See the original blog post, "PLP Defends Rapists" for the announcement and call to action regarding PLP's defense of admitted rapist Seth Miller.

***TRIGGER WARNING*** Everything in this blog is a frank discussion of sexual violence and rape.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

No More "Allies"

excerpt from Black Girl Dangerous
by Mia McKenzie

It’s not supposed to be a performance. It’s supposed to be a way of living your life that doesn’t reinforce the same oppressive behaviors you’re claiming to be against. It’s supposed to be about you doing the following things:
  1. shutting up and listening
  2. educating yourself (you could start with the thousands of books and websites that already exist and are chock full of damn near everything anyone needs to know about most systems and practices of oppression)
  3. when it’s time to talk, not talking over the people you claim to be in solidarity with
  4. accepting feedback/criticism about how your “allyship” is causing more harm than good without whitesplaining/mansplaining/whateversplaining
  5. shutting up and listening some more
  6. supporting groups, projects, orgs, etc. run by and for marginalized people so our voices get to be the loudest on the issues that effect us
  7. not expecting marginalized people to provide emotional labor for you
This is by no means a comprehensive list. But most “allies” aren’t even getting these things right.
So, henceforth, I will no longer use the term “ally” to describe anyone.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I am an instrument who will take vengeance.

Like a character from a graphic novel, she dresses in black, has unusually blond hair — and kills bus drivers who sexually assault women.

“You think because we are women we are weak, and maybe we are,” the message says. “But only to a certain point.... We can no longer remain quiet over these acts that fill us with rage.

“And so, I am an instrument who will take vengeance.”

Signed: Diana, Huntress of Bus Drivers.

Full story:,0,4220840.story

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Shit Rape Apologists Say

1. [Trying to kick out a rapist of union meetings] is like what the boss tries to do to workers. If this was the boss doing it, you would be defending him.  
2. [Confronting a privileged white man about him raping someone] is like the lynching of Black men in the South.
3. [Organizing against a man who committed sexual assault] is a violation of his human rights.
4. "Without absolute proof, you don't have the right to do anything about it."
5. This is a political witch-hunt.
6. Does he have to tell potential roommates on Craigslist that he's a serial rapist, if they're just normal people?
7. If he tells potential roommates he's a serial rapist, then he'll have a hard time finding housing! It's not fair to him. Housing is a human right.
8. [Being a rapist] is difficult, he needs safe spaces too.
9. Stop talking about him being a rapist, you're hurting his feelings!
10. You're hurting his career when you talk about him being a rapist.
11. Poor guy.

Please submit your own favorite rape apologist quotes to, we'll add it to this list!

Portland IWW Patriarchy Resistance Committee: How We Struggle

It is not sufficient to state that capitalism is the linchpin on which all other oppressions depend and that, with the destruction of capitalism, all people will be free from oppression. If that were true, it is likely that our “democratic, anti-capitalist” organization would be more representative of the working class instead of being dominated by the same people who dominate capitalist society at large. In this vein, we pose the question: to whom is classism a “personal issue” and to whom is it a real issue? To whom is patriarchy a “personal issue” and to whom is it a real issue? As a union, we know that classism is a personal issue for working people, as well as a very real issue. We wonder why patriarchy is so often dismissed as a “personal issue” without any regard for it’s equally real consequences. We should all know that the personal is political. Perhaps we need to reassess what it means to struggle or what resistance looks like. 
We know it is important to struggle against our bosses. We would never tell a co-worker that we “aren’t taking sides” when they confide in us about abuse perpetrated by the boss. Staying “neutral” is upholding the status quo. “Not taking sides” when someone is called out on patriarchal behaviors means leaving FWs without support and allowing abusers to continue, never being held accountable. Whereas, silence is compliance, Be it resolved that standing in solidarity with people facing patriarchal oppression is subverting the status quo that harms us all.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Ian Chinich is a dangerous serial abuser, predator, and liar

Ian Chinich admits to being a rapist, but only when confronted directly. Ian continues to lie that he has been "held accountable". The "accountability process" he refers to was being told once not to go to an out-of-town event because he had made yet another woman uncomfortable. Ian does not volunteer this information when working in new groups, which we consider a basic requirement of any accountability.

Ian Chinich has been banned from events of Students for Justice in Palestine. Ian Chinich is not welcome at UC Irvine. At UC Irvine, Ian Chinich widely spread untrue rumors about student activists (unrelated to SJP or his sexual assaults) and lied to the activists about doing so, putting the students in unnecessary and serious legal danger. Ian ignored and spoke over women of color, men of color, and others while he was a new guest at several student meetings and gatherings. His use of Irvine activists' legal precarity to build false cred made it clear that he valued his Facebook statuses over community and individual safety.

Ian did not disclose his history of sexual violence to people at UC Irvine, including several women that he was making arrangements to live with. Ian continues to attempt to hide his history, going as far to have an ally of his in Boston ask, "When he's looking for a roommate, does he need to tell normal people [emphasis added] about being a rapist?" Is their presumption that only lefties care about whether their roommate is a rapist? The disgusting logic of this request is self-evident to non-narcissists.

Somehow Ian has managed to maintain a network of supporters despite the facts of his history being made public. We share this information with the hopes that other potential collaborators (or roommates) of this rapist can stay safe and make decisions for themselves about whether they wish to live or work with someone with a long history of sexual violence, lies, and other damaging behavior.

[This post has been modified. 2/27/14 -CS]

[One reason] why cops [and others] don't believe rape victims

This article is a valuable read for anyone involved in supporting any survivor of serious trauma. Essentially, cops (and others) expect the survivor to be crying and freaking out. This article warns us of the danger of using survivors' outward expression to judge whether or not their story is believable.

Fortunately for most of us, we don't often deal with people who've just experienced horrific trauma. Most of us have a poor understanding of survivors' reactions to terrible and rare events. This article explains how survivors commonly have unexpected emotional expression when they tell their stories. They may have a flat affect or crack jokes. They might not seem to be taking themselves seriously.

