Building Capacity for Complexity


* Trigger Warning: Discussion of challenges related to survivor centered accountability processes.

Clouds of reef fish and corals, French frigate shoals, NWHI

On February 28th, 2013 there was an important discussion on “Patriarchy and the Movement” held in Portland. We value the efforts of the organizers and panelists to share publicly  the theory and methods generated by their experiences in anti patriarchal struggles.

We are heartened by the words of one of the panelists, that “solidarity looks like taking feminism seriously enough to allow emergent, contradictory strains that are intellectual, personally true, and liberatory.” There have always been debates in feminist and gender liberation movements around differing visions of liberation and relationships to struggles against other forms of visible and invisible oppressions such as race, class, ableism, and colonization. These rich legacies and our own experiences of gender oppression have shaped us. On the one hand, the patriarchal left lumps feminists as a tokenizing, homogenous whole. On the other hand, some of us feel pressure to conform to certain forms of feminism, imposed through other forms of coercive power such as gossip, back biting and mischaracterization of disagreements. We are perpetually reminded  that “womyn” as a flattened, undifferentiated category is not reflective of our experiences as womyn of color and female-assigned gender non-conforming people, and instead, has historically been used to serve white cis-feminism. We recognize that “serious, comradely, and contentious disagreements keep feminism alive and if we are not rigorously challenging our own assumptions, then feminism is dead.”  It is in this spirit that we would like to dialogue with other passionate and militant feminists.

Members of Black Orchid Collective (BOC) were not able to be  present physically at the event in Portland and we thank the organizers for recording the event to expand its accessibility. We have since been following the sequence of events through the published statements and the recordings.

We recognize that there are many important points that have been raised throughout the event, such as the need to examine the culture and structures within our organizations / groupings, the serious, urgent, and shared responsibility of addressing sexualized and gendered violence, the complexities of feminist solidarity and feminist response, and  mujerista and decolonial feminisms. We have been asking ourselves how do people go from being “patriarchal individuals” to anti-patriarchal individuals? Or maybe more importantly and broadly, how do people change? We appreciate and intend to engage with these points in subsequent posts as well.

Organizers of the Patriarchy and the Movement event published a statement regarding the events after the panelists spoke.  The final panelist had referenced a specific accountability process that he had been part of in Portland and expressed regret for the way he had participated in it along with another male-assigned person (“X”). Some audience members spoke to their experiences around this specific accountability process in the discussion following the panel. One person who spoke (a female assigned person) attempted to read a letter (the organizers’ statement referred to it as the “pre written statement”).  The letter spoke to her and others’ work to address the charges and behavior of “X” who was not the perpetrator, but had been a member of the accountability process. The letter ended with a series of questions that highlighted the difficulties coming out of doing this work.  The female-assigned person was stopped from reading the letter. *

It appears that the “pre written statement,” for all its intended purposes, may have unfortunately triggered individuals in the space, and in fact, was not the best method for raising the necessary questions. It may be that people present interpreted the questions to be reminiscent of patriarchal invalidation of their experiences of sexual trauma and patriarchy. Having some distance from the event itself, we did not read the questions in that light.

We hope that our desire to consider the questions raised by our comrades will not be mistaken as disregarding the ways that individuals may have felt triggered in the space.

Our intention in re-posting these questions is also not to retrigger anyone. Instead, our reasons for reposting these questions come from a place of having been involved in many failed accountability processes even with the best of our intentions and that of others involved. Even though we always began from a desire to  validate other survivors and support their healing processes, we have not always known how to do so in healthy ways and have made mistakes that we are still learning from. We wonder how individuals engaging in accountability processes can support healthy boundaries. We have asked similar questions as those posted below ourselves and we do not have the answers.

Having been survivors ourselves, and having had to use a range of strategies in our survival, we recognize with pain that patriarchy exists as a social relation even among those we love, including our chosen and biological families, and in our trusted  relationships. We also recognize how we and others, as survivors of trauma too, have perpetuated trauma in the lives of vulnerable people in our lives.  We have sought a variety of strategies for addressing patriarchal behavior and actions. At times, we have found expulsion of some patriarchal people from our lives as an important step along our healing processes.  Other times, we have not excluded those individuals from our lives, either by choice and/or circumstance, and have chosen instead to work through things as part of our own healing processes.

