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+5 votes
of consent, while also failing to prevent sexual violence?"

Not a question originally from myself and frankly, having no experience with the anarchist milieu that would lend me knowledge on the subject, I can't elaborate on the question itself; but I am still curious as to what the answers may be.

edited to fix tag
by (2.8k points)
edited by

1 Answer

+7 votes
in my experience, accountability is pretty much an updated word for blame, an attempt to change our paradigms away from the judicial guilty/innocent prisoner/cop concepts. this is worth doing, but (as with "survivor") it's almost always left at a simple word change, rather than getting at the actual thinking behind the words. it's jargon. and it's not anarchist jargon, although it has been used by left-leaning anarchists.
"accountability" as a term used in feminist circles (which sometimes also call themselves anarchist) is about making people who have done something bad, make amends. there's nothing wrong with that. the problem, per usual, is all the assumptions that go unchallenged.

because the shocking information that some of us (not enough, probably) learn about abuse and violence against women has been taken to be the same in all cases, because people haven't learned how to deal with context, the response is still to act like all violent relationships are the same. the survivor is always the ultimate authority, the accused is always the problem. [this starts to break down when the survivor/perpetrator roles are not properly attached to genders - ie the survivor is supposed to be a woman and the perp is supposed to be a man. but unfortunately the break down is not a good one. it just means that people are even less likely to deal with the situation at all.]

so to the extent that the OP's point is well-taken, it's because a) people changing terminology is a smokescreen to hide unchanging paradigms and behaviors. and b) because accountability processes have been too influenced by people who are identity politicos, who find power in carving out a niche for themselves where they get to be the authority (i'm a woman, so you have to listen to me), and so use the concept of consent as one more way to work the gender divide.

the serious drag, of course, is that abuse, rape, violence, questions of consent, are real and huge. so it's not like there's a simple line to find between people of good faith and leftist politicians. jargon can be used by everyone. determining where someone is coming from and what their goals and practice really are, requires actually knowing (having a history with) folks.
by (52.8k points)
edited by
That was a good answer. Sorry I didn't elaborate earlier; I didn't feel able.
Yes, solid response.
1. Can you elaborate your point with some examples, after which I could consider the matter without just ranting free-form about my subjective interpretations of the behaviors of people who pissed me off, as though they each represented the whole of humanity. I looooove to do that, but it would not answer your question, which, I think, is a question of concern to myself, and which I don't think anyone has answered. But, a preliminary opinion, if I dare, from a rather resignationist structuralist standpoint, is that the prevention of sexual violence is not the point of the rituals that you are talking about, but only a small part of the contents of the text which is recited in acting those rituals out. It doesn't ultimately matter if results occur which correspond to the goals stated in those texts, so long as the texts are only momentary rationalizations, which make sense of a series of social movements and compulsive behaviors that no one involved actually understands, but which, without anyone's conscious agency, reinforce the identity and the power structures inherent in the group. The case, anecdotal and not empirical, that I have made in the past, is that I have observed many habitual sex offenders, in the good old fashioned sense of the word--they habitually, consciously, physically violated people when consent was questionable, impossible, and in some cases explicitly refused--maintaining places of privilege and praise in the community, and their behaviors being  excused or even praised, while people who did nothing at all, or who made distasteful jokes for which they should have been summarily slapped and told to shut up and that the were not, in fact, funny, which they surely knew, and needed a lesson in etiquette and tact; or more often in how not to speak too wittily before those who are too obtuse to recognize one's facetious references, have spent months upon months attending interrogation sessions, legitimated only by the fact that these people chose, out of some sense of duty to their "community" to acknowledge the authority of this court and comply with their arbitrary proceedings, in which everyone who ever had a problem with this person for any (italics) reason is permitted to demand a confession and apology, under penalty of being permanently branded a sex offender. There is something very Doctor Phil about it if you ask me. That fat fucker, telling people how to lose weight, who is only on T.V. because he lost his license to practice legitimate psychotherapy for having sexual relationships with his patients, telling people how to overcome their "sex addictions," this is uncannily similar to the situation that I, albeit not entirely accurately I'm sure, perceive. There are genuine rapists facilitating the "anti-authoritarian" trials of people who forgot to ask if they could slap their rape fantasy partner's ass 11 times instead of the contractually agreed upon 10. For the record, lost here in computerland, I've never been accused of anything, because I am a recluse and a misanthropic introvert. I feel that this adds at least a teensy bit of credibility to my observation. It's just not about accountability, any more than the Catholic Mass is about "for the sake of his sorrowful passion." It's about ritualizin the activities of the community in such a way as to establish, without a doubt, that they are one. I think it's awful; many who understand it the same way (Durkheim, Mauss, etc) think it's handy-dandy, but it's never about what the subjects involved say it's about. Those are just sentences imbedded in the complex semiotic web of a collective act of magic. You cannot assault or be assaulted if you're alone. Try that.
And No, I have not actually encountered an 11 vs. 10 role play ass-slaps trial. But now that I have put the idea out in the public sphere, maybe someone will be persuaded to try it. Anybody wanna slap my ass?
this is not an answer to the question. could you re-post it as a comment (just click on edit and "change to comment" will be an option you can choose).

