'Group Dynamics'; a crock of shit? [was Sexual Violence]

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dara
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Oct 25 2006 17:05
'Group Dynamics'; a crock of shit? [was Sexual Violence]

So...

Sexual violence is not properly dealt with in anarchist circles, nor is it treated as an issue to organise around in the same way that racism is. It would be worth discussing potential ways of organising around sexual violence, inside of anarchist circles and also as a wider issue to try and change the dominant apathy towards it.

Any ideas?

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Oct 25 2006 17:22

Do you mean sexual assault, and/or violence within relationshps?

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Steven.
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Oct 25 2006 17:24

Here's what zobag suggested on the RAG thread:

zobag wrote:
John. wrote:
As for this:

JDMF wrote:
So why isn't anarchist movement reacting to this? [rape]

Well i think a lot of this is just what can we do? I mean with big things like pension cuts or wars they affect large numbers of people at once. Something like rape is worker-on-worker, atomised and very sporadic. It'd be a bit like anarchists opposing mugging, although even harder cos muggings happen in streets by strangers whereas rape is mostly by blokes at parties or after dates or relationships or whatever (so organising street patrols would achieve fuck all). So it's the kind of thing like domestic violence which just takes a mass cultural change. Will say more later...

But this is what I'm trying to say (or maybe i just thought about saying it and didn't get round to it...). Just waiting for "mass cultural change" isn't good enough. It's nothing like anarchists opposing mugging, and to be honest I find that suggestion really quite crass. But you did say you were in a hurry... If someone tells you they've been mugged, there's no blurry line with people scratching their heads wondering "where they really mugged? Or did they just misinterpret that person's attraction to their handbag? Did they lead them on? Perhaps they were teasing the mugger..." Muggings don't tend to happen in your home (most rapes are in either the victim's home or the rapist's home) nor are they carried out by people you know, nor if the 'mugger" is reported, caught and brought to trial do they stand a very high chance of being let off with no punishment. I could go on...

And I'm pretty sure that rapes effect a lot of people at any one time. Like around one in four women, and their families and friends and partners...

And what I'm trying to say is that this is the wrong way of looking at it. There's no legislation that can change this, no harsher sentences. I've heard people on here have a remarkably defeatist attitude towards rape before (we can't over-ride the right to be innocent before proven guilty, so i guess we'll have to resign ourselves to knowing that while rape is like bad and stuff, it just happens) but this is totally the wrong angle. We CAN do stuff. We can take the gloves off and start talking about it amongst ourselves. We can realise that this is a big issue that affects an extortionate amount of people, if not directly then implicitly (i.e. it may not have happened to you or your girlfriend or your sister yet, but hey you never know when it might).

It could start with looking at ourselves, the assumptions we hold about rape. That might include such daunting prospects of actually getting people together to meet (yes, in a room without forums) and hashing stuff out and talking about it. Or thinking about ways we could tackle the problem next time someone we know is assaulted or raped. The example from RAG being a case in point. It could also involve taking some of the ideas and thoughts that have been raised on this thread and in RAG and making a fuss about it, challenging other people's ideas, making other people think about alternative ways of dealing with rape. There's so much we can do.

And no, it's not easy and no it doesn't hold "the workplace" as the holy ground of organising (although, it could, sexual harassment at work is a big issue, I know of one office - public sector, with a female boss, sorry - which had a persistent nasty pervert who got let off cos no one did anything) so yeah it involves thinking about things a little differently. But it definately is possible, there is stuff we can do, and really we ought to do it.

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Oct 25 2006 17:29
revol68 wrote:
as much as I think rape and that are issues that need to be discussed I really don't see what can be done to tackle it in a direct manner, I mean i've taken numerous kickings in the street and of coruse they tie into wider social discourse but I don't think it's an issue that can be organised around, rather it's an issue that is tackled indirectly. I mean there is nothing empowering about assault, sexual or otherwise, and as such any struggle against it must look to a terrain beyond such acts, even though the brutality of such acts and the powerlessness they engender can make this difficult. If we start from a stand point of victimhood we will never get beyond this and furthermore our victimhood becomes another set of chains on our heads as the state/patriarch/mackinnonites move in to "protect" ie certain liberal commentators calling for lowering the burden of evidence, and removing the ability of a women to consent to sex if she's been drinking (cos the dears need protected from themselves like). What is most dangerous is that such appeals come on the back of a very real and legitimate disgust at rape conviction rates and so a understandable desire to "do something" can become counter productive sound bite legislation that actually disempowers us further and ultimately flows into the social dynamics that make rape so common. We start out building a fortress and end up in a prison.

zobag wrote:
Revol - I see what you're saying, but if you think there's nothing that can be done about it, what do you make of the case earlier on in the thread, from Dublin, where two women who were assualted got together, talked about it, talked about it with other people, and found a way of mediating with the guy who did it? Sure it didn't stop it from ever having happened but surely that's a way of organising around it?

