Silent no longer: confronting sexual violence in the left - Rebecca Winter

Image by Suzy X - http://seesuzysketch.blogspot.com.au
Image by Suzy X - http://seesuzysketch.blogspot.com.au/2011/08/not-my-comrades.html/

Excellent article arguing for and suggesting practical ways anarchist individuals, organisations and spaces can help support survivors of sexual violence. Trigger warning for mention of sexual violence.

Submitted by Steven. on March 18, 2014

In 2012, a member of the UK Socialist Workers Party (SWP) came forward saying she had been raped and sexually harassed by the former National Secretary of the organisation, Martin Smith. The internal ‘investigation’ which followed demonstrated a number of common ways in which sexual violence is ignored and those who experience it are demonised. Some of the members of the Disputes Committee chosen to investigate the claim were close friends of Smith. The woman who had come forward was questioned about her sexual history and alcohol use. She was made to feel that members of the Disputes Committee thought she was “a slut who asked for it”. The Disputes Committee concluded that the accusation that Smith had raped and harassed her was “not proven.” Four members of the SWP who discussed their misgivings about the Committee’s decision on Facebook were expelled from the group. The woman who had accused Smith was not allowed to attend the SWP’s conference to contest the Disputes Committee’s decision. The SWP’s response to this case resulted in hundreds of members resigning. Meanwhile, Solidarity (an Australian affiliate of the SWP) labelled the SWP’s investigation of the rape claim “scrupulously fair”.

While there was a significant outcry amongst people in left-wing circles about the way members of the SWP responded to sexual violence within their group, there was little reflection on the fact that many other left-wing organisations respond in a similarly toxic way. The lack of internal democracy within the SWP certainly hindered the efforts of those seeking change within the organisation, but informal social processes influenced by misogynist ideas about sexual violence can be just as destructive to the lives of sexual violence survivors.

Gendered violence is a key way in which women’s oppression is maintained in our patriarchal society. In Australia, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men over the age of 15 have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15 years (1). Violence perpetrated by men is the leading cause of preventable death, disability and illness in women aged 15-44 (2). Aboriginal women, poor women, women of differing abilities, and sex and gender diverse people are significantly more likely to experience sexual violence.

All too often, survivors of sexual violence are greeted with disbelief, anger, and defensiveness when they should be believed and supported. This happens in left-wing groups, our social movements, our friendship circles, our workplaces, and countless other places in society. While most left-wing groups and movements share a stated opposition to sexism, this does not make them immune to the misogynist assumptions which underlie victim blaming and which often come up when people are confronted by sexual violence committed by their friends or political comrades.

I was raped by someone who was involved in the Melbourne anarchist milieu in 2010. It was a horrible, frightening experience, made worse by the fact that it was someone who I had trusted as a friend and a political comrade. I was lucky, though. The friends, family members and people in the anarchist milieu I told about my experience believed me and the person who assaulted me is no longer welcome in many of Melbourne’s political spaces. I know too many people who have had similar experiences, but who have been called liars, ignored, lost friends and comrades, or been forced to remain silent. I can’t imagine how much harder it is for people who’ve survived sexual violence, and then been treated like this by those they thought they could trust, to keep on going.

When someone tells their friends or political comrades that they have experienced sexual violence, there are a number of common responses. Sometimes survivors who come forward are completely ignored. People who know the person who perpetrated sexual violence will say that they ‘don’t want to take sides’ and want to remain ‘neutral.’ Survivors are told that confronting a perpetrator of sexual violence will cause division in the movement or organisation. The personalities, political beliefs, lifestyles and appearance of survivors of sexual violence are scrutinised in minute detail. Survivors of sexual violence are called ‘crazy’ or seen as too emotional. If a survivor speaks out about violence they will often be presented as vindictively trying to wreck a perpetrator’s reputation. Perpetrators are frequently defended as being a ‘good person’ or a ‘good organiser’, as though this should excuse their violence. People attempt to justify their inaction by saying that they don’t want to act based on ‘rumours’ and that we should presume that a person accused of perpetrating sexual violence is ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ Some activists tell survivors not to go to the police, because of their role in supporting state oppression, but all too often provide no alternative forms of support.

These attitudes are used to justify a status quo within the left and within broader society in which the interests of those who perpetrate sexual violence are prioritised over those who are survivors of sexual violence. Part of the problem with many responses to sexual violence is that we have absorbed various legalistic ideas from state criminal ‘justice’ systems which are sexist and are used to justify legal inaction. For instance, the idea that we shouldn’t rush to judge a person accused of committing violence and should instead presume that they are innocent. This flawed idea is used by many to argue that we should not take the word of survivors when they tell us they have experienced sexual violence. However, as Lisbeth Latham comments in a recent piece on the SWP, “If we think of the refrain ‘people accused of rape are innocent until proven guilty’ then the opposing logic also at play is that those marking allegations of rape ‘are guilty of lying about the allegation until proven innocent.’ Defendants and their supporters (both legal and extra-legal) focus their energy not on proving innocence, but on undermining the credibility of the survivor.” We need to reject the state’s narrative about how we should deal with accusations of sexual violence.

It is crucially important for us to point out that when we perpetuate these ideas about sexual violence we are making a political choice which has disastrous consequences for survivors of sexual violence. We know that false accusations of sexual violence are incredibly rare. We know that forcing survivors to jump through endless hoops by demanding they provide ‘proof’ before we listen to and believe them is incredibly harmful and makes it extremely difficult or them to speak out about sexual violence. We know that our continual inaction allows perpetrators to continue abusing people within our communities with impunity. And we know that how we respond to sexual violence currently is killing our political organisations and movements, and frustrating their capacity to challenge sexism, racism, capitalism, and other forms of oppression and exploitation.

So, here’s what I think needs to happen: We need to make a political choice to believe survivors of violence. We need to bring gendered violence out into the open by treating survivors with trust and compassion, rather than hostility. We need to take people at their word when they tell us that they have experienced violence, including gendered and sexual violence, without requiring them to tell us about every little detail of what happened. And more than this, we need to make a choice to prioritise survivors in our political work. This means that we should have survivor-centred responses to sexual violence – where the needs and desires of survivors determine our response. We need to be open to excluding people responsible for sexual violence, at the discretion of the survivor, from our political spaces, or ganisations, and movements. And we need to be prepared to support survivors in engaging with the people who harmed them through accountability processes, if that is what they’d like to do. Most of all, though, we need to make it a political priority to actively support sexual violence survivors through all of the personal and political challenges that come in the aftermath of being assaulted.

Asking a perpetrator to leave an organisation or political space on the word of a survivor is often a point which divides people within the left. We have to remember that people are not entitled to be involved in our political spaces. Many of us would accept the need to reject an active Liberal Party member who wanted to join a radical political group based on their oppressive ideology. We need to be open to taking the same approach to those whose actions are a form of violent oppression. In my experience, knowing that I am unlikely to run into the person who raped me at a political space has made a world of difference to my ongoing recovery, especially in environments where I know I would be supported by those around me if I did see him. Asking someone to leave our spaces does not deny them their freedom or safety. But if we refuse to ask perpetrators to leave our spaces we are effectively risking the safety of survivors and forcing many survivors to self-exclude. Moreover, as women are a significant majority of sexual violence survivors, not dealing with sexual violence has the effect of reinforcing women’s oppression in our movements.

Gendered violence does not occur in a social vacuum – any response we make within our organisations and movements will be limited in scope. We will never be truly safe or free from violence while we live in a society fundamentally shaped by white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Excluding perpetrators from our spaces can enable survivors to feel relatively safe in our movements, but it doesn’t prevent sexual violence from being committed in the first place or in other areas of society. To create a society in which sexual violence is no longer a tool of misogynist and racist oppression we need structural systemic change – in short, a revolution.

An essential part of fighting rape culture involves identifying these structural systems of oppression and exploitation which allow people to perpetrate sexual violence with impunity. We need to fight the dominant ideologies which suggest that some people deserve to be victims of violence, and bear responsibility for the harm that is done to them – whether because of their clothes, race, gender identity; or because they are a refugee, poor, in prison, or a sex worker. Yet it is not enough to merely struggle against sexism and sexual violence at a structural or ideological level. If we are ever going to build the collective power required to challenge these systems of oppression we must make a committed effort to challenge violence and other actions which reinforce oppression within our political organisations, our social movements, our friendship groups and all other areas of life.

Why would anyone believe talk of a post-revolutionary society without sexism if we cannot support survivors of sexual violence in our midst and take a stand against those who perpetrate gendered violence among us?

There are tentative signs of a growing movement against sexual violence on the left. In 2004, three women were raped at a large punk festival in Philadelphia in the US. The concert organisers established two collectives to support the survivors and hold the rapists to account. The collectives became Philly’s Pissed and Philly Stands Up which continued this work for a period of six years. Organisers of the 2012 Toronto and New York Anarchist bookfairs asked people who had been accused of sexual violence, and who were not actively engaging in some sort of accountability process, to not attend the events. Closer to home, groups like A World Without Sexual Assault and Stepping Up in Melbourne have provided support to survivors, facilitated accountability processes, and run awareness-raising workshops.

