The following essay comes from a couple of our collective members and we have decided to publish it as a work in progress. This essay could be difficult for some to read given that it deals heavily with trauma, and may feel weighty even for those that do not have a past history of trauma. This essay is a reportback regarding our members’ experience organizing in Portland over the last year and a half, as it currently mostly recounts simple details. The writers have been working on adding analysis developed by themselves, drawing strongly from recent reading at AK Press, mainly “Conflict is Not Abuse” by Sarah Schulman, “Taking Sides,” a collection of essays edited by Cindy Milstein, as well as other reading that includes “Reasons and Persons” by Derek Parfit, “Doublespeak: Why No One Knows what Anyone is Saying Anymore,” by William Lutz, informed by more general background reading that includes works that went into our core study of anarchism over the last decade and a half, from “Mutual Aid” by Kropotkin to “The Ego and Its Own,” by Stirner. Ideas on self, agency, feedback and complex systems are couched in study of Max Tegmark’s “Our Mathematical Universe,” Lee Smolin’s “Time Reborn,” and John Sterman’s “Business Dynamics.” Discussions of social capital and phenomena more on the edge of anarchist discourse are influenced strongly by the writings of William Gillis and Emmi Bevensee. Quotations may appear from any of these, and they will be cited, but analysis and even explicit quotes may appear from a wide array of works, spanning titles anywhere from “A Book of Abstract Algebra” by Charles Pinter to “Thinking Socratically” by Sharon Schwarze and Harvey Lape.
After very careful consideration spanning at least six months of both ethically and emotionally difficult deliberation, the writers have decided to use actual names of some specific people in this piece. Taking from Schulman’s approach in writing “Conflict is Not Abuse,” which deals with lessons learned from many very personal experiences, such as counseling friends who were experiencing intimate abuse, we have decided to include real names where we believe the community has a right to know these names, and we have changed names to protect the anonymity of those who are in need of our protection. People who have demonstrated a very frightful lack of ethical center through tangible and real actions causing harm to underprivileged and oppressed groups, who have been 100% unwilling to undergo any sort of community accountability, have been named using their first names. We can give last names to close comrades who request them, with the intent of protecting themselves. We have obviously not included the actual names of survivors or legitimate anarchist comrades. We believe we must take a realistic view of what information this essay may offer to endanger anarchists. Given the level of engagement of those named in this essay, we feel the information offered in this essay will add none to what law enforcement would already have if they have any. The organizations listed are already known anarchist organizations, who have already chosen for themselves a public identity as anarchists. The individuals named either have also chosen to be public anarchists, or have already made security culture errors so grave that any information given here would be of laughable importance and relevance compared to the actual information given away by these individuals’ own actions. We believe that an anarchism that chooses to live in fear of nameless consequences, and protects that fear over very real and tangible harm to the oppressed, at best has no revolutionary potency and at worst serves as an arm of patriarchy and authoritarianism.
We want to assure you that this decision was not made easily, and even still comes at much personal turmoil for us as writers. After nearly a year of seeking other options for accountability, as well as simply trying to move on, we have found that we have no choice but to write clearly and accurately about what we have experienced, or else face ethical culpability for further damage made by these specific people. Beyond this, because of the long-term nature of our struggle with these types of dynamics, we could no longer operate under the delusion that these dynamics do not pose a fundamental threat to what we are as anarchists, as well as our ability to have agency over our own lives as people seeking to live free from interpersonal violence and unnecessary hierarchical behavior.
For a little more human context, this essay comes after years of suffering that has caused us to live with and die from life-threatening symptoms of long-term abuse, from suicide attempts, anorexia, stomach ulcers, emergency dental problems, and stress-induced appendicitis, to actually-diagnosed severe PTSD, drug addiction and homelessness. The cost both financial and emotional has achieved a level incalculable and inexpressible through traditional means. Thus, this essay is a work in progress, and this initial version of the work represents the first notes in a strained chorus of shared suffering that we could bring ourselves to vocalize. We believe it does not represent even a fraction of what the whole work will contain when it comes to analysis. For instance, a specific example: we have many screenshots, from personal conversation to public debates on facebook that we plan to dissect in the terms developed in the following paragraphs. We have models of patriarchal behavior and delusion that we believe can unite phenomena from cat-calling to alt-right membership in a more holistic understanding of hierarchical behavior.
This is an essay about our experience with anarchism for the last fifteen years. We do this by explaining the political situation in Portland for the last year or so, and extrapolating about phenomena based on what jives with experiences I had in the past.
Most people fear what the truth will reveal about themselves and so they have in no way cultivated a personal commitment to making sure they aren’t deluding themselves. Delusion is just another handy tool for them. They don’t have a personal commitment to actually understanding what someone else is saying before trying to convince them their views are wrong. Within the anarchist movement, there’s internal pressure to stick to the same traditional tactics, no matter how irrelevant, as a matter of purity. Anarchists are supposed to do antifa, food not bombs, and black bloc. Anything else is sure to be pushed back against in one way or another. People are just doing flashy actions and cool intellectual criticism, but no one wants to actually work on themselves, because for them, it’s about identity and belonging to an exclusive social club, not liberation.
When I was 13 I played an important role in the Toledo anarchist movement by finding the funding and building with my own hands the Black Cherry infoshop, which was the hub of anarchism in Toledo for four years. It was born after the 2005 Toledo riots, in which a three-day curfew was instituted over the city and many of my friends went to jail simply for meeting in public over those three days, as public meetings were made illegal during that time. Most people out here in Portland who talk about actions have no idea what real actions are like. They have never lived through a city-wide curfew. They have never had to run from helicopters and run right into the house of an old black man, knowing there was an unspoken solidarity between the black community and anarchists, and the old black man just sat there in front of his TV and nodded at us as we burst unannounced into his house and started stripping off our clothes so we could run out the backdoor and escape the helicopter looking like someone else. That’s not even to mention the role I played in Washington DC later that year, which was even more intense. I watched a fellow anarchist get run over by a motorcycle cop just moments after getting unarrested. Most people who go to these joke actions in Portland would never be able to live with those kinds of traumatizing memories and still continue being an anarchist, it would be “too real” for them. And that’s because to them, anarchism is a game. And it makes sense, because there is not a lot of real oppression anarchists here in Portland face. They tend to be white, lower middle class folks with decent financial security and families. They don’t understand places like Toledo, where every single person is just trying to survive on a day-to-day basis. Thus, they have no real affinity or understanding of anything other than lower-middle-class white people issues, like issues of identity. Here’s an example: in a recent project I started, Anarchist Black Shield (ABS) I offered a way for people to quit their jobs and do ABS shit for a living, and I was called an ancap and no one took me up on it because this involves money and wasn’t a traditional activity. People actually chose wage slavery over freeing themselves from wage slavery because the latter was unusual and didn’t fit into their identity as ‘poor’ wage slaves struggling against the system (parents actually send them money, as is the case with the person Spencer Houlgate described below, who boasted such an extreme fake workerism that he never showered even though he lived inside and guilted me, a poor student with no income living in transitional housing about wanting equal financial input from able people. We later found out all the money he bragged about saving up from his line cook job was actually money his parents sent him); pure because they refuse to be concerned with money, even if it means their slavery, and nevermind the ableism and patriarchy of that mindset. They aren’t desperate enough to actually care about liberation because they’re extremely privileged and entitled. And those that aren’t privileged jump into the cut-throat social capital games just to try to regain some of the dignity they have lost in the wider society by domineering some small segment of the counterculture. Unlike these people, I don’t want to get even. I want to get free.
I recently started Anarchist Black Shield because of experiences I have had over the last 15 years that have revealed anarchists, particularly white male anarchists, to be more dangerous than any typical member of society. I’m going to mention in detail some of the things that went down over the last year with the project because they very clearly outline the most serious problem in modern US anarchism. The influence the social culture of even the smallest groups has on individuals’ ideas is tremendous. I notice that these types of anarchists simply repeat phraseology they read on the internet that has high emotional content toward the goal of sophistry, not discovery.
For a long time I have been looking at what anarchists and other radicals are doing and seeing how very far away it is from what matters or what we claim we want to be doing. Imagine a culture where people were actually self-motivated to make things better, where people didn’t look to leaders for what to do next, did not look to facebook groups for what causes to back or what inane cat thing to be into next, who were all capable enough to all hold the project’s vision equally in their minds, who did not come to leaders-we-all-pretend-aren’t-leaders to ask permission; imagine a group of people who actually have experience with life outside the bubble of the american dream, outside of which you actually know your friends would die before snitching you out, and you’re not just saying that because it’s what the good guy says in the movies.
Imagine a bunch of radicals with actual skills working on technological projects and pooling resources to free parts of the land, segment by segment, saying, “No, I will not work to pay these exorbitant prices for food when I can use this 3d printer and design a self-tending, self-harvesting, self-planting garden and share the plans with everyone that has access to the internet everywhere,” or, “no, I will not be coerced into treating everyone I know with distrust and looking cynically at collective action when instead we can use technology such as the Ethereum blockchain to create a bias-free reputation token,” or “No, I refuse to sit by and just watch a central radical group just clusterfuck all of their internal election policies and carry out obviously unethical manipulation tactics to silence queer voices and people calling for internal criticism regarding especially patriarchal behavior in the movement, I will not accept a situation in which queer members have to go around to the rest of the community in private and ask for support even though they don’t want to simply because some drama-obsessed social capitalists have been going around using unethical manipulation techniques to steer radical movement toward their own personal ends.” “I will not cast the first stone by going out and fighting racists bodily while I also state that I refuse to ‘get into the middle of ‘interpersonal drama’ at home,” i.e., refuse to fight oppressive behavior among your own friends and in your own back yard and in your own mind.
These examples are not just feats of the imagination, coming up with perfect examples for rhetorical ends. All of these are motivated by real observations, real things I have seen people do. Recently someone came over here, a refugee from another organization in which the actual, written rules of the organization were completely subverted, by elements of the group who went around to subsets of the group in private and in secret, with the sole intention of influencing the outcome of the groups’ regular elections. Any person can see that is unethical, it is even considered unethical in the common ethics of the status quo we claim to hate so much and claim to be better than, it strikes at the heart of issues anyone who has ever bothered to read the first thing about nonhierarchical group decision-making would immediately understand: one of the main flaws of consensus is that consensus in a vote does not necessarily represent true consensus under quite a few different circumstances. The most obvious and costly one is the situation in which someone goes around and privately manipulates all of the people to agree to cast the vote that that manipulator wants. This is very much like the problems we see in our system today when it comes to the activity of lobbyists in congress and the hands private corporations have in funding election candidates.
Most people do not want to talk about this stuff, most anarchists or other activists, because it is deemed as too subjective, and people say that getting into “personal” problems will just hold up the (much more important) “political” work of the organization. No evidence is given for this assertion: people just accept it because it “seems” not talking about an issue would push the system in the direction of not getting stuck on an issue. But the basic effing reality of complex systems is that they do not respond so simply as this, they are not necessarily as intuitive and obvious as this. In system dynamics this is a basic concept called “policy resistance.” This is not an essay on system dynamics, so I will just list some examples of policy resistance from John Sterman’s “Business Dynamics:”
- Use of cheaper drugs pushes costs up, not down
- Low tar and nicotine cigarettes actually increase intake of carcinogens
- Information technology has not enabled the “paperless office.” paper use per capita is up.
- Road building programs designed to reduce congestion have increased traffic, delays and pollution
- Flood control efforts such as levees and dams have led to more severe floods.
- Antibiotics have stimulated the evolution of drug-resistant pathogens
and the list goes on and on. The lesson to be learned here is that complex systems react in non-intuitive ways because they are subject to feedback loops, both positive and negative, which are the defining characteristic of complex systems.