I'm more than happy to change it to a "comment," but I disagree with you. Unnecessarily long winded and inadequate as it may be, I think what I wrote is a direct answer: The processes under discussion do not mitigate the problem of assault because that is not really the function that they serve; the pretext that they are doing this is an after the fact explanation of the ritual; the ritual serves the purpose of reinforcing group structure and identity. I am, of course, just spitting out heuristics I swallowed from a For Beginners Comic Book. I won't get in a semantics debate about the difference between an answer and a comment. I'd rather hear that my answer/comment was absolute bullshit and why and what I should be reading/experiencing in order to know why.
the prevention of sexual violence is not the point of the rituals that you are talking about, but only a small part of the contents of the text which is recited in acting those rituals out.

i'm not sure how my answer, posted a year ago, doesn't address the main point that you make, which i think is what i excerpted above. perhaps "smoke screen" and "identity politicos" is too terse for you? i have been called too terse before.
also, while i think i agree with you in the main (people who have the same or worse problems are officiating - already an indication of a issue on the anarchist front - over processes for dealing with problem behavior), your rant seems to take for granted a polarity that reflects those same dynamics (us/them, fucked up/not fucked up). while there are of course plenty of examples of pretty polarized behavior, in a context like this, where strangers are talking to each other about  a heavily loaded topic, i am extremely wary about whatever assumptions are being made - especially tacitly.
but honestly it's hard for me to read walls of text like the one you posted, especially with all the tangents you go on (however relevant they are) so it's possible i'm missing something.
it also pisses me off when fat is used as a derogatory term.
I myself am quite unaware of what assumptions I am tacitly making. I appreciate the insight you have provided by reading my unconscious. I hope I can learn to do that some day. The difference is not your terseness, but the fact that you attribute these social phenomena directly to the unscrupulous motives of these people whom you tersely refer to, whereas I denied the role of conscious agency or awareness on the part of the individuals who occupy these social structures. The difference between methodological individualism and radical structuralism is great, not that any of this really matters. I'm sorry I said "fat." I thought the word had more semantic elasticity than it apparently does, and would shift in its implicature if used specifically to refer to a self righteous hypocrite telling others how to lose weight. I forgot that words are things. See, I can read your tacit mind too. I love this blog.
Also, I happen to be a big fat fucker myself, which means not only that I can say horrible things about fat people, but also that you have to listen to me. Nyah Nyah Nyah, I win.
hmmm. you walk an interesting line. are you being hostile? or just funny? or hostilely funny? if hostile, who is it aimed at, yourself or me or everyone or something else?

anyway. i don't believe that i said i knew what your tacit assumptions are. i believe i explained that we all have them, and that without more knowledge of each other it's impossible to know what they are.