I wasn't saying I want conviction rates up, or anything like that, I was trying to think of different ways to tackle the problem without demonising all men that don't rely on finding ways to "punish", cos it's always gonna be hard to prove stuff like this.

I'm not really talking about prevention or ways to dole out justice or vengence, but ok so say someone we know is assaulted or raped, we know who did it, what do we do with him? How do we get him to acknowledge what he did, and try and challenge it? Surely this is something that can be achieved somehow, or at least worked towards. You said earlier on it's a personal thing, that there's no big campaign or mobilisation we can work towards and I agree (i think) to a point, but if we instead have to deal with it on a case-by-case basis, how should we do that?

...and i don't think dealing with assault in the way I've mentioned above counts as starting from a standpoint of victimhood. Again I know exactly what you mean, but at the end of the day you can't get round the fact that an assault constitutes someone being fucked over by someone else.

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Oct 25 2006 17:49
revol68 wrote:
zobag wrote:
...and i don't think dealing with assault in the way I've mentioned above counts as starting from a standpoint of victimhood. Again I know exactly what you mean, but at the end of the day you can't get round the fact that an assault constitutes someone being fucked over by someone else.

I know this but the point is what can we do about it? How do we fight that? I mean if we wish to tackle crime and anti social behaviour we don't make it the focus of organising, rather you tackle the other issues that make it so prevalent, disempowerment, alienation, lack of resources etc.

I've gotten kickings just walking around my home town for being a "fenian faggot", but I wouldn't try and make it a political issue or to organise around it. I mean clearly it is a political issue in that it's tied into allsorts of power relationships but it's not a political issue in the sense that it can be organised around in a really collective way, though in certain circumstances it could well be in a symbolic manner ie a sectarian murder that people protest, but ultimately such protests just temporarily articulate disgust and don't offer enough on their own to get to the root of the issue.

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Oct 25 2006 18:17

i dont know, i dont buy this "cant do" stuff, its second time its been raised already today, first with climate change and then now with sexual violence.

Two issues discussed here.

Firstly about the root causes, didnt we already lay out a few ideas on how to combat the root causes of sexual violence, how to combat sexism, hierarchies and so on at workplaces, in culture, in our own behaviour, in our own political groups, meetings and events and so on.

Second issue was about how to deal about this after it has happened, and i think the contributions have been good.

So because i is thick, could you guys explain what is it that we cant do anything about?

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Oct 25 2006 18:28

i don't buy the "can't do" stuff either, though i kinda agree with revol we should be wary of hasty generalisations as to what we can/should do. that said, a couple of the posters on the other thread said it helped them being able to talk about it, and since sexual violence is stigmatised in a way that getting beaten up in general isn't, at the very least we have to be able to discuss these things - not in the abstract as revol says, but people talking about their real experiences without simply adopting victim status. (which kinda ties in with the other point about why a separate anarchafeminist group is needed when feminism is supposedly immamnent to anarchism, another other thread there ...)

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Oct 25 2006 18:35

Hi

Quote:
change the dominant apathy towards it

The apathy within anarchist circles or the apathy in the world as a whole?

People go absolutely spare if there's the mearest hint of violence (sexual or otherwise) within a one mile radius of their current position.

I'll accept there's a problem, but I doubt it's apathy.

Love

LR

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Oct 25 2006 18:35

Revol's taken an instinctive position against this, because he doesn't see any possibility of action. So I expect to see lots of effort wasted in his defending, in theoretical terms, what was a knee-jerk tactical assessent, and people trying to dispute that assessment, in increasinly abstract terms, because that's what we're most comfortable with, let's face it.

Let the pages of circular argument commence!

