How Women Can Strike Fear into the Patriarchy: Lessons from a 1960s Radicalist
Bernardine Dohrn, the most wanted woman in the world, on the power of protest.
Bernarndine Dohrn used to be a fugitive. After multiple arrests, she went into hiding and was on the lam for 11 years, even making it on to the FBI's Most Wanted List—one of the first women to appear there. All because she protested the U.S. government.
She's delighted that young women today are doing the same, she tells MarieClaire.com about the women's strike planned for March 8 and the women's march back in January. "I'm in awe of the young people who are showing up," Dohrn says. "Trump is a dangerous, dangerous, dangerous neo-fascist," she says. "Having somebody in office who said all of these hateful things about women, for example, or about Muslims, or about disabled people—the list goes on and on—is really frightening."
As a 20-something in the 1960s, Dohrn felt she was witnessing a frightening government abusing its power. She became a member of Students for a Democratic Society and later a leader of the Weather Underground. The radical left-wing organization bombed government buildings, incited violence, and organized "Days of Rage" in October 1969 encouraging protesters to smash windows and assault police officers.
On May 21, 1970, the group declared war on the United States; Dohrn was the one to read their statement to the press. "We've been trying to show how it is possible to overcome the frustration and impotence that comes from trying to reform this system," she said. "Tens of thousands have learned that protest and marches don't do it. Revolutionary violence is the only way." By the time she surrendered in 1980, most of the charges against her and her cohorts had been dropped due to the FBI's illegal methods of their pursuit.
The mother of the resistance, as she has come to be known, avoids comparisons between the protests of 1969 and today. "You live in your historical moment," she says. "One of the challenges that each person has is to name their historical moment so they can figure out where they fit, and therefore which issues or concerns have to be on their agenda." Still, she admits: "Young people today, by and large, they're more respectful than we were."
DOES DOHRN STILL STAND BY HER NOTORIOUS ASSERTION THAT "VIOLENCE IS THE ONLY WAY" TO BRING ABOUT CHANGE?
Modern protests thus far, while massive, have been remarkably peaceful—though it's imperative Women's Strike and International Women's Day is Tomorrow - Tips from Famous Protestor Bernardine Dohrn on Changing Policy: