Tag Archives: Feminism

Statement on recent events

**This post is authored by Jen, one of the blog administrators and one of the organizers of the Portland event.  The statements here represent my views only.

I feel people should be aware of the following:

  • Since the event a handful of organizers and panelists have in fact been subtly threatened in a variety of ways, received inappropriate emails and phone calls, have been told to step back from organizing or have been directly marginalized from organizing, and have undergone many false accusations. Some have also been scapegoated for things that occurred after the panel. It is not inaccurate to say that although the organizers and panelists did not call out P. Little (except for one panelist who didn’t call him out by name but in fact called himself out for co-participating in patriarchal behaviors with P. Little) this repressive reaction has come from people who are close to P. Little.
  • One of the more over the top accusations is that the entire event was organized to call out P. Little, and that he was “the main target of the event”. This email, which has reached now possibly over a hundred people around the country, accused organizers of sneakily setting up an event to trap P. Little and call him out. It paints P. Little as a victim of an event about patriarchy, and the organizers as manipulative and suspect. Although this allegation has been refuted time and time again, and named for its sexist nature, this paranoid allegation of holding an entire event as a conspiracy to falsely accuse P. Little has now been sent out on a national list-serve. On this same list serve allegations and lies have been spread about panelists, as well as other people involved in a survivor support group, while defending P. Little. Those who sent out this email nationally have said they are friends with P. Little but they don’t know the organizers.
  • The people who sent out this email say that no one is allowed to refute allegations against them, such as the allegation that the event was organized to target P. Little, without evidence. The authors of this email have presented no hard evidence to support the claim that the event was organized to target one person.
  • A campaign to discredit an entire event and the organizers/panelists (because of someone being called out during the event) through the use of subtle intimidation, threats, and overt accusations of conspiracy is repressive. It sends a message to intimidate feminists and those who wish to organize feminist panels that they will be accused of targeting men.
  • I have noticed that since the event many people who have a problem with P. Little have been silenced, and the response to those who were brave enough to stand up is part of that silencing.
  • I do not want to be part of a political community that allows feminists to be attacked to the extent of what I have seen after the event. I do not support those making accusations about the organizers of this event.
  • There were a few different organizers of the Patriarchy and the Movement event. These organizers as well as some panelists did not want their names revealed before the event because they did not want to be approached, harassed, or intimidated by ANYONE before the event, as that has been the experience in the past. Despite this, there were sexist accusations that the motive of those speaking at the event were wanting to call out their ex boyfriends.

At What Cost? part 1 : The Re-Framing Game & Divergent Feminisms- Responding to Black Orchid Collective

Because in our experience, people who have taken specified positions on the discussion of the Patriarchy in the Movement event, or on “person X”,  have as a result come under extreme fire, we write this document anonymously. We are people who participated in different ways in the original event “Patriarchy in the Movement” at the Red and Black cafe on February 28th.

          Throughout the course of the aftermath of the Patriarchy and the Movement event, and the subsequent discussions, some panelists and organizers have been attacked-most of the attacks are “personal”, some appear to be “political”. During the event, some panelists spoke about re-framing feminist concerns as personal, or as petty, and “scandalizing feminist responses”. We will speak to how we have seen some of the discussions in the aftermath of the event- and the meanings and costs  these discussions have for us.

Though the concerns around “person X”, or Pete Little,  had been re-framed as “personal attacks” against him by the people who read the pre-written statement, or letter, they also framed reading the statement and their position as a “political disagreement”. Part of the statement from the organizers after the event seemed to disagree politically within this re-framing, and outline how things unfolded. In the very context of this disagreement, the folks who were at first complaining that there was no room for disagreement began a subtle accusation that those who then disagreed with them were pushing a certain feminism and creating an atmosphere in which people are not able to disagree. Yes, it has been confusing. Yet part of the “disagreement” itself has been over how discussions have been framed – in which criticizing the danger of framing survivor complaints themselves as mere political disagreements is suddenly “repressive”. In further twists of re-framing, when the facts on the ground- in a specific example when the complaints about person X, or the political fallout around this person- are soberly presented, and people speak about their experiences with him or continue to raise concerns, they are personally attacked, or “scandalized”.  Continual re-framing at will and per convenience is part of a strategy, but is an unhealthy way to directly tackle questions or to approach comrades.  In part one of this article we hope to present a clearer and more holistic view on the situation,  while responding politically to statements that we find especially  unfortunate in the Black Orchid (Seattle) commentary on the Portland gender dilemma (“Building Capacity for Complexity”). In part 2 , we will answer the questions brought to the discussion by Geoff and Eleanor in their pre-written statement (in which they respond to person X being called out), and we will ask questions, questions that we do not wish to pose as open ended deflections from real concerns on the ground, but that we hope have a political commitment behind them and can assist in moving things forward.

