Alexandra Tweten created an instagram account that compiles screen shots of harassing messages directed at women in retaliation for rejection.
After seeing these disturbing messages grouped together, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that our society has a misogyny problem. The same forces that taught Elliot Roger that he was justified in murdering women for rejecting him, the cultural atmosphere that says it’s OK for hundreds of men to catcall any woman in a public space, the thing that drives men to brutally injure women who ignore them are all connected to the sense of toxic entitlement some men possess.
While Bye Felipe (a take on the meme “Bye Felicia”) uses humor to take away some of the power these insults may carry, I also like to point folks to the Tumblr “When Women Refuse,” which chronicles the serious problem of actual…
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Following on from our statement last year on police harassment of activists, and the subsequent march on a police sation brandishing flaming torches, and our more recent demo in solidarity with Furguson, Mo, we are pleased to put our name to the recent Bristol Defendant Solidarity statement. The latest wave of police harassment and the history behind it is detailed by the anarchist bookfair collective, and the statement itself is signed and supported by numerous anarchist groups in and around Bristol. Here is the statement in full:
Police in Bristol appear to be stepping up their so far fruitless efforts to find individual anarchists and those that they think are responsible for property destruction actions over the last few years in Bristol. One year after their firearms training centre at Portishead was burnt down, they have turned to…
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Here’s a black poppy for this Remembrance Day.
This goes out to those who who died in, and all those who resisted and continue to resist, the capitalists’ wars. To those who mutinied, went on strike, shirked, refused to kill. For all those they executed for deserting. No more “future soldiers” or sycophantic, slavish patriotism.
Let’s take the fight to the bosses! For disobedience and class war!
I wrote this at the start of this year for inclusion into a zine on accountability. I’m still waiting for it to be published, so I got bored and I’m putting it on here. I hope people find it helpful:
TW: Accountability and Consent breaches.
This one is for the “Perps” engaging in restorative justice. The people who want to get better.
I’m not writing this from a holier than thou angle, I’m writing this because I have hurt people, I have put my desires before other people’s feelings and safety. I manipulated people, I broke their trust and breached their boundaries. I took advantage of them because I could only think about my dick, even when I knew it was wrong. I didn’t care. When I got called out it didn’t really sink in. They were wrong! It was their fault! If they had said or done things differently this would never have happened!
This was a pattern on behaviour I couldn’t see in myself. I didn’t behave like that, I was pro-feminist. An ally. An anarchist. I didn’t need a quiet word, I needed a fucking kick in. Instead, and all for the better, I got an e-mail. An invite to begin an accountability process. A process that put my life on hold and sent me to a very dark place, but a process that made me understand what I was doing and why I did it. The ability to see things from other peoples perspectives, and an opportunity. An opportunity to accept responsibility, for restitution and for re-authoring my identity.
I have many criticisms of these accountability processes, a process that has made these past few month the darkest and most painful I have experienced. I recommend reading “Accounting for Ourselves: Breaking the Impasse around Assault and Abuse in Anarchist Scenes” by Crimethinc and “The Broken Teapot” for well constructed critiques of accountability in its present form. However, the only person that put me in this position was me. So I want to talk about using this opportunity positively.
Firstly, Deal with it! When I got called out I began to wallow in self pity, even re-reading the above I see words such as “Dark” and “Painful”. I was only interested in how I felt, in letting people know how guilty I felt. I centred what happened around me. I guess this is a relatively natural response. In the mens group I attend someone else brought up doing this when he has hurt people and everyone there enthusiastically nodded along. In the zine “Ex Masculus” Vanessa Vendetta also raises this issue of perpetrators self pity, self loathing and depression.
I don’t have a way to make this not happen but hopefully you can recognise it now. This is likely the most important step in your process. Without reassessing your priorities there is little that can be done in terms of accountability. The pamphlet “As if they were human: A different take on perpetrator accountability.” Explores how these feelings come about and supports my theory that these emotions are normal. We just need to be able to manage them.
But who invariably deals with accountability in our communities? Women. Potential survivors. The survivor themselves. People close to the survivor. People who are understandably angry. So when I pulled down the shutters and only cared about my feelings, the people I hurt got more angry and I got more upset. Vendetta covers this in the article “With or Without You” saying: “I want him to stop putting off facing the things within him that allowed him to rape so that we don’t lose yet another aspiring radical to the jaws of unaccountable-escape-land. …I end up using the energy I could otherwise put in to being emotionally supportive to a survivor doing what I see as damage control through political and intellectual work around sexual violence prevention and accountability processes…”
Accept responsibility. I wasted time on arguing my point of view. Your perspective may be different, but the perspective of the person you hurt is equally as valid. Semantics and technicalities are not important. So take responsibility.
Get support. I didn’t think anyone would want to support me, I was scared they would hate me, but when people did offer support it made a world of difference. They made me see things clearly, get perspective and showed me that I wasn’t going mad when I couldn’t see a way forward. Counselling also had many benefits as it gave me the opportunity to voice my thoughts and feelings in a safer space and have someone else make sense of my confusion over many aspects of what was happening. I used counselling for social change, which are a great service for activists, and they were very important in me getting my head around what was happening.
