All my life I could not accept the role of the classical woman in society. It was like a cage that had nothing to do with me. I could not and did not want to meet the expectations that were placed on me as a young woman and sought ways out. I came into contact with queer feminism and was very inspired by the analysis that men and women are constructs that oppress us. The proposed solution, to overcome these “binary” categories in order to overcome patriarchy, convinced me for some time. I began to live and embody this conviction as a non-binary person. My initial conflict with the role ascribed to me as a young woman became a deep conflict with femininity itself and thus with myself.
I did not understand at that time yet which way I had taken with it and which consequences that would have. I began to hate everything feminine about me and wanted to change my body and my appearance. I was killing the woman in me and thus cutting off the connection to a rich history of resistance, cutting off my connection to my body and its natural processes, and I started to become more and more like a male role model. So I was happy when on some days I was mistaken by strangers for a boy. I wore mostly men’s clothes and cut my hair short. My life changed completely. There were many people with whom I could share this change. Many people who, like me, were searching for answers and ways out of the patriarchy. However, also many new difficulties arose. It was not only the trips to doctors and offices to change my identity by changing the gender entry in the personal register, to have myself “officially” confirmed by the state. There were also many social conflicts. The feeling of being constantly misunderstood narrowed my view very much to myself, and while bombs were falling in Kurdistan I argued with my family and other people about pronouns.
Instead of drawing strength from organizing and community, and engaging in political struggles with clarity, I pulled out more and more because I was very exhausted and lacked energy. I thought that by not being binary, I could gain more clarity about myself and accordingly to be able to develop also a stronger will. However, this was not the case. The alienation from my body, my history, and organized contexts drove me even more into the institutions and counseling centers of the state that are designed to break people’s own will. In all that time, however, I had never completely given up my search for freedom and the right life. That is why I could not be satisfied with the answers I found. Was this supposed to be the solution? This was the way to freedom? I felt that I could not come closer to freedom in this way, that I was stuck in a dead end.
Once friends took me to a demonstration against the war in Kurdistan. The energy and the fighting spirit of the Kurdish society at the demonstration caught my attention. When the defense writings of Rêber APO (Abdullah Ocalan) fell into my hands and I started to read, I could understand more and more where this strength and this hope to fight came from and I wanted to get closer. However, I was torn between the queer-feminist context and the struggle of the Kurdish freedom movement. I was trying to generate attention for my topic, queer-feminism, and “educate” the Kurdish friends that there are more than two genders and that their ideology of women’s liberation could certainly be well complemented over time by a gender diversity approach. I had not yet developed an understanding of the depth of patriarchy, let alone Orientalism, and did not understand that I was not approaching at eye level but trying to impose my worldview on the spaces.
What we didn’t deal with in the queer-feminist spaces was to develop a deeper understanding of history, to understand where the oppression we experience today is rooted and to fight it with the right methods. Thus, it was only in studying the defense writings of Abdullah Ocalan and the Jineoloji, the science of women, that I learned that we must look back at least 7,000 years in history to understand the roots of patriarchy. For almost 5,000 years, the identity of women (and men) and life on Mother Earth has been played with.
Only on this basis could I understand my problem more deeply. My search made me understand how far I had moved away from myself. I realized that I was living in a shell created by the system, no matter what I called it. It is so important to ask ourselves what the meaning of being a woman actually is. After all, identity is not an individual question or decision. It is always tied to our social environment, our natural environment, and the epoch we live in. Our personality and identity are always historical and collective events. The less we know who we are, the less we can develop our own will. The weaker we are the more we are getting step by step into the hands of the capitalist system. Finally, the crisis of humanity is based on the alienation of women from themselves, of humanity from nature and freedom. So my crisis was not an individual crisis or a crisis detached from history, but a part of the greatest crisis of humanity we are living through today. The colonial exploitative system of capitalism is based on the annihilation of woman, life and freedom. It attacks women with great trickery at all levels, through violence, feminicides, and the alienation of young women from themselves.
Rêber Apo’s analysis are so enlightening for me because they get to the root of the problems created around women’s identity. This is how it is with revolution in general. Only when we can understand and change something from its root can we get one step closer to truth and freedom. It was through Rêber Apo that I really understood and saw clearly what it is that makes me feel so uncomfortable and at the same time, through women’s liberation ideology which Rêber Apo has driven forward, I understood what methods it takes to create real and profound change and not just change the form. The capitalist system tries to satisfy us with superficial changes and mislead us with a twisted understanding of freedom, so that we are no longer able to ask the right questions and thus move forward.
The answers I had found in queer-feminism up to that point began to seem superficial and insufficient. Little by little I was able to accept woman as a struggle-identity, but without allowing real feelings. Today I am struggling to feel and embody the deep meaning of my reality as a woman again, through the integrity of history, body and being. It is an identity full of contradictions but also full of history, beauty and women comrades in whose embrace I exist. Organizing ourselves as young women is a declaration of war on the patriarchal system and it is the strongest revolutionary force, both in history and today!
Internationalist Commune of Rojava,