 

        Unfortunately, BOC’s ill-informed re-framing of the issues from afar have created more confusion. Not only has the article created confusion, but some of the allegations in the statement come at a high cost for the discussion in the community. First, as the article admits, none of the members of BOC were present in Portland and witnessed the discussion after the panel in which (what we now understand is their friend), person X, was called out by more than one person in the room, and in which their other friends read the pre-written statement in response. Members of the Black Orchid Collective (BOC) did not contact any of the three Seattle panelists who were present during the discussion to take into account those comrade’s experiences before writing the statement, despite the fact that these panelists are members of the same political community. They also failed to contact other organizers. Members of BOC have said in their statement that the person who read the “pre-written statement”, or “letter”, was “stopped” from finishing the statement and was “silenced”.   This is inaccurate, and the 60 plus people in the room know this is inaccurate. We wonder what the motive is for presenting this inaccuracy. Not only did she finish reading the statement, but she was allowed to speak a few more times. Additionally, a panelist asked her to provide a political criteria for the statement, in order to bring the discussion back into the arena of political argument, since she herself had re-framed her response to concerns about person X as a political discussion. She responded by speaking of her personal value for person X, and his “humanity”.  In subsequent discussions and texts, the accusation that this person was “silenced” has been made in the terms that she was silenced and not given room for “political disagreement”, and yet when the room was opened up for political disagreement specifically for that person, she herself personalized it, bringing it back to the personal profile of person X, and did not respond politically (was she “centralizing a cis man”, as BOC puts it?) Though BOC quotes one of the panelists in the need for different feminisms, it is precisely the disagreement between feminists in the room, between many in the room and the person who read the statement, that is being called “silencing”.  Strangely,  those who disagreed with her partly did so because they felt part of the statement and the context in which it was read was “silencing”.

BOC writes: “It may be that people present interpreted the questions to be reminiscent of patriarchal invalidation of their experiences of sexual trauma and patriarchy. Having some distance from the event itself, we did not read the questions in that light.” BOC here ignores what was read in the first section of the statement, in which people speaking about their experience with person X were accused of making “personalized attacks.” Once again, this accusation was written ahead of time, before the authors of the statement would have known what would be said.  BOC not only ignores the whole content of the statement, but the context in which it was written (amongst pre-emptive suspicion towards the event itself), and the context in which it was read. Reading the questions alone, without the rest of the statement, deflects from the effect of the statement.

  BOC goes on to say, “We question whether centralizing cismen and negating the efforts of other feminists, especially when they raise questions drawn from their experiences of dealing with patriarchy, is feminist solidarity and sociability in practice.” This still seems to confuse the facts on the ground. Centralizing cismen? Are they saying that calling out person X, or any cis man, is in effect centralizing cis men? Or are they saying that the person who read the pre-written statement about their experiences with this cis-man person X, when asked to give political criteria for the statement and instead referred back to the value of person X, is centralizing a cis man and negating the efforts of those who had called him out?  Per the BOC assertion, the latter seems more accurate. Or are they saying that the multiple women who called out person X, some of whom were unaffiliated with each other, are centralizing a cis man and thus negating the efforts of other feminists? This is an extremely unqualified, and accusatory, statement. Will others who publicly call out men be accused of negating the efforts of other feminists and centralizing the men they have called out? At what cost is a statement such as this? What kind of praxis does a statement like this leave for people to be able to call out men for their damaging behaviors? And, what exactly are the “efforts of other feminists” that were “negated” by people speaking about their experience with person X? The idea that calling a man out for a specific experience with him negates the “efforts” of other feminists is a sexist, universalizing paradigm, if we are to understand it the way the BOC seems to assert here- in that if you call out a cis man for damaging, patriarchal behavior,  and another woman says that she has not experienced the same behavior from this man, the  experience that raises a concern is problematic in of itself because it negates the experience of the non-abused.