We appreciate the way Shannon Perez-Darby frames the complicated healing and coping strategies of survivors in their article “The Secret Joy of Accountability: Self-accountability as a Building Block for Change” (published in The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities).

They write, “This binary [survivors are angels and perpetrators are evil] allows us to think of batterers as people who exist somewhere else, in fantasy and stories, but not in our lives, communities, and homes. Our fear of what surviving really means compels us to grossly oversimplify the experiences of both survivors and people who batter. Put on the defensive, we react to victim-blaming – like ‘it’s all your fault’ and ‘she was asking for it’ – by drawing borders around who we think survivors are (and are not). We’re careful not to let in any scary, wicked, nasty words. By creating systems that can’t hold complexity, we are unable to see all the things survivors do in the context of surviving abuse. These things aren’t always beautiful and noble. And we’re killing each other by not talking about it.”

“The term ‘survivor’ is only effective as long as it serves me. Sometimes I cling to the term because it describes the hurt and hiding. It’s a tool to get to the bottom of a relationship that brought me to my knees. It’s helpful because sometimes I find healing in the words of others who call themselves survivors. The word survivor means a thousand things I can’t claim; it’s perfectly imperfect and I want that to be ok.” (p101-102)

In light of this, we would like to open discussion of the questions that were raised in the pre-written statement. We hope the authors are able to elaborate where there may be confusion. We hope to learn from others’ experiences:

– Why have the forms of accountability processes that we’ve seen in radical subcultures so regularly failed?

– Is there a tension between supporting a survivor’s healing and holding perpetrators accountable? Should survivors be in charge of the entirety of both such processes?

– How should accountability processes or other forms of grassroots justice differ from the punitive models of state-enforced “justice”? What does this look like in practice?

– How can we develop feminist anti-violence politics that undermines rather than reinforces the gender binary system? If abuse is not always a matter of men abusing women, does a feminist politics around this look like?

– Is there room for people to make mistakes and be supported in learning from them in the movements we are building? Should we ostracize comrades who fuck up?

– Is it possible or desirable to purify a righteous scene or movement? How does fighting patriarchy look in the context of millions of people, damaged products of this system, making history together?

*The female-assigned  individual who has been associated with the letter is a revolutionary feminist whom we have organized with and who has supported us through our own traumatic experiences in patriarchal organizing spaces.  We understand that a component of feminist sociability and solidarity is to acknowledge and learn from the effort of other feminists in addressing patriarchy ranging from patriarchal interactions in spaces to sexual assault, even if we may have critiques of those efforts. We appreciate our comrade’s humility in admitting to the challenges they have faced in the accountability processes they were involved in and their willingness to be vulnerable by sharing them.

We do find it disappointing that our female assigned comrade was silenced in the space which was intended for feminist conversations around confronting patriarchy. As the organizers’ statement describes, told they were “emboldening perpetrators” for raising questions around their experiences in accountability processes. It appears as if their efforts in addressing patriarchal behavior were unacknowledged, and instead, they were assumed to be uncritical allies of person X, a cis white man. We question whether centralizing cismen and negating the efforts of other feminists, especially when they raise questions drawn from their experiences in dealing with patriarchy, is feminist solidarity and sociability in practice.

This entry was posted in Anti-Repression, Colonialism, Gender, Organizational Practice, Race, Strategy and Tactics, Theory and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Building Capacity for Complexity

  1. I respect the general goal if this and will engage with it….however I believe the narrative present is heresay and inaccurate…can you re ask these question without the narrative none of you witnessed, in hopes to somewhat remove that triggering experience from this discussion?

  2. amarant0 says:

    Thanks SOS, looking forward to hearing more of your response to the post.

    Could you please expand on which part of the narrative is heresay and inaccurate?

    We are not in any way minimizing the experience people had of being triggered at the event nor making conclusions how that experience was related to the sequence of events we lay out.