We need to continue to build on these political gains in our organising in Melbourne. One new project that that I am excited about aims to bring together collective wisdom about how organisations can respond to sexual violence in a way which genuinely supports survivors. This website resource will also gather together ideas about how tools like grievance collectives can be used to confront other oppressive behaviour, such as racist or sexist conduct. We will be inviting anarchist, socialist, social justice, environmental and other activist groups to commit to acting in accordance with this advice. As part of this commitment, groups will need to run workshops where their members can discuss practical ways they can avoid perpetuating destructive responses to sexual violence and avoid reinforcing systemic oppression. (If you’re interested in getting involved in this project, contact Anarchist Affinity and we’ll pass your details on to the organising collective).

Conclusion

For too long sexual violence survivors have been sacrificed at the altar of ‘movement building.’ This approach has a massively destructive impact on survivors, but it also prevents us from creating the kind of movements that we need. We must create social movements which build the revolutionary collective power of the working classes to confront all systems of oppression and exploitation. But to do this we need to start practicing what we preach. We need to challenge misogynist attitudes about sexual violence within our midst and create enduring structures which allow us to support survivors and hold perpetrators to account. Only then can we genuinely claim to be fighting for anarchism and social justice.

Resources

‘What is rape apologism?’

Em BC, ‘Misogyny and the left – we need to start practicing what we preach’

‘Betrayal – a critical analysis of rape culture in anarchist subcultures’

Endnotes

(1) Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey, 2006.

(2) VicHealth (2004) ‘The Health Costs of Violence: Measuring the burden of disease caused by intimate partner violence.’

From http://www.anarchistaffinity.org/2014/03/silent-no-longer-confronting-sexual-violence-in-the-left/
Image by Suzy X

Comments

Croy

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Croy on March 18, 2014

I have to say I am quite torn about this. I had a discussion with some one about this article before having read it. They told me that basically the article said that the notion of "innocent until proven guilty" is inherently sexist which they massively disagreed with. I immediately countered that it was more about what you would rather operate under the assumption of and the relative benefits/detriment to both (i.e seeing as false rape claims are the minority id rather act on the assumption that the accused is guilty rather than innocent to support the victim, which might have a small sacrifice of genuine false claims going un detected rather than assuming the accuser is lying by default which sustains rape culture and makes their lives hell). I thought I was sure of this but as my friend continued to argue his point I did find myself sympathizing. I don't think the principle of 'innocent till proven guilty' is inherently sexist idea and I don't think it should be dismissed purely because it comes from a liberal legalistic framework. I think the principle is actually fairly good and should be stuck to, and maybe even that is inherently neutral. But then as I countered in this conversation, that it's execution and result, especially in rape cases, is anything but neutral and automatically takes the side of the accused, of the oppressor, of patriarchy, of rape culture, etc. Is it possible/right to apply innocent till proven guilty in some cases and not others (rape cases)? Where does that leave us?

A Wotsit

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by A Wotsit on March 19, 2014

Thought this was good article about very important issue. I don't feel torn about it (but see why Croy did). I'm going to give this article a second read when I'm better rested and would welcome more discussion of (and of course action on) this issue of how we stop sexual violence and provide a better environment for survivors to be supported.

I thought this quote was key:

If we think of the refrain ‘people accused of rape are innocent until proven guilty’ then the opposing logic also at play is that those marking allegations of rape ‘are guilty of lying about the allegation until proven innocent.’ Defendants and their supporters (both legal and extra-legal) focus their energy not on proving innocence, but on undermining the credibility of the survivor.

I think that is pretty clear-cut. In these cases it should always be 'the survivor is to be believed' (edit: actually, less ambiguous: 'telling the truth').

I also think the points made about excluding anyone who is accused (and almost certainly guilty of) sexual violence from spaces where they might pose a risk to others or cause distress to survivors was well made. In the extremely rare cases where someone might be falsely accused, well, that's just too bad (not trying to downplay how bad a false accusation would be but) the alternative of enabling/ failing to prevent further violence or trauma is just far worse.

Based on what friends have told me (knowing I am the kind of person who will believe them, even when they would not tell many others, even an 'impartial' researcher gathering statistical data) I would be amazed if the statistics of how many women are survivors of sexual violence are not massively lower than the reality (nor would I be surprised to learn I know more survivors than have felt able to tell me- not to give the impression that I ask or fish for this sort of info). I believe false accusations are so rare that we shouldn't let fear of action against innocent men muddy our thinking on how we best support survivors.

There is another point I want to make on the 'innocent until proven guilty' thing on how most crimes where guilt needs to be proven with defence, cross-examination, evidence etc. These are often crimes for economic gain or even necessity- crimes communists should attribute to people acting under capitalist logic, or to people made desperate by capitalist relations. Some of these crimes are committed by vulnerable, desperate, dispossessed, people (not saying much class-on-class crimes such as mugging, burglary, 'bad' drug dealing etc don't cause harm & distress to members of our class). These crimes seem to be qualitatively different from sexual violence somehow (due to an economic relationship, rather than one of patriarchy). If you remove the baggage and assumptions of legalism/ state law I don't think 'innocent until proven' stacks up to much. I can't make that point in a way I'm happy with, and think it's secondary to the much more important issues discussed in the article.

edit: just to add, I find the sort of arguments characterised in the image and ones in the article like 'but he's a good person/ organiser' so utterly ludicrously abhorrent I don't even know where to start with critiquing those. (edited rest of post a bit)

A Wotsit

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by A Wotsit on March 19, 2014

One more thing. It is incredibly fucking hard to tell people you have survived sexual violence whatever you anticipate their reaction to be (especially since some awful reactions are almost inevitable and well-meaning and sympathetic types can also be shit about it- e.g.- go to the police/law they will always help/ you can stop him doing it to someone else whatevs- is just as naive as saying don't go to the police/law they are agents of the state/capital). The fact it is distressing and potentially alienating, traumatic and relationship-straining to come forward as a survivor is one of the many reasons I think false accusations are virtually non-existent (and survivors tell the truth)- why the heck would you want that stress and baggage if it wasn't true- just to get someone else in trouble for malicious reasons- nah, almost never happens.

Finally, just to add, none of the survivors I know went to the police. None of them tell very many people what happened to them. (and as I said I'm sure I know more than have told me too)

Rebecca Winter

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rebecca Winter on March 19, 2014

Hi, I'm the author. Thanks Steven for reposting this! It's exciting to see these issues getting discussed more! And thanks for the responses.

Re: Innocent until proven guilty. I don't think it's an inherently sexist idea. I think that the way that it's applied in legal systems has a sexist and generally destructive effect on sexual violence survivors and reinforces patriarchy. My point wasn't that we need to reject this principle in all circumstances, but that we need to acknowledge the role it plays in maintaining rape culture in the legal systems of states.

But I think the key question for anarchists/other social justice folks is whether WE should be using this principle to guide the way we respond to sexual violence (and other violence) within our political groups/movements/social circles. And I think we shouldn't. I think that the consequences of not believing survivors or making them jump through hoops to be heard (demanding 'proof') are so disastrous - both for individual survivors and for our political movements - that we have to take a different approach.

An important thing to remember is that the decisions we make in groups/movements are not about whether someone gets locked up. We're deciding who we want to politically associate with. Even if people think that 'innocent until proven guilty' is a useful principle when it comes to decisions about a person's basic freedoms (obviously something that is contentious to start with, given prison abolitionism), this doesn't mean that it's going to be right in the context of our political organising and friendship circles. I think that the principle is a problem at both levels, but I think our political priority right now is to stop people from shaming/disbelieving survivors, so I think it's most important to think about how this principle plays out in our spheres of influence.

Steven.

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on March 20, 2014

Rebecca Winter

Hi, I'm the author. Thanks Steven for reposting this! It's exciting to see these issues getting discussed more! And thanks for the responses.

no problem, thanks very much for writing it! (I wasn't sure if you with the author or just the person who posted it to the AA website; I will credit you on the article above)

An important thing to remember is that the decisions we make in groups/movements are not about whether someone gets locked up. We're deciding who we want to politically associate with. Even if people think that 'innocent until proven guilty' is a useful principle when it comes to decisions about a person's basic freedoms (obviously something that is contentious to start with, given prison abolitionism), this doesn't mean that it's going to be right in the context of our political organising and friendship circles.

I think this is a really key point here.

As the article explains well, the way "innocent until proved guilty" is used today with sexual violence allegations that essentially mean the accuser is "guilty" of making a false allegation unless they can prove otherwise, which is usually impossible. And we're not talking about punishment beatings or locking people up, so the same standards of evidence don't have to apply in the name of "liberty", as no one's liberty is at stake.

leftover

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by leftover on March 21, 2014

I'm wondering if you have any response to Margaret Flowers' "Staff Note" that was added to the beginning of this essay at Popular Resistance.

Juan Conatz

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Juan Conatz on March 21, 2014

Steven.

And we're not talking about punishment beatings or locking people up, so the same standards of evidence don't have to apply in the name of "liberty", as no one's liberty is at stake.