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Oct 25 2006 18:39
revol68 wrote:
Yes these where laid out but the whole point of them is that they don't actually represent a direct preventative response to rape, which is the point i've been trying to make. Unless of course we want to go down the idiotic line of equating a blonde joke or a page 3 cut out with rape.

who has even suggested that there would be a way to find out how to directly prevent something like that - i dont think that is even an issue here.

And since the sexual gendered violence is so commonplace, the root causes have to be somewhere and if we have sexist culture as one factor in it, the mandane and innocent looking sexism is part of the issue.

Quote:
This shit about "our own behaviour, political groups and events" is typical inward looking self important activist rhetoric. How many people are involved in the "scene"? You think we are striking a blow against sexism cos the boys stop calling each other cock in the presence of a woman? I mean i've been to some awful fucking political meetings and events in my time but i've never noticed them colluding in "rape culture".

dont overdramatise and create strawmen while people are trying to have constructive convo. of course it is a problem that our gender balance is so fucked up - and you cant just brush it aside by saying well its just geeks who are into these politics and call it a joke.

Of course it is not a rape culture issue, but it is an important issue nevertheless. Maybe with a few more women in the anarchist groups we would also get some more ideas on how to combat sexual violence and sexism in more varied and imaginative ways. in sweden (again!) this is exactly what happened, when the ratio of females in the anarchist groups of SAC and SUF increased, feminist and anti-sexist issues rose up in the order of importance and more ways of working on these issues were developed.

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Oct 25 2006 18:43
revol68 wrote:
I think it's about time anarchists stopped wearing their pants over their trousers and realised they "can't do everything", the notion that stopping some crass joke or language in an anarcho pub meeting represents "doing something" makes me realise why on the whole I hate the anarchist movement.

how come you see PC liberal feminism wherever sexism or sexual violence is mentioned? i don't think anyone is suggesting that direct action against rape* involves not calling each other cocks or cunts :?

* which i agree is a problematic concept

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Oct 25 2006 18:46
revol68 wrote:
The point is that you can only organise against rape indirectly by tackling wider issues that empower both men and women and that undermine the destructive hierachial discourses that frame it, that or you act retrogressively which by definition isn't organising to stop it.

Yes, yes, so we're already doing it? Fine, no extra work needed...

Back on topic - one issue that zobag raised earlier is the fact that sexual assault isn't like mugging, as defining whether asault has actually happened or not is a large part of the issue. This answers LR's point about how he sees a lack of apathy towards violence - the problem is, that if its never defined as violence, it won't trigger a response, it won't have been put in the clear and present danger catrgory that's easy to deal with.

Not that I have any solutions, but this seems to indicate that talking over issues, and making it more possible for people to raise aspects - without being labelled 'lefestylists' or 'liberals' is important.

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Oct 25 2006 18:52
revol68 wrote:
a) you clearly haven't been reading my posts, as I haven't said people shouldn't challenge sexism, infact most of my posts have mentioned the fact we can only tackle sexual violence indirectly.

and you havent read anyones posts if you are STILL talking about direct intervention. We are all discussing indirect effect as far as i can see.

Quote:
b) Don't you think wider social issues has something to do with the gender balance in the SAC? You know battles for patarinity pay etc, decent child care and a relatively decent social democracy? Or do you think it's cos a tiny group of activists looked deep into their souls and changed their intrapersonal dynamics to be more welcoming to women?

both. For instance in finland we were not very good with this and as a result it didnt go the same way, even if the social situation and gender issues are almost on the same level than in sweden. Who knows what would have happened had we been able to address the issue better. Of course there were still loads more women involved in class based anarchist politics than there are here.

ok, your point is that we are tiny, which i am fully aware of, but why wouldn't you see value in getting our own house in order? As in value in itself, not as some mentalist view that if we have more women in manchester solfed the world would change around us. No one has said that apart from you. As anarcho-syndicalist i am keen on doing that age old thing of building the libertarian culture and practise here and now and this is one central part of it.

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Oct 25 2006 19:01
revol68 wrote:
I mean if someone posted something like "what can we do to end sectarian violence in Northern Ireland" and then someone started waxing on lyrical about "changing dynamics in our groups" or "challenging sectarian jokes etc" i'd not think it very productive.

hypocrite warning. Considering the lengths you have gone to and the hours you have spent on discussing minute details of WSM position on the north, one might actually get the impression that you think our groups postions are actually relevant on some level?