Thus, if one offers a model as to why ignoring “interpersonal dynamics” actually wastes more time for an organization than treating interpersonal dynamics, then someone needs to treat that model as possibly legitimate and do their own experimenting and checking and modifying in order to bring that suggestion into question and either disconfirm it, or confirm it and integrate it into one’s own belief system. Otherwise, that person is being delusional, engaging in mental gymnastics, lying to oneself, and simply refusing to think about evidence that may test one’s own belief systems and call one’s own actions and assumptions into question. To be afraid of doing the latter is cowardice, is a project of cognitive dissonance, and is counter to what all anarchists believe in. Freedom of information is at the center of all freedom, since without good information, one cannot enact one’s agency: thus, refusing to protect freedom of information, by engaging in, strengthening, and repeating delusions, is the primarily oppressive behavior that opens the gates for all other oppressive behavior. Thus, as William Lutz says in his book, “Doublespeak: Why No One Knows What Anyone is Saying Anymore,:”
Our public language has become a language of deception, a language that, like an actor, plays a role to achieve an effect on an audience, and once that effect has been achieved, leaves the stage, removes its costume and makeup, and then goes on with its real business…. Finally, there is politics, an area we have come to expect to be filled with doublespeak. Yet if any area of our lives should be free of doublespeak, politics is that field, for what could be more important than the language we use to conduct the affairs of our nation? To concede that politics will always be conducted in doublespeak is, I think, to concede that the continued deterioration and corruption of our political processes are inevitable and irreversible. If we want to rescue politics, and with it the means by which we conduct the business of our nation, then we need to rescue the language of politics from the corruption of doublespeak. Language is not irrelevant to the foundations of an ordered society; it is essential. The irresponsible use of language leads to the destruction of the social, moral and political structure that is our society,, our culture, our nation. The irresponsible use of language corrupts to the core an ordered, just, moral society. Those who misuse language to mislead and deceive contribute to the destruction of the belief in the role of language in the life of the nation, and to the destruction of the nation. We must fight to reassert the primacy of the responsible use of language by everyone, from the individual citizen to political leader. We must fight to make the responsible use of language the norm, the requirement, for the conduct of public affairs. We must fight to make the language of public discourse illuminate not obscure, lead not mislead, include not exclude, build not destroy.
Thus, each and every individual is responsible for weeding through the information they receive and choosing what to repeat and not to repeat, and in order to be ethically good, each person is responsible for repeating only that which they have investigated and found to be true, in the same way that if you repeat the myth that drinking bleach can cure ailments to someone and then they die from drinking bleach, you are partly responsible for their death. It can be difficult, when it comes to interpersonal dynamics, to decide what is true and what is not, but contrary to the cynics who say we must avoid these issues, it is almost never ‘too subjective’ to decide what is true and what is not. One easy rule of thumb for deciding what is and is not abuse, what is and is not violence, comes from Sarah Schulman’s book, “Conflict is Not Abuse,”
Accusations of Abuse when it is in fact Conflict, can be a smokescreen, obscuring the real problems at hand and making effective response difficult. Are they being asked to confront the consequences of childhood sexual abuse on how they handle conflict as an adult? That is not an instance of Power Over. Are they being asked to recognize that they or a family member have addiction or mental health issues? That too is not Power Over. Or, on the other hand, is the person physically unsafe because the other party beats them, possesses a gun, or makes real and credible threats, as many have actually experienced? Does the other have so much psychological power and control over them that they are unable to exercise separation or independent action? Is the person being confronted with emotionally terrifying threats such as kidnapping their children, exposing their undocumented status, withholding medication, calling the police for no reason, interfering with their banking, credit or benefits, or organizing others to shun them? Which kind of safety are we endorsing here? Is it the safety from psychological “Power Over” and actual harm?
Or is it the safety from being made uncomfortable by accurate information that challenges one’s self-perception? If it is the latter, it is the assertion of this book that we owe it to each other to help one another tolerate the temporary discomfort that is necessary for the personal and social change produced by positive, interactive problem solving. In fact, helping each other negotiate is the bedrock of a healthy and active community, clique, family, country. Instead of shunning, shutting down information and scapegoating from a place of non-responsiblity, the Conflicted must express, focus, listen, and transform.
Is it my claim that in situations of Conflict, accusations that attribute sole responsibility to one party and then construct them as deserving of punishment and shunning are unjust. Asking, “what exactly are you afraid of?” can produce answers that reveal either Conflict or Abuse. Avoiding a complete shut-down and instead encouraging a client or friend’s thorough exploration of anxiety is beneficial to the accuser and essential to their object of punishment. A woman stating that she is “afraid”of her partner may produce a knee-jerk superficial reaction confirming her as a victim and her partner as a perpetrator because she used fear terminology. This resonates with the government’s use of the vocabulary of “terror” to keep citizens from looking at the consequences of our national policy on other people’s lives, or causing us to racially profile people of color, Muslims, and others. But if instead, enough of a conversation of depth ensues to produce concrete articulation of what exactly she fears, or that citizens fear discovering about ourselves, more layers may emerge. For example, “I am afraid that she wants me to confront my son’s depression, exploitative behavior, or Supremacy,” might actually be at the core of Conflict. “And I live inside a community which would make me feel responsible for his anxiety, if I acknowledge it, which is more guilt that I can face.” If deep and nuanced support produced this insight, the situation would be revealed as Conflicted.
On the other hand, if the same person says, “I am afraid she will run me over with her car,” it could be Abuse. What makes a difference is if the latter is a substitute for the former, that is, if she suggests a scenario of victimization because she doesn’t have the support to face the actual issue. Real conversation will reveal quickly if the partner has threatened this action, implied or suggested it, or has any history of running people over with cars. But real conversation can also reveal that the partner has never owned a car and the fear is overwhelmingly a deflective projection, which requires yet another path of response. Shallow engagement by a social worker, service provider, or bad friend with the accuser produces outcomes that are detrimental to her, to the person she is blaming, and also to her son, whose stasis remains ignored by the smokescreen of misdirected blame.
Using the benchmarks above, we should be able to make pretty clear any interpersonal situation. Another rule of thumb Schulman recommends is to get the conflicted parties to recall the order of events as they happened. Over the last decade and a half of my involvement with anarchism, I have doubted my own feelings and perceptions many times because of the types of responses Schulman describes, in which groups of people organize to shun and scapegoat one person in order to avoid having to come to terms with uncomfortable facts about themselves.
This all started with my involvement in the Toledo anarchist scene, in which I was shunned because I had been abused by two men that many of the other anarchists both liked and found valuable to their projects. One of them was named Steve, an older man who I met at Food Not Bombs who lied about his age to gain trust and to seem closer to the younger kids in the group. He was actually 32 but lied and said he was 25; I was 15 at the time. At this point in my life I was pretty vulnerable, I had already escaped a forced captivity scenario in which I was not allowed to leave the house for 3 years and had no contact with the outside world, not even school, and I experienced severe abuse that has left me with debilitating PTSD to this very day. I experienced torture psychologists say is on the magnitude of concentration camp victims, being forced to sit in a room naked with the windows down in winter, unable to eat, drink, sleep or go to the bathroom– whatever the consequences– until I finished 10,000 sentences. Punishments like this were dreamed up every day for infractions like opening a cereal box, as we were only allowed to eat leftovers. Every single day we were beaten, and every single day we had going to school hung in front of our faces like a carrot. “If you’re good enough today, you might be able to go to school tomorrow,” always, always at the end of the day followed by a diatribe on how we were awful children who did not deserve to go to school, and we would never make it in the real world, and that we would be thankful to him because the real world is a hard place and he was making us hard, that one day we would look back and thank him…
I have always been a proponent of the safe space in the original form of the term (as well as the current form– that of a space needed for emotional refuelling with like-minded people), which means a space in which diversely-minded people are safe to express whatever their true feelings are. I recognize, maybe more than Schulman, the need for people to sometimes shelter themselves from reality after very extreme trauma, to find the security to build themselves up enough to face the trauma. But for every person who has been traumatized to become free from trauma, there must be a safe space within which they can engage with ideas that might be uncomfortable for them, so that they can become stronger and no longer allow the traumatic incident to have power over them. Obviously this has to be done on the victim’s own terms, but I mention this here to make it clear that I am in no way the type of person who believes in callout culture and intellectual censorship, or the reign of Trauma over Truth, and I have fought along those lines for years even though I have been shunned and scapegoated by anarchists for doing so. But I am no dogmatist. I am not one of those “free speech” types that believe anything goes when it comes to speech. Like I said, the main thing here is separating real credible threat, as Schulman states, from otherwise.
Now, because I was scapegoated in this situation with Steve, along with many other women, I began to doubt my experience. When I was still smitten with Steve, a woman showed up to Food Not Bombs and warned us that Steve had raped her, and lied and has also been seeing many other women she did not know about. I was 16 and so were many of the people at Food Not Bombs, with a few adults. One was a friend of Steve’s named Brian. He and Steve convinced us this woman had it out for Steve, and while it made me uneasy, I had not the confidence in myself after what I went through as a child to stand up and call out what happened. Consequently, a few weeks later I was raped. Steve wanted to have sex with me and I said no over and over again. He put him arms on either side of me and would not let me leave, for hours it continued on this way until I let him have his way and he left.
I never spoke to him again, but he sent me emails saying he loved me and begging me not to “do this to him.” When I told my friends, including his friend Brian who I thought was my friend, no one believed me and if they did, they didn’t care enough to do anything. When I told Brian, we were in his apartment where the only private space for each person living there was their bedroom. We were in his bedroom reading anarchisty books and I told him, and he cried and held me and then he kissed my neck, and I pulled away because I was very uncomfortable. Then he proceeded to cry and guilt me, he got drunker and drunker until I tried to leave. On my way out he pushed me up against a wall and french kissed me really deeply. I remember it because it was disgusting. He was a primitivist and had rotten-ass front teeth. At this point in my life I had learned the best thing to do was to just basically play dead. Let them do whatever they were doing, then hightail it out of there and never, ever see them again.
When I told my high-school friends who were my age, they got really uncomfortable. The women cried, and I had to comfort them instead. The men were surprised and skeptical, saying things like, “I just can’t imagine Steve doing that,” or, “I just can’t imagine Brian doing that.” Steve had also given me oxycontin, and that was the first time I had ever tried opiates. I later developed an opiate addiction, after my friends decided to respond to the situation by continuing to organize with Steve. Whenever I brought it up, they would respond with things like, “well what do you expect me to do, he’s an MMA fighter,” or, “What do you expect me to do, he knows everyone in the scene,” and I actually believed them for a while that those were their cowardly reasons. But the truth was far worse than that they were cowards. The truth is they never did anything because they never believed me, and they never believed me because they knew it would cause them to have to examine their own biases, their own sexism, their own use of the “good man at heart” excuse, their own objectification of me, and so much more.
Back in those days I hung out with band geeks and honors class nerd and was one of the only women around. Most of the men around me had feelings for me or sexually desired me. Before this had happened, a few of the people in my friend group had experienced rejection from me, and a couple of them I had been in a relationship with. Thus, it was in all of their interests to hurt or discredit me. Add in the fact that they could get away with not having to do the just thing about Steve, and not having to check their own sexism, and it is a no-brainer that they would scapegoat me. Because they didn’t actually have anarchist ethics, they just wanted to belong to a social clique. My partner at that time, who was 22 when I was 16, also had a drug problem. He stole $300 from the collective and still to this day never admitted that it was him. He went over to their house while they were not there that day to “borrow a phone book.” When it came up that the money was missing, they all immediately blamed it on me, and I lost the room I was renting right then and had all my stuff thrown out in the street. I had nowhere to go. This came days after I was violently attacked and robbed for my bike, and no one believed me about that either. Nothing was left for me in that city, and I hitchhiked out of there, but not after going to jail for a while, and none of those people visited me. People I had bailed out of jail with my own money after political actions. People who slept in the infoshop I built. People who got justice from their abusers only because of me.
I disenfranchised myself from the anarchist movement for a long, long time after that. In the couple of years before Trump got elected, I fooled around reaching out to some anarchists who seemed particularly into dissecting interpersonal dynamics. After much grief, one of them talked me into giving anarchism a try again, and I entered the activist scene again, this time very wary. A few of us got the idea to start a group called anarchist black shield. At the time this group had been proposed, there were already problems I was aware of. Not all of the prospective members knew each other at the early stage, and I came to find out that two of the people working with us had experienced issues with intimate abuse with one another, and no accountability had been had, so that these people were still in conflict. I knew that they would not want to be in an organization together, so before the group could even meet everyone within the rest of the group, I had problems to fix. I had to get to the bottom of a situation I was not there to witness. I take very seriously the idea of “calling people out.” I feel like Schulman in that it is often not helpful for anyone involved. I feel it is an absolute last resort to try to keep other people safe from someone who is completely unreachable by other methods. I did not want to jump on a bandwagon of false or exaggerated accusation, so I investigated myself. The person at issue, named Spencer, was friends with lots of people in the punk scene. After the ordeal, I realized I had put myself in a position of victimization because people in my past had caused me to so doubt my own intuitions that I felt they did not matter, and that victimization of myself was needed in order for me to pursue just comeuppance. I wish now that I had not put myself in that position. I also realized later that I desperately wanted to believe it was me that was wrong, because that was easier. In this atmosphere it was easy to feel hurting myself was the right thing to do.
