!!, just England, not to say Britain!) and I simply couldn’t! Well, suddenly my topic was shifting to Greenham because people had never heard of this peace camp and were interested. But I realized that if I started to explain, we wouldn’t be able to meet the day’s lesson plan, so I promised that if students organized an OP (Oral Presentation) for December, I could do one myself, on Greenham.

I’d like to clarify what I clarified in class because society’s mainstream ideas about social activists are kind of wrong. I’m a pacifist, and this does not mean I despise people in the military. Actually, I believe some people in the military join this body because they want to protect people. And this we share, I mean, pacifists also want to protect people. The thing is we do so using totally opposing means — the military believes in the use of violence and pacifists believe in the use of nonviolence.

Going back to my little story, now, on second thoughts, I don’t think we would have the time for an OP on Greenham. I can speak about things I’ve been involved in for hours!! But we need to do one textbook unit a month, and the textbook is full of activities and/plus I would like people to do oral activities in the Exam Area (mons & dials, or OPs on your TV series), and also discuss our first book, Sherman Alexie’s novel, and read “useful language” and passages, and perhaps watch one of the documentaries I think people would enjoy — all of this before January!!

SO — here is a link to a project I’m involved in. Bringing life at Blue Gate (Greenham Common Wimmin’s Peace Camp) to the Internet for this last period at camp is not very documented. For the past 10 years wenever seem to get time to work on it (finish it)! BUT — it’d be also helpful for us to know what you think. I mean, you could read about Greenham in your free time, and tell me if the site is clear or confusing!! 😀 OR… YOU could prepare an OP on Greenham for December! 😀 http://www.mujerpalabra.net/activismo/greehamcommon/bloogate_eng.htm

Just a little tip: if you read the books that are recommended on this site what you will learn about Greenham is not the exactly the same as what Greenham was in its last years — for one thing, numbers dropped dramatically in terms of the actual number of women living there, and not in terms of the total number of people supporting the project and also visiting camp.

If you like, post your comments here, so we don’t have to use time in class to talk about this! 🙂

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