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 Tuesday, April 12 2005 @ 09:09 PM PDT

Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men

   

FeminismAs a woman who has experienced physical and emotional abuse from men, some of whom I had long relationships with, it is always difficult to learn from other activist women that they are being abused by activist men.

Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men

By Tamara K. Nopper

February 4, 2005

tnopper@yahoo.com

Copyright © 2005 Tamara K. Nopper

As a woman who has experienced physical and emotional abuse from men, some of whom I had long relationships with, it is always difficult to learn from other activist women that they are being abused by activist men.

The interrelated issues of sexism, misogyny and homophobia in activist circles is rampant, so it is unsurprising that women are abused physically and emotionally by activist men with whom they work with on various projects.

I am not speaking abstractedly here. Indeed, I know of various relationships between activist men and women in which the latter is being abused if not physically, emotionally. For example, a long time ago a friend of mine showed me bruises on her arm that she told me were from another male activist. This woman certainly struggles emotionally, which is somewhat expected given that she has experienced physical abuse. What was additionally heartbreaking to see is how the woman was shunned by activist circles when she tried to talk about her abuse or have it addressed. Some told her to get over it, or to focus on “real” male assholes such as prominent political figures. Others told her to not let her “personal problems” get in the way of “doing the work.”

I struggled with my friend’s recovery too. As a survivor of abuse, it was difficult to meet a woman who in some ways was a ghost of me. I would run into this woman, and she would randomly tell me about another fight that she and her boyfriend had gotten into. I would find myself avoiding this woman because frankly, it was hard to look at a woman who reminded me too much of who I was not too long ago: a scared, embarrassed and desperate person who would babble to anyone willing to listen about what was happening to her. In other words, I, like this woman, had gone through the desperation of trying to get out of an abusive relationship and needing to finally tell people what was happening to me. And similar to how this woman was treated, most people, even those I called friends, shied away from listening to me because they did not want to be bothered or were struggling with their own emotional struggles.

The embarrassment associated with telling people that you have been abused, and like myself, stayed in an abusive relationship, is made even worse by the responses you get from people. Rather than be sympathetic, many people were disappointed in me. Many times I was told by people that they were “surprised” to find out that I had “put up with that shit” because unlike “weak women,” I was a “strong” and “political” woman. This response is downright misogynist because it denies how dominant patriarchy and hatred of women and the “feminine” is, and instead tries to place the blame on women. That is, we are to ignore that women are being abused by men and instead emphasize the character of women as the definitive reason for why some are abused and others don’t “put up with that shit.”

I can’t help but think that other activist women who have been abused, whether by activist men or not, also face similar difficulties recovering from abuse. Regardless of one’s politics, women can be and do get abused. Anyone who refuses to believe this either just doesn’t listen to women or think about what women go through on the regular. And this is because they are just hostile to recognizing how pervasive and normalized patriarchy and misogyny are—both outside of and within activist circles.

More, a lot of us want to believe that activist men really are different from our fathers, brothers, old boyfriends, and male strangers we confront in our daily routines. We want to have some faith that the guy who writes a position paper on sexism and posts it on his website is not writing it just to make himself look good, get pussy, or cover up some of his dangerous practices towards women. We want to believe that women are being respected for their skills, energy and political commitment and are not being asked to do work because they are viewed as “exploitable” and “abuse-able” by activist men. We want to believe that if an activist male made an unwarranted advance or physically/sexually assaulted an activist woman that it would promptly and thoughtfully be dealt with by organizations and political communities—and with the input of the victim. We want to think that activist groups are not so easily enticed by the skills or “name-power” that an activist male brings to a project that they are willing to let a woman be abused or have her recovery go unaddressed in exchange. And we would like to think that “security culture” in activist circles does not only focus on issues of listserv protocol or using fake names at rallies but actually includes thinking proactively about how to deal with misogyny, patriarchy and heterosexism both outside of and within the activist scenes.

But all of these wishes, all of these dreams obviously tend to go unaddressed. Instead, I know of activist men who troll political spaces like predators looking for women that they can politically manipulate or fuck without accountability. Like abusive priests, some of these men literally move from city to city looking to recreate themselves and find fresh meat among those who are unfamiliar with their reputation. And I have seen activist women give their labor and skills to activist men (who often take the credit) in hopes that the abusive activist man will finally get his act right or appreciate her as a human being.

