Stand up against sexual violence in our communities

***trigger warning – this post is about sexual violence***

Hello,

This is Jez Pez, the Editor of DUDE. This week we were informed that a rapist was possibly going to attend our Brisbane launch party. It is something I want to talk about and something I think we should all be talking about. Sexual violence or any form of violence is completely unacceptable, but unfortunately it is so heartbreakingly common.

Once we were notified we were in a position to take responsibility and accountability as event organisers, as feminists, as male identified people and as community members. I want to express sincerest thanks for being notified so that we could work to make our event safe for everyone and also take action in the community.

It was important to me and to the other people I worked with to address this matter, that  we first and foremost respected the survivor/s, without question. Something which I think the legal and judicial systems fail to do. Something which I think society often fails to do.

Another reason why I am posting this statement is to advocate against sexual violence and domestic violence in our communities. It happens, it is happening now and it isn’t OK. And nobody is exempt from this. It hurts people and destroys lives and it hurts communities.

I’m going to post some links below. Some are fact sheets on sexual assault and some are radical and anarchic community responses to sexual assault, including workshop kits about consent. Please take the time to read, share and generate discussion in your community. This shit can’t be swept under the rug.

Stand up against rape, against rape culture and against slut shaming.

Regards,

Jez Pez

LINKS

http://au.reachout.com/find/articles/sexual-assault

http://zinelibrary.info/dealing-our-shit-six-years-mens-group-and-accountability-work

http://zinelibrary.info/taking-first-step-suggestions-people-called-out-abusive-behavior

http://www.anarchapistemology.net/archives/409#more-409

http://zinelibrary.info/world-without-sexual-assault-community-response-sexual-assault

Comments

  1. Well said!

  2. I stand by this, I stand up for this. Thanks Jez and well said!

  3. Thanks for this article, it is important to make a stand and state that any violence is unacceptable.

  4. awesome example of not just talking against violence and sexism but actually doing something about it! well done!

  5. Hey there,

    Firstly, major fan of Dude. You guys are producing something really unique and amazing.

    I’ve been thinking about this post quite a lot Jez, and I wanted to share my thoughts here and ask some questions.

    I agree with the other comments that it’s great that you’ve said outright that sexual violence is unacceptable.

    My initial response to this post, after the above, was that it seemed unfinished in a couple of ways, and I was left with some questions. I was curious that you didn’t detail the sort of actions that were taken, though I understand there might be privacy issues with this.

    I also then wondered what your (and others’) thoughts were about why and/or how sexual assault is a problem, how it affects the transmale community (and what its effects are), and how transmasculinity affects experiences of assault and vice versa (real and threatened, perpetrated and perpetrator).

    I ask these questions because I think that talking about sexual assault in our communities is useful if it addresses the specificities of experience in that community. Such as how sexual assault is generative, what it creates or destroys for people in terms of themselves. I think this is an important question for different queer and especially sex-radical communities (which aren’t always the same thing obviously, but I think it’s fair to say there’s crossover) and I’m curious to know more about what people think of that here. How do questions of consent/ assault and masculinity/ transmasculinity interrelate? This is hard stuff to do and say obviously, so I’m not saying you should have posted on all this all at once. Your post did leave me wondering about all of this though.

    Thanks for the thought-provocation.

    Meg

    • Hello Meg,

      Thanks for your comments. There is no doubt that this issue/topic generates some serious thought on so many levels and it is difficult to separate the intellect from the heart because it is a topic that causes deep trauma and extensive stress to so many people. So I agree that it begs for answers and solutions, some of which I alone can’t provide, but I can certainly offer what I think and feel on the matter.