The important lesson here is about how people supporting survivors can do better. We reject the cop-centric focus of this article. There are many reasons that cops have incentive to disbelieve rape victims: they are more likely to have committed violence against women themselves, they wish to preserve their own power,  or they simply may be avoiding more paperwork, and all the other reasons that anyone else disbelieves rape victims.

Finally, to reject a survivor's story is to assume the survivor is a liar or delusional. Believe survivors.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How can the left change *that*?

By a comrade of the Cassandra Solanas Collective

It was not too long ago that I have learned that a comrade of mine is a survivor of rape. It was even more recently that I learned that someone prominent in my political group had previously raped a woman in a different activist group. When I first heard the statistic that 1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime, it did convince me of the importance and relevance of feminism. But it is only now that I’m slowly beginning to realize and understand the reality of the mind-numbing statistic.

The political group that I belong to dealt with the perpetrator of sexual violence in our midst, I think, generally in an appropriate way. Those who heard the information had extensive discussions and asked the perpetrator to step aside as we would figure out the process. After the perpetrator flatly refused and issued a legal threat against us, we wrote a statement of the principles affirming that those who are called out must participate in an accountability process, without a reference to the particular case. ( When the survivor bravely came forward with a statement naming the perpetrator, conscious of the legal risks she would face, we were able to send the statement over the listserv and publicly call him out. He immediately resigned from a leadership position and withdrew from all activities related to our group, when the statement came out publicly. The process was not perfect. The perpetrator’s legal threats, which could also threaten the survivor’s freedom from abusive court interrogations, meant that we could not discuss the matter openly and publicly; the dynamics of exclusion in the process did not necessarily result in the inclusion of those who should have been included. However, especially considering how often even activist groups get it wrong - the British SWP being the latest egregious example on the left – it is of some significance that we succeeded in creating a space that does not tolerate the perpetrator, who was indeed made to leave, and the survivor was not disempowered in the process.

It is imperative that every organization – a leftist, activist one in particular – have a thorough discussion to institute a feminist process to deal with the cases of sexual violence. Having a well-articulated process is crucial, not only to be able to run a process better when it happens, but also to send a message that survivors are supported and perpetrators are not condoned. However, establishing a sound and emancipatory process is more complicated than simply struggling against anti-feminist and reactionary politics. It seems to me that some of the principles and goals that many leftist, feminist activists espouse can be in conflict or possibly contradictory; for example, while most activists would agree on the importance of having a survivor-centered approach, it can mean many different things. Many advocates of the “transformative justice” espouse a “commitment to work with rather than punish or criminalize the perpetrator [that] is imperative to them once again becoming fully functional, trustworthy, and participating members of the community,” and consider these principles to be connected to the struggles against the logic of retribution that fuels mass incarceration and the prison-industrial complex. ( But what if the survivor wants retribution – which is eminently reasonable – or if she feels that the “transformative” approach grants an undeserved focus on the perpetrator? On the other hand, however, would it reduce the instances of sexual violence, if we just punish and banish the perpetrators?

Even the thornier question is how the notion of “determination of guilt” – or even the “presumption of innocence” – fits into the survivor-centered framework. Even though the presumption of innocence is indeed an important principle against the arbitrary power of the state to imprison people at will with flimsy evidence, it is unclear whether it is ever compatible to trust, believe and support the survivor while “presuming” the innocence of the accused. Of course, the survivor and her supporters are not the state. But if we hope the more radical feminist principles to be more commonly accepted and implemented, in the Left as well as in broader society, we need a strong, clear case for why the widely-cherished notion of presumed innocence should be inapplicable and we need to start from the presumed guilt.

Furthermore, what does it mean, more concretely in practice, to create and follow a notion of due process that starts from believing the survivor? Even when a group establishes an understanding and a process that never compromise on believing the survivor, it would most likely face difficulties as the perpetrators of violence mobilize close friends, comrades and networks within the group. Implementation of such a process faces particular obstacles especially when the domineering, masculinist perpetrator has established “radical” credentials – sometimes even based on anti-rape politics - and posited himself as a voice against those less radical and less “feminist,” or used such claim to radicalism to attack those who would challenge his power in the group. In the cases of longer-term abusive relationships, the perpetrators can attempt to conceal the abusive character of the relationship under the guise of relationship problems, Furthermore, as intense as the experience was for us in our group, the survivor herself was not in our organization - in cases where the survivor herself is present in a group, it especially takes great efforts to ensure that the survivor’s safety, trust and ability to participate are prioritized over that of the perpetrator, even in self-proclaimed radical groups. It takes a conscious effort of all activists on an everyday basis to maintain a feminist space which can actually implement a radical feminist process; an institutionalization of the process is only a part of what it takes.

The deeper, underlying issue is, though, that we as a society have scarcely even begun to deal with the fact that there are just so, so many rapists in our society. I have often heard the commonality of sexual assault being used as an argument against having retributive penalties against rapists. “It is a structural problem, it is so prevalent in our society, it’s not something we can change by punishing rapists,” they would say. We must be vigilant in ensuring that a structuralist argument is not used to obviate individual responsibility of perpetrators – that it is so common is not a proof that it is not serious. However, the underlying sense that makes such arguments persuasive is rooted in the commonality of such serious forms of violence. Indeed, dealing with rapists in a way that radical feminists advocate for – to make sure our spaces are free from tens of millions of rapists that presumably exist in our country alone – would be a revolutionary action that would upend the society as we know it. What would – or should - such a revolutionary future actually look like, I do not have an answer. However, as a starting point, nothing is more apt than Shulamith Firestone’s opening quote in her masterpiece, the Dialectic of Sex;

Sex class is so deep as to be invisible. Or it may appear as a superficial inequality, one that can be solved by merely a few reforms… But the reaction of the common man, woman, and child – ‘That? Why you can’t change that! You must be out of your mind!’ – is the closest to the truth. We are talking about something every bit as deep as that…that so profound a change cannot be easily fitted into traditional categories of thought, e.g. ‘political’, is not because these categories do not apply but because they are not big enough: radical feminism bursts through them. If there were another word more all-embracing than revolution we would use it.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Betrayal of Rape (Part 1 - Institutional betrayal)

"Why didn't the cops take care of it?"
"Why isn't he in jail?"
"If the police didn't think there was a crime, it was probably a 'misunderstanding', not a rape."

