Taking Account of our Politics: An Anarchist Perspective on Contending with Sexual Violence

By 1 Hamilton member, 1 Toronto member, 1 former Toronto member

In the fall of 2010, several female members of Common Cause took on the task of developing a sexual violence policy for the organization. At the time, and as far as we were aware, there had never been an instance of sexual violence in Common Cause. Our drive to write the policy came from some members’ past experiences of being sexually assaulted while participating in other organizations, from a desire to do better, and from our own readings on sexual violence and accountability processes generally. Since then, we have, unfortunately, had to make use of the policy to address issues of sexual violence as an organization. There have been situations in which our members have been sexually assaulted, situations where members have been aggressors, and situations outside our organization where we have been asked or felt compelled to offer our perspective.

We strive to develop our politics through a process of trying things, analyzing our successes and failures, and using our conclusions to make a better attempt in the future. There are few situations we encounter with as high stakes as sexual violence. Failures have been devastating, both to individuals and organizations. For this reason, our analysis must be thorough and considered. It is often easy to attribute failures of accountability processes to factors specific to the situation―this aggressor was too manipulative, this support committee couldn’t get its shit together, this or that person flaked out on their assigned tasks. Specifics do need to be considered, but our analysis needs to come from our politics. As anarchists, we are seeking to develop a strong foundation from which to address issues of sexual assault and sexism seriously and genuinely, and we seem to be struggling. read more