Making change

Combahee River Collective Statement (1977)

The changing ways of change

Stoking change in our society has itself undergone change in the past generation, with little agreement.  Some folks think the younger generations went soft, and don't have the gumption to protest anymore1. It seems to me that the way we protest has changed, though, and even if we don't reinvent the wheel, we may need to tweak it.  On a daily basis, I identify with the concept that the best way to help others is to be beyond need for help oneself2, but there is a point where I will fight, push and agitate.  That point is not necessarily a commonality.

Handing down the wheel they invented

Based on the shared experience of a collective of black feminists who met from 1974-1977, the steps for change they used were:

  1. Create and attend support group
  2. Attend relevant conferences and meet other groups for change
  3. Continue as a consciousness-raising group
  4. Address interpersonal differences among group
  5. Utilize study group
  6. Write, Publish, Distribute
  7. Organize
  8. Practice Politics

Balancing the drive

I spent some time working in government, and I argue that there is a certain amount of good in having government steeped in beaurocracy.  You don't want your government swaying and changing with routine or haste (or personal politics like vengeance and pride), and you want this slowness to increase the more encompassing the authority.  Local government can react quicker than State than Federal, which is beneficial because at the local level, if your government passes a new law that you can't abide, you can get up and move an hour away and be free of it.  When new laws are passed at the national level, you are committing everyone to that change with little option for recourse.

You also don't want your government taking risks the way the private sector does.  It's a plodding process, but it has its advantages.


Eroticizing equality is a tall order.  Myself and Progressive Erotica as a project have followed some of the steps for change that the Combahee ladies used, but not consistently in person.  Many folks have found success using the internet to find their groups and get organized.  If nothing else, I know the PE project has sparked a lot of personal growth and great conversations around the country.  I see this as a request for social change, but it's not a policy issue.  I imagine PE to be a small part of a large, slow movement.


With thanks to Combahee River Collective Statement (1977), Revolutionary Rumors PRESS, Partido de la Izquierda Erotica - PIE - Party of the Erotic Left

1 I read an interview with Neil Young a few years back during the Bush years where he railed against the younger generation, saying the older folks would have to stand up and do the work since we weren't.  I can't find this on the internet now, but it's a common theme if you just google his name and "blame".

2 I Am That by Sri Maharaj

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