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Oct 25 2006 19:03

but there are important differences to sectarian violence.

while wearing a celtic shirt in a protestant area might get a similarly widespread response of 'you asked for it' as a woman wearing short skirt getting raped, the fact is that it's pretty unlikely said celtic fan is going to have to convince anyone he was really assaulted and isn't just making it up because he got drunk and did something he regretted. i dunno, that seems a pretty significant factor.

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Oct 25 2006 19:08

hehe and i didnt understand a word of it. But yeah, my mistake, conradiction is what i meant.

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Oct 25 2006 19:11

maybe i'm not paying attention. i thought your point was about forms of opposition, but i was suggesting the different nature of sexual violence vis sectarian violence suggested the applicability of different forms of opposition.

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Oct 25 2006 19:29

you've mentioned 'dynamics' three times on this page already, and afaik no-one else has :?

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Oct 25 2006 19:32

Hi

JK wrote:
it's pretty unlikely said celtic fan is going to have to convince anyone he was really assaulted and isn't just making it up because he got drunk and did something he regretted.

That's wrong. That's exactly what people think.

Love

LR

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Oct 25 2006 19:34

Hi

(Unnecessary post deleted, apologies)

Love

LR

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Oct 25 2006 19:39

well fair enough, i'm just not sure what you're actually saying or arguing against :?

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Oct 25 2006 19:42

Hi

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most people don't have sympathy for lil pricks who walk into "other" areas wearing symbols of sectarianism

True. Not only that though, I mean, loads of assault doesn't make it to court because the protagonists were pissed up and regretted it and were best mates. Sexual violence and violence between men is related.

A lot of men have got really vicious tempers and you catch them at the wrong time, you’re decked. In familiar relationships, sexual or otherwise, the inhibitions they normally feel when amongst the broader public disintegrates and there’s carnage.

Love

LR

dara
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Oct 25 2006 19:54

hmmm.

i think it is important to bear the facts of rape in mind, especially the fact that the vast majority are carried out by someone known to the woman. so why is this?

one particularly nasty case in ireland was that of the first man to be convicted of raping his wife. his defence was that he thought he had a right to have sex with his wife whenever he wanted.

maybe compare this to the example given (by LW?) earlier of a boss who sexually harassed women in his workplace and eventually raped one.

As far as I can see here, in both cases what comes up is the issue of control, even ownership of women by a man by virtue of a dominant position in an institution, be it a corporation or divinely sanctioned marriage. Perhaps both men read their position as giving them a right to the women involved.

So how do we challenge feelings of ownership? Well, expropriation eventually, but what about the immediate present?

I think workplace harassment gives at least some ideas. The position as employees does give people a latent power, they could (potentially) realise this power in a collective confrontation or something similar. Ultimately the boss relies upon the workers to maintain his position, so they do have the ability to stop his harassment, if they are capable of communicating their problems with each other. In a situation of high struggle, we could expect workers to assault abusive bosses, as in the Red Handkerchiefs tactic in Italy 1970s. Not that I'm fetishising violence, but just to show that it has been used as a tactic to assert workers powers against abuses of the boss.

What about partner and ex-partner sexual assault? I think that's a harder question, since it isolates the victim so much.

In all cases, perhaps what is needed most of all is an end to the imposed silence of victims. Notably, in Ireland, after there had been a few individuals going public about clerical sex abuse, a deluge of such complaints began, so that for a long time, new victims would come forward every week. Perhaps this needs to be done with violence against women, ie. there needs to be a change in the reception that rape victims receive. How can anarchist organisations help this change? Well, sexual assault should be made a visible issue, how exactly this can be accomplished i don't know. If we are talking about effecting a change in the public domain, then the ability of a very small amount of people, with limited access to mass media is quite small. On the other hand, my own particular organisation (WSM) has a feature in our free paper called 'That's Capitalism' which outlines various abuses that the rich and powerful get up to; we talk about racism, police violence and all the other staple fare, but not sexual violence. Then this raises other questions: how do we talk about sexual violence in our propaganda?

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Oct 25 2006 19:58

Hi

What you say is born out in the way "owned" or "claimed" is slang for being effectively attacked.

