Rebecca Johnson discusses anti-militarist stance of feminism



Rebecca Johnson talks about the anti-militarist feminism she subscribed to. For her and many others, the military and the patriarchy supported and reinforced each other. To protest against one meant you were inevitably also against the other.

Do you agree with Rebecca Johnson that the military supports patriarchy and vice-versa? If so can you describe how, in a particular instance?

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Rebecca Johnson speaking at Peace Boat Rally, June 2012 photograph © Rebecca Johnson
Greenham Common peace campaign, campaigner approaches army personnel and police photograph © Mary Evans Picture Library / The Women’s Library
Greenham Common peace campaign, women near perimeter fence with musical instruments © Mary Evans Picture Library / The Women’s Library



There were so many different things going on and the wonderful thing was, they weren’t all emanating from Greenham. Unlike the Embrace the Base where it was literally was sort of fifteen women living in the mud plus a handful in London that made that happen, all of these actions were associated with Greenham women everywhere. They were being thought up and planned and implemented, you know, carried out by groups of women all over the place and so our whole politics was about feminism being everywhere and feminism, anti-militarism being very inextricable, so if you had to put one particular aspect of feminism that I think distinguished our feminism from the others, it was that for us to be really feminist required that you were anti-militarist because militarism and patriarchy were so – they, you know, militarism shored up patriarchy and patriarchy made militarism possible, so if you wanted to be a feminist that was overthrowing patriarchy, and we did [laughs], then you had to be against militarism, which didn’t mean being against individuals that were in the military. We engaged with the soldiers. Our feminism had a really strongly embedded analysis of militarism from a feminist perspective, just as we developed a strong analysis of how to be nonviolent from a feminist perspective. You know, it wasn’t passive. That I think was perhaps the distinct element that Greenham gave to feminisms all over the world, as we found out. And we had loads of women coming from all over the world and staying with us on and off for periods of time.
Rebecca Johnson discusses anti-militarist stance of feminism
19 October - 10 December 2011
Sound recording
Sisterhood and After: The Women's Liberation Oral History Project
© British Library
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British Library

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