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We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators

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Last summer was full of adventures: cooking in outdoor kitchens, building tripods, planning actions, sleeping in treehouses in the middle of NYC. I traveled up the east coast, coming to a new city every week. In the process, I fell for my traveling partner’s partner. As a local organizer who had participated in several collective projects that involved facilitated meetings and complex protocol, I’d thought I already knew all there was to know about process; but now, deeply immersed in the beginning of my first polyamory love triangle, I discovered it could extend to a whole new level. There were long conversations to work out simple questions like who would sleep with whom each night, and ongoing efforts to keep each other aware of all our feelings about every issue. It was often an arduous process, but consequently, I developed a very open and expressive relationship with my new partner, and that felt healthy and good.

We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators

from Rolling Thunder #1, www.crimethinc.com

Last summer was full of adventures: cooking in outdoor kitchens, building tripods, planning actions, sleeping in treehouses in the middle of NYC. I traveled up the east coast, coming to a new city every week. In the process, I fell for my traveling partner’s partner. As a local organizer who had participated in several collective projects that involved facilitated meetings and complex protocol, I’d thought I already knew all there was to know about process; but now, deeply immersed in the beginning of my first polyamory love triangle, I discovered it could extend to a whole new level. There were long conversations to work out simple questions like who would sleep with whom each night, and ongoing efforts to keep each other aware of all our feelings about every issue. It was often an arduous process, but consequently, I developed a very open and expressive relationship with my new partner, and that felt healthy and good.

At the beginning of a tumultuous time for my new triangle, the three of us and the others with whom we were traveling biked to a party in the city we were temporarily calling home. By the end of the night, I couldn’t balance well enough to get back on my too-tall bike. I was drunk. Too drunk. Throughout the night, like many others at the party, I flirted with and kissed lots of people. My new partner was watching me, a little put off by my behavior.

At first, I had been hesitant and cautious about how our new relationship would affect my relations with my traveling partner; but earlier that day, I had decided that if we were going to try this relationship, I should open up and be really vulnerable with my new romantic partner. I had decided that I was ready to sleep with him and had been excitedly awaiting the appropriate time to share this decision with him. Towards the end of the night at the party I kept approaching my partner and asking him to sleep with me when we got back to the house that night. I was excited to tell him that I was ready to do something that he had been wanting. I think he just kept telling me that I was being a drunk, but as a drunk, I kept insisting that I was sober enough to know what I wanted and that I wanted to fuck him. I was being persistent. I felt like he wasn’t being clear with me, but I think I was just too drunk to understand no.

The next day, I wasn’t thinking about that interaction; I didn’t really remember it. I had come home and crashed out alone on my friend’s empty bed, and we all spent the morning getting ready for a busy day ahead. But that afternoon, his other partner, my traveling partner, accused me of sexually assaulting him the night before. She told me that I wouldn’t stop asking him to sleep with me even though he kept saying no, that I kept hitting on him, and that I made him feel unsafe. Perhaps her account of the situation was colored by the jealousies and insecurities that would later play out between us, but because I couldn’t even remember the night before, I was in no position to dispute it . I spent the day terrified of myself, asking, “Could I be a sexual assaulter? I’m a survivor of sexual assault. How could I assault someone?” and, more importantly, agonizing: “I really care about this person. I would never want to make him feel threatened.”

Finally, after a very scary day inside my head, I got to talk with him. He told me about what had happened the night before and said he did not consider it sexual assault. He said he had been annoyed with me, but that was the extent of it, and everything was okay between us. But everything was not okay. Even if what happened wasn’t sexual assault, I had clearly made poor choices and disregarded how he felt, mistakes I consider inexcusable. Perhaps I didn’t make him feel unsafe, but I am 5’2” and he is 6’2” and much stronger than me. What if he had been drunkenly, persistently hitting on me all night, despite my discouragement? Would I have felt unsafe? Should my disrespectful behavior be tolerated any more because I am small and arguably less intimidating?

Defining sexual assault is difficult. As in all aspects of relationships, there are few absolutes. Every relationship can only be defined and mediated by the people that comprise it; what is comfortable and safe for people in one relationship may not work for people in another. Accordingly, it is up to the survivor alone to name an experience as being sexual assault or not. However, some actions are unacceptable, regardless of whether they are labeled sexual assault. As we struggle to develop relationships free of hierarchy and power, we must also develop a language with which to discuss all of the spaces—complicated and unclear as they may be—in which we act without respect for others.

Some Terms

Sexual Assault—A sexual interaction in which a person knowingly crosses another’s boundary: for instance, doing something that someone has said no to, or trying to do something that someone has said makes him or her uncomfortable.

Boundary—The line that describes what someone wants or is comfortable with. This may be predetermined or developing, and is subject to change without a clear or logical reason.

Coercion—The use of force or manipulation to pressure people into doing, accepting, or agreeing to things against their wishes. Coercion can include passive-aggressive behavior, attempts to induce guilt, persistent questioning, and threats, but it is not limited to these forms.

Consent—Consent is conventionally understood to mean permission, but this conception can be misleading. Here, it is used to describe the process by which people learn to understand each other’s desires and comfort levels so they can interact respectfully and considerately. A situation must be free of all forms of coercion for one person to receive genuine consent from another; likewise, if one person asks for something and the other says they are not comfortable with it, the interaction can still be consensual as long as both people respect each other’s wishes.

Most of us grew up fully immersed in this profit-driven culture, in which most public relationships—whether economic, political, or personal—follow a model of dominance and submission in which one party leads and the other follows. Inundated with media representations of these relationships, we unconsciously mimic those dynamics in our personal lives, developing “skills” for acquiring power and protecting ourselves in our own relationships. As radicals, we understand that the connections we have with one another are fundamental to the revolutionary potential of our actions. Consequently, we work to build self-reliant communities and develop emotionally sustaining relationships, by nurturing our ability to act and communicate honestly and unlearning our destructive behaviors. This is difficult, and we often revert to old habits and make mistakes. As individuals and as communities, we must create supportive, forgiving environments in which we can embrace our own shortcomings and errors and those of others in the spirit of a genuine desire to continue reconstructing ourselves. We need to equip ourselves and our communities with the tools to deal with the personal conflicts and complicated situations that inevitably arise as an integral part of the process of developing radical relationships.

To this end, we need a more extensive and sophisticated language with which to address violations of personal boundaries and work out how these can be discouraged. The discussion about how to cope with sexual assault within radical communities is constantly evolving, and fortunately, at least in some circles, it is finally beginning to be carried on in the open. Much can be taken from this discussion and applied to the ways other types of conflicts are addressed; but at the same time, there is much that needs to be reworked. We would do well to reconsider the current language available for addressing these issues: what the terms mean, what purposes they serve effectively, what their shortcomings are.

