I see MIM is going to do a wimmin's issue. I really don't know what can get women interested and have some courage to do anything other than complain. Women seem to think if they smile, be happy, flip their hair and talk with a baby voice it will get them things. Even though we keep getting things taken from us, women will not speak up and stand up.
I read in Prison Action News (by ABC) about a work stoppage they are trying to encourage in September 2016. But all the responses I get from women is they will not participate, they are scared of being locked down, retaliation, blah, blah, blah.
Here is what I am currently going through with the grievance process concerning outdoor yard time: Lieutenant Gayle Ross posted a Posted Operational Rule (POR) changing small yard time. First of all, it was not signed until 1 June 2016, but supposedly went into effect a month before posting on 1 May 2016. PORs must give prisoners a two week notice before a change goes into effect.
Female prisoners are no longer allowed to go out to the small yard at the same time as dog program participants, with/without their dogs, for fear that we may get hurt. Even though dog program participants and their dogs are not separated in the units with non-dog program prisoners. Apparently it's only a safety/security issue for use of the small yard.
Next, Lt. Gayle Ross has spread her safety/security issue to other areas. Apparently wimmin prisoners are too fragile to go outside when it is wet out, puddles on the ground or snow on the ground. Supposedly we are childish and will jump in puddles, and too fragile so we might fall. This reasoning has allowed us to be denied small yard for entire seasons: fall heading into winter, winter, and most of spring, which by definition is rainy. Even though recreation can clear off puddles by sweeping off the water, the recreation staff lets the water sit until it dries naturally, of course closing the small yard for days. Apparently wimmin are dangerous enough to imprison but too fragile to go outside.
There are three steps to our grievance process. I have grieved all the way to a step three, therefore exhausting the grievance process. I am the only one grieving. Women complain, complain, complain but do nothing else. So I am preparing a 1983 [lawsuit].
I have used the grievance petition from MIM(Prisons). None of my three grievances were provided timely responses according to Colorado's AR 850-04 time limit for Step 1, 2 and 3 grievances. I sent this petition to Rick Raemisch, executive director of Colorado Department of Corrections, the United States Department of Justice and the Office of Inspector General. The United States Department of Justice basically said they only considered class action cases. Due to the letter to Rick Raemisch, Captain Bowers met with me and Lt. Gayle Ross about the issue. The situation has not changed for the better.
Now more gym time and small yard time has been taken away. If we don't attend a specific aerobic program called Insanity/cize (which is a videotape), we cannot use the rest of the gym or small yard. We cannot use the other exercise equipment or do our own workout program. We must only workout to the DVD (unless we are ADA). Women are complaining but they are doing nothing else.
I am still working on my case with the help of reading material like Battling the Administration by David Meister and Prisoners' Self-Help Litigation Manual by Daniel Manville, that I bought from Prison Legal News.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade raises some important questions about how females are taught to act in order to get ahead in patriarchal society. The idea that flipping hair, smiling and talking with a baby voice will get stuff for wimmin has been reinforced with very real financial and social incentives based on looks and gendered behavior. While society teaches males that being aggressive and self-sufficient is sexy and also the right way to get ahead at work, that same system teaches females that aggressiveness is unattractive and it's best to be weak and dependent on a man.
We can even see this double standard in the way people talk about Hillary Clinton's Presidential candidacy. She's just another imperialist mouthpiece, but she has won the wrath of so many for things that are seen as normal or even praised in male candidates. When Clinton is loud she is called out for "shouting" or "shrieking", while male candidates are praised for their strength for a similar style. Critics are calling Clinton a bitch and a lesbian. When she shows emotion she is too feminine and when she doesn't show emotion she is too masculine. There are endless examples of this sort of attention paid to Clinton's gender rather than her qualifications.
There are many strong wimmin standing up for their rights and the rights of others, like this comrade. And we need to train other wimmin that being strong and self-sufficient is the only way to really get ahead and really win battles. Many men in prison also sit around complaining without doing anything, but it is leaders like this writer who, over time, can develop other activists by setting an example of strength and resolve in practice, combined with a correct political line.
This week U.$. military officials announced that transgender people are welcome to serve openly as warriors for imperialism and Amerikkkan world domination. They made a plan that will roll out over the next year, including financial support for medical treatment such as surgeries, therapy, and hormones.
Some trans activists, who recognize why this announcement is "problematic" for people in the oppressed nations, will assert that "they'll co-opt anything." Which is true, to an extent. The U.$. government in all its forms will try to control any aspect of our society that can be controlled. Which underlines the point that identity politics is not threatening to U.$. militarism and world domination, because it can be controlled just by mere acceptance. Does the struggle for transgender acceptance (or any gender struggle), distinct from revolutionary organizing, undermine capitalism itself? No. And this announcement proves it.