The idea that BOC seems to get at here- that  communicating with others and talking openly about experiences with men in the community is not feminist sociability, then we ask what is? The BOC text further seems to essentialize gender in their notions of feminist solidarity, as they say in their piece that the response to the female bodied person who read the pre-written statement is a break in solidarity. Are we to have solidarity with whatever actions or statements feminists bring for “discussion”, despite the content or the between the lines purpose? If feminists bring a statement that many others in the room find problematic, and are as a result met with confrontation-is that a break in solidarity? Only if solidarity is conceived of an agreement amongst a universalised idea of feminism and not amongst content itself.  In this sense, BOC are engaging in universalizing politics. Are there times when it is necessary to break with feminist solidarity when feminists themselves participate in blockading sociability itself, or blockade an anti-sexist process? Feminist solidarity should also mean confronting each other.

 

We wonder what ” feminist sociability” means to BOC, when they make the unqualified accusations that “…some of us feel pressure to conform to certain forms of feminism, imposed through other forms of coercive power such as gossip, back biting, and mischaracterizations of disagreements.”  What is the difference between feminist sociability and gossip, especially when gossip is usually a sexist way of referring to sociability between women? What is this “certain form” of feminism that is using the coercive power of “gossip”?  What really are they talking about? Isn’t there then an implicit threat to sociability between feminists when “certain” feminists, or some unknown “certain” feminist composition, are accused of “coercive powers” through “gossip” when they become social with each other? This seems like some kind of internalized or imagined threat- that there is a manipulative, coercive power that feminists have, an immature high school gossip back biting style, because people may be talking to each other, especially about patriarchy. To believe BOC, we must also believe that there are “certain” “gossipy” feminists out there, who are “coercive”, have no real political claims or  background of their own, who are using a socially tyrannical mechanism to pressure all the other feminists. For real? Not only is this statement unfounded and sensationalist, but to be truthful, it comes across reasonably sexist. (This assertion seems to also re-frame the concerns raised about person X- a concern that has been raised again and again is the he has shit-talked or spread rumors survivors to the point of coercively undermining them.)

Given these assertions in the BOC document, we ask what their methodology and process for writing this document are?  It seems to us that the factual errors, the assertions and subtle accusations that cannot be backed up or qualified, are in of themselves a product of mischaracterizations of facts and experiences. To speak of the danger of “gossip and mischaracterizations” is a bold statement coming from people who were not even present for the situation they are commenting on- where did they get their idea of what happened or has been happening? It is to say that although they weren’t present,  they have real sources who shared information, and those that disagree with them (even those who were present) rely on gossip. This is on top of the fact that the BOC statement uses circular and deflective language that leave very little way forward, and if anything confuses the situation more.

The further worrisome conjecture  is that those who are speaking out against patriarchy and naming behaviors within the community are silencing others.   Is accusing those who have spoken out about patriarchy as pushing a “certain” or singular or monolithic feminism and “not allowing” for other feminisms considered silencing? Whose feminism is divergent, and from what other feminism? The idea that those who have spoken out about patriarchy, or about a comrade whose behavior is considered damaging, are repressing other feminists or other feminisms is rhetorical acrobatics at the expense of speaking out in of itself.   Moreover, we struggle to understand what exactly during the course of the panel, or the discussion, or the subsequent discussions, has been any specific “feminism”.  It lends the question, is speaking out against patriarchy or about the behaviors of specific individuals a certain kind of feminism? Do different strands of feminism have different mechanics in speaking out about patriarchy? What is the feminism or praxis of those who have, in subsequent discussions, attacked the credibility of the organizers, panelists, survivors, and also those who are raising concerns about, for example, person X? Are these as well mechanisms of a disagreement amongst feminists? Do feminists who agree on specific praxis around survivor-based accountability processes or survivors support all come from the same brand of feminism simply because they agree on this one issue? When communities of survivors and feminists come together and attempt to have each other’s backs, or have solidarity with one another, are they pushing a “certain” kind of feminism and thus repressing or silencing other emergent and divergent feminist strands?

