Why Misogynists Make Great Informants: How Gender Violence on the Left Enables State Violence in Radical Movements

"Maybe it isn’t that informants are difficult to spot but rather that we have collectively ignored the signs that give them away. To save our movements, we need to come to terms with the connections between gender violence, male privilege, and the strategies that informants (and people who just act like them) use to destabilize radical movements. Time and again heterosexual men in radical movements have been allowed to assert their privilege and subordinate others. Despite all that we say to the contrary, the fact is that radical social movements and organizations in the United States have refused to seriously address gender violence as a threat to the survival of our struggles. We’ve treated misogyny, homophobia, and heterosexism as lesser evils—secondary issues—that will eventually take care of themselves or fade into the background once the “real” issues—racism, the police, class inequality, U.S. wars of aggression—are resolved. There are serious consequences for choosing ignorance. Misogyny and homophobia are central to the reproduction of violence in radical activist communities. Scratch a misogynist and you’ll find a homophobe. Scratch a little deeper and you might find the makings of a future informant (or someone who just destabilizes movements like informants do)."

Suzy X. isn't real: Re: the problem with individualist "choice" feminism and sex-positive vs. sex-negative frameworks

ineffableshe:

suzy-x:

Frankly, my philosophy is that individualist feminism is fucked up and only promotes solipsistic notions of what feminism is. Yeah, so feminism means different things for everybody, but as long as we keep this moral relativist approach to feminism, it means people aren’t accountable or responsible for doing generally fucked up shit to others. It also makes it harder to identify fucked-up behavior when it happens.

A feminism that is all about choice means people who DO NOT have the choice to “give consent” or DO NOT have the choice to stay at home with the kids or DO NOT choose to work low-wage jobs are NOT addressed. And the majority of non-cis men today haven’t had the same plethora of choices as white middle-class cis women, who have embedded choice rhetoric into current mainstream feminism. (I also think it’s a symptom of late capitalism, in which choice feminism prioritizes a careerist approach to “fighting the man,” and “shopping around” for industries to try and equalize, even if they’re intrinsically unethical— i.e. finance.) I am done with choice rhetoric, because the choice to do much of anything is restricted to only one chunk of people lucky enough to have the choice of whether or not to suffer. Patriarchy is a complex system of social relationships, some of which some of us have no choice but to endure, and others which some of us cannot access or benefit from because of race, class, etc. Examples include being able to go to college, to have heath insurance, to be CEOs, to be ruling-class. Choice feminism is about picking and choosing which social relations and positions are most personally bearable for you, but at the expense of ignoring or even legitimizing others’ suffering. (Ex: “But I can do this, why can’t all women?”) Choice feminism makes intersectionality impossible when it’s about the individual.

Now, do I think people should be able to choose to get abortions? Yes, and in fact I’d rather that people didn’t have to pay for them. Do I think sex work should be decriminalized and taken seriously as a profession? Absolutely, as long as we understand them as workers and make the distinction between worker and trafficking victim, then sure, go right ahead. Being against choice rhetoric as a central theme in feminism does not mean I want to restrict peoples’ choices. “Choice” rhetoric is just dangerous in a world in which non-cis men have very few choices. It means we only account for those of us who have a choice. Leaving feminism up to choice is a superficial and lazy analysis of patriarchy. It fails to address larger systemic issues like institutional sexism, racism, ableism, etc. as long as it’s “all about me.” Choice feminism allows for more conventionally ambitious members of the “marginalized” (i.e. women, LGBTQ folks) to abandon the rest of us in their endeavor to sit in the oppressor’s chair.

Sex-positivity also toes this line of people thinking feminism is all about them and not about a larger system of violence perpetuated against non-hetero/cis men. Also, sex-positivity vs. sex negativity is a terrible way to polarize discourse on sex within feminism; and oftentimes when people call someone “sex-negative” it’s really just because they don’t center sexy sex in their analysis of patriarchy. My feminism, at least, is not just about what I do in my bedroom, but how to challenge systems of domination that keep me from functioning as a working-class queer woman of color. Few sex-positive advocates on tumblr do any analysis of the latter— and I can say that as someone who spent 4 years in college giving talks on consent.

