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Saturday, October 13, 2012

An Open Letter to SlutWalk (2011)

There is this idea that the government and police should be appealed to in order to protect women-identified people from rape culture; that women, trans, anti-racist, sex worker, and queer inclusive legislation should, in theory, protect us. Unfortunately, this faith in a fatherly liberal government neglects the investment that capitalism, the state and the prison industrial complex (PIC) have in perpetuating rape culture and monopolizing "violence" as well as "justice".
In early 2011, two high profile cases in Chicago and New York City explicitly illustrated the ways that police their power to exert force over others and walk away exempt. In Chicago, two officers routinely escorted women home and then raped them; in NYC, officers were acquitted despite a recording in which one officer admitted to the rape. It is not merely an issue of a few bad apples, as the system will always excuse their actions, and perhaps send a few politicians to community forums in a feign of "accountability" and openness. This is not new to us in Seattle, as we hold Ian Birk's vicious murder of John T. Williams, and Birk's exoneration, fresh in our minds; or Officer Clayton Powell, who was investigated by the SPD for threatening and stalking his ex-wife, but as reported by the Seattle PI, "cops who abuse their wives rarely pay the price".
As demonstrated by a Toronto cop, the demand for "more dialogue" with the police ignores the crucial role the cops and the state play in upholding rape culture. As supporters of survivors, why would we ever ask for justice under a system that puts the survivor on trial and reinforces the violence of gender, heteronormativity, race and class? Police and prison culture creates a false notion of served justice in which our ability to take back our bodies and our lives is crushed by the gears of capitalism and the state.
More legislation for justice and "hate crimes" seems especially farcical, as the law is commonly used against us when we fight back. In Winnipeg, a city with a deep history of "starlight tours" where police drive indigenous women out of the city to rape and abandon in the snow, a transwoman has been incarcerated for nearly a year awaiting trial. Her charges stem from defending herself against the taunts and attacks of a man who propositioned her and tried to steal her shoes. In the summer of 2006, seven queer women of color in NYC were assaulted by a man on the street who threatened to "fuck them straight". Despite being assisted by two other men, the women were put on trial for attempted murder, accused of a hate crime against a white man, and called a "wolf pack of lesbians". Meanwhile, the PIC will profit off of their captivity, as four of the seven were sentenced to between 3 and 11 years in prison.
Creating more opportunities to send people to jail, in fact, only furthers the PIC's ability to continue to do harm and attack individual and community capacities for self-organization and safety. One of the most insidious myths of rape culture ignores that most assault happens within immediate communities and many survivors can name their rapist. Calling the cops becomes less of an option when survivors know that their rapist is equally vulnerable to violence at the hands of the police. Prisons and the police do little to address the root of rape culture in our communities, especially non-white, queer, immigrant and low income communities.
Prisons are just another face of big business; not only are they a source of free/slave labor, but the private ownership, food and construction contracts to be won create a cyclical need for more prisoners. Additionally, many rapes that happen in prison go completely undocumented because of the systemic attack on criminalized classes that enables the PIC.
It is not enough to ask for reform from a system that disappears people through the construction of borders and jails, while affirming cultural values about rape, gender, race and straightness. The only people who should be in the business of articulating and setting boundaries for how they experience their bodies are people themselves, NOT the State, NOT the police, and certainly not industries hellbent on manifesting insecurities that keep us tied to mythical protectors. Instead, let us consider other ways of affirming our own agency and dismantling the apparatus of the State and all of its constituents.
As anarchists, we want the extinction of police and prison culture. As survivors, we want to set the boundaries for how and when we fight back against sexual violence.
some tuff bitches
www.pugetsoundanarchists.org // www.criticalresistance.org // http://www.incite-national.org/ // *http://www.incite-national.org/media/docs/9261_anti-prisonbrochure.pdf

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