Seth pulled up his pants and kissed me on the forehead. He whispered, "I'm sorry," and fled my house. What happened between that time and when I left my house, I do not remember, except feeling shock. I remember feeling total disbelief that I had just been raped by my friend. But I do not remember what happened. I know that the next morning, when I opened my laptop, I found my browser open with several tabs.  Google searches on "have i been raped", "rape crisis services los angeles", etc.
    My memories restart around 2am, driving through the dark down the 2 freeway towards Kaiser Permanente Sunset, the nearest emergency room covered by my insurance. The drive lasted 30 minutes, in the middle of night, in my pajamas. I didn't change my clothes in order to preserve evidence. I remember driving in the dark, retracing my steps almost to the karaoke bar in Los Feliz where the night began. I was numb, stunned.
    I parked in the lonely, echoing garage, second level. I walked through the dim orange light down the ramp, twisted down the stairway that smelled of urine, and across the driveway into the emergency room. At the check-in desk I said, "I was raped." The staffer stared at me, and motioned for someone to bring a wheelchair. They could tell I was in shock. Three women, a nurse or two and the staffer, conferred quietly a few steps away as I sat with my mouth agape. The nurse came to me and said, "We cannot help you here." I pleaded for a rape kit (for evidence collection) and a physical exam. She gave me the address of another hospital, outside of my insurance coverage, and told me to go there. I asked her, "Now? Alone? I have to drive myself?" She looked at me sadly, pityingly, and shrugged.  She gave me an address, a street and number that meant nothing to me. Seeing my paralysis, the nurse drew a crude map on a scrap of paper a bic pen. She directed me to a hospital in a deserted industrial area a couple of miles south of downtown L.A.
   Defeated and torn apart, I slowly stumbled back to my car through the parking garage. I followed the crude directions to an isolated, war-torn building that could have been mistaken for any of the decaying factories on the street. Street lights were sparse, and a few figures waddled through the shadows pushing shopping carts and babbling conspiracy theories to themselves. After finding quarters for the parking meter, I found the break in the cinderblock wall that allowed me into the bleak and painful fluorescent lighting in the entry. The foyer was old linoleum and yellowed walls, dingy, and chaotic. Nurses bustled about, pressing on oozing gunshot wounds and calming raving schizophrenics.
      After checking in, I shortly found myself on a gurney in a hallway, staring between my toes. I wondered if insurance would cover this visit. Vague figures in bright printed scrubs bustled around me. I recall a man in a hospital gown sitting patiently in a wheelchair nearby as a nurse leaving her shift described the damage an infected GSW had caused to his internal organs. I overheard the nurses chatting loudly about my rape, adding, "Oh, she's so pretty!"
    They would not allow a health exam nor evidence collection without being interviewed by police officers first. They said a woman police officer wouldn't be available for twelve hours, or I could wait four hours for a male police officer. I did not want to be interviewed, I only wanted the evidence to be collected, and to be examined and tested and prescribed Plan B and some antibiotics. Since they insisted on a police interview, I agreed to wait.
    Hours later, my gurney was pushed into a small bare room. Two white men with shaved heads in full police uniform stood at the foot of the bed. They attempted compassion, but smirked underneath. They asked, "What were you doing?", "How much did you have to drink?", and repeatedly demanded Seth Miller's name. I couldn't give his name, I did not want to commit to a legal process in this exhausted and vulnerable state. Seth Miller was a high school teacher, he had been a close friend for so many years. We trained to be teachers together, we had fought Minutemen together. I wasn't sure if I wanted to put my friend's name on a sex offender list, or endure the scrutiny of a criminal investigation, or turn over the process for my own justice to hostile bullying white men. (I was educated enough to know that a rape investigation is more about the victim than the rapist, and these police made it clear my rape would be no exception.) I gave the police some details for the report, cognizant that I wanted an established record of some important facts in case I decided to pursue criminal prosecution.
    The police left, still smirking about the stupid blond girl that got her drunk self into trouble. I asked for the rape kit to be taken, and for an exam. The nurse said the forensic collection couldn't be done for another six hours, until the person trained was on shift, or something like that. Then they told me they could not do a health exam because it was not covered by my Kaiser insurance. My all-night stay in this crumbling pit had been for nothing.
     I drifted away from the hospital as the sun rose, blowing down the sidewalk with the other soiled and crumpled scraps.  I showered at my house, sobbing and convulsing with realization, sobbing as I scrubbed away the usable evidence. I stuffed my evidentiary pajamas into a garbage bag. I wished for my partner to be there. I wished for a comforting hug. After collapsing on the floor, my semi-feral cats circled and meowed and rubbed and licked my face, something they'd never done before.
    After fitfully napping on the floor for a few hours (I couldn't return to my bed), I drove myself back to Kaiser Sunset. I told them I'd been interviewed by the police and that a rape kit had been taken. I lied to get a physical exam.
    The doctor spread my knees and said, "Yes, there's a lot of bruising." She took swab tests and blood tests for STDs. She sent me to pick up Plan B. The nurse handing me the pills told me, "You'd better not do this again." I snarled at her, "I don't plan to, I was raped." She looked shocked and pulled me by the elbow into a supply closet. She said, "If your boyfriend is Latino, you can't tell him. He'll get mad at you.  Will you tell your boyfriend???  Mine would be so mad." I mumbled something. I wanted to shout and scream at her not to shame another woman ever again, but I was numb.
    My partner was arriving at LAX from Rome that afternoon. I met him at the international baggage claim and led him to the car. He knew something was wrong but we didn't speak of it. I told him I didn't feel well and could he drive? As he drove home we chatted politely. I couldn't tell him the news for fear he'd crash the car.
    When we got home, I told him that Seth had attacked me while I slept. The look of horror on his face, it confirmed to me that what had happened was as bad as I suspected. I kept denying to myself the reality, telling myself that maybe I misunderstood. That one of my closest friends had raped me. Seeing the reality reflected in his face, it hit me that it must be true.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Response to Solidarity's "Statement on Sexual Violence and the Left"

