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why and how is sexual assault/violence silenced in anarchist communities?

–3 votes
and ideas on how to change this silencing.
asked Oct 4, 2013 by emma (3,930 points)
The difficult part of trying to answer this question is the question of what is an Anarchist community ?
I have never been to one.
The closest thing is having been able to attend the Anarchist Study Group in Berkeley once. It is probably the only time I have heard and experienced directly anarchistic conversations and attitudes (I loved it). I don't know if a hour and half to two hour anarchistic hang out counts as community.
I don't know if the random info about the ASG Berkeley is helpful, its more about me pondering what is an Anarchist community ?
I have helped run an infoshop, organize a radical reading group, a Food Not Bombs, Free School classes, coordinate radical events for a cooperative bookstore...but in all the situations, none could be considered Anarchist or an Anarchist Community, because I was basically the only Anarchist out of dozens or so people.

2 Answers

+1 vote
dude, i have no idea what or where you're talking about.
a) sexual assault is treated pretty much the same in various spaces that i've been in: it's both valorized as something that is horrible, and not addressed because it's complicated and difficult and people would rather not deal.
b) to the extent that it is maybe different for anarchists than from strictly straight society (wetf that means), the accusation of it is used as a bludgeon (aka some events that happened in ny, at least as far as i can tell given that i'm not in ny and am only hearing about it third and fourth hand where someone who was actually agreeing that there was a problem was beat with a baseball bat by a group). obviously that is not common, but the reasoning behind it is, i think, pretty common. which is that men are guilty, women are innocent, and anything goes in defense of innocence.

where on earth do you get the idea that people are silenced in anarchist groups (or at least any more or differently from other groups/scenes)? home of the accountability process, etc...

as to how to change silencing in whatever scene, who knows. fight patriarchy and shit. one of the things that i want to see happening, around lots of complicated conflicts, is people talking about the issue before it becomes a crisis, and discussing (for example) what they would do if abuse and/or the accusation of abuse happened. small groups of friends, not big groups of strangers, so that the conversations are more nuanced and culture specific. one of the goals being to avoid having to call the cops, who of course, generally make things worse.
anyway, this is a huge topic. pamphlets have been written.
answered Oct 5, 2013 by dot (50,590 points)
first of all i'm not a dude, thank you very much.

perhaps i should have phrased the question, "what sorts of silencing of sexual abuse have you encountered in your community?"

sounds like in your answer (after much whining about your interpretation of the question) you suggest people talking about these things before they become an issue (tho i would say it's always an issue, just most of it is invisible), which i respect and have done and can say that's rarely enough. implementation of transformative justice groups seems like a helpful thing other communities have done.

no shit pamphlets have been written. isn't one point of this site to have the questions and answers more obvious and accessible to people who might not otherwise know things about anarchism? as well as a space to dialogue about serious shit in our communities? your dismissal of this seems typical of silencing behavior (re: "i have no idea what you're talking about").

can't say i'm surprised since aragorn made this site to encounter some silencing behaviors.
you seem to be privy to information about this site that no one else is. fascinating.

not sure why my disagreement with you counts as either silencing or dismissal. also not sure why you point out that my modest suggestion wouldn't be enough (as opposed to all the other things that have totally worked?). also not sure where you got the idea that this site is a space to "dialog about serious shit in Our Communities", since it sure as shit doesn't say that anywhere on here...

ps: and if you call *that* a lot of whining, i hope you never actually hear me whine. your head might break.
you're so defensive
lol. next you'll be calling me hysterical.
Or male-identified...
"Other communities...."?
btw, i think my comment "pamphlets have been written" is off, and emma was correct to call me on that.
i was responding to my own sense that this is one of those things that is not helpfully discussed on line.
like sex work, it is one of those topics that people talk about a lot, but about which little can be said unless the people discussing it trust each other, which is not something that happens online or from exchanging pamphlets.
this understanding of the limitations of online communication is also why i would never propose that this site be used to "dialog about serious shit in our communities" (never mind my other issues with that wording).

but obviously i didn't say any of that.

