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Cascadia Forest Defenders

Monkeywrenching the Misogynists in our Movements: A historical exploration of call-outs and anti-feminist backlash in Cascadia

By Kiera Loki Anderson - Earth First! Journal, December 20, 2015

There has been some attention paid within Earth First! circles about how to challenge white supremacy and patriarchy in recent years. I aim here to shed some light on the widespread misogyny present within overlapping anarchist and environmental communities. I am specifically looking at responses to interpersonal violence and misogyny in primarily white and male-dominated activist groups in Cascadia, but I also want to draw from and contribute to an understanding of how racism, classism, and ableism maintain oppression within the larger movement and society.

I spent the last two years doing interviews and archival research into feminist call-outs in the Pacific Northwest from 2000-‘05. During that period, eco-anarchist groups In Eugene, Portland, and Olympia had to expend huge amounts of energy if they wanted to keep activists safe from interpersonal abuse. These efforts were made infinitely harder by the lack of awareness straight, white activist men displayed about privilege and oppression.

I initially wanted to hear “all sides” of these call-outs. I interviewed a wide range of activists and put together a comprehensive archive of articles, zines, and web pages. I initially planned to create a healing, empowering space in which forest defenders and anarcha-feminists could hear differing experiences of that time – a calling-in of sorts – that could encourage healthier models of accountability in our movement to emerge.

However, my research challenged many of my assumptions. I’ve begun to understand the impact that widespread anti-feminist “counter-offensives” had on attempts to call out and organize against interlocking forms of oppression. The backlash also had impacts on individual survivors. In the last few years, debates about “call-out culture” have also become common in eco-anarchist circles. Although much of this writing from activist circles focuses on how call-outs are used to challenge oppressive language or actions more broadly, criticisms of “call-out culture” are often linked to criticisms of “punitive” approaches to accountability.[1]

In my own work, I’ve come across many examples of why direct action-style tactics like call-outs are necessary to challenge the entrenched and widespread oppression that marginalized activists face in supposedly “radical” activist communities. The activism of the early 2000’s, in places like Eugene or Portland, offers an exploration of how organizations and communities can either be complicit in misogyny and interpersonal abuse or actively try to challenge it. Misogyny underpins “cultures of abuse” that enable violence against marginalized women and trans people, and protects abusers and misogynists.[2]

Cascadia Forest Defenders Take Over Billboard On I-5

Press Release – Cascadia Forest Defenders, May 14, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s. 

In the early hours of the morning on May 14, 2014, members of Cascadia Forest Defenders climbed a billboard on I5, to drop a banner protesting raw log export in Oregon. The billboard, formerly carrying a message promoting the Best Western hotel chain, now reads: “Big Timber Sends Jobs Overseas. Stop Raw Log Export.”

Due to the economic recession in 2008 and the subsequent crash of the housing market, the demand for lumber in the US plummeted. Timber companies saw a rising demand for logs coming from China and started increasing the amount of raw log exports dramatically. From 2009 to 2013, raw log export from Oregon and Washington more than quadrupled, going from 1,000,000 cubic meters in 2009 to 6,000,000 cubic meters in 2013. Exporting raw logs instead of lumber means that those logs never pass through US sawmills. Instead they are sent to China to be milled there.

Log and chip exports, which make up a third of Oregon’s annual timber harvest, are responsible for the loss of thousands of domestic manufacturing jobs each year. Lane County, for example, where Weyerhaeuser is the largest private landowner and the region’s main log exporter, saw a 75 percent increase in the timber harvest from 2009 to 2012 and a concurrent 14 percent decrease in wood products manufacturing jobs. “We are constantly hearing the propaganda from the timber industry that environmentalists and the spotted owl are responsible for the loss of timber jobs in our state. But we want Oregonians to know that the timber industry is making decisions for corporate profit and against their own workers. These big companies are sabotaging their own mills to make a buck,” says Ben Jones.

Cascadia Forest Defenders also opposes Wyden’s current bill regarding the O&C lands, which would double the cut on Western Oregon BLM forests, eliminate the “survey and manage” safety net for threatened species, and eliminate public comment by getting rid of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA process). CFD realizes the issue of this bill is intertwined with the issue of log export. Because of an increase in raw log export from private forestland, counties are suffering economically, and the logging industry is responding by pressuring politicians to ramp up the cut on public land.

White Castle, a timber sale that Cascadia Forest Defenders occupied for 10 months before it went under litigation, is one of the Variable Retention Harvest clearcuts that Wyden advocates for in his O&C bill. “We don’t want to see our last 5% of never-before-logged forest clearcut. And we don’t want to hear the excuse that we need more old growth clearcuts on public land because the mills don’t have enough timber. Look at the facts. The mills don’t have enough timber because it’s all on a boat to China,” says Maria Farinacci of CFD.

This action is in solidarity with the Friends of Newport, who are currently fighting to stop a new log export terminal from being built on their shores. Erin Grady of CFD says, “Log export is bad for environmentalists, it’s bad for workers, it’s bad for logging towns and it’s bad for coastal communities. It’s bad for everyone but the landowners and the CEOs of big timber, and that is something we all need to call into question.” The billboard can be seen driving North on I-5 between the 30th St. and Glenwood Blvd exits.

The Fine Print I:

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The Fine Print II:

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