A response to A Solidarity Statement on Sexual Violence and the Left

The statement from Solidarity regarding sexual violence in the organized Left is a welcome start, but it fails to go far enough in taking a meaningful stand on the issue. While we commend Solidarity for reflecting internally on how they can better deal with sexual violence, we call on the organization to deal with the Progressive Labor Party’s defense of rapists more seriously by publicly rejecting working with PLP. By doing so, Solidarity would be able to live up to their own statement, which claims that their “commitments to fighting sexism and patriarchy demand that [they] dedicate time and resources to combating rape culture [and] supporting and listening to survivors.” Thus far, they have failed to listen to the survivor in question here regarding the kind of support she has asked for.

In the initial public statement exposing Seth Miller as a rapist and castigating PLP for defending him, this blog issued a general call for PLP to be excluded from all activism and organizing spaces. This constitutes the bare minimum both of support for the person harmed by Seth and of the measures that must be taken to help prevent further harm. Refusing to work with PLP is not only a statement of solidarity against rape and rape culture, as well as a way to put pressure on PLP; it is also a practical safety issue, as the presence of an organization like PLP that harbors and defends rapists would make any organizing space unsafe for others.

The fact that Solidarity and PLP do not currently work together organizationally makes it a particularly low-risk issue for Solidarity to take a stand on. We understand that Solidarity is comprised of a diverse group of activists belonging to various traditions, who may not agree on all things but share some basic political principles. We therefore call on Solidarity to make refusal to work with organizations that actively harbor and defend rapists something that all Solidarity members can agree on.

“We Are Proud of our Record”: Administrative Complicity and Campus Rape Culture at UCLA

Part Two in a series on rape culture at UCLA.

Earlier we provided a short timeline of rape-related events at UCLA over the last few years. This list reflects only the small number of rapists and rape apologists who ended up in the news, but as we are all aware, the number of sexual assaults and rapes reported to police is substantially smaller than the number of rapes that are actually committed. We won’t rehash well-known—and, unfortunately, often challenged—statistics about rape under-reporting, except to point out that this under-reporting is a serious symptom of both rape culture and white supremacy. It is no different for UCLA, which also has a well-documented history of racist, sexist attacks against women of color.

Rapes go unreported because victims are left with the burden of proof, and that burden can result in unbearable shaming, blaming, retaliation, and trauma, all of which are often equally as awful as the experience of being assaulted in the first place. Women of color face even further limited access to legal interventions because of a whole host of historical and structural forces. Court systems are material locations of white, male supremacy and are therefore untenable solutions for sexual assault and rape.

All of these problems with rape reporting are replicated at UCLA because of the violent rape culture sustained by our campus administration. Anti-rape education at UCLA consists of telling women how to avoid assault. No one is telling men not to be rapists. People who speak out against rape and try to shift the conversation to changing men’s behavior are retaliated against with repressive bullying from misogynistic students who are “insulted” by the insinuation that their classmates could be rapists. One professor in a life sciences department routinely opens his lecture by having a female student handle an unidentified substance in front of the whole class—the student is only informed that the substance is semen after she’s already held it in her hands. Academic departments consistently tell students who have been sexually assaulted that they should be careful not to ruin the lives of their assailants by spreading dangerous “rumors.”

We know that campus administration treats instances of rape as exceptional circumstances without acknowledging the extent to which misogyny and sexual violence are part of everyday life on our campus. UCLA administrators fail to understand rape culture’s pervasiveness. Instead, they’ve said that they’re proud of their rape record because it shows students are more comfortable reporting rapes to campus police than at other universities. According to these administrators, UCLA has fostered a safe campus climate with regard to sexual assault responses due in large part to hiring a woman to head up the UCLA police department. UCLA has provided zero qualitative or quantitative evidence to suggest that there is correlation between a woman chief of police and higher rape reporting figures. To suggest that we should somehow celebrate the campus’s high reporting percentage misses the point: UCLA has a rape problem.

UCLA’s argument is designed to dodge a much more terrifying possibility: that more reported rapes than average also means more unreported rapes. Reported rapes figures always only scratch the surface of actual incidences of rape. UCLA doesn’t want us to ask the question: if this many are being reported, how many more remain unreported?

It is obvious that UCLA has a rape problem. So what are we going to do about it?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Glaswegian anti-rapists get roughed up by SWP thugs

Excerpt from  “THIS IS A TAX DEMO, WHY DON’T YOU GO BACK TO YOUR RAPE DEMO” from A Thousand Flowers

Glaswegian activists show us how to deal with rape apologists! The SWP physically attacks our Scottish comrades for shutting down the speech of a key SWP player in the coverup of a rape committed by an SWP leader.