While romance between activists is fine, I think it is disgusting how activist men use romance to control women politically and keep women emotionally committed to helping the man out politically, even when his politics are corny or problematic. Or, in some cases, activist men get involved in politics to find women they can involve in abusive relationships and control. And given that abuse brings out the worst in the victim, I have seen where women interact with other activists (particularly women) in ways they might not normally if they were not being politically and emotionally manipulated by men. For example, I know of abused activist females who have spread rumors about other activist women or have gotten involved in political battles between her boyfriend and other activists.

What’s scary is that I know activist men who were abusing and manipulating female activist and at the same time, writing position papers on sexism and competition between women. Sometimes the activist male will pen the position paper with his activist girlfriend in order to gain more legitimacy. I know of activist men who quote bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldua, or other feminist writers one minute and are harassing or spreading lies and gossip about their activist girlfriend the next. And activist men will school activist women on how to be less competitive with other women to conceal their abusive and manipulative behavior.

What is more heartbreaking is the level of support abusive activist men find from other activists, male and female but most usually other men. Not only do activist women have to confront and negotiate their abuser in activist circles, they must usually do so in a political community that talks a good game but in the end could give a shit about the victims’ emotional and physical safety. On many occasions I have listened to women’s stories of abuse be retold and recast by activist men in a hostile and sexist manner. And when they recast this story, they often do in that voice, the voice that is snide, accusatory and mocking.

For example, when I was sharing with an activist male my concerns about how an activist female was being treated by an activist male who held a prominent position in a political group, the man “listening” to my story said in that voice, “Oh, she’s probably just mad ‘cause he started dating someone else” and went on to make fun of her. He continued to tell me that while he “acknowledges” the man is wrong, the woman needs to stand up to the man if she wants the treatment to stop. Unfortunately this man’s brand of misogyny disguised as male feminism is all too common in activist circles given that a lot of men in general believe that women are abused because they are weak or secretly want to be in relationships with abusive men. More, his comments revealed an attitude that assumes that if activist women take issue with activist men, they are “crying abuse” to cover up hidden sexual desires and anger over being rejected by men who “won’t fuck them.”

I find it disgusting that women’s physical and emotional safety is of little concern to activist men in general. While activist men will pay some lip service to how they need to keep their mouths shut when women are talking or how women only spaces are necessary, all too often “critical” and “political” people do not want to confront the fact that women are being abused by male activists in our circles. When the issue is “addressed,” more often than not attention will be given to “struggling with” the man (i.e., letting him stay and maybe just gossiping about him). I have even seen some situations where abusive men become adopted, so to speak, by other activists, who see rehabilitating the man as part of their project and think little about what this means for the women who are trying to recover. In some cases, the male activist abuser was adopted while the woman was shunned as “unstable,” “crazy” or “too emotional.” Basically, these groups would rather help a cold, calculating guy who can “keep it together” while he abuses women rather than deal with the reality that abuse can contribute to emotional and social difficulties among victims as they work to become survivors.

And in some cases, activist women will avoid going to the police because she is critical of the prison industrial complex but also because other activist men will tell her she is “contributing to the problem” by “bringing the state in.” But in most cases, the activist male is not chastised for the problems he has created. Thus, women are stuck having to figure out how to insure her safety without being labeled a “sell-out” by her activist peers.

While I am a strong believer that we need to try to work towards healing rather than punishment per se, I am painfully aware that we often put more emphasis on helping men stay in activist circles than supporting women through their recoveries, which might involve the need to have the man purged from the political group. Basically, the group will usually determine that the activist abuser must be allowed to heal without asking the woman what she needs from the group to heal and be supported in her process. I know of many examples of where women are forced to put up with the groups’ unwillingness to address abuse. Some will remain involved in organizations because they believe in the work and frankly, there are few spaces to go, if any, where she is not at risk of being abused by another activist or have her abuse unaddressed. Others will simply leave the organization. I have seen how these women get treated by other activists—men and women—who treat women coldly or gossip that they are selfish or sell-outs for letting the personal get in way of “the work.”

Or, if activist women who have been abused are “supported,” it is usually because she does “good work” or that not addressing the abuse will be “bad for the group.” In this sense, the physical, emotional and spiritual health of women is still sacrificed. Instead, the woman’s abuse must be addressed because if it is not, she might not continue doing “good work” for the organization or there might be too much tension in the group for it to run efficiently. Either way, women’s safety is not viewed as worthy of concern in and of itself.

