Thursday, 25 November 2010


the institutions are being demolished. education, health, support for migrants, children's centres, women's aid, 'sexual assault referral centres', you name it. our world is being refreshingly blatantly rearranged in order to ensure the rich continue to get richer, faster. what do we do now? do we fight to defend these structures? in all their iniquitous, exclusionary, policing/policed and violent glory? is that really what we want?

or is it time to reimagine what education, health, support for migrants, places for children, support for survivors... could be. what could these parts of our lives look like, in our wildest dreams? in our dreams where money doesn't matter, because we aren't allowed any. (or because there isn't any anymore.)

are we going to support one another? are we? are we going to start figuring out how?
"If your experience is that your food comes from the grocery store and your water comes from the tap, you’ll defend to the death the system that brings those to you because your life depends on it. If, on the other hand, your food comes from a landbase and your water comes from a river, then you’ll defend to the death that landbase and that river, because your life depends on them."

Thursday, 18 November 2010

all we are is a good set of hands

ohhh. mai'a. writes with such beauty and relevance.
"this division that we make in our discourse and activism between nonviolence and violence is false.  in reality our definition of violence is ‘stuff that the powers that be dont like’.  and that is not a helpful paradigm for determining what tactics we should use for our survival.  not only is it not helpful, it is contributing to our own demise.  taking nonviolence as a fundamental dogma is an act of suicide and a support of the genocide of others.

we cannot run away from trauma, because this culture in and of itself is traumatic.  our brokeness, traumatized selves, can be used by us to further destroy ourselves, or can be used as a way to let the love in and out.


something i learned from my teacher.  dont call yourself a ‘healer’.  no one can heal anyone else.  everyone must heal themselves.  all we are a ‘good set of hands’."

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

i, just...

this is so upsetting. i can be tough when it comes to hearing about domestic violence(!) but reading this makes me cry.

"Woman jailed for retracting rape claims is refused appeal." from the Guardian.

she reported being raped by her husband. then, under pressure from him she retracted this. and so now she is being jailed for 'perverting the course of justice'. and since she is now in jail, her children have been put in the care of her abusive husband. against whom no charges have been upheld by the CPS, despite abuse having taken place in front of one of the children.

i am absolutely speechless. what should we do about this?

and i was struggling, one post ago, to articulate why the prison industrial complex is A Bad Thing. jesus.

finding ways not to call the police

i'm so impressed by this. beautifully written, compassionate and thoughtful article, with homework! and a resource list too. ohhh, good work.
"...As we paced in the cold night, we moved through our questions, anger and frustration. We thought about how everyone we know—even in a community that mostly wants a world without prisons—has had different experiences with harm and violence, different experiences with police, and, most likely, has a different “threshold” at which they can imagine not calling the police..."
i'm trying to surround myself with prison abolition info at the moment, because it's still a politics that doesn't come automatically to me. i still find it hard to care what becomes of someone who has benefited from abusing. and all repeat abusers benefit. i want to see real sanctions against abuse. and prison is a sanction. but but but. at the very least i remind myself that sending abusers to jail is pretty shit for more vulnerable people there. i remember a couple of years back being taken aback when i learned about queer opposition to hate crimes legislation (e.g. here and here). but it didn't take me long to get that sending racists and homophobes to jail is not very cool for the people of colour and gays already there.

and. regardless of that it's not the answer to racism and homophobia and abuse, either. i do know. but as i say it doesn't always come naturally to me yet. and that's why i love this article for its articulation of why those of us with enough privilege still buy into the idea that the police can be a force for protection:
"...When I think of the moments in which I could possibly imagine calling the police, I think of people I love, and of things I hope they never experience. Why do we feel afraid? Sometimes we feel afraid because we have experienced harm, because we have experienced trauma. Sometimes we also feel afraid because we have bought into aspects of racism, classism, and media-perpetuated images of danger. Sometimes it’s the complex combination of all these things—imagination, memory, and prejudice..."
so the writer of this has thought through real, practical ways in which we can all challenge ourselves on when we might involve the police, and whether we can push that threshold back. and how we can be more prepared for having to make that decision in a crisis.

genius. essential reading.