    We state, “[i]t appears that the ‘pre written statement,’ for all its intended purposes, may have unfortunately triggered individuals in the space, and in fact, was not the best method for raising the necessary questions. It may be that people present interpreted the questions to be reminiscent of patriarchal invalidation of their experiences of sexual trauma and patriarchy. Having some distance from the event itself, we did not read the questions in that light.

    We hope that our desire to consider the questions raised by our comrades will not be mistaken as disregarding the ways that individuals may have felt triggered in the space.”

  3. *The female-assigned individual who has been associated with the letter is a revolutionary feminist whom we have organized with and who has supported us through our own traumatic experiences in patriarchal organizing spaces. We understand that a component of feminist sociability and solidarity is to acknowledge and learn from the effort of other feminists in addressing patriarchy ranging from patriarchal interactions in spaces to sexual assault, even if we may have critiques of those efforts. We appreciate our comrade’s humility in admitting to the challenges they have faced in the accountability processes they were involved in and their willingness to be vulnerable by sharing them.

    We do find it disappointing that our female assigned comrade was silenced in the space which was intended for feminist conversations around confronting patriarchy. As the organizers’ statement describes, told they were “emboldening perpetrators” for raising
    questions around their experiences in accountability processes. It appears as if their efforts in addressing patriarchal behavior were unacknowledged, and instead, they were assumed to be uncritical allies of person X, a cis white man. We question whether centralizing cismen and negating the efforts of other feminists, especially when they raise questions drawn from their experiences in dealing with patriarchy, is feminist solidarity and sociability in practice.

    Inaccurate…..

  4. I could go on of you like but I rather not have to breakdown this piece sentence by sentenc… I am trying to prevent further trauma and drama butits yalls choice to continue triggering people…all I al asking is asking the questions without the narrative and defending you comrades actions at an event you were not at …good luck

  5. Jeremy says:

    Thanks for this piece. Having participated in multiple accountability processes–the vast majority of which have, sadly, done more harm to our communities than good–I’ve been eager to follow these recent discussions. We so desperately need new ways to both do and talk about this critical work. I hope to chime in with more detail as the discussion unfolds.

  6. kloncke says:

    Echoing Jeremy’s thanks… I’ve been loosely following the discussions around the event, and I feel like I can’t really comment on it too much since I wasn’t there (in a way I agree with you, shadesofsilence206, that it might actually be helpful to leave the letter-incident out of it, for now, and focus on the questions in the letter, to the extent we feel they’re helpful to discuss).

    I spent a long time yesterday trying to compose my thoughts, but honestly it’s a tough one to try to communicate about on the internet, for me. A shortened version is: in various kinds of survivor-centered harm intervention or accountability processes, I’ve found it extremely useful and reassuring to have a LOT of clarity and agreement, from the beginning, about what exactly we are trying to accomplish, what is our capacity, what are our limitations, and what are our asks and expectations from one another.

    This can include: what is our understanding of triggering and what responses to it do we want to have in this space? Some spaces have a lot of capacity / orientation toward caring for mental health and trauma, so a person who is triggered could expect to be able to remain in a space and find experienced support in working through the trigger. Other spaces might need to be real about limited mental health expertise capacity and ask people to take more of the responsibility for our own triggers, and elect to take breaks, etc., when necessary. I’ve also seen sort of combos where there is one agreed-upon person, at the beginning of the session, whose role it is to offer support to people who may need to leave the room or take a break because of triggers. This can come with some smart, thoughtful, and responsible trigger warnings at the outset of a session.

    Clarity of expectations in survivor-centered accountability processes can also include, relating to one of the questions in the letter, what will be the decisionmaking processes, and who will participate in them, to what degree? I couldn’t say for each and every circumstance whether survivors “should be in charge of” both their own healing and the specifics of perpetrator accountability, but I do think it’s wise practice for participants / supporters and survivors in an accountability process to try to be extremely, clear from the outset, what we are committing to: what we understand the balance of decisionmaking power in this process to look like, and maybe even our own personal boundaries as far as what we know we are and aren’t willing to do. (Though this can change somewhat over time.) Clarifying these boundaries and decisionmaking processes in the beginning can save a lot of headache and heartache later. Another consideration is how much we want people involved in the process to play multiple roles: for example, having regular contact with a person being held accountable as well as with the person being harmed. This also relates to the size of the team(s) assembled. Anyway, I just think that people should have knowledge of the setup and its potential challenges, going into the process.

