I would like to bring to your attention a proliferating issue and a sophisticated form of manipulation and capitulation by certain female guards here, which is threatening my motivational efforts and energy of prisoners who are trying to mobilize pockets of resistance. The prisoners in our immediate cipher and midst on a daily basis, in the disguise of recreation, study groups, or just basic conversations, are involved in some alarming episodes of perversion here at Sussex Sucks I State Prison. If we stand by and just criticize, make fun of, or gossip and back bite about those prisoners who get snaggled up in this spider web/trap, then the pigs are going to use this misguided erotic behavior to destroy the elements of positive aspirations that iz being pushed forward by a different segment of conscious prisoners here on this slave pen of oppression.
Everyone is aware of the enormous amount of jobs that become available because of the booming rise in the prison construction throughout the Amerikkkan colony. But no one seems to have noticed the alarming amount of female guards that are subsequently recruited, hired and then trained for a job inside this bulging prison culture complex! So today, a lot of these same female guards are assigned to the actual cell blocks/pods that house many of the state's most violent male prisoners. And as a direct result of the placement of these female guards inside each of these components, you now see these same so-called violent prisoners becoming mentally and emotionally hypnotized by the astute beauty of some female guards who exhibit this aura or facade with their tour of correctional duty and within their clandestine episodes of flirtation.
In some of these housing components, I have even witnessed female guards displaying their siren characteristics in an attempt to control and compel the feeble-minded guys into conforming with the prison rules and regulations. In some cases these female guards are playing mind games, as they get off on the drama of seeing several men chasing them and even fighting over them, and manipulating them into becoming pod police by telling and doing the police job as an incentive. These female guards want the prisoners to help them stroke their own clandestine exotic or erotic fantasies while making money as a past time and advancing their career in law enforcement!
Before I commence my conclusion, it iz essential and imperative that I maintain the organizational strategy by indicating that there are numerous female guards who despise being exploited by the display of male sex organs in the workplace, and I really support all of these female guards who take a stance against this form of sexism. Because to subjugate women in general and solely on the basis of gender iz not only wrong, but dudes who believe and practice these subjective axioms and the actions that stem from this obnoxious belief are really saying that women are not worthy of genuine respect, or perhaps those prisoners think that a woman cannot be feminine without being submissive! All prisoners, brothas, all nations must begin the task of taking a personal analysis of themselves immediately and we should be self-critical. Otherwise we won't understand what our criminal thought pattern iz doing to the overall struggle of the masses here in North Amerikkka.
Correctional male chauvinism must be eliminated if prisoners really plan to make it past this adolescent crisis that arises to the level of this extracurricular prison activity.
In closing, I felt the need to proselytize to the conscious prisoner class, clearly it iz better to err acting to bring about positive change than to do nothing for fear of erring. Please spread this word and cogitate what has been evaluated and written here in adroit-like fashion, because we have to stop this new wave of mental, physical, and emotional ignorance. Peace!
I want to know if other comrades are dealing with these same issues. If so, no one is speaking on it. Stop watching the idiot box, it's hypnotizing you!
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a good point to raise for discussion which we hope will inspire others to write in. There is, as this prisoner explains, a general contradiction in imperialist society, with the treatment of females under the patriarchy. But in prison this situation is changed. There is still some clear gender oppression of females, but in male prisons (which are the vast majority in this country) there is a reversal of roles in some ways. Males face gender oppression due to their unique status as prisoners.
We see this with the example given here of female guards manipulating prisoners through sex and flirting. The female guards are using patriarchal objectification to keep male prisoners passive, and even serving the very system that locks them up. We need to expose this manipulation and talk about why it can happen, and what we can do about it. It should not be ok to do any guard's bidding, male or female. Are other people seeing this? What can be done to fight back?
...Estoy pensando acercar a la chica con la que estoy quedando a la política. La empezaré a tantear por primera vez sobre este tema mañana. Ella tiene 24 años y yo 31, así que creo que puedo moldearla. Además, es inocente y confiada. Intentaré enseñarla cuando la haya tanteado. Agradecería que me respondierais y me dijerais lo que pensáis de este caso particular.
MIM(Prisons) responde: Normalmente, desaconsejamos que se reclute a alguien con quien se está saliendo, sobre todo si dicha persona no ha mostrado estar interesada por sí sola en el antiimperialismo. No obstante, coincidimos con tu aparente actitud prudente de "tantearla" primero. Es una táctica de seguridad prudente no poner todas las cartas sobre la mesa respecto a tu actividad política con alguien que no estás seg[email protected] de si lo va a tolerar.
