This is what ‘after the revolution’ looks like. (TW)

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Sorry for the bad quality. I just wanted people to get a idea of the scars you can see.

I’m sorry if my ‘constant going on’ about the HUGE amount of violence in the left wing activist communities annoys you. Actually, that is not right. I’m saddened that it annoys you. I’m saddened that it has been ten years since my own rape, and I am still seen as a annoyance every time I bring it up. So many people have been asking me why I am not involving myself in the ‘occupy’ movement. My answer is simple. It isn’t safe for me, as a woman, to do so. The hows and whys of this are slightly more complicated. To try and understand, we need to go back ten years ago. I was 15. I was raped. By a well known ‘awesome dude’, and activist. He was adored by the left wing, part of Class War and Auckland Animal Action(Now open rescue; another group that didn’t deal with it, just kicked him out and changed their name to save their reputation). He had raped other girls before me, but they were young and drunk and easy to scare and manipulate. Everyone knew, and sure, there was the odd fisty-cuff over it, but on the whole it just wasn’t talked about. He misjudged me. Sure, I was young, drunk, and fucked up. But I am stubborn, and I am shouty. I yelled. I had rumors spread about me, as a warning. That I was a whore. That I was a slut. That I was asking for it. The usual things people say when they want to discredit a woman. Words that still follow me today, things that still shape my ‘reputation’ (Luckily, I was so badly bullied all throughout my school years that my reputation has never really bothered me). I didn’t care what he and his croneys said. So then he sent in the second wave; a group of (male) activist ‘friends’ to try and convince me that I was wrong to air dirty laundry in public, that I should keep quiet for ‘the good of the movement’. They didn’t understand that although I had been a vegetarian since I was six (and at the time, a vegan), I still cared about women’s rights more than any animals rights. I didn’t care about ‘the movement’ if I and other women couldn’t be safe in it. So he moved around the country, and eventually enough girls came forward with scarily similar stories, that the truth came out. Justice? No. He left the country. I had few apologies for the years of being ostracized. And I thought, perhaps, just perhaps, things will be different if something like this ever happens again. Sadly, it is exactly the same. And you know what? I still care more about women’s rights then anything else. Because fucked if I’m going to wait until ‘after the revolution’ to sort this bullshit out. What revolution? We don’t even have fucking equality. So to all those people, many of whom I like and care for, who are annoyed? Well, tough. Grow up, look around you. If women can’t be safe in your movement, then you have problems. And you can’t just keep ignoring them, and waiting. Because it hasn’t gone away, and we need to keep fucking shouting about it. NEVER be quiet about it. Never compromise our safety for the safety of a (male led) movement.

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26 responses »

  1. if you gave a fuck about womens rights you would be down at the occupation with me slogging it out setting up women’s space and shouting at people instead of at home behind a computer complaining. you have no idea. good luck with the survival.

    • …Really? So because I am unsafe down in Aotea Square, I ‘don’t give a fuck about women’s rights’, and ‘have no idea’? That is a …interesting stance. For someone hiding behind a fake email address and shouting abuse on a rape survivors post, it is a bit rich saying I’m doing nowt, and don’t care about women’s rights. You know why I am not in Aotea? Because I attempted to do the right thing, and stand up to a rapist in a public space. I was assaulted, and treated like crap. Aside from being a horrible experience in itself, it was enormously triggering for me, and I value my mental health. So go ahead, judge me oh anonymous internet poster.

    • “One”, it’s not up to you to condemn others for deciding that the “safe spaces” you’ve set up aren’t safe enough for them. It might be galling to find your efforts aren’t universally effective, but everyone must be allowed to draw their own boundaries, and decide their own level of involvement, based on their individual experience. And you must accept and support their decisions.

      For example, I helped push for/set up Wahine Space at Aotea too, but I still don’t camp down there, although I visit workshops and comment on the internet. My friend has been camping in the informally designated feminist/queer/marginalised gender camping area for weeks, fighting to make the entire occupation a safe and supportive space for women one person, workshop, or general assembly motion at a time. We have both chosen different paths based on our different needs, yet somehow (I know this might be hard for you to understand) we both respect and support each others’ decisions. They don’t question my right to comment online even though my comments are often critical, and I respect their hard work. We have made a safe space for each other in our interactions. See how that works?

      You, by coming in here and questioning Tove’s right to express her concerns and keep herself safe, are doing the opposite. You are creating a judgmental, exclusionary space in which there is only one right path, which is yours. Safe space fail.

  2. why do you feel unsafe? standing up against a rapist once is no reason to shut down all over activist circles. who down there is against you?

    of course its a patriarchal movement, so is all society, do you never go into patriarchal spaces at all? at least there is a women’s space and a hugely more feminist voice than in general society. its fluid and growing and becoming more equal as it moves.

    also, don’t call the movement male led if you’re not down there, me and heaps of other women are doing heaps and leading.

    • How dare I feel unsafe! That is not rational! It was only one rapist once, and that was ages ago! I am a arsehole for not supporting Joe Carolan and John Mintos circle jerk, even though they watched someone they know to be a rapist physically assault me for confronting him with his acts!

      Sadly, this it wasn’t ‘once’. It is a constant in our community, our safe activist community. I don’t feel safe in aotea square. I’m not ‘sitting behind a computer complaining’. I am talking about something I have been fighting for ten years, from a safe place. Far too many times I have put myself in unsafe places, physically and mentally, to do the same thing. I feel justified talking about something I know very well, but also taking my mental health into consideration.