      I also agree that my statement was thin on facts. This was largely due to time limitations and wanting to avoid a poorly structured statement that wasn’t well thought out and lacked regard for the people involved. I can say now that there were a number of people involved in the response process to ensure that our launch party in Brisbane was a safe space and to what action each individual took I wouldn’t be able to recall because there wasn’t a group meeting as such (I would have liked that but we needed to deal with it swiftly). There were several phone calls and one on one interactions that led to the outcome. The original post alerting us to the issue was on this page [https://www.facebook.com/events/247567095315703/]. It stated that Nino Ormiston had sexually assaulted at least one person and it was clear that the survivor/s needs had not been met throughout an accountability process nor had the perpetrator taken accountability for his own actions, separate to entangling the survivor/s in this process. I think they are 2 distinctly separate processes. In my opinion, perps have their own personal accountability and process to work on and this shouldn’t always be measured by the survivor/s experiences or how the survivor/s are healing, because it isn’t the responsibility of the survivor/s to take this role. How comfortable or uncomfortable the survivor/s feel about perps being in their spaces/shared spaces/communities is not the end goal or finish line of the perps personal work and I think this is a manipulative and negligent transference of work and accountability.

      Therefore it didn’t take long to reach the decision – which was to contact Nino and inform him that he wasn’t welcome at the party and Nino obliged.

      So some basic moral rules I personally held to were:

      – Never question a survivor or doubt their experience or blame them.
      – Respect the survivor first and foremost and consult respectfully as to their preferred process and/or wishes for a positive outcome for them.
      – Consult professionals in the field of rape crisis and sexual assault crisis centres.
      – Acknowledge that most sexual assault cases are not reported, so when we are given the opportunity to deal with one, try to set an example so that perps know, this SHIT IS NOT OK.

      And there were many more thoughts (of mine and others) and ethical standpoints which helped. But the basic one was to support the survivor/s and ensure the space was safe.

      I think any community, if it’s a tight one and a real one, needs to acknowledge that anyone can be a perp of violence, I’m sure everyone is personally affected by violence at some point and so I think we all need to engage in a community response and action which works to address the issues. Past incidents and to also be prepared for future incidents. I think the legal system can often provide more power to perps – ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and it all seems fairly private as well. Unless you are famous, it would be pretty easy to go through criminal court proceedings without a community knowing what happened. I also think this system can almost safe house perps from engaging with the affects they have had on people and a community. And once you take into account different lifestyles and sexual activities – the legal system wouldn’t cope with just how complex some queer relationships can be.

      I think that there is a misguided silver lining to the idea of being with a trans guy which further complicates these issues. Attitudes like, ‘Oh he understands what its like to be a woman so I’m safe!’ Well, anyone can be a perpetrator of violence. Males and females and gender diverse people. No one is exempt from this. So I think the affect it has on the trans masculine community at this point in time is mostly a challenging one. Like growing pains. It’s time to wake up from a childish slumber or school yard tree house dream where trans boys live in never never land and never grow up to take accountability for their actions. Because I wonder, if someone wasn’t trans would the community respond this way? And this by no means is an attack on trans guys, I just think we need to be aware of the ‘disclaimer’ attitude which prevents people dealing with what they have done or said.

      In general, although I’m no expert, I think violence of any form is an act of control and manipulation and perhaps it can occur intentionally with malice and complete abuse of power and consent and perhaps it can occur in more subtle ways which are difficult to name and address. And perhaps we all need to be making the effort to engage in healthier discussions around what consent is, when do circumstances change and when does that affect prior agreements around consent and how is this communicated or identified? Because it is true, violence is generative, but perhaps to up skill our negotiations and emotional intelligence and to normalise this and expect this from everyone, it might start to prevent it? And if we know that there are people who neglect their responsibilities to do this, then call them on it and name it – because those people shouldn’t have the privilege of getting intimate with anyone. Not until they have displayed the ability to respect boundaries and manage their behavior.

      Anyway, I hope that gives some more information and some of my thoughts?

      I’m very interested in engaging in ways where we as a community develop our own standards and ethics – separate and higher than the state systems which fail us. So I’m always interested in other people’s thoughts as well.

      Regards,

      Jez

    • Hi Meg,

      Fantastic questions and thoughts, thank you!  

