On 21 August 2013 I was doing research as part of my challenge to my illegal perpetual imprisonment — officially I am being kept in prison forever only because I have no birth certificate, i.e. I am a prisoner of the war on terror.
Upon leaving the law library, I was groped/sexually assaulted by a senior CO under the guise of a "pat search." After the incident (and collecting my wits) I made a written complaint to the unit caseworker. Since then I have had my cell searched, been given a notice of charges, been sanctioned, and have received special attention from the good ole boys in the form of attempts at intimidation, verbal abuse, and derisive sexually charged remarks concerning my sexual identity and persuasion. In the wake of this incident, however, something else has also occurred, and that is an unexpected level of support from both comrades known and, until this incident, unknown.
It is my hope that this incident will galvanize people and raise their awareness of the need for unification. I'm not the only prisoner, transgender or otherwise, to be sexually assaulted at this prison by guards. It is only one of the many abuses we are exposed to, one of the many symptoms of a degenerate system that thrives on violence and exploitation.
It is my hope that in time our solidarity will prevent abuses rather than merely tend to the damage caused by them.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Prisoners are in a unique position of gender oppression in Amerika. While the vast majority of prisoners are male, they face gender oppression on the scale otherwise experienced by biological wimmin. This is because prison guards use sexual harassment as a power tool, and a form of abuse. It is good to hear about people coming together to help this comrade in this battle. This is the kind of unity we need to build against all forms of oppression. We can look to the struggles in Washington state from Men Against Sexism as an example of prisoners coming together to fight gender oppression.(see ]ULK 29)
"Once again we are presented with a campaign to end third world poverty and oppression that is incapable of confronting the roots of this oppression because it is bound up in the cycle it pretends to critique."(1)
I couldn't of put it better myself as those are the exact same sentiments/thoughts that went through my head as I watched Girl Rising, the highly touted new documentary film that is concerned with drawing attention to, and putting a stop to the oppression of young girls in the "developing world."
Now, being that this special aired on the info-tainment CNN television station I decided to watch to see just how exactly cable TV would handle this topic. Predictably enough, CNN and their NGO partners (Non Governmental Organizations) show us what most anti-imperialists are already aware of: that most wimmin and girls in the Third World suffer at exponentially higher rates than their First World counterparts. Beyond that however, the film didn't really make any poignant statements relative to the emancipation of wimmin, neither did they explain to us how these girls are supposed to rise, despite the film's name. Instead, the film-makers, the so-called NGOs, and the corporate sponsors they are both in bed with, used the children depicted in the film as a way to launch yet another offensive at the supposedly backwards culture of the oppressed. The take away? "Just look at how miserable these girls in the Third World are, look at how they suffer." The reason? Backwards, internal development, lack of First World ingenuity and innovation, and the reactionary culture of the global south. And the answer? Immediate imperialist intervention whether by bullion or by bullet.
Girl Rising is a movie centered around the life experiences of five Third World girls whose stories are told to us in order to garner much-needed attention to the endemic problem of gross patriarchal oppression in the periphery. Yet the patriarchy is never even referred to. Furthermore, the film leaves one with a rather pessimistic outlook for girls in the impoverished zones absent a western-style bourgeois democracy. And indeed, it would seem then that this documentary was designed just to induce such feelings. Conveniently enough this film fails to mention just how the oppressor of wimmin and girls in these countries is not mere happenstance, but systematic and directly linked to the uneven development of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Nor does it mention that the systematic oppression of young children in these societies (as the ones featured in Girl Rising) are a permanent fixture and of complete necessity for the ongoing parasitic privilege of beneficiary populations such as the United $tates. The perpetuation of capitalism in these countries, and the finance capital that is sent there and dressed in the veneer of "aid," is part and parcel of keeping these nations from developing self-sufficient economies independent of the global status quo.
Almost every other commercial during this two hour presentation is from some imperialist multi-national bragging about what they do for Third World wimmin and girls, when in reality all they are doing is commodifying these girls' oppression. Capital One, BNY Wealth Management and Intel all had their greedy hands in the cookie jar. Here's a perfect example: During an Intel commercial that aired during the movie, a narrative states: "A girl is not defined by what society sees, but how she sees herself." Now, besides the obvious commercialization of its product, Intel is just flat out wrong because, while that sweet philosophical statement holds some truth here in the United $tates where wimmin have "rights" (privileges) and know how to have them enforced, it is a completely different story in the Third World where the gender roles are not the same and are directly dependent on capital.
Amerika maintains the image that they are the gold standard when it comes to gender relations, just as they maintain the gold standard when it comes to how they treat their workers. Point in fact, the very first commercial during the film is brought to us by a feminine hygiene product maker depicting their version of how they see girls rising in the periphery. They show us how they make an African girl's dream come true by giving her the chance to direct a commercial for the day. Surely this dream is not reflective of the billions of Third World girls currently toiling under the weight of comprador regimes, death squads, sexual slavery, feudalistic landlords, and assembly line sweatshops. No, from the looks of this girl it is the dream of a privileged sector child whose parents might very well be a part of the technocratic petty-bourgeois intelligentsia of this much hyped "developing world." A far cry from the realities of the lives depicted in the film.
