When Archie and the rest of the Riverdale gang went punk in the 1979 comic-book spoof Anarchie, Betty and Veronica had marginal roles in fomenting revolution. Today, in a local Riverdale—Maryland, that is—the four core members of the Tute Nere Anarchist Women’s Collective are trying to change that gender dynamic.
In the so-far five issues of their house publication, also called Tute Nere—Italian for “black overalls,” something collective member Annie (no last name, please) heard last summer during her visit to Genoa, Italy, for the G8 protests—the group has outlined a plan to combat gender bias within the anarchist movement and encourage other women to join by giving them a familiar point of entry.
“We thought it was important to have a monthly anarchist magazine that came out of a militant female perspective,” Annie says. “Our ultimate goal is getting rid of the capitalist structure. But in order to do that, we need more women involved in this….One of the crucial ways of doing that is giving something, like a magazine, that people can get their hands on and say, ‘Oh, these are women putting this out. These are women organizing, going to these events, writing these pieces—hmm, I bet I could do this, too.’”
The group got together in August of last year and immediately printed up its first issue. Since then, its “monthly” ‘zine hasn’t been quite that regular. A major obstacle has been the group’s involvement in other projects, such as organizing January’s Anarchist Book Fair at American University. Tute Nere is at work on its sixth issue now.
From the start, the ‘zine has presented a mix of historical pieces, documentation of radical action, and articles on how personal experience reflects political reality. One of the most powerful pieces from Issue No. 3 is a compilation of women’s experiences confronting the anarchist boys club. (Tute Nere’s motto: “Black bloc not just for your boyfriend.”) “I think every subculture runs into the same problems of the main culture,” Annie admits. “We all have the same issues like racism, sexism, homophobia, and all this sort of stuff we have to battle with….I think anarchists really do try to deal with these things and confront them, which is good, but there are still problems.
“We want other women to feel like, Yeah, if we want to go into a black bloc, we can go into a black bloc; if we want to organize collective cells, we can organize collective cells,” Annie continues. “We can be a part of anarchist history, anarchist theory, anarchist organizing—whether it is more confrontational tactics or more pacifistic tactics, because both are present.” —Jeff Bagato