      I was also personally part of this action and Jez has outlined the steps we took really well. I’m still processing the situation and have been thinking a lot about how violence, in any form, deeply affects our community. 

      I was brought up to not question, to mind my own business and to lay low. I suppose many young girls are conditioned with the same message and I think this makes it a challenging prospect for trans guys to stand up against someone in our own small, fairly invisible, kinda oppressed community.  The fear of being ostracized by a primary support for making a stand against something as insidious and hidden as sexual violence has the potential to be overwhelming. 

      How can we teach our men to be brave in the face of this.  I put my hand up to be part of a solution that enables our community to find courage!

      My experience has been that the social and political transition of a trans man on testosterone is an intensive process that takes a lot more time than it does to grow facial hair and for a voice to deepen. I was suddenly being treated as a man and I had no idea what to do!  Both women and men suddenly treated me differently and I couldn’t figure out why until it suddenly dawned on me that I was ‘passing’!  

      I needed to find some positive male role models stat and I had a really hard time trying to connect with other men who treated their worlds with the kind of respect and love I needed to sync with. I actually found myself looking up to butches for advice. Why was it that so many trans men I met were not the kind of man I wanted to be? I didn’t connect with their patriarchy, their brotherhood, their ‘we gotta stick together’ mentality, I didn’t like it!  So when DUDE came along I jumped at the opportunity to get involved and I’m glad I did!  

      I worry about where young trans men in general are finding their role models, a quick glance at any media stream and I panic. The dominant narrative of what it is to be a man in the world today is a pretty scary concept and something I had to figure out how to unsubscribe from early in my medical transition. There is certainly no shortage of guys out there who want to engage in really shit conversation in daily life!

      The reality is that while this ‘Brotherhood’ of trans men exists, violence against the women (and men) who cross paths with us will continue to be swept under the carpet. The situation in Brisbane highlighted this for me. Any accountability process the victim had attempted to create had been either ignored or given lip service and it’s simply not good enough.  

      We should certainly come together in solidarity but we need to take a stand against the realities of what we faced as women!  We need more feminist trans guys who want to be courageous in the solution, instead of smug in the problem. 

      I take a stand and I know absolutely that I’m not alone.  I’m not an expert, although I do make a conscious choice to not rape women but any trans man wanting support or solidarity in this stuff can reach out to me any time.

  6. I am interested to know if this person is a convicted rapist (if so have they served time for this most heinous crime) or are they simply suspected or locally known as a rapist?

    I feel like it brings up another topic, which is if someone has committed an offense (and presumably done the time for it), should they be subjected to further persecution within the community ( I mean this for any crime no just a sexual assault).

    • To my knowledge, the perp was neither charged nor convicted. I beleive this is because the survivor had their own reasons to not involve the cops. Which I can completely understand and respect. I can’t really comment beyond this without respectfully consulting the survivor/s.

      But I’m sure we can discuss theories in general which unpack these issues.

      Jez

  7. I take full responsibility for my actions as a man. I admit that I, more frequently than I am fully aware of and definitely more frequently than I am comfortable with, perpetrate various actions with my body, speech and mind that objectifies others and allows me to exercise my (male) privilege. Nothing from my personal history, being born female, being a survivor, can allow me to forget who I am now and the responsibilities that go with that. I like the thought that this is ongoing work, for us all to engage in. Personal insight into our own behaviours, gathered through honest reflection and self-education is the way to rid our communities of sexual violence.

  8. Hey guys,
    It’s been a crazy week. Firstly wanted to thank y’all for these really engaged and engaging responses. Amazing to read.

    I have actually written a couple posts about it, here http://meganclementcouzner.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/dudes-and-sexual-violence/
    (really just a reiteration of my comment above)

    And here http://meganclementcouzner.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/dudes-and-sexual-violence-part-2/
    This post expands my thoughts in a slightly different direction, in response to comments about the first post on fb, talking about the idea of the gender of survivors and about the need for solidarity between women and trans guys. Basically I think it’s important to recognize that transguys’ lived experience is different to that of cis guys and that trans people of all genders and cis women are vulnerable to sexual violence. And I think transguy feminists are amazing but I guess there are questions around why feminism has expected transguys to be better feminists than other men etc.