It's usually more someone's reputation, but, people have been jumped/beaten in these situations, so I don't think it's accurate to say that's not what we're talking about, because I think this does happen in some radical left responses to sexual assault.

EmC

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by EmC on March 22, 2014

So are you trying to suggest that if groups exclude people accused of rape then they are somehow responsible if someone chooses to beat that person up? Do you really think if that was going to happen it wouldn't happen anyway? And why is protecting a possible perpetrator's reputation a higher priority than protecting a survivor's reputation, or her physical safety? 99% of rape allegations are true. So why is protecting one percent of men more important than 99% of survivors?

Juan Conatz

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Juan Conatz on March 22, 2014

Nah, I was saying usually in these situations its a reputation that's at stake. I don't think that reputation is more important, I don't think its important at all, certainly not within the context of sexual assault and harassment I was just saying that reputation is usually the stakes here rather than imprisonment or physical retaliation. I also made no value judgement of physical retaliation, I just mentioned that it is sometimes what we're talking about in these situations, and that it does happen and will be in the toolbox of any collective response, I imagine.

Steven.

10 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on March 22, 2014

Juan Conatz

Steven.

And we're not talking about punishment beatings or locking people up, so the same standards of evidence don't have to apply in the name of "liberty", as no one's liberty is at stake.

It's usually more someone's reputation, but, people have been jumped/beaten in these situations, so I don't think it's accurate to say that's not what we're talking about, because I think this does happen in some radical left responses to sexual assault.

yeah, I'm aware of this in a couple of cases, but this above article is not suggesting punishment beatings (nor am I). And my comments above were related to this article.

Fleur

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Fleur on March 24, 2014

I really wasn't sure about commenting on this, mostly because all my points have already been made but also because I am well and truly fed up of having the same conversations over and over again but when I saw people were down voting the comments of a survivor on the IWW thread, without even having the courtesy or courage of their convictions to explain what it was they were disagreeing with, then I thought there might be some small merit in speaking up.

Innocent until proved guilty, in relation to rape/sexual assault is not neutral, as other people have pointed out. As soon as a survivor speaks up they are variety of responses, blaming, shaming, disbelief. To assume innocence until guilt has been proven (and how exactly is this proof going to be extracted?) implies, to some degree or another, that the survivor's word cannot be taken as the truth. Given that we know (and we do know that, don't we?) that the number of false allegations are very, very low, surely it should be the default position to to lay the emphasis on supporting the survivor and one of the basic ways of doing that is to try to not further undermine their feeling of safety by allowing the accused to be hanging around in the same spaces. It's not a lot to ask.
Absolutely, some people's reputations are at stake. However, the minute a survivor speaks up, their reputations are destroyed. You can have as many policies and statements in place as you like but anyone who has ever spoken up about sexual violence perpetrated against them have been subject to conjecture, gossip, victim blaming, assumptions of lying etc, especially if the man involved has any redeeming features (oh, he's such a nice guy - he wouldn't do that.) And we all know this, it's the thing which stops us from speaking out in the first place, knowing the kind of shit we're going to take, because we've seen it happen to other people. So, it's completely ludicrous to imagine that there are armies of vindictive women willing to lay down false rape accusations in order to vilify someone we don't like, or to get revenge on an ex etc. We're not stupid, we know the score, if you speak up your life turns to crap.
If any organization wants to have women participating and wants them to stay, they should bear this in mind. I'm genuinely sorry if some men have had their reputations harmed by false allegations but I am also absolutely furious at the vast number of survivors who have had their lives utterly turned upside down by sexual violence and way society reacts to it.
Everybody has a right to know what it is they have been accused of, however the survivor has a right not to have their abuser in their faces, in their spaces.
It seems peculiar to me that when we want to reject just about every aspect of the criminal justice system, the police, the courts, prisons etc, that we would want to hang on to one particular tenet - innocence until proven guilty - when in practice it so discriminates against the survivor.

A Wotsit asked what we can do to stop sexual violence. I have no bloody idea. Bring up the next generation so that they understand the concept of consent as well as their ABCs maybe. Meanwhile what we can do is talk about it. Talk about it until we're fed up of talking about it, like I am, discuss it to the point that there is no ambiguity about having a zero tolerance for sexual harassment or abuse.

And I'll just sit back and wait for the anonymous down votes now.

Shorty

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Shorty on March 25, 2014

Great post. I've given you an 'up'.

There's this thread/article too: https://libcom.org/forums/general/crimethinc-accounting-ourselves-breaking-impasse-around-assault-abuse-anarchist-s

As I said there, a big issue is that a lot of the theory and practice we're looking at is coming out of subcultures and "communities" where many of the problems faced by these processes are wrapped up in the problems with such scenes.

I think here on libcom we would be more interested in a discussion related to groups and organisations which are more formally structured, not that these aren't without problems either, as we can see.

Kureigo-San

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Kureigo-San on March 24, 2014

Want to say first of all that I'm still digesting the article and the comments above, and that what I'm going to say is basically thinking aloud.

"In the extremely rare cases where someone might be falsely accused, well, that's just too bad (not trying to downplay how bad a false accusation would be but) the alternative of enabling/ failing to prevent further violence or trauma is just far worse."

'Too bad' seems about as cavalier as it gets. I've experienced the consequences of lies, though they weren't lies of sexual assault, but instead lies about how I slapped my ex around. I can say that in my case the consequences of that rolled on for about 4 years, because once I got to college she kind of set her new fella and friend circle on me, and I dealt with the threat of violence weekly despite never actually having done anything to her in the first place. On 2 occasions I had to defend myself physically. I still agree with what you guys are basically saying we have to do, because it appears that we have no choice but to side with the overwhelming odds, but I have to insist that there be some kind of process or even a GESTURE that goes beyond 'too bad', because those 4 years were terrible and have affected my psyche permanently. It is not my own personal fault that other men have actually commited awful acts of violence against women.

A Wotsit

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by A Wotsit on March 24, 2014

OK, 'too bad' was the wrong phrase 'an unfortunate consequence to which the alternative is far worse' perhaps is better.

Anyways, I just basically wanted to give mad props to Fleur- my comments do not do this issue justice at all. I just agree fully with Fleurs post and would like to just enthusiastically agree to everything she said. I would retract my entire comment just to parrot hers.

btw- 1st day in my new job (all male team) and I had to speak up against someone saying the recent spate of celebrity 'accusations' were probably false and motivated by women who 'want a payment... why would they wait so long... blah misogyny blah'- to the agreement of every other man in the room. I seriously cannot abide this shit. When I said 'actually, I know people this has happened to' they cut in to ask if I knew men who had a false allegation made against them. I could barely contain my disgust and had to take a deep breath before explaining, that no, actually I know survivors who did not want to speak out publicly precisely because of the bullshit attitudes most men hold. After my careful explanation of why survivors don't report or pursue charges straight away (or often at all), they still said, 'yeah, but I still think most of these allegations are false'. Smash the patriarchy tbh.

Kureigo-San

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Kureigo-San on March 24, 2014

I feel so much better now mate.

A Wotsit

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by A Wotsit on March 24, 2014

I have honestly (afaik) never met anyone who was falsely accused of something maliciously, as serious as this (domestic violence being closely related to sexual assault, I guess). I genuinely appreciate that would be a horrendous experience and I do see now many flaws in my original posts (this is an emotive subject for me and it affects my ability to post well).

Back to my experience today though, day fucking one of a new job, people are trying extra-hard to be nice to me ("new boy" status) and bonding over shared-misogyny is the way forward on this. Fucking hell. (Max Clifford was on the TV in the mess room which prompted this btw, I am not making this up- rape culture is bloody everywhere).

(edit: sorry v drunk right now- I don't know if this reads way I intended)

EmC

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by EmC on March 25, 2014

Kureigo-San, I feel very bad for you or anyone who goes through that. I really do. The thing is that most rape survivors endure that kind of bullying as well, but they also have the trauma of being raped. So every one of those acts of emotional or physical violence also brings back the original trauma. That's why it's very rare for false accusations like the one you've described to occur.

Kureigo-San

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Kureigo-San on March 25, 2014

But if the accusations are false then it follows that there was no 'original trauma'..? It's a false accusation, isn't it..? Maybe I'm very very slow this morning but I'm not sure I understand what you said.

Serge Forward

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on March 25, 2014

While false allegations are indeed very rare in terms of criminal complaints made by women to the police, in terms of family break up and disputed access to children, accusations of sexual violence and child abuse are less rare. Talk to any family court solicitor or barrister and they will tell you that such false allegations are now pretty much run of the mill in divorce or access proceedings.

Victims of abuse have to be believed but at the same time, revolutionary/anarchist/communist ideas of justice have to be better than the bourgeois legal system.

Croy

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Croy on March 25, 2014

A Wotsit

people are trying extra-hard to be nice to me

Could say the same about the post you made before this to be honest, bending over backwards.

EmC

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by EmC on March 25, 2014

Kureigo, what I'm saying is that what happens to rape survivors is much worse than what happens to victims of false accusations. Sorry but this is the truth. And it's why false accusations are incredibly rare.

Serge, ask any MRA and they'll tell you that. Any family court lawyer would not.