Overall, activist scenes are no safe space for women because misogynists and abusive men exist within them. More, many of these abusers use the language, tools of activism and support by other activists as means to abuse women and conceal their behavior. And unfortunately, in a lot of political circles, regardless of how much we talk about patriarchy or misogyny, women are sacrificed in order to keep up “the work” or save the organization. Perhaps it is time we actually just care that activist women are vulnerable to being manipulated and abused by activist males and consider that proactively addressing this is an integral part of the “work” that activists must do.

Tamara K. Nopper is a writer, educator and activist living in Philadelphia.




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Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men | 20 comments | Create New Account
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Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 02:17 PM PST
Ah, men to that sister! I have had that beautiful irony of being treated horrifically in a relationship with a famous leftist "feminist" male activist, only to find he was cheating with me on his partner, and then to find he also treated another feminist activist I know poorly...yet he still somehow maintains his position in the activist community, as the feminist/activist women he hurts just slink away unheard of...in silence, as his power is great. And that silence leaves him like a sitting bomb for the next unsuspecting feminist, I mean he talks like a feminist, he must be one, right?...Pathetic shit. I will not fall for that shit again.
Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 04:31 PM PST
Here's an idea: when someone physically abuses you, call the police.

Screw that all-cops-are-fascists line. The fact is that any society, no matter how egalitarian, will need some kind of police force to handle some types of problems. Even if equality and social justice does away with the bulk of criminal behavior, kids will still wander away from their parents and need people to find them, people will still have too much to drink and get into fights, and some men will continue to abuse the women in their lives.

If people within activist circles are smug or indifferent about issues of abuse, bringing the legal system into it will definately give them a reality check.
Consequences of Arrest & Conviction for Abuse
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 11:40 PM PST
Not a bad idea. Around here, domestic battery usually gets the abuser 1 year's worth of supervised probation, random urine and drug testing, 2 days in jail at the minimum (and as much as 6 months in jail) and a fine between $200 and $1000. Figure in court costs and attorney's fees and the abuser is looking at at least $1500 in money he or she has to pay, and if the money isn't paid off in 30 days, the sum is increased by 30 percent. The abuser will be made to pay for any medical bills and property damage as well, and will be made to undergo alcohol and drug evaluations, and treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse (if indicated) as well as anger management, usually for 40 hours at a cost of between $75 to $200 per hour, payable in cash. Failure to complete any part of the ordered treatment or to pay for it results in a Probation Violation. Of course, any arrest for anything will result in a Probation Violation being filed, so that generally means that the person's activist career is over. It is very rare for someone on probation to get off probation after 1 year - once you're in the System, you don't get out. Finally, the Probation Officer must be kept informed of the abuser's whereabouts at all times, and permission must be obtained to travel out of state. The abuser will for the rest of his or her life be prohibited from owning any firearms, and if convicted or making a plea to sexual assault or rape, will be required for the rest of his or her life to register with the local police department as a Sexual Predator. This last bit will make it nearly impossible for the abuser to find a job or a place to live, because no one will hire Sexual Predators or rent to them for fear of liability and lawsuits, and the lists with pictures are readily available on the internet.
Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men
Authored by: yoshomon on Sunday, February 06 2005 @ 02:38 PM PST
Advocating police collaboration instead of self-defense and
empowerment is outrageous.