Otra cosa que has comentado es que es más joven, inocente y confiada, e insinúas que te aprovecharás de eso. Es así como creas resentimiento y, cuando una persona está resentida con otra asociada con el movimiento, se pone en peligro dicho movimiento. Esto es más probable cuando está involucrado el amor. Esa es la primera razón por la que no mezclar las relaciones con el reclutamiento: La gente confunde las motivaciones. Reclutar a [email protected] es algo menos arriesgado, pero también tiene este problema. Por otro lado, es cierto que [email protected] jóvenes están más [email protected] a políticas revolucionarias, lo que puede llevarnos a emprender tácticas como repartir folletos en las escuelas. Nuestra actitud no debe ir dirigida a aprovecharnos de [email protected] jóvenes o de las mujeres en general, usando características derivadas de la opresión de género a la que se enfrentan. Más bien, debemos acceder al resentimiento justificado que pueden tener por esa opresión para que dejen de lado las características negativas que las ha animado y volverse revolucionarias.
Reclutar siempre debe hacerse basándose en una explicación científica de la línea política. Naturalmente, la subjetividad entra en juego y no hay nada de malo en adornar las cosas de manera que sean más atractivas para las masas (ej. Forma/ lenguaje). Sin embargo, no está bien manipular a la gente basándose en su subjetividad para que hagan política por otras razones distintas a su apoyo a dichas políticas, ya que esto conlleva a confusión, tanto políticamente como interpersonalmente. Esta es una cuestión realmente estratégica cuando decimos no usar el sexo, el coqueteo o la amistad para reclutar gente. Nuestro objetivo es enseñar a la gente a pensar científicamente y crear organizaciones científicas fuertes.
Esto no quiere decir que la mayoría de la gente en los movimientos de masas sean pensadoræs cientí[email protected][email protected] por motivaciones puramente objetivas. Así que existen cuestiones tácticas sobre qué lenguaje e imágenes utilizar para presentar nuestro mensaje a las masas de manera que puedan identificarse con él. Llevar uniformes, asociar buena música con nuestro movimiento o que personas famosas recomienden nuestro trabajo son todo tácticas que atraen al subjetivismo de la gente sin manipular al [email protected] y, por tanto, sin poner en peligro el movimiento.
Como mínimo, la mitad de [email protected] lectoræs están en prisión e, incluso en la universidad o en cualquier comunidad más pequeña, verás a menudo que gente con la que ya tenías amistad está comenzando a interesarse por la política. Entonces, se trata de tener la habilidad de separar el trabajo del placer. Los desacuerdos políticos no deben decidir las amistades y viceversa. Una táctica útil para esta situación, si sientes que podría haber un conflicto de intereses o confusión, es pasar [email protected][email protected] a [email protected] camarada para que estæ sea su contacto principal y [email protected] Esto da más independencia a dicho [email protected] para explorar la política en sus propios términos con menos presión por las implicaciones de que este acuerdo político contigo sea un requisito para dicha amistad.
Encontrar el equilibrio correcto entre lanzar una amplia red, como la técnica de “dejar caer”, y desarrollar un nuevo cuadro uno a uno es una cuestión táctica complicada. MIM siempre ha errado en el lanzamiento de una amplia red. Esto se basa en la decisión estratégica de que, en nuestras condiciones, es más importante crear opinión pública contra el imperialismo que crear organizaciones de cuadros. No obstante, necesitamos que la gente haga más que leer ULK y nuestro sitio web. No importa si están apoyando o no los proyectos de MIM(Prisons), [email protected] necesitamos que la gente dé un paso adelante por el antiimperialismo para amplificar esa voz antiimperialista y construir instituciones independientes de [email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected] nos contactan todos los días en busca de ayuda. Necesitamos que más camaradas den un paso adelante y creen el poder necesario para proporcionar soluciones reales a sus problemas.
...I plan to reach out to this girl I'm dating here in re politics. I will start to feel her out on that topic tomorrow for the first time. She is 24 years old. I'm 31 years old, so I believe I can mold her. She is naive and trusting. I will attempt to teach her once I feel her out. Please write back and let me know what you think about this particular matter.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Generally, we discourage recruiting someone you're dating. Particularly when this persyn has exhibited no independent interest in anti-imperialism. We do agree with your seemingly cautious approach of "feeling her out" first. It is a prudent security tactic to not expose what political work you do to someone you're not sure about.
Next you say ey is younger, naive and trusting, and you imply that you will take advantage of that. That is how you create resentment. And when people resent people associated with the movement, the movement is put at risk. This is very likely when romance is involved. That is the number one reason not to mix dating with recruiting. People get confused about motivations. Recruiting friends is a little less risky, but also has this problem. It is true that the young are more open to revolutionary politics, which might lead us to take up tactics like leafleting at schools. Our approach should not be to take advantage of the young, or wimmin in general, by using characteristics caused by the gender oppression that they face. It should rather be to tap into the righteous resentment they might have of that gender oppression so that they throw off the negative characteristics that it has encouraged in them, and become revolutionaries.
