(2001). Luce Irigaray, Entrustment and Rethinking Strategic Organizing.
Why are women and women’s needs persistently marginalized, even in projects designed to alleviate that? Why has there been such difficulty in translating the rhetoric of women’s right to shape society into reality? Feminist theorists have pointed to hierarchical organizing strategies as one key explanation of women’s marginalization, stressing that if organizations do not learn to include everyone inside the organization, they will not have learned the political adeptness necessary to include everyone outside the organization. These feminist organizational theorists go on to argue that non-hierarchical organizing strategies aimed at including everyone are key to ending this marginalization: that by teaching, learning and sharing all the skills of organizing, including political strategizing, women’s marginalization both within and without the organization can be combated. How exactly, however, are all the skills of organizing to be shared by people who by definition are not the same, without recreating hierarchical relations? It is this link between two different people involved in the process of sharing organizing skills that I wish to explore further, by using the Irigararyan notion of entrustment. It is a way of thinking about how to construct contiguous rather than hierarchical relations between and among the different as together they organize to pursue a goal that could not be achieved individually. At both the theoretical and practical, organizational, level entrustment is fundamental: theoretically it recreates the relations between terms within the symbolic structure as contiguous rather than hierarchical, practically it provides us with ways of working contiguously as we organize together to shape the world in ways that suit all of us rather than just the privileged few.