We cannot rely on the State to protect us.
Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 06 2005 @ 04:08 PM PST
no but if an individual was beating his partner and she did want to press charges perhaps it would be worth dealing with rather than just sweeping it off to the side.
Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 06 2005 @ 05:06 PM PST
Around here, if the police get called to a domestic violence situation, at least one of the parties gets taken to jail and charged with the crime. It is extremely rare for charges to be dismissed, even if the victim files a "Nolle Prosequi" or request to the District Attorney not to prosecute. It doesn't matter if there isn't a mark on the victim, the arrest and charges will occur, and the disposition will be as above. Once a person gets into the criminal justice system, they rarely get out. From a cynical perspective, the System feeds off of people - it's just not economically feasible to let them go free, there's just too much money to be made (and extracted). Last but not least, if the arrestee is known to police as an activist, there'll be more incentive to end their career as an activist - they'll be lucky to ever get off probation or out of the jail/probation/jail cycle.
Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 06 2005 @ 05:20 PM PST
by the way, I forgot to mention that a lot of domestic battery cases are women battering men, about 40%. Battery is touching another in a rude, angry, offensive, or harmful manner, with the intent to commit the crime of battery. Pushing someone is battery, a slap is definitely battery, laying your hand on someone's cheek, or on their shoulder is battery, if the intent exists, and the touching is rude, offensive, done while the toucher is angry, or causes the least amount of harm. Throwing objects which come into contact with someone has been found to be battery, even blowing smoke into someone's face has been found to be battery. So if two people have an argument, and one touches the other, if the two people are in the same household or have some sort of relationship, the crime of domestic battery can be found to have occurred. This goes for parents and children, spouses of any gender, and unmarried couples of any gender. Around here, if someone at the scene tells the police enough to fit the fact pattern, there will be at least one arrest; even if someone calls in a domestic violence report, the police will arrest at least one person and perhaps all parties who are involved in the altercation.
Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men
Authored by: A on Saturday, February 05 2005 @ 04:32 PM PST
This text must be credited for personal
touch and emotionality. I liked this more
than recent Ernesto's text although both
made me approximately equally depressed.
However this text completely lacks propositions
of dealing with the problem.
Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 06 2005 @ 03:16 PM PST
It implies, caring personally for the female activist,jeez so simple, can you not read subtltey
Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men
Authored by: revolution_rever on Sunday, February 06 2005 @ 03:23 PM PST
Possibly exploring non-monogamy is an easy solution. If we stop living in the heterosexist paradigm, the problems of that culture may disappear. And if we are activist lets take some action and actually make it a bad fucking idea to abuse anyone in our circles. How about a little solidarity!
Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 06 2005 @ 03:34 PM PST
Hmm. I liked this article, and you made a lot of good points. However, I think you should offer some way to deal with this kind of stuff rather than simply criticize the way groups have delt with it in the past - then maybe it would be easier to confrontr. Certainly blaming women for their abuse is wrong...but should they kick the male out of the activist group? How do you heal and rehabilitate male abusers? What way could members of the activist group of all genders support then woman who was abused?

Secondly, some of the replies have included treating someone like shit and cheating on one's significant other as 'abuse'. Hmmm... certainly there is emotional, physical, psychological abuse, but when does someone switch over from simply being an asshole into being an abuser? There are anarchist/activist assholes as there are conservative fascist assholes, but as long as people are abiding by non-authoritarian principles of thhe group then should they kicked out because they cheated on someone else in the group? Yeah, it's shitty of them, but it's not abuse, and except in cases where there is definite abuse I think it would be putting the group in the middle of things to make the personal lives of members part of group's agenda.

Hmmm...thanks for bringing this up...it got me thinking.
Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 06 2005 @ 04:21 PM PST
I agree with the above post. We need some support network for both sides, in a healing manner. We just can't send these 'abusers' off to another community to engage in their bad habits...thats the anarchist communitys main problem. we need healing..
Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 06 2005 @ 10:16 PM PST
All I can say is, as a male activist myself, if I ever caught another male activist physically abusing any female, I'd bash his face into the ground and tell him to get the fuck out (that would be an impulsive act, I know). I hate violence. But that is one thing which would prompt me to use it. There can be no worse hypocrisy than a man who calls himself progressive, or especially radical, hitting, hurting, or otherwise abusing a woman. All I can say is...don't do it in front of me, and don't let me find out.
Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 07 2005 @ 01:40 PM PST
<I>All I can say is, as a male activist myself, if I ever caught another male activist physically abusing any female, I'd bash his face into the ground and tell him to get the fuck out</I>

This would only disempower the survivor even more. It's a horrible proposition.

In any abuse situation, the ultimate goal of dealing with it is to empower the survivor. Men taking the situation into their own hands and acting on "behalf" of the survivor is only perpetuating the problem.
Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 07 2005 @ 06:15 AM PST
Yes, I said a famous lefty activist was cheating on his 10 yr partner with me, and yes, it was abuse, because HE LIED and said his wife woudl not touch him, was celibate, that he was being abused by her, that he was "starved for intimacy," and she was fine with him seeing others as she was celibate. I have since found out that is the oldest line in the book. I DID NOT KNOW he had a partner he was still involved with, he had gotten his own apt, he said he and her were breaking up as it had ended long ago, and he lied to the partner saying we were just friends. When the wifey found out, did she attack hubbie? Nope, she attacked ME! Yes, manipulating women around with lies for your dick is abusive leftist "feminist" progressive bullshit. Also, this same famous activist that you all know of, did this to another feminist activist earlier I have since found out...it makes me sick to have to see this loser acting like an activist or leader in the world...