Over the years I have come to be wary of these types, since they are usually only into anarchism because their friends are into it, and usually do not take the time to do any study or self-reflection and criticism, they rarely change their ethics or do work on themselves before slapping the label of ‘anarchist’ on themselves. I also knew that his popularity meant potential trouble, just as it had in my past, because people are less likely to want to believe negative things about someone they like. so these people often have well-practiced habits of ingratiating themselves with others, and often keep their friends sequestered from one another in such a way that they can filter what information goes to whom. In this case, Spencer was seeing another person in the black shield group, and had not told her about the allegations against him. This person Spencer was seeing, call her Anne, had already been through past trauma and I knew it was a very sensitive issue because telling her she was sleeping with someone who was intimately abusive, when she was just recovering from abuse, would sweep her ability to feel safe and like she could protect herself right out from under her feet. I had to be sure the allegations were true. I tried to get to know Spencer. To make a long story short, within days he was sending me text messages about spontaneity and trying to come over at 4 in the morning to profess his love for me. I told Spencer over and over I did not feel comfortable with sex and I did not want to have sex with him. There was a defining moment, where he asked if he could hold my hand, and I was silent. He then held my hand. He asked if he could sit closer to me and I was silent, and he moved closer to me.
It went on this way until he was kissing me, and I stopped him and reiterated what I had told him, that I felt uncomfortable about physical affection, and he backed off a bit, but within a couple of hours was pressuring me again. Would he actually try to have sex with me if I did what a lot of women would do, and gave in to his pressure? I had to find out, or at least I was convinced I had to at the time, which I now feel differently about. Because people in my life had made me doubt my experience and because I had been scapegoated so much, I felt I needed undeniable evidence about Spencer. So I made out with him. And within a few minutes he was taking my clothes off, at which point I said, “do you really think you can just convince someone to feel differently about something than they have said they felt for weeks, and that is not an issue of consent?” He was immediately livid. He would not have any of that conversation, immediately doing what men tend to do, acting attacked by my expression of my feelings about the situation. He acted outraged that I would compare him to someone abusive. He started trying to turn the tables on me, saying it was because I had this or that mental problem, but I had already been naive enough in the past to fall victim to this. I kicked him out of my apartment and out of the group.
Just because the accusations against Spencer turned out to be true did not mean I immediately trusted the person making those accusations. Now, I am not putting any more information out there by writing this than is already out there, as Spencer’s ex-partner, Glenna, already signed her name to a public callout against him. I still did not know if I could trust Glenna, but she asked me to sign on to a callout and at first I said no, that I would tell her about my experiences and she could write about them, but that I did not really believe in callouts. After about a week she pressured me into making the callout, continually saying it would lend more legitimacy if I signed my name. She ended up sending me messages whenever she felt triggered about this situation, demanding that I do something. I ended up having to write a hurried callout to get her to stop sending me all these demanding texts, on a night I was supposed to be studying for a midterm, and I subsequently did not pass my midterm.
A couple of months later, Glenna had helped me plan a benefit show by talking to her partner, Barett, who worked security at a local venue. Again, to make a long story short, the benefit was a total success until the last band played. The last band was mostly members of the local Portland Anarchist Black Cross group. They volunteered to play the benefit although I had never met them, but people vouched for them. The first drama they brought up is one of the members facebook messaged me because they wanted to stir up social capital points from some drama that happened a few years ago relating to a band named The Mormon Trannys. Now I know all of the bandmembers, they have all been working in social work for about a decade (one with an organization that specializes in helping queer homeless youth, an organization that saved my life by getting me off the street), most of them are queer, others of them want privacy about their identity and we should respect that.
The bottom line is the band changed their name when asked, and is now called the Latter Day Skanks, so first off there is nothing to complain about, and second off, the blow up in the past about their name was just ridiculous. If I want to invite a band to a benefit show that will bring the most queer bands, trans-fronted bands, or all female bands, it’s the Latter Day Skanks. If I want posters that say “Make the World Safe for Femme” at our table, then it’s the Latter Day Skanks who will bring them. The accusations made by this member of the ABC band, called Timmy the Terror and the Winter Coats, was a baseless accusation meant to stir up social conflict. The only reason I can see an anarchist doing that is that they aren’t really an anarchist, they are a social-capital manipulator looking to maneuver themselves into a socially powerful position where they can reign criticism and callouts onto the heads of others.
And that assumption of mine was borne out to be true at the benefit show. The ABC band got mostly naked and sprayed fake blood syrup all over the venue, ruining the carpets. They then kicked the sound guy down the stairs and stole the microphones. Sure, the sound guy is a dick, but that does not excuse physical violence. This violence occurred between two people of color, but still, both sides threw around accusations of racism immediately. Right after the show ended, Barett threatened to keep all the money from the benefit show to pay for the microphones, but after an hour of tension decided to give it to the cause people actually donated that money for.
Then I received a text message from Glenna, an angry, long text message stating that black shield was a bunch of rape apologists, because some people who made her uncomfortable had showed up at the show. They had showed up at the show her partner was doing security at. But of course, he is a man, so it isn’t actually his job to be responsible for doing his job and removing people his own partner feels uncomfortable around– somehow, that is my job. I am supposed to somehow remove people from a venue that I have never even seen before, when her partner is the one with the legal ability, whose actual expected job it is, to remove those people.
This is just one instance of the sexism in the Portland scene. All of the labor is pushed off onto women to do (especially if it isn’t flashy, stereotypical, anarchist-like work done in the public eye), while nothing is expected of men, not even that they do the job they are being paid to do. Earlier that month, I had contacted Barett because he was booking a band called Chartbusters, whose lead singer raped a friend of mine. I asked him to pull the bill. Glenna responded by texting me several times over that week, complaining about how stressed the whole situation made poor Baret, to the point where she was pressuring me into offering to go over there and pick up lunch and dinner for them so Barett could deal with the terrible stress of bringing up to his boss that it’s wrong to book a rapist’s band. Once again, I was expected to do the emotional labor for these lower middle class people with stable jobs, while I live in low-income housing and have no family and have never had any stability my entire life. But things are only just getting started here.
The ABC band swore to me at the time that they did not steal the microphones. They demanded that I get the sound guy in check in the days afterward, because the sound guy started by threatening to call the police and file an assault charge over a very stupid incident in which he was kicked and fell backward, sustaining no damage but to his ego. The guy who kicked the sound guy, from ABC, went AWOL and refused to respond to any of my text messages, while his friends demanded that I somehow fix this cop-calling situation, which I spent many hours trying to do. Meanwhile, my grades are tanking. I have PTSD so dealing with all of this is very hard. The sound guy has thousands of people on the internet in an uproar saying they are going to murder this guy who kicked him, and the ABC people respond by saying it’s racist and unless I support their side I’m being racist, and then the sound guy actually has the nerve to start calling what happened to him rape just because the sound guy told him to suck his dick. At this point, I have had enough, and I tell the sound guy he cannot go around calling what happened rape: I have actually been raped, many times in my life, and that delegitimizes the struggle of actual rape victims and I would have to oppose him if he didn’t stop. Of course, like a regular sexist, the guy responds by attacking me . He insulted my voice and refused to finish a recording from that night that he was paid to do, which turns out it was my last chance to ever get a music project that I spent years and years throwing my heart and soul into recorded. He was punishing me for being a rape victim.
Meanwhile ABC swears up and down they never stole the microphones, but then a couple of months later I learn they returned the microphones and never even told me. No one told me at all, on either side. Because the point of me was just to do the emotional labor, absorb the blows from these angry men, and tank my grades so that they could get out their frustrations about their own lives. Who has “Power Over” here? All of them were threatening to shun me. I had my social capital in the music business to think about, to try to protect my ability to throw benefit shows and support causes I believe in in the future. so they had Power Over me. There’s no doubt about that. What have they lost? I’ve never even heard if the guy went to jail, so he probably didn’t.
And like Schulman says, for them, all they were trying to do was avoid having to come to terms about difficult facts about themselves that I was suggesting: saying you were raped when you were not is unethical and being a dick to people sucks. Trashing a place, kicking people and stealing shit you don’t need is unethical. Calling the cops is unethical. Being a sexist and expecting me to do everyone’s emotional labor is unethical. Expecting me to do your partner’s security job is unethical. And in response, everyone is yelling “Abuse! Abuse! When all that is happening is a bunch of very immature people are blowing a tiny conflict way, way out of proportion (Schulman calls it Simple Difference). And who suffers? I do. The people who had the least to do with actually inciting the conflict. ABS suffers, as you will see in subsequent paragraphs.
All the while that this is going down, I am dealing with far more serious shit completely on my own, and no one is noticing, and people I complain to are refusing to help. Three years prior, I had met someone I got into a relationship with, and about two years ago they punched me in the face during sex because I asked them a question that brought up something they were embarrassed about regarding themselves. He gave me a black eye and split my cheek. This was a big deal because after what happened to me as a kid I vowed that I would never let a man hit me ever again. But I put up with this, as I now regret, but back then it was because I believed my partner of the time, his name was John, was suffering from a mental health issue. I thought he might be mildly on the autism spectrum, and that he may have meltdowns, because even though he hit me, he hit himself far, far more than he hit me, to the point that I thought he was going to give himself brain damage. It was difficult to watch and so me, being naive, felt the need to help, even though the whole time I was wary that it might all be an act. I had to be sure, though. John kept hitting me over the years to come, and he would have extreme bouts of rage in which he would take about mass murdering people, he would describe in detail how he wanted to do things like behead people with axes, he would smash his head into the wall so hard I had to give him several stitches. One time when he was drunk, he tried to run us off the road in his car and I had to grab the wheel.
On another occasion, he made some sexist comments because he took a joke I made too seriously and started objectifying me in front of a mutual acquaintance. When I left the bar, he and the acquaintance followed me for several blocks, into an alley-type of ordeal, even though I kept telling them to leave me alone. When someone grabbed the back of me, I turned around swinging. There were many episodes like this in which John was very violent towards me. He would always apologize later and say he loved me, which I know as an abuse tactic. Yet, we had an intellectual connection that made me not want to give up on him. Nonetheless, after a few years of this, and about 4 occasions of him hitting me, I did. I firmly believe the only reason I put up with it as long as I did was because I had no other friends at all. I had lost my friends when my last relationship broke up. And then those friends came back to haunt me when this relationship broke up.
I first met my current partner about 6 years ago, and we had a really great relationship until some of his friends that he moved away from showed up from another state. To be blunt, they were stupid. They were those very stereotypical type of geek men who feel slighted because they haven’t gotten as much sex with women as they feel they deserve. Our relationship slowly fell apart, as we would come home from shows we played with our band, fighting about ways people had treated me at the shows– grabbing at me, expecting me to be in an ultra-sexual role all the time, women thinking they can touch and make out with me and its okay because they are women– and then of course, his friends indicting my response as me being out of control, all going silent when I say things like I wish I would’ve broken the wrist of that guy who just grabbed my ass, and then later getting together and talking about how I am psychotic.
I suffered a lot of abuse. One of my partner’s friends, Ben, was body-boxing with me once, and the rules were set out plainly– no face punching. Ben felt emasculated by my fighting ability within moments and I was really being rather playful, I mean I studied Jiu Jitsu for 9 months around this time and I had the same kind of respect for sparring that every person who regularly steps on a mat has. Ben quickly socked me in the face. I hit him back in the face and he said “woah, woah, okay.” When he hit me the first time in the face, some other people were so disturbed they walked away saying they were calling the cops, that’s how obviously not-okay it was. Later we had a conversation about how it was fucked up, and Ben agreed and apologized. Years later he refused to acknowledge this ever happened. He in fact started screaming at me for daring to bring it up, during a conversation about the shit which John in which I tangentially mentioned him by listing examples of the ways people cross physical lines with me and how it is unacceptable. This is just a typical instance of the gaslighting I faced.
