not a pretty girl

a new person with each new experience

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

When I got back to dublin I heard the most distrubing news. This women who had been living at the squat had accused this guy from grassroots of rape. Rape; the ultimate form of sexsim, domination of bodies, objectification of a women as an object. It was not the type of news you like to hear about what was happening when you were away. There had been meetings of women talking about the situation, what to do, how to move forward, how to interact with the guy, and creating a safe space to talk about rape and sexual assualt and harassment, also creating a newtwork for possible furture occurances of sexual violence. My blood boiled with the knowledge that this had happened, even more so with the fear that people would not belive her. It is always in my institinct to believe the women and I have seen more often then not women not believed or put so much pressure on her to prove herself when the male usually respected in his community gets away with it. There is this myth that women make these things up, and I'm not denying the possiblity that some women have lied about this to get back at someone. There is no excuse for that , an assusation of rape will ruin a reputation regardless of the valitity. Yet it is often that the women is not believed or even when she is, the respect that the male(since it is more often a male againt a women and these are the dynamics of this sit)has in his community protects him and he is often able to continue with his world while the women suffers for years to come.

there was talk of what to do in this situation. I had no problem with people beating him him, I think he coudl use a bit of abuse on his body, but I would not participate since I know the anger I feel towards this is deeper then this one situation. I would betrying to get back at everyone that has ever violated me or a friend and got away with it. I know the women who talked about it decided agaist violence aswell, more with the thinking that violence doens't end violence.

A few people went and talked to him and he denied everything. His girlfriend is sticking with him through all of this, I feel for her I would hate to be in her situation right now, it must be heartbreaking and issolating.

I was wondering what I would do and what other people would do if this guy showed up at a meeting or an event. I wondered if he would be ostrosized from the grassroots/libertarian community. I know that know that I would not be comfortable working with him at any capacity and if we was welcome to join a meeting I would leave. I felt comfortable saying that he should not be welcome.

But something more as to be done, you would not want something to split the community. I really feel that there should be a workshop of rape and sexual violence and recovery at the next grassroots event. I think it is important to talk about wtih everyone, not nessisarily the particulars of this situation but of the normalcy of it in our culture and the roots of where these things come from.

Last night at readys WSM meeting they handed out this free newspaper from portland oregan. One of the first pages had an article called RECLAIM OUR SPACE! It is about sexual assault and suggestions on how to deal with it with in libertarian communities. This one paragraph says

"Ostracism shouel be the last case scenario not the first. We feel that these initail stips should prioritize the needs ot survivors. As a community we are responsible for each other. Ostracism would not hold perpetrators accountable tot eh survivor or community. Banishing someone from our community does nothing but pass them onto another group of people, setting the stage for more damage inflicted upon others and in no way allowing for positive cahnge in the individual"

later is says

"when there is a known perpetrator it is best to make sure the entire community is aware. Once again men need to confront these people and maybe guide them to some counseling, possibly forming accountability groups, or organizing a community sit down discussion"

as much as it hurts to say I understand where they are coming from on the ostracism point. The women in this case has left ireland adn gone home to her friends and family. There is not much we can do from here to support her, perhaps emails of support, yet not knowing her that well, I don't know if she would want to be reminded of this from a near stranger. I understad that we need to work together to make changes and we need to fight sexism at all times within ourselves and in wider communities. It will be very difficult to "welcome" him back into the community and talk about these important issues with him. I know that it is something that we need to do, but fuck it will be hard.

The second point about letting everyone know I think is really important, fair enough ostracism is not the solution but people need to know about what happened. Rape adn sexual assualt for two long has been a silent personal issue. But it is not a personal issue, it is connected to a much wider problem of sexism and violence in our society. It is something that we need to talk about - first for women who have suffered in the past to know that they can have someone to talk to andto feel safer talking about this important issue, second for us to have a chance to make changes and not sit back silently fighting large fights or neo-liberalism while people in our community are being violated, dominated and enduring violence in the worst way.

It took nearly a week before I was able to write about this, I talked about it with people here each time either with extream anger in my voice or tears in my eyes. I am really glad that women are coming together and talking about this since I know from personal experience that things like this can bring back memories that you thought you had completely dealt with yet are jsut hiding aroung the corner ready to haunt you.