Also, the delusion that polyamory will solve anything is laughable. I have been partners with one of the highest profile polyamory spokesmen in the world, an activist, and the whole time I was amazed how juvenile these people were behaving. When I started dating him, he had two other girlfriends besides me and I was totally fine with it. By the end, if he spent more time with me, these poly women began attacking ME, saying *I* had "bad polyetiquette" because THEIR boyfriend wanted to spend mor etime with another woman. Not the man, again the woman was blamed for the man's behavior. Nothing new there.

And one of these two women is an OLDTIMER in the poly community...just as the male I was involved with are. These are not newbies, these are THE ELDERS. I have seen poly folks be visciously jealous while claiming they don't go there. Poly is fine as long as you do not love the wrong person too much, honestly. Over and over I have watched it. A couple plays with another, one of the couple gets "too close" to the new player, the old partner gets jealous and all-out attacks begin. I have also dealt with people saying they are poly and in open marriages (such as the activist asshole who used me to cheat on his wife by lying), but as soon as you get involved very intimately with one of them, the other turns evil, so there is as much dysfunction in poly than anything else. I have been in the highest echalons of the poly world, and in three separate states. I know of what I speak. When I asked the poly spokesman I was partnered with, as all these people attacked us for getting too close, if he has ever seen poly actually WORK, he said "no." I hear lots of romanticizing about poly from newbies...but old timers have something to say to, and I am saying, I have NEVER seen such mob mentality sickness in relationships as in the poly community. Nice idea, never seen it actually work for any prolonged amount of time in actual real time. The poly community where I live HAS TO go through new blood regularly, as they are too static in their world they control so heavily. Sure there are a few exceptions, just like there are some happy monogamous couples too, but on the whole, poly has as much jealousy and viciousness as monogamy, do not fool yourself. It is no new solution, it is a romanticized and fantacized illusion mostly. It also has a lot of homophobic men who show up asserting THEY ARE NOT GAY, which means they are literally there to play out a harem fantasy on the women...they want to be one guy with lots of women, yeah, that is unusual and unique to progressives (oh brother!).

Ironically, one of the grandfathers of this behavior is one of the leading organizers of peace rallies in my city!! To get away from these men, most women I knew said we would not have sex with any men who did not have sex with men also, since these men expected all the women to have sex with one another for their entertainment or to wait turns on one man...Not to openly explore their sexuality...I have even seen poly devolve amongst just lesbians, so I have given up on it.

After years of going through psychotic hells with poly people, I finally asked "Where is the monogamy group?" It could not be any worse. My adult son was so sickened watching the "erotic" community's infantile behaviors that he calls them the "neurotic community." I see all these praises of poly and no real critiques. As soon as you speak, they scream "anti-sex." No, I love sex. But I hate political bullshit with my sex. We MUST allow those who have gone through bullshit in the poly community to tell our stories TOO! And mine involves really gross behaviors from the poly world. Progressive? I think not.
Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men
Authored by: A on Monday, February 07 2005 @ 06:49 PM PST
This was a great rant!

It was interesting to hear that polyamory does not
work (personally I never had time for more than one at once), but from my personal experience I may say that monogamy does not work either.

Or perhaps polyamory as long as its between men
only? Or is my jeaulosness to gays unfounded?
just to add something
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 07 2005 @ 07:27 AM PST
more related to monogamy than abuse...hearing people whine "he/she was supposed to love only ME!!" not only sounds stupid, but the folks involved should have realized that they were trying to cancel out some of the most powerful instincts the human species has, that of wanting to fuck new people.

And when a guy/girl cheats on you and you feel upset afterwards, that's not abuse. That's part of a process of learning. Stupid remarks like that are an insult to all those who've ever been beaten or threatened by domestic partners. What's next...should we have a law saying that one can sue a partner for time lost in a dead-end relationship?