The U.$. government can't co-opt genuine anti-imperialist organizing, try as it might with front organizations and rewriting of history. It can't actually integrate the self-determination of nations into colonialism, because they are opposite aspects of a worldwide contradiction. They can't resolve the oppression and desperation of people in the Third World, because they depend on that oppression for its base function of exploitation, to keep people in the United $tates wealthy and happy.
If your struggle can be integrated into the U.$. military, then it shows which side your struggle is truly on. Are you a revolutionary internationalist? Or just hoping for a better life here in Amerikkka? Everyone who opposes gender oppression, militarism, and genocide, should do everything in their power to organize against the U.$. military, and against capitalism, as that's the only way we're going to get to a world without gender oppression for everyone.
Queen D.I.V.A here, I want to speak on why LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/transexual, Queer) comrades are treated like shit. This is my second bid and I've seen a lot of love towards my community but to be totally honest I've seen more dislike and hate towards my community.
Comrades will rather be respectful to a kkkorektions officer than a homosexual, why? Comrades will rather say good morning with a smile on their faces to a kkkorektions officer, why? Don't you guys know these pigs are the ones throwing your mail away and then telling you that you didn't get any, that they will beat your ass and say you assaulted them and give you a new bid, and that they will deny your visit after your family just drove 7 hours to see you?
What have LGBTQ comrades done to you? Nothing. We were born different, that's it! What if your own flesh and blood son came to you one day and confessed that he's gay? Would you disown him? Would you treat him like you treat imprisoned gays, or would you put your ego, pride and fear to the side and embrace him?
We are all in this struggle together, let us say "screw what people think." A "unit" is something that works together. We're behind these walls and fences together so why can't we stand together? Stop disrespecting us and you'll see we're not your enemies.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade eloquently pushes the United Front for Peace in Prisons principle of Unity around the question of sexual orientation and gender identity, elements of the strand of oppression of gender. We need to look beyond petty differences, and beyond socialized prejudices around gender. Our movement cannot afford to be divided along these lines. Instead we need to judge people by their actions and their political line. Those who side with the pigs, who feed them information, and who help them by provoking fights and doing their bidding: those people are our enemies. People who stand up against the criminal injustice system are our friends. And those who don't stand up but refuse to work with the pigs are our friends in need of a little educating and leadership so that they too will join the struggle.
A criticism often made of the Black Panther Party (BPP) lies in errors it made around addressing the patriarchy. Most of these criticisms are attempts at subreformism, which is the approach of resolving conflict on an individual or interpersynal level in an attempt to resolve social problems. But the patriarchy is a system of oppression. It manifests in interpersynal interactions, but can't be stopped without addressing the system of oppression itself. Just by the very fact that the BPP was organizing for national liberation under a Maoist banner, it was making more advances toward a world without gender oppression than all of their pseudo-feminist critics combined.
George Jackson did have some bad gender line in Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson, which covers the years 1964-1970. To wimmin searching for their place in an anti-imperialist prison struggle, the most alienating examples are where Jackson says wimmin should just "sit, listen to us, and attempt to understand. It is for them to obey and aid us, not to attempt to think."(p. 101) Later in the book after Jackson encounters some revolutionary Black wimmin, ey can't help but to sexualize their politics. Much like in our everyday society, Soledad Brother tells wimmin their role in this struggle is to shut up or be sexualized. These were not consciously worked out analyses of gender but instead Jackson's subjective responses to frustration and excitement.
A challenge to all revolutionaries is to take an objective approach to our scientific analysis. This is very difficult. To wimmin struggling within the national liberation movements, looking at the social and historical context of these remarks is imperative to overcoming this alienation from sexist brothers in struggle. Jackson was reared in the United $tates in the 1940s and 50s, with time spent in youth detention facilities. Ey entered the hyper-masculine prison environment at the age of 20. Jackson's social context was our fucked up patriarchal society, and is similar to many of our contributors whose scope of perspective is limited by the conditions of their confinement. Where our sisters need to not split over subreformism, our brothers also need to work to overcome their empiricism and subjectivism in how they approach uniting with wimmin against imperialism and patriarchy.