As for “sex-negativity,” all the people who responded to my post on sex strikes with “Ew, I’d NEVER CHOOSE to sleep with an anti-choicer” clearly don’t understand that not everyone has the luxury of “choosing” whom they sleep with, or are sexually assaulted by. Nobody fucking chooses to be raped, which is why choice doesn’t have a place in anti-rape rhetoric. It is why consent is better left as a safe sex practice than an anti-rape tactic. Call me sex-negative, but believe it or not, there are people out there who do NOT care what you want and WILL violate your space the best they can while they can benefit from it. Sex-positivity only goes so far in mediating mutual sexual relationships, but doesn’t take power (or abuse of power) into account. The feminism of our generation must address power. Because behind having a choice is even having the power to make it.

TL;DR I have a headache and I think your feminism is bullshit if it’s only about you and not the implications of your actions/others.

EXACTLY.

another related problem i see with choice individualism feminism is that it  assumes that you always know what is best for yourself and for others. patriarchy / racism / other systems of power are very sneaky and coercive. kyriarchy frames how you understand both your self and your life circumstances. it makes you think that actions and circumstances which are disempowering or even inflict direct damage onto others are normal and healthy. you can justify pretty much any action under the guise of “well it’s working for me me me right now,”  you know? 

the personal is political not because the choices you make are necessarily subversive but because restructuring your narrative in a way that identifies systems of power in your own is a first step towards liberation.

[snip]

in re: “choice individualism feminism […]  assumes that you always know what is best for yourself and for others,” gosh, some of my most “radical”-feeling (personally & politically, as for moments that caused me to change my behavior towards others) and theory/praxis-altering moments were those in which I realized I was wrong about something, especially something that was “good intentions,” something that was previously believed to be “subversive” or “revolutionary.”

but really i just want to embolden all of the above because as we say on teh intarwebz THS IS SO IMPORTANT.

(Source: brujacore)

What is radical mental health?

affairofthepoisons:

Taking care of each other is a radical act. In the mental health profession, the help is one-sided and the main reward for the helper is monetary. For us to help one another is so completely devoid of monetary value, but so very full of personal and spiritual growth and worth. Nothing can take away our ability for community support, but one paycut could take us away from our therapists.

So, what is radical mental health? It is a number of things.

Read More

(Source: mindfulliberation.wordpress.com)

you can’t claim to be fighting for social justice or liberation

lindentea:

mikroblogolas:

saltmarshhag:

when the foundation of your arguments to squash criticism of particular identity politics is the radical individualism of your average middle class american thirteen year old.

we are not atoms floating around out there in isolation from each other, and for better or for worse, identity affects more than just the person making use of it. 

and ok i don’t know shit about semiotics or [post]structuralism or whatever but i feel like one of the worst internet sj tropes ever (possibly THE worst) is that erasure of identity is an issue because they’re identities, instead of the fact that they are identities that represent our real-life material conditions of and resistance to institutional oppression

this, absolutely.

tumblr SJA, as “radikewl” as it claims to be, is actually pretty damn liberal, in the worst sense of the word. and I apologize for quoting Lierre Keith — I know she is a horrible transphobe, and don’t take this as an endorsement of everything she’s ever said or done (ditto with everyone else I have ever quoted or might quote) — but I think she makes an excellent and highly relevant point in following quote:

I think it’s crucial to understand what differentiates liberalism from radicalism. I think we can avoid a lot of useless discussions and group traumas by understanding the underlying philosophical currents in various approaches to social change. One cardinal difference is idealism vs materialism. Liberalism is idealist; the crucible of social reality is placed in the realm of ideas, in concepts, language, attitudes. And liberalism is individualist. The basic social unit is the individual.