Serge Forward

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on March 25, 2014

EmC, that's really not true. No one is talking about claims by so called 'men's rights activists' here, I'm talking about a family court barrister (female) and a solicitor (also female) who said that courts often don't listen to allegations against the former male partner of child abuse because such allegations have virtually become an all too common means of attack in fights over custody/access. In disputes over kids, both sides are equally guilty of dirty tricks, however, naive views of what women do or don't do and implying that anyone who questions such idealised views is an MRA is really unhelpful.

EmC

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by EmC on March 25, 2014

Waiting for the down votes btw. I heart it when rape apologists don't like me.

Serge Forward

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on March 25, 2014

EmC

Yeah and I so believe you. Lol.

Like I say, unhelpful. As I said earlier, revolutionary/anarchist/communist notions of justice needs to be better and fairer than anything the bourgeois legal system stands for.

no1

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by no1 on March 25, 2014

Serge, a couple of thoughts about this:
(1) I can think of lots of reasons why accusations of sexual violence/abuse to be unexpectedly common in those situation - sexual violence/child abuse are pretty strong reasons to end a long-term relationship ; that kind of violence may be more common because a perpetrator is trying to dominate their partner when a relationship is falling apart ; sexual violence is generally common anyway people just keep silent about it but in disputes over kids there's obviously a good reason to speak up etc. Their frequency doesn't mean that the allegations are false, regardless of what barristers think. Do you have anything more than anecdotal evidence ?
(2) How is this relevant to what happens in leftist or anarchist organisations?

WordShaker

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by WordShaker on March 25, 2014

EmC

Kureigo, what I'm saying is that what happens to rape survivors is much worse than what happens to victims of false accusations. Sorry but this is the truth. And it's why false accusations are incredibly rare.

Serge, ask any MRA and they'll tell you that. Any family court lawyer would not.

I don't mean to be confrontational, but I've got no idea why the rarity of men being falsely accused* means that Kureigo's experience should be dismissed out of hand with a "too bad." I fully get that what happens to survivors is worse than what happens to victims of false accusations, though I admit this sends something icky up my spine, like the extreme severity of sexual violence means that those who are falsely accused of committing it should just suck it up, or something. I also get that because the conditions of patriarchal society women who claim (I admit the problems with using the word "claim", but I'm trying to use it in a value-neutral way) to be rape survivors should have the weight and support of the community behind them. That doesn't negate that Kureigo was injured by his experience and I think he's justified in asking that there be something done so that false claims, when and if they do crop up, can be dealt with in a manner that doesn't harm rape survivors nor cast doubt over the great many legitimate claims of sexual violence. I'm sure you know far better than I that this would be a difficult thing to bang out, but leaving it at "too bad" or "I'm sorry" seems to be not enough if we are trying to establish not only effective political organization, but real and better ways of living.

*As something of a side point, I think there needs to be some connections made in between establishing that rape survivors experience extreme trauma and then that false accusations are extremely rare. Both of these things are undoubtedly true, but I feel you need to connect the two airtight in order argue that Kureigo should be okay with just "too bad," if you are arguing that.

Fleur

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Fleur on March 25, 2014

Serge:

false allegations are now pretty much run of the mill in divorce or access proceedings.

I'm talking about a family court barrister (female) and a solicitor (also female) who said that courts often don't listen to allegations against the former male partner of child abuse because such allegations have virtually become an all too common means of attack in fights over custody/access.

So, apart from this being one of the Seven Pillars of Bullshit which is trotted out by MRAs, what exactly is the mechanism of deciding that these are false allegations? Is it the Gold Standard of innocent until proven guilty, and unless a prosecution is proceeded with and the defendant has been found guilty in a court of law beyond reasonable doubt, then the allegation is therefore de facto false? Might it be worth considering that only a very small percentage of domestic violence and sexual violence ever ends up in this scenario?
Consider that most accusations, if they ever get to legal proceedings are not carried forth or that accusations are retracted because the survivor cannot cope with carrying on with months (at least) of distress caused by being tied up on the legal system.
Consider that very few cases of child abuse are prosecuted, partly because they are very hard to prove by legal standards and also that parents might feel that it is not in the child's best interest to put them through the stress of reliving it through a legal system and they might prefer to instead help their child though it through by other means and try and help them get on with their lives.
Maybe the upswing in people talking out about violent relationships and sexual abuse of children is not another manifestation of this army of vindictive women out to exact revenge and instead a reflection of people being more open to talking about these things that they wouldn't have been willing to do just a generation ago. No-one outside my family would have believed that my affable father beat the shit out his kids and nobody spoke up about the sexual abuse going on because we were all so fucking ashamed and frightened of what people would think of us. People talk about it more now, although god only knows why because unless you get a perpetrator in front of a jury pronouncing them guilty there is always the lingering suspicion that survivors are making false allegations. And certainly retracting an accusation, which I have done because I thought it would ameliorate the warzone I was living in (it didn't) doesn't mean it didn't happen. It just means that sometimes people do this in order to try and take care of their own well-being.

As I said earlier, revolutionary/anarchist/communist notions of justice needs to be better and fairer than anything the bourgeois legal system stands for.

True. Not sure that assuming that allegations of violence and child abuse are just tactics in acrimonious child custody cases is an example of this.

no1

How is this relevant to what happens in leftist or anarchist organisations?

Because unless you live in a compound with no contact with the outside world, this is the world we live in, in a culture where the de facto response is not to believe survivors.

Serge Forward

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on March 25, 2014

Yes, no1, that sounds about right. I have no disagreement with the view that sexual violence is common in relationships, nor have I disagreed that most rape allegations are true and should always be taken seriously. My disagreement is with notions of justice which seem to be based on little more than faith. If one's definition of justice is based on the view that 'idealised person X surely wouldn't say or do such a thing' and any disagreement makes you a 'rape apologist' so ner, then, seriously, I would say the bourgeois courts would be infinitely superior to such 'revolutionary justice' dredged from the anarcho-swamp.

Allegations, made by mothers during relationship break ups, of sexual abuse of a child by the father, are not uncommon and no doubt many of these allegations are true. However, I gather such false allegations are possibly due to the adversarial nature of relationship break ups, access/custody battles, etc, and the willingness of both sides to use their kids as a weapon in such disputes. Admittedly, the examples I gave were anecdotal, however, True and False Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse: Assessment and Case Management by Tara Ney PhD might be useful, particularly chapter 12. That said, I fear Tara Ney might soon find herself labelled a rape apologist.

How is all this relevant to leftist and anarcho organisations? Fucked if I know but I believe it was relevant to the general discussion in this thread.

Joseph Kay

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on March 25, 2014

Doesn't the fact that this FALSE ALLEGATIONS reflex only seems to apply to intimate violence make anyone take a step back and wonder why that is?

A Wotsit

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by A Wotsit on March 26, 2014

(On-topic)

In my experience there is a culture in male-dominated groups to bandy around 'jokey' allegations of their mates being pedos, rapists etc (these are not taken seriously and are often 'banter' but sometimes these 'jokes' seem to belie genuine suspicion or knowledge of actual violence or other problematic behaviour). Conversely, they fail to believe honest reports of sexual violence, and fail to help create a culture/ environment where such attacks are less frequent/ prevented.

I don't know how often false allegations (which are intended to be taken seriously) are made by women, but I doubt it is very frequent at all, I certainly think (serious) false allegations are more rare than sexual violence.

(edited for clarity)

(Off-topic).

@Croy. If you're saying I was trying too hard to be nice, I can see how it might look that way. Maybe I went slightly overboard with expressing my agreement (whiskey etc), but she said it much better than me innit.

btw I can see why my initial post might have irked you. fwiw I thought you posted thoughtfully- I had already largely made my mind up on these issues before I saw your comment. Sorry if I my post seemed like it was a rebuttal, that was not my intention, I was more just exploring some of the ideas raised by both you and the article as I saw them.

radicalgraffiti

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on March 25, 2014

FFS can't people get past the notion that its all about whether or not someone accused is a bad person who should be punished and consider how we make our organizations and communities safer. Like the the whole thing of people getting beat up for things they didn't do is only really likely to be a problem when punishment/revenge is the main objective.

no1

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by no1 on March 25, 2014

fleurnoire-et-rouge

no1

How is this relevant to what happens in leftist or anarchist organisations?

Because unless you live in a compound with no contact with the outside world, this is the world we live in, in a culture where the de facto response is not to believe survivors.

Yes of course I totally agree with you. I should have been more precise - by 'this' I meant Serge's assertion that false accusations of sexual violence/child abuse are relatively common in disputes over custody/access because there is such a strong incentive. I'm far from convinced that that's the case, but even if it was, I don't really see the relevance to our discussion, which is about how to make our organisations safer.

Steven.