Tim, my partner’s other friend, would constantly refuse to walk through doors if I held them. He would get jealous about how much time my partner and I were spending together and try to institute rules around the house such as no one is allowed to stay the night, but then he took under his wing this drunk that he met names Rat, and Rat was allowed to stay over all the time, even though he would get drunk and we had to drag him home and he would punch us along the way. Rat ended up raping me. I was drinking at his place with a bunch of our other friends and I drank too much. I went and passed out on the floor and he woke me up and said I should pass out in his room so I did. He came in a few hours later and laid down next to me. I told him I did not want to have sex with him. A few hours later I woke up to him touching me, trying to initiate sex with me, and I stopped it. I felt confused about what happened the next day because when I had first woken up to Rat I did not know where I was and thought I was at home with my partner, so there were a few seconds in which my body responded with arousal, and this was difficult for me to process. My partner discussed this with his friend Tim, and Tim said it was my fault that I got raped, and tried to convince my partner I was lying to cover up cheating on him. Even Rat never said this because he knew damned well what he did. In the next two years, he drank himself to death over it, and still people refused to believe he did what he did, constantly walking away or refusing to talk to me or even arguing with me when I would say things like I was glad Rat was dead. This went on for a few months until the pressure on our relationship became more than we could handle and we were fighting all the time, and my partner would say things to me like “why don’t you break up with me already.”
I ended up developing feelings for John during that time, because of what everyone was doing to me, and John acted like a safe shore in a storm at the beginning, talking through what everyone was doing to me, supporting me, and making sure I knew what they did was wrong. I told my partner about this development, and I said I was done trying this experiment with monogamy I agreed to try, that I needed to be nonmonogamous again. Even though my partner had agreed monogamy was just an experiment we would try, when I suggested this, he left me. And he always blamed me after that, he would constantly tell me how still in love with me he was, while being angry that I would not be closer with him. I felt more and more pressured by him until my feelings for him waned, and he wrote a bunch of hate songs about me that he and his band played and became some of their most popular songs. I’m so naive that I supported him in this, I wanted to support him handling it however he needed to. But really I was just letting myself be a punching bag for sexist male behavior.
I had fought my way back from 4 years of homelessness and an addiction to heroin, only to have to go to shows to hear a while crowd of people singing, “tired of always being second/ to exercise and alcohol and the scientific method/ you never gave a shit/ about anything that i did…” and sure enough after years of being treated this way, I lost my passion for school, I went from having a perfect application to get into Princeton or MIT like I was struggling to even pass. I stopped exercising, which was always a feat for me in the first place because i have fibromyalgia, and I became anorexic, although I love food, but my anxiety interferes seriously with my apetite. With all of the ways people were treating me, it was no wonder I accepted John beating me. After years of this I had had too much. I started yelling at John a lot until he left, refusing to pick up my calls, sending me text messages over and over telling me to kill myself. For years while John beat me he tried to convince me that I was the abusive one, just because I was assertive and not playing the submissive role (he was in denial of the fact that) he thought women should play. And all of the sexist punk rock idiots that surrounded us just solidified this. “I always thought you were the dominant one in the relationship,” they would say when I told them what John did. You could tell they didn’t believe me. It wasn’t possible for a woman to be assertive and not also be “bossy,” “abusive,” and emasculating. I was the frontperson for my band, the lead vocalist. I had played guitar in the band my partner fronted years ago.
I was still in severe denial about the habits of people around me, while social conflict was blowing up everywhere with bands like The Casualties having their lead singer being accused of raping and molesting women for years. I could not handle the prospect that I did not escape the extreme violence and delusion of my past, but that rather I simply entered into a new period of it because it is inescapable (yesterday I said to a friend, in the course of talking about marriage and society: “you know, being born a woman meant that there was no possible way you were going to survive without having to suck someone’s dick. You couldn’t work, at least there was often no guarantee of any kind of dignified work whatsoever, so from the moment of your birth there was the inescapable fact that no matter where you went, no matter what culture you were a part of at what time in history, you would not be able to survive quite literally without sucking some man’s dick for food). After what I went through as a kid, I mean I remember my earliest thoughts being of how I could never survive in this world. I remember thinking I was reincarnated and there had been some kind of technical accident and I had ended up on a more simple plane of existence than I should have gone to. That was when I was like 6 or 7. A couple of years later, before I went into that forced captivity for those three years or whatever, I remember my mother bringing home a big pink book for me that was titled “Stress & Anxiety” (I think this is right after she smacked my face into the stairs as I was running away and broke my nose and children’s services came to the house after I made a pathetic attempt to explain the bruises on my face at school). Anything thoughtful she did was motivated by something like that and that’s when I first started practicing meditation techniques. My 13-year-old sister slept upstairs in the same room as an 8 and 6-year-old so that my mother could give me the only other bedroom because at that age I was already such a nervous wreck.
I’ve been told my entire life by adults that I’ve been old for my age and such, and I recently spoke with one of my mothers partners during that period, who is the closest thing I had to a father, and he expressed guilt at not stopping my mother from doing what she did with us after she left. He said he was particularly worried about me because I was such a sensitive kid. When he told me that a couple of years ago it brought back a lot of memories and made me think about myself a lot differently. I went through a period of being very cold, and there came a time when I prized masculine traits in myself, at least to the point that I thought I could utilize them to protect myself. I went through my old journals from the past decade and it was very illuminating. The number of passages of me convincing myself that the behavior of men around me was acceptable… it was flooring. And terrifying. It was so obvious right there, and I never realized it. Only I did realize it. Because I wrote the entries convincing myself. I was just existing in two separate forms in the same body.
Lately everyone I know has come out against me with a bunch of really insane shit, and they keep telling me I’m nuts. It’s because I decided to throw away my public person and find myself and speak my mind again, and any woman that stands up and fights is psychotic in the eyes of sexists, it’s the quickest way to discredit someone. I couldn’t even be around them without speaking up, it became nearly physically impossible. They honestly believe that if someone changes their opinion to disagree with them, that they must be actually psychotically delusional. The moment you become forward with what you actually think with people, it’s like you’ve broken the most important unwritten rule of socialization (meanwhile, proper rationality calls for a person to adjust their opinions given new evidence. And one of the prime problems in society is that no one can ever admit to being wrong, or at least they strongly shy away from it). I really can’t describe the swiftness with which their masks were removed, the moment I began questioning these people in my life and how they treated me over the last few years. I came to realize I had been being gaslighted for years. One of the central people in this gaslighting has been Tim. My old partner and I broke up partly because I could not stand the sexism of his friends any longer. My partner would complain too, but he couldn’t stand up to them.
After years of being apart he and I both became more and more unable to sustain in their delusion. As he and I began to bring up patriarchal dynamics and all the typical macho shit of people who 6 months ago have suddenly become lifelong anarchists, before we even realized how much of a threat they were taking us to be, they had already all gone to each other and had secret conversations about how we were nuts and agreed to socially ostracize us before having to hear what we had to say. Now, I am smart and I know when people are fucking with me. For 6 years Tim, who has been my partner’s roommate for more than a decade, has been doing shit like refusing to walk through doors if I or other women hold them for him, beating his roommate because his roommate has a drug problem, and constantly trying to put on a fake nice face with women to get in their pants, and then we go home and they sit in front of youtube for hours and make tit and ass jokes or whatever and talk about the interest of their penises.
Watching Tim go from that to the fake face he would put on with new women he met, the fake voice even, it went all through his body. Totally different body language, totally different voice. Whenever Tim and I would have a disagreement, he would assert there was no disagreement even in the most obviously insane way, and he would give me this very uncomfortable, unwanted hug that was really hard and would crush my glasses and hurt me and he would say, “I love you, I’m your friend, I’m here for you, if you ever need to talk or need anything…” he would do this same routine over and over for years. It got to the point that my partner and I would talk explicitly about how we could not bring any disagreement to Tim whatsoever because he would just erase it, pretend it wasn’t there, and fill it in with fake friendship. This is actually a very common phenomenon. I had had mostlymale friends for years, but as I started to talk to queer men and make female friends, I noticed that they were ending my sentences when it came to talking about men saying, “Oh, but I think we really agree,” when there was a very clear disagreement.
After 6 years of Tim saying he was my friend like this, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. He left his tablet out a couple of months ago and I picked it up and his Facebook was open and I went through his messages, just far enough to learn the truth. My god. It was the best thing I have ever done. My god, I never could have believed before that just how right I was. There were messages upon messages to all kinds of people I’ve only made acquaintance with, asserting that I am psychotic and worse than my partner’s ex that they all hated (of course, the people named in the text refuse they ever said this and it was just Tim) and everyone wishes my partner was back with his ex-wife, someone I have heard them talk so much shit about and wish she was dead publicly on stage for years. Yet I’m nuts because I believe that “people who have never met each other are conspiring against her [me],” (I believe in patriarchy. I guess believing the government exists is also psychotic) that I am *physically abusive,* that I am *dangerous,* that I am a *fascist,* that I *refuse to deal with my PTSD* (even thought it’s practically all I talk about, and the guys sit there and get super silent and then change the subject because men don’t talk about feelings or else try to tell me it’s all my attitude or something or it can’t really be that bad or I have a ‘tendency to center myself’), that everything my partner ever said or did that Tim disagreed with, that I must have put those ideas in his head. Very typical sexist shit.
The real kicker for me in these screenshots is the woman responding to Tim. This is a woman who I have listened to my partner complain about for years, saying that she constantly would pressure him into sex, and specifically into unprotected sex when he did not feel comfortable with this. I had to tell my partner that yes, even though he is male-bodied, this is rape. I listened to him tell stories of trying to tell her no for hours and hours and she would not accept it, and finally he just gave in. I have watched this exact scenario happen to so many survivors, both male and female bodied. They use the fact that they weren’t violently forced to remain in denial about the fact that yes, this is rape. My partner expressed fear of her and an inability to get her to leave him alone for years while we were separated, and this now that we were together again. Throughout this entire ordeal, the only person I have issued actual threats to was this person (any other thing I’ve said that has been called a threat was me saying I would defend myself if they tried to physically attack me). Here is that conversation:
I showed my partner this conversation, as I have showed him every single text I have sent or received regarding this entire ordeal. He cried because he was so thankful that someone actually stood up for him. I stood up for him because I knew it was right. I read “Supporting a Survivor of Sexual Assault,” to bring clarity to my own situation and find a way to communicate my needs to others, but it actually helped me in deciding how to respond here. It’s not obvious given one of the 9 rules is not to respond by trying to jump into the situation for them, but after a lot of thinking and leaving him struggling unable to do anything for years, it became obvious my partner needed choice restored for him. He did not have any choice because his social atmosphere does not validate any sexual transgressions against male-bodied people, regularly acting as if such things do not exist. His actual experience, his actual reality was being erased, and that reality needed to be brought back to the forefront. The words needed to be spoken: she *raped* him. Again, Schulman’s metric is helpful here. Bringing reality back to smash delusion would allow my partner the very first thing he needed to develop his own agency over the situation: freedom of information. Information about his own experience was not free for him to access, because it had been erased by social delusion.