From little Wadley in disease ridden and underdeveloped Haiti, whose dream is to be able to attend school with her mates, but who is unfortunately unable to because her mother just doesn't have the money. Or Zuma in Nepal who was sold into slavery as a child, was liberated from her abusive masters by a teacher and now as a young adult organizes other girls to liberate those still held in captivity. Yazmin in Egypt who is no more than nine but is raped by some scumbag and then refused help from the police because the chance of prosecution is little to none. Azmera in Eritrea who narrowly escapes a life in bondage, and Senna in Peru whose life seems doomed to mining for scraps of gold. All these lives and their portrayal in Girl Rising are but glimpses into the real yoke of imperialist oppression.
We are constantly told that the mode of production called capitalism is the best humynity has to offer, and that a capitalist economy has already been proven superior to socialism, yet whenever the mode of production has been revolutionized and a socialist economy has been put into effect the people of those societies have seen a tremendous growth in the overall well being of their populations. This is most notably true for wimmin who've been immediately pulled out of their traditional roles as housewives and mothers and thrown directly into the production process, in which they help their nation create not only sustainability but wealth (in particular see socialist China and the USSR). The conditions created by wimmin's participation in the production process likewise creates the condition for participation in the political process where they assume power utilizing revolutionary politics to push people out of the middle and dark ages and into the New Democratic period in which the people truly hold power.
Certainly wherever socialism has triumphed it has been only as a direct result of wimmin's role and participation as guerrilla warriors, battalion captains and proletarian-feminist leaders in liberating her nation from not only the imperialists but the patriarchy; as only by defeating the one can she defeat the other.
The liberation of wimmin is not accomplished via equal pay for equal work nor by the granting of "abortion on demand" as these are really only privileges given to the gender aristocracy for their allegiance to empire. Instead of advocating for more privileges that are contingent on the backs of their Third World "sisters," the NGOs and the First World pseudo-feminists at the helm of such propaganda like Girl Rising and the "Because I am a Girl" campaign(1) should all aim their guns at the imperialist rape and plunder of the periphery that makes it possible for the First World pseudo-feminists to have "abortion on demand" and equal pay for equal work! Real feminist leadership can only come from the proletarian perspective and not from First World wimmin who are really just globally gendered males who have a real material interest in holding up the global system of oppression and exploitation.(2)
"If this campaign actually wants to change 'the plight' of girls then it should endorse wimmin's militias and factory takeovers on the part of women and girls. Such a revolutionary agenda, though, would put it at odds with its corporate sponsors and so, like every NGO, it will remain caught within an imperialist framework."(1)
Liberation of the neo-colonies from the patriarchal grips of the imperialists will set wimmin free in the global countryside; not charity from the imperialist centers.
I would like to respond to an article on page 8 of ULK33: Rats Undermine United Front. The brother who sent that in to you should be on something other than what he spoke about. I feel he should've been informing you about how these pigs down here continue to bring us cold food in lockup. How they mistreat Muslims during Ramadan and all throughout their stay here as far as how they are fed. It is so ridiculous how they so blatantly give you cold half-cooked, sometimes spoiled beans and a funky crusty peanut butter sandwich in place of a "pork-free" meal. There's a sign posted in all the chow halls that says "drink at your own risk" when it comes to the juice. They put this poison out on the tables knowing that the majority of the offender population is more than likely going to drink it. We are not getting the proper portions, or enough to eat.
When you write a grievance and a step 2 followup, you get some type of frivolous disposition back on it. I have several grievances from different offices, all with the same disposition on them. It is as if the employees are trained with what to write on the back on the grievances. And they always side with the guilty officer.
Also, a female guard or nurse has power. Especially in these little hick and country-ass towns, where they wish a muthafucka would get out of line. Don't matter what color you are. When they get thru beatin' you half to death, behind something some female said, you'll more than likely be beat blue. I've seen it at least fifty times. I even had a woman lie on me and say that I had threatened her physically, from behind two closed and locked doors. The warden looked at her like she was crazy and let me make it. I was just blessed to be in the presence of a warden who knows the game.
The article should have also talked about how we get charged $100 every year for medical, but they don't pay us for working or provide a way for us to work the $100 off. Also, we only get $50 when we leave, and $50 when we go report. If you discharge they give you a whole hundred. Wow! And the windbreakers they make us wear during the winter months, and have the nerve to call it a coat. They work you in winter weather with no thermal clothing, even though they have more than enough to issue out.
Damn man, talk about the shit that's really going on. The real shit. How muthafukas came in gangsta-and-guerrilla, but leaving out like ginger bread dolls. Yeah. And you all know who you are. You boys outta control down here in the great state of Texas.
MIM(Prisons) responds: There are a few points in this letter that need a response. First, we're not sure exactly what issue the author is taking with the original article in ULK where another prisoner wrote about how rats working for the prison were undermining his United Front work. It sounds like this prisoner thinks that's not important, but if we are going to fight these terrible conditions we need some unity, and building a United Front across organizations is critical to this battle. We can't just write about the problems without also talking about the solutions, or organizing successes and failures, and how to build from there.
The point this writer raises about female prison staff is a good demonstration of the gender oppression that happens in prison, that is very different from what goes on on the streets. While biological men generally have gender privilege relative to biological wimmin in Amerika, there are some differences by nationality and also within prison. In the prison situation, where most prisoners are men, female prison workers can accuse those men of sexual misconduct and get them beat or punished, without having to provide any proof. Further, numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics demonstrate this power difference: "Significantly, most perpetrators of staff sexual misconduct were female and most victims were male: among male victims of staff sexual misconduct, 69% of prisoners and 64% of jail inmates reported sexual activity with female staff."(1) Overall MIM(Prisons) sees gender privilege as the norm for both men and wimmin in the First World, relative to both men and wimmin in the Third World. But the abuse in prisons should not be ignored.