Do what is requested. Hopefully the process is “survivor led”, that is the person you hurt will provide requirements for you to fulfil. See this as just one aspect of your process however, not the be all and end all, so make changes to yourself on your own initiative. Self improvement is not something we should be doing when we are told to because we fucked up, it should be a part of our every day lives.
Learn & Listen to how the other person(s) feel. I took what people said to me seriously, but it didn’t really sink in. I was too caught up in my own emotional turmoil, shame and guilt to care about anyone else. For me, reading up on the subject helped. One thing I did was go on to zinelibrary.info the Anarchist library and print off everything I could find on the subject. I read and read until it consumed me, until I couldn’t think about anything else. Maybe I took it too far, on reflection I used it as self-flagellation. But there are loads of great zines to read, some of which I have mentioned here. When I read them some said the same things that the people I hurt had said, and then I could begin to understand what they had meant, to understand their anger. All the zines I mention here are available for free online. Use these resources, they will not get mad at you, they exist to help so read everything you can
Be open and honest. This is very hard and something that I am still struggling to do. It is also important to maintain anonymity of any people who require it. I started with close friends, they were nice about it but always agreed with everything I said. For me, progress began when I told people I trusted but didn’t know that well. I was surprised at how sportive they were while still being able to look at my situation objectively and critically analyse my progress and actions within the process. For me this was the biggest leap forward, it is hard but the most positive step I took.
Re-author your identity. I came across the concept in Todd Augusta-Scott’s article “Letters From Prison: Re-Authoring Identity with men who have perpetrated sexual violence”, in the pamphlet “As If They Were Human”. I have not come across this idea in any of my other reading yet it is pretty clear to me that this is vital to the process of restoration. It is this concept alone that gave me the desire to continue with the process when I wanted to walk away.
Do not believe your identity is fixed. The language of accountability is intimidating: Abuse, violence, assault, victim, perpetrator, rape etc. Many times I felt there was simply no point in continuing, as nothing I could do would make any difference, it would never be enough, I was just a bad person. Augusta-Scott describes how within this generally heteronormative process, it can feel that men are totalised to a one-dimensional “perpetrator” identity, and women are reduced to the one dimensional identity of “survivor”. It is our opportunity to challenge this kind of gender essentialism existent in the process. Not via rape apologism, point scoring arguments or refusal to engage, but via actively embracing the process in order to take steps to re-author our identity.
One area I disagreed with my mediator (the person who was the go between and support for both myself and the person I hurt) about was when he said, in reference to my actions and behaviours: “This is part of who you are.” Well, no. Though I accept what I think he was getting at, which is that I should not hide from what happened, and the process of self betterment and accountability is an ongoing process, why do these identities have to be a part of who I am? Why can’t they be a part of who I was? Without the opportunity for re-authoring identity provided by the accountability process and our community as a whole then there is little incentive to engage in accountability. If we brand every one with no hope of rehabilitation or restoration, then we lose all hope of real justice and just re-create the system we seek to dissolve.
Restitution. Re-authoring identity does not serve to mitigate responsibility for the seriousness of the hurt caused. It instead provides us the ability to face our actions, be able to stop repeating our hurtful behaviours and to address the affects our actions have had on others.
Augusta-Scott highlights that restitution does not carry any entitlement for forgiveness or reconciliation. As it is sometimes unlikely to be able to take steps for restitution directly with those hurt, I found giving something back to the community was a way to move towards restitution, such as forming an anti patriarchy group or otherwise taking steps to challenge the systems that lead to sexual violence and breaches of consent. For me, writing this article is part of that process. I hope people will read this, and I hope it will help them in their journey of accountability, and that as a community we can move towards the world we want to see.
Engaging in such a process is hard, but the right thing to do.
I’m hosting two workshops at the Newport Rising event next week (Fersiwn Gymraeg yma). It’s being put on by the lovely folk of the Anarchist Action Network, just over the Bridge. It is part of a wider run of events under the banner of the Anarchist Traveling Circus. It looks quite like the Co-Mutiny week we did here in Bristol a few years back after the 2009 Anarchist Bookfair. It doesn’t feel like that was almost five years ago!
On Tuesday 27th May I’m doing a crash course in first aid from 4pm-6pm. It’s only two hours so I can’t do much but I can do enough of the basics so you can keep someone alive that otherwise may have not made it before an ambulance arrives plus some other useful bits to keep your comrades in the land of the living. That’s got to be worth 2hrs of your time, right?
Of course there are loads of workshops and events throughout the whole week so check out the program and get over the Newport, the event is aimed at everyone, not just activist types. However with NATO heading there for their big shindig this September it seems wise to meet friendly faces and have a mosey around…
Right-o, I’m off to have a barbecue in the rain!
This years Bristol Anarchist Bookfair was another great day. I facilitated the first panel discussion of the day titled “Is Bart Simpson an Anarchist?”. People were not up for talking much, nor was I, hence all the ums.