Receiving her responses was sickening for both of us. She says, “he can tell me himself,” and “If this is how he is telling me he feels. I don’t trust you or your motives,” all while knowing full damn well, probably while hearing and seeing in her mind the scenarios playing out of all the times my partner said no. All the times he said that he did not want to engage in sex with her, that he did not want to go further, all of the arguments where he says he doesn’t want sex and doesn’t place any special meaning on unprotected sex, and Erika here whined about how it made her feel dirty that he wouldn’t have unprotected sex with her and basically forced him to do it. All the while she is texting me, “he can tell me himself,” she knows damn well that he already did. The point here is that I am supposed to be too afraid to stand up for him, because I am supposed to be afraid of this “psychotic female with PTSD” trope that Tim is arming with all of his friends for use against me. She uses my ‘motives’ as a smokescreen for what we all know damn well is true. Then, that way, we can go back to the discussion they *really* want to have, and that is further trading cliche, outmoded, and frankly boring sexist tropes about empowered women. “She actually believes people who have never even met each other are out to get her,” Tim says. “It’s like actually psychotic,” he says. In the same way Erika says, “I’ll believe that when he tells me himself,” among her own recollection of my partner telling her himself; Tim says, “She said I was ‘mounting forces against her,’ she’s delusional,” while he is literally in the process of going around to people I hardly know or don’t know at all to convince them I am psychotic. How do these people live and act among such delusion? What level of cognitive dissonance is needed to say you aren’t doing a thing, while you are doing that very thing? A dangerous level, that’s what. We have to remember that first and foremost anarchists need to survive. Anarchists cannot survive when I have more people come to me with problems about possible security culture risks in writing this essay I’m now writing, than I have people willing to call out or say any single damn thing about the above behavior. An anarchism where people can’t speak about the things that are killing them is not an anarchism for me (all of that use of ‘fallacy man’ comics and not one damned person learned a damned thing. Citing of the Slippery Slope fallacy is useless to most people).
All of this while I have watched my partner suffer to the point of struggling with suicidal thoughts, because of his fear of Tim. Notice that Tim is trying to encourage the woman who raped my partner to continue thinking like she owns him, supporting her saying things like, “He will come back to me, he always does,” completely erasing my partner’s own agency, and living in delusion. My partner and I have been close for six years, and we had been monogmaous partners for almost three years. We have had almost four years of very close intimate relationship and we both have always throughout this considered one another the closest friend we each had. Yet, some woman who my partner says knows nothing about him and just wants to ‘possess’ him because of his ‘ultra-cool’ role as a frontperson in a band, somehow believes that my partner “always comes back” to her. It’s so obviously delusional, it is disgusting. Note the following:
What could possibly drive someone to say that Tim should be proud because he is “making huge strides in the scene and stand[ing] up for what it should represent.” It’s simple– social capital. None of these people has ever even written an essay or read a book on radical politics, and yet in their private dialogues they talk about themselves “making huge strides in the scene.” What are these ‘huge strides?’ They are nothing more than delusion. They make empty statements like this, perpetuate not only abusive but frankly boring and completely radically impotent activities and behaviors, while these people in particular go to a few demonstrations in masks. In this post-truth era of Trump, it has become very cool to be an ‘activist.’ They emulate this empty language– ‘making huge strides,’ not ‘writing a very important piece’ or ‘planning a very important action,’– because it is a social bonding activity. The point here is to “authenticate” with other people similar to them, not by checking to see if what the conversation partner says matches with the truth (authentication for real radicals), but to see if what the conversation partner says matches with the most hollow rituals and practices of their particular identity group.
These are “punk rockers,” so they are talking about “the scene.” Using this terminology with one another bolsters each person’s social capital. These people would be able to gain more social capital with actual activists by saying, “you have been fighting patriarchy in the scene,” or many other such specific statements, but their target audience for this type of language is not actual activists, it is other people who have associated themselves with anarchism because they want to obtain a commoditized, ‘unique,’ exclusive identity that will give them entrance into an exclusive social group. This particular cool social group is a group of “punk rockers,” who really have no moral center at all, and patriarchal behavior runs fucking rampant in that scene, it is common practice to violate consent and engage in very questionable and thin-line-walking behavior regarding consent.
Thus, *precisely because* they are interested in building social capital, they use empty, nonspecific language like, “making huge strides.” It’s the hallmark of delusion. Within just a few lines, Tim is back to objectifying women. He brings up having met someone, because Tim is constantly trying to fulfill the standard cultural expectations of males by “making up for” his sexually “unsuccessful” younger years as a “dork who didn’t get any,” sanitizing it with talk of ‘cuddling’ because he’s mastered the cultural expectation within the group, while constantly trying to show that now he is wanted by women, and so on and so forth. Why bring up meeting someone at all? Do they talk about anything of value regarding this meeting? No. The very first thing Tim brings up regarding having met someone is the fact that they have not yet had sex. That is because the entire point of the above conversation, for Tim, is a pathetic attempt to bite at his own emasculation, emasculation he perceives of himself because he feels entitled to women’s bodies and feels he has not yet gotten the physical contact with women’s bodies that he feels he deserves.
“Getting to know the people that make my family happy would bring me great joy,” the conversation partner says. Yet, this person regularly engaged in conversation with me *only* if I started it, pretending to not be acting off-put (meanwhile talking about me like this behind my back), even though I am the long-term partner of someone this person once considered one of their closest friends. Yet, another instance of this same situation with my partner and the woman that regularly sexually assaulted him accounts for the lines across which their friendship was drawn. This conversation partner of Tim’s had another groupie-style crush on my partner and made my partner feel pressured. Once my partner “failed” at responding like a typical male is supposed to respond to offers of sex that this conversation partner of Tim’s made, then of course this conversation partner awkwardly and silently cut off their friendship with my partner, after three separate times of broaching this subject of pushing an intimate relationship between them. They never discussed their feelings with me, or explicitly the reasons for the end of their friendship with my partner, because they are, contrary to what they state, not interested in “getting to know the people that make my family happy.” They are interested in falling through a social sieve that leaves them with other people only interested in coveting others for their bodies, in order to salve emotional bruises gained in teenage years for not quite fitting gender/social expectations and not getting as much sexual attention as they feel they have a right to receive from other people. Three people here engaged in these conversations, Tim and the two separate people I read these messages to, all fit the same psychological profile, and all have the same level of “engagement” with their title of activist or anarchist. Two of them consider themselves antifa within the last year.
They are interested in trading sentences with other people who have a similar interest as they do. Here, that interest is in upholding one another’s delusion regarding *why* they are interested in other people. Clearly, not for their minds, but for their bodies. Yet, in another screenshot I need to find, Tim states that he is now in a “nonhierarchical, open relationship” with this new person. Tim never gave one shit about politics before Trump got elected and it was cool. He was unsupportive when my partner got directly involved in political process because a rational analysis of the magnitude of the threat for many involved making changes to the level of engagement that one may call ethical. He repeated juvenile tropes about voting that both rednecks and teenage anarchists alike would be likely to repeat.
Tim would respond to any of my serious political conversation starters with tit and ass jokes, making fun of my sincerity by responding with verbage you’d expect to hear on Call of Duty online servers, or getting really entitled to his opinion that he just now made up by focusing on semantics and refusing to accept any definitional treatises arrived at, in his ‘new-anarchism,’ using well worn-tactics like th eimproper use of humility (well at least *I* don’t think I know better than other people) to the point that my partner and I discussed this constantly and how awful it was to put up with. When my partner and I broke up, all I heard form my partner was how he could not put up with Tim’s constant derailing of any intellectual conversation whatsoever.
Yet, Tim suddenly proclaims he is in a “nonhierarchical, open relationship,” something us actual anarchists know we have been working at with our partners for years, and there is work to be done for yet years to come. Being in a nonhierarchical relationship is so clearly to them just a label. It’s a cool label you paste on yourself to gain access to an exclusive social club. It is not an honest effort that requires critical self-inquiry and years of work, years of trying and failing. This critique is not meant to simply devalue Tim, it is made to point out a much wider phenomenon, and that is the commoditization of identity.
Commoditization of identity leaves our social groups as naked prey for those social capitalists who come around constantly calculating what it takes to enter an exclusive social group, and what it takes to then achieve their main goal, rulership of that social group. It’s why Zizek’s main critique of anarchism is that anarchism has hierarchical leaders, it’s just that anarchists refuse to admit it. Well, here are the hierarchical leaders of anarchism– the social capitalists like Tim, Steve, and all of their enablers and cohorts. We all know them. They’re most often the ones who love cats and can cite all the different anarchy-ball names (if you’ve got a particularly enlightened sample) but haven’t ever picked up or even heard of Kropotkin or any other anarchist writer for that matter, beyond maybe Green Day with their cool circle-A shoes (that’s literature, right?). I’m not sure they know that listening to Johnny Hobo is no substitute for actual anarchist discourse.
We used to have to tell Tim we had already eaten because he was so domineering in conversation that for years we ended up spending $40 on house dinners because Tim was going through that cycle abusers go through– they’re awful to you, then they feel guilty so they do something nice. Tim would do this by “cooking dinner,” or making a big deal about how he was gonna clean the house once in six months and force us all to drop everything and do it with him and praise him up and down or he would throw a fit. Once he got it in his head, there was no getting it out. We would say no, that’s not what we want and he would put on that fake smile of his and that fake voice and hug us and say he loved us and would not take no for an answer. It would end up with us throwing in $40 for dinner so he could take all the ingredients, throw it in a pot together and turn it into inedible sludge so he would have some nice thing he did to hold over our heads and force us to let go of things he did, with least effort. We used to have to hide it when we wanted to eat dinner, go out in secret and eat secretly in my partner’s room just because Tim was so domineering.
My partner was constantly worried Tim was beating his dog when he wasn’t around. His dog definitely acts like an abused animal and we could never understand why. Any time my partner was dating someone, Tim would suddenly try to pass rules that no one was allowed to sleep over at the house. But this didn’t stop him from becoming friends with the worst piece of shit drunk and letting *him,* stay at the house whenever. Rat was a horrible sexist and I always complained about it. Tim seriously went around saying to everyone that it was my fault I got raped, that I was a dirty slut and all this shit men say (in more words, I’m sure). But he never would admit to me that he said those things, or to my partner, the person he said them to. He just erased it. But I’m not stupid, I know he did because my partner told me at the time. Tim actively interfered with every single relationship my partner has ever had. My partner’s brother and my partner’s father actually seriously stole his ex wife’s car and she lost her job, because they didn’t like that she was driving without a license. Tim was his roommate at the time, and stood by and let it happen without comment. That’s just one thing.
Over the last decade Tim has done tons of shit like that to interfere with my partner’s love life. I think it is because Tim has feelings for my partner that he is not willing to reconcile, and so he binds my partner up and tries to beat him down as abusive people do, to make him feel better about his love for my partner putting my partner on a pedestal. And this makes sense with what Schulman said: Tim is afraid that I am asking him to come to terms with uncomfortable facts about himself, so he organizes everyone around me to shun me, and he claims that I am dangerous and physically abusive, which are completely baseless. Tim is the one who beats people: I watched Tim hold Ben up by his throat until he turned purple and was about to pass out. I was so afraid I had to leave the house immediately. Tim has explosive rage, Tim screams so loud when he is upset that the neighbors call the cops because they think he is being murdered. The reason I included the excerpt from Schulman is because I was so gaslighted that I could not tell what was and was not abuse, I doubted my own experience so much that I had to find some outside metric by which to judge. But using Schulman’s metric makes it clear: Tim has a violent history, not me. My fear of Tim is justified, and his “fear” of me is a lie to cover up him having to come to terms with his own shit.
For years Tim has told my partner that my partner needs to be taken care of and the only reason Tim came out here was to take care of my partner because he wouldn’t be able to make it on his own. This is so clearly the exact opposite of what is happening. Tim is a slob who sleeps with rotten food in his bed and goes to work drunk and can’t get through the day without smoking weed at work and who has the cops come to the house at 4 am because he is screaming bloody murder that he can’t find his keys and the neighbors think he is getting murdered. My partner worked at the same job for a decade and worked his way up to management and had a car and paid all his own bills and all this shit since he was fucking goddamned 16. He is the most independent person, the most reliable person I have ever met. What Tim was doing was *clearly* gaslighting him and getting into his head. This fits exactly Schulman’s criteria of psychological Power Over so strong that the person is not able to remove themselves or make any independent action.
Most of the people my partner and I made friends with here in the punk scene were people like that. The answer as to why our relationship suffered should have been obvious, but all of this shit had become so normalized in our minds that we couldn’t see it. My partner would say things like, “you know, I’ve been thinking. It seems we only argue after shows,” and still it wasn’t obvious to us that what was happening is we were living amongst a bunch of abusive bigots and hiding who we really are and we would only get in fights on nights I was forced to deal with their shit. I told my partner many times I felt like our relationship not only included Tim but also that it lacked sensitivity, lacked true expressions of love or true expressions in general. My partner would go flat-faced during conversations that he now gets extremely emotional during. This was because of what Tim and other friends and influences did to him. Tim was always doing things like making fun of my partner’s penis size or the guys bullying him because they think he’s queer before he actually came out, and because he doesn’t go to strip clubs and the like.