"Ohmigod...like Harold was not working out, so I like, dumped him and SUED him..."
there is a difference
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 08 2005 @ 11:02 AM PST
"And when a guy/girl cheats on you and you feel upset afterwards, that's not abuse. That's part of a process of learning. Stupid remarks like that are an insult to all those who've ever been beaten or threatened by domestic partners."

not all abuse is physical-- maybe you were trying to indicate that by tossing in the word "threatened?" there are forms of emotional abuse that, although subtle, are just as damaging to a person psychologically as physical abuse. cheating, under the right circumstances, can definitely be considered abusive. perhaps a partner wanted to make the other jealous, wanted to make the other insecure, wanted to make the other hurt... not just because of some primal urge to find new mates, but because of a deliberate aggression against their partner (or even against their partner in the cheating).
Born In Flames Conference
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 07 2005 @ 01:54 PM PST
**Please forward**

Two years ago, a new surge of community organizing in
Portland rose to confront sexist behavior and issues
surrounding sexual assault. Meetings, debates,
actions, grass roots organizing, and collectives
formed to create discussion about these sensitive
topics, and support survivors of sexual assault while
holding perpetrators accountable. The energy and work
of dedicated people continues to create safer spaces
for survivors and communities to comfortably and
safely attend and participate in public events, shows
and daily activities. Safer spaces are vital to
survivors' lives and healthy communities.

However, there is still a long way to go. A great need
still exists in the entire progressive community for
dialogue and action regarding issues of sexual
assault. With all this energy culminating and visions
forming for the road ahead a conference was born. We
are a group of people from various
left/radical/activist communities that are putting
together a 3-day conference called Born In Flames. The
Born in Flames Conference will provide a time and
place to share ideas, experience and education, and to
raise awareness through workshops, discussions and
speakers. This conference aims to empower and
emphasize the voices of survivors and their allies
within a safer space.

THE BORN IN FLAMES CONFERENCE WILL BE JUNE 24 TO 26 AT
PSU IN PORTLAND OREGON.


Our statement of purpose is as follows:
Born In Flames is a 3-day conference addressing sexual
assault from a radical perspective and addressing the
unique needs our communities have. We will focus on
education, support and accountability. We would like
people from all over to come and share their ideas and
experiences. Also, we are looking for volunteers,
workshop facilitators and donations.

The opening day will focus on community and personal
education, with a goal of empowering participants with
tools and knowledge that will useful for the remainder
of the conference. Workshops with break down myths
and develop a broad understanding of sexual assault,
as well as how it can effect people in different ways.

The second day will focus on support. Workshops and
discussions will be geared towards providing
information, tools and resources for survivors to
become public as well as where and how to find outside
support. This day will also present skills to create a
whole community more supportive of survivors.

The final day of workshops we hope to hash out a
common understanding of accountability in our
communities, and to develop an understanding around
this idea but know there can never be one set
definition. We will look at past examples and work
toward new sustainable, creative solutions.



We need workshop coordinators, keynote speakers, your
input, your ideas, donations, volunteers, and
suggestions.

Please get in touch borninflamesconference@yahoo.com
Activist Scenes are No Safe Space for Women: On Abuse of Activist Women by Activist Men
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 07 2005 @ 02:13 PM PST
i really appreciate this contribution to the discussion on abuse and sexism in activist groups. if we can't deal with it in our own communities, how can we address it outside our communities and on a larger scale?
even in cases where what's happening between partners or comrades isn't abuse, women/we often feel like we're supposed to prove that we don't take any shit, because we're supposed to be strong. and so we're silent about how we're treated. it's an interesting dimension to our experience of patriarchy as activists and anarchists. often when i've been really upset about how a male partner was treating me, a lot of it was because i felt embarrassed that people knew i put up with it and stuck with him. i felt conflicted inside about what i wanted for myself.
i think it's really dangerous for us to feel like we can't be open about our weaknesses. we don't want to admit that we want to be loved (i recommend reading bell hooks' "communion" for some clarity) so bad that we'd put up with major bullshit and even abuse. we want to be strong enough to forgive, and strong enough to be able to handle our partners hurting us. but we also want to be strong enough to leave, but it's hard to know when we should.
we don't want to "make a big deal" out of sexism in our communities because we don't want to be seen as too emotional or that we can't handle it. if we're strong women we're supposed to be able to handle it right? i have a lot to say about this and maybe i'll say more in the future.
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