Recently a report was released by the U.$. Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division. The report concerned a survey conducted relating to sexual assaults and abuse taking place in Amerikan prisons and jails. The state of Texas was at the very top in terms of sexual assaults and abuse reported by prisoners. In fact, the Bill Clements unit located in Amarillo, Texas and the Mark Stiles unit located in Beaumont, Texas rated high in prison rape cases as well as sexual assaults. There has been no evidence to suggest the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is overly concerned about the persynal welfare and safety of the humyn beings held captive in their modern day gulags. Recent evidence shows the blatant disregard for humyn life in Texas prisons.
In Kennedy, Texas where the Connally Unit is located. A drought has caused 2 of the 10 water wells servicing the area to dry up. In a sign of extreme stupidity the warden of Connally Unit offered the water wells servicing the prison to the civilian population in Kennedy!
Some viewed this as an admirable gesture of good will. Although no one stopped to think about the prisoners housed at Connally. In Mid-August there have been reports of no-showers, no-toilet flushes, no-water being offered to prisoners on the unit. What the hell was the warden thinking? That's the point comrades, the oppressors down here don't think. A prisoner in Texas is less than humyn, a barn animal, cattle, chattel, dog or cat but far from being viewed as humyn.
This is why political and legal education is so very important for the lumpen underclass housed in Texas state prison. We cannot organize against these oppressors if we don't embrace the stage we are in. Cutting edge revolutionary scientific analysis tells us we are at the stage of A) Educate B) Raise awareness and consciousness and C) Garner public support for our struggle!
If the U.$. Department of Justice knows Texas allows the abuse of prisoners, what do they intend to do about it? A fancy report doesn't do jack to solve the problem. We need tangible realistic solutions. We must lobby hard for these oppressors to be held accountable. This executive director Brad Livingston?! Out! This Prison Rape Elimnation Act Ombudsman Ralph Bales?! Out! This Warden on Connally Unit who has ignored the basic needs of the humyn beings in her/his care? Out! And add some civil rights violations and criminal charges to their resume and perchance they will take their job more seriously.
As always I encourage all comrades in Texas and beyond to join USW in order to learn how to remove the boot of the oppressor from your neck!
I am writing in response to "Debating Trans Rights" in ULK 31. I am a bi-two spirit prisoner who's been active in the struggle since the 70s. I do not agree with everything that revolutionary comrades espouse, but these are not grounds for division, they are expressions of human diversity. The Pennsylvania comrade seems to have misunderstood MIM(Prisons)'s position and taken it somewhat persynally.
Having said as much, I see this comrade's struggle (and indeed the trans struggle generally) as an agitational process and as resistance to imposed norms of identity inseparable from the broader battle against sex-based discrimination and exploitation globally.
Whether a trans persyn can afford sex reassignment surgery (SRS) or hormone therapy speaks only to their economic condition and not to their location. This economic hurdle actually applies to most trans people in the u.s., many of whom seek SRS and treatments via the underground from sources in Mexico and Latin America due to the artificially inflated cost created by the medical establishment in the u.s. and exploitative pharmaceutical monopolies. It was done with Cipro during the anthrax scare and is still being done with HIV/AIDS treatment, which has had an enormously adverse impact in Africa where AIDS and AIDS-related deaths are epidemic.
It should also not go unnoticed that trans people in the u.s. are being raped and murdered as well (especially in prison) due to their identity, as are gays and bis. A 2012 Black & Pink newsletter published 43 photos of trans wimmin murdered by hate criminals. This number represented only a tiny fraction of the total number of murders of trans people as the result of hate in the u.s.
From an international perspective, the u.s. cannot be excluded from the global battlefield. The transitioning comrade in Pennsylvania should note that MIM(Prisons) never said they were against SRS/hormone therapy, nor did they derogate that particular struggle. They simply said it isn't part of their global perspective on anti-imperialist struggle. This is hardly a disparaging or anti-trans position.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We appreciate this comrade expanding on what we wrote in ULK 31. We stand by our point: "In the article this prisoner criticizes, we wrote that we do not fight for sex reassignment surgery in the same way we don't fight for gay marriage, because both amount to further privileges for people already benefiting from imperialism. We could equate these struggles with the fight to get more women in executive positions in companies, or the fight to get a Black man in the white house. They represent steps forward in equality for Blacks, wimmin, gays and trans people in reaping imperialist spoils of war and gender oppression on Third World peoples. These struggles do not help advance the fight against imperialism, to liberate the Third World peoples." And as we explained in ULK 12, the U.$. health care system is not in the best interests of Amerikans, but on the whole they still have access to far superior care than most people in the world. So to struggle to improve U.$. health care strengthens imperialism, while ending AIDS drug monopolies challenges imperialism.
We agree with this writer that we should not ignore those facing particularly brutal gender oppression in the First World. The murder of trans people, and violence against anyone for sexual orientation or gender identity, is objectively reactionary and is a product of patriarchal imperialism. This violence is just one of many reasons why those facing this gender oppression should be on the side of the anti-imperialist struggle, fighting for a world free of gender oppression.