Obviously responsibility is not as simple as this but, Tim tried to form my partner into someone like him, someone who is completely in denial of their own feelings and would never dare to express them. And it wasn’t that my partner didn’t know. He did know, but he didn’t have the confidence to resist. He constantly complained about how stupid their conversations were and he was never intellectually fulfilled. He complained every single day about Tim making stupid jokes to ruin anything and everything serious. After Trump got elected and my partner came out as queer a year before that, things changed. Suddenly all of these terrible, terrible people were life-long, die-hard, know-everything-already anarchists. It’s the same thing I watched back in 2005 that I’m not allowed to speak about because we are in a time of war or whatever version of that it is that anarchists use to justify calling anyone and everyone a fascist that has any critique of antifa whatsoever. They want to punch nazis because they want to punch people. This way they can punch people and look like heroes and not have to get to the bottom of their own internal rage and frustration. Specifically male rage.
Male rage is a very specific thing. It is an annihilating rage. It is an all-enclosing rage. The rage of men is the rage of feeling entitled to women’s bodies and not getting the sex they deserve, of feeling embarrassed when someone tells them what they are doing is sexist, or when fellow men don’t see them as sexist enough; and so fragile and needing to have their masculinity stroked at every turn that embarrassment is the worst thing you could do to them, and they respond to it as if it is physical violence, they even call it violence, by annihilating whatever issue caused them to be embarrassed. They annihilate lands that refuse to yield to them, women and animals that refuse to yield to them, ideas that refuse to yield to them. They brainwash them out and pave them over and rewrite history so that they never existed.
Men never forced women into dependency. They never designed clothes for us that make us unable to perform physical tasks. They never withheld love or social acceptance from us if we refused to grow our hair out so long it was a burden, or refused to be laden down with the constant bearing of children, they never were the owners of corporations who forty years ago decided it would increase their profits to confine us to frilly pink clothing, pants without pockets and shirts and *arctic weather rated jackets* that don’t cover one’s midsection. That’s what women *really want,* you see, girls just want to have fun, and they like to play with inconsequential frills, and they’re too soft to do real work (third wave feminism)– just look at all their dresses and stuff (never mind *we* told them they couldn’t wear pants. Look at these studies. They say most women are wearing skirts today. Must be a fundamental quality of women).
With me, Tim was embarrassed about supporting a rapist and being an obvious sexist piece of shit that he had to *erase me.* My arguments were correct, so he erased me by going around for years now and convincing everyone that I am delusional, hysterical, all while keeping what he was doing a secret, or trying to. He asked his “lesbian friends,” and they said what he did was sexist with the door thing, so he pretended that never happened, and then he reported to me that he asked his lesbian friends and they said he wasn’t sexist, so he couldn’t be sexist (my partner told me what they really said, and about Tim’s 2-day fit after it). Now he doesn’t have to face his own sexism, and he has a whole group of people backing him up in that because since he’s a die-hard lifelong anarchist all of a sudden, he was able to couch his abuse of me in political language sharp enough to entrap other idiots also interested in lying to themselves about themselves, that people jumped right in with it. They heard me say one five-minute speech after they came home loudly bragging about some shit they did which was very stupid and having no respect for security culture and being obvious idiots, I make one of those talk-about-what-they-are-doing indirectly speeches explaining how I’ve watched macho assholes insert themselves through antifa type rhetoric for years and never bother to do internal self-criticism and just carry all their sexism and the violence that comes along with it into movements, and whether they’re conscious of it or not, from that moment on they registered me as a threat.
They would listen to fucking such stereotypical shit like Orwell talking about Catalonia in order to try to impress me, and when I made comments about the sexist nature of some of the practices, they get defensive because they feel they deserved to receive cool points and praise from me for fitting in with the identity, not criticism, and so they attack me (“No no, they are anarchists. This is in Catalonia,” Tyler says and I groan. I want to say “Every fucking anarchist learns about Catalonia the first day they get into anarchism you fucking idiot,” but I don’t. These are the traditional things we are all supposed to hail. And anarchists don’t make rules, so if you refuse to work with someone you’re a fascist, according to Tim and Tyler. They’ve literally never heard the term “voluntaryism” but meet my mention of the concept with, “well *I* feel…”). Tim and Tyler both on separate occasions within one week bring up the phrase “cult of personality” and ask me about it in anarchist movements, and think I’m not smart enough to piece together that the statistical spike in the use of this term obviously indicates they have been speaking to one another about me. Some college white kid and random people from demos I met for possible new recruits want to use the benefit show money to rent a U-Haul to move homeless people out of a neighborhood they’ve been living in for a long time because it is pissingresidents in the neighborhood off, a neighborhood where college white dudes lives, and because I said ‘no’ to this ridiculous and bigoted plan, I’m a fascist, never mind that someone just randomly suggested a vote, clearly indicating they never read the ABS literature about consensus and how to attain membership?
They listen to some white comedians laugh about lynchings while talking critically of racism and they treat me like a hysterical moody bitch when I say, “can you imagine being so far removed from actual violence that you can laugh about lynchings? Can you imagine a black person in this conversation?” And now I’m being attacked. Because they deserved me to suck their dick for listening to white men who were being intellectually anti-racist. Never mind if it would be alienating for non white people to listen to, nevermind that’s a part of normalization. Apparently I am a fascist who runs a cult of personality because I have a project in mind and if people disagree with the fundamental indispensable tenets, I think they should move on to something they do agree with because what else are you gonna do, make sure everything is agreeable to everyone (say the people who tout diversity)? But to Tim women aren’t allowed to take their money and do stuff if it means men’s voices don’t get listened to. To him that is fascism.
And because its super cool to be an anarchist right now, call someone a fascist and you’re immediately the coolest person in the room. I’m not joking. I seriously just sent out well-formed arguments via text to those people who were fucking with us, and immediately they all started saying I’m psychotic. One went like this, to that Annie-Christ person who got in touch with me to volunteer to do something through knowing my partner’s punk band: “So you volunteered to give a workshop on local racist groups, but then you heard some rumors about how some people I’ve talked to at points were somehow “problematic.” instead of checking on these rumors, you send me a message saying you can’t do it because my group is a bunch of rape apologists. But then I contact RCA and ask if Will left on bad terms as you allege, and they say no. So one of your points is completely baseless. And then Glenna, are you serious? You’re the merch person for her partner Barett’s band. You are closer to her than I am, but I’m problematic because I signed on to a callout of someone who was sexually abusive to me, and she was also one of the voices on that callout? To reach into someone’s life with no mind to how they are doing personally, and make accusations, both public and private– especially accusations to a survivor about being a rape apologist– based solely on some rumors you heard, because ‘you can’t go against what your people said,’ that’s a form of tribalism, a form of nationalism, that is fundamentally incompatible with anarchism. Freedom of information is at the base of all freedom, and it is every person’s individual duty to check information they act on, or else how are we any better than the Eichmanns of the world?” Apparently this makes me insane, as she responded that I was crazy and should stop contacting her. She refused to ever see there was a problem with this. She forced a hug on me once at a show and said “Let’s be cool” and walked off. She never asked to touch me. She never asked for my forgiveness. She never actually addressed the retraumatizing and hurtful shit she did to me and how it would affect my ability to be in and be effective in the anarchist community.
Since I’m a person who actually listens to the criticisms of others, because I am naive and I believed people actually try their hardest to be good, this shit actually runs rampant in my brain and makes me doubt myself more and more. that’s how gaslighting and brainwash works. I showed all of the texts to my partner, every single one. And without even getting his input, just showing it to someone else made me realize just how right I am. I’m not crazy. Maybe you’re surrounded by different people, or maybe you are also deluding yourself into thinking they are good, but if I’m honest with myself, most modern US anarchists are stupid people who are just buying identities and pasting them on themselves, or else they are people who see a power vacuum and a group of naive idealists to take advantage of. Just imagine serious revolutionaries throughout time trying to sit down and have a conversation with Tyler, or Tim, or Ben, or John. It’s laughable.
These people don’t know what real hardship is, they don’t have a real interest in being good. They just want to be part of a cool identity. I have so many examples, this essay would be more than forty pages. The last year, putting myself out there with anarchists again, I already have countless experiences of people straight up violating consent and letting their friends violate consent without caring or interfering or even feeling the need to admit there is a problem, while also spitting on people who they identify as rapists in the scene, all while Anarres-associated folks try to get me to work with one of the guys who has allegations against him, who threw his hands up at the general assembly after being questioned on it and almost hit me because I was standing next to him (Uriel). That’s the ethics of the whole Annares group right there.
Tyler from ABC– who was part of the group that stole the microphones, who later refused to read an essay I wrote when I said he was being classist and sexist– is a joke, someone with such low self-esteem that they emulate high intellectual language over shit they don’t understand at all just to try to command respect in the scene, while engaging in some of the most ridiculous fucking antics completely counter to all his neighborhoodly verbage. They blew up my ability to get resources to help people because they wanted to be drunk and steal shit and hit people all while making a big deal about a band being named the mormon trannies once. And then months later someone else is calling me a rape apologist for having been associated with the person who also called me a rape apologist for failing to magically remove people from the benefit show I had never met. Female friends of mine went to some ABC event and wanted to write to drug offenders since they had experiences going to prison for drugs. They were met with unfriendliness, and reported back to me that it seemed like the two white male leaders of the group were the only ones really allowed to talk and address the group.
This new person saying my group is a bunch of rape apologists, whose name is Annie, and goes under “Annie Christ” on Facebook, slanders us publicly to other anarchists for having been associated with Glenna, because she heard some rumors from her friends (Spencer, no doubt. I told you he was popular) that Glenna was “problematic,” and didn’t bother to look into it at all before texting me a bunch of abusive accusations for no reason whatsoever. But get this. Annie just so happens to do merch for my partner and Barret’s and Tim’s band, and Glenna is Barret’s partner so naturally Annie hangs out with Glenna far more than I ever did. Yet she slanders us in the scene and sends me abusive messages because she heard we associated with someone problematic. So literally Annie is slandering us for having talked to a person who they hang around all the time in the present! And then of course, Tim talks to Barret who thinks its alright to put all that drama on me after the benefit show which cost me the only recording I ever would have had of my band, because my band broke up because John was hitting me and they all sided with him.
I found out that all the other members of my band, Mike and Paul, former members of Taint Misbehavin’ and Raw Dog and the Close Calls, hit or have hit their partners, and the situation became so disgusting. The first time John yelled at me in front of my band, my drummer Mike stood up and yelled at him to stop, and went on this big emotional thing about love instead of hate that was really two-dimensional, and I knew *right then* that he was also someone who used to beat women, and now we were all supposed to bow at his feet and cheer on his words because look at him. Such a great and profound soul. One day decided he was wrong for beating his girlfriends. And now He Knows. And he has The Knowledge. And we should All Listen. This is delusion, the delusion that binds social groups from bonding-capital-based groups to groups united around male rage. While Mike says shit like, “you and john are not allowed to be alone together,” and I have to respond by saying, “that is ridiculous. One of the first rules of survivor support is to restore choice, not take it away,” these delusion-based groups are left unchecked because I’m not supposed to call others’ identities into question, according to other anarchists, somehow saying it’s bullshit that this is a guy with anarchist tattoos who calls themselves an anarchist could be a practice that might somehow be weilded against the oppressed someday and so I should eat real life-threatening harm now for the sake of unnamed slippery slope harm to the unnamed unborn geniuses of famed bad anti-abortion arguments of the future.
I told john right then and there, and this is the power of having a good understanding and empirically good mental models of delusion, mark my words: mike used to beat his girlfriends. A week later john returns with reports of paul and mike coming to see him to “talk with him,” and finding out that both paul and mike are or used to beat their girlfriends. Paul currently beats his girlfriend, and of course no one will believe this because Paul, like John, changes his behavior based on who he is around, but his girlfriend, like me, does not. So they see her being emotional and assume she must be the abusive one. It was so sickening, realizing all of this had been surrounding me and I chose not to pry away at it and discover it, watching them fawn over john, trying to work out his emotional problems and playing therapist while I sit there having dropped 40 pounds in a year, weighing less than 100 pounds so much that my professors stop and ask if I’m okay, I can’t go a single day without crying even in public, and I’m having to be super medicated again just to get through the day and no one has even bothered to notice, and they all assume nothing is going on between me and john because I’m “bossy” and I have to listen to mike express his incredulity once I sit down and explain john just acts meek around other people but he’s completely different around me. I don’t act differently around other people. I’m the same no matter who is in the room, unless it’s a cop.