Friday, 5 November 2010

quote of the day

"Kyriarchy exists to give us tools to liberate ourselves by understanding the shifting powers of oppression. [...] It exists to radically implement our finest strategies to deconstruct our personal and political powers for the liberation of self and community.  For self AND community. [...]

[I]n the spirit of feminist theology, in the spirit of radical understanding of power, I would argue with 100% confidence that the absolute LAST thing that kyriarchy strives for is individual liberation. Solely pursuing your own liberation often comes at the expense of others.  That’s not liberation, that’s mainstream feminism."
Lisa Factora-Borchers, of My Ecdysis, via Flip Flopping Joy. i was relieved - in that way that i feel relief when someone does the incredible work of articulating complexities of power - when i came across Lisa's much-linked post in which she introduces explains the term. if you've also used and/or appreciated this word, be sure to read this update of how it has already been co-opted. 

god i'm so naive

the women in the group this week - almost all of whom are on probation and doing 'unpaid work' / 'community service', and many of whom have been in prison - were talking about how prison is too soft, and how prisoners should be made to do more work for free as proposed by the coalition government. this... surprised me.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

sometimes i think about

how the concept of rape within marriage did not exist in english and welsh law until 1991.
"Marriage gave conjugal rights to a spouse, [...] a spouse could not legally revoke consent to sexual intercourse, and if there was consent there was no rape."
the implications of this just boggle my mind. imagine signing over your body like that. so in my parents' marriage.. in all our parents' marriages... i think this is such a terrifying illustration of how the possibility of abuse is silenced, in our culture, thus creating fertile conditions for abuse. i've been thinking about how one of the most important safeguards against abuse is to acknowledge that it happens, it can happen, it probably will happen where someone has power over another. in fact it can only not happen where one person has more power, if the powerfuler (yep, i'm needing more words, help please) person works actively not not misuse their power.

so for centuries women entered into marriages, and people who loved them watched them do so, usually in the total absence of any discussion about whether they would be raped (or otherwise abused), and what they could do if they were. well i'm sure this is still the case. you could call this trust. i'd call it silencing.

it is not safe to not acknowledge the existence and possibilities of power, how it can change, and how it can be used... i was joking with another polyamorous friend recently about pre-nups. i was saying that in any situation involving serious commitment and investment of any kind between me and a group of people, or an individual - i want and need agreements about what will happen if... things change. against the silencing of the possibility (likelihood) of abuse, manipulation, and less dramatically, to create conditions that mean people can leave if they need to. this is not anti-trust, or anti-love (i'm big into trust and love!), but a safeguard against any of us screwing one another over in an unknown future, as people shift, and as power shifts.

and i was asked at a workshop about this stuff what advice i'd give to groups to safeguard against abuse and manipulation - both as in domestic abuse within a community, and lunatics trying to stir and manipulate a scene - and my answer is prenups. like, before you set up, agree what you'll do if someone behaves abusively. define abusively. research how to tell where the power lies in situations where it's not obvious. know where to go for support, know how to support each other. know that this stuff will happen, in any group of people. if you are ready, you are more likely to be able to defeat it before it destroys your group. and read "Why Misogynists Make Great Informants".

...but, marriage? really? can't you think of something more fun? less horrendous? like Mattilda says,
 "Many straight people know that marriage is outdated, tacky and oppressive -- and any queer who grew up in or around marriage should remember this well. Marriage still exists as a central site of anti-woman, anti-child and anti-queer violence, and a key institution through which the wealth and property of upper class (white) families is preserved. If gay marriage proponents wanted real progress, they'd be fighting for the abolition of marriage (duh), and universal access to the services that marriage can sometimes help procure: housing, healthcare, citizenship, tax breaks, and inheritance rights."*
nah, gleeful, leaping queers are my idea of ceremony:

* It was hell whittling this incredible article down to a short quote - read the whole thing!