In our relationships, we often set boundaries and sometimes even ask each other for consent. In most relationships, these boundaries are unspoken, assumed: I will not sit on my friend’s partner’s lap. I will only hug this friend for hello and goodbye. In romantic relationships, we tend to define these boundaries more explicitly with our partners: I will not have unprotected sex. It is not okay for my partner to kiss me in front of my parents. In relationships of all kinds, from platonic to sexual, we can cross others’ boundaries and hurt them or make them uncomfortable. This happens frequently, especially in relationships in which boundaries are only implicit.

Sexual assault is an intense manifestation of this violation of boundaries. When a sexual assault occurs, the one who crosses the boundary is labeled the perpetrator and the one whose boundary has been crossed is called the survivor, a more empowering term for victim. This is forceful terminology, and it can be really useful for assisting the survivor in naming and processing an experience. Simply having language with which to break the silence imposed by such a difficult experience can be a powerful thing. This language is also useful for dealing with those who are unwilling to be held accountable for their actions, who refuse to talk about and work through their issues. Being labeled a perpetrator of sexual assault carries a heavy weight; naming an act sexual assault means that the matter will be taken seriously and, hopefully, addressed by all who hear about it. In this way, the labeling of the perpetrator can pick up where self-initiated dialogue leaves off.

However, beyond these specific situations, the perpetrator/survivor language has many limitations. There is a wide spectrum of interactions that are unhealthy and non-consensual, but the term sexual assault describes only a narrow range of that spectrum . Imagine if we could plot our interactions on a line from the most consensual to the least. The ones that are completely consensual, in which no boundaries are crossed, would occupy a small space on one side, while those interactions labeled sexual assault would occupy a small space on the other; somewhere in the middle, between these extremes, there would still be a whole range of interactions in which boundaries are crossed to varying extents. As it stands, the language used specifically to describe sexual assault is not sufficient for describing those interactions that fall somewhere in the middle.

The language of perpetrator and survivor can also promote a false sense that sexual assault is the only form of boundary violation worth addressing. Describing sexual assault and the survivors and perpetrators that experience sexual assault as distinct from other, presumably “normal,” experiences of sexuality misrepresents any experience not labeled sexual assault as free of coercion. On the contrary, in our authoritarian society, domination infects everything, resulting in even our most intimate and cherished relationships being tainted with subtle—or sometimes not so subtle—unequal power dynamics. A division between “sexual assault” and “everything else” lets everyone off the hook who has not been labeled a sexual assaulter; it thus focuses attention away from the ways we all can stand to improve our relationships and our sensitivity to one another.

One of the most problematic consequences of our lack of appropriate language is that people are often reluctant to address more subtle or complicated experiences of boundary violations at all. The perpetrator/survivor language is so serious that in less dramatic cases—for example, in situations that are not violent or physically forceful—the survivor may even wonder if what he or she is feeling legitimately constitutes a serious problem worth exploring and addressing. If a person chooses not to use the language of sexual assault to describe a violation of his or her boundaries, does that mean it is not important? Many people are understandably hesitant to accuse loved ones of sexual assault or label them perpetrators because of the stigma attached to these terms and the drama that often ensues when they are used. This should not mean that non-consensual interactions go unaddressed.

It also seems to be the case that, as much as the perpetrator/survivor language is useful when dialogue is impossible, it can also halt dialogue where it might otherwise be possible. This language creates categorizations of people rather than descriptions of their behavior, reducing an individual to an action. As such, it tends to put people on the defensive, which often makes it harder for them to receive criticism . The definitive implications and accusatory tone of this language can precipitate a situation in which, instead of focusing on reconciling differing experiences of reality, people on opposing sides struggle to prove that their interpretation of reality is the “true” one. Once this dynamic is in effect, the discussion is no longer about people working through their problems and trying to understand and respect each other’s unique experiences, but an investigation about “objective” reality in which all parties stand trial. No one should ever be forced to defend what he or she feels, least of all someone who has survived a violation of his or her boundaries. Regardless of “what really happened,” a person’s experience is his or hers alone and deserves to be validated as such. To decide which reality is “the truth,” we must give value to one person and not the other: this is validation on the scarcity model. When conflicts arise surrounding a question of sexual assault, communities are often forced to take sides, making the matter into a popularity contest; likewise, individuals can feel required to support one person at the other’s expense.

If we could develop a way of addressing these situations that focused on promoting communication and understanding rather than establishing who is in the wrong, it might make it easier for those who commit boundary violations to hear and learn from criticism and less stressful for those whose boundaries are crossed to address these instances. Whenever a person feels that his or her desires have not been respected, regardless of whether or not a court of law would find there to be sufficient evidence to substantiate charges of sexual assault, all those involved in the situation need to hold themselves accountable for the ways they have not communicated with or respected each other and work out how to make sure it never happens again.

We also need a language that can account for situations in which it is not clear who is the perpetrator and who is the survivor. Identifying one person as a perpetrator may not make sense if both or all of the people involved in the interaction both crossed another person’s boundaries and had their own boundaries crossed. The language we currently have available to describe these situations creates a false division of the world between perpetrators and survivors, when—just as with oppressors and those who are oppressed—most people experience both sides of the dichotomy at one time or another. Such a binary sets up one class of people as entirely in the right and one as entirely in the wrong, as if one always bears all accountability and the other has no responsibility or no way to make their relationships more consensual. In extreme cases, this is indeed the case, but we also need to be able to address all the other cases, in which both parties could stand to improve their communication skills and sensitivity.

We need a new way to conceptualize and communicate about our interactions, one that takes into account all of our different boundaries—sexual, romantic, and platonic—and the ways they can be crossed. Practicing consent and respecting others’ boundaries is important both in sexual relationships and in every other aspect of our lives: in organizing together, in living collectively, in planning direct actions securely. Non-hierarchical, consensual relationships are the substance of anarchy, and we need to prioritize seeking and promoting consent in all our interactions.

As every experience is unique, we should use language specific to each one, rather than attempting to force all our experiences into abstract categories; we can do so by describing each individually: as a deliberate boundary violation, for example, or as a decision in which consent was ambiguous. We can do much to break down the stigma and shame surrounding the issue of sexual assault by opening up dialogue about non-consensual interactions of all kinds. In developing our communication skills about our abuse and abuser histories, our sexual histories, our desires, we can create the spaces to begin to talk about the grey areas of consent. We need to foster a culture that takes into account the fact that, despite how desperately we want to be good for the people we love, we sometimes make mistakes, fail to be truthful, and cross boundaries. We need to support both survivors and perpetrators: not to condone non-consensual actions, but because we all need to rid ourselves of the ill effects of living in a hierarchical, capitalist society, and to do so, we must work together.

