Playing the Devil's Advocate

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fingers malone's picture
fingers malone
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Mar 30 2014 20:37

Croydonian, the thing is that there is loads of violence going on, right now, dished out by the strong on the weak, behind closed doors. That's really happening.

I had a gun pointed at me in my own kitchen once when trying to intervene in a domestic dispute. Doesn't that bother you?

I don't tend to beat people up or encourage other people to do it. I have done quite a bit of supporting women after assaults, but that is usually stuff like going with her to the housing office or helping her move, as well as generally being around. I think most people mean support in that way. And just doing stuff like that can put you in a lot of trouble or danger (see gun in kitchen episode above) or just get a load of people treating you like shit.

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Mar 30 2014 20:52
the croydonian anarchist wrote:
This organisational/personal distinction is a false dichotomy. Sure, some one wouldn't carry out the violence as a party line. They would do so with friends/members outside of the organisation. But the thing is they wouldn't even know it had happened if that member hadn't of come forward to the organisation looking for support, guidance and possible consequences. It's not like they heard about the accussation on the grape vine from some random woman, the woman, was a member of the organisation, came to the organisation about it wanting consequences specific to the organisation, which these members of the organisation, heard because they were in that same organisation. Does no one else seriously see how that makes the distinction very murky.

croydonian, did you read my post or just skim through it? Really though, at this point, I'm not even sure what you're arguing here. So members who may have been the victim of sexual violence in an organization should not come forward because some other people might do something outside of an organizational process?

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Mar 30 2014 22:05
the croydonian anarchist wrote:
Steven. wrote:
[the article which sparked this discussion [/URL] contained the following policy suggestion, and this is what people were agreeing with:

Quote:
This means that we should have survivor-centred responses to sexual violence – where the needs and desires of survivors determine our response. We need to be open to excluding people responsible for sexual violence, at the discretion of the survivor, from our political spaces, organisations, and movements. And we need to be prepared to support survivors in engaging with the people who harmed them through accountability processes, if that is what they’d like to do. Most of all, though, we need to make it a political priority to actively support sexual violence survivors through all of the personal and political challenges that come in the aftermath of being assaulted.

this is what is meant by survivor-led support. Nothing in there about punishment beatings

There is nothing in there but there's nothing there to exclude it. If it is the survivors desire why not, according to this article?

it's starting to look like you're being deliberately obtuse here. Did you not read the sentence after the one you put in bold, which outlines the options it is talking about? In case you didn't, here it is again:

Quote:
We need to be open to excluding people responsible for sexual violence, at the discretion of the survivor, from our political spaces, organisations, and movements

fair enough, it doesn't specifically say "n.b. this does not extend to setting them on fire, murdering their entire families etc" but this is patently obvious. Similarly, groups like Seattle Solidarity Network run fights to support individuals who have been taken advantage of by landlords, bosses etc. These are run according to the wishes of the individuals. But they don't have a written list of things they won't do including clearly illegal things like violent attacks/murder/stabbing/etc, because it is so obvious it goes without saying.

If you do think it is so important to spell out specifically what you think organisations should not do, have you ever made this point with regard to other issues, like anti-fascism, workplace bullying, industrial disputes, etc? As I'm pretty confident I could say that no organisation has any policies on anything where they specifically spell out every illegal thing they won't do (apart from maybe the WSM).

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Mar 30 2014 23:49

There's nothing in the policy of any organisation I've been in to specifically exclude going around and knee capping capitalists either, yet despite membership all being anti capitalist this didn't happen. You can't write a policy excluding everything that could ever, maybe happen.

What's more is you are saying that the logical conclusion of supporting survivors is that people will start beating up rapists. Say this were even the case, which it isn't, do we then not support survivors in order to protect rapists? Cos that's pretty fucked up.

Did it occur to you that if groups and communities started actually listening to, believing, and supporting survivors, that survivors and their supporters might feel less need to resort to violence (not that many people at all resort to violence anyway.) Supporting survivors offers more options and there are a bunch of survivors here saying that supporting us isn't going to leaf to us commanding violent vigilante groups.

EmC
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Mar 31 2014 00:59

This anti-perpetrator violence just isn't a real issue. I've known dozens of people who've been sexually harassed or assaulted. And probably a lot more who I just don't know it happened to. I've only ever heard of *two* acts of violence. In both cases the survivor beat up the perpetrator. Not with any help. On their own.