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on March 25, 2014

no1

Serge, a couple of thoughts about this:
(1) I can think of lots of reasons why accusations of sexual violence/abuse to be unexpectedly common in those situation - sexual violence/child abuse are pretty strong reasons to end a long-term relationship ; that kind of violence may be more common because a perpetrator is trying to dominate their partner when a relationship is falling apart ; sexual violence is generally common anyway people just keep silent about it but in disputes over kids there's obviously a good reason to speak up etc. Their frequency doesn't mean that the allegations are false, regardless of what barristers think. Do you have anything more than anecdotal evidence ?
(2) How is this relevant to what happens in leftist or anarchist organisations?

this is exactly right. Serge, this is an anecdote, not data. Also, even if it were true (which I very much doubt), this is not a comparable situation to allegation claims within anarchist movement. In a custody battle there is an incentive to make things up or exaggerate things. Which there is not in the activist milieu. Quite the opposite in fact: as others have mentioned there are huge disincentives to even revealing real assaults, let alone making them up!

WordShaker

EmC

Kureigo, what I'm saying is that what happens to rape survivors is much worse than what happens to victims of false accusations. Sorry but this is the truth. And it's why false accusations are incredibly rare.

Serge, ask any MRA and they'll tell you that. Any family court lawyer would not.

I don't mean to be confrontational, but I've got no idea why the rarity of men being falsely accused* means that Kureigo's experience should be dismissed out of hand with a "too bad."

sorry, but this is complete BS, and not what Em said at all. What she/he actually said to Kureigo was this:

Kureigo-San, I feel very bad for you or anyone who goes through that. I really do.

then this:
Joseph Kay

Doesn't the fact that this FALSE ALLEGATIONS reflex only seems to apply to intimate violence make anyone take a step back and wonder why that is?

this talk about child custody battles is completely off topic. Further comments on this topic will be deleted.

Also further comments on false allegations will also be removed, as people have made their respective points on that, and we're not getting anywhere other than certain people making themselves look very bad. And importantly putting the feelings of possible abusers ahead of those who have been abused (and I say that as someone who has been subjected to a false allegation of DV in the past, which thankfully was retracted)

Further comments in this discussion on ways we can help stop sexual violence in the anarchist scene, and ways we can support survivors are welcome. Let's keep this discussion on topic.

no1

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by no1 on March 25, 2014

Serge Forward

My disagreement is with notions of justice which seem to be based on little more than faith. If one's definition of justice is based on the view that 'idealised person X surely wouldn't say or do such a thing' and any disagreement makes you a 'rape apologist' so ner, then, seriously, I would say the bourgeois courts would be infinitely superior to such 'revolutionary justice' dredged from the anarcho-swamp.

I'm somewhat sympathetic to this position, though I think the dismissive way you put it isn't appropriate for the subject.
IMO this is a question of the standard of proof. Criminal trials require proof "beyond reasonable doubt" and for that reason they are generally worse than useless in cases of intimate violence, where incontrovertible evidence is inherently almost impossible to get. If our own organisations adopt the same logic as bourgeois criminal courts then this would be extremely oppressive, as well as totally unnecessary since it's not about punishing perpetrators but keeping members safe.
Instead I think the standard of proof we should apply instead is "on the balance of probabilities", which also exists in bourgeois courts. Recognising that patriarchal power differentials make sexualised violence common and false accusations extremely rare, applying this standard would result in most accusations being believed, without us having to adopt the position of blind faith you criticise. So if there's a formal process in response to an accusation of sexual violence by one member against another, and if there's no strong evidence to the contrary, then the accusation will be judged to be true on the balance of probabilities and the accused would be excluded (or whatever is appropriate).
So I'm not convinced we need to invent a fundamentally different 'revolutionary justice', we just need to apply our understanding of how patriarchy operates in our lives, and we need to apply the right standard of proof.

Serge Forward

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on March 25, 2014

Thanks no1. Those are fair points and I wouldn't disagree with any of what you say there.

grumpenproletariat

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by grumpenproletariat on March 25, 2014

I wrote the piece that Rebecca quoted re the logic at play re the idea of perpetrators being innocent until proven guilty. Given this has been controversial I thought I should comment I am also going make a comment on the banned thread topic as I think it is relevant as it reflects the same shitty attitude at play, i.e. women as liars and vindictive individuals who are out to get men - which should be called for what it is misogyny.

On the question of what the women lawyers have told Serge I think it is believable that they said that, but it reflects their assessment of the allegations being raised and the motivations behind them being raised on this I have two things to say:
1. the comments potentially reflect a level of misogyny on the part of the lawyer(s) - the sexist hatred of women in this society doesn't just impact on the consciousness of men.
2. It possibly says a lot about the ethics of lawyers in cases and projection of what they would do to account for large numbers of women saying they experienced domestic violence rather than acknowledging that shit tons (it is a standard unit of measurement) of women experience domestic violence and that's why these women are raising these experiences in court you go "oh all these women can't possible have experienced DV so they must be making it up, because that is what I would do to win a case".

More broadly a lot of the hand ringing about the potential innocence of perpetrators make the process of deciding whether a rape occurred like something from a CSI episode - which isn't the case as in most instances it's not about whether sex occurred it is the context in which sex occurred and who you believe which means it is up to the survivor to prove lack of consent rather than for the perpetrator to prove consent. This not only is the wrong way around, as it reflects a really fucked attitude to right to sex that pervades many cultures, but makes it very difficult to get a "guilty" verdict when all you need to do is sully the reputation of the accuser - which is pretty easy to do if mobilise victim blaming and rape myths. A good example of this is the experience is the British SWP and fucked positions taken by Martin Smith's supporters who in response to allegations of being rape apologists one foul individual responded "we could only be that if you accept that women and children don't lie".

In terms of what we do re the problem of sexual violence in the movement and society I think we need to:
1. Take position of believing and supporting survivors
2. Seeking to actively exclude sexual predators
3. Seeking to isolate and exclude who seek to trivialise or mythologise around rape
4. Massively ramp up awareness of and support for the importance of consent.

I've written this on the train to work so apologise for any typos.

Lisbeth

EmC

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by EmC on March 26, 2014

One thing that would be helpful in stopping violence in the anarchist scene would be to not publish rape apologism like this:
http://libcom.org/library/politics-denunciation

RedEd

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by RedEd on March 26, 2014

Whilst I think that the pro-active approach to identifying and holding to account perpetrators that many in this thread have taken is vitally important, I also think that there is another very significant consideration. People don't commit sexual violence in a vacuum. They do it within the social context in which they exist. I think it is our (men especially, people generally) duty to pick up on when we are concerned that a person, people or group may be normalising sexual violence or it precursors (objectification, gratuitous sexualisation, dehumanisation, etc.) and intervening. This should be easy to do in socialist organisations, but obviously it is not.

Hopefully pre-emtive challenges (that need not be condemnatory, but simply set firm standards of expected behavior) can go at least some some way to preventing sexual violence and preventing people from going through the pain of experiencing and dealing with it.

To this end, I think all organisations should have easily accesible ways of carefully and calmly facilitating the expression of concern and confronting behaviors that people are concerned about before they get to worst case scenarios. Women's officers, equality officers and so on in some organisations within and outside the socialist milieu have been doing exactly this for ages, but I think a greater emphasis on this sort of thing, as well as more discussions of and action on what to do after sexual violence, would be useful.

Tyrion

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Tyrion on March 26, 2014

Joseph Kay

Doesn't the fact that this FALSE ALLEGATIONS reflex only seems to apply to intimate violence make anyone take a step back and wonder why that is?

This is very true. I remember being very dismayed when my sister told our dad about a friend who had been raped and his immediate response was to question how she knew this was true; I can't imagine him having the same response if it was about someone being mugged or suffering any other non-sexual crime. And this seems to be the case in general, what other variety of violent crime attracts nearly as much attention on false allegations?

A Wotsit

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by A Wotsit on March 26, 2014

grumpenproletariat

In terms of what we do re the problem of sexual violence in the movement and society I think we need to:
1. Take position of believing and supporting survivors
2. Seeking to actively exclude sexual predators
3. Seeking to isolate and exclude who seek to trivialise or mythologise around rape
4. Massively ramp up awareness of and support for the importance of consent.

I agree with this. I was going to attempt a similar numbered list. Mine was also going to include something on challenging misogyny in all forms- closely related to point 3 above but expanding it to include other behaviour not restricted to attitudes on rape. (I though RedEd made good points on 'precursors' and 'pre-emptive challenges'.)

I was also going to add.

We should not (though I can see some potential grey areas here):
1. Physically attack or condone violence against those accused/ guilty of sexual violence (except in cases of actual self-defence or defence of others from attack).
2. Do anything which the survivor would not want done (e.g. reveal their identity) unless absolutely necessary (to prevent harm to others)
3. Put the need for reforming/ rehabilitating the attacker above the needs of survivors.

I would welcome more discussion on this, prehaps refining the 'we need to, we should not' principles-- which moves on from the 'believe survivors' / 'false allegations' discussion.

EmC

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by EmC on March 26, 2014

I'd like to know why people are downing my comment where I said you should not publish rape apologism. That piece basically says that we should try to include rapists in the movement and that expecting people not to rape is setting the bar too high. It just seems really hypocritical to be having this discussion supposedly wanting to do something about sexual assault in the movement while publishing something like that and most people defending it.