I'm a sick fuck But so are you Been trained like Pavlov's dog Getting off on watching you Suffer Have we had enough Role playing hierarchy Is this really the way you want it Baby Angry and violent Scared and simpering Playing the part like Pavlov's dog Bells and whistles — spittle buckets Nooses, nines, suicides Wiping up our messes I want out your pornography Show me the way out this insanity I'm a sick fuck for wanting you This way Your sick smile Why do we play It's not the way we want it But it's the way we get it Patriarchal sex toys manipulated by playboy Ignorant puppets pushing, pulling Lipsticked lips quivering, smiling Hiding the tears beneath our sweat Mascara, muscle, gritted teeth, fingernails Buried sickness in holy matrimony You done yet
by a Pennsylvania prisoner December 2012 permalink
The sentiment expressed in the Men Against Sexism review in ULK 29 that we should not be fighting for sex reassignment surgery or hormone replacement therapy, is exactly the type of infighting that cuts comrades off from each other. How can a man be against sexism, yet support the oppressor's sexist stance on hormones? This is exactly why resistance is so watered down in Amerikkka. All the so-called resisters make a hobby of petty posturing and holier-than-thou attitudes which is nothing more than sugar-coated (and thinly at that) bourgeois ego games. The sad part is the gay crowd was at one point the outsider like us trans people are now but they are playing pass the shit-stick. How pathetic.
MIM(Prisons) responds: In the article this prisoner criticizes, we wrote that we do not fight for sex reassignment surgery in the same way we don't fight for gay marriage, because both amount to further privileges for people already benefiting from imperialism. We could equate these struggles with the fight to get more women in executive positions in companies, or the fight to get a Black man in the white house. They represent steps forward in equality for Blacks, wimmin, gays and trans people in reaping imperialist spoils of war and gender oppression on Third World peoples. These struggles do not help advance the fight against imperialism, to liberate the Third World peoples.
Most trans people in the Third World don't have the privilege of even thinking about hormone replacement therapy, and Third World gays certainly are not pre-occupied with their right to marriage. These people are focused on day-to-day survival, getting enough to eat, and avoiding getting raped or killed by Amerikan-backed militias. We mislead people when we focus on battles that distribute the imperialist privileges more equally among the already privileged labor aristocracy. We must focus on the real enemy of the majority of the world's people, an enemy that won't stop exploiting and killing through the ballot box. Gay and trans people in Third World countries deserve all of our attention and energy, to help ensure their survival and ultimate liberation.
Exodus And Reconstruction: Working-Class Women at the Heart Of Globalization by Bromma Kersplebedeb, 2012
Available for $3 + shipping/handling from: kersplebedeb CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne Montreal, Quebec Canada H3W 3H8
This zine is in the tradition of Night Vision by Butch Lee and Red Rover and other similar works from the same publisher on class, gender and nation. Exodus and Reconstruction: Working-Class Women at the Heart of Globalization is short and by necessity speaks in generalizations, some of which are more evidently true than others. It is definitely a worthwhile read for anyone serious about global class analysis.
The main thesis of the essay is that starting around the 1990s there has been a major upheaval of the countryside in the economic periphery that has particularly affected biological wimmin, pushing them to migrate and join the ranks of the urban proletariat. This reality has major implications for the trajectory of imperialism as well as class struggle. As the author points out, the backwards modes of production in much of the world has provided a ready source of surplus value (s) due to the low capital investment (c) and high labor component (v) of production, the latter of which is the source of all profit. The implication is that while providing a short-term benefit to imperialism by bringing these large populations online in industry, this is undercutting the rate of profit (expressed in the equation s/(c + v) ). Not only that, but the domestic and agricultural labor that often falls on the shoulders of wimmin is important in allowing for super-exploitation of the historically male workers by allowing the capitalists to pay less than they would need to pay single workers to feed, clothe and house themselves. Without the masses living in semi-feudal conditions, continued super-exploitation will threaten the reproduction of the proletariat. In other words, more people will die of starvation and lack of basic needs or wages will need to increase reducing the superprofits enjoyed by people in the First World.
Another component of this phenomenon not mentioned by Bromma is that a large portion of these workers being displaced from their land are from formerly socialist China which had protected its people from capitalist exploitation for decades. So in multiple ways, this is a new influx of surplus value into the global system that prevented larger crisis from the 1980s until recently.
The difference between MIM Thought and the ideology that is presented by Bromma, Lee, Rover and others, is primarily in what strands of oppression we recognize and how they separate out. Their line is a version of class reductionism wrapped in gender. While others in this camp (Sakai, Tani, Sera) focus on nation, they tend to agree with Bromma's ultra-left tendencies of putting class over nation. Their approach stems from a righteous criticism of the neo-colonialism that followed the national liberation struggles of the middle of the twentieth century. But we do not see new conditions that have nullified the Maoist theory of United Front between different class interests. It is true that anti-imperialism cannot succeed in liberating a nation, and will likely fall into old patriarchal ways, if there is not proletarian leadership of this United Front and Maoism has always recognized that. Yet Mao did not criticize Vietnamese revisionism during the U.$. invasion of southeast Asia to preserve the United Front.(1) For anti-imperialists in the militarist countries it is similarly important that we do not cheerlead the Condaleeza Rice/ Hillary Clinton gender line on occupied Afghanistan. This is an explicit application of putting nation as principal above gender. This does not mean that gender is not addressed until after the socialist revolution as the rightest class reductionists would say. Whether rightist or ultra-left, class reductionism divides the united front against imperialism.