    There’s so much more to talk about; this feels truly huge, but I gotta run at the moment. Looking forward to the continuing conversation, building trust and living bodies of knowledge over time.

  7. kloncke says:

    and just to clarify, by bringing up the question of triggers i’m not trying to passively-aggressively comment on shadesofsilence206’s points, or any of the discussion about people being triggered at this particular Portland event. i just mean it in a more general way, since patriarchy relates to trauma, which relates to triggers, so we’re gonna have to learn how to work with them skillfully at some level.

  8. PDXanon says:

    I don’t disagree with the argument that we should be looking critically at accountability processes and better understanding dynamics of assault. But this statement only addresses this one part of the conflict that has occurred in PDX. Never do the authors question why person “X” or person “E” (pre-written statement reader) have not apologized or admitted to the trauma they have caused. Even if the accountability processes were flawed (I’m sure they were), I have yet to see an apology by “X” for his behaviors. How can supporters of survivors reasonably “come to the table” with this discussion when “X” has not apologized for his part in the accountability processes, or his attempt to derail this event (Patriarchy in the Movement) before it happened, or the fact that person “E” disrupted the actual event at the Red and Black?

    For the record I know both “X” and “E” and like them both. But it seems like egos have been the wedge in this conflict.

  9. your langauge obscures more than it clarifies says:
  10. Pablo says:

    Thank you for putting thought into this and writing it. I and others in Portland and elsewhere have found it helpful in clarifying what is going on.

    • confused says:

      Pablo- I am confused as to why this statement helps “clarify what is going on” for those of you in Portland, despite the fact that this statement is written by people who were not present at the event, presents huge factual errors, and negated to talk to the members of their own community who were at the event and witnessed what actually happened before issuing this statement? Why are people in Portland relying on a collective in another city, who havent even communicated with members of their own community, to “clarify” what is happening?

  11. Dave N says:

    Just to clarify: according to the various accounts available online, E who read the Bring the Ruckus statement was neither “stopped from reading the letter” nor “silenced” at the event as your organization claims. Some people merely expressed disagreement and anger at E’s comments, especially the assertion that “We think it’s important to be critical of survivors” (proximate quote) which when stated as a rebuttal to the survivor’s support team, was understood as an implied attack on the survivor’s character. But E was neither silenced nor stopped from reading. The venue did subsequently make a statement that E was in violation of their “safer space” policy, though, see:
    http://www.redandblackcafe.com/statement-in-response-to-2-28-13-event-2/

    Also, your collective sent my last comment down the memory hole because I mentioned Peter Little by name (and apparently did not provide enough evidence, a peculiar charge given your own slipshod reporting.) Given that Peter Little is currently publishing attacks against the survivor in his own name online, perhaps now it’s okay to draw attention to what your associate is doing?
    Here is a link to Peter Little’s writing about the survivor and his own activity, strangely phrased in terms of an “apology”:
    http://patriarchyandthemovement.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/statement-on-the-patriarchy-and-the-movement-event-portland-2282013/comment-page-1/#comment-6

    Readers curious as to what the actual problem is in Portland, will find a number of responses to Peter Little and statements regarding his behavior as subsequent comments on that thread.

    Again, it is really unfortunate that your collective wrote an article without making any effort to reach out to the survivor or the survivor’s support team.