    So Jez, I think what you said about women assuming safety with trans guys is thought provoking because in some ways it could be read as playing into a blame the victim discourse – like, don’t ever assume you are safe – but it also genders the survivor as a woman. This is in reference to a specific situation so of course that’s valid, but in general I think it’s quite standard, especially in feminist writing, to think of victims/survivors as women. But also I think the sort of community language and thinking that develops around trans people’s sexuality is interesting and deserves analysis.

    I think this is connected to what Teddy was saying as well, about growing up passive, or as a girl, and how this affects speaking out or responding to violence. I’m still thinking it through but I guess responses to sexual violence, gendering of survivors and socialization of women as passive are linked.

    Anyway it’s late and I’m sleepy. But it’s good to be in conversation with you all about this.

    Cheers,

    Meg

  9. Perhaps as part of your “stand against sexual violence in our communities” you would also consider NOT linking to the likes of Kael T Block (a trans guy and serial rapist who fled to avoid taking responsibility for his actions) and the xx boys site in general as you did in this article: http://dudemagazine.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/james-darling-extended-interview/

    and instead link people to this:
    http://saltmarshhag.tumblr.com/post/6055701301/kael-t-block-and-how-positive-stereotyping-of-trans aka “Kael T. Block and how “positive” stereotyping of trans men helps to enable rape denial”
    Thank you in advance.

  10. I believe that it is important to support victims of violence, especially sexual violence. At the same time I find it problematic to assume that everybody who has been a perpetrator of violence will a) do so again, b) deserves to be marked as a perpetrator of violence forever (which naming as such on the internet effectively is), c) cannot be a victim of violence – either in this instance or in past or future instances.
    There is a difference between protecting and standing up for former, current and potential victims in personal interactions or within a community, and warning others about potential dangers on the one hand and naming & shaming somebody in public on the other.
    Violence is very real in our communities – both at the hands of ‘outsiders’ and members of our community; both are the direct result of the exclusion and oppression that we all experience.

    • Hello Justus,

      I agree that there is no ‘one’ particular way of dealing with a situation. I do believe however, that people are entitled to be aware of who is in their space. Who are you sharing a drink with or who is around you when there is the consumption of alcohol or drugs? Especially if a perp hasn’t adequately sought help or taken responsibility for their behaviour. Perhaps if a perp were to take full accountability and engage in a respectful and ongoing accountability process with themselves personally and with the community, and also the survivor (if the survivor wants that) then maybe they wouldn’t necessarily need to be named publicly? Sure a perp can be a survivor as well, the two experiences aren’t mutually exclusive. But it also isn’t a very acceptable excuse – I think it can confuse us in how we deal with things.

      I wrote this the other day and wasn’t sure if I would post it, but maybe now I will post it below, I am seeking input from all perspectives, I don’t claim to know the appropriate way to deal with every situation, but I did a lot of consultation and felt I did deal with this situation the best I could. Please see below.

      “There has been some recent dialogue on this page about community response to violence. It has led me to think more on this topic and I’ve realized (and others have probably already reached this point) that our communities are under developed and poorly versed in a confident approach of how to deal with and respond to violence, in any shape or form. We are inherently taught to not really deal with it at all, to only and very simply ‘call the police’ or ‘press charges’, essentially pass on the accountability process to hired guns who have little interest in reforming a perpetrator or dealing first hand with the after affects and ramifications of violence in a community. I say violence in a community because the pain and hurt from violence spreads beyond the people directly involved. The legal system is a failure. Very rarely does it provide adequate intervention, prevention, support and rehabilitation to perpetrators of violence. Worst of all, it drags victims and survivors through a process of victim blaming, character assassinations and lifestyle judgments. The prison system has been privatised, giving further strong hold to a capitalist and consumerist culture of service delivery. It’s a business! Why would it now aim to rehabilitate perps so that they don’t reoffend? That means a loss of profit. But I digress from my intention in writing this.

