Thursday, June 26, 2008

Molly finds the following essay, taken from the Linchpin (an Ontario platformist group) site particularly valuable. If anarchism is going to be taken seriously it has to offer alternatives to the "beneficial services" that are presently mediated through the state. It furthermore has to offer a reasonable plan about how to get there, how to substitute other democratic and non-repressive ways of organizing certain services, gradually and in the here and now, not after some mythical revolution. Certainly the following essay doesn't offer anything resembling a detailed plan, but it at least raises the question. Are there alternatives to the police and the state when dealing with such important anti-social actions as rape ? It's an open question, and Molly would like to emphasize most severely that the leftist dream of making men join the sort of "therapy groups" that only members of the New Class enjoy is not a reasonable solution. Anyways, the article, and I hope that questions such as this are discussed much more fully and without the cultishness of the left, in order to propose solutions that ordinary people can accept.
The state can’t stop rape
We need to stop imagining the government and police as being able to prevent women from being sexually assaulted. The police operate as an organized force to punish crimes and investigate other possible crimes. Very rarely do they prevent crimes or assaults from happening. Common statistics that come across the Canadian media proclaim that between 1 in 5 and 1 in 3 women experience sexual assault in their lifetime. Obviously the government, through the police service, is choosing or not able to investigate or prosecute all of these offences. Often people who are forced into sex or are drugged without witnesses are left without legal recourse to pursue. Often the police will actually tell women what happened to them was morally wrong but not legally wrong, leaving them to deal with their pain themselves.

Similarly, sexual assault crisis centres are left with marginal funding and limited counsellors, forcing women who show progress to be denied further support so that more recent victims can get priority. Often this can cause a blockage in the healing process as a trustful relationship is broken. The centres are also restricted by government-controlled funding. Rape Crisis Centres are unable to conduct public wide campaigns because of funding limits or go beyond the law to make assaulters accountable for their actions.

Often our society is hesitant to believe women when they insist they have been assaulted, abused, or raped, forcing victims to live with doubt and self-loathing because others are unwilling to support them, and possibly even blaming the victims for what happened to them. We all hold responsibility for what happens. Women who allow or seek out the sexual attention of men and encourage objectification are lending to the dehumanization/victimization of other women. Men who do not directly confront and socially ostracize male perpetrators of sexual violence lend to the conscious and unconscious acceptability of sexual violence. Further, men and others need to challenge lesser expressions of sexism to make sure people know that no level of sexism is acceptable. So on and so forth.

Incite! Women of Color against Violence, a grassroots women of colour anti-violence movement, have been articulating anti-state analysis and community-based solutions to sexual violence in their recent works. They have taken strong stances against state funding; they see it as a form of co-optation and regulation. Further, they see the state and the people who enforce its existence as using sexual violence as a strategy, a way of expressing power. Incite! along with their ally organizations have been developing an anti-state feminist analysis that intersects dynamically with anarchist-communism. Incite! is based in the U.S. with chapters all over the country. Incite! was initiated in part by former Black Panther Angela Davis and Indigenous feminist Andrea Smith.

According to many feminists and activists, stopping sexual violence does and will continue to require a community-based response that goes beyond the legal barriers of the criminal system. It requires self-organization by a whole community to prevent and enact justice on perpetrators of sexual violence. It is up to you to get involved.

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