  12. geoff says:

    We would like to apologize for the pain caused by our actions at the Patriarchy and the Movement event. We understand that the decision to read a letter outlining our involvement in a process of bringing critiques to our comrade and posing questions about how such work is done was hurtful to many people. We can see how this was interpreted as an attempt to shield an individual and felt silencing. We wish to let people know this was not our intention. Our intention was largely of sharing our experience and taking responsibility for our role in the situation. Our intention was to try to ask principled political questions that arose out of our experience with this and other situations. However, we should all know by now that good intentions are not enough for good practice. We still believe that there are important political questions involved that we look forward to discussing. We do feel it is important that we find, together as a movement, respectful ways to work through hard questions around emotional issues. We are interested in ways that we could have (and can in the future) raise these and other questions in a way that is less hurtful.We are aware that reading this letter in the context of the event was hurtful and triggered people. We are sorry about this and offer our genuine and sincere apologies for the effect of our actions. We are still engaging in self-criticism and learning from this experience, and we hope that we will transform ourselves into better fighters for revolutionary feminism as a result.
    In Solidarity,
    -Eleanor and Geoff

  13. Hey all,
    We appreciate the comments and feedback around this piece. We come to this with sincere intentions hoping to understand how to better do anti-patriarchal work. It was not meant to be disrespectful or to take sides or retrigger and retraumatize the survivor and others. We are thinking through your comments and will respond soon.

  14. Hella says:

    Statement of the Hella 503 Collective Concerning Allegations Against One of our Members

    Two years ago some allegations were made against someone who is now one of our members. Those charges were investigated first by the Portland branch of the now defunct organization Bring the Ruckus, and then by our collective. In each case the group involved arrived at criticisms of the person’s actions; these are being addressed within our collective. Both investigations also found the most serious allegations to be unsupported.

    During and after the Feb. 28th Patriarchy and the Movement event in Portland, these same allegations were brought again, along with new ones. Our collective takes these new charges seriously and would like the opportunity to examine whatever evidence supports them in order to hold our member responsible.

    Thus far we have seen no new evidence regarding the already twice investigated allegations, and our examination of the statements made at the Patriarchy and the Movement event (where one of our members spoke) and later on the Patriarchy and the Movement website as well as internet discussions have not yielded evidence that provides the detail and specifics necessary to make an evaluation of the new charges.

    In the interest of transparency, our collective is willing to make available the results of our investigation into the situation that occurred 2 years ago. We also support the potential face-to-face meetings involving all the parties.

    We recognize that in situations that involve survivors of abuse and violence, security and privacy concerns are legitimate and real. It is also our belief that to air serious charges without any avenue to provide evidence is damaging to social movement and community.

    Our hope is to find a resolution to these allegations that will help our movement learn, heal, and grow stronger – either through substantiated evidence that will direct our actions regarding our collective member, or by putting the entire issue to rest.

    Hella503Collective@gmail.com

    • Julia says:

      So Hella decided that (at least) six (the survivor, her entire survivor support team, plus a liaison with the perpetrator) of a total of eight people (not including Pete) who participated in the initial accountability process are making “false accusations” against Pete. Outstanding. What happened to not replicating what the courts do to abuse survivors? Evidence? You have six different people speaking to their direct experiences with Pete, in this process alone. Do you want DNA evidence? Tape recorded messages? It’s clear the voice of one abusive man has more weight with you folks than the six of us.

      I really hope Hella does not put any more survivors of Pete’s patriarchal behavior through what we have been put through by that organization.

      Also, I want to say right now that Hella, nor BtR, nor any members or former members of those orgs have sought permission from the survivor to circulate intimate details of her abuse (either by the initial abuser or by Pete), and any distribution of her personal details is WITHOUT HER CONSENT.

      I don’t care if some info is already circulating, Pete has already viciously robbed her of control over her own life and privacy, now Hella is threatening to do the same.

    • valori says:

      To the current formation of Hella 503,

      As last summer ended, several female-identified folks left the group. We started to have some real conversations about why that was and everyone named patriarchy as the root of the problem. If nothing else, it is very telling that only a handful of folks remain, predominantly male-identified. The women who left, left the group because despite all of our talk about creating a culture of care, rooted in feminist values, and a space to grow and develop leadership skills and shared power, we did not create a space that allowed for such things. When the question, “Is Hella a feminist organization?” came up recently, I had to say, “no.” Not in practice, and not even in our expressed politics (we never agreed what those politics were). Of course there were individual feminists in the group, but as a whole, we did not exist within any concept of feminism.