To broach these questions is not to deny that there is such a thing as sexual assault, nor to defend it as acceptable behavior. On the contrary, it is to demand that we acknowledge that we live in a rape culture: a culture in which sexual assault is pervasive, as are the forces and dynamics that promote it. Sexual assault is a part of all of us who have grown up in this society; we cannot ignore it, or pretend that because we ourselves have been assaulted or because we work to live anarchy in all aspects of our lives that we are not capable of sexual assault. The only way to rid our lives of sexual assault is to open the issue up. This means we must make it safe enough to come out as an assaulter, so that each of us is able to address, openly, honestly, and without fear, everything from the most minor acts of inconsideration to the most serious boundary violations. We are all survivors; we are all perpetrators.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Before my summer travels, although I had spent a lot of time thinking about and working on making my relationships reflect my anarchist ideals, I had only recently learned the uses of the subcultural catchphrase “consent.” While becoming acquainted with this new term, I met a fabulous new friend. When we first met, we spent only a few intense days together, but the time I shared with this new friend made that word, consent, more meaningful to me than any workshop or article ever could. They consider consent a fundamental part of all of their relationships, and with them, I saw how consent could be enacted daily with friends and lovers.

At first, it was strange that they checked in with me so frequently about all the little ways we were physical with one another. Throughout both our casual and intimate conversations, they would ask for my permission before rubbing my shoulders, holding my hand, or resting their head on my lap. Other times, they would touch me lightly, then ask, “Is this okay?” before proceeding. I began to think that they had a difficulty being physically close and consequently were especially conscientious about others’ personal space, but they always seemed comfortable with the closeness I initiated—even when I forgot to ask for explicit permission before touching them. They also didn’t seem offended or surprised that it was not easy for me to reciprocate the verbal consent they offered me. I tried to be conscious of how we were interacting and to vocalize my desires before moving into their space or touching them, but I’ve always had a hard time being verbal. As I had only heard the word consent used in reference to sexual relationships, I began to ponder their intentions. I kept thinking to myself, “Does my new friend have a crush on me? Do they want something more intimate than friendship?”

However, as I got used to my friend’s style of establishing consent, I recognized that it was part of their personality and indicative of the way they tried to interact with everyone. As I realized this, my feelings about their questions changed. I stopped trying to read into their questions to see if they indicated unspoken interests, and started to appreciate that they were asking how I felt. I felt so respected. It made me feel how deeply my friend cared about me that they wanted to know how I felt about everything, and it made me feel comfortable with them very quickly.

Feedback and discussion are welcome: redefiningconsent@yahoo.com

*** *** ***

Some questions about consent. Think about it!

(from the awesome zine, see no speak no hear no)

Have you ever talked about consent with your partners or friends?
Do you know people or have you been with people who define consent differently that you do?
Have you ever been unsure about whether or not the person you were being sexual with wanted to be doing what you were doing? Did you talk about it? Did you ignore it in hopes that it would change? Did you continue what you were doing because it was pleasurable to you and you didn’t want to deal with what the other person was experiencing? Did you continue because you didn’t want to second guess the other person? How do you feel about the choices you made?
Do you think it is the other person’s responsibility to say something if he or she isn’t into what you’re doing?
Are you clear about your intentions?
Have you ever tried to talk someone into doing something about which he or she showed hesitancy?
How might someone express that what is happening is not okay?
Do you only respond to verbal signs, or are you sensitive to other signs?
Do you think it is possible to misinterpret silence for consent?
Have you ever asked someone what kinds of signs you should look for if he or she has a hard time verbalizing when something feels wrong?
Do you think consent can be erotic?
Do you check in as things progress, or do you assume the original consent means everything is okay?
Do you think about people’s abuse histories?
Do you ever get yourself into situations that give you an excuse for touching people you think would say no if you asked? Examples might include dancing, getting drunk around them, falling asleep next to them.
Do you make people feel they are not “fun” or “liberated” if they don’t want to try certain sexual things?
Do you ever try to make bargains? (i.e., “If you let me ___, I’ll ___ for you.”) Have you ever used jealousy as a means of control?
Do you think it’s okay to initiate something sexual with someone who is asleep?
How do you react if someone becomes uncomfortable with what you’re doing, or if he or she doesn’t want to do something? Do you get defensive? Do you feel guilty? Does the other person end up having to take care of you and reassure you, or are you able to step back and listen, to hear and support the other person and take responsibility for your actions?
In telling your side of the story, do you attempt to change the way the other person views a situation?
Do you ever talk about sex and consent and abuse when you are not in bed?

Notes

1. In retrospect, the most problematic aspect of this interaction was that she defined my partner’s experience for him. Regardless of a person’s motivations, it is never appropriate to call someone out as a sexual assaulter without the explicit consent of the other person involved.

2. …although it’s important to point out that these are interactions which many of us are unfortunate enough to experience, and which often carry an impact on our lives disproportionate to the frequency with which we experience them.

3. It is important for both the perpetrator and the survivor to deal with their actions and experiences in supportive environments. If the survivor is unable or unwilling to work with the perpetrator, some manifestation of community still should. Sexual assault and other forms of unhealthy relationship dynamics are community issues, and must be dealt with accordingly. Hopefully, all the individuals involved can receive support from a variety of sources.

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We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators | 34 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: HPWombat on Thursday, March 06 2008 @ 11:58 AM CST
Is there a way of reframing this article to sound less like a leftist legalistic nightmare?

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http://midwest.azone.org
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 06 2008 @ 05:23 PM CST
CrimethInc.--sounding "like a leftist legalistic nightmare" since... hm...
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: HPWombat on Thursday, March 06 2008 @ 07:05 PM CST
You doubt? Read it. The bureaucratic language is dead life, the author is not special nor is the editor of Rolling Thunder, they should re-examine how they approach this issue if they are going to write about it in the context of liberating desire.

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http://midwest.azone.org
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 06 2008 @ 09:47 PM CST

For one thing, Rolling Thunder has multiple editors. Dunno what you're
getting at about someone being "special."

For another, I disagree with you about the language in this text--it
seems clear the author is setting out to broaden the range of language
available for discussing this topic (e.g., "the perpetrator/survivor
language has many limitations," paragraph 5 following the terms). If you
feel the result is still too "bureaucratic" for your tastes, well, de gustibus
non est disputandum, but don't then argue this has nothing to do with
liberating desire--the process of liberating desire is going to involve a lot
of checking in with each other. If someone wants to liberate their
desires without keeping abreast of the desires and needs of those
around them, as far as I'm concerned that's not anarchist liberation.

Use whatever language works for you and the people you're
communicating with--there's no right or wrong language--but don't
dismiss communication and consent themselves.
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: HPWombat on Thursday, March 06 2008 @ 10:46 PM CST
"Dunno what you're getting at about someone being "special.""

I mean that calling something crimethinc doesn't make them an authority on any issue, especially on the liberation of desire. Also should I care if I used a plural term or a singular term? How important is it to you that I know more than one person is responsible for this awlful article? Is it so no one can claim full responsibility? I think it shows a larger failure.