In contrast, radicalism is materialist. Radicals see society as composed of actual institutions — economic, political, cultural — which wield power, including the power to use violence. The basic social unit is a class or group, whether that’s racial class, sex caste, economic class, or other grouping. Radicalism understands oppression as group-based harm.

So for liberals, defining people as members of a group is the harm. Whereas for radicals, identifying your interests with others who are dispossessed, developing loyalty to your people, is the first, crucial step in building a liberation movement.

The quote goes on to discuss the difference between seeing education as the No. 1 priority vs. actually dismantling structures, and that too, I think, is particularly relevant to a tumblr SJ culture that is more focused on using the right words than changing the material conditions of oppressed people’s lives.

bolding added by me. not enough coffee yet today to put in my own thoughts, reblogging to come back to it.

in Which I Am So Idealistic Conveniently Before Bedtime

katydidnot:

6. what else works? what are the best tactics of resistance? 

This looks like as good an opportunity as any to link Suzy X.’s response to Will’s "Privilege Politics Is Reformism." I don’t agree with everything in the original article or the responses, but each piece makes a number of good points.

My main frustration with radical activism today is the imbalance I see between what appear to be two extremes (that don’t have to be mutually exclusive) of direct action and theory/discussion. Thinking and acting are both important and they can happen at the same time!

I have been pretty disillusioned about activism for a long time because I couldn’t seem to find a middle ground. Like Katy says, Tumblr can be a good venue for having discussions, sharing and learning new things… but it’s also the Internet, which takes a different form than other types of communication. Tumblr interactions, like pretty much any comment threads [linked for the headline lulz] on Issues, can quickly become fast-paced, heated, and very hyperbolic; it’s just a different environment than what can happen in other learning/discussion media (such as zines, books, lectures, panels, small group conversations, personal introspection, private one-on-one talks)… it’s not for everyone all the time. (Extreme personal aside related to my own “attacks on Tumblr” as a medium: participating in political or SJ [I had to Google that a couple weeks ago, incidentally?] discussions on Tumblr generates a lot of anxiety and obsessive/circular thinking in my brain. My self-confidence as a writer/person is often shattered on a daily basis if I post something that people disagree with in an intense manner, even if I’m not the original author of a post. I feel weird about that especially because that is a reaction that I don’t have when engaging in other [slower-paced?] methods of exchanging ideas. I can only hope I’m not being “TOO SENSITIVE,” HMM, it’s just that I have a really hard time reading the Internet’s tendency towards sarcasm and snark as “constructive discussion”)

Theory is important, but sometimes theory talking can become really academic and unintentionally exclusionary. In my case, I don’t have a formal Women’s Studies background and so a lot of feminist theory stuff in discussions (especially online) is totally lost on me and I just don’t have time to read all the books and/or the Googling, etc., which is why I’m really grateful that I have a couple theory-friends who are patient enough to discuss things with me privately where I’m more comfortable about being clueless.

But often I get real irritated by radical focus on theory because even though that stuff is interesting and important and valid, it just doesn’t do jack shit to address ~my personal feminist issues.~ No matter what I read and discuss, I’m still going to be carrying a knife on my walks home from work at night. I’m still going to be angry that I’ve managed to consistently date a punk-rock parade of boys who are too Artistic or Anarchistic to help me pay our bills. I’m still going to be all tough-love no-sympathy for the tortured male addicts who want to take up all the space and all the time to have their crazies and failed attempts and pathetic apologies yet call me hysterical if I get too sad and angry when I have to witness them slowly dying. I’m going to hate my own girlhate for all the times I’ve gone to confide in a female friend about abuse and her first response is “Well why don’t you just leave him? [ATTN: No Shit Sherlock.]” I’m still going to hate my girlhate but still hate all the girls who told my former pissdrunk significant-male that I’m the bitch holding his sacredly artistic ass back and he just needs the ‘right’ kinda girlfriend to ‘take care of him.’ I’m still going to cry every time I go alone to get a pelvic exam, just like the first time when I had to sneak out of my Catholic house. I’m still going to experience a regret that rent my heart because I couldn’t and still can’t afford to have a kid, not now and maybe even not ever, even though I kind of want to be a mom, even though my kid is amazing where she is and it’s perfect. I’m still going to bitch about what an anxiety-inducing experience it is to shop for a new pair of pants or shoes because even though my body is pretty normal-looking I am convinced a lot of “women’s clothing” is designed to be ridiculously uncomfortable, illogical, and possibly dangerous (I can’t walk in heels! Most bras give me a rash! Why do all the jeans look frumpy on my legs!) And I’m still going to tell anyone, of any gender, of any temperament, to kiss my ass if they want to legislate or moralize or shame anything having to do with my uterus and its accessories.