      It has been disheartening to see how reactionary the current formation of Hella has been acting since the Patriarchy in the Movement event several months ago. Instead of reacting in a way that was thoughtful, humble and actually opened up dialogue about patriarchy and accountability, individuals in the collective acted defensively and unconcerned for how it would effect people that attended the event and the broader community in general. (not to mention the support team and the survivor that participated in the Accountability Process that Pete was involved with.) Protecting the reputation of Pete and the collective was more important than contributing to healing and strengthening movement capacity. But by continuing defensive responses and ignoring or refusing to engage with the more thoughtful responses that were put out since the event, you have greatly damaged the collective’s reputation and credibility.

      The recent statement you made demands “evidence” of Pete’s behavior. Using legalistic jargon and making demands is very different than asking people what happened in their experiences with a person. Making a demand for evidence contributes to the narrative that survivors should not be trusted or believed, that they should first be questioned and an objective trial take place to determine whether or not the abuse really occurred. That is what the state does. In my understanding, the survivor and her support team provided BTR with a lot of personal testimony that included intimate details about the situation of abuse in order to explain why they had huge concerns about Pete. How is this not considered “substantive evidence”? They are not making baseless claims or accusations from out of nowhere. Deciding that this is not good enough has the effect of saying that men that abuse their power are more important than those that challenge power dynamics.

      What are the goals of the debate on whether or not to believe survivors about their abuse? Even liberal discourses on domestic abuse, assault, rape and psychological abuse maintain that it is destructive and harmful to the survivor/victim to discount their experiences, that it further traumatizes them. Why is Hella taking a conservative stance on this issue? What results of the investigation are you willing to put out? I had never seen any of the findings from BTR’s investigation when I was a member of Hella. Do the findings include specifics about the survivor’s abuse history? That could seriously damage and re-traumatize the survivor, as well, it sets a really dangerous precedent for people and organizations to put out sensitive material detailing peoples’ experiences of abuse. That is wrong. Not only politically, but in every sense of the word. It’s bad enough when the state does it, or the catholic church, but to have folks that say that they are working toward liberation for all people to also push this narrative, is disgusting. What counts as substantive evidence? Many survivors of abuse don’t have evidence beyond personal testimony that abuse occurred. Does that mean it didn’t happen? Or that we shouldn’t take it seriously?

      It seems like the strategy that Hella and friends have been using is to “clarify” what happened in the AP that has been brought up. To me, that is not the real problem. It’s like people are saying, “if you knew how fucked up this other person was, then you’d understand”. That is not a humble response. That is a deflective, blame-shifting response. People don’t want to hear all of the details, they want a genuine response that does not come from ego, but comes from a desire to do better, to learn from mistakes, to challenge the established power dynamics and the structure of patriarchy. The desire to bring questions that challenge the ways that we interact with each other is necessary for moving forward, however, you have to ask the right questions and ask them at appropriate times. The questions need to be opening up dialogue rather than shutting down the ability for people to talk about their experiences.

      I think folks in Hella in particular have misunderstood what a “survivor-centered process” is. It does not necessarily mean that the survivor is managing the whole process, but it means that the process emphasizes supporting the survivor in healing from harm, protects their privacy while making sure that they are heard and that also protects the survivor from receiving backlash from the abuser during the process. It also means that it tries to avoid potential survivors in the future by transforming the behavior of the abuser so that they don’t continue abusive patterns. The success rate of AP’s depends on the person who is being held accountable. Are they continuing to harm the survivor or others? Are they using their power (political or social capital) to turn people against the survivor? When people other than the initial abuser use their power to turn people against the survivor, does it not have the same effects as if it was the abuser?