"it seems clear the author is setting out to broaden the range of language
available for discussing this topic (e.g., "the perpetrator/survivor
language has many limitations," paragraph 5 following the terms)."

It seems clear they are broadening the legal speak, they want to work with the jargon of sexual assault (an unlawful act) to define more issues as if the law weren't extensive enough. This is the wrong approach. We don't need this overdrawn language, we need goddamn insurrections. We cannot heal this society ruined by domination without them. A safe world now approach would recognize the limitations of creating a subcultural language as a major limitation to why such things are futile. The language now is alienating and overdrawn, this article does not help make it less so, but rather more so, with an expansion of criteria that must be educated for any individual to fuck. Justifying more pointless workshops? I thought we wanted less meetings and more real social interaction, which is what would be the real radical solution, true reciprocal knowledge exchanged and learned between individuals that want to bang out.

"If someone wants to liberate their
desires without keeping abreast of the desires and needs of those
around them, as far as I'm concerned that's not anarchist liberation."

Yeah, rape everyone, that's what I suggested. Get real, I'm not Eldridge Cleaver on acid.

"Use whatever language works for you and the people you're
communicating with--there's no right or wrong language--but don't
dismiss communication and consent themselves."

I think I was attacking how overdrawn the language was and how it was framed moralistically despite claiming it isn't.

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http://midwest.azone.org
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: blackhand on Friday, March 07 2008 @ 09:33 AM CST
How was the article framed moralistically? It even brings up how "sexual assault" and the survivor/perpetrator dichotomy is limiting and potentially unnecessarily divisive.

In spite of the one line that says some behavior that is always unacceptable (and right after saying the survivor should classify the behavior according to their own standards), the article tries to break down right vs. wrong as abstract categories and instead emphasizes consent and desire as waypoints for examining experiences:

As every experience is unique, we should use language specific to each one, rather than attempting to force all our experiences into abstract categories; we can do so by describing each individually: as a deliberate boundary violation, for example, or as a decision in which consent was ambiguous.

Can you elaborate on what you find so legalistic? Or is any behavior that isn't impulsive too domesticated?

We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: HPWombat on Friday, March 07 2008 @ 01:07 PM CST
A welcome challenge blackhand. I'll attempt to define my criticisms more. First I will apologize for calling this article awful. This issue is a difficult one to take on and I must pause now to consider how I would approach these issues..

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Listen to Radio Subvertista at cbusimc.org! Interested in Midwest and Great Lakes Regional Networking? Check out midwest.azone.org and launch your position pap
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: Why on Friday, March 07 2008 @ 04:59 PM CST
This article to me seems to say a lot to express a really simple point: learn and respect boundries. For me that's as simple as "understanding body language."

I understand what HPWombat is saying, and would say that it is in essence taking the fun out of everything. If I have to have "long discussions" about who I fuck, then I don't want to fuck.

The ritual of attraction has existed for eons.
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: HPWombat on Saturday, March 08 2008 @ 10:44 AM CST
That's the meat of it Why. I think that communication between individuals involved in relations are important, the language used is the language created by sharing an emotional bond before sex, if sex is desired. Those that favor casual sex are more in danger of boundary issues, though a communication of barriers using the language that is understood between individuals and developing it on the spot can create the proper atmosphere. This subcultural language nonsense is unnecessary and confusing. Understanding its jargon can create deception just as with any other language and consent can be taken under the influence despite everything. Emphasizing this language with those ignorant of it ignores the organic development of a language between individuals and I see misunderstandings and fears seeping from those that embrace a language built by victims.

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Listen to Radio Subvertista at cbusimc.org! Interested in Midwest and Great Lakes Regional Networking? Check out midwest.azone.org!
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: ScavengerType on Saturday, March 08 2008 @ 05:22 PM CST
Don't let them bully you into thinking this issue is more complex than it really is.

Frankly reading it I only felt it was a self-punishment or writing-therapy of the author. Sexual assault is what it is no matter how you slice it just looking at it. I'm no saint and I have gone beyond the lines of consent a few times, but I never seen the need to write about it so that people all over the world could read it. If you were too drunk and you did this your friends may understand and if they do then they are good friends, but why is it a headline on infoshop? Perhaps the author is obsessing over these anarchist principles a little too much. I mean, it sounds from the language of this article that the author has let this no-authority bias permeate every facet of their life or at least that this is their final goal. Why? I'm all for localization and autonomous government but to be honest modern anarchism is starting to sound as alien to me as it ever has. It sounds more like the author is looking to anarchism for some sort of religious type guidance and I am not cool with this.

It's entirely possible that I've misread this legalistic language. I've always considered a lot of that talk to be like meaningless jargon to me. If the author is looking for some sort of anarchist code of conduct I find this concept laughably neglectful of the fact that these anarchists are people as well and they are all different. Either way I've heard that 1 of 4 Americans has genital herpes so I'd be careful who you rape next time.
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, March 08 2008 @ 09:23 PM CST
"it sounds from the language of this article that the author has let this
no-authority bias permeate every facet of their life"

Jeez. What website is this, anyway? An anarchist one, right? I'm really
disappointed to see the attitude of some of these comments. It's like,
you feel like someone is telling you how to talk about things--but really,
you're just attacking someone for proposing a way to talk about things.

The point--this seems obvious to me--is not that you have to adopt any
one way of talking about sex. When sexual (or any) interactions are
totally comfortable and consensual, then sure, you don't have to trouble
with these sticky issues. The point is that when a interaction is NOT
perfectly comfortable, as happens OFTEN in this society, even in
anarchist circles, there need to be ways to talk about this besides the
truly legalistic "Well was it rape, technically? Then never mind." The
approaches suggested here are not the only way, but they beat us never
talking about the issue at all... and I sure don't see a lot of other
discussion of this topic on the I-News page, especially considering how
rampant sexual assault is in patriarchal society.

Your reactions to others' ideas about how to address the issue hint at
defensiveness. If you don't want to hook up with people just because
they want to use a certain language to talk about consent, fine, but
what does that say about you? What are you trying to avoid? Personally, I will definitely never hook up with anyone who brushes this stuff off. It
sounds like you think this subject is really simple and easy--maybe it is
for you, maybe it isn't for others.

As for this text being "self-punishment," I think it's super sex-positive to
talk about this, to consider various ways we can go about
communicating with each other about what we want and feel.

Anyway, I get the sense that it's really important to HPWombat to get
the last word on this subject, and I'm sure he will. I hope y'all listen
better to your partners--EVEN if they want to use language that turns
you off.
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: ScavengerType on Saturday, March 08 2008 @ 10:43 PM CST
I keep politics out of my bedroom. She lost control and didn't respect someone's boundaries in fact it was clearly rape. If the dude is saying no and she's forcing it on him it is. So why all the beating around the bush discussing terms and all that BS? Anyway how do you know I'm being defensive maybe I've gust got a hair up my ass about something and a long rambling article about consensual sex just made me rant.