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Mar 31 2014 10:04

I may well be being obtuse but it's only really a response to people matching it with absurd non arguments like "WELL WHY DON'T WE MAKE A RULE FOR EVERYTHING HOW STUPID WOULD THAT BE LOOL"

EmC
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Mar 31 2014 12:43

Well why would you specifically make a rule against violence towards perpetrators when you don't even know the circumstances? There could be no doubt that they were responsible and it could be necessary to protect the community (eg that link about the women in India I shared). Why not focus on having specific rules against bullying survivors instead? This is something which is actually really common, unlike violence against perps.

I think the point a lot of people are trying to make is that everything happens in a real world context. You seem to be trying to remove that context and make it a totally abstract question.

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Mar 31 2014 12:55
EmC wrote:
Well why would you specifically make a rule against violence towards perpetrators when you don't even know the circumstances? There could be no doubt that they were responsible and it could be necessary to protect the community (eg that link about the women in India I shared). Why not focus on having specific rules against bullying survivors instead? This is something which is actually really common, unlike violence against perps.

I think the point a lot of people are trying to make is that everything happens in a real world context. You seem to be trying to remove that context and make it a totally abstract question.

Exactly. The last sexual assault survivor I supported, her attacker slept with machete under his pillow, and boasted about using it on people. Violent retribution on him as a practical outcome didn't even enter the survivor's mind - and of course could have had terrible consequences. This sort of thing (violent men attacking women) happens all the time (for example, it has happened to every woman in my immediate family), the thing which appears to be your primary concern here (anarchist vigilante attacks) are pretty much non-existent.

In terms of your comment about "all the rules" etc, that was in response to you criticising the suggestion of supporting survivors by not specifically listing the things which anarchist organisations shouldn't do. So pointing out that listing things we shouldn't do is impractical is an entirely valid response.

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Mar 31 2014 14:00

Croy, keep digging. You're looking real bad by now. Think about the little fact that you are showing far more concern for the well being of potential rapists rather than real rape survivors. That's fucked up. And it is itself an indication of the strength rape culture has in anarchist spaces.

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Mar 31 2014 15:18

I actually think what looks worse is everyone trying to paint me out as some rape sympathiser just because I am pointing out what a dumb and dangerous conclusion could come out of 2 practices which is totally un necessary and preventable

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Mar 31 2014 15:42

You are looking bad because despite the fact that everyone has addressed your concern more than adequately, saying that nobody is saying that "official" violence against a perpetrator is a go, that false allegations are minuscule, that the actual evidence we have is that the ones being done violence to are survivors, you stubbornly persist with the notion that great harm may come to some innocent hypothetical man in the future, and by so doing you are merely repeating typical old tired fucking rape culture bollocks. Because that is what you're doing; taking a page out of the rape culture book. Your concerns have been addressed and you should be satisfied with that. Now please empathize with survivors rather than imaginary bros.

EmC
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Mar 31 2014 15:43

I don't think you're a rape sympathizer. But I also don't think you're listening to what anyone is saying any more. I also feel like this thread is getting a bit like everyone agreeing with each other about disagreeing with croy, rather than discussing the stuff that is more contentious.

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Mar 31 2014 15:53
EmC wrote:
I don't think you're a rape sympathizer. But I also don't think you're listening to what anyone is saying any more. I also feel like this thread is getting a bit like everyone agreeing with each other about disagreeing with croy, rather than discussing the stuff that is more contentious.

yeah, I agree. Basically I think this discussion has run its course. I think that people have got entrenched in their positions and constructive dialogue is not really possible anymore. So I'm going to bow out.

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Mar 31 2014 17:45
EmC wrote:
I also feel like this thread is getting a bit like everyone agreeing with each other about disagreeing with croy, rather than discussing the stuff that is more contentious.

Only just worked that one out? Jesus.

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Mar 31 2014 18:18

Croy, you could've stopped your nonsense argument a long time ago and we could've actually focused on the actual contentious issues rather than dealing with arguments--and yours fall into this category-- that almost always manage to monopolize discussions and lead focus back on to the poor victimized men. Too bad you didn't work that one out a long time ago.

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Mar 31 2014 18:45

Keeping a conversation going is a two way street, you guys could have just ignored me or even deleted all of my posts or banned me or a bunch of stuff.

Fleur
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Mar 31 2014 20:24
Quote:
Keeping a conversation going is a two way street, you guys could have just ignored me or even deleted all of my posts or banned me or a bunch of stuff.