      Do we need to look at how we respond to violence within in our communities?

      If we look around in our society, violence is something that is celebrated, it is a tool used to gain power, respect, control and even prestige and status. Boxing and hunting is just a couple of examples of how society enables violence in a structured and acceptable form between people and often involving cruelty to animals. These sports originated from a culture of patriarchy under the guise of nobility and leisure. It is somewhat less difficult for us to identify how violence is enacted by men in our society. This is because male people are more commonly the people instigating acts of violence.

      But we still aren’t entirely equipped to deal with violence at a community level, even if we can name a perp. There aren’t set rules of engagement or a universal handbook. It is an extremely difficult process of accountability and who gets involved in the process? Who leads it? Who instigates it? The survivor? Friends of survivors? A community council? Who monitors it and who should know what has happened? Who confronts people to voice ‘your actions are not ok!’ Does the victim or survivor need to give the OK for this process to start? What if the perp is being protected by the victim, i.e. domestic violence?

      Recently a perpetrator was named in Australia. Male perpetrators have been name before: Kael T Block for e.g. (which someone brought up with us because we had linked to his website – so we redirected it to a blog which named his actions and lack of accountability). Naming a perpetrator seems to be an ethical step in the process which many people feel is a critical part of the accountability process.

      But what about when we have female perpetrators in our communities? What about when it is queer on queer violence, where the binary lines of distinction don’t exist? When it isn’t male on female hetro normative and cis normative violence? Do we as a community respond differently to male perps compared to female perps? Do we respond differently when it is a trans person offending or a gender queer person? Do we complicate the process by loading up the act of violence with excuses for the behavior itself? Do we enable the culture by engaging in harmful and destructive ways of socialising with perps, i.e. drinking and drug taking – which inflames any situation where violence is a possibility?

      These are complex issues. How do comments like the ones below confuse us in our response to violence? Do they derail the accountability process?

      ‘……. but they do great things for the community.’

      ‘……..they have had a really hard year.’

      ‘……they have mental health issues, it’s really hard.’

      Yes violence is generative. It evolves and re-evolves and is recreated in different forms and I know this is complex, but I want us to question the ways communities, friendship circles, families, relationships and society enables violence.

      Whose responsibility is it to address these issues? We are all capable of committing violence and we are embedded in a culture that essentially responds poorly and often attempts to silence the issue and even at times protect perps.

      How do we work towards dismantling this and empowering people and communities to affectively deal with violence?

      Just some thoughts and I think there may be more people than just me who want to discuss this topic and I’d like to take it to discussion into the community effectively, off the internet if needed, with the hope of some change and action.

      But I don’t necessarily know how or where to begin?

      Help?

      References:

      A World Without zines
      Discussions with other people who want to take a stand against violence.

