most recently recorded tune from GGB, more to come. We put loads more sick stuff down yesterday. Check it out
This is a really interesting piece. It’s a subject that’s become more interesting to me recently because of experience of the kind of processes described here (not, I might add, violence). Well worth a read, even though it is hideously long.
We’re fucking sick of disclaimers. We resent having to provide apologies and justifications for our words before we even speak them. We’re bitter about how specialised discussions of rape, sexual assault, and abuse have become. We feel insulted and embarrassed that we have to constantly point out that we aren’t speaking on behalf of all survivors, as though that were even possible. Sure, we appreciate a well-placed trigger warning. It’s just good etiquette. But when fanatical attempts to avoid triggering each other serve as tools to relegate discussions of interpersonal violence to the margins, to wrap the issue in a neat little box which is only brought out on special occasions, when an illusion of “safety” can be guaranteed, well…then we start to get pissy. If we only speak of our oppression from the position of safety, we’ll be forever silent. If we can’t learn to work through being triggered amongst friends and comrades, we’ll be ill equipped to work through it in their absence. An atmosphere of nervousness permeates the discussion, and we confer to the advice of specialists partly out of fear of saying the wrong thing. But all we’re talking about are our own experiences, a topic on which we are all experts. So we long for the day when we won’t need to place ourselves under disclaimers, or any other banner for that matter. But at the same time we recognise that we’re not there yet. These topics are still so charged, and the support available still so sparse, that our words hold the tremendous potential to do harm. So in the meantime we must take care when we speak, so as to not become inadvertent allies of the forces we mean to oppose. With that in mind, we offer a few clarifications before we begin… Some of the authors of this piece are survivors, others are not, but they all share a common commitment to struggle against a Culture of Rape. When we say “we”, we are not referring to “survivors”, or even to the authors, but to everyone who agrees with the statement made, and perhaps more broadly, to everyone who sees themselves a part of this struggle. There are surely survivors whose experiences will seemingly contradict the arguments made here. But of course the examples cited throughout this text are not meant to be exhaustive or all encompassing. We do not see our own experiences as exemplary of the experiences of all survivors, or even most survivors. They do, however, provide examples of how Rape Culture has materialised in our own lives, a point we thought worth sharing. We would be rightly criticised for focusing so heavily on the anarchist milieu, which of course most survivors will not identify with. But we saw little use in trying to extend ourselves beyond our own experiences in the hopes of becoming more “relevant”. It is also our hope that an anarchist analysis of both Power and struggle provide a useful framework for deconstructing the functioning of Rape Culture, and could perhaps provide insight even to those who are unfamiliar with the anarchist subculture. It is our belief that the dynamics we described will be echoed in other milieus as well. Our gentle reader will also notice that we have chosen to use gender neutral language throughout. Of course the majority of survivors are women or people who don’t conform to patriarchal gender identities, whereas the majority of perpetrators are cis gendered men. The neutrality of our language obscures the systemic nature of not only this, but also the way that interpersonal violence has consistently been a tool of colonial invasion, imperialist occupation, and the maintenance of white supremacy. It obscures the way in which organizing against interpersonal violence has historically been co-opted by white middleclass feminists, leaving women of colour, poor women, queer and trans folk with less access to support resources. It was not our intention to depoliticise the nature of interpersonal violence with language that is gender neutral (certainly, when it comes to gender, we are not neutral!). But having said that, we also wanted to recognise that people of all identities, from all walks of life, can be both survivors or perpetrators, or even both at the same time. We didn’t want those whose experiences don’t fit neatly into oppressive binaries to find themselves even further marginalised here. Finally, we offer a few definitions, not so that we can dictate how these words must be used, but so that it can be understood how their use was intended here:
Rape Culture- A culture which seeks to excuse, condone, normalise and encourage interpersonal violence.
Interpersonal Violence- A catch-all term commonly used to describe different forms of violence which are inflicted on an interpersonal basis, yet have their roots in expansive systems of power. Rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, as well as sexual, physical and emotional abuse within relationships are all examples of interpersonal violence.
Survivor- A person who has experienced or is experiencing interpersonal violence, as defined by the survivor themselves.
Perpetrator- A person who has inflicted interpersonal violence onto another person or persons, as defined by the survivor(s).
Survivor Autonomy- The theoretical foundation upon which most radical support work is based. Survivor Autonomy is the concept that a survivor should be given the power and autonomy to decide for themselves how to deal with their own trauma, and that the role of supporters is to empower and encourage this autonomy. This stands in contrast to other approaches which do not see the survivor as having the best understanding of their own needs or recognise each survivors needs as truly unique and different, but instead seek to impose the “proper” way to heal upon them.
Apologist- Those who, through action or inaction, seek to uphold either the power of a perpetrator(s) and/or the disempowerment of a survivor(s), thus reproducing Rape Culture.