Do Romantic Relationships Build the United Front?
May 2018 — I read ULK 61 and it is a pretty interesting newsletter on a topic that I have never put much thought into. I have to say I do not agree with the portion about "un-muddling the relationships between comrades (i.e. no dating within the org)" in the Sex-Offenders vs. Anti-People Sex Crimes article. I believe this practice would serve no real interest in the organization. I believe it is a form of dis-unity. To make a method of such effective the org would have to segregate the two (men and women). The reason being men and women form relationships naturally. I believe we need to congregate with our women for relationships, build unity, and if unity is a strong point of this organization a rule like that shall be established in this organization.
I do understand why MIM would decide to take that approach, but I see it as going against the inevitable. I believe it would also create secrecy in the org if people were dating and that would cause dishonesty. I believe a better approach would be to recognize the relationship, as to say if the comrades are to date they should be married. Not only would this relationship be recognized by the org, it would be recognized by the state/U.$., further decreasing such allegations of sex crimes. And at the same time the organization would be helping to build and create unity between men and women.
Another reason I believe this approach/practice would be more effective in the organization is because people seem to be more serious about marriage, meaning there just won't be any fraternizing within the organization. If there has to be an appointed licensed priest/preacher or someone to wed the two it should be done so. It, the ceremony, should be done in front of the org. Now it becomes if someone interferes with the relationship man or woman they should be punished/dealt with. Now that the marriage is consensual the sex is consensual. We should not deharmonize the harmony between man and woman. We are trying to build a United Front!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We need to be clear that marriage does not ensure consensual sex. We can't create a utopia outside of the patriarchal culture right now, and so we know that our relationships (including marriages) will still be strongly influenced by that culture. And under the patriarchy sexual relations are inherently unequal regardless of marital status or level of political activism of the people involved.
This writer is correct that people do have a tendency to become romantically involved with people with whom they spend a lot of time. And having a lot of political unity can encourage this romance. We don't share the view that this is naturally just between men and wimmin. It also happens between men and men and between wimmin and wimmin. So separating the people would only stop some romance. There may be other arguments for separating men and wimmin while we battle the patriarchy, but we shouldn't expect this to end romance or sexual assault. The situation in men's prisons across the United $tates is a clear demonstration of this point.
Our main disagreement with this writer is with the idea that we should use romance to build unity. On the factual front, even with the formality of marriage, most relationships don't stay together. This is just a fact of life under the imperialist patriarchy right now. This is the reality we live in. And we know that when relationships end there is a lot of irrational anger (and often rational anger too) that comes with it. So if we're trying to build unity, encouraging romantic relationships is likely to backfire in the majority of cases where the relationship doesn't last. Perhaps we can do better than the average couple with the support of the political organization, but we're still going to have a lot of relationships end. We just don't have the power or reach right now to reverse this fact of patriarchal culture.
In the ULK 61 article this writer responds to we wrote:
"How we handle this process now in our cell structure will be different if a cell has 2 members versus 2,000 members. The process will need to be adapted for different stages of the struggle as well, such as when we have dual power, and then again when the Joint Dictatorship of the Proletariat of the Oppressed Nations has power. And on and on, adapting our methods into a stateless communism.
"Even with policies in place, we have limited means of combating chauvinism, assault allegations and other unforeseen organizational problems endemic to the left. Rather than wave off these contradictions, or put them out of sight (or cover them up, like so many First World-based parties and organizations have done), we need to build institutions that protect those who are oppressed by gender violence."
This is something we need to continue discussing, trying various approaches, and working on the best approaches to ensure the longevity of the anti-imperialist movement.