EmC

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by EmC on March 26, 2014

Re not condoning violence against perpetrators... I don't think organisations should be doing that because it makes policies that give survivors the benefit of the doubt impossible. BUT I think it's important that isn't taken to the point of condemning it in principle or condemning people (usually women) who commit acts of violence against rapists. I think sometimes violence is the only way to get justice or to stop someone from committing more abuse.

libcom

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by libcom on March 26, 2014

EmC

I'd like to know why people are downing my comment where I said you should not publish rape apologism. That piece basically says that we should try to include rapists in the movement and that expecting people not to rape is setting the bar too high. It just seems really hypocritical to be having this discussion supposedly wanting to do something about sexual assault in the movement while publishing something like that and most people defending it.

to let you know, that article has been unpublished pending admin discussion. Please can this discussion stay on topic about the article above, rather than the Williams piece, below which there is a separate discussion (or a new thread can be started)

A Wotsit

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by A Wotsit on March 26, 2014

EmC

Re not condoning violence against perpetrators... I don't think organisations should be doing that because it makes policies that give survivors the benefit of the doubt impossible. BUT I think it's important that isn't taken to the point of condemning it in principle or condemning people (usually women) who commit acts of violence against rapists. I think sometimes violence is the only way to get justice or to stop someone from committing more abuse.

Sorry but I don't understand the first bit- are you saying organisations 'should not condone' or organisations 'should not state that they don't condone'.

When I said 'should not condone' or 'should not attack' I meant I would not want any organisation saying 'so and so should be beaten up' or anything like 'beatings are the best way to deal with rapists', I would have problems with an anarchist organisation organising or condoning beatings. I'd agree that retaliatory/ preventative violence doesn't need to be condemned in cases of sexual violence (I think any democratically agreed policy/ practice on violence in-response-to or to-protect-from other violence should be very carefully considered).

I'm talking about organisations rather than individuals. (sorry if you get this already- I often struggle to explain myself/ understand others).

I would not have any problem with a survivor and their personal supporters who wanted their attacker to be physically harmed (whether in self-defence or in revenge). When I first found out people close to me have been raped, violence was the first response which I considered appropriate (although the survivors themselves did not, in the cases where they knew how to find the perpetrators). If a perpetrator is harmed at the hands of a survivor or on the wishes of the survivor then I see that as better than no action at all being taken tbh (of course respecting survivors own wishes), but I don't think this is something which should be the 'official policy' of an anarchist organisation. I don't know if I am being reactionary in condoning violence as an individual or being contradictory saying organisations should not be the ones organising/ engaging in the violence.

I would still welcome further discussion on this...

(edited a bit, still a mess, soz)

Croy

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Croy on March 26, 2014

As soon as we start getting into "preventative" or "pre emptive", or revenge violence then we are in fucking cop territory, fuck that, How would it even be preventative? You can't patriarchy out of a man just like you can't bomb a social relationship. Plus, if we are to abandon innocent till proven guilty at the same time as beating up the accused solely due to the wishes of the survivor, then you could actually end up with a situation where, in the case of a false accusation, however rare they are, some one could essentially get people to unquestioningly beat the shit out of an innocent person. This would be a lot more than just excluding some one from political spaces, which is what is being cited as the minor thing we should not put in front of caring for survivors.

Croy

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Croy on March 26, 2014

Regardless of how likely the above situation would be, I would still strive to make it an impossibility on principle.

A Wotsit

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by A Wotsit on March 26, 2014

I totally see why my post might seem batshit. Just to repeat, I don't think an anarchist organisation should condone or participate in violence against perpetrators. Partly this is because of the problems you outline. I would not just beat up any person (accused) on the say so of another person (survivor) just because I happened to be in the same organisation as the survivor.

I am trying to separate an organisational response to a personal one. I don't know if that is stupid but it makes sense to me. I hope the following isn't off topic but to illustrate the difference between a personal and an organisational response.

(Trigger Warning: distressing rape story)
The reason I can't rid myself of the idea that I can't condemn retaliatory violence of this kind on a personal level (and I don't think organisations should condemn this either, nor should they necessarily condone) is that a very close friend of mine was repeatedly raped by a family member she lived with as a child and I would do anything to help her deal with how this still affects her. She does not want anyone to do anything to him (except she would rather the rest of her family disowned him, alas they won't), and would rather just never see him again (she did consider the possibility of some form of revenge attack but decided against it). Personally I would happily beat the crap out of him (he is the epitome of a patriarch with no chance of redemption/ reform afaict- he still tries to contact her and guilt her into seeing the family). In this circumstance I am absolutely certain he did it as I trust her absolutely without the slightest shadow of doubt. I am also certain the perpetrator is irredeemable and that nothing that the cops could do would be of any use to her or others...

Croy

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Croy on March 26, 2014

So you would be ok with it so long as it wasn't technically the 'party line' as it were. So long as the people act outside of the org (fuck knows what that means, so they can do it BUT NOT IF THEY ARE WAVING A RED AND BLACK ABOUT) then it would be ok? Being devils advocate here.

A Wotsit

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by A Wotsit on March 26, 2014

Also the 'pre-emptive' comment from earlier was to say to 'pre-empt' a rape culture/ rape enabling environment by directly and robustly challenging any misogynistic attitudes which rear their head, rather than anything about undertaking pre-emptive violence.

(edit) however, when I said 'preventative' that was more about preventing a re-occurance of similar violence. I do think that is generally a problematic concept to think violence against ant-social behaviour will prevent further anti-social behaviour. But in the here-and-now where rape so often happens with the only painful consequences being felt by the survivor and the perpetrator more often than not gets off scott-free. Some retaliation (as well attempts at rehab) may be necessary in some cases. (edit end)

I feel like I'm posting badly on this thread so am going to try and stop and apologise if I have said anything harmful or stupid. I am not approaching this with a calm and level head.

A Wotsit

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by A Wotsit on March 26, 2014

I don't know. I am now feeling conflicted about it.

edit: After receiving a really helpful DM I feel like I've got lots to learn on this and will read more and post less. Admins please delete anything I've said which may be bad.

EmC

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by EmC on March 26, 2014

Met people here would not have a problem with violence against cops or nazis but as soon as it's people who commit violent hate crimes against women suddenly physical violence is somehow like being a cop and "not under my flag".

BTW you boys don't own the red and black flag, so fuck you, if I ever get a chance to do what I want to the guy who raped me I'm going to leave a red and black flag skewered in his dead corpse.

EmC

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by EmC on March 26, 2014

Also Wotsit, I'm sad you've decided to post less as you're one of the few people who's made this discussion bearable.

A Wotsit

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by A Wotsit on March 26, 2014

Thank you EmC. I would gladly read more from you if you feel inclined to keep discussing. I often say I'm leaving threads alone but I rarely stick to it. I think you just made another good point in relation to possible double standards on retaliatory violence. I need to clarify my own thinking a bit... After some sleep

EmC

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by EmC on March 26, 2014

To be clear, I'm saying that an anarchist organisation should NOT be involved in any attacks on a perpetrator. This isn't for some moral reason. It's because practically I think it would make it impossible to implement a system where survivors are believed. I don't think anarchist groups have the capacity to run trials of any kind or make decisions about punishing perpetrators.

But I also in think that it would be an attack on survivors and women's rights for an anarchist organisation to condemn survivors or others (with the survivors permission) engaging in violence against perpetrators. This would be like an anarchist group condemning violence against people who had committed racist hate crimes.

EDIT: I think if a group were to state "we do not condone violence against perpetrators" that could be interpreted to mean that they condemn it. I think it would be important to make it clear that it was only referring to how the organisation itself functions.

For example, I wonder if an anarchist group would condemn the women? TW rape:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/sep/16/india.gender

Anyway something I've been noticing in this discussion... I think a lot if men just don't have much empathy with women. A lot of people here seem horrified by the idea of violence against an innocent man but the most awful stories of rape against children which have been told on this thread don't even merit an "I'm sorry that happened" from the same posters. Maybe you just think that it goes without saying that such stories are terrible, I don't know. But something I've noticed over the years is that people don't like survivors, especially ones who speak out. People are often disgusted by them in fact. I think part of this is that men - and women, but especially men - are taught not to empathize with women. And I think they have material incentive of male privalidge not to empathize too. I think this silence is both a product of that and helps reinforce it.

Steven.

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on March 26, 2014

the croydonian anarchist

As soon as we start getting into "preventative" or "pre emptive", or revenge violence then we are in fucking cop territory, fuck that, How would it even be preventative? You can't patriarchy out of a man just like you can't bomb a social relationship. Plus, if we are to abandon innocent till proven guilty at the same time as beating up the accused solely due to the wishes of the survivor, then you could actually end up with a situation where, in the case of a false accusation, however rare they are, some one could essentially get people to unquestioningly beat the shit out of an innocent person. This would be a lot more than just excluding some one from political spaces, which is what is being cited as the minor thing we should not put in front of caring for survivors.

firstly, I've already said that this talk of "false accusations" is a red herring, and off topic so please desist from bringing it up.

Secondly, em and others specifically said anarchist organisations shouldn't do this - a point I agree with, broadly, especially in cases within the anarchist scene.

Thirdly, as em rightly points out, most anarchists (I don't know about you personally) have no problem with supporting anarchist organisations engaging in violence against fascists (and possibly scabs in some circumstances). With no moral concerns around "innocent till proven guilty" or getting into "cop territory".