So, personal-is-political rant aside, overall I want to see more ACTION in activism in tandem with theory! junglerot’s original "Gang War" post appealed to me so much because of the underlying emotional sentiment. (Aside: I initially simply read it as “everyone,” probably because I am just not super-attuned to lacks of gender-inclusive language, having often assumed myself as “one of the boys” anyway.) The absurdity of “looking weird” to express anger and a threatening presence is maybe not a seriously effective form of activism for everyone, but I took it as a metaphor, and… well, frankly, it reminded me of a Hunter Thompson rant. It was this almost poetic, hyperbolic, absurd yet honest call to Give a Shit, take whatever control you can get, do whatever you can.

Then there are some activists who get really loud about going to extremes with Direct Action, but that kind of “extreme” resistance isn’t always going to be effective for everyone or anyone or even for your “movement.” Another aside: I was quickly like WHATEVER regarding OWS-Athens because a handful of extremists were guilt-tripping everyone in the group — such as parents, students, people with jobs or other obligations — for not “occupying” 24/7 and not being willing to engage in arrestable actions. This is like when I was in high school and everyone called me a “poser” because I couldn’t decide between pop-punk and goth music. IN 1999 OKAY SO GROW UP ALREADY.

Suzy X. wrote, “there are plenty of non-arrestable actions that constitute resistance— i.e. organizing autonomous communities, teaching people how to read, isolating abusers, taking care of each other out of good will instead of doing it for capital.”

These suggestions might not be “the best tactics of resistance” and they are certainly not the only, but these are some of my most favorite direct actions we can do that can make big differences, and some of them are super easy to accomplish quickly and effectively, individually or in groups!

[Note: If this ends up getting reblogged around, anyone can feel free to add more ideas and suggestions, and most helpfully add more links, citations, references, etc.]

- People with uteruses can learn how these reproductive organs work. Hot Pantz zine was my introduction to understanding my own body. (People without uteruses can also learn about these organs because it’s really interesting and also helpful to be knowledgeable about these body parts.) This zine contains suggestions and recipes for herbal teas that can be used for a variety of uterus-related issues (relieving menstrual cramps, kickstarting a late period) and it also includes advice on maintaining sexual health and treating and curing some STDs. I think this zine also has instructions for giving yourself a pelvic exam (I’ve never done this but some people say it’s empowering.)

I’m not totally anti-medicine but I think it’s important to know how our bodies work. The mystification of basic biological functions is one way of convincing individuals that we’re powerless to know, understand, and care for ourselves. I’m not totally anti-doctor/anti-professional, etc., but I do enjoy feeling like I don’t have to depend on an “expert” to tell me what’s happening with my body all the time.

- Other uterus-related health things that reduce our dependency on capitalism, lawmakers, and the medical industry: make your own menstrual pads, use sea sponge tampons, try the reusable DivaCup, learn to track your menstrual cycle if you prefer not to use hormonal birth control methods (I’ve been using the Fertility Awareness Method for 10+ years. Only messed up once, LOL oops.); learn how to do menstrual extraction (I don’t know about this except that it exists, reliable source anyone?); learn how to perform abortions; learn how to be a doula; learn how to be a midwife.

- Help parents in the community by volunteering to babysit or run errands or do household chores. Start a childcare collective (I still want to do this in Athens, hello?).