In more advanced situations it can go another way where comrades start to question whether someone is hanging around because they're dating a comrade or because they're down for the struggle themselves. So for the individual and the collective it is better to be clear and scientific about what one's position is.
Recruiting should always be done based on a scientific explanation of political line. Of course, subjectivity comes into play, and there’s nothing wrong with packaging things so they will be more attractive to the masses (i.e. form/language). However, there is something wrong with manipulating people based on their subjectivity to take up politics for reasons other than their support of those politics. This leads to confusion, both politically and interpersynally. This is really a strategic question when we say don't use sex, flirtation or friendship to recruit people. Our goal is to teach people to think scientifically and create strong, scientific organizations.
This is not to say that most people in the mass movements will be scientific thinkers won over by purely objective motivations. So there are tactical questions of what language and images we use in order to present our message to the masses in ways that they can relate to. Wearing uniforms, having good music associated with our movement, or having famous people recommend our work are all tactics that appeal to peoples' subjectivism in a way that is not manipulative of the individual and therefore threatening the movement.
At least half of our readers are in prison. And even in university or any smaller community, you will often find people you are already friends with becoming interested in politics. Then it becomes a skill of separating business from pleasure. Political disagreements should not decide friendships and vice versa. A useful tactic to use in this situation, if you feel there might be a conflict of interest or confusion, is to pass a friend off to another comrade to be their primary contact and recruiter. This gives the friend more independence to explore politics on their own terms with less pressure from implications that political agreement with you is a requirement for that friendship.
One new comrade who was won over to our cause reported how another prisoner dropped a ULK in eir lap on the way to a hearing and said, "here, you'll like this." Many of our subscribers report finding ULK in the dayroom. Both of these are examples of "free dropping," a technique to spread our ideas as far as possible to ensure that all who are interested have the opportunity to be exposed to them.
Finding the right balance between casting a wide net, like free dropping, and developing new cadre one-on-one is a tough tactical question. MIM has always erred on the side of casting a wide net. This is based in a strategic decision that building public opinion against imperialism is more important in our conditions than building cadre organizations. But we need people to do more than read ULK and our website. Whether it's supporting MIM(Prisons) projects or not, we need people to step up for anti-imperialism to amplify that anti-imperialist voice and to build independent institutions of the oppressed. The oppressed are reaching out to us every day for help. We need more comrades to step up and build the power necessary to provide real solutions to their problems.
I was sitting on tier speaking with a brotha on an intellectual note on topics in your ULK 52 issue. The thing is neither of us ever seen your publication (any of them). After we were done another brotha handed me issue No. 52 on his way to see the Sergeant over some writeups he got when they hit his room. He told me "you'll like this!"
Now before we explore my reaction to your publication you have to know the ground on which I stand and the position I'm coming from. I'm a sex offender. Believe it or not, not by choice, but in the state of Nevada I knew that signing a deal would be the only way to see light again. Trial would be death.
I read your issue from front to back. The whole time I was reading it I wanted to write to you and tell you how I was waiting for something like this to approach me. Then, I got to the last page and read the upcoming themes. In No. 55 I read "Would unity with pariahs such as snitches or child molesters ever be appropriate?" Reading that prompted me to switch my motive to speak on this first hand. But before I can do that you need to know a little about me.
I was raised very well with a loving family. My academics always were "en punto." National Honor Society — all that stuff. I spent 9 years in the military. Leaving my family several times so spoiled brats could remain safely at home with theirs. I have an Associates Degree, I'm semi-fluent in Spanish, I'm halfway through obtaining a paralegal certificate from Blackstone, I'm a writer, and I'm Black.
I will not defend child molesters or snitches but I want to shed some light on sex offenders in general — since I am one. I have five kids so I know the need to protect my babies. Then I found myself fighting for my life on the very subject that I said I would kill someone over for messing with my babies.
I had and have a different outlook now by my circumstances and by removing my bias. After it was evident I was coming to prison I decided to help other sex offenders (SOs) fight their cases. I obtained a client, a pisa, who couldn't speak English well. I fine-tooth-combed his discovery. There was no evidence but much hearsay. Despite my help and a paid lawyer he received a kidnapping and sexual assault charge with a teen.
Sounds like a typical innocence story right? Well, I have more detail that I can't tell you but I believe he's innocent. There are more people in here with similar innocence claims all over the world but I wanted to get to a point in response to your issue No. 55 question.
Prison has a caste system and SOs find their way to the bottom. We are the lowest class in society and outside of society. I don't like calling myself a sex offender. In fact, I'm not, but I'm labeled as one because my charge says that I am. My circumstances of my charge won't allow me to admit to being one. But it doesn't matter what I think or say. I've noticed, in my time around other SOs that they (most of them) made a mistake or a bad choice. I'm not talking about rapists, but still, I've met some very good people.