Anyway who learns about sex from workshops? I've always found experiance to be a much better indicator. That and theo odd sex documentory series.
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: nameless on Sunday, March 09 2008 @ 12:30 AM CST
@ ScavengerType

You wrote that "it sounds from the language of this article that the author has let this no-authority bias permeate every facet of their life or at least that this is their final goal." I don't really understand what your problem is with this. It seems to me, that as anarchists, or even as people in general these are things that we should consistently question. I wouldn't call it a "no-authority bias," but rather, a question-our-relationships analysis. Localization and autonomy is obviously important, but why is it "religious" to question or own personal relationships and the coercion that could be taking place within these relationships?

To give a different example, as a parent we may find it "normal" to demand subordination from our children. Most parents, I would argue, demand that their children should adhere to their authority and a lot of times this is justifiable. But should parents not question when their domination over their children is really wrong or excessive?

And, in regards to Why's comment: "If I have to have 'long discussions' about who I fuck, then I don't want to fuck. The ritual of attraction has existed for eons." This same argument could be made for the parent/child conflict. Why should a parent have long discussions about raising children? Parental authority has existed for eons, so whats the problem.

HPWombats criticism, that the language can be confusing, I think is justified. The essay doesn't read too well (it is rather legalistic sounding) and adding too much subculture lingo could actually deter individuals from dealing with the actual issues hand.

That said, I think the essay actually does raise several interesting points. Considering we do live an extremely patriarchal and ownership based society I think the questions raised are useful. For instance, I think anyone familiar with sexual assault would realize that there is a stigma against any person who has been accused of such. The authors suggestion, that we support the victims and the perpetrators, I believe, is a valid suggestion and should be thought about and discussed a lot more. It raises some interesting questions. At one point do we stop supporting such individuals? Is a stigma justified? And if so when? Would reshaping our language actually help with this at all? I don't think these questions should just be dismissed offhand.

And as the author stated, "Sexual assault is a part of all of us who have grown up in this society; we cannot ignore it, or pretend that because we ourselves have been assaulted or because we work to live anarchy in all aspects of our lives that we are not capable of sexual assault." If some choose to dismiss this -- "I keep politics out of my bedroom" -- then we must also admit that when we speak of revolution we are not speaking about a revolution of values, which is a shame.
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: ScavengerType on Sunday, March 09 2008 @ 04:05 AM CDT
"but why is it "religious" to question or own personal relationships and the coercion that could be taking place within these relationships?"

Because it's labor intensive and in many cases a roundabout way to get where a normal person would arrive by paying only slight attention to the situation. I don't like to over think life and having to examine every social interaction for some hidden patriarchy or authoritarian message sounds like a load of shit to me. Too much introspection can make a person go mad. I have known since I was a young boy that we live in a patriarchal and ownership based society. This is not news to anyone I know and I doubt it is news to anyone who comes to infoshop, if anyone at all. To be honest this article is wordy, full of abstract jargonistic and it doesn't really argue anything novel about human relations. This is why i think this anarcho life approach junk is a negative influence on anarchists.

I don't think that re-examining the language someone uses with regard to sexual assault will prevent it from happening to someone else or sooth the victims of it. Therefore, it is nothing more than wasted words and a waste of revolutionary potential.

To be honest though I'm pretty convinced the only reason this article was given top billing on the page is because the sexual assaulter was a woman.
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 11 2008 @ 01:02 PM CDT
Scavenger--

I promised myself I'd stop paying attention to this thread because all
the ignorant comments on it were demoralizing me, but I really have to
address something. You say:

"I keep politics out of my bedroom. She lost control and didn't respect
someone's boundaries in fact it was clearly rape. If the dude is saying
no and she's forcing it on him it is. So why all the beating around the
bush discussing terms and all that BS?"

IT WAS CLEARLY RAPE? Have you missed the last 50 years of feminist
dialogue about sex?

#1. He didn't identify it as rape. Rape is defined by lack of consent on
the part of the survivor; if the person who had the experience says IT
WAS NOT RAPE, then it's not rape. I cannot fucking believe no one else
has called you on this yet.

#2. She's describing a case of a 5'2" woman going up drunkenly to a
6'2" male friend of hers at a party, with whom she has a romantic
relationship, asking if he wants to sleep with her. That's all. That's
hardly "rape" by any definition--did you actually read this? Did you?

#3. Hence the need for more language beyond "rape" or "not rape"--if it
wasn't rape, but it wasn't a good thing either that she went on asking
about something after he said no, what was it? In other languages, it
might be called her not listening to him, or not respecting his
boundaries, or something else. The important thing is that we come up
with language to address this, so some sexist doesn't say "It wasn't
rape, so forget about it"--or some moron say "She asked him to sleep
with her again after he said no? That [now I quote you:] 'was clearly
rape.'"

BUT YOU DON'T WANT THERE TO BE MORE LANGUAGE, DO YOU!

I can't emphasize enough the importance of letting the survivor define
his/her experience. Defining a person's experiences for them is another
form of domination, the very last thing a person needs after going
through a traumatic experience. Anyone who does support for sexual
assault survivors will tell you this.

I urge you to have conversations with people about this topic before you
go on with your sex life. Everything may seem fine to you--but there's
nothing worse than finding out that something that seemed great for
you was uncomfortable or scary for your partner. If you grew up
socialized as a male in this society, you really can't know anything about
others' experiences without listening to them. This article is an example
of something you might listen to rather than immediately shutting your
ears and attacking.

Overall I'd say your comments and those of HP (usually a pretty clear
head) and Why (who has argued in favor of supporting snitches on
these boards in the past) indicate a general problem among some
anarchist men who STILL don't want to discuss their sexual interactions
with women in the terms some of those women want to use. What
century is this?
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: ScavengerType on Monday, July 06 2009 @ 04:29 PM CDT
Forgive the lateness of my reply I forgot about this thread and just found it on the sidebar yesterday.

I have to admit I felt less than articulate about what I wrote earlier, but I stand by the spirit of everything I said.

Three issues here:
Language - I don't think you have even used a word to describe the non-consensual sex you had with this man. If Rape is too explosive of a word for you is man-rape OK? Cause I didn't really see you create or use a word that described what you did. Did you know his safe-word? You agree that it was non-consensual but rape becomes too strong a word, why? You've raped a man in as much as it is possible for a woman without the use of ropes/rope-like-objects and/or combining GHB/vi@gra (I think this could be fatal though). Accept it.
I am not against there being "more words" as you say, I am against calling two words that mean the same thing two different terms in order to, through some feat of linguistic contortion, blow smoke up our asses as well as your own. I simply won't consent to your redefining of language and feel unassuaged by your comparison of how I look at the words used to the linguistic approach in 1984. More words don't piss me off, abstract bullshit masquerading as clear language pisses me off.