Dave Sherry was invited to speak in his capacity as UNITE Scottish Federation of Housing Associations branch secretary, but one of his other roles is as a member of the Disputes Committee of the SWP which it has emerged has delivered a “not proved” verdict in the case of senior party member Martin Smith raping a teenage member of the party. It has also taken it upon itself to “rule” on several other rape cases. That Disputes Committee, and all in the SWP who have lined up to support it and silence internal dissent against its decision to even entertain holding its own rape trial, let alone come to the decision that they “didn’t think that Comrade Delta [Martin Smith] raped W” (Candy U, Disputes Committee member, from leaked transcript of an SWP conference), is a Committee of rape apologists. The ins and outs of that case and the other rape cases the SWP Disputes Committee have felt it appropriate to try to cover up, and the droves of activists who have left the SWP as a result, have been discussed extensively elsewhere. (There is a round up of almost every article written about the current SWP crisis here if you’re so inclined) 
When Dave Sherry took to the megaphone to speak to the crowd, a group of activists (from a variety of backgrounds and affiliations, or none) booed him. We shouted “rape apologist”, because that’s what he is. We disrupted his speech because he does not have a right to speak for any progressive movement. His uninterrupted presence would have been an indication that we condone the things he has done, and we don’t, and we shouldn’t. We started when he spoke and we finished when he finished. 
They were shouting at us to shut the fuck up, to leave the Bedroom Tax demo and “go back to our rape demo”, telling us we would be arrested for telling the truth about Dave Sherry’s involvement in a rape conspiracy. We were called “middle class” for you know, thinking rape is a problem that shouldn’t be swept under the carpet. Josh Brown (Glasgow SWP Organiser) was repeatedly giving us the fingers from the middle of the speakers platform – while Sherry spoke next to him, while wearing a stewards’s bib, and while most of the crowd probably had no idea what was going on – but they say we were the ones making a mockery of the demo?? Funny that.
Dave Sherry should never have been asked to speak at such an event, which is far too important to be used as a vehicle to re-establish the credibility of deeply uncredible and frankly dangerous people and organisations. We need to keep this up, and provide no platform to the SWP (but in particular actual Disputes Committee members such as Sherry). It’s appalling to see supposed “socialists” assaulting and screaming at young women speaking out against a rape cover-up, but in a way at least they are ready and willing to show their true colours – it should become clear to all who needs to be avoided for the safety of activists and the health of our movements.
This is how rape apologists should be treated. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Solidarity Statement on Sexual Violence and the Left

A Solidarity Statement on Sexual Violence and the Left
from the Solidarity Committee on Interpersonal and Sexual Violence
April 16, 2013

The organized left, both socialist and anarchist, has been faced with the problems of rape and other forms of interpersonal violence in our movements in a particularly intense way in the past few months. Over 120 members have publicly resigned from the British Socialist Workers Party following repeated actions taken by the Central Committee to demean and silence survivors and their allies while failing to hold aggressors accountable. In the aftermath of Occupy, traumatic events that occurred within encampments and in related social and political scenes are now being widely discussed and debated. The topic of rape has momentarily broken out of the wall of silence in broader society as well, with widespread public discussion around cases such as the gang rape of a woman on a bus in Delhi in December and the Steubenville, Ohio “rape crew.”

This heightened discussion of and attention to the topic of rape is a good thing for the left if we take this opportunity not only to call out the problem of gendered violence in the world, but to get our own houses in order. A case which came to our attention in December, involving an anarchist activist who was raped by a longtime friend and fellow organizer who was a member of the Progressive Labor Party, exposes a disturbing level of resistance to acknowledging and confronting issues of sexual violence. We highlight this case here in response to a call for support from the survivor and her close allies; we think it is important for the socialist left to take a stand.

With the support of allies, the survivor brought this case to the PLP and demanded that the aggressor be held accountable. After an initial meeting with the survivor and her allies, the PLP stalled on follow-up with the survivor and her allies for months, never providing support for the survivor, clarity as to whether they were taking her report seriously, transparency around their process, or agreeing to meaningful, concrete accountability for the aggressor, at times demanding “conclusive proof” of rape from the survivor, at times admitting the aggressor’s culpability.

The survivor and her allies, frustrated by the stonewalling, eventually released a public statement about this matter. The PLP responded by accusing the survivor and her allies of behaving as “informant-provocateurs” while claiming to fight “sexism, patriarchy, and misogyny in every aspect.” This letter did not include any reflection on what had gone so wrong with their own process that a survivor would feel the need to take the difficult step of releasing a public statement.

We do not criticize the PLP’s process here from a position of superiority, but from the standpoint that the question of sexual violence needs to be addressed by the left urgently and seriously. When we engage in victim-blaming, silence survivors, and ignore or dismiss charges of sexual violence, we are feeding the rape culture within our organizations and movements. When we shield an aggressor from accountability processes that might be uncomfortable or disruptive and instead facilitate an aggressor's return to a “normal life” as quickly as possible, we send the message that the comfort of aggressors is more important than the safety and healing of survivors. These tendencies, far too common on the left, create an oppressive environment for survivors and for groups of people who are regularly exposed to sexual violence, including women and LGBTQ people.

Our commitments to fighting sexism and patriarchy demand that we dedicate time and resources to combating rape culture, supporting and listening to survivors, finding ways to hold aggressors accountable for the trauma they have inflicted upon others, and educating each other on consensual sexual relations, not only in the world but in our own intimate relationships and movement spaces. We do not see any possibility of building genuinely socialist, radical, or revolutionary movements if these movements refuse to address fully and respond to accusations of sexual violence, do not actively oppose gender and sexual oppression, or push to the margins women, LGBTQ people, and survivors of sexual violence.

Reflecting on the PLP case, the SWP case, and others has led us to begin a process of reflecting on our own organizational practices for dealing with rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and other forms of interpersonal violence. These instances occupy our attention for good reason – if poorly handled or ignored, they bring out all of the worst features of an organization’s functioning, and groups can easily degenerate under the weight of our own failure to confront matters in a forthright, healthy manner. At the same time, rape culture and gendered violence constitute a pervasive, all too “normal” everyday cultural and organizational backdrop that we need to undo if we are to create organizationally healthy, feminist spaces that reflect the kind of liberation and justice we want to see in the world. We hope others on the left will take up these questions as well.


Response to Solidarity from the Cassandra Solanas Collective:

The statement from Solidarity regarding sexual violence in the organized Left is a welcome start, but it fails to go far enough in taking a meaningful stand on the issue. While we commend Solidarity for reflecting internally on how they can better deal with sexual violence, we call on the organization to deal with the Progressive Labor Party’s defense of rapists more seriously by publicly rejecting working with PLP. By doing so, Solidarity would be able to live up to their own statement, which claims that their “commitments to fighting sexism and patriarchy demand that [they] dedicate time and resources to combating rape culture [and] supporting and listening to survivors.” Thus far, they have failed to listen to the survivor in question here regarding the kind of support she has asked for.