Quote:
we talk about racism, police violence and all the other staple fare

Only those of us into "social issues". I mean, banging on about it in these sorts of terms is bad enough without adding rape into the fray.

Love

LR

sovietpop
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Oct 25 2006 20:02

On dyamics, isn't it interesting that on the first thread, a number of women participated a number of times, and on this thread, the debate is a back and forth between revol68 and other male posters.

I've said it to you before revol68 but I find the way you post very off putting and tis the main reason I don't contribute on libcom. I can't see this discussion being developed because of the way you are debating. In real life I like you, on on the internet ....

(this is a bit of derail because I don't think anyone actually suggested that rape could be tackled by looking at group dynamics - though of course as I type this, a group dynamic that is welcoming rather than hostile makes it more likely that a group will be able to get to the position where they can start to discuss sensitive issues such as rape, so though no-one has really argued it, I do think group dynamics are one, amoung the many issues, the anarchists need to look at)

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Oct 25 2006 20:06

Hi

Quote:
Dara, agree with nearly all that post but I think the idea that sexual assault doesn't get media coverage is nonsense, infact it get's alot of coverage often verging on the pornographic. Infact titilating media coverage probably has some influence on the many peoples choice not to prosecute. I think excessive coverage of sexual violence actually has a reactionary role in instilling fear amongst women and justifying patriarchial legislation under the guise of "protection".

That is spot on as well. You watch/read the news, I hope I'm not projecting the salivating tone of the reports. Sometimes, I want them to lay the whole crime out in graphic detail just to work it out of their systems and give us a rest.

Love

LR

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Oct 25 2006 20:11
revol68 wrote:
sorry have i even flamed anyone? have i been overly abusive? No i thik i put forward robust arguments and let other people respond, if these people decide to coach their posts totally in referance to me it's not my fault.

And your clearly not so put off posting that you didn't make your post to have a dig at my behaviour.

How about you join in the discussion instead of reverting to "offended in Tunbridgewells" type, especially as I have been posting on the other thread which had female contributors.

revol, you said 'has everyone had a lobotomy?', so yeah. and your posts are closed, hostile and arguing passionately against something nobody seems to be advocating - in a word, 'blokey'. so sovietpop has a point, basically.

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Oct 25 2006 20:14

Hi

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revol, you said 'has everyone had a lobotomy?'

Rational assumption. JK, should you be engaging in a personal argument with revol? What point of sovietpop's do you wish to be addressed?

Love

LR

sovietpop
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Oct 25 2006 20:22
revol68 wrote:
sorry have i even flamed anyone? have i been overly abusive? No i thik i put forward robust arguments and let other people respond, if these people decide to coach their posts totally in referance to me it's not my fault.

And your clearly not so put off posting that you didn't make your post to have a dig at my behaviour.

How about you join in the discussion instead of reverting to "offended in Tunbridgewells" type, especially as I have been posting on the other thread which had female contributors.

So what you're are saying is; you haven't done anything wrong, that I'm not telling the truth when I say I find you off putting and either I do it your way or the highway??

phew! that put me in my place.

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Oct 25 2006 20:24
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
Let the pages of circular argument commence!

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Oct 25 2006 20:27
Quote:
Considering you had painted me as conflating sectarian assault with rape I think I was quite within my rights to ask that question.

look, you brought up sectarian violence, i had no clue why, and you flamed me, despite seeming to concede the point and shifting to critiquing a position on the primacy of group dynamics nobody was advancing:

revol68 wrote:
Joseph K. wrote:
maybe i'm not paying attention. i thought your point was about forms of opposition, but i was suggesting the different nature of sexual violence vis sectarian violence suggested the applicability of different forms of opposition.

well on a micro level of course they do, but on any level I fail to see how some pile of inward looking shite about "changing the dynamics and atmosphere" of our own meetings and events is relevant to either, rather it reeks of self important shite, as if the relations of 13 pricks in an anarcho workshop is anything more than a tokenish fop, or have i just been blind to the rampant sexism and barely concealed mysgony at politico meetings?

to be honest if this is going to be a load of macho he said she said cock-waving i can't be arsed. if you're not interested, don't post, if you want to warn us against the pointlessness of inward-looking 'spaces' and group dynamics, try responding to something someone actually said, or better, realise the button had already spotted that pitfall on the first page of the other thread.