Because lets get real here, while the BOC statement talks about “back biting, gossip, and mischaracterizations of disagreements” in its attempt to characterize a large group of people raising concerns about patriarchal behaviors in the movement- it is  the organizers, panelists, and those who spoke up during the discussion who have largely suffered a backlash via these mechanisms. Some people have been undermined politically, socially, and personally. Some panelists have had to sustain many accusations and fall-out. People’s personal lives and trauma have been dragged out into scrutiny.  What is missing here is that these repercussions for holding an event about patriarchy, speaking at an event about patriarchy, or speaking to one’s experiences during an event about patriarchy, in of themselves aren’t scrutinized as mechanisms that do not allow for emergent feminisms, or not allowing a discussion about patriarchy at all.

  Though BOC quotes one of the panelists in the need for different feminisms, it is precisely the disagreement between feminists in the room, precisely between many in the room and the person who read the statement, that is being called “silencing”.  The further irony is that those who disagreed with her partly did so because they felt part of the statement and the context in which it was read was “silencing”.

 We have seen an emergent narrative that seems to seek a victimhood in claiming that people have been silenced from disagreement, and that those doing the supposed “silencing” are pushing a monolithic feminism. Not only is this untrue, but it again implies that there is a singular, monolithic feminist narrative on one “side”, and on the other “side” there are those attempting to engage in a divergent feminism with a critical thinking approach. To be frank about the sudden appearance of these “sides”- from what we can see, those who are accused of having a singular feminism that silences others are some of those who have spoken on the panel, some of those who spoke at the event, the survivor support team who spoke out, and others who attended the event who were dismayed by the pre-written statement for political reasons, or have continued to raise concerns over person X’s chronic behaviors. Many of these people are not directly affiliated. It seems to be inherently said as well, that those who have since asked for a reasonable commitment that person X change the multitude of his behaviors that have surfaced as problematic for the community are also those that are accused of not allowing for critical thinking and pushing a certain coercive or monolithic feminism, which quite frankly seems to add a sectarian edge to an already challenging situation. The “side” that claims to represent or be part of a feminism divergent from the “first” (a formation that doesn’t actually exist), has largely been presented by people close to person “X”. We beg to ask what is the actual feminism of either “side” in the specific context of responding to person X’s behaviors, or responding to the pre-written statement read during the discussion, or responding to patriarchy as it is acted out, or what BOC is actually referring to in their piece, and we ask that people begin to be more honest. The particular issues raised around person “X” were not discussions around different feminisms, and everyone on the ground knows that. The questions posed in the pre-written statement were supposedly open ended questions for discussion, so those didn’t represent a different feminism, either.  Deploying a vague notion of a “certain feminism”, or deploying supposed disagreements between feminists, between feminisms, or about feminism, has been since the beginning a deflection from the discussion what happened in light of the discussion of patriarchy in the movement- when person X was brought into the discussion by two different unaffiliated survivors for repeatedly enacting behaviors that were reflected in the panel on patriarchy. Since then, multiple groups have formed to address concerns of patriarchy in Portland-feminists groups, mens anti-patriarchy groups, and tons of informal discussion. A west coast network is emerging. There has been tons of vibrant and positive feedback from these processes.  But despite this,  person X’s political contacts in another city, who weren’t present during the discussion, have written a document that further obfuscates the situation, presents inaccurate information to deflect the “victimhood” onto the person who read the pre-written statement at her own agency, and makes vague accusations that these conversations in the aftermath of the event are a “certain feminism” that uses “coercive power… of gossip, back-biting, and mischaracterizations”. Other friends and contacts,  have issued open ended questions about accountability processes themselves while not offering any real way to move forward and address concrete concerns that have been raised about ongoing behaviors.

Weeks later, person X has issued an equally vague apology, that for even an outside reader seems to obfuscate and deflects from his own behavior, an apology which the survivor support team identified as being an attack on the survivor. Thats where we are at.

The fact that panelists themselves, organizers, and other members of the community have been attacked for whatever position they have taken in the aftermath of the event has demonstrated to a large section of the radical community the high costs of speaking in the open about patriarchy or speaking in the open about specific experiences. We urge people to continue to move forward, and are inspired by the  new, exciting conversations, the groups that are forming, the difficult discussions taking place, and the new alliances that have come out of the event and it’s aftermath. We do not consider  informal conversations about these issues,  nor meetings about these issues, to be the product, or a mechanism, of “gossip” or in of themselves deploying a “coercive power”.