      • so you’re having a sulk and a complain. awesome. when you’re done maybe you could publicly shout at people about how unfair shit is and how the patriarchy is hard and how nobody listens to you and that all other women should feel like you do, that would be really helpful and totally constructive to the feminist movement.

    • This is your warning. Implying a rape victim is is being unreasonable in feeling unsafe is not ok. Ever. As for the rest of your argument, well…
      One does not have to be in a movement to witness the power structure.
      Patriarchal spaces, as you note, are not created equal. And better does NOT mean good enough. Particularly on the individual level.

      • actually i know you quite well Tove but over the past year you’ve acted more and more destructive towards other women by constantly shutting down any other opinions by playing ‘oppression Olympics’ and comparing everything to you being raped.

      • I can’t see how you ‘know me quite well’ if this is what you think. To be honest, I haven’t spent much time with anyone this year, aside from a few people. If you wish to personally attack me, and make baseless accusations, please do so via personal message. I assume if you know me quite well you know how to get in contact with me.

    • hey “one”, you darling keyboard warrior hiding behind you computer, you give off the impression you have major issues.

      Don’t criticise Tove for not wanting to be part of your posse because she doesn’t feel safe being there. Who on earth are you to judge her? She doesn’t have to do what you want, you aren’t the One feminist to rule them all.

      If you know Tove so darn well you happy wee thing, you will remember she was at slutwalk, so she doesn’t just sit at home and rant… much like you’re doing now..
      How strong and effective will your revolution be if you start turning on everyone else working towards the same thing?

  3. “Hey rape victim! You refuse to be in spaces where you don’t feel safe, nor participate in groups with the people who supported your rapist and covered up his actions! That mean’s you’re an uncaring asshole!”

    o_0

    • Did you read the piece? Does it say that Occupy is not worthwhile? Does it say that people working for change within the movement are useless? The piece gives a personal reason for not participating in the movement with a call for change. Notice the ‘we’ in ‘we need to keep fucking shouting about it.’ If you are shouting about it, then you are included in that we. Though given your comments towards a rape victim, I suspect you should do some more listening first.

      • The rape and the response to it is half the reason for this blog post. If you refuse to take that into consideration when responding to the post and treat that with the respect and understanding it deserves, your response fails on both logical and ethical levels.

  4. I feel that ‘one’ is making my point for me. Someone trying to use personal intimidation to shut me up, and the good old ‘oppression Olympics’. It really is so hard sometimes to not go back to the whole, ‘shut up, you are ruining the movement’ thing, the exact thing I wrote this post about. I mentioned being raped on my blog. It is relevant, as it was by a admired male activist. Admired male activists with a history of protecting a violent abuser are prominent in the occupy movement. I came close to deleting the post, because this shit is vile. But fuck it. You proved my point. People don’t want to talk about it. All you have done is attack me with nothing substantial and personal crap. I am not going to defend talking about my own rape, on my blog.

  5. How is she shitting over the people working hard in the revolution? She’s just stating her POV as someone who doesn’t feel safe in Aotea. I am not a rape survivor, however; I never felt safe down there either. Am I horrible for staying away too?

  6. I really admire that you have sat down and written this. I feel pretty angry that someone read this article, a woman most likely, who wants to talk feminism… and then come out with these comments. It’s sickening. They accuse you of hiding behind a computer, despite doing this themselves. They say you are sulking, when clearly they are becoming hateful and wingey because they have taken insult to your writing… AND what’s more claim to be helping women!!!

    I support everything you have said here and in other articles I have read.

  7. I support the occupy movement in theory (fight for the 99%, fuck yeah!), but cannot support a movement where “people’s” right’s are held above women’s (are we not people!?) rights. I will not support any group who tries to minimise the experiences of those who have had sexual violence committed against them, or ignores sexism and any other kind of -ism “for the good of the movement”.
    You’re NOT fighting for the 99% when you are excluding women.

  8. I know the Wellington Occupy movement were reported( I cant recall exactly where I read it ), to be having to deal with sexual harassment of females at their site.

    Its a damn shame that predators move amongst and prey on the idealistic.

    And its even worse that they are covered up for and protected by other ‘activists’

    For my whole life I’ve never liked group dynamics or power structures.

    And Im liking them less and less as I get older, your post reinforces my feelings.

  9. While I’m sorry that you’ve gone through this in your life, Tove, I really admire that you talk about your rape and your feelings.
    So often women are expected to play it ‘nice’…to go away and hide so that they make other people feel comfortable. Sheesh …not ‘her’ harping on again…you can see it in the responses to your words.
    In sharing your voice, I think you open the way to allow others to voice theirs. Whether people agree with you or not, they could be defending your right to say it.
    I am.

  10. This is a great post, Tove, and I do hope *everyone* reading it can see that the reaction of the anontroll above is just proof that the shitty rape culture in “progressive” circles is well and truly real.

    To try, as they do, to “sincerely” argue that your post boils down to “telling all other women to shut up” and “hating the whole revolution” just shows how ingrained misogyny is.

  11. Pingback: Marilynn’s Monday Meanderings « Nobody, Nowhere

  12. Dear Tove, I love your site! I’ll be reading it regularly!

    I too was peripherally on the edge of the Occupy movement in Auckland. But I never would have wanted to go and stay there, and TBH from what I saw I didn’t want to get too involved.

    I saw a mostly bunch of white dudes in the place, with a few brown people and non male people… and figured it was just another white dude thing. Which doesn’t include me.

    When oh when will the Left figure out that they really need to be inclusive? When will the white dudes in the left figure out that they need to STFU sometimes and LISTEN to people who have different experiences from them?

    Thank you so much for blogging. I know it’s really hard. I only manage it very occasionally.

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