In the initial public statement exposing Seth Miller as a rapist and castigating PLP for defending him, this blog issued a general call for PLP to be excluded from all activism and organizing spaces. This constitutes the bare minimum both of support for the person harmed by Seth and of the measures that must be taken to help prevent further harm. Refusing to work with PLP is not only a statement of solidarity against rape and rape culture, as well as a way to put pressure on PLP; it is also a practical safety issue, as the presence of an organization like PLP that harbors and defends rapists would make any organizing space unsafe for others.

The fact that Solidarity and PLP do not currently work together organizationally makes it a particularly low-risk issue for Solidarity to take a stand on. We understand that Solidarity is comprised of a diverse group of activists belonging to various traditions, who may not agree on all things but share some basic political principals. We therefore call on Solidarity to make refusal to work with organizations that actively harbor and defend rapists something that all Solidarity members can agree on.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

“We are proud of our record”: A Brief Timeline of Rape at UCLA

The University of California, Los Angeles has historically ranked highly among universities nationwide for the quality of its academics and research programs, but the university also has the honor of ranking first among universities for reported rapes.

In 2010 the Center for Investigative Reporting noted that UCLA had more reported rapes on campus than any other UC campus. That year 36 rapes were reported to campus police, which accounts for about 1 reported rape per 1000 students. Second place went to UC Davis which trailed behind UCLA with .74 rapes per 1000 students, or 23 total reported rapes.

That same year NPR covered the CIR report and interviewed then public policy director Daniel Carter about why UCLA’s ranking was so high. Carter explained that the UC Police Department has created a campus climate that makes students more comfortable with reporting sexual assaults.

Fast forward to 2012. Business Insider created a report on the country’s most dangerous campuses based on information gleaned from FBI statistics on violent crimes and property crimes. UCLA ranked #1 on BI’s list. UCLA Director of Media Relations Phil Hampton got pretty defensive about the article. He’s quoted as saying

"Safety is a priority at UCLA, and we are proud of our record. UCLA police take reports of crimes committed not only on university-owned and university-operated properties both on campus and off, but also crimes committed in neighboring off-campus areas where UCLA police have concurrent jurisdiction with other law enforcement agencies. Our students feel safe. To conclude that UCLA somehow is dangerous is a reckless mischaracterization of data."

Even more recently, UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero hired notorious rape apologist Steve Alford as the new men’s basketball coach. This anonymous petition with documentation outlines how Alford intimidated basketball player and rapist Pierre Pierce’s victim in order to silence her and force her to find and “informal” solution to this “interpersonal problem.”

On April 12, 2013 the UCLA student newspaper reported that Alford publicly apologized for his statements in defense of Pierce. Alford’s apology came in the wake of news reports about UCLA water polo player Hakop Kaplanyan’s “alleged” rape and arrest.  The Daily Bruin reports that Kaplanyan was arrested and suspended from the university, but is in the process of appealing his suspension because he wants to continue attending classes.

And finally one month ago UCLA student Paul Meyer tried to rape and murder a woman at a frat party on campus.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Anatomy of a Cover-up: How Organizations Respond to Patriarchy and Reinforce it

Excerpt from "To the Victor Go the Toils"

The more public face of the cover-up is the broad participation in a predictable narrative of apologism and a defense of the person called out. The steps taken by his supporters to construct these narratives often look the same–speak to the merit of the comrade who has been confronted and maybe gather others who have not been hurt by his actions to do so. Assist in any logic that allows him to seem like the victim of the survivor, including viscous and inaccurate depictions of the survivor’s behavior. Shift the scrutiny onto the survivor or the feminist grouping at large, or thoroughly examine their methodology to see if there is fault there. If there is a political fall-out, blame the women for having caused polarization and division. Some form of this narrative emerges, with every case, as part of the cover-up–in order to complicate, distract from or question the accusations. 
Survivor stories are rarely made up and our starting point has to be believing and supporting the survivor. Once you go down the road of disbelief and questioning, however, the logic of rape and abuse apologism is inevitable. In fact, in our society this apologism is simply common sense and anybody without an explicit political understanding and critique of this apologism will most likely fall into these same patterns. 
There have also been concerns raised about the “complexity” of these issues, as though abusive and patriarchal acts are somehow complex. This reasoning is reminscent of the conservative discourse in the 1990s concerning sexual abuse during the Anita Hill hearings, that “there was a grey area.” During this time even liberal feminists responded that actually power is pretty “black and white.” This “complexity” idea takes the varying concerns for both the survivor and the abuser and places them on the same level. In London, an investigation was carried out to determine whose story was accurate. In Portland the same, and we are asked to consider whether survivors should be “in charge” of an accountability process, and whether there is a tension between survivor support and abuser accountability. Inherent in both cases is an even handed approach that places the survivor and the abuser on the same level. As with all “even-handed” approaches, it cannot help but reinforce the dominant forms of oppression in our society. There also seems to be an underlying concern, in both cases, that the survivor is reckless and erratic and just might bring all of our good work down if we let them. It is hard not to see this sort of attitude as patriarchy reproduced in our movement.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Another girl dead after being gang-raped

Audrie Pott committed suicide after three classmates gang raped her while she was unconscious. These monsters photographed their violence and shared them around, resulting in their arrest several months later.

There is no doubt that gang rape of teenage girls is not new or increasing in numbers, but social media has made evidence easier to come by. Social media also multiplies the violence and humiliation inflicted on their victims, when their peers live vicariously through the rapists by viewing and celebrating the images of rape. These women might have survived their rapes, had rape culture not exploded the violence of the rape into an experience re-perpetrated by their classmates repeated endlessly in the hallways of schools and on facebook and twitter.