While Bromma puts class above nation, h also fails to distinguish between gender and class as separate strands of oppression.(2) Specifically, h definition of what is exploited labor is too broad in that it mixes gender oppression with exploitation, based in class. The whole thesis wants to replace the proletariat with wimmin, and substantiate this through economics. While the "feminization" of work is a real phenomenon with real implications, it does not make class and gender interchangeable. And where this leads Bromma is to being very divisive within the exploited nations along class and gender lines.
MIM Thought recognizes two fundamental contradictions in humyn society, which divide along the lines of labor time (class) and leisure time (gender).(3) We also recognize a third strand of oppression, nation, which evolves from class and the globalization of capitalism. Bromma argues that wimmin provide most of the world's exploited labor, listing sweatshops, agricultural work, birthing and raising children, housework and caring for the sick and elderly. But working does not equal exploitation. Exploitation is where capitalists extract surplus value from the workers performing labor. There is no surplus value in caring for the elderly, for example. In the rich countries this is a service that one pays for but still there is no extraction of surplus value. The distinction between service work and productive work is based on whether surplus value is produced or not, not a moral judgement of whether the work is important. The economic fact is that no surplus value is exploited from a nurse working for a wage in the United $tates, just as it is not exploited from a peasant caring for her family members in the Third World. The Third World service workers are still part of the proletariat, the exploited class, but they serve a supporting role in the realization of surplus value in the service sector.
We think Bromma has reduced a diverse group of activities to exploited labor time. Caring for the sick and elderly has no value to capitalism, so there is no argument to be made for that being exploited labor. A certain amount of housework and child raising must be performed to reproduce the proletariat, so Marx would include this in the value of labor power. The actual birthing of children is something that falls in the realm of biology and not labor time. Economically, this would be something that the capitalist must pay for (i.e. proper nutrition and care for the pregnant womyn) rather than something that the capitalist gains surplus value from. While MIM dismissed much of the biological determinism based in child-birthing capability in gender oppression on the basis of modern technology and society, we would still put this in the gender realm and not class.(3)
In reducing all these activities to exploited labor, Bromma is overstating the importance of housewives as sources of wealth for capitalists. If anything the drive to move Third World wimmin into the industrial proletariat indicates that more value is gained from wimmin by having them play more traditional male roles in production in the short term, ignoring the medium-term problem that this undercuts super-exploitation as mentioned above.
The work of raising food and ensuring children survive are part of the reproduction of the proletariat, which under normal conditions is payed for by the capitalist through wages. When wages aren't high enough to feed a family and the womyn must do labor intensive food production to subsidize the capitalist's low wages, then we see super-exploitation of the proletariat, where the whole family unit is part of that class even if only the men go to the factories to work. So unremunerated labor within the proletariat, even if it is divided up along gender lines, is part of class. In extreme situations we might say that those forced to stay home and do all the housework are slaves if they can't leave. In other situations we might see a whole segment of peasants that are subsidizing a class of proletarian factory workers outside of the family structure. Bromma generally implies that gender is an antagonistic class contradiction. While there are contradictions there, h goes too far in dividing the exploited masses who have the same basic class interests opposing imperialism.
Like Bromma does, we too have addressed the situation we find ourselves in where more reactionary, criminal, religious and patriarchal groups are on the front lines of the anti-imperialist movement. Bromma explains this as a result of class and gender interests of these groups. An analysis that is parallel to our own of the rise of fascism in Germany and Italy. Yet we cannot ignore the brutal repression of communism and the promotion of ideologies like Islamic fundamentalism by the imperialists in shaping our current reality. Egypt is a prime example where brutal U.$. dictatorship repressed any socialist leaning political organizing for decades while allowing for the formation of the Muslim Brotherhood who then end up being the only viable option for a new government when the people decide the old puppet Mubarak needed to get out. The role of U.$. imperialism is principal here in forming the new puppet regime and not the class or gender interests of those who won the lottery of being chosen as the new puppets. You can find a minority in any social group who can be bought off to work against their own group without needing to explain it by class interests. On the other hand you have bin Laden's Al Qaeda, who also received CIA favoritism in opposing social-imperialism and communism, but remained a principled anti-imperialist force when the Amerikans took their stab at controlling the Middle East. The Bromma line would have us lump these groups together in the enemy camp of the bourgeoisie, while Maoists differentiate between the compradors in Egypt and the bourgeois nationalists who take up arms against the occupiers.
No movement is perfect. But Maoism did more to address gender oppression than any other humyn practice since the emergence of the patriarchy. Bromma fails to recognize these advancements in h condemnation of the national liberation struggles that degenerated into neo-colonial and patriarchal states. To fail to emulate and build upon the feminist practice of socialism is a great disservice to the cause of gender liberation.
“The Anti-Exploits of Men Against Sexism” Ed Mead Revolutionary Rumors PRESS RevolutionaryRumors@gmail.com
This pamphlet is an historical account of the organization Men Against Sexism (MAS). It is written in an informal, story-telling style, from the perspective of Ed Mead, one of MAS’s primary organizers. “Anti-Exploits” spans the development of MAS, from Mead’s first encounter with the near-rape of a fellow prisoner on his tier in the mid-1970s, to the successful height of the organization and the eradication of prisoner rape in Washington State Prison. This success impacted facilities all across the state.