(unless one understands what "blah" means. one would need to be a fluent speaker of Blah.)
–5 votes
Sexual violence is silenced in communities by:
-no public spaces to talk about it (typically the spaces to talk about these things are silenced by white men who can come to dominate many anarchist scenes. this is not a dig against being a man or being white, it is a dig against patriarchy and white supremacy).
-no support networks for those who have experienced sexual violence to contact. (most groups of people, in this case anarchists, lack support structures to deal with these forms of abuse). philly stands up and similar transformative justice groups are the exceptions in most communities.
-care work in general tending to go unrecognized in anarchist (and obviously non-anarchist) communities.

society. patriarchy. capitalism. civilization. policing. white supremacy.

how to change the silencing?
talk about abuse in your community. talk to survivors, be attentive to what they want. care for each other. attack.
answered Oct 6, 2013 by emma (3,930 points)
i think the possibility of a constructive conversation here is low. i found dot's initial reply to be typical of "dudes" i've met in anarchist scenes who are likely to be perpetrators (jargon alert!), which is why i was upset. like pretty ridiculous to ask a question about sexual violence and then hear "huh? what are you talking about?!"
and talking about race and gender does not equate to "baiting". calling it baiting is messed up.
alc, i've read some of your other words on this site and i appreciate them.
dot and lawrence, you remind me of the kids who were rude to all us "social inferiors" in public schools. which, i'm sure you'll have something witty and troll-y to say about.
as far as "insider" knowledge, i was just trying to make a jab at aragorn, who i think is a terrible person, nothing else. i didn't think it was "insider knowledge" that aragorn (co-?)created this site. i heard him say this the other night. at a presentation where he was directly silencing (and open about the fact that he was silencing to the person afterward) conversation leading to discussion about sexual assault in anarchist scenes. this is messed up.
The possibility of constructive conversations on this site is actually rather high, considering the level on other sites. You might want to check out some of the other conversations that have occurred here before you make such a subjectively dismissive assessment.

You don't like Aragorn? Fine. You don't like how dot and I response to your posts? Fine. But now dot and I are guilty by association because we frequently post on this site? Why are you conflating the two?

Now who's being defensive? "Social inferiors"? What the fuck is that about? I have nothing witty to say about that, primarily because I find it coming out of left field, a non sequitur.

Rudeness is subjective. I am frequently frustrated by what I consider bad faith arguments and jargon-laden comments. My responses can be considered curt and dismissive, and, yes, rude. But here's the thing: I can usually tell when someone is asking sincere questions or making comments with a particular agenda, or to score rhetorical points. Your initial question, the one that dot didn't understand (nor did I), was not really a question, but an accusation. Talk about rude...
not for emma, who i don't expect will be able to hear anything i have to say, but for others who either haven't weighed in or have not yet found this site:

either mishearing or intentionally misunderstanding... i did not say "huh what are you talking about" about violence, i said it about the idea that there is more or different silencing within anarchist circles. or that anarchists are special in any way around this topic (aside from the accountability process that alc appropriately called a quagmire).

waving one's hand at race and gender "white men, but not white men" is a short cut, and button pushing. the issues of race and class and sexuality etc, are of course meaningful and relevant (when they are), and should be handled with respect, even when one is being brief. if you don't, then i might downvote your comment (a fate worse than death).

my preference is for people to make jabs that make sense. the sight of people stabbing wildly into the air has gotten tiresome over the years. i want anarchists to have good aim.
thanks for clarifying.

what do you mean by handled with respect? i'm not really into handling most people with respect (just the ones i choose to). which is perhaps similar way that you not wanting to "wear kid gloves" around people who have survived sexual abuse. just wondering now...
the various ways that people are oppressed are worth being as clear and specific as possible about. wasn't talking about handling people.

and i was attempting to say that i don't assume that survivors want to be considered fragile or precarious.

thanks for the questions, loaded as they may be.