      Why are people referring to accountability processes as if there was one model that is always followed? If people disagree with the majority of the AP’s successes, why aren’t we discussing other ways of dealing with conflict that doesn’t involve the police or the courts? Are we really going to deny ourselves the option of doing anything other than that by not considering new and creative ways of operating and supporting each other? In blaming processes for dividing movements, are we giving people that have survived abuse only two options- call out our abusers and be publicly shamed, or slip into the shadows and say nothing?
      I am disappointed in myself for trusting those in the group that had gone through an investigation in BTR. Whatever the findings of the investigation were, the behaviors themselves were not addressed effectively. Pete is still telling others that women who have been traumatized (survivors of abuse) are politically dangerous. He told me personally that he thought *an outspoken feminist* (I’m not naming her here) was dangerous, I highly doubt I was the only one he said that to. When I hear other women saying that he’s told others the same things about them, why would I not believe them? I am disappointed in myself for not trying to meet up with the folks who had concerns and negative experiences with Pete to talk about it, and accepted/expected that others would bring in the full story. I missed the meeting where the findings for the Hella investigation were presented, but I should have been fully informed about both the findings and what folks in the collective had decided. I actually emailed the group beforehand to say that I couldn’t be there and asked for someone to meet up and go over things with me, but no one did. Did Hella actually determine, as a group, that there was “nothing actionable”? The only time I’ve ever heard that was in Pete’s “apology” letter, after things came up at the event. Others who were in Hella at that time were similarly shocked to see that in writing and were not involved in making that determination.

      It didn’t seem at all to me that as a group we had any intention of holding Pete accountable, and even though folks said that they didn’t want these concerns to be the deciding factor as to whether Pete was re-included in the group (partly because others in the group had different concerns that they wanted to be heard as well), it seemed like that is exactly what happened. I think Paul took it seriously at the beginning, but I think that he should have made sure that every collective member was fully aware of the situation even if they missed a meeting or two, and he didn’t do that. We did not as a collective do anything to address the concerns about Pete, probably largely because the collective wasn’t really functioning. We were not really doing work, we were not doing it well, and were quickly becoming irrelevant. The statement that you put out says that those concerns are being addressed now. I have serious doubts about the ability within the group to address any concerns, and particularly with concerns regarding patriarchal behavior. In what ways are you addressing them?

      I know that a lot of people wish that this would all just blow over. For some here, this is just an exercise in abstract debate. For some of us, it’s actually a very real struggle that has serious consequences. I cannot allow a narrative that says that in even the most liberatory spaces, only the male-identified have full subjectivity. A feminist event in Portland happens, and the dirt from under the surface comes up, it’s difficult, it’s ugly, and it’s a real experience for many people. You don’t get to push it back under the rug and go on like nothing happened. You don’t get to make statements demanding evidence as if you are the ones to determine whether someone’s experience is valid, and go unchallenged. Do you have any idea what this statement looks like to people that don’t know anything about this situation? You need to take a giant step back and look at what is going on here. It is depressing that the only statement Hella has ever been able to get enough political unity and agreement on is this statement that uses legalistic and repressive language to defend a person who is fucking up. This is not simply allowing room for people to make mistakes and grow, it is supporting actions that have contributed to harm.

      In anger, disappointment and sadness.
      valori – a former member of the Hella 503 collective

  15. cicely says:

    Hey, Black Orchid Collective–y’all came real weak (and WACK!) with it in the days after the panel, issued some mealy-mouthed attempt to buy time, and then just pretended (publicly, if your blog is any indication) that it all never happened, until y’all’s blog moderators let through this shit-stuffed statement from Hella503. I’d say I’m disappointed, but my expectations for you were already non-existent after you tried to flip the script and re-write reality.

    Remember how you tried to talk about how Eleanor (who came into a talk about how patriarachy looks in left, radical organizing milieus, hopped up immediately after I called dude out, and read some apologistic, morally reprehensible statement that stated the importance of being critical of survivors and implored the audience to think about the humanity of the white man in question) was shut down, even though y’all weren’t there, even though she was given chance after chance to speak, and explain her (obviously indefensible) position?

    Remember how you framed my calling out Pete for wielding patriarchal power as a tool of political repression against survivors of abuse as some kind of attempt to police women in ways that adhere to the shitty politics of ‘white cis-feminism’, de-racing and de-politicizing me in the process?

    Remember when you helped uphold misogyny on the left through spreading a bullshit gaslighting story? Remember when you supported people with power who used abuser tactics against abuse survivors who were mouthy enough to speak up?

    I do. I remember all that. And I see you now, too.

  16. Pingback: Feminist Struggle vs. Facebook Fragmentation | Black Orchid Collective

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s