Statement on the Patriarchy and the Movement event – Portland 2/28/2013

We, the organizers of the event titled “Patriarchy and the Movement”, have been asked to write a statement about our position on what unfolded in Portland, in the Red and Black, after the panel. We have asked for and welcome open critiques and dialogue concerning how the panel could have been done better.

Our experience
Organizers of this event have received an overwhelming positive response from attendees of the event who found the panel empowering and important. Many responses are encouraging that these conversations continue, and that resistance to patriarchy in the radical community is taken seriously. We have even heard that people who have engaged in damaging patriarchal behaviors have begun to seriously acknowledge these actions following the event.

Before going on, we had heard that there were rumblings in the community ahead of the event that some folks thought we had plans to singularly call out certain guys, or to
particularly call out our ex-boyfriends. These comments are insulting, sexist, and ridiculous. It is depressing that our politics, or even our concerns, are often reduced and minimized in this way, to “personal vendettas” or “attacks”. We did not organize the event in order to call anyone out, and this event had nothing to do with anyone’s ex-partners. The fact that people were ruminating over the personal lives and past relationships of organizers in the context of this event feels like a privacy violation, it is unprincipled, and it has been triggering. We organized this event because of conversations happening up and down the west coast, and because there has obviously been a need to put forth an anti-capitalist, anti-colonialist feminist politic and to develop an anti-patriarchy praxis, and simply, because we are militant feminists.

We would like to speak directly to the events that unfolded during the discussion that took place after the panel, and after the live stream was turned off. We understand that there may be variety of experiences and perspectives in the room, and we will share ours, and also share our political positions on these discussions. We also understand that what took place during the discussion caused an uproar, and a lot of political controversy. We would like to point out that if what happened during a single public discussion in a single event caused such a political crisis, it is clear to us that issues of patriarchy needed to be addressed for a long time, and must continue to be addressed politically and in the open.

Our last panelist was a clinical psychologist from Oakland who we invited to speak on the topic of “patriarchy and trauma”. As he began his speech, he called himself out for
supporting a member of the Portland community, who we will call X, while X was enacting patriarchal and damaging behaviors while engaged with an accountability process which neither was the subject of. He also called out X for these behaviors, and connected this to the re-traumatizing of the survivor. He then went on to complete his speech.

After about 4 or 5 attendees spoke during the question and answer section of the discussion, some attendees identifying as members of a support committee of a survivor also spoke about their experiences with X in the aforementioned accountability process, and their political analysis of this experience. What we understand from what was said, the particular attendees called out X for putting the survivor in danger during an accountability process, talking in sexist ways within the community about the survivor, divulging personal information about her, and for severely discrediting the survivor and other members of her support group in the larger community.

Directly afterwards, an attendee identifying themselves as former members of an organization in which X was a member stood up with a pre-written statement in counter-response to the experience that the first group had expressed about X. This pre-written statement has been identified by the Red and Black collective as a violation of their safer space policy.

After the pre-written statement was read, a member of the Pink Tape collective stood up on behalf of another survivor, who was unaffiliated with the first group who called out X. It was then that X was called out yet again. This survivor stood up later and said that X had questioned her and doubted her when she was sexually assaulted.

Many things that were said had the potential to trigger people in the room, and it’s likely that many of those things did. However, it was our experience from our vantage point sitting facing the room, that many of the attendees became particularly triggered when the pre-written statement was read. The room seemed to fall apart in this moment. In attending discussions about the event after the event itself, and in taking care of people in the aftermath, we have heard a few different people state that they “could not bear to listen to the statement all the way through” or “began shaking during the reading of the statement” because of the triggering effect. Some of the organizers were also triggered by the statement. People have also expressed, both the night of the panel and in the aftermath, that they have serious political disagreements with the statement. This no doubt contributed to the upset in the room when it was read.

Our Political Position on the Pre-Written Statement
We as organizers would like to extend our support to all who attended and were triggered during the discussion, for whatever reason they were triggered, and we hope that everyone is taking care of themselves and each other. We would particularly like people to know that we do not politically support the statements made in the pre-written statement, nor do we think it was appropriate or necessary to come to this particular discussion with this pre-written statement. We do not support bringing the “questions” posed within the pre-written statement into that particular space.