I've lived a very good life. I always been hard working, trustworthy, reliable, smart and loving. I've learned a lot in the military especially from visiting foreign countries. Cambodia and Iraq taught me a lot. Before now I never been in trouble with the law. When I didn't have I still gave. And I still do. I run store in my unit but it's not for me. The profit takes care of who I choose, who I believe is the less fortunate. If somehow I can make one person see that sex offenders are human, I made a difference. I would like to be a force to help unite all. The sex offender label shouldn't disqualify people in a movement bigger than us because if it does — would that really be socialism?
MIM(Prisons) responds: "Sex offenders" in general are seen as pariahs who can't be touched, and certainly can't be part of a progressive movement. But as this comrade points out, people are labeled as sex offenders by our enemies, and we have no reason to take their word for it. How many people behind bars are unjustly sentenced or even innocent? Why do prisoners know this is true for people convicted of other crimes, but condemn all convicted sex offenders on the word of the criminal injustice system?
Our society encourages rape. Movies, music, advertising, porn, it's all pushing coercion and sex. Rape is coerced sex, and in a patriarchal society it's impossible to set up a relationship where both people are totally equal. There are differences in income, social status, beauty, educational achievement, etc. etc. All these things have become part of what people find attractive and we are indoctrinated to believe these inequalities are sexy.
We don't let people off the hook for knowingly committing violence against other people. But we also know that people are a product of their culture and we need to push for the re-education of people if we hope to build a society where all people truly are equal. Because of this, we must also judge people based on what they do, and not a label put on them by the criminal injustice system. We agree with this writer that people make mistakes, and that they can change.
by a Pennsylvania prisoner December 2016 permalink
The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was created to help prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment inside U.$. prisons and to hold fully accountable those found guilty of sexual misconduct. But is this really the case? I beg to differ with those who fully support PREA.
As a transgender woman, I am victimized daily in one way or another at the hands of my fellow prisoners and staff. I should feel free to report sexual assault/sexual harassment, but the fact is, I'm afraid to or at least reluctant to do so. The pigs in authority here in this particular gulag have decided to create a stipulation that prevents me from coming out of my cell without being video/audio recorded via hand-held camcorder. I am being told that it is for my safety and that of others. I say bullshit. This is retaliation at its finest, subtle and cloaked.
I am at the fascists' mercy for shower, yard, law library and anything else out of my cell. If my captors decide they don't feel like going through the motions with the camera (which is often) they simply have to claim that the camcorder is unavailable and/or out of service for the time being. Thus my right to shower, yard, law library, etc., is more often than not violated. I've pointed out numerous times that there are video cameras in every area of the prison, and there isn't a spot in this place that I can go that is beyond the view of a camera, but the pigs say that audio is needed for my claims of sexual harassment. When I point out that a majority of my sexual harassment allegations occurred when I was inside my cell, they have nothing more to say, as I've tripped them up in their own game.
It's simple. Things like this are done to discourage anyone from reporting any type of PREA violation whether it happened or not. Fear of retaliation alone is a violation of PREA standards. I wonder just how many others are experiencing this type of issue and what as a whole, we can do about it. Any suggestions, comrades?
MIM(Prisons) responds: Gender oppression is one of many forms of abuse faced by prisoners in the Amerikan criminal injustice system. While the PREA laws appear on the surface to take this problem seriously, we have seen that in practice PREA is more about image than action. And this is not the first report we have received about manipulation of the PREA laws to actually harm those who are experiencing the sexual harassment. We have written previously about PREA and the problems of sexual assault in prisons. Our overall conclusion is that we can not rely on the oppressors to enact policies that will stop oppression. Instead we look to the example of groups like Men Against Sexism, an organization in Washington prisons in the 1970s, to defend against sexual assault and change the culture of what was acceptable among prisoners. Organized action by the oppressed at a group level is necessary to overthrow patriarchy.
In April the U.$. Treasury announced that Harriet Tubman will replace former President Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill. But not to leave Jackson out entirely, they said ey will be moved to the back side of the bill, along with the image of the White House. The treasury also announced that the back of the $10 bill will be redesigned to feature leaders of the movement to gain wimmin the right to vote, while Alexander Hamilton will remain on the front of that bill. And the back of the $5 bill will change to incorporate historic moments that took place at the Lincoln Memorial. These design changes will be announced by 2020, so we can't expect to see any new currency for a few years.
