Résistance féministe vs. réforme d’Ann Hansen

(version originale anglaise disponible dans la brochure Writings of the Vancouver Five à anti-politics.net/distro/2009/vancouver5-imposed.pdf)

La majorité des féministes blanches revendiquent des salaires égaux pour du travail égal, plus de garderies publiques, des lois plus strictes contre la porno et le viol, plus de financement étatique pour les groupes de femmes et des changements dans le domaine des entreprises.

Ces demandes sont appelées des réformes, parce qu’en elles-mêmes, elles ne présupposent pas la nécessité de la destruction du patriarcat dans son entièreté pour leur réalisation. Ces réformes sont demandées aux gouvernants par des voies légales comme les pétitions, le lobbying des politicien-ne-s et le support de partis politiques.

Certaines femmes croient que les réformes peuvent les libérer sans qu’il y ait destruction du capitalisme.

Elles ont grand espoir dans la réforme du patriarcat, particulièrement en Amérique du Nord, si les femmes sont blanches et veulent prendre une personnalité masculine. Certaines féministes radicales voient les réformes comme des gains à court terme qui deviendront le terrain de lutte du mouvement révolutionnaire pour la destruction du patriarcat. Trop souvent, leur travail de revendication à court terme occulte leurs buts révolutionnaires et fixe les méthodes qu’elles utilisent. Par exemple, pour changer les lois pour réprimer la pornographie, leurs méthodes vont généralement impliquer le dialogue avec les représentant-e-s gouvernementaux, des campagnes de lettres et des pétitions. Si tout ce qu’une femme fait de ses journées est d’être attelée à changer la loi alors ses aspirations révolutionnaires secrètes resteront de l’ordre des rêves.

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À propos d’Ann Hansen et de Juliet Belmas, sur la violence révolutionnaire, sur Direct Action et sur les Wimmin’s Fire Brigade ainsi que sur la lutte contre le patriarcat en général

Tiré de la brochure This is not a love story : Armed Struggles against the Institutions of Patriarchy (Ceci n’est pas une histoire d’amour : luttes armées contre les institutions du patriarcat)

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I Have Not Signed A Treaty With Any Government: A Brief Look At “Direct Action” and “The Wimmin’s Fire Brigade »

(from http://libcom.org/library/i-have-not-signed-treaty-any-government-brief-look-%E2%80%9Cdirect-action%E2%80%9D-%E2%80%9C-wimmin%E2%80%99s-fire-briga)


In 1982, five Canadian anti-authoritarian activists, variously known as Direct Action, the Wimmin’s Fire Brigade, and the Vancouver Five, conducted a highly visible series of guerrilla actions against patriarchal, industrial civilization. When the five anarchists — two wimmin and three men — who comprised these cells were finally captured by the Canadian state in 1983, they were charged with a host of clandestine attacks on industries that represented some of the most notorious war criminals, environmental despoilers, and exploiters of wimmin and children.

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Being Direct – An Interview With Ann Hansen by Deanna Radford (published first in Herizons magazine)


Ann Hansen was a member of the militant group Direct Action, also known as The Squamish Five. Formed in the early 1980s during an era of punk rock, radical counter-cultural politics and an active anarchist community. Direct Action was made up of Hansen, Julie Belmas, Brent Taylor, Doug Stewart and Gerry Hannah. They lived and worked as an underground cell.


Belonging to a radical group, Direct Action’s members were united in their desire to draw attention to the environmental impact of hydro development, and to Canada’s contribution to the arms race. Some Direct Action members stole dynamite and built a bomb that destroyed the Cheekeye-Dunsmuir Hydro substation in rural BC. Later, members built a bomb that exploded outside of the Litton Industries plant in Toronto, where guidance system components for cruise missiles were manufactured. The blast caused millions of dollars in property damage. While no one was killed, there were several injuries. Ann Hansen was also part of the Wimmin’s Fire Brigade, which claimed responsibility for firebombing three locations of Red Hot Video in Vancouver and won the tacit approval of many women’s organizations.Sentenced to life in prison, Hansen was released in 1991 after serving seven years at the Prison for Women in Kingston. In 2001, she wrote Direct Action: Memoirs of an Urban Guerilla. Based on her recollections, on newspaper articles and on court documents, it is a story that is impossibly true and unbelievable, simultaneously passionate and enthralling. A must-read for modern activists, Direct Actionrepresents a glimpse into a controversial chapter in Canadian protest history. Lire la suite

We Don’t Care What You Say by Grant Shilling


20 years after, Grant Shilling ponders the legacy of the « Squamish Five » and the future of punk activism in a post-9/11 world.

Well, come on, man you better jump right in
This is one game that everybody’s in
Don’t care where you’ve been, don’t care how you look
It’s hell fire, man, you’re in, you gotta cook
We don’t care what you say – fuck you!