- Volunteer at a women’s shelter or start a women’s shelter if there isn’t one nearby. Organize a phone-tree for helping women who are in crisis or abuse situations. Collectively make a plan for dealing with known abusers (Athens, I want to do this and I would prefer one that doesn’t just say, “Step One: Call the Cops,” and is more involved than simply publicly calling someone out on the Internet).

- Learn how to protect yourself. Learn to fight back when necessary. Shank the rapist.

- Learn about first aid. Learn about managing mental illnesses and supporting one another. Learn about safely managing or recovering/withdrawing from drug/alcohol addictions.

- Learn about yourself so you can figure out what you can offer the community.

- STAY ANGRY. But be compassionate, too. Take care of yourself before you try to take care of others. Get your shit straight before you start calling people on their shit. (Or at least, geez, try to keep the processes balanced.) Keep learning. Fight apathy!

PS - More things that aren’t specific to reproductive rights/lady issues: Plant community gardens, start a free school, maintain a zine library (you don’t even need a ‘radical space’ for this, just lend and borrow and make extra copies to give away or sneak into public places! I used to do this all the time when I was a baby punk.) Organize regular carpools. Volunteer at Food Not Bombs! — DUDES, OWS-Athens had like SO MUCH free food all the time when all of the mostly-white young people were “Occupying,” which pissed me off, because now FNB is mostly just Kt again? WHAT HAPPEN. We obviously had the resources to spare when it was about more than just feeding random homeless and/or punx kidz…

Very Important Also is that these actions and sharings should absolutely in no way only be limited to the radical/punx community. I might add that a radical action such as a Food Not Bombs or Really Really Free Market event doesn’t always also have to be a venue for disseminating radical literature or engaging “not-yet-enlightened” everyday people in Anti-Capitalism 101. (I mean it’s not like that’s a bad thing to be having those conversations with regular people of course, BUT sometimes… damn, just give out free food without the “catch” of having people listen to what you have to say about meetings and democracy and the establishment; sometimes broke-ass people just want a sandwich with no strings attached. [Note: Speaking from My Own Previous Experience as an Actual Poor Person Who Doesn’t Care about Boring Anarchist Meetings Can I Just Get That Pizza Out of the Garbage Can Please.])

Maintaining an actual, supportive, strong community and helping each other is resistance.

As if to say to the state, “You won’t give us the support we need? You wanna keep our communities in the gutter? All right then. We’re gonna stop relying on YOU, or paying YOU to do this shit, and we’re gonna do it ourselves.”

(from Suzy X., again)

In re: P-Fuzz’s recent “embarrassing” GPOY, this is a photograph of me taken by friedzombiebrain on deviantArt. This is from 1/6/2003 (I was 18 years old) at a big anti-war rally in Pittsburgh PA. I’m wearing a Corporate American Flag that I bought from Adbusters back when I used to think that Adbusters was the greatest, most thought-provoking magazine ever. And I still have that same red hat, too, which was given to me by Tina, my favorite barista at the Beehive, where I spent my Formative Radical Years.
I wasn’t aware of this photograph being taken & didn’t discover it until months later. I’m glad it’s still online & I still like to show it off sometimes as proof that I was once, like, totally punk rock (or whatever). But this photo is also indicative of the time when I became disillusioned with practicing activist tactics that “follow the rules” and comply with authority (ie, getting a protest permit with a police escort, then acting shocked and outraged when the riot cops become violent before anyone so much as picks up a brick), not to mention totally disillusioned with the concept of democracy in America. These protests were replicated in multiple cities worldwide — there were thousands of people at the one in Pittsburgh alone — yet what seemed to be a majority of public outcry still failed to Impeach Bush and/or Stop the War.
Also, that Corporate American Flag probably cost about $25, so this was also shortly before the time I began to realize that there is a hugely profitable racket in pushing “radical” consumables on people who think they need to spend money to look the part of being totally alternative. (See also: Commodify Your Dissent, which I wish I’d read when I was 17 instead of 27.) Ah, misguided youth!