Croy

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Croy on March 27, 2014

With regards to violence against rapists, I wasn't saying all of that was cop territory, I was referring specifically to the suggestion of preemptive violence but it appears A Wotsit actually saying we should do that, which I am glad for. I still don't think preventative violence can be justified, however bad the here and now is.

About the flag thing I think EmC has mis interpeted what I was saying. I was talking about the weird distinction between the violence taking place personally via as an organisation and trying to illustrate the absurdity of the supposed difference? How would members of an organisation beating the shit out of some one accused of rape on the information of/directive of some one also in the organisation accusing said person be doing it personally rather than an as organisation? How does it it, and at what point, does it become violence perpetrated as an organisation? Surely the organisation is just a sum of the collective will of its members?

To be honest I think it's way easy to try and palm these questions off by endlessly asserting the red herringness of false accusations but I don't actually think that is helpful or an argument. It's also really easy to automatically assume anyone who is questioning things or playing devils advocate to try and get some clarity is doing so not because they care, but because they lack empathy for women. And yes, I could very well say sorry that happened for a case of rape against children? But I don't because A why wouldn't I be, B I don't think it's really that meaningful being on the internet far removed from the situation not knowing the people involved and effected, C I can't apolagise for everything shit that happened ever because I wouldn't have time to live otherwise.

Fleur

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Fleur on March 27, 2014

Croy:
This is in no way a personal attack, just a few thoughts.

Being devils advocate here.

Tread carefully. Playing devil's advocate for the purpose of provoking a good debate is all well and good, but use it sparingly when you are dealing with subjects which cause actual trauma to real people. Some things, sexual assault included, are not debate-worthy hypotheticals which are really good to have a great argument over. The whole subject is triggering. Survivors of sexual violence are often highly sensitized to the subject as a consequence of the mountains of bullshit which gets trotted out around the subject. Just go and read a newspaper, a few victim-blaming op-eds, listen to people telling rape jokes. No shit people get emotional around the subject. This is not a nit-picking argument about theory, it's something which affects a lot of people in a negative way. 1 in 3 women will experience sexual or physical violence over their lives and I expect that the figure for men is actually higher than it is thought to be because it's so taboo. So next time you're in a room and wish to play devil's advocate on this subject, try to bear in mind that there's probably someone there getting highly stressed about it.

To be honest I think it's way easy to try and palm these questions off by endlessly asserting the red herringness of false accusations but I don't actually think that is helpful or an argument

Compared to the 1 in 3 statistic, the tiny minority of allegations which turn out to be false is a bit of a red herring. As I have said before, I am genuinely sorry that anyone has to go through being falsely accused, but when in a discussion about dealing with sexual violence, a disproportionate amount of time is spent on discussing these false allegations comes across, at the very least, exceptionally insensitive.

It's also really easy to automatically assume anyone who is questioning things or playing devils advocate to try and get some clarity is doing so not because they care, but because they lack empathy for women.

Yeah, it does come across that way, even if you don't mean it to.

And yes, I could very well say sorry that happened for a case of rape against children? But I don't because A why wouldn't I be

No reason to assume you wouldn't be. Except there is a general feeling that society doesn't really care that much, so it doesn't actually hurt for individuals to affirm that they actually do.

B I don't think it's really that meaningful being on the internet far removed from the situation not knowing the people involved and effected

It really doesn't matter if it's on the internet. It's about real people and given the nature of this site, it's not entirely unlikely that they may be looking in. Have a little heart.

C I can't apolagise for everything shit that happened ever because I wouldn't have time to live otherwise.

No-one's asking you to.

Steven.

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on March 27, 2014

Croydonian, Fleur's post above has many excellent points. Particularly on whether a discussion about sexual violence with survivors of said violence is the best place to play "devil's advocate". One other thing:
the croydonian anarchist

To be honest I think it's way easy to try and palm these questions off by endlessly asserting the red herringness of false accusations but I don't actually think that is helpful or an argument.

I haven't done this "endlessly", I stated it first as an admin note, and have had to restate it as people have continued to discuss it. Further posts mentioning it we're going to start unpublishing.

And it is a red herring, as Joseph correctly identified. In how many discussions about even physical violence against fascists has anyone questioned if you can be sure someone is a fascist, how can you prove it, or what if someone has falsely accused them of being a fascist? Not a single one. This only ever comes up with regard to domestic and sexual violence against women.

AES

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by AES on March 27, 2014

At the root of the original post on confronting sexual violence is that reports of abuse must be taken seriously - I agree completely, and thank the article contributor for her effort and bravery in sharing her experience, as well as others who have shared thoughts about traumatic experiences.

I sometimes provide help as a volunteer at a couple of community centres, and have done for years. We have been able to respond when we were approached by a person who we were told was sexually assaulted. We immediately arranged for a friend of the complainant to say that we take the report seriously. Considering that we knew the accused, a letter was written stating that a serious accusation has been made which must be adequately resolved. We let the complainant know that as a matter of safety and protection, the accused was no longer allowed at the community centre until the accusation has been resolved. The complainant wanted to meet with us and an emergency meeting was held within a few days. A couple of people were able to provide specialist experience about help for interviewing of vulnerable witnesses, inter-agency protection meetings with health, legal help, social services and cops. The informal support which the complainant wanted was continued for a few months. Cops did not treat the complainant with any respect (essentially they said there was too little evidence because there was a delay in deciding to report the abuse) which is not correct because in some cases decisions can be made on balance of probability, focussing on witness statements and instead of objective physical evidence. A former friend of the accused said that the police interview concluded that the accused was too drunk to verify whether sexual assault occurred or not, but denied it anyway. The accused is known to us, and in these circumstances has been formally ostracised.

We must treat safety as a central issue. I feel that there is plenty reason to consider working on our strengths and weakness. Resources we have and don't have. On impartiality (being objective) and advocacy (taking sides) outside and inside our organisations, and the working class in general.

On this and the other related thread, I think that the earlier context example of false acusations was in relation to parental adversity which is sometimes a dirty tactic used by both fathers and mothers, see the book "Divorced poison - How to protect your family from bad-mouthing and brainwashing" by Dr Richard Warshak. I have witnessed more than one case where false accusations happen and it resulted in emotional abuse of children.

EmC

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by EmC on March 28, 2014

On this and the other related thread, I think that the earlier context example of false acusations was in relation to parental adversity which is sometimes a dirty tactic used by both fathers and mothers, see the book "Divorced poison - How to protect your family from bad-mouthing and brainwashing" by Dr Richard Warshak. I have witnessed more than one case where false accusations happen and it resulted in emotional abuse of children.

This is a banned topic and really irrelevant to either discussion. It was never even raised on the other discussion. But since it keeps coming up all the time I suggest rather than basing their beliefs on anecdotes and self help books people actually research it. There are a lot of studies out there on it and they suggest that the incidence is under 10% and that even that is probably exaggerated due to reports being withdrawn plus low incidences of reporting of child abuse in the first place. Plus as stated before the court system isn't exempt from sexism.

bounce

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by bounce on March 28, 2014

AES

On this and the other related thread, I think that the earlier context example of false acusations was in relation to parental adversity which is sometimes a dirty tactic used by both fathers and mothers,

There was no talk of false allegations on the thread you linked to.

AES

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by AES on March 28, 2014

I could understand precaution, if arguements dismissive of the seriousness of abuse were being made. Attitudes towards false accusations are at the centre of this article - the fundemental of this article is noted as to "believe" reports of abuse (which I see as advocacy - taking sides) but the fact is that in practice the usual response used by various protection 'agencies' (workers in the field of protection such as health visitors, education, social work, psychologists, etc) is to "take seriously" reports of abuse (to be impartial - objective).

Child abuse case details cannot be publically discussed because of risk to children and to protect their identity. I have carefully read Dr Richard Warshak study which is based on experience, it's not anecdotal. In an example which I witnessed, it was the children that were most heavily effected by the false accusation, thereafter it was the wrongly accused carer. The study recommends that the interests of children are paramount, which is correct. I believe we can learn a lot from the experience of inter-professional studies by workers in the field of protection.

Our organisations and community centres have a lot to learn about impartiality (being objective) and advocacy (taking sides), so I will remain open-minded.

I came to revolutionary ideas when I witnessed a shooting of 19 people dead and where another 22 were left injured.

I am against all forms of miscarriage of justice.

EmC

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by EmC on March 28, 2014

AES, if you want to have a discussion about false accusations of child abuse in divorces maybe you could start a new thread.

bounce

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by bounce on March 28, 2014

I think the article makes very clear how claims of being impartial actually work in the abuser's favour. Also, the article is talking about radical groups, not about people who work in fields where they have the power or authority over the accused that could lead to legal ramifications. Asking someone who has been accused of abuse to leave a space, to make it safer for survivors, is not the same as someone working I'm the community or legal sector restricting someone's freedoms.

Furthermore, with the vast majority of rape allegations being true, you would think more time would be spent on the injustices faced by survivors, who often have to withdraw from radical spaces and activism due to lack of support and victim blaming but any attempt to go us on this group of people is always derailed by those who want to focus, primarily on what an injustice the small percent of false allegations are.