And all the while I know it’s just motivated by sexism. Here is an assertive female, so she must be abusive, she must be “pussy-whipping” him or whatever. And still after all the shit I have been through in my life I have to sit here and explain this more than obvious shit, do the emotional labor for them while they go out and seek out john to give him comfort and attention, never even calling me once. not one single time. months pass and mike texts me asking for money to pay rent at the practice space I haven’t been allowed in in three months because john said so, and i find out they have been practicing there without me. So basically I got kicked out of the band for john beating me while they feigned thinking it was wrong, and now while I’m wasting away in the horror of the realization of what I am still surrounded by, they text me asking for money, asking me to pay for my own torture. And meanwhile Tim is using all of this to make me out to be insane to his friends, because he can sense in me over the years me being closer and closer to not taking his shit anymore and he wants to get the jump on me. I’ve brought myself to my knees over the years, pondering the statistical unlikelihood of the number of unfortunate things that have happened to me (granted my life in the US has to be still better than man others even with all the unusually severe trauma), but I refuse to believe its just an uncanny statistical unlikelihood, even though those are certain to exist. Bad shit happens to me more often because I find myself in environments, in social constructions designed to operate off of my oppression.
I always wanted to respect my partner’s choices and so I would keep my mouth shut about a lot of shit, but over the years I had started alluding to Tim about fucked up shit Tim does in the third person, like, “ugh it’s so sexist when people X” and my partner and I would go on and on about this, indirectly talking about Tim in front of him, because that’s the way abused people have to deliver their criticisms, out of fear that a direct criticism would be met with violence or some other threatening or destructive response from these ultra-fragile males. Further, they can only listen if they feel their own ego is not under scrutiny. And of course all the people Tim is talking this shit to about me are other men who also call themselves anarchist and antifa now, since last year they all got together and decided to start going out to these patriot prayer things and fucking with racists. So all of a sudden they are the anarchists and who the hell am I? Not the person who had been bringing up anarchism and having them make fun of me about it for years, oh no. Suddenly they know more about everything than me, because having experience makes you a psychotic fascist according to Tim. Tim has never been to any of our meetings but he knows, because of the rumors.
I kick people out who disagree with me. Never mind that this white college kid Kyle wanted to use the benefit money to rent a uhaul to move homeless people out of southeast to avoid the conflict rising there and the whole group fucking immediately within 5 minutes voted in approval (we are not even a voting organization. These people never even bothered to read, let alone help develop, or guiding principles) because a young white guy proposed this ultra bigoted and ridiculous action and I said no. Of fucking course I said no. So because I said no to something, I’m a fascist. Never mind I had already set down clear fucking rules for the group, rules I constantly prodded them to have input on, but no one cared then. I set up a whole thing about our consensus policy and group membership and it was clear only two of us were full members because we hardly knew these other people. Not one of them submitted a letter of intent. Not a single one of them was part of the long-term consensus group. Consensus is something serious you don’t just enter into with anyone, but never mind all that. These people have never even read about consensus or models for group decisions making, they’ve never picked up a book on anarchism in their fucking lives.
I tell my life story with all these well-cited arguments and talk about ess ays and movements where my views are supported and draw from years of serious field experience with the most core parts of male violence and then they want to respond with “well I think…” with the absolute certainty that their opinion should be taken as equal to mine, and it is completely fucking absurd. The guys see me around the house wearing my body armor, practicing downstairs with my knives and taser on the punching bag. They hear me, “grab, rip, twist, zap. Again.” immediately everything changes. I’m dangerous, and psychotic. I watched Tim hold up his old roommate by the throat for a whole minute while he screamed at him and hit him, but Tim says I’m physically abusive even though I have never hit anybody if it wasn’t in self-defense from physical violence. Tim is clearly violent towards people, yet everyone, and I mean every single one of my partner and I’s old friends, suddenly were certain that I’m insane. You see a woman get armed, and they’re insane. They’re hysterical. How am I caught in this nightmare?
It’s not just oh, some weird people I know. These people are central in the punk scene and all their friends are all these stupid little antifa punks that run around. I was able to trace these fucked up behaviors in one form or another back to every single local anarchist group in Portland except for the Black Rose. They are all a joke. I can’t even imagine doing a serious revolutionary action with these people. And neither can anyone else. Because they’re not about serious revolutionary action. Every single time I made a decisive action in ABS it was because women in the group were coming to me with clearly well founded complaints about how men were acting in the group, and they don’t know how to stand up and say something so I have to do it for them (our attitude toward intellectualism in anarchism makes conversations about the nuances of ethics in situations like this impossible to have, so we can’t acknowledge that yes, someone needs to protect the ability for women to have agency who are not at this time able to protect themselves, while also teaching them how to. Not everyone is immediately capable of everything. As a result, not everyone’s reasons for acting are immediately apparent. What seems like a hierarchical top-down decision may be something quite different when all the facts are revealed. Personal biases make it so that not always can all information be revealed to everyone, often for the safety of the oppressed. Do we have an anarchism sensitive enough to deal with these situations? Especially when everyone is vying for social capital and calls out the near-meaningless accusation of ‘fascist’ at every turn?). But then of course most of them women I deal with will never come forward, because they are either unable or manipulating the situation to their advantage, to say the things they say to me in private, so I have to bear the brunt of lash back on my own and keep my mouth shut about why. As a result I’m near powerless to speak due to the confidence of others, while outside factors call me fascist for kicking out rapists and such and everyone else agree because well, I’m unpopular because I send messages that make clear arguments uncovering others’ flaws, in the interest that we actually move forward and get free.
Yes, I went through Tim’s messages. I have no guilt whatsoever about doing it because he had been lying to me for 6 years and the shit I saw in those messages was terrifying and exactly what I needed to realize the oppressive structures around me and reject explanations that focused on my sanity alone. The way he had been talking about me all that time, while pretending to be my friend… it just solidified everything I thought I’d known about people but I let others talk me out of. I’m not capable of lying to people like that, and I can’t imagine what a cold mind it would take to be able to wear such dual faces. And here Tim is in his messages trying to set my partner up with this woman Erika who keeps sexually assaulting him. And she says, “well I’ll consider that if they tell me that is how they feel because well, I just don’t trust your motives.” Tim has been telling everyone I’ve been isolating my partner and deluding him. “They *did* tell you,” I said back, “they told you many times that they did not want to have unprotected sex with you, and you pressured them into it, and I had to watch them worry as they went and got tested and watch how it made them feel to have no one care.” For years his friends have been doing this type of sexually abusive shit to him, in the same way wearing the same dual faces that they used to with me, trying to meddle in and direct the lives of other for no reason other than to please their own whims.
It’s just not a normal story for a grown man to have his male friends and his male long time roommate being domestically or sexually abusive toward him. He had no one saying, “no wait, that *is* abuse. Just because you’re male doesn’t mean women can force you into sex and it’s ok.” To Tim, this is me brainwashing my partner, precisely *because* I am undoing the brainwash that Tim has done to him. It’s purely strategy. If he accuses me of it first, then obviously no one will believe me if I throw the same accusation back. In a social group where individuals have not made a commitment to dissecting reality for their own selves, but rather committed to adding their voice to a specific chorus of others, there is no hope to properly dissect this situation. For months I had been trying to get my partner to tell Tim how he feels, because I’ve been watching him suffer living with him for years. He couldn’t. He kept making dates and pushing them back. That clearly fits Schulman’s definition of psychological Power Over. Tim had so much Power Over my partner that for years my partner struggled and failed to tell Tim exactly how much he hated him. Finally Tim blew up and said he was moving out in 1 month. Tim went to live with some of my partner’s so-called friends, particularly his friend Andy. My partner never got the chance to say how he has been feeling all these years, Tim read the situation and then simply projected all of his own flaws onto me and my partner, so that we could not call his out.
No one texted my partner at all throughout this devastating encounter, and definitely not me. None of his so-called friends worried or made sure he would have anywhere to go, so it’s a good thing I made a place for him by putting my own housing at risk. Finally we were sitting in my room both distracted from our work (I have mounds of homework I should be catching up on right now but instead I’m forced to write this, to do the emotional labor required to survive the abuse men go on about doing without thinking twice) and he said, “I just can’t stop the shit Tim said from going over and over in my ind.” and I said, “welcome to my world. This is why I stand up. I have to, or it’ll drive me nuts.” He sent out some texts to his friends. Andy said he “wanted” to hear my partner’s side of the story. And mind you, all of this has been made to be mainly about me, people slandering and bullying me because my partner is “one of the guys” and they would like to be able to blame it all on me. No one texts me, no one apologizes to me. Tim sends a text to my partner saying he’s sorry it turned out that way and he loves my partner. My partner laughed the most sardonic laugh when he got it, and then he was livid. “Look at this shit. He did it again, exactly what he always does. Pretends there was never even a problem. He stood there and hollered in my face for an hour, and now he loves me.” They ERASE reality.
I can’t take it anymore. My partner and I have been talking about delusion so much it feels like a fixation. But it’s everywhere. Now that I have someone honest close to me, we can look out together and see it and be that much more sure of it. It’s everywhere. “Do you see how that guy looked at me and then walked straight into me?” My partner asks me. “OMG yes. It’s because you’re covered from head to toe in pink. That shit happens to me all the time.” “Me too.” Me too, I hear, for the first time in my life. “Me too.” Not, “are you sure” or “I bet they didn’t mean anything by it,” like John would say, or “I think you have a tendency to center yourself,” like Dan Martin from Anarres would say, during the month he told me it was alright for me to get into a relationship with him even though I said another breakup right now would cause me to kill myself, because Dan Martin wanted to use me for sex so badly he was willing to write pages and pages of letters of lies, which I have attached for you to make your own judgments about, like “I want to be with you for the rest of my life,” and then refusing to talk to me a month later after admitting he was only ‘hanging out’ with me because I lived close to his school. But of course he wouldn’t admit to being no better than a sexist woman-using jock bro. And of course, he has done this before, and when questioned, the person he did it to said they did not tell me because they “did not want to mess up his chances with me.” And in the tradition of all shitty jock bros, he went and talked to his friend Jordan about it, who then saw an opportunity to pretend to be there for me, get me drunk, and try to screw me without consent. Read about it if you want to. I don’t want to be reminded any more than I have to.
They see it, I see it, and the horror of how much we have been gaslighted is laid out before us and we can no longer deny it. My partner texted his friends Andy and Tyler back saying if they wanted to hear from him, they would have to hear from me as well. There’s no reason they should want to hear what my partner has to say and not me, since this has had the greatest toll on me, it has cost me my career, I am now anorexic, and I have almost died from the depression several times. Tyler texted me back that he didn’t want to get in the middle of it. Andy, who pissed in my partner’s closet and tried to climb into his bed with his pants down in the middle of the night, just stops texting him rather than respond to me. It becomes so clear when you see it in writing, look how Andy is trying to get me to sleep with him and then the texts just stop. Once sex with me is out of the question, I am worth nothing to these people. Tyler responds a few days later y immediately attacking me while saying he doesn’t want to get in the middle of it. I’ll upload those screenshots later when I feel emotionally up to it. This stuff is not easy, but I feel like if we can get a database of references and examples of this type of behavior, we can inoculate people against it. This is the Deprogramming initiative in the Anarchist Black Shield project.