There was much debate about making changes to the U.$. currency, with many people calling for incorporation of at least one womyn after a history of only men featured on the bills. Yet the bills are actually a good representation of Amerikan capitalism and we see the incorporation of wimmin on this currency similar to the incorporation of wimmin in the military. It is not a feminist victory to gain greater representation in the most destructive imperialist power in the world. This will not eliminate the patriarchy or gender oppression. Nonetheless, the selection of a former slave for the $20 bill and suffragettes for the $10 bill is interesting because many in the suffragette movement opportunistically played to white nationalism, arguing to white men that they needed to give white wimmin the right to vote to balance out the potential political power of Black voters.(1)
Harriet Tubman was born a slave in 1820 and escaped to Philadelphia in 1849, subsequently devoting eir life to fighting slavery and guiding other slaves to freedom. Tubman died in poverty in 1913. Ey was a fierce New Afrikan guerilla who played an important historical role in defense of the evolving New Afrikan nation.(2) Tubman was such an important figure that eir existence has to be acknowledged by the dominant Amerikan nation. Yet, as in the decision to put Tubman's image on U.$. currency, Amerikkka tries to whitewash the details of Tubman's life and claim em as a hero of this imperialist country.
Ironically, the flip side of the $20 bill will continue to celebrate former President Andrew Jackson, a slave holder who died just a few years before Tubman escaped to freedom. President Jackson, along with the U.$. Congress at that time, was a strong supporter of slavery, basically refusing to take up any proposals that would abolish slavery. Further, Jackson supported mobs and postal workers intercepting abolitionist anti-slavery organizing, referring to these actions as "wicked attempts" to incite slave rebellion.(2) In eir home life, Andrew Jackson built up the Hermitage Plantation, primarily growing cotton, with the labor of slaves. It is estimated that Jackson grew this plantation from a 9-slave operation to over 150 slaves by 1820.
Jackson's legacy of support for national oppression went beyond supporting slavery. Ey was a military leader in the fight against First Nations in the early 1800s. Later, as President, Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, forcibly removing several indigenous nations from their lands. The forced relocations, known as the Trail of Tears, led to 46,000 indigenous people relocated during Jackson's term, many of whom died from disease and starvation on the way to the destination.
While sprinkled with anarchist tendencies typical to the author, we recommend Butch Lee's biography of Tubman to people interested in the true history of this revolutionary activist.(3) If the growing New Afrikan defense movement accepts Tubman on the $20 as a positive step, then the ideological war for Tubman is being lost and more integration is the order of the day. More integration with Amerikkka is in direct opposition to the well-being of the majority of the world's people who suffer under imperialism, including New Afrikans.
Changing the faces on Amerikan currency won't change the reality of Amerikan imperialism. But the willingness of the Amerikan government to do this does reflect the extent to which integrationism is being used to keep the oppressed internal nations loyal to the empire. Yet cultural integration does nothing to address the fundamental national oppression that keeps imperialism extracting wealth from oppressed nations in the Third World. These people who generate wealth for Amerikan imperialism can never expect to see their faces on the money that is coming from their labor. This just reinforces the divide between First World and Third World, which will likely result in a very difficult transition from capitalism to socialism for First World peoples. Giving up the wealth of hundreds of years of plunder, and re-integrating into global society as productive human beings will be a long and difficult task for First World bourgeois and petty bourgeois people. We fully anticipate a long period of dictatorship over the First World by the Third World, enforcing a hard fought cultural revolution of re-education for the First World peoples.
In this issue of Under Lock & Key MIM(Prisons) set out to report on revolutionary organizing in wimmin's prisons in the United $tates.(1) Self-determination for the internal semi-colonies won't be won by males alone, and yet our subscriber list is overwhelmingly male. As a prison organizing group, we wanted to look at what is our role in resolving contradictions along gender lines, in our struggle toward national liberation and an end to Amerikkkan imperialism. The lumpen class has a strong training in male chauvinism, and prisons are an even more extremely masculine environment. If we are going to contribute to the resolution of gender contradictions, we need to consciously put effort into it.
We solicited articles from many current and former prisoners on this topic, but in the end we received very little response. This coincides with our overall reach into wimmin's prisons: while about 7% of the population in prison is locked up in wimmin's prisons, we do not have close to 7% of our subscribers located in these institutions. In this article we will explore the current state of imprisonment of females and some potential reasons for our limited reach and lower political involvement in institutions for wimmin.
MIM(Prisons) has long talked about gender oppression faced by prisoners in the United $tates. Gender is distinct from class and nation, and located within leisure time activities. Usually gender oppression is something suffered by biological females. But in prison, where the vast majority of the population is male, we still see significant gender oppression. When male prisoners are sexually assaulted by guards this is obviously gender oppression because it's based in "leisure" time. But there are other aspects of this gender oppression, including the Amerikan legacy of lynching New Afrikan men for supposedly raping white wimmin, which is an example of white females having gender power over New Afrikan males. So it's not so straightforward as just looking at biology to determine who is gender oppressed. And as on the streets, gender interacts with nation to complicate the situation in prisons.