Maybe that's because it's important to challenge arguments which are so obviously based on fallacy. You backed yourself into a corner. It's part of the problem, Croy, that within a discussion about rape/sexual assault/gendered violence that so much emphasis is placed upon false allegations (which I'm hoping everyone agrees on are very rare.) There are no tooled-up gangs of vigilante anarchists beating up rapists, and nobody has suggested that there should be. To extrapolate that the justified feelings of rage held by some survivors and people who care about them would automatically lead to this is unrealistic. Life's not really much like a Tarantino movie, no-one's out to kill Bill, we just want it to be safer and more supportive. You said it yourself

Quote:
dumb and dangerous conclusion

which is what you've come to if you think that women speaking up about abuse will automatically lead to punishment beatings and a whole shitstorm of retaliatory violence.
I can only assume that you don't have a lot of real world experiences involving knowing people who have been at the receiving end of gendered assault/sexual violence, in which case I would strongly recommend that you try listening to people who do.
The most depressing thing about this, apart from that you don't seem to get that the most important person to focus on is the survivor, not a hypothetical moral conundrum which is so unlikely to happen that it's not worth spending much time worrying about it, is that it's just really, really indicative of the whole problem when it comes to talking about rape/abuse. It started off as an article on how to support survivors and it ended up being all about the men.

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Mar 31 2014 21:01

I posed a hypothetical situation to try and highlight rare but un necessary scenarios and either got shot down for it, accused of sympathizing more with potential rapists than I do survivors or simply ignored because of the rareness. All of that is not my doing, Of fucking course I care about the survivors, but I didn't feel the need to re affirm this after every back and forth for acceptance or self validation. Really I think people are blowing this massively out of proportion.

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Mar 31 2014 21:04

And don't you dare try to construe that last sentence as saying that I think people are blowing the need to support survivors out of proportion, or rape culture out of proportion.

EmC
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Apr 1 2014 01:38

What were talking about is minimizing risk or minimizing harm, not a solution to solve every case perfectly or even justly. If 99 out of 100 rape accusations is true. Say there is a 1 in 10 chance of someone who's been accused being beat up (in my experience it's much much lower, but just for the sake of this discussion I'll assume it's more of a possibility). Then the odds of an innocent person having their reputation ruined by believing the survivor is 1 out of 100. The odds of an innocent person getting beaten up are 1 in 1000.

This is a better situation than what exists now where it is very rare for organisations to do anything to support survivors and where they're more likely to be forced out, lose their reputations and maybe be physically assaulted themselves (it probably happens more than rapists being beaten up). Also rapists rape an average of 6 times. So there's a pretty high likelihood they'll do it again to another woman.

I think if there was a situation where we made decisions based on balance of probabilities rather than believing the survivor this would still mean a hell of a lot of survivors would end up not being believed and would be victimized. This is because rape leaves very little evidence, and what evidence it does leave we don't have the capacity to look at. Eg DNA and internal examinations. I think if we were then to decide that nothing happened that would have potential for victimizing survivors even more. At best it would just mean that a lot of rapists were left in organisations.

Im not saying that it isn't possible that someone who is innocent could be victimized. What im saying is that this seems like the best of a bunch of solutions which are not perfect.

Also, when I was being harassed and stalked a friend did offer to beat up the perp for me. I said no. The reason is that I didn't want my friend to go to jail. I also know a lot of rapists who've gotten restraining orders on their victims to stop them talking. If they were beaten up the victim would have gone to jail. That is the protection rapists have. The legal system.

But I'm also finding this conversation kind of irritating because were having a big agreement fest against croy. But with members of groups who haven't taken the issue seriously and when confronted with real world problems just dismissed and avoided and attacked. And yep, I'm really fucking bitter about that. So this will be my last comment on all of this. (Here, now maybe I'll get some of the down votes instead of Croy).

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Apr 1 2014 02:04

One thing I want to add to EmC's post, which I'm in agreement with, about what makes it so hard to proven even on the balance of probabilities, is that often times the rapist doesn't deny that sex occurred, but they maintain it was consensual. So, basically even if there is any evidence, it becomes pretty much useless in proving the rapist is lying. The only exception, aside from witnesses, is injuries but then you end up with the victim blaming "why didn't she put up a fight" mentality, which is really damaging. You shpuldnt need to put up a fight, if you haven't given consent It's rape, simple as that. Anyway, what I'm basically trying to say, is any practice thatrequires evidence before survivors are believedis going to fail survivors because not consenting isn't a physical thing that leaves behind a trace.