Let the victim define it - So if I were to follow this body of feminist logic, I could rape my friend and as long as he/she don't call it rape after the fact (or is too ashamed to want to talk about it) that totally absolves me of any guilt, responsibility or otherwise nasty feelings that may otherwise come from forcing yourself onto a non-consenting person. If I'm feeling really religious (can you say pseudo-catholic) I can always write reverend chuck and ask the community for forgiveness.
If I follow this logic again in the opposite reproach it allows the "victim" to re-define a sexual encounter after the fact. Common examples I can think of are drunk girls who wake up the next morning and call the last night's mistake rape because they made a bad decision while intoxicated.

I'm small so I can't rape right? - Come on. Just because he was unrestrained and could forcibly remove you doesn't mean he really wants it even though he's telling you "no no no no" or whatever he was saying at the time. There are many reasons he may have not wanted this sexual encounter, for example to some loyalty is not a virtue not to be taken lightly, or what if he had herpes and wanted to do the socially responsible thing by abstaining from unprotected sex with someone who didn't know, or he's a germaphobe and a million other reasons.
Obviously this is not the same as man on woman rape or as I'll call it from now on vanilla-rape, but as a feminist you ought to know that no experience is entirely cross-transferable from gender to gender. However if I did this to a woman (lets make her a relative tough-ass too for sake of equal comparison) and my excuse was "She didn't throw me off and I mean she was wet. Sure she was saying no stop I don't want this the whole time, but that doesn't mean anything." Would I then be received in the way you expect? I think people would call it rape. Sure it is to a lesser degree of severity than most traumatized sexual assault victims (whom I have talked to about their encounters BTW), but it is what it is none the less and I do not understand your refusal to accept what is.

IMO you should put your ability to manipulate language to a good use rather than drivel like this.
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: ScavengerType on Monday, July 06 2009 @ 06:39 PM CDT
Actually. I re-skimmed the article and I realize that he was saying no to your sexual advances in quite a different context than I had thought when I wrote that last post (at the party rather than in private). I accept that the language of rape would be excessive unless this was in the context that I had mistakenly believed it to be.

That said your article still sucks to no end. Seriously, don't write anything about relationships ever again.
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 07 2009 @ 12:59 PM CDT
1. Dunno what you're getting at with the "your" here, as no one has come forward to identify as the author on this board.

2. It's pathetic and embarrassing that in 2009 there are still (presumably male?) anarchists who freak out about discussions of consent and believing the survivor. Please have some conversations with people who have done support work around sexual assault issues for some time.

3. Perhaps I'm guilty of this too, after being so provoked by your comments, but when you write in such an insulting tone, no undecided reader is going to take you seriously. Are you trying to offer constructive criticism? Would you say "don't write anything about relationships ever again" to someone's face? It's too bad we can't talk about this in person--I bet it would go differently.
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: ScavengerType on Tuesday, July 07 2009 @ 11:02 PM CDT
I'll address these backwards.

3: Yes but to be fair I am much funnier and non-offensive in person (usually on infoshop I try to be serious) and also that was a long uninteresting story, I actually feel it was more a waste of my time when I discovered my fundamental misconception about the article. Because, then it's not even remotely controversial or interesting in any way, it's mundane and yet someone chose to write a fucking article about it.

2: I've heard more women lie about rape than I have tell the truth. I do not mean to attack or belittle women who post about it or write about it on the internet, in fact evidence tells me it's the most common way to admit it. I don't understand, nobody in this article as I understand it now is either a survivor or a perpetrator (another thing that sucks about the article, totally false title).

1: I presumed you were the OP. I apologies to you and the OP. I completely misunderstood a fundamental detail about the material facts of the article (I cannot stress this enough I had it totally wrong on a crucial detail). Frankly I'm sorry if my comments bothered anyone, but to be fair I think the language used in the article rambling about the events, with the length, as with some of the posts caused me to forget exactly what transpired. Perhaps even confused it with my own jaded memories of someone that the author reminded me of. Sorry, my bad.
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: talia on Thursday, July 09 2009 @ 02:42 AM CDT
It may be that women don't feel comfortable talking about rape to you. I cannot imagine why that could possibly be.
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: ScavengerType on Sunday, July 12 2009 @ 12:13 AM CDT
Well, funny enough a lot of people actually do come and talk to me about it. I try to be an upbeat and all around not unpleasant type of guy when it comes to peoples who are victims of sexual abuse/assault, of which I never addressed anyone here who was to my knowledge.

So, an unorthodox amount of people decide that they need to talk to me about their abuse or sexual assault experience. I am glad I don't live in a big town or else I couldn't imagine the amount of people who would do this. I have no expertise in abuse cases or study of how people deal with abuse, the only psychology I've ever studied was general and behavioral, I don't talk to people who do deal with these sorts of things and when I do we often don't get along, but still people come to me of all people as a trusted person to talk to about these sorts of things. I just plain don't know what to tell these people and would rather they don't talk to me about it (in person, I'm totally fine with anyone who wants to talk about it online because then I'm not forced to respond). The only way to avoid this is to avoid people, not just at home or in public though but at work as well.

Maybe one time someone can write an article about that. There must be thousands of anarchist social workers and their lot out there.
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: Fisher on Sunday, July 12 2009 @ 08:57 PM CDT

"So, an unorthodox amount of people decide that they need to talk to me about their abuse or sexual assault experience. I am glad I don't live in a big town or else I couldn't imagine the amount of people who would do this. I have no expertise in abuse cases or study of how people deal with abuse, the only psychology I've ever studied was general and behavioral, "

It can be intimidating to go there but it gets easier when you take the steps to educate yourself. I have no formal schooling around this stuff but I have read a lot and talked to a lot of people about this stuff and done a lot of work at developing my listening skills and I think it's made all parts of my life better to have done that. Not to mention, I know what to do if a lover all of a sudden has a flashback or something. I'd hate to be in that situation and not know what to do.

"I don't talk to people who do deal with these sorts of things and when I do we often don't get along"

And that doesn't ring alarm bells for you? Or make you reconsider your attitudes? You've made a whole lot of outrageous comments to this article in which you seem to tear down every attempt to communicate about sexual violence and survivor issues and it seems that you are unable to communicate with those who routinely deal with these issues and further that you don't know how to talk about the issues with the people who confide in you. You could learn how to talk about the issues if you'd get over yourself and start listening to what people have to say and reading the ENORMOUS amount of material that anti-authoritarians have written about sexual violence and consent. In the infoshop where I'm typing this right now, there's literally dozens of well written zines and books on this topic. Material of this nature is pretty easy to access online in many places (zinelibrary.net, anarcha.org, mencanstoprape.org, etc.), anarchist and otherwise. Plus, you can take trainings and workshops all over the place at anarchist conferences or maybe even through your local rape crisis center (like in my town).