Females make up 18.4% of all people under supervision of the adult correctional system (prison, jail and probation).(2) They are 6.7% of federal prisoners(3) and 7.2% of state prisoners.(2) The higher percentage of females in jails and on probation reflects the lesser severity and shorter sentences compared to males. Because our reach is mainly in prisons, that is what we will focus on here.
Many have commented on the dramatically increasing female prison population in the United $tates, especially as the recent growth rate was so much higher than the rate for males. Between 1995 and 2005 the number of male prisoners grew 34% while the number of female prisoners grew 57%.(4) Overall, females went from 11% of all arrests in 1970 to 26% in 2014.(5) However, the U.$. prison population peaked in 2009 and has been dropping slowly since then. The total change between 2004 and 2014 was a 1% drop in prison population. Over that same period the male prison population dropped 1.2% while the female prison population increased 1.4%. Since 2004 the number of females in prison has bounced up and down every few years with a peak in 2008, a drop from 2008-2012 and then an increase in 2013 and 2014. The dramatic increases in incarcerated females prior to 2004 seem to have leveled off, and there are no clear trends since 2004.(2)
What we can conclude from the numbers above is that the imprisonment rate for females is growing faster than the rate for males, but the growth is relatively slow in recent years and the overall number of females in prison is so much smaller than the number of males that it would take many many years of significant growth to get close to equal incarceration rates between males and females. It is still true that when we talk about prisons in the United $tates we are overwhelmingly talking about prisons for men.
New Afrikans and Chicanas are disproportionately locked up compared to white females (twice the rate for New Afrikans and 1.2 times for Chicanas). But these statistics mean that a much larger proportion of people in female prisons are white than in the male prisons which locks up New Afrikans at almost 6 times the rate of white males and Chicanos at more than twice the rate of whites.(6) And in female prisons the disparity has been decreasing in recent years with incarceration of white females increasing at a faster pace than other nationalities.
Below we examine two possible explanations for MIM(Prisons)'s limited reach into facilities for wimmin. 1. We are not doing a good job addressing issues that are important to this population and so they're just not interested in working with us. 2. Females in prison are less political than males in prison. If the former is true, we hope that this ULK will inspire readers to write to us and tell us what we're missing. We do, however, see some solid evidence that the explanation is the lack of political interest among female prisoners.
We need to consider what might cause female prisoners to be less interested in our work than their male counterparts. Those who do write to us often comment on the complete lack of interest among their fellow prisoners. And while we hear this plenty from men's institutions, we also hear many more stories from the men's prisons about activism and interest. In addition, some of the wimmin who write to us are transgender and held in male institutions, with this experience contributing greatly to their political awareness.
Based on our experience and what evidence we can find from studies of prisoners, we believe that wimmin are less likely to be locked up long term, less likely to be put in solitary confinement, more likely to have family waiting for them on the outside, and less likely to have been active members of a lumpen organization prior to or during their term. These are mostly conditions of wimmin in general in the United $tates, and so reasonable assumptions to make. We are by no means suggesting that imprisonment of females in this country is free of abuse or anything other than a product of a system built for social control. But females who are swept up in the net of widespread incarceration are often not the primary targets of the system. The stats on nationality make this clear.
One might argue that gender oppression in wimmin's facilities is scaring people locked up there into unwillingness to reach out to MIM(Prisons). However, we see that increased repression in men's prisons generally results in increased political interest. We get many letters describing threats resulting from political activism or even just education leading people to greater interest in men's facilities. And historically, on a global scale, greater oppression has led to greater resistance, by nation, class and gender.
Overall we think the lower percentage of people in wimmin's facilities reaching out and getting involved with MIM(Prisons) validates our theory about what leads prisoners to becoming politicized. Significant factors include: solitary confinement, lumpen organization involvement, significant repression, censorship and conditions of abuse. Essentially, repression breeds resistance (as long as the repression isn't so extreme that prisoners face total censorship, or health conditions so bad that they are unable to function). We regularly hear that widespread access to TV and other privileges really does buy prisoners out of political interest and activism. This is not a surprise in a country of wealth and privilege where the vast majority of the population enjoys petty bourgeois lifestyles.
Further supporting this theory is our anecdotal experience that trans wimmin are interested and active behind bars. We know they face significant repression distinct from the general prison population. So it is not surprising that trans prisoners are driven to political awareness and activism.
Unique Challenges in Wimmin's Prisons
While material conditions, as analyzed above, play a role in the appeal of proletarian-led communist revolution to any population, we also need to look at our own attempts, or lack of, to organize with this population. MIM(Prisons) has not made a concerted effort to connect the struggle for national self-determination with struggles in wimmin's prisons. With this ULK we hope to spark that conversation.
With that said, we need to look at what unique challenges are faced by people locked up in facilities for wimmin. This will help determine if we are not addressing the issues that are important to these prisoners.