The term "victim" here is a deliberate choice over the preferred but imperfect term "survivor". These women are not survivors but ended their lives in order to escape the daily violence, domination, and threats that their classmates were causing.

Finally, how many women of color are driven to suicide by the violence of rape, yet their tragic stories are not told, their perpetrators are never named, and there is no public outcry for justice. 

Rehtaeh Parsons is Murdered by Rape Culture

Excerpted from "Rehtaeh Parsons is Dead" by Alexandra 
Survivor support is crucial, and undoubtedly the vicious bullying Parsons was subject to after her rape drove her to such drastic measures. But unless we are resigned to rape as an inevitability, we have to intervene before violence ever occurs. 
Last night, when I mentioned to my roommate that I was working on this article, she told me she wanted action. She didn’t want just another essay pointing out how terrible rape is; she wanted something to do about it. She’s right. Instead of wallowing in injustice, let’s finally wake up from the delusion that we have any more time to waste. Rape culture kills. Rehtaeh Parsons is dead and we are in a state of emergency. 
Organize your neighborhood or school against rape culture: run consent education workshops and recruit participants to pledge their stance against violence. March, demonstrate, to publicly prove to all that those who inflict violence on others will not be supported or included by your community. Every time a publication runs a piece promoting rape culture, write a letter in response. Reject slut-shaming and victim-blaming of all forms. Loudly. Model respect for others’ bodily autonomy and stand up for your own in everyday situations to promote a culture of consent. Intervene if you see a dangerous situation developing, and teach others to do the same. Combat the transmission of rape culture from one generation to the next: teach kids to be better than we are. Don’t invite rapists to your parties (I can’t believe I even have to say that, but I do). Make sure survivors in your area have somewhere to turn for justice and support, and to stop their rapists from re-offending. If this resource doesn’t exist, create it. Refuse to tolerate speech that promotes rape; speak up even–no, especially–when to do so would be rude. Listen to a survivor when no one else will.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Woman burns her rapist to death

Excerpt from the Hindustan Times
During interrogation, the woman said she extracted revenge for her rape.
Police said Thakur, father of four girls, had been accused in dozens of cases of eve-teasing and harassing women. His younger brother had recently come out of jail in a case of outraging the modesty of a schoolgirl, two years ago.
As the comments say, "Bharat ratna! Shabash" भारत रत्न! शाबश 
If only rapists were caught and dealt with as swiftly as this woman.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Photos from demonstrations against sexual assault in Cairo

Egyptian woman protester holds up a knife

This collection is dedicated to our white male "allies" who chivalrously try to rescue the women they orientalize. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sexual abuse is the abuse of power - Rape and age difference

Excerpted from, "I Was 12, He Was 20 -- So Why Did Everyone Blame Me for Our Sexual Relationship?" by Jillian Lauren
I realized that regardless of what this girl asked for, if someone eight years her senior touched her, I would unreservedly call it sexual abuse. In that case my politics and my emotions would have no quarrel at all. 
So that is what I will call it. Feelings around abusive dynamics are often complex and ambiguous, but that doesn’t lessen the impact in the lives of the victims. I was abused. And I liked it, some of the time. I loved him, certainly. But that doesn’t change the fact that I have lived with it for the rest of my life and I couldn’t possibly have foreseen the extent of the reverberations. That is meant to be the job of the adults in the equation.
Rape is not a sex act, rape is an exercise of power and domination.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

In memory of Black girls killed for not submitting to rape culture

Adilah Gaither - wouldn't give out her phone number, shot

Mildred Beaubrun - wouldn't give out her phone number, shot

Tanganika Stanton - wouldn't give away her food demanded by a stranger, shot

Sakia Gunn - rejected harassers in a car, stabbed

From the blog "What About Our Daughters"

Sexual violence, toxic masculinities, and el movimiento: The hidden injuries and fears that suffocate us

Excerpt from the blog "mexmigration: History and Politics of Mexican Immigration".

The ugly, reactionary, brutal, and thoroughly machista response to the NACCS letter of inquiry set in motion a wave of other vicious attacks and threats against NACCS– including personal hate mail directed at me, and a threat to sue our organization for libel and slander. Such a lawsuit, had it gone through and regardless of the outcome, would have pushed NACCS into turmoil and could have been the end of the organization as we know it. We were advised by volunteer legal counsel not to pursue the matter any further until and only if the young woman who was raped made the this violence public and filed a police report and complaint. We were effectively silenced by the threats posed by this system of institutional violence. The legal apparatus had shackled us. I am still enraged by this course of events. 
Shortly after the NACCS letter was leaked, the lawyer for Ari Palos sent us a letter threatening a lawsuit for libel, slander, and actual and compensatory damages. He alleged that we were jeopardizing his client’s prospects and profits. In that letter Mr. Palos showed absolutely no concern for the women in his film. He appeared completely dedicated to his own self-interest and pecuniary advantages. Our view was that he had usurped the voices and experiences of the Arizona youth at the heart of our movement and then simply abandoned them to the turmoil you will read about in the following passages and posts. Sinvergüenzas.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rapists Are Serial Predators

Excerpts from "Understanding the Predatory Nature of Sexual Violence"
David Lisak, Ph.D.


When compared to men who do not rape, these undetected rapists are measurably more angry at women, more motivated by the need to dominate and control women, more  impulsive and disinhibited in their behavior, more hyper-masculine in their beliefs and attitudes, less empathic and more antisocial.
These undetected rapists:
  • are extremely adept at identifying “likely” victims, and testing prospective victims’ boundaries;
  • plan and premeditate their attacks, using sophisticated strategies to groom their victims for attack, and to isolate them physically;
  • use “instrumental” not gratuitous violence; they exhibit strong impulse control and use only as much violence as is needed to terrify and coerce their victims into submission;
  • use psychological weapons – power, control, manipulation, and threats – backed up by physical force, and almost never resort to weapons such as knives or guns;
  • use alcohol deliberately to render victims more vulnerable to attack, or completely unconscious.