"but still people come to me of all people as a trusted person to talk to about these sorts of things. I just plain don't know what to tell these people and would rather they don't talk to me about it (in person, I'm totally fine with anyone who wants to talk about it online because then I'm not forced to respond). The only way to avoid this is to avoid people, not just at home or in public though but at work as well."

Damn dude! It's fucking great that they're talking to anyone! Many people don't do that and often don't get to heal as a consequence. If people are coming to you with this than take a clue and learn how to be the most effective and supportive person you can in these situations! Do you need a big flashing sign to tell you your next area to develop as an anarchist?! In a country where 1 out of 4 women is raped at some point in her life and 1 out of 3 has been sexually abused as a child and about 100% have experienced sexual harassment, how do you think we're going to bring about anarchy without dealing with this stuff? We won't be able to unless we can deal with the most difficult shit. If these people are trusting you enough to confide in you then you probably have a lot of latent talent to handle things like this. I hope you choose to be brave enough to develop it.
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, July 07 2009 @ 01:03 PM CDT
"Language - I don't think you have even used a word to describe the non-consensual sex you had with this man. If Rape is too explosive of a word for you is man-rape OK? Cause I didn't really see you create or use a word that described what you did."

Good fucking god, you didn't read this at all!! She was hitting on him at a party, in a public place. That's all.

You are not entitled to comment on things until you can actually read them and retain at least a tiny bit of the basic content. If I were you I'd take it a little slower, for fear of embarrassment--and of wasting everyone else's time. I could go on about the rest of your statements, but I'm sure if you back up a bit you can figure out what I'd say on your own.
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: HPWombat on Sunday, March 09 2008 @ 03:03 AM CDT
You are disappointed that anarchists are questioning the development of a codified jargon built using legalistic terms from the position of weakness? Fuck that shit. Where is the passion? If you won't fuck me because I don't accept this language I guess that means you can go fuck yourself.

How about some roleplaying? You be the perpetrator and I'll be the survivor. Spank me til I can't consent! Oh yes! Spank my ass with appropriate force!

---
Listen to Radio Subvertista at cbusimc.org! Interested in Midwest and Great Lakes Regional Networking? Check out midwest.azone.org!
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: HPWombat on Sunday, March 09 2008 @ 03:17 AM CDT
that's supposed to be funny...but if you don't consent, I understand...

---
Listen to Radio Subvertista at cbusimc.org! Interested in Midwest and Great Lakes Regional Networking? Check out midwest.azone.org!
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: blackhand on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 11:46 AM CDT
I honestly have no idea what you are talking about. Your responses seem like knee-jerk reactions to any suggestion that folks contemplate behavior before they engage in it. That's well and good sometimes -- after all, don't hesitate and think when you're already running at the window with the brick in your hand, let your passion and instincts take over then -- but getting to that point in my opinion requires a degree of self-awareness and situational understanding/preparedness that doesn't just emerge from nowhere (what do i do if a cop comes out right now? how do i get away? who is around me? what happens next?)

It's criticized that the author is trying to create a new language/jargon. I disagree, but in a sense the creation of super-hot consensual sexual experiences might take a bit of study and practice. How can you be sure the look in your partner's eye means "Yes, I really want you to go with that person and I'll go with this person" (or something more or less wild?) unless you've taken some time to go over this? In the beginning you might find yourself still referring to the 'grammar book' to clarify specific rules, but eventually it becomes second nature and the real poetry can begin.

If this really sounds as boring and legalistic as you act like it is, read sexy anarchist articles on consent and talk about it with your interested friends, bring up new ideas and try shit out.

Maybe I'm just a dorky legalistic loser who needed a dating guide book, but consent workshops have worked wonders for me. ;)

We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: Why on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 12:57 PM CDT
I'm not making HPWombat's argument for him, I'm just interjecting my own opinion.

It's quite possible to utilize a series of words to manipulate a situation. If I use a tried and true method to get you in the sack, that is, asking, complimenting, being kind, but I only wanted to fuck you, and nothing more (and this intention wasn't expressed in my flirtations), would you consider yourself consenting to the act? I don't think so. You consented to the implication, the flirtations, the desire, but you didn't consent to me using you as a fuck object.

The OP writes about a situation where someone "asked" if they could touch them in certain parts, and so on. To me such a situation could be seen any way. It could be coercive, or it could be geniune. And unfortunately you cannot know until after the fact. Language is a very powerful tool in that way, and manipulation is just a fact of life. The OP defines coercion as force or manipulation (though not limited to that), but I think it neglects to recognize where these forms are available even within the jargon that the article attempts to discuss. That's right, I think you can use the very methods of communication the article discusses to get someone in the sack.

In the end I think it's making the situation more complicated than it need be. Coercion can only be fought with trust, and trust can only be obtained over time. But if the less honest people out there want to get someone in the sack, perhaps they could analyze these 'methods of communication' to manipulate their way into the sack.
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: blackhand on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 01:49 PM CDT

If I use a tried and true method to get you in the sack, that is, asking, complimenting, being kind, but I only wanted to fuck you, and nothing more (and this intention wasn't expressed in my flirtations), would you consider yourself consenting to the act? I don't think so. You consented to the implication, the flirtations, the desire, but you didn't consent to me using you as a fuck object.

Well, considering sexual consent is about the sex (and mid-coitus one is being quite literally used as a "fuck object")...

In the end I think it's making the situation more complicated than it need be. Coercion can only be fought with trust, and trust can only be obtained over time. But if the less honest people out there want to get someone in the sack, perhaps they could analyze these 'methods of communication' to manipulate their way into the sack.

I largely agree with what you're saying. Of course people can and will always be manipulated for sex -- even weird consensual processes and workshops cannot prevent that. And sex will always have complicated emotions, and even consensual acts will have negative or unforeseen consequences.

But I think Explicit Consent (ie: the legalistic/formal-ish consent processes) can kind of...secularize sexual relationships. When one consents to sex, one is not not making any representations about one's emotions, "the future," a relationship, etc, unless that is explicitly consented to the same way as sexual acts are. This is where the OP's consideration of the two-way street is interesting -- one person's feeling of being manipulated is not exclusive of the other feeling the same way.

I don't think Explicit Consent will make sex or relationships simple. But it can improve understanding and clear up miscommunication and hopefully prevent certain instances of sexual assault. And consent is hottt too: it can.... streamline awkward situations and maybe transform them into something positive and awesome for all parties involved. After all, consent isn't about making us guilty and self-conscious of every behavior but liberating desires in ways that are inclusive of all involved parties' desires.

