We have a right to be angry when the communities we build that are supposed to be the model for a better, more just world harbor the same kinds of antiqueer, antiwoman, racist violence that pervades society.
Recommended reading for this week is Why Misogynists Make Great Informants: How Gender Violence on the Left Enables State Violence in Radical Movements. Fellow badass organizer, Flavia Isabel, sent me the link and many parts of it resonated with me, especially this bit:
We might think of these misogynists as inadvertent agents of the state. Regardless of whether they are actually informants or not, the work that they do supports the state’s ongoing campaign of terror against social movements and the people who create them. When queer organizers are humiliated and their political struggles sidelined, that is part of an ongoing state project of violence against radicals. When women are knowingly given STIs, physically abused, dismissed in meetings, pushed aside, and forced out of radical organizing spaces while our allies defend known misogynists, organizers collude in the state’s efforts to destroy us. The state has already understood a fact that the Left has struggled to accept: misogynists make great informants. Before or regardless of whether they are ever recruited by the state to disrupt a movement or destabilize an organization, they’ve likely become well versed in practices of disruptive behavior. They require almost no training and can start the work immediately. What’s more paralyzing to our work than when women and/or queer folks leave our movements because they have been repeatedly lied to, humiliated, physically/verbally/emotionally/sexually abused?
I cannot begin to recount the number of spaces I have either left or been pushed out of due to gender violence: organizations I have built, spaces I have created, and even my own home. It’s the ten-year anniversary of the DREAM Act and I think rather than signing a petition to build the list-serve of an anti-union corporate top-down organization, people in the “movement” should reflect and critique how their own behavior enables state violence on radicals.
Of course, being a queer woman of color doesn’t mean I cannot contribute to gender violence. Thanks to the pervading forces of misogyny, there have been times that I have been played and ended up silencing the voices of other women in our spaces to the point of forcing them out. I am becoming more mindful of how people appropriate my body, use my identity to their benefit, and how my presence is used to check off certain boxes. And while I have become more aware of different types of violence and more vocal about confronting them, I find myself characteristically excluded from all sorts of spaces where I should be invited. I’ve made peace with this — my body, soul and mind do not need any more violence than I get from people and the state on a daily basis. And I’m happier and healthier than ever before.
I think one of the lessons to draw from this critique is that people should call out racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism and other forms of discrimination when they see it, regardless of the consequences and repercussions. It doesn’t matter if it is a certain radical Asian-American labor organizer or a certain so-called white ally steeped in racial and gender violence. If they are feeding misogyny, they need to be called out, confronted and told to step-off to the side till they can contribute in ways that don’t do violence to us and our bodies.