The battle to maintain or regain custody of children is one issue more prevalent in facilities for female prisoners. In 2006 (and other studies suggest this number is pretty constant in recent years), more than 65% of females in state prisons and 55% of males in state prisons had children under 18 years of age. 64% of these mothers lived with their children before prison, compared to 44% of fathers.(7) While this is a pretty big difference, the overall magnitude of the impact of imprisonment isn't close: there are so many more fathers in prison than mothers in prison. One possibility is that mothers who fear losing custody will do anything they can to keep clean and get out quickly, and this focuses them more on doing their time quietly than fighting abuse.
Sexual assault is another potential issue that may affect female prisoners more than males. In a PREA survey of former prisoners from 2008, 10.5% of females reported prisoner-on-prisoner sexual assaults compared to 2.7% of males. Staff-on-prisoner sexual assault was also more commonly reported by females (2.5%) compared to males (1.1%).(8) We are skeptical of these numbers, especially since the taboo against reporting sexual assault is even greater for males and so it's hard to say if these statistics represent a meaningful difference between the experiences in wimmin's and men's prisons. Even if it does, we wouldn't expect this abuse to lead females away from political activism. But it is perhaps an issue we need to expose more often to address the large portion of wimmin who are facing this abuse.
The Path Forward
It is important to connect our political line with our strategy and tactics, and engage in the scientific process of developing that line as we learn from our practice. While in this article we have focused on facilities for wimmin and organizing of females behind bars, this is a bigger question of how we mobilize females on the streets to join our revolutionary struggle. We are fighting against class, nation and gender oppression on a global scale, and this battle requires uniting all who can be united. Around the world we have examples of wimmin joining struggles for national liberation, taking up leadership in communist organizations, and historically in leadership positions in Communist China. While we see the national liberation struggle as principal at this point in history, we can not neglect the gender contradiction, both in the general fight against imperialism and in our own political practice.
Few things are more dangerous and detrimental to a revolutionary movement than over- and underestimation, in particular underestimation. Battles have been lost, tides and balances of struggles have ebbed and flowed, and slide from one side to the other. And all because of this simple mistake. Whenever we underestimate someone, group, or thing, we commit this mistake of relegating that persyn, group, or thing to unimportance. Or we ignore it or them as being trivial. This is something no revolutionary can ever afford to do. Especially those in the anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist movements.
Unfortunately, our movements, as so many others, can be plagued by machismo, a particular form of male chauvinism. In revolutionary circles this happens and wimmin are undervalued and most often underestimated. Wimmin are a force without equal in any movement. In the fight against capitalist and imperialist governments wimmin are an indispensable resource. A clear example of their worth can be found in recent Cuban history, the 26th of July movement.
Everyone knows of Fidel, Raúl, Frank País and Abel Santamaría. But their fame and successes would have been unattainable save for the revolucionarias, wimmin revolutionaries. While there were many wimmin later in the movement, there were only two in key roles at the beginning: Haydée Santamaría Cuadrado and Melba Hernández Rodríguez de Rey. These two stood out as invaluable and the personifications of wimmin to a revolutionary movement. Together they were key to printing and distributing "History Will Absolve Me," the famous Castro speech. They also took up arms during the attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. Although, triumph eluded them during the assault, their efforts spread the movement from the eastern provinces throughout all Cuba. Haydée and Melba were both imprisoned after the assault. But their efforts never stopped and they even became more active in overthrowing the U.$.-backed Batista regime. Their imprisonment, isolation, and cruelty suffered at the hands of a proxy of U.$. imperialism only served to strengthen their resolve and commitment. As the movement spread, so did support which finished in the triumph of the revolution in 1959. Without them the revolution may never have been achieved.
Wimmin are often undervalued, underestimated and ignored. Let us not commit such mistakes. While the capitalists and imperialists do, let us recognize this fault and exploit it, using their fallacy for our advantage to progress the movement. We need our wimmin to be involved because they are the life blood of any movement and an invaluable resource. As revolutionaries and persyns, wimmin are integral to the success of our movement.
Let us take note of this history lesson and put it to good use. We need wimmin, prisoners and captives, to exceed the examples of Haydée and Melba, leading other compañeras from behind the walls as they did. Directing others in constructive methods, organizing study groups and educating other wimmin about the present struggle, as well as how to champion it. Their efforts will give breath to our movement and once it has spread, triumph will shortly follow.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer gives a good historical example of wimmin who have overcome barriers of machismo to make significant contributions to the liberation of their nation. There are innumerable examples like this one that we can point to for anyone who is hung up on their sexism so much that they think only "men" can liberate the oppressed nations.
This author is advocating for a necessary first step: first, we must accept that anyone is perfectly capable of being a strong theorist, warrior, contributor, to the national struggles. We don't see many people writing in telling us wimmin are too weak or otherwise should be excluded from revolutionary organizing, so while this sexist indoctrination will ultimately affect how we approach organizing, at least on a conscious level we might be already doing good on step 1. So what's next?