      Regards,

      Jez

  11. I really like what has been written about community response, these are great points and good ideas. Community response needs to address sexual/domestic violence within the community from a holistic standpoint. Therefore it is not just ‘naming and shaming’, it is offering support for the victim and offering education for the ‘offender’. I like the point Justus made: I find it problematic to assume that everybody who has been a perpetrator of violence will a) do so again, b) deserves to be marked as a perpetrator of violence forever. This is a valid point, it is essential that the victim should remain the priority and her/there voice should always be listened to first and her story be told. However, I believe support for the offender should also be offered particularly in such a small community, otherwise we end up with complete isolation for both parties and this could have serious repercussions – etc mental heath issues, suicide. We cannot expect young people to understand accountability and even consent without adequate education. These are not things that are taught in our society, some of us have gone out of they way to learn about these issues, so we forget that not every one is privileged to such insight, but we can change this by focusing more on community education, especially for the younger generation. We need to have a solid understanding and the world and society we live in – its anti women and pro rape, and this is fucked. So in order to battle against violence of any kind – education must be the key. I wanted to ask you – do you know for a fact that the young person accused of assault has taken no action? have you personally spoken to the young person? Are you aware of their status? DO you know for sure he is a ‘serial offender’ – These are complex statements you are making, I would like to hope they a definitive. If you look a little deeper into the psychology of violence (sexual/domestic) particularly with younger people (male identifying) you might find different answers, young people who have experienced high levels of trauma, or violence or sexual abuse are at a higher risk of offending, add drugs or alcohol even more risk, there are also such things are learnt behaviours which can be intergenerational. These aren’t excuses, there is no excuse ever, this is the other side of fence. I think its really important to acknowledge just because some one has offended once does not mean they will offend again, with adequate support and education this young person can reeducated and with positive role models one can begin to change. Our community is already so small and oppressed is isolated and endangering a young person really what we are about? I researched some other posts made about the offender, I found pages and pages of death threats and threats of violence, I don’t believe this is the way. education for the offender, support and solidarity for the victim.

    my two cents anyway.

  12. Hello J-T,

    With regard to the initial and original post and the case of the perpetrator in Brisbane, no I have not personally spoken to them. Why? Because I did not want to enter into a dynamic of valuing the perps experience over the survivors experience. I think that perps have the capacity to be highly skilled manipulators, I’m not saying this person is, but it is part of the cycle of violence. Also, I spoke to people within the Brisbane community who knew the perp and who had a relationship with them, it was dealt with in collaboration with other members of the community who took that role of speaking with the perp. We had a short amount of time to deal with the issue at hand – which was to manage our event in Brisbane and make sure it was a safe space and safe event.

    Also, I feel you are insinuating that there may be reasons to not trust the survivor/s experiences or claims that the perp has offended multiple times. I don’t think this is a supportive approach to take, it kind of perpetuates the rape culture of questioning survivors and their truth.

    This thread has generated some discussion on how to respond to violence of any kind within our communities or against our communities, something which I think is a valuable discourse in trying to prevent future incidents. I also think a perp still has agency, all the time. And some perps can abuse that power.

    I agree that follow up with the perp is crucial to ensure they also have support in, quite frankly, owning their shit. In whatever form that best suits their individual needs. Counselling, psycho therapy, anger management or group therapy or any other methods to address deeper issues and encourage people to understand themselves and their choices and their behaviours.

    I personally don’t encourage death threats, or responding to violence with violence, implied violence or threats of violence.

    I am personally prepared to do some hard work with perps beyond the naming process. I do support truth telling and being real with a perp. Also, because we are all capable of violence we all need to take some responsibility in this process as a community and as a society. We also need to take responsibility for ourselves and our behaviours. Let’s face it, a lot of us do love and care about people who have offended or are still offending (whether we know they are offending or not) – but this doesn’t mean we can’t also display and communicate that certain behaviour is unacceptable.

    Again, I don’t have all the answers, but there has been a lot of work done on this stuff already, so I’m going to make the effort to collate and collect resources and information and share it around and try and generate more discussion in our communities.

    This stuff can only improved by everyone working together.

    Thanks.

    Jez

    p.s. if anyone can recommend a resource or a group or organisation that have worked on this stuff, please post it here. Thanks.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] given said love, I follow the Dude blog. I opened a post in my email inbox not quite a week ago, and read something which I’m going to repost at [...]

  2. [...] The original post I was discussing was from Dude magazine and you can read it here. [...]

  3. [...] DUDE. Magazine: Stand Up Against Sexual Violence in Our Communities Angry Black Related Stuff:“Child Rape: How to Indirectly Deal with Monsters” by @ThundarKitteh"Aftermath" by @ThundarkittehThe assault on Lara Logan & the reality of rape.I Bought My Friend a "Sorry, You Were Raped" Gift…Rape is a Four-Letter WordFollow @AngryBlackLady Tweet [...]

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