EmC

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by EmC on March 28, 2014

The balance of probability is 1:100. Explain to me how this can mean anything other than supporting survivors? Seriously I'm good at maths, explain it to me.....

Khawaga

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on March 28, 2014

EmC

Anyway something I've been noticing in this discussion... I think a lot if men just don't have much empathy with women. A lot of people here seem horrified by the idea of violence against an innocent man but the most awful stories of rape against children which have been told on this thread don't even merit an "I'm sorry that happened" from the same posters. Maybe you just think that it goes without saying that such stories are terrible, I don't know. But something I've noticed over the years is that people don't like survivors, especially ones who speak out. People are often disgusted by them in fact. I think part of this is that men - and women, but especially men - are taught not to empathize with women. And I think they have material incentive of male privalidge not to empathize too. I think this silence is both a product of that and helps reinforce it.

This! I think this is one of the major reasons why we continually have to have discussions over this, why so many anarchists all of a sudden loves bourgeois, liberal principles of innocent until proven guilty. There's so much I want to write about precisely this due to recent experiences with supporting a rape survivor against our anarchist organization (Common Cause Ontario; our branch left because of what happened); the survivor was treated like a problem, a thing, not a human being. Absolutely no empathy towards the survivor on behalf of almost the entire organization that was busy thinking about their "reputation" rather than actually fighting rape culture. The only explanation that makes sense to me is that there was a complete lack of empathy; not even an attempt at trying to put yourself in the position of the survivor. The result being traumatizing the survivor over and over again.

no1

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by no1 on March 28, 2014

Khawaga

The only explanation that makes sense to me is that there was a complete lack of empathy; not even an attempt at trying to put yourself in the position of the survivor.

Social psychologists have tried to explain phenomena like victim blaming as cognitive bias:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-world_hypothesis
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_attribution_error

EmC

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by EmC on March 29, 2014

no1, that is part of it, but it doesn't explain the difference in reaction to someone saying "I was mugged" to "I was raped". It just can't be explained without misogyny.

I think with women not believing women the just world hypothesis is definitely part of it. In particular I think for women believing that rape is something that could happen to them is very scary and sometimes victim blaming allows them to avoid that. But there's a lot more to it.

With women it's also that a lot of them have been sexually assaulted and are in denial about it. The thing with Assange was a good example. A lot of women responded with "well that happened to me and I don't consider it rape". Accepting that certain things are rape would mean they couldn't repress their own feelings any more.

Both men and women are trained to feel disgust at someone who's been raped. Rape isn't considered just a crime. Someone who's been raped is considered "defiled". There is the perception that they are ruined and can never recover. I have noticed people are a lot more comfortable talking about preventing rape than supporting survivors. People also talk a lot more about how to "rehabilitate" perpetrators than survivors. I think people both empathize with perps more but also just don't think it's possible for survivors to recover. So they're just written off as a casualty.

There is the way men use things like rape jokes to bond. Like someone mentioned about their new work place people using misogyny as a way to try to include them and make friends. That is just training each other not to have empathy for women.

Also, accepting that sexual assault was really a common problem in the left would mean having to make some big changes. Those would mean men having to give up some of their privalidges. It would mean they'd have to do something about the culture in groups that enables gendered violence and misogyny. It would mean having to face that some of our friends, people we respect and people who play (some) useful roles in organisations are predators and will have to stop being involved in the left.

Its a lot easier to avoid having to do all that stuff. But the only way to do that is to either not believe survivors or not have empathy with them. Usually in that order. First a survivor is questioned and disbelieved. If they are finally able to prove that they really were abused, or get enough support that they at least can't be ignored, then people find reasons not to empathize with them. They are partly to blame. They did bad things too. They reacted badly. They've been too aggressive in the way they brought it up.

Finally if all else fails people just distance themselves from it. It didn't happen in our group. It didn't happen in our branch. That was a personal matter.... Etc. All of that also takes distancing themselves. Not thinking about it. Not empathizing.

Khawaga is right that it traumatizes the survivor over and over again too. Rape itself takes really dehumanizing the victim. So then being dehumanized over and over in people's responses just keeps reinforcing that.

EmC

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by EmC on March 29, 2014

Another tactic worth mentioning, is justifying attacking one survivor by supposedly defending other more worthy survivors. For example calling what Assange did "rape" trivializes "real rape". That is the typical way it's done, but I've seen other versions. There was quite a creative use of this tactic on the IWW thread.

Khawaga

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on March 29, 2014

If they are finally able to prove that they really were abused, or get enough support that they at least can't be ignored, then people find reasons not to empathize with them. They are partly to blame. They did bad things too. They reacted badly. They've been too aggressive in the way they brought it up.

This is exactly the reaction the survivor got from Common Cause; like the actual things said to the survivor. It's as if there is a rape culture playbook that people stick to. Easier than to think and actually confront the misogyny existing in our organizations.

Croy

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Croy on March 29, 2014

fleurnoire-et-rouge

Some things, sexual assault included, are not debate-worthy hypotheticals which are really good to have a great argument over. The whole subject is triggering.

If the problem with my response is it is triggering it's no less triggering than any one else's comments, or the article itself. To my knowledge people post trigger warnings on stuff that discusses the topic in any sense, be it supportive or playing devils advocate.

fleurnoire-et-rouge

C I can't apolagise for everything shit that happened ever because I wouldn't have time to live otherwise.

No-one's asking you to.

[/quote]

I think you'll find EmC is

A lot of people here seem horrified by the idea of violence against an innocent man but the most awful stories of rape against children which have been told on this thread don't even merit an "I'm sorry that happened" from the same posters

fingers malone

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on March 29, 2014

Croy, the problem isn't just because it's triggering. If something bad happens to me, and I wonder if I should maybe tell someone, I might think to myself, "will I get treated like shit?" If I see that pretty much any time someone mentions rape or domestic violence within the left/anarchist movement, the first thing that happens is OMG FALSE ACCUSATIONS then I might think the best thing to do is slink off quietly and say nothing, leaving people occasionally asking "whatever happened to fingers malone?"

and the point about expressing some basic human sympathy is that people seem quicker to say "but it would be terrible if an innocent man was beaten up" (which I agree, btw, would be terrible) but here are women saying that they were actually, not hypothetically, raped or beaten up and not getting hardly any sympathy at all. And this is mirrored by what happens in wider society, not just on Libcom.

Steven.

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on March 29, 2014

admin note: off topic comment by AES unpublished. Further off topic comments will also be removed and will result in a warning

Kureigo-San

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Kureigo-San on March 29, 2014

Emc, I don't want you to have a wholly terrible idea of the worthiness of bothering with all of this. Frankly what you've said has made me fairly petrified that I myself may one day commit the knee-jerk reaction of doubting a rape survivor, because from what I gather it seems an extremely impulsive behaviour that operates on a different level to what we understand as thinking. I'm quite sure that when something like this crops up in my future, the first or at least second or third thing I'm going to think about are the things said on threads like this. I can tell you with certainty I was great deal less conscious about the nature of it all beforehand.

Fleur

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Fleur on March 29, 2014

I've just posted up a thread in the forums, because I wanted to answer Croy's post without derailing this further.

EmC

10 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by EmC on March 31, 2014

Kureigo-San, thanks for listening :)
I have had to do a lot of re-examining my own views over the last few years, basically realised I was engaging in a lot of rape apologism and denial. This wasn't a pleasant process for me. It brought up a lot of trauma, and also made me realise what an asshole I'd been at times. This is also why I am not very sympathetic to people complaining about "call out culture" (though I do acknowledge sometimes, rarely, it goes too far). Rape culture is really deeply ingrained in our society and our consciousness. I don't think it can be tip toed around. I think it needs to be tackled head on and it's always going to be an extremely difficult discussion for everyone involved.

RadBlackLove

7 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by RadBlackLove on January 12, 2017

Fleur

Given that we know (and we do know that, don't we?) that the number of false allegations are very, very low, surely it should be the default position to to lay the emphasis on supporting the survivor and one of the basic ways of doing that is to try to not further undermine their feeling of safety by allowing the accused to be hanging around in the same spaces. It's not a lot to ask.
Absolutely, some people's reputations are at stake. However, the minute a survivor speaks up, their reputations are destroyed. You can have as many policies and statements in place as you like but anyone who has ever spoken up about sexual violence perpetrated against them have been subject to conjecture, gossip, victim blaming, assumptions of lying etc, especially if the man involved has any redeeming features (oh, he's such a nice guy - he wouldn't do that.) And we all know this, it's the thing which stops us from speaking out in the first place, knowing the kind of shit we're going to take, because we've seen it happen to other people. So, it's completely ludicrous to imagine that there are armies of vindictive women willing to lay down false rape accusations in order to vilify someone we don't like, or to get revenge on an ex etc. We're not stupid, we know the score, if you speak up your life turns to crap.
If any organization wants to have women participating and wants them to stay, they should bear this in mind.

Fleur's politics are on POINT here and I hope they are a key voice in IWW discussions about this topic. Thanks!