If we continue to see wimmin as a resource, even for revolutionary aims, we are not going to get very far in resolving the gender contradictions that plague our struggle for unity and liberation. Rather than asking ourselves how can we mine this resource, we need to ask "what are the contradictions inhibiting this growth of our movement?" and "what can we do to help resolve these contradictions?" A study of dialectical materialism, including Mao's essay "On Contradiction" is imperative for this discussion.
Similarly, we can't fetishize organizing of any subgroup in our movement, lest we lose direction for the sake of getting some wimmin on board. That's the mistake made by people who believe who is saying it is more important than what is being said. It's the same trap that got Obama elected as a Black persyn, and Hilary campaigning on the platform of being a female. Even if the tokenization is of an oppressed group (queer/trans people of color appear to be the token of the day), identity politics is always dangerous and an antithesis to materialism.
I would like to address the question that was presented in ULK issue #49: Where are the revolutionary women at? How can we reach and organize with our female comrades?
There are many female soldiers out there who would love to join the revolution. And there are many ways in which we can bring these sisters into the revolution. One way is via the pen pal process. Many male prisoners have prison pen pals who they can write, educate and/or bring into the fight. The same can also be done with female pen pals who are not incarcerated. They can also sign up the sisters they know or write for a subscription of ULK.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade offers a fine suggest that can apply regardless of gender. Any pen pal who might be interested in the struggle against imperialism and oppression should be cultivated on that level. We always need more help from supporters on the outside, so if your pen pals need an org to hook up with they can seek out MIM(Prisons) via our contact info on page 1.
We know many of our subscribers already follow this comrades's suggestion by sharing what they learn from ULK with their people on the streets. If you have reason to believe your pen pal might be interested in anti-imperialist politics, send an article cut out of the newsletter to see how they react. If they are interested you can suggest they check out our website and you can start raising political questions in your letters. This could help build a solid base of political support on the streets for when you're released. But it's important to always be cautious, and not expose your political views and organizing work to folks who might (even if just accidentally) expose you to the cops.
To be clear, we don't have any evidence that overall males are at a higher level of political consciousness than females. At least historical political movements within U.$. borders don't suggest this is the case, but it is possible the dramatic recent imprisonment rate is driving a politicization of males in a way never before seen in this country. Regardless, we need to get the word out to everyone who might be interested in anti-imperialism, and if our political line is correct the oppressed will see this and get involved.
We'd like to hear from others about successes or failures you have had bringing up politics with folks in letters to the streets. Is this a tactic that we can build on in a more intentional way?
Esta semana, los oficiales del Ejército de los E$tado$ Unido$ anunciaron
que las personas transgénero son bienvenidas para servir abiertamente como
guerreros del imperialismo y la dominación mundial Amérikkkana.
Hicieron un plan que será puesto en marcha el año que viene, que incluye
apoyo financiero para tratamientos médicos como cirugías, terapia y
Algunos activistas trans, que reconocen por qué este anuncio es
“problemático” para las personas en las naciones oprimidas, afirmarán que
“[el Ejército de los E$tados Unido$] nombraría como nuevo miembro cualquier cosa.” Lo cual es cierto, hasta un punto. El gobierno de los E$tado$ Unido$, en todas sus formas, tratará de controlar todos los aspectos de nuestra sociedad que puedan ser controlados. Lo que recalca el punto de que las políticas de identidad de género no amenazan al militarismo e$tadouniden$e y a la dominación del mundo porque pueden ser controladas por la mera aceptación. ¿La lucha por la aceptación de los transgéneros (o cualquier lucha de género), distinta de la organización revolucionaria, debilita al
capitalismo mismo? No. Y este anuncio lo prueba.
El gobierno e$tadouniden$e no puede nombrar como nuevo miembro a organización antiimperialista genuina, a pesar de sus intentos con las organizaciones encubiertas y la revisión de la historia. No puede integrar la autodeterminación de las naciones con el colonialismo porque son aspectos opuestos de una contradicción mundial. No pueden terminar con la opresión y desesperación de la gente en el Tercer Mundo porque dependen de esa opresión para su función básica de la explotación para mantener a las personas en los E$tados Unido$ ricas y felices.
Si tu lucha puede ser integrada al Ejército de los E$tado$ Unido$, entonces
eso demuestra de qué lado está en realidad. ¿Eres un revolucionario
internacionalista? ¿O sólo esperas por una mejor vida aquí en Amérikkka? Todos
los que se opongan a la opresión de identidad de género, militarismo y
genocidio deberían hacer todo en su poder para organizarse en contra del
Ejército de los E$tado$ Unido$, y en contra del capitalismo, dado que esa
es la única manera en que llegaremos a un mundo sin opresión de género para