Men Against Sexism was created to bring prisoners together to fight against their common oppression. Mead recognized that homophobia, sexism, rape, and pimping were causing unnecessary divisions within the prisoner population. “Only by rooting out internalized sexism would men treat one another with respect.”(p. 5) He brought together politically-minded prisoners, queers, and even some former sexual predators, to change the culture of what was acceptable and not on the tier.
We should take the example of MAS as inspiration to identify our own collective divisive behaviors on our unit, and attempt to build bridges to overcome these barriers. Mead’s reputation of being a revolutionary, stand-up guy in defense of prisoners’ rights preceded him across the facility, and helped him win allies in unlikely places.
In the mid-1970s, prison conditions were much different than they are today, and organizing MAS seems to have been relatively easy according to the account given. Of course there were challenges amongst the prisoner population itself (for example, MAS defending a convicted pedophile from being gang raped and sold as a sex slave put many people off) but the administration didn’t play a significant role in thwarting the mission of MAS. The primary organizers were allowed to cell together, and several different prisoner organizations were mentioned which had their own meeting spaces.
Today it seems we are lucky if more than two prisoners can get together to do anything besides watch TV. This is a testament to the dialectical relationship between the prisoner movement and the forces of the state. During the time of MAS, the prisoner movement was relatively strong compared to where it’s at today. After the booming prisoner rights movement of the 1970s, the state figured out that to undermine those movements they needed to develop methods to keep prisoners isolated from each other. Not the least significant of which is the proliferation of the control unit, where prisoners are housed for 23 or more hours per day with very little contact with the world outside their cell, let alone their facility.
MAS recognized that there is power in numbers. They collected donations from allies outside prison to purchase access to cells from other prisoners and designated them as “safe cells.” MAS would identify newcomers to the facility who looked vulnerable and offer them protection in these group safe cells. This is in stark contrast to how the state offers so-called protection to victims of prisoner rape, which is generally to isolate them in control units.(1) Bonnie Kerness of the American Friends Service Committee writes of this practice being used with transgender prisoners, and the concept applies to all prisoners who are gender oppressed in prison no matter their gender identity,
"In some cases this can be a safe place to avoid the violence of other prisoners. More often this isolation of transgender prisoners places them at greater risk of violence at the hands of correctional officers…
“Regardless of whether or not it provides some level of protection or safety, isolation is a poor alternative to general population. The physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological impacts of solitary confinement are tantamount to torture for many.”(2)
As late as 2009, data was compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) stating “Approximately 2.1% of prison inmates and 1.5% of jail inmates reported inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization, whereas approximately 2.8% of prison inmates and 2.0% of jail inmates reported staff sexual misconduct.”(3) Certainly much of this staff-on-prisoner sexual assault occurs in general population, but isolating victims makes them that much more accessible.
Isolation as the best option for protection is the most obvious example of individualizing struggles of prisoners. What is more individualized than one persyn in a room alone all day? Individualizing prisoners’ struggles is also carried out by the rejection of group grievances in many states. All across the country our comrades meet difficulty when attempting to file grievances on behalf of a group of prisoners. In California, a comrade attempted to simply cite a Director’s Level Appeal Decision stating MIM is not a banned distributor in the state on h censorship appeal, but it was rejected because that Director’s Level Decision “belongs to another inmate.”(4) We must identify the state’s attempts to divide us from our potential comrades in all forms, and actively work against it.
MAS worked to abolish prisoner-on-prisoner sexual slavery and rape, where the pigs were consenting to this gender oppression by noninterference. But the state paid for this hands-off approach when the autonomy of the movement actually united prisoners against oppression.
What about gender oppression in prisons today?
In 2003, under strong pressure from a broad range of activists and lobbyists, Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), and in May 2012 the final rules were completed. With the initiation of the PREA, statistics on prison rape are becoming more available. But comprehensive, sweeping data on the frequency of prison rape does not exist and so we can not detect trends from 1975 to the present, or even from 2003 to present. Despite high hopes for the PREA from anti-rape activists, we can’t yet determine if there has been any benefit, and in some cases the rates of prison rape seem to be increasing.
When MAS was picking out newcomers to recruit into their safe cells, they were identifying people who they saw as obviously queer, or in some way likely to be a target. MAS was using their intuition and persynal experience to identify people who are more likely to be victimized. According to the BJS, in their 2009 study, prisoners who are “white or multi-racial, have a college education, have a sexual orientation other than heterosexual, and experienced sexual victimization prior to coming to the facility” … had “significantly higher” rates of inmate-on-inmate victimization.(1) Human Rights Watch similarly reported in 2001,
“Specifically, prisoners fitting any part of the following description are more likely to be targeted: young, small in size, physically weak, white, gay, first offender, possessing ‘feminine’ characteristics such as long hair or a high voice; being unassertive, unaggressive, shy, intellectual, not street-smart, or ‘passive’; or having been convicted of a sexual offense against a minor. Prisoners with any one of these characteristics typically face an increased risk of sexual abuse, while prisoners with several overlapping characteristics are much more likely than other prisoners to be targeted for abuse.”(5)
The descriptions above of who’s more subject to prison rape are bourgeois definitions of what MIM called gender. Bullying, rape, sexual identity, and sexual orientation are phenomena that exist in the realm of leisure-time activity. Oppression that exists in leisure-time can generally be categorized as gender oppression. Gender oppression also rests clearly on health status and physical ability, which, in work-time also affects class status.(6) Since prisoners on the whole spend very little time engaged in productive labor, their time behind bars can be categorized as a twisted form of leisure-time. Prisons are primarily a form of national oppression, and gender is used as a means to this end.