Years of trust are built on solid methods of communicating desires and developing that understanding. Sometimes one can't wait years to figure out another's boundaries, and explicit consent is a fantastic cheat sheet.

We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: HPWombat on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 03:39 PM CDT
people that need help might benefit from advice, this being one source, if that is what you wanted me to say. I've never had a workshop, but I've had sex and relationships even. This article outlines a problem with consent and overcoming barriers to know where safe areas are. Individuals have never needed a jargon to get laid, but they have needed advice. Problems occur because of miscommunication, which this isn't necessarily a remedy to, but finding a way to communicate using how you know to express yourself can usually prevent accidental boundaries from being breached. If they are breached and made public, there are a lot of factors to think about that this language hardly solves. Most of the time I think adults can make attempts to work things out without education...we have friends for a reason, afterall.

---
Listen to Radio Subvertista at cbusimc.org! Interested in Midwest and Great Lakes Regional Networking? Check out midwest.azone.org!
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: dre_a on Monday, June 01 2009 @ 04:49 AM CDT
let's also remember that this was probably healing article for the individual(s) involved because of the rethinking of boundaries within non-monogamy. more dialogue and check-ins are usually required for building those relationships, and jealousies (for instance one partner's insistence of "sexual assault" bringing up this need for definitions in the first place) can pop up even within the most open spaces.

what I gathered from the author's voice is that this was an article to address the internal struggle they faced as a possible assaulter, especially coming from a place of being 5'2", and though unclear, possibly a female bodied person. while defining it for themselves/community in a public forum, they are offering advise through their experience. It's important to take what you want from the article and see what fits within your relationships.

if this amount of consent discussion ain't your thang, whatevs. you probably won't be in a relationship with this type of person(or you may be in a relationship with them and not know it because they may feel shut down by your judgement) but please respect other people's needs and processes.

let's all do it and do it and do it well.



We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: smogcielo on Friday, October 16 2009 @ 01:50 AM CDT
A friend sent me this article, I remember reading this years ago when I was just starting to learn about sexual violence, rape culture and consent. I thought it was interesting then. Now, after I have spent years working with survivors and perpetrators within my community, this article really pisses me off.
Below is the response I sent to my friend, they wrote back by identifying that the problem with the article is that it attempts to put all violence on the same level-

i read this article awhile go.
Re-reading it now, I have a lot of pretty severe problems with it which I would like to share with you all.

I have a hard time making this article apply to sexual violence, because in my understanding, the person who did the assaulting and raping of someone else, doesn't get to share what their experience was or have a truth because in my experience that is such a common tactic to deflect fault and personal responsibility, I have seen this be used successfully in order to make a survivor seem crazy and irrational, and their perpetrator seem like a misunderstood person who is just in some big mess.
this is the part that makes me want to scream-

"all those involved in the situation need to hold themselves accountable for the ways they have not communicated with or respected each other and work out how to make sure it never happens again."
i'm sorry but that is so fucked up to me to read that.
Maybe that could apply in some situations, but that is such a dangerous statement to make.
It puts blame on a survivor, and rape/sexual assault ARE NEVER a survivor's fault! that is undebatable! this implies that the survivor could have voiced their boundaries better in order to avoid rape. Or that the survivor has some sort of responsibility to learn how to better voice their boundaries so that they don't get raped again.
Rape and sexual assault are always the fault of the perpetrator. The perpetrator is the only one who did the raping.

And as for sexual assualt turning into a popularity/taking sides contest, I don't think that comes out of a problem of language, I think it comes out of a problem of lack of community eduaction and awareness. I don't think the words "survivor/perpetrator" have to turn something into a good and evil war, but it defines that someone needs to be believed and supported without suspicion and that someone else needs to be held accountable, and I believe this can be done in a positive and healing way.

And I want to puke when I read the words "we are all survivors, we are all perpetrators".
Yes all of us are capable of crossing someone else's boundaries, all of us are capable of having our boundaries crossed.
but we are not all capable of raping and sexually assaulting each other!
I feel like saying that belittles the serious trauma of surviving rape,
rape is about power, domination and control, and not all of us have the desire to control and dominate our friends and partners.
Some of us are really capable of respecting the people in our lives, that doesn't mean we won't cross someone's boundaries.
As a survivor, I take offense at that title, because I would never do what was done to me to someone else, and what was done to me is not something I had any power to control or change, or avoid through better communication. What happened was not an accident, or a miscommunication, or a misunderstanding. It was intentional, most rape and sexual assault are intentional. the people doing it know what they are doing.
there are not grey areas of consent! either you have clear, explicit consent or you do not!
this whole article makes me sick to my stomach because I see so many concepts in it that have been used to avoid taking personal responsibility for rape and assault.

I absolutely agree that consent needs to be practiced in all aspects of our life and that we need better language when talking about sexual assault, or talking about other ways that our boundaries have been crossed.
and i agree that we are all capable of having our boundaries crossed or crossing the boundaries of other people- and that this can be remedied by practicing consent in all aspects of our lives.
but sexual boundaries are a whole different arena then say living space boundaries, or everyday interactions.
I think this would be a great article for talking about the importance of practicing consent in every relationship and interaction- sexual or not,
but the things discussed in this article are really dangerous for survivors of sexual violence and perpetrators of sexual violence to read, because I see it as allowing for too much self-blaming of survivors, or delflecting personal responsibility of perpetrators.
We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: Bela on Monday, May 24 2010 @ 11:34 PM CDT

Talk, talk and talk all day with YOUR definition of what happened,...also when you must cross your youth environment well indeed: Those of us whose work crosses disciplinary boundaries find ourselves—from time to time—with no firm place to stand. Such displacement is usually temporary, frequently uncomfortable, but almost always an invitation toward some new insight or perspective. I was trained as a audio-phil critic and composition specialist, and I later developed an interest in interarts practices. My academic preparation failed  for keeping the works studied at arm's length, safely aestheticized as objects of critical attention. However, the more I worked with visual artists (like YOU), the more I found myself drawn into initially unfamiliar practices and venues: 

Inevitably, such boundary-crossing has implications for researching and writing: though I'm writing this section of the essay in the first person, it is informed by multiple collaborations—informal conversations, formal interviews, and correspondence with artists and authors; participation in a multi-disciplinary community-university research alliance exploring questions of culture, the arts, and quality of life; the development of a team-taught course on photography and literature; the co-authorship with male violence by Ideologys.... so writers, artists, and theorists gathered to both exchange and mutually explore notions of place, space, and interdisciplinary ways of knowing.

LOVE, HUGS and RESPECT!

We Are All Survivors, We Are All Perpetrators
Authored by: HelloNasty on Monday, May 31 2010 @ 09:36 PM CDT

People need to grow some thicker skin.

If something really happens...you'll know without a shadow of a doubt.

 

Book length posts don't help clarify anything, agreed?