There are a few reasons for our position:

1. The “questions” within the pre-written statement did not appear to actually be questions for discussion; rather, these were the type of “questions” which in of themselves asserted a conclusion, and a certain line. To use a question format does not excuse the political line pushed within the question.

2. The conclusions, or political lines, that these “questions” asserted are lines that are classically used by perpetrators and/or those supporting, surrounding, or backing
perpetrators or abusers, either against survivors or as a way to shield the perpetrator. This was immediately recognizable to many.

3. For us, these statements and “questions” are not a matter of “political disagreement”, and framing it as such is insincere. It is insincere because this “political disagreement” was asserted in a specific context of responding to X being called out, and was posed in the form of qualifying the validity of the actions of person X for which he had been called out on. Thus, we repeat that ironically, this same line did not appear as open political discourse or sincere questions, but rather as a way to shield the person who had been called out.

Adding irony to irony, the statements made actually discouraged open discourse, in that they minimized, silenced, and were dismissive of the reasons that X had been called out, and yet the justification for this has been in the name of open discourse. The statements also in and of themselves minimized, silenced, and were dismissive of survivors talking safely about their needs.

We also feel that framing the discourse around survivor’s needs as “political disagreements” or “political arguments” is in of itself sexist- as it pretends that this conversation should be emptied of subjective narrative, or that there is an equal playing ground in the conversation because the conversation itself isn’t about real power, or that this conversation itself isn’t already racialized and gendered. It is also problematic, in that it suggests that there is a neutral or objective rationality in this debate, rather than the possibility that the debate itself and the content of the debate is a socially contingent result of prevailing power dynamics. This isn’t qualifiably the same, nor does it have the same implications, as having a political disagreement over Trotsky for example. There are direct consequences to these “debates”, and there physical bodies involved. As survivors and feminists, we must become cautious when our bodies our safety, and our well-being, as well as our needs around our bodies, safety, and well beings, become the subject of “political debate”. We also need to have some political and real autonomy from cis men in discussions that concern our own needs and well-being.

For us, there is more at stake here than just the merits of a “debate”. Our bodies, safety, health, personal autonomy, and well-beings are at stake. We do not agree with people having a “political argument” at our expense. The outcome could be life or death for us.

4. The line offered by the pre-written statement was one that, as we quickly saw unfold, had the effect of collectively silencing, disempowering, and triggering people. As we said before, there were people in the room were not capable of listening to the whole statement. Whatever the supposed justification or intention of this statement was, this was the effect, and we cannot support it. This was the immediate consequence in terms of trauma.

5. Beyond the immediate effects, the pre- written statement has also had a lasting and awful effect on the psyche of many survivors who were present, and has embodied a lot of the trauma that survivors have suffered. While taking care of those triggered after the event, we have heard several survivors say things to the effect of “the things said in that statement were exactly why I didn’t tell anyone I was assaulted.” This also points to the political implications of the statement being silencing.

6. The pre-written statement carried a line that had the potential of emboldening or empowering abusers or perpetrators in the space.

7. The pre-written statement may have the effect of emboldening or empowering abusers in the future, as now the needs of survivors have been put out in the public as something to be questioned, a point of “tension”, or a “subject of debate”. The needs of survivors have been scandalized by this statement, and that is worrisome to us. (We encourage community members to be aware and vigilant of possibilities of this effect within the community, not only in terms of emboldening perpetrators, but also on those currently trying to identify, survive, and leave an abusive dynamic, or those wishing to speak up.)

8. The statement carried an argument that painted men who have been called out as “victims” of feminist processes, of being called out, or of accountability processes
themselves. One of the ways in which it did this was by stating that the concerns about X were “personalized attacks”. We do not politically support this line of arguing, nor or these accusations, nor the political implications of saying that concerns over patriarchal behavior is purely “personal”. We think it is a classic line-that men are victimized when called out on patriarchal behavior, or minimizing feminist or survivor concerns, to a “personal attack” rather than these concerns being over a real embodied sexist structure in behavior that should be addressed and changed. We think this is extremely silencing, and that it also is reflective of dominant sexist paradigm, and we do not politically support it.