In a study of 1,882 university men conducted in the Boston area, 120 rapists were identified. These 120 undetected rapists were responsible for 483 rapes. Of the 120 rapists, 44 had committed a single rape, while 76 (63% of them) were serial rapists who accounted for 439 of the 483 rapes. These 76 serial rapists had also committed more than 1,000 other crimes of violence, from nonpenetrating acts of sexual assault, to physical and sexual abuse of children, to battery of domestic partners. None of these undetected rapists had been prosecuted for these crimes.

The implications of the research on undetected rapists – research that has largely focused on men in college environments – point to the similarity of these offenders to incarcerated rapists. They share the same motivational matrix of hostility, anger, dominance, hyper-masculinity, impulsiveness and antisocial attitudes. They have many of the same developmental antecedents. They tend to be serial offenders, and most of them commit a variety of different interpersonal offenses. They are accurately and appropriately labeled as predators.

This picture conflicts sharply with the widely-held view that rapes committed on university campuses are typically the result of a basically “decent” young man who, were it not for too much alcohol and too little communication, would never do such a thing. While some campus rapes do fit this more benign view, the evidence points to a far less benign reality, in which the vast majority of rapes are committed by serial, violent predators.

This less benign reality has potentially significant implications for how universities deal with sexual violence within their community. Prevention efforts geared toward persuading men not to rape are very unlikely to be effective. Lessons can be drawn from many decades of experience in sex offender  treatment, which have demonstrated that it is extremely difficult to change the behavior of a serial predator even when you incarcerate him and subject him to an intensive, multi-year program. Rather than focusing prevention efforts on the rapists, it would seem far more effective to focus those efforts on the far more numerous bystanders – men and women who are part of the social and cultural milieu in which rapes are spawned and who can be mobilized to identify perpetrators and intervene in high-risk situations.  [Emphasis added -C.S.]

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Amherst College students fight back

Beautiful photos of survivors confronting rape at Amherst College.

Solidarity and love for "It Happens Here", rape fighters at Amherst.

At a university of 20,000 students, approximately one woman will be raped by a classmate each day.

University of California student activists and union organizers won't remain silent

UC activists and student-worker union members call for an end to sexual violence and rape culture in organizing spaces:
"When groups shield those who are called out this sends a message to all people in the group that perpetrators of sexual violence will face no consequences and that they will be able to freely continue their lives without interruption. This message makes the group especially hostile to women, LGBT people, and survivors, who will likely be more afraid of coming forward with their own stories. When groups shield those called out it also signals to perpetrators of sexual violence that their actions are tacitly endorsed by the group, which normalizes and promotes further sexual violence. When groups protect those called out, they prioritize the comfort, freedom, and work of the perpetrator over all others’. In doing so, they act in contradiction with their stated commitment to justice and liberation. We do not see any possibility of building labor movements or movements for social emancipation with groups that refuse to fully address and respond to accusations of sexual violence; that do not actively oppose gender and sexual oppression; and that push to the margins women, LGBT people, and survivors of sexual violence. The stakes are too high; we will not remain silent."
Please sign using the above link if you agree.

Monday, March 11, 2013

UCLA Frat Boy Assaults and Attempts to Murder Woman (Just Another Friday)

Reposted from Radio Rahim

UCLA Sigma Chi Fraternity archive photo

This is an old photo from UCLA fraternity Sigma Chi, which is just up the street from where a UCLA fraternity member attempted to rape a woman at a party on Friday, March 9th (International Women’s Day, no less). Though the fraternities will insist that this as an unfortunate one-time occurrence, and the university will reiterate its principles of community and commitment to safety until it is blue and gold in the face, the reality is that the fraternity system is a factory of misogyny, which will continue to devalue and commit violence against women until it is made to stop. Of course, misogyny is not restricted to the fraternity system, but it must be pointed out that the ideas championed in this photo serve as the pretext for the violence that occurred Friday night.

UCLA student arrested on suspicion of assault with intent to commit rape at Theta Chi fraternity house

A UCLA student will face charges of assault with intent to commit rape and false imprisonment, after he allegedly tried to choke another student during a party at the Theta Chi fraternity house early Friday morning. He is being held at the Inmate Reception Center in downtown Los Angeles on $200,000 bail, according to university police.

Paul Meyer, a 20-year old student who lives in the Theta Chi fraternity house at 663 Gayley Ave., is scheduled to appear in court for a formal reading of his charges on Tuesday, according to Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department records. He can plead guilty, not guilty or no contest to the charges during the arraignment.

About 2:30 a.m. Friday, Meyer allegedly attempted to choke a female UCLA student who was also attending the party, said Nancy Greenstein, a UCPD spokeswoman. She added that alcohol was available at the party, but police are still investigating whether Meyer or the victim were drinking.

Meyer and the woman knew each other before the incident took place, Greenstein said.

The female student was taken to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and has since been released, Greenstein said.

Immediately following the incident, Meyer was arrested without a struggle at the house on suspicion of attempted murder, according to a UCLA statement. Meyer is being held on charges of assault with intent to commit rape and false imprisonment, which is unlawful violation of another person’s personal liberty.

Theta Chi officials declined to comment on Friday’s incident. The police investigation is still ongoing and no further details are available at this time, according to a UCLA statement.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Woman beheads rapist

On August 28, at least five months pregnant by a man who she said continued to rape her, Yildirim said she decided she had had enough. Gider was climbing up the back wall of her house. "I knew he was going to rape me again," she said at her preliminary hearing August 30.
She said she grabbed her father-in-law's rifle that was hanging on the wall and she shot him. He tried to draw his gun and she fired again.
"I chased him," she said. "He fell on the ground. He started cussing. I shot his sexual organ this time. He became quiet. I knew he was dead. I then cut his head off."
Witnesses described Yildirim walking into the village square, carrying the man's head by his hair, blood dripping on the ground.