My partner mostly hangs out with these ‘friends’ when they play DND. No one even texted my partner to ask if DND is cancelled. Everyone just stops texting him, they never even had a single conversation about it. How else would they have even known anything happened at all, if Tim didn’t go around and tell them? Yet I am psychotic for thinking something is going on. Tim went around and filled everyone with MRA rhetoric and called it anarchist rhetoric and they ate it up hook line and sinker and now my partner is risking us both becoming homeless because Tim is a terrible piece of shit, who coerced my partner into extending the last lease several times so that Tim wouldn’t be homeless, but the second he wants out, who gives a fuck if it puts my partner on the street. And his friends are just silent and absent while he and I try to get last-minute employment in line so I can spend all of my savings on a down payment for a house I’m not ready to buy yet, dismissing my dreams of going to Princeton or MIT, and why? because some entitled white male wanted to throw a tantrum because he was mad that my partner and I are dating again because when my partner and I are dating I actually encourage him to stand up for himself and Tim has less control over him. And Tim had the gall to give me a grand hug and say he was ‘actually’ glad we were back together again, thinking somehow I’m gullible enough to believe that.
As the partner being spoken of here, I would like to add some information about experiences I had with Tim on my own, without both of us being present. Both of us are writing this essay as partners. We identify as a-gendered and transgender, but I am male-bodied where my partner is female-bodied. It is likely due to my male-bodiedness that I was unable to receive any consideration from my friends for the situations that I was in. It’s not allowed that male bodies be capable of being violated, nor that psychological violence can have an effect on male-bodied individuals. Naturally, any complaints I made about feeling like a prisoner in my house due to Tim’s behavior went ignored, and so did my coming to terms with having been physically restrained and raped by a woman when I was younger.
Literally every single friend I have told this story to has immediately relayed their own story of one time they drank and slept with someone they wouldn’t have if they were sober, and equated that experience with my own, with the time I woke up tied to my bed being raped by a coworker. The psychological abuse, naturally, was even more ignored than this, being completely dismissed. I am not unaware that many of my friends say that I’m crazy when I’m not around. Each of them has at some point decided to tell me that someone else said that about me at some point in order to get me to take their side against the other friend in some disagreement. This is apparently the normal mode by which men are supposed to win arguments, building social pressure for the other to give up their position, rather than listening to any argument presented. The programmed response for their friends is then to say ‘I’m not getting involved’ and then getting involved regardless, while pretending not to.
An example of the abuse I’m talking about is that Tim made a regular habit of issuing ultimatums to me, as he was both my roommate and band mate. These ultimatums generally came in the form of “stop seeing X person, or I’ll quit the band/move out.” Tim actually started a second band with me and a friend of both of ours as the lead singer at one point, and encouraged the two of us to spend more time together as we were obviously attracted to each other. We became intimate after a few months, and upon learning of this, Tim immediately quit the band, destroying our friend’s self-confidence as this was her first attempt at being the front person in a band, and making it clear that he considered my relationships with women something that he should have power over. Tim later told me that he had feelings for that friend, though he never admitted that these feelings were the cause for his actions.
After that point, Tim regularly threatened to quit our other band, which was basically my therapy, over the slightest things. Tim invited friends to stay at the house, and when he decided they should stop staying there, rather than telling them himself, he told me to kick them out, or else he would quit the band. If I didn’t spend the entire night of our shows giving Tim attention and emotional support, he would threaten to quit the band. If one of the other members of the band got too drunk, I had to make sure it never happened again, or Tim would quit the band. For the last two years of the band’s existence, these ultimatums were issued at minimum once a month. That band member who I had become intimate with and I stopped seeing each other because Tim made her so uncomfortable at the house by adopting an entirely fake personality around her, that she no longer wanted to spend time there.
As soon as we began spending time at her apartment, Tim decided that her roommate was madly in love with him, and suddenly wanted both of us to spend more time at the house. Whatever environment I tried to have for myself, Tim made certain to circumvent. Eventually it got to the point that I moved from the large, finished and heated room upstairs into the basement simply to have some space to myself, at which point Tim decided that he needed to practice music daily, something he had literally never done before in my 7 years living with him. Perhaps it’s a coincidence that this happened immediately after I moved next to the music room to get some privacy, but given the other manipulative, controlling behavior he has exhibited over the years, I find that unlikely.
The only other partner I’ve had in this city, Tim claimed the entire time that he “knew she wanted to sleep with him” and claimed that he only didn’t because she was ‘mine’. This is the general attitude Tim has towards women. Tim claimed this same desire from every single woman who was in the political group that Tim and I helped found, to the point that he subtly pressured one member to the point that it became uncomfortable for them both to attend meetings. Of course, this entire time Tim claimed that he just wanted to be friends, but everyone around him could hear and see the change in his behavior, tone of voice and language every time she was around.
The last time this political group met, I was unable to attend a rally because of my knee having been dislocated at the previous one two weeks before, so I was making food for everyone when they got back. The second the group entered the house, Tim began talking to this friend A like he always did, and she immediately made an excuse to leave and go to the kitchen. She offered to help with the food, which I was almost done making and I told her I didn’t need any help but thank you. She looked awkwardly around, and stood in the kitchen until she found some dirty dishes and started cleaning them. That is just one example from dozens of how Tim made women extremely uncomfortable. Naturally, he just immediately turned his attention to one of the other women present, and the look of relief on his original target’s face as she left the kitchen with me and saw this will never leave my mind (‘Friend A’ in the first round of screenshots).
We live in a world where it is a rare experience to cry during a movie or any sort of story with another person. That is the pinnacle of vulnerability for a lot of people. People’s ability to even imagine something better is crippled. I think about space exploration and the possibilities quake me and I feel an energy and an excitement that is just as physical as any pain I’ve ever felt at abandonment or heartbreak or my own powerlessness and I know there is a vital energy there just beyond the reach of most people, by their own design, by society’s own design. The possibilities are crippled, as any attention toward anyone is almost always deemed sexual, and especially any attention of an emotional or personal or even serious nature. Human beings used to sleep in heaps to stay warm but an invitation to share a bed is now immediately sexual. Either humans don’t have feelings like I do, or maybe every single human being chokes back tears at the thought of historical tragedies and cruelties or even at the imagination of the states of mind of people suffering right now all across the planet. Speaking about that kind of compassion is a vulnerability that either doesn’t occur to most people or that they would not dare to express.
I talk with my father, who is still running from the damage the gender binary did to him, about his pride in his nail salon and his hatred of other men, his memories of being bullied for having a half-hand and then suddenly sprouting up two feet and being six four and being used like a brute by people to fight their fights, and his journey from that to where he is now, and how I see the shoots and roots of capitalism and sexism leaving bullet holes throughout generations of my family history, as they all worked at jeep and had their minds and bodies broken by the factory line mindset.
Every woman in my family was abused by men. And every child was abused by their parents, my generation and earlier. I’m torn between heartbreak because a bully picked my cousin up three years ago and slammed him on the ground at age 16 and broke his neck and he fought for survival in a hospital bed for two years with bedsores and problems with having a feeding tube in for that long, looking like if you touched his hand he would break, torn between that and the rational realization that his life might be better this way because he was going to be a cop. Watching how violence is so tied up with violence, while my heart yearns for something better, more honest, more vital.
Children point fingers at one another and exclaim, “PDA!” and this mindset carries into adulthood. There is no affection, there is only sex and conquest. The annihilation mentality extends into everything. Something must be broken and owned to be beheld. The confusion at the feeling of feeling more empowered in more violent situations, because at least the magnitude of the violence makes it clear who is on what side. There is none of this feeling of even bothering to speak being totally useless because words have become so twisted and motivations so obscured that nothing can be communicated.
The most intimate relationship I have ever had is nearly sexless and we both take comfort in that. No one builds anything together. We only tear each other down. The chances that you have a conversation with someone in which it is clear that they have actually thought you out are very rare. “Well I think you do X because Y happened you and you have a worldview that states z about it, and since you value A it makes sense.” How often? Maybe more for you. But if I ever got that sort of attention, well, it would feel very special indeed. People become so good at mimicry for the sake of manipulation that one can only authenticate someone else by checking with the finest details. And even then one can never be certain.
We are alone and no one seems to find it problematic. We are dying everyday and most people don’t find this problematic. Every person that dies, I feel like we have failed them. When I was a kid and my grampa got hit by a forklift at jeep and had to retire early and didn’t know what to do with himself and felt useless and slowly could do less and less, worried every day about being in a wheelchair, I felt a great urge to go to school for medicine and to fix him, because I probably could have. As I grew older I saw a lot of things I could fix everywhere and I tried to pick the place that was strategically the most important. So many of the main projects in my life have been determined like this, determined by the fight I was born into and not by my own desires or happiness. In fact my own happiness and desires melded with these visions of a different future to the point that I cannot imagine living out a life similar to that of my parent and peers, piddling around on earth feeding myself until I die.
We wonder if other people have these drives and passions, if they are as small as they seem or if there is something more hiding in there. The almost more terrible truth is that I think something is actually hiding in there for a lot of people. Something is hiding in there waiting to be activated, waiting to be plugged in to a vulnerability and closer connection with other people. I know because my entire life I have been critical of systems and I’ve always talked to people about it since the time I was very small. I am the kind of person that people are constantly telling me, “I’ve never been able to tell this to anyone else.” I see through so much that it pains me to even exist, I can enumerate with ease all of the things people actually want to say and aren’t saying and why, as well as all of the real reasons people are doing some behavior they are doing, and why and how they are deluding themselves.
I can list the social traditions that make it so we are not allowed to draw these things into the light. I can do it without needing to stop and think at all, I spend so much time analyzing other people that the second someone enters into an actual debate with me it feels like I am a dangerous instrument. I spare other people as much as I can actually debating them because I crush people. I crush people so immediately and completely it is followed by a long silence and everyone feels kind of uncomfortable and I do not like doing that to people. It makes people fear me and get on the defensive with me a lot. But living with that kind of knowledge is extremely difficult. And not having someone else to share and process that knowledge with is almost a certain recipe for madness. There are so many details and so many subtleties and false trails hiding real trails and so on it becomes nearly impossible to navigate it and sort out all of the feedback loops on oneself without a somewhat isolated system from you on the outside double checking your work. But our society has made that sort of vulnerability required for that kind of connection impossible.
It’s no wonder they’ve made it impossible because it’s the most dangerous thing people could do. I mean they hate unions. Obviously they would hate linked up brains, whether it be physical directly or by practice and habit. Academia would be a weapon if its communities had the constraints on their interpersonal relating lifted. Imagine to what uses physics labs would be put if they were suddenly collectively owned. Obviously there’s the question of unethical individuals but in ideal situations it’s clear most problems only exist because of the structures we create. And if I’m being honest with myself, we can’t just missionary people into being better people. You can lead a horse to water. We can set a better example, we can interfere when things get dire enough, we can put the information in front of them, but they have to choose to be good on their own. No amount of social coercion can replace that. The only way that can be done is if we escape. It’s a purist’s fantasy that we can open our arms and open our hearts and doors and minds and do good enough to save us all.
In reality, we need to hide away, to form a base, to put our plans into ciphers behind closed doors and in Schroedinger’s boxes. We need a Black Shield that we can build a fire under, shielded from this desolate and harsh universe. It’s the case that entropy is morally neutral and it may be the case that we can appreciate that it is integral for life, that it is the thing that allows possibilities to multiply and be expanded, but only under the direction of a certain sort of intention is this any good. This could be a terrible fact based solely on intention applied. And the intention of natural selection is indifferent to our desires in most cases. We are mere vessels for hormones to convince us into doing things we’ve been programmed to do and we hardly question it. This form itself seems disgusting to me a lot. I want to be able to genetically engineer myself. Everything we do, our ontology and epistemology, our instruments and our language and even our goals are dictated by our physical form. A significant change to our physical form could render thousands and thousands of years of “progress” obsolete. Artificial intelligences develop their own languages we cannot even understand and we already face the question of whether or not we should let them communicate and develop this level of complexity.
What if it is the case that civilizations have been here before, and it’s a race to become efficient enough before we are wiped away, and the way the physical laws are make it such that for all of history thus far civilizations have not quite been able enough to beat the clock. What if it is the case, and it’s fairly likely looking at the presence of molecules more complex than hydrogen and helium compounds, that the amount of time after heavy elements were born and considering the pace of natural selection and the probable number of habitable worlds… it is not outside of the realm of possibility that we stand to be the first to spread out into space. How many civilizations will struggle through all of the pain and loss and uncertainties of growing out of a pool of amino acids and finding oneself alone contemplating one’s existence? Unless we become better, all of that blood is on our hands.
**more to come**