Though only a few people spoke, seven in total from a room of 22 people, there were some interesting points and hopefully it will lead to more debate. A visual count suggested around 20 men and 2 women so that wasn’t great. But some good and interesting points were made by those who spoke. It’s definitely a start of having this discussion and progressing it in the future.
Please have a listen and add your comments and thoughts on the role of Work and Money within anarchism at the bottom. I’d like to get more points of view.
Contributions without the microphone were cut and they couldn’t be heard on the recording. Sorry of the buzz and echo its a really bad room for sound.
Listen to the Audio of the discussion here – https://soundcloud.com/bod-andrage/bookfairtalk2014-simpson
After my workshop last year was an all around stressful experience I thought it seemed sensible this year to do two!
My first one kicks off the Bookfair at 12.20 in the main assembly room upstairs. I don’t like that room, its big and echoes and the seats get set out in rows with a table at the front so we face everyone like teachers. I think I may take the mic and go stand next to the seats… or maybe that will be worse?
Here’s the blurb from the program. “Is Bart Simpson an Anarchist? – We felt some of Bart Simpson’s calculations on this year’s bookfair poster were at best debatable and at worst problematic. Does Work minus Bosses, or Money minus Bankers really equal anarchy? What do we mean by the term “Work” anyway? And can money really have a role in an Anarchist society?”
This one came out of some people not being too happy with the Bart Simpson poster for the bookfair and it sparked a bit of a debate so I decided to continue it at the bookfair. I’m completely winging this one and relying totally on other people speaking so I can just introduce the debate and take stack. We have been given an hour and a half but I hope to keep it to one hour as I’ve got a million other things to do on the day.
The second workshop is in “The Room with a View”. I assume the name is ironic as from what I remember the were not even any windows in it. Here’s the blurb: “Why Men Against Patriarchy? An Introduction and Q&A with one of Bristol’s newest groups. What is patriarchy and why should men challenge it? What do we talk about? Do men have a role in feminism? Why have meetings for men only? How can we confront patriarchy? What are our future plans? All genders welcome.”
I had this room last year for the workshop I did. It’s designed to hold 12-15 and I had over 25 in there. I had to turn people away. I’ve already spoken to a number of people who want to come, so it may well be another full one. I would have liked a bigger room but the organisers have to judge what would be popular and give spaces accordingly. The Trinity is a great venue in some ways but suffers with having small spaces for meetings.
Calling it a Q&A gives the wrong impression. I’m hoping people will pose questions about men’s role in challenging patriarchy, but I’m hoping where possible all attendees will be able to answer the questions as a group. I’m also bringing paper and pens along so people can suggest ideas for our meeting and events and if we have time maybe explore some of them. In the last couple of days I’ve met some men who have had conflicting views about men’s role in feminism. It gave me a chance to see how my answers to those concerns go down. Someone else kindly informed me they were planning on coming to the meeting to shout stuff out and tell us what we are “doing it wrong and what you should be doing instead”. Well, I think she was probably just joking and I just took it seriously, hopefully people will put their hand up instead, rather than disturbing the meeting, or write their ideas down on the paper provided. I’m more than up for listening to all concerns (that’s why we hare having the workshop) and working on addressing them or incorporating the ideas into how the group functions.
One of the purposes of this workshop is to increase transparency and give an incite into how our meetings functions. Also we want to use the opportunity to get ideas for more public events and actions, as this is a direction we want to start to move the group more, along side our current meetings. I’d encourage people to come along. We don’t have all the answers but we can try, and where we can’t answer we can explore the themes and issues around them. I hopefully will have a handout ready by then. If I do I will put one up here too. I like handouts!
Hope to see you all there.
I recently went to an interesting discussion on gender roles around work in the Men Confronting Patriarchy group I attend. (I hope to write my notes up about that at some point soon.) Also I jus read the zine “Gender Roles in Conversation” by Corrine Monet (1997), a summarised excerpt from her thesis.
At some points during reading the zine I felt a bit defensive, as Monet repeatedly asserts that men’s behaviour in mixed gender conversation is about domination and critiques others who present other – agreeably marginal – reasons for men’s conversational characteristics causing “glitches” in the theoretical conversational model. I felt like Monet’s text generalised that men not only dominate conversations (which I readily agree with) and that this is intentional (with which I mainly agree), but also that this is a conscious decision. Maybe this was just my defensive male reading of the text, so this is definitely an area I’d like to discuss more.
Felt I had to share this inspiring story with you. Much love for the Mobile Anarchist School and comrade working hard in the Philippines.
Onsite Infoshop: Mobile Anarchist School volunteers and its immediate network have no time to rest; right after our first mission, we came back to Manila just to complete the requirements for “Climate Crises and Direct Action Forum” where we shared the details of our initiative in Leyte.
We able to gather resources enough to support six volunteers for 15 days action. We discussed the details of our second mission and carefully outlined our plan based on our experience.
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