Consider this statistic from BJS, “Significantly, most perpetrators of staff sexual misconduct were female and most victims were male: among male victims of staff sexual misconduct, 69% of prisoners and 64% of jail inmates reported sexual activity with female staff.”(3) An oversimplified analysis of this one statistic says the biologically-female staff are gendered men, and the prisoners are gendered wimmin, no matter their biology. But in the United $tates, where all citizens enjoy gender privilege over the Third World, this oversimplification ignores the international scope of imperialism and the benefits reaped by Amerikans and the internal semi-colonies alike. While there is an argument to be made that the United $tates tortures more people in its prisons than any other country, this is balanced out with a nice juicy carrot (video games, tv, drugs, porn) for many prisoners. This carrot limits the need to use the more obvious forms of repression that are more widespread in the Third World. Some of our most prominent USW leaders determine that conditions where they’re at are too comfortable and prevent people from devoting their lives to revolution, even though these people are actually on the receiving end of much oppression.
On a similar level, MIM(Prisons) advocates for the end of oppression based on sexual orientation and gender identity. But we are not jumping on the bandwagon to legalize gay marriage.(7) We also don’t campaign for sex reassignment surgery and hormones for prisoners.(8) This is because we see these as examples of gender privilege, and any privileges obtained by people in the United $tates inherently come on the backs of the Third World. Whereas in the time Men Against Sexism was formed the gay rights movement was militant and engaging in street wars against police, they are now overall placated by the class privilege they receive as members of the petty-bourgeoisie.
We encourage everyone facing oppression to recognize its true roots – capitalism and imperialism – and use their privileges to undermine the United $tates’ world domination. Without an internationalist perspective, we will inevitably end up on the wrong side of history.
In making a determination of what organizing strategy and tactical approach will be most effective in achieving the revolutionary goals of a political vanguard, we must first conduct a dialectical analysis of our strategic objectives. Thus, we begin our examination with an overall look at our political line. What are our general positions and our main objectives? Which of these should be given priority? What tactics will best advance the struggle for liberation, justice, and equality?
In the United $tates, the most oppressed groups are prisoners, First Nations, and sexual minorities/wimmin. Therefore, it is these specific groups to which I give priority and focus here. [We have excluded the author's analysis of First Nations to focus this article. - Editor] How can we better organize these groups? What tactics have worked in the past?
The Congress Report 2010 by MIM(Prisons) makes no mention of wimmin or LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual/Transgender, Queer) prisoners, or of issues and projects specifically affecting these groups.(1) As a transgender revolutionary feminist prisoner, and a USW comrade, I feel that the absence or exclusion of these oppressed groups from the discussion is of significant concern. Whenever MIM(Prisons) is confronted on the issue of gender, it merely refers to the old back issue of MIM Theory 2/3: Gender and Revolutionary Feminism. But what is being done now, today, in regards to gender oppression and the advancement of revolutionary feminism within the ranks of MIM(Prisons)?
The concept of principal contradiction comes from dialectical materialism, which says that everything can be divided into opposing forces.(2) The revolutionary feminist struggle against patriarchy is by no means secondary to the principal contradiction in the world today between imperialist countries and the oppressed nations they exploit. Sartre has observed that: "if the feminist struggle maintained its ties with the class struggle, it could shake a society in a way that would completely overturn it."(3)
The struggle for gender equality also includes transgender wimmin and other sexual minorities. The situation of transgender prisoners, particularly, is so vexing to prison administrators that the National Commission on Correctional Health Care has drafted a position statement titled "Transgender Health Care in Correctional Settings," which reads in part: "when determined to be medically necessary for a particular inmate, hormone therapy should be initiated and sex-reassignment surgery considered on a case-by-case basis."(4)
Transgender females, especially in prison, are often discriminated against and sexually abused in much the same way as biological wimmin, but far worse. Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) has introduced a much needed piece of legislation, the Prison Abuse Remedies Act (PARA), which would end the widespread impunity enjoyed by prison officials when inmates are raped on their watch. It would change the worst parts of the PLRA, which makes it virtually impossible for prison rape survivors to seek redress in court.(5) Attorney General Eric Holder and Justice Department officials are dragging their feet on implementation of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission's recommended "Standards for the Prevention, Detection, Response, and Monitoring of Sexual Abuse in Detention," the deadline for which passed in June 2010.(6) In the meantime, more than 100,000 adults and youth continue to be sexually abused each year while imprisoned.(7)
In failing to discuss these issues, MIM(Prisons) has missed a great opportunity to revolutionize these oppressed groups and link their struggle to the overall anti-imperialist movement. This is a strategic and tactical mistake on our part, in my humble opinion.
Wimmin and the LGBTQ community are oppressed groups and potential revolutionary classes nearly on par with oppressed nations, particularly within the criminal "justice" system, and MIM(Prisons) must raise their level of importance on the list of priorities at least to the level of national liberation struggles and prisoners' struggle. This is in line with the Maoist theory of United Front and the expansion of the anti-imperialist struggle among lumpen organizations, as well as internationalist solidarity. Wimmin and Queers of the world, Unite!