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Apr 1 2014 08:42
bounce wrote:
One thing I want to add to EmC's post, which I'm in agreement with, about what makes it so hard to proven even on the balance of probabilities, is that often times the rapist doesn't deny that sex occurred, but they maintain it was consensual.

now I'm not particularly weighing in in support of balance of probabilities, but the first person who brought up this methodology specifically stated that the rarity of false allegations - and the negative result of making even true allegations - would mean that on balance of probability an allegation would be believed (in the absence of other factors).

Croydonian, I know I said I'd back out but this is a slightly different point:

the croydonian anarchist wrote:
I posed a hypothetical situation to try and highlight rare but un necessary scenarios and either got shot down for it, accused of sympathizing more with potential rapists than I do survivors or simply ignored because of the rareness.

firstly, no one has accused you of sympathising more with potential rapists than survivors, so I understand why this would upset you (so it also seems like you have blown out of proportion what people have been saying to you, which is a common feature of especially online discussions). I also understand why you posed the hypothetical situation. Hypotheticals and devils advocate is often a useful debating tool. However, like Fleur pointed out, this is a very emotive subject which is triggering for some people, and specifically can make people relive the trauma of not being believed. So it's probably not the best place to do it.

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Apr 1 2014 17:10

This debate has come up before and I'm not sure I'm adding much to it but her goes.

Croydonian. I think we can all accept that sexual violence is a massive problem in society. I think we can accept that the number of false accusations is so small as to be negligible, considering how often this danger is raised and how few examples there are of it (and the media circus about those that are), I think we can conclude that excluding people from spaces as a first step and giving credence to survivors is about as basic a step as we can take.
If this system starts to be abused then that could create a big problem. And I can remember arguing that giving people this blanket power was dangerous (NY bookfair thread iirc). But quite frankly I don't think it is likely to be abused and I think if there is a problem with the system then we can deal with it when it emerges.

There are potential dangers to introducing a system like this, but as our current system isn't preventing rape and violence then we're not losing that much.

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Apr 1 2014 17:33

How would we know it's being abused though? You would be default believing anyone and excluding whoever they accused. If that person happens to accuse basically everyone else in the organisation, well, there wouldn't be a problem would there? Believing them would mean you couldn't really say "well hey hold up surely not everyone here has raped you?" could you?

omen
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Apr 1 2014 17:46

(Since we've reached terminal stupidity I felt I had little choice.)

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fingers malone
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Apr 1 2014 17:56

This "believe survivors" thing seems to cause an awful lot of trouble, how about I suggest this as a small step, people try to move a little bit away from the default position of not believing survivors at all and happily letting people persecute them? Could we move towards a position where people listened to survivors some of the time and didn't actively support the persecution, at least when it was life threatening? would that help?

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Apr 1 2014 18:49

I love that cartoon.

Fleur
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Apr 1 2014 19:38
Quote:
How would we know it's being abused though? You would be default believing anyone and excluding whoever they accused. If that person happens to accuse basically everyone else in the organisation, well, there wouldn't be a problem would there? Believing them would mean you couldn't really say "well hey hold up surely not everyone here has raped you?" could you?

I think you're underestimating how difficult it is to speak up. It's not an easy thing and it's massively disruptive to your life. It's going to change the way people behave around you, for good or ill. You know people are going to gossip and speculate about it, that you're sex life is going to be picked apart. People often don't want to admit to having been abused, for all sorts of reasons, so it's a big thing to do. The thing is we know this, and we've seen other survivors being given shit for talking out about their abuse, so the likelihood of people putting themselves through this for no good reason is pretty low. Do you really think there's a high probability of anyone accusing every man in an organization of rape? If not, and you accept that the vast majority of accusations are true, then you are throwing all the survivors under the bus by saying that we are not going to believe them because of this hypothetical woman who wishes to victimize men by falsely accusing them of rape.
It's rape culture 101. You hear it all the time, that women "cry rape" in order to fuck over men.

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Apr 1 2014 19:52

How hard it is now to speak up now is sort of irrelevant, because I was talking about a point in the future where we would be exercising default belief (which has been argued to stop the valid problems you mention). The question was, how would we be able to tell the rule was being abused when implementing default belief? Because I would see the rule being abused to mean, basically, lots of allegations based on very small things/nothing to screw people over, but then if your default believing everyone who speaks up (which would be a bigger number than before, thats what this policy is sort of meant to do) how do you know?

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Apr 1 2014 20:05

But how hard it is to speak up now is the actual, real, conditions that we live under now!