9. It was completely unnecessary, triggering, and inappropriate to come into a space where survivors are present (and obviously survivors would be present at an anti-patriarchy event) and actively and verbally support someone who has been called out, by two different, unaffiliated people, for damaging survivors. No matter what he was being called out on, naturally, survivors witnessing this were imagining and projecting the ways that people would support their abusers, or have supported their abusers, and this was overwhelming and traumatic.

10. Despite the fact that the person who read the pre-written statement was defending the character of the person called out, she did not come prepared whatsoever with any
commitment from person X that would reassure the community or the people in the space that his damaging behaviors have stopped or would stop. When a second survivor came forward, again, unaffiliated with the first group, she was also not met with a response committing to making sure the behaviors would change. Rather, she was asked outside of the space to have a face to face talk with person X.

11. It seemed further unnecessary to bring the pre-written statement into that space, as it became more clear that it was not directly linked to most of the debate by the panel itself (it was pre-written anyway and could not have known what would be talked about on the panel), though it ironically in of itself embodied much of the patriarchal mechanisms that were talked about during the panel. When one of the organizers asked the person who had read the statement to politically back up the statement, and to identify a “political criteria” for the statement, she was only able to respond to X’s character once again.

As we have noted, this pre-written statement violated the Red and Black safer space policy, triggered many people, may have emboldened perpetrators, was antithetical to crucial points of feminist praxis around survivor safety, was politically problematic in various ways, and did not show any commitment that X should change his behaviors, even despite another survivor coming forward. On all ends, we want to politically distance ourselves from this statement, and we were shocked and dismayed that this took place at an anti-patriarchy event.

Further Experiences and Retrospect:
The organizers would like to note that the event and the discussion afterwards were separate pieces. We organized and planned the political content of the event itself, and only planned the discussion afterwards in terms of moderation, not in terms of content.

We would like people to be aware that leading up to the event, person X questioned the event on a national listserv. This questioning appeared to be asking about the politics of the event, but person X also asked specifically who was speaking. Organizers explained that panelists would not be revealed because we wanted to avoid panelists being approached or intimidated ahead of the event, and we also wanted to avoid attempts at manipulating the content of the event, as we have had experience with this in the past. We also explained the general politics of the panelists. Even so, person X continued to question the content of the event, and said that he would not commit to supporting the event without knowing the experiences, background, and proposals of those involved, which seemed to be a lot of to ask.

On the same national listserv, person X then expressed political views over the content of the event, but without having knowledge of what the actual content of the panel was. Also, people close to X, including members of his former organization, in two different cities, expressed reservations to other comrades about the politics of the event before the event happened, stating that they would “disagree” with the content of the event or that people should be “cautious”. Person X was the only person we know of who so aggressively questioned the event. We were dumbfounded and confused about why people presumed to know what the political content of the event would be, and why that presumed content was continuously and publically questioned, by members of the same former organization, before the event even happened. While everyone else expressed excitement over the event, in the aftermath, it now seems to us that the group of people politically questioning the event were those concerned that a former member of their organization would be called out by people attending the event during the discussion, and they were also the same people who were aware that a statement was being prepared.

It seems unprincipled to us, as organizers, as people who put effort into making these conversations alive, that our political work itself should be questioned because of the possibility of certain people attending the event, or that our political work itself should be scrutinized in order to shield a single member of the community from being called out.  Although we kept public anonymity, people locally knew who was organizing the event; one could see on FB who was hosting the event as well. None of the people expressing reservation came to us directly or attempted to seek us out and have open conversation, or let us know they were coming to the event with a prepared statement. Instead, from what we understand, there were rumors flying and accusations being made that the organizers themselves had underhanded motives.

For us, the course of all this has been pretty bizarre.

We would like to reflect on the space we found ourselves in during the discussion after the panel. While we have discussed what we could have done better to facilitate a discussion on the topic of patriarchy in the movement, it was extremely difficult to moderate a discussion at a certain point, as our own panelists and moderators became triggered and upset. Our own panelists and moderators had to leave the space at different points, and take care of people who had been triggered. If anyone would like to contact the organizers and give us suggestions for what we could have done better when the discussion became triggering and difficult, we welcome dialogue. However, a few of us have had experience in organizing similar debates in the past, and although we have seen people called out before, we have never seen what transpired that night.