PTT of MIM(Prisons) responds: In a discussion of what the principal contradiction is in the world today, and what role feminism plays in that contradiction, let's first clearly define what a "principal contradiction" is:
"There are many contradictions in the process of development of a complex thing, and one of them is necessarily the principal contradiction whose existence and development determine or influence the existence and development of the other contradictions." - Mao, "On Contradiction"
Ending oppression is our goal. The struggle towards this goal in our current society is our "complex thing." It has many contradictions which are interacting with each other throughout the course of its development (we say gender, class and nation are the main three). Determining which contradiction is principal in the world today gives us a guide for how to organize and what issues to organize around. We determine which is the principal contradiction using a materialist (based in material reality) analysis of history. The principal contradiction is principal (and not secondary) because of the way its development will impact the development of other contradictions. We do not choose it, it is shown to us in history.
Establishing a principal contradiction is not a matter of deciding which struggles most affect us on a persynal or subjective basis. The principal contradiction is not the most subjectively important contradiction; it is the one we need to focus on because history has shown that it will bring the best results. As sympathizers with all oppressed peoples in the world, including wimmin and LGBTQ people, we hope to reach communism as fast as possible to minimize humyn suffering. But based on our study and analysis, we say that nation, and not gender, is the principal contradiction at this time in history, and we need to organize to push the national contradiction forward.
For example, and contrary to what Queen Boudicca claims, oppressed nations are far more oppressed by the criminal injustice system than biological wimmin. In 2009, men were 14 times more likely to go to state or federal prison than wimmin, while Black men were 6.5%[this incorrectly read percent] times more likely than white men.(1) The gender gap is bigger than the national gap, but in favor of oppressing biological men. To argue that bio-wimmin are more oppressed you're gonna have to base your argument somewhere else.
Our comrade does present here examples of the unique oppression faced by wimmin and LGBTQ prisoners in the United $tates. Yet, the form of solutions proposed are reformist at best and at worst the demands of the gender privileged. We must not focus on these examples of oppression in isolation, as a replacement for a scientific analysis of how development of the gender contradiction will affect other contradictions (namely nation) and our overall goals, as Queen Boudicca does.
Historically laws against rape have expanded, not combatted, gender privilege. Similarly the development of leisure time related medicine has largely benefited the gender privileged at the expense of the oppressed. The use of drugs related to depression and mood is a means of adapting to an oppressive system, or being forced to submit as is more clear in the prison environment. That said, we would encourage comrades to utilize antidepressants as a last resort if they are unable to put in work without them. The initiation of hormone therapy and sex-reassignment surgery could play similar roles as psychological aids to cope in an oppressive world. But when we are considering strategic battles on behalf of the oppressed, shutting down control units, for example, will have a much bigger influence on mental health while also developing the anti-imperialist struggle for prisoners as a group.
Under capitalism and imperialism, it is impossible for us to determine whether hormone therapy and sex-reassignment surgery are objectively medically necessary for all time or just useful as a crutch for people who are justifiably maladjusted to an imperialistic world. Sex has long been defined socially and not biologically for the humyn species. Under communism, when gender oppression is eradicated, and gender ceases to exist, will people still want to change their biology? These are questions we cannot answer until we get there. For now we encourage everyone who has a poor self-image and an unsatisfactory sex life to recognize these as products of capitalism and join the struggle toward world liberation.
There is a thorough analysis of how the gender struggle impacts our struggle for communism, and it is contained in the 208 page magazine titled MIM Theory 2/3: Gender and Revolutionary Feminism. While not new, it has a more updated assessment than Sartre, specifically in regards to the gender aristocracy. Queen Boudicca claims to have read and to uphold MT 2/3, but misses a main point that the struggles of First World wimmin generally lead to more national oppression here and throughout the world. Examples include the lynching of Black men as a trade for more gender privilege for white wimmin; the forced drug testing on Third World wimmin directly leading to an increase in the availability of birth control for First World wimmin; and the failed pseudo-feminist movement which has had no positive impact on the gender struggle for the majority of wimmin. It is true that we recommend MIM Theory 2/3 as the best starting point for why nation trumps gender as the principal contradiction.
Although nation is the principal contradiction in the world today, it still may be possible to organize wimmin and LGBTQ prisoners under the MIM umbrella against their own material interests as Amerikans. We believe that prisoners hold the most revolutionary potential within the United $tates, which is why we organize them. If Queen Boudicca is subjectively inspired to organize wimmin and LGBTQ prisoners specifically, then we would support h organizing these populations around MIM line. There are many roles to play in our struggle toward liberation and communism, and MIM(Prisons) can't fill them all. As a revolutionary feminist organization, MIM(Prisons) aims to end gender oppression as part of our struggle for communism, and we would welcome any group into the united front against imperialism that is willing to accept the political leadership of MIM Thought.
Queen Boudicca accuses MIM(Prisons) of not publishing articles about the issues she raises. Yet we have printed letters from this author in ULK, and dozens of other articles addressing gender issues from a uniquely Maoist perspective. In particular, our article from ULK 1 discusses how imprisonment rates of Black men make them more gender oppressed than white wimmin in the United $tates today. And ULK 6 is focused on gender and tackles everything from gay marriage to pornography to the effect of prisons on the family structure.