In re: P-Fuzz’s recent “embarrassing” GPOY, this is a photograph of me taken by friedzombiebrain on deviantArt. This is from 1/6/2003 (I was 18 years old) at a big anti-war rally in Pittsburgh PA. I’m wearing a Corporate American Flag that I bought from Adbusters back when I used to think that Adbusters was the greatest, most thought-provoking magazine ever. And I still have that same red hat, too, which was given to me by Tina, my favorite barista at the Beehive, where I spent my Formative Radical Years.

I wasn’t aware of this photograph being taken & didn’t discover it until months later. I’m glad it’s still online & I still like to show it off sometimes as proof that I was once, like, totally punk rock (or whatever). But this photo is also indicative of the time when I became disillusioned with practicing activist tactics that “follow the rules” and comply with authority (ie, getting a protest permit with a police escort, then acting shocked and outraged when the riot cops become violent before anyone so much as picks up a brick), not to mention totally disillusioned with the concept of democracy in America. These protests were replicated in multiple cities worldwide — there were thousands of people at the one in Pittsburgh alone — yet what seemed to be a majority of public outcry still failed to Impeach Bush and/or Stop the War.

Also, that Corporate American Flag probably cost about $25, so this was also shortly before the time I began to realize that there is a hugely profitable racket in pushing “radical” consumables on people who think they need to spend money to look the part of being totally alternative. (See also: Commodify Your Dissent, which I wish I’d read when I was 17 instead of 27.) Ah, misguided youth!

Esther Choi - Among the 99% | Racialicious

I believe that a true revolution cannot be carried out by those who are comfortable enough with the power structures that exist. It cannot have been initiated by a privileged organization of educated people who are shielded from the worst aspects of our unjust society, who have plenty of options in life and to whom the fact of oppression is not much more than an intellectual entity. A true revolution must be carefully and gradually mobilized by those who have been most oppressed and marginalized by the current state of our government and economy, whose continued existence in this world really depends on a radical change. Otherwise, we are replicating the structures of power that continue to oppress us.

It was shocking to me to see how poorly immigrant communities and communities of color had been included in Occupy Wall Street. I guess the reasoning or justification is that, since all the dispossessed masses and people of color are covered by the “99%”, this protest is all-inclusive. But the fact is that amongst that 99% exist great inequalities of their own and extreme gradations of wealth and privilege, which are inextricably tied to race, despite the general assembly’s blatant attempt to suggest we live in a country “formerly divided by race” (Read this: http://henaashraf.com/2011/09/30/brown-power-at-occupy-wall-street/). To act as if we share one experience and one problem and therefore seek the same solution would be a terrible lie and an extremely weak and superficial grounds for collective action, especially if the voices that have begun to dominate the movement have the least to lose if the movement were to fail. It’s great to feel solidarity with one another against the people who rule over the 99%, but within the 99% are plenty of people who rule over the rest in their own way, and this makeshift solidarity can only go so far.

The fact that there is no clear demand reveals the lack of urgency on the part of those who are shaping it. It’s a movement fueled by ambiguity and theater, and it’s hard to say that this movement could survive the process of forming real demands that can significantly improve the lives of the 99%. The reality is that there are a lot of VERY urgent demands out there, which have been very carefully researched and formulated by marginalized communities, but this movement seems to have all the time in the world when it comes to deciding on what it really wants to take action for. I saw signs about college graduates not having jobs and signs protesting the lack of funding for art students, and it is great that these people are taking a stand to change a world that does not allow them to achieve their dreams even though they did everything in their power to make it happen. But while those people might be unemployed or underemployed because they can’t find a decent job in the field of their choice, on the other hand there are people cleaning toilets and being subject to all sorts of abuse, who have never had the option to pursue their dreams, and as evidenced by the turnout, don’t have the time to come perform their feelings about the injustices they live.

(Source: bthny, via marieyall)