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We asked: why is the war in Ukraine a feminist question? Frieda Afary interviews a Ukrainian and a Russian feminist

Commons, Wikimedia

Note of LeftEast editors: Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the war continues to have devastating effects on women. In the conditions of war, the processes of life-making are extremely precarious as cities are shelled, encircled, and public infrastructure like hospitals and schools continues to be under attack. In cities like Mariupol majority women, children, and the elderly had been stranded for days without water, electricity, food, and basic necessities. While feminists in Ukraine have joined the resistance in volunteer territorial defense units as well as mutual aid organizing, feminists in Russia have founded the Feminist Anti-War Resistance the day after Russia’s invasion. In her conversations with Oksana Dutchak, a socialist feminist from Ukraine, and Ella Rossman, a feminist from Russia, Frieda Afary – an Iranian American activist, librarian and translator –inquires about what solidarity with the Ukrainian struggle means for feminists globally. The interviews, first published on Frieda’s website reveal that the heteronormative, ‘traditional family values’ turn in Russia under Putin in the 2010s, his government’s collaboration with the far right in other countries, inform Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Moreover, using a feminist reading of violence and war, Russia’s actions can be characterized as ‘old school misogynist’ behaviour, paralleling abusive relationships coupled with rhetoric about ‘saving’.  These discussions open space for feminists to theorize war and gender in a new light. Among other important issues, Afray’s interviews cover questions like the different treatment of refugees and implicit racism, how Ukraine is perceived to be fighting with a European enemy, Ukrainian feminists’ reaction to Putin’s misogyny, persecution of independent critical media in Russia, and how solidarity with Ukraine means solidarity against white supremacy

Click on links under photos to listen to the respective interviews.

Frieda Afary’s Interview with Oksana Dutchak, a Ukrainian Socialist Feminist