i think the point about consciousness and intent is mildly interesting (did i imply that people are conscious of their desire for power?), but i don't think an assessment of consciousness is relevant to the point being addressed by this question/answer. so i'm not sure where you got the "conscious agency or awareness on the part of individuals who occupy these social structures" as a refutation of my point?

edited to remove excessive (it turns out) humility.
I didn't refute anybody's "Point." There are no points where everything is diffuse. I can't believe your still checking this text. Aren't you busy?
What was the question, and where is the person who asked it anyway? I don't even remember what I wrote, except for "big fat fucker," and frankly I'm too lazy to read it, since I was just drunk that day. It's amazing your devoting so many of your minutes --5 or 6 now?--to my inarticulate trolling. It makes me feel special, omnipotent even! Your strings of whipping text are to me like the shrill sweet voice of the Terrible Mother singing her sweetbitter lullabies through the walls of my boundless cybernetic womb. Such serenity, such peace, such perfect uroboric security rises up from the pulsing dark of my inmost aimless empty self, what sweet assuring breeze of undying spring enters my soul with every breath when only I think to myself that, through all of the violent flux of time and desire and fear, here, deep, deep in the fathomless catacombs of the emergent, the brambles of forgotten text wrapping about silent screams, Dot Matrix will still be there, empowering my nonsense with benevolently condescending opposition, almost convincing me that what I've written is not simply a string of nonsense, making random use of terms used in academia--is not social theory itself poetry, distinguished only by only two things: first, that it is boring, second, that it is written using the rhetoric of science?--which I make use of, taunting the serious, to practice writing hendecasyllabics. YES! I must say it! I don't care if it's wrong, or if you even exist! O my heart pounds! Yes, I...I...I love you Dot Matrix, it's " ' " ' "true!" ' " ' " In this dark blogosphere, you are my ballast, or should I say "anchor?" Yes, that sounds better. My life would be so aimless without you here to, with misguided guidance, make me feel real. Yes! With the power you've given me, S-he-it!!! will soon enough be a living entity, and not simply a string of smart ass comments! What, O What would I do without you, darling?
If my confession is inappropriate, I am absolutely willing to attend an accountability session with you. O crap, you don't do that, do you, never mind. I thought that would be kind of a fun first date ";)"
two years later, i still like this.
creative trolling ftw.
Ye Gods! My darling types! The distant clicks of her invisible fingers flutter about my heart like raindrops crying "Spring! ! !" This year I waited longing and alone, amid long longing nitrous oxide puffs, webcams and tape recorders all around, weeping my quivering soliloquy, my eyes burned to the screen: "Where is my Dot ?? ! ! !" And Now! Upon the cusp of schizoid dreams, my darling Dot breaks through despondent night, Red like the dawn, green as tomato vines, a solitary light encompassed by the fathomless blck of my long desiring. With mocking praise, my Darling Darlng, O! You rip me from the cold electric grave of textual discontinuity! You are my circuit, my ethereal transcendent Signified, the moonlight just beyond my echo's reach, who shines beyond the vally where my words fall silently from my lips' precipice into the void of not understanding, never to feel the other's countenance, where monsters rise from the aporic deep, usurpers all, clutching my mangled words, bearing their slanders to the dark beyond, to weep in the shadow of Dot's terse gaze! O tell me, darling, do you love me too? ?????? Unrepenting, I objectify thee, vainly hoping to feel the tender lash. Blame me Darling! HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
you made me look up aporic. :)
This is the greatest romance I've ever read.
is frankenstein a romance? could be, i guess...
O Sweet Derision! She remembers me! Some might construe her obtuse wit as trite, but I know she is sharper than paper, to see that I had been reading Shelley. But Frankenstein was written by his wife. No matter, dear, as long as you still waste your clearly quite important time on me. sigh.
i am flat paper for your spiky art.
fwiw, i now agree that your initial response was an answer. i was wrong. (i think i needed the practice in reading you.)