– » Fuck You » by Gerry « Useless » Hannah, Subhumans

It’s November 2001 and Joey « Shithead » Keithley of DOA, the legendary Vancouver punk group, is firing up a Cumberland, British Columbia crowd with a chorus of cathartic FUCK YOUs. The put-downs are for the province’s Liberal government and their bone-headed decision to remove the « Ginger Goodwin Way » signs that dot the new Vancouver Island Autobahn. The signs were designated in 1996 by the NDP provincial government in memory of the labour martyr, who was shot in the back by the RCMP in 1918 in the woods just outside of Cumberland. Keithley, who has written a song about Goodwin, was invited by local labour leaders to take part in the Cumberland rally. Ginger Goodwin was a worker’s friend who fought for a 40-hour work week. Many consider Goodwin the Che Guevara of the region. Others consider him a coward for taking a pacifist’s stand during World War I.

 » Fuck You » is an old Subhuman’s song, which DOA initially covered in 1983 as part of a benefit single to provide support for Subhuman singer Gerry Hannah and the other members of the Squamish Five. « Fuck You » is the verbal equivalent of a bomb. It is a total rejection of structure, power or polite society. « Fuck You » is non-negotiable, nihilistic and knowing. It is the essence of punk and once uttered it often finds its agents. Hannah was one of those agents.
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This Is Not A Love Story: Armed Struggle Against The Institutions Of Patriarchy by Ann Hansen and Juliet Belmas

Many feminist theorists and activists categorically condemn « violence »– be it offensive or defensive, physical or verbal–on the grounds that « violence » (an extremely ambiguous term in itself) has it’s roots in patriarchal culture and the patriarchal mindset, and is somehow the « invention » of men– as if violence doesn’t appear everywhere in the natural world in myriad forms, usually contributing in significant ways to the balance of local ecosystems. While certain feminist thinkers put forth an analysis of violence and hierarchical power relationships that is well worth considering, a wholesale condemnation of revolutionary violence aimed at the destruction of that which oppresses us is a gross oversimplification of an extremely complex situation: that is, the web of patriarchal tyranny that all of us, wimmin and men alike, find ourselves born into, where violence is used by our oppressors to enforce our political and social submission, and where we are all desperately looking for effective ways to reclaim our lives. Analyzing the role of armed resistance movements (and wimmins participation in them) in the larger liberation struggle against patriarchy and civilization from an entirely « essentialist » perspective — as Robin Morgan does in her often cited work The Demon Lover — is a misleading and deceptive form of Herstorical revisionism, as it completely discounts the lives of wimmin like Harriet Tubman, who led armed guerrilla raids into the southern united states (basically a slave-owning armed camp) to rescue fellow New Afrikans from captivity, as well as numerous other wimmin like Assata Shakur, Marilyn Buck, and Bernadhine Dhorn, who enthusiastically embraced armed struggle as a tactic and had no regrets about it. This article will not attempt to defend armed struggle (because in our opinion it requires no justification) but will instead focus on two very specific groups (of many) that engaged in violent rebellion against the institutions of patriarchy.

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Direct Action/Ann Hansen, in conversation with Peter Steven of Between the Lines Press, 2001

from http://www.kersplebedeb.com/mystuff/profiles/vancouverfive.html


Peter Steven: Direct Action is a book about radical politics that might seem uncomfortably close to advocating violence. Given the events of September 11 in the U.S. what are your thoughts and feelings about what happened in New York and Washington?

Ann Hansen: My first reaction was deep sorrow for those who died and compassion for those who must endure the pain of living without those people. Sadly, those who died were the innocent victims of both the suicide-bombers and the U.S. legacy in the Middle East. Sadly, because those who died were no more responsible for U.S. foreign policy than the Afghan people are of the Taliban’s policies.

PS: During your days in the early 1980s as a member of « The Squamish Five » or « Direct Action » you committed robberies, firebombed stores, and toppled hydro towers, in British Columbia, and bombed the Litton plant in Toronto. Most people who pick up your book will want to know if you still believe in political violence. How do you respond?

AH: I am certainly not opposed to peaceful protest. Yet, I also believe that to make real social change people and movements must be prepared to go beyond. In some cases that means so-called political violence. We didn’t see ourselves as terrorists. I prefer the term sabotage because that implies a strategic action, with references to economic issues, and not simply a violent reaction or lashing out in frustration. I don’t agree with terrorism as a political tactic because it is morally wrong to punish the innocent for the crimes of their leaders. And it’s not politically effective because fear does not enlighten people, but instead will often drive them to support even more reactionary actions by their leaders.

Our goals were to expose Litton’s role in arms production and to stop the environmental destruction within B.C.

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On the history of Direct Action/Gone Digital: Access to Information on the Anarchist Movement

Video with Allan Antliff and Ann Hansen by B-Channel News


Originally published at B-Channel News

The online archive was launched on September 7 and was established out of collaboration between Dr. Allan Antliff, Canada Research Chair in Modern Art, and the University of Victoria, MacPherson Library Special Collections and Archives. The inaugural event featured guest speaker Ann Hansen, a freelance writer from Ontario who wrote about her experiences with the Squamish Five in a book titled: Direct Action: Memoirs of an Urban Guerrilla.

“A really successful movements is going to be one where you have a really strong, vibrant alternative value system, alternative culture and where we are coming at the corporations and the state from all kinds of angles, legal actions, little legal actions and if necessary the bigger ones too,” said Hansen during her talk at the inauguration.

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