Acknowledgements
We would like to thank the Red and Black for their impressive show of solidarity and hospitality in accommodating this event. Members of the collective stepped up, without being asked, and helped organize childcare, made extra space, and did the entire tech support for this event. They also donated a part of the profit they made to the event. We are glad that male-identified members of Red and Black helped with some of the grunt work for this event, as well as organizing childcare, as this work typically falls on women. Knowing that survivors of patriarchal violence would likely be attending and possibly speaking at this event, we decided to hold this event in the Red and Black because of their safer space policy. We would like to support the public statement that Red and Black published regarding their safer space policy in the aftermath of the event, and we also applaud their collective in the efforts that they make in their objective of holding up their safer space policy and supporting survivors. See the Red and Black statement here: http://www.redandblackcafe.com/statement-in-response-to-2-28-13-event-2/

We would also like to thank members of the Pink Tape Collective, who identified themselves as possible support people should anyone become triggered. We want to also applaud members of the Pink Tape Collective for their efforts in providing support during the discussion and in the days following. We would like to note that the work that the Pink Tape is a collective focused on survivor support, and this collective engages in often exhausting thankless work, yet work that is absolutely necessary for the safety, healing, and overall survival of members of our communities. This work is unfortunately not often regarded as political, and thus we would like to extend an invitation to the Pink Tape Collective to make a statement regarding the discussion following the event as well, not only because they were impacted in terms of survivor support in the aftermath, but also because we do see this as political and because of the nature of the discussion following the event we feel the Pink Tape Collective has a critical voice in the subsequent discussions.

We would also like to thank all of the panelists. We understand that participating in an event of this sort and speaking out against patriarchy in the movement carries a serious and real risk. We often censor ourselves on this issue, out of fear of the consequences of being directly undermined or discredited for speaking up or politicizing our experiences. We applaud the panelists for their fearlessness as well as for the work that they put into their powerful presentations.

In the aftermath of the event, and what we heard during the discussion, the following has become obvious to us, and we suggest that the community take up some considerations:

-There was a need expressed by many in the discussion that childcare has to become more paramount in our communities, that there is an extreme work burden put on parents and single mothers, but that doing childcare or other work of this sort should not excuse members of the communities from their patriarchal behaviors and filling in this work is not a source of “immunity.”

-There is a need to educate ourselves and others on trauma- to understand how people become traumatized or re-traumatized, what is triggering for people, and the harm and damage that triggering people causes. We need to understand what trauma symptoms look like, and work to create an environment that is supportive of trauma survivors. We also need to understand how to care for people who are traumatized or triggered, and deconstruct the way this care is gendered. We need to be aware and call out members of the community who attack trauma survivors or ostracize people suffering trauma from the political community.

-Work around survivor support has fallen on a select few, and neither the work nor the politic behind it is appreciated enough or given enough attention. There is a need to support collectives such as the Pink Tape Collective.

-There is a need to hold more feminist meetings, a need to talk more openly about patriarchy and oppression people are dealing with currently, to make more copies of zines on these subjects, and to put out more resources in the community.(If in the aftermath of the event and seeing how serious and real these issues are, men are still unsure about what to do, one easy suggestion may be to begin by educating themselves and also taking on responsibility for printing and distributing zines on these subjects.)

-There is a need to listen to people other than cis white men.

-There is a need to question men who are discrediting women in the community

-There is a need to talk directly with other members of the community, instead of behind people’s backs

-There is a need to hold feminist reading groups- groups in which non-men can study what they want to without the presence of cis men, as well as mixed gendered groups where people can study feminism together

-There is a need to speak up and write more

-There is a need to stand up for feminists in the community who are taking risks by speaking out, and have their backs

-There is a need to eat more often and drink more coffee and beer at the Red and Black, as their space is a very important resource in Portland, and their collective are allies in feminist organizing, and they have suffered hard times financially. Also, this space is a safer space. Hold your meetings at the Red and Black!

Don’t be afraid to speak up, and resist. Every time we speak out, we empower others to do the same. Don’t be intimidated by the mechanisms which are classically used to silence and discredit us. Other feminists who have had similar experiences will have your back and be there for you. We are many more than you think. Resistance begins when fear stops.

Take care of each other,

In solidarity and struggle, the Organizers of the Patriarchy and the Movement event,
Oakland, Portland, Seattle.

 

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