It was after the publishing of Soledad Brother that Jackson advanced to be a general and field marshal of the People's Revolutionary Army of the Black Panther Party. While Soledad Brother gives more of a look into the prison experience, in eir later work, Blood In My Eye (which was published by the BPP posthumously), Jackson lays out eir most advanced political analysis shortly before ey was murdered by the state on 21 August 1971. More than an author, Jackson was a great organizer. Panther and life-long revolutionary Kiilu Nyasha is a testimony to Jackson's abilities, indicating that subjectivity around gender did not prevent him from organizing seriously with wimmin.(1) Of course, Jackson’s biggest legacy was organizing men in prison. Eir ability to organize strikes with 100% participation in eir unit serves as an counterexample to those in California today who say we cannot unite across "racial" lines. It's impressive all that Jackson accomplished in developing eir politics and internationalism, and organizing prisoners, considering all the barriers Amerikkka put in the way.
Jackson was a good representative of the BPP's mass base, and the BPP was correct in organizing with Jackson and others with backward gender lines. If the Party hadn't been dissolved by COINTELPRO we can only guess at what advances it could have made toward resolving gender oppression by now. One thing is certain, it would have done a lot more to combat the patriarchy for the majority of the world's inhabitants than First World pseudo-feminism ever has or ever will.
After reading "The 2 Strikes Law" article in ULK 49, where the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was referenced, I decided to write the following article about something that happened recently in this prison regarding PREA funding.
Over the fall of 2015 and into the early winter of '16 this prison received more federal funding to implement PREA safeguards including the following measures. Now every unit officer has to display and provide a stack of pre-printed PREA cards with information on how and what to report. The leading PREA investigative Lieutenant at this prison, Lt. Carey, stands around the chow hall to randomly pull individuals over and ask them: "If you are sexually assaulted, what will you do?" Looking for the answer: "I will dutifully report it to you sir, of course."
And every unit and building in this facility has had the restrooms and showers reformed and renovated with large metal stalls and divides in them built from the small welding shop here so that during the upcoming PREA audit this smartass Lieutenant can show the public everything they've done to make sure "inmates'" genitals aren't in constant view of each other or any staff that walk by a bathroom or shower.
This was after doorbell alarms were installed on every unit to alert "indecent" prisoners as to whenever female staff entered a unit, to make themselves decent and to not accidentally sexually assault them or intentionally be exposed when they come around; i.e. when a female staff comes onto a unit to relieve the duty officer and then does a "shower check" to see who on the shower list is still naked and in there. Although none of the female staff seem to enjoy having a bing-bong doorbell ring every time they enter a housing unit, Lt. Corey personally installed most if not all of them, with pride.
But the most scathing display and culmination of target-harassment for generating PREA funding came in these early months of 2016. It's not female officers performing count at midnight, one, five o'clock in the morning and ringing a door bell while prisoners are trying to sleep that generated the imagined need for PREA awareness. It was this: DOC added revisions to certain rules in this state on 5 January 2016, including 291-133: "Marriages and domestic partnership solemnization ceremonies for inmates." which states: “These revisions are necessary to update the department's policies and procedures regarding marriages and solemnization ceremonies for prisoners in department facilities. The rules will recognize same-sex marriages to reflect changes in state and federal laws. The department will no longer transport inmates between facilities for the purpose of participating in a marriage or solemnization ceremony. Married or domestic partnership inmates who reside in the same facility will not be housed in the same cell.
Here is also what happened in January 2016. From one of this prison's units approximately 15 prisoners were taken to segregation from the same unit for alleged "sexual activity" and/or "unauthorized organization." They were all given 120s in seg. 120-day sanctions for the “unauthorized organization” convictions and those who could have been were convicted of “sexual activity” if they were “known homos” or even “suspected homos” if their names were close enough on the shower log to have communally showered together.
Many, or most, of the “known homos” and “suspected homos” were all transferred to this unit in the late months of 2015, to set up this target “unauthorized organization” and inevitable communal-shower-sign-up. Many prisoners lost their prison jobs, incentive levels, etc. for being a casualty of what the officer-pigs refer to as 2016's “Operation Fruit Roll-up.” All to bring more necessity to the prison's gathering of federal PREA funding for the April audit.
PREA information has also now been blasted nonstop on the prison's “information and education” channel since January. When the prison posted the 291-133: “Marriages and domestic partnership solemnization ceremonies for inmates” memo on units in early January, the prison then used that to say “unauthorized – organized” “suspected homos” thought it was ok to come out, so we sent them all to segregation for 120 days and set them up to be “identified homosexuals” for fellow prisoners and staff to “watch out for.”
I was not an individual who was segregated and I do not identify as homosexual, but other prisoners who were D-seged and other individuals who weren't, are too scared to associate with each other or stand up for themselves for successive retaliatory target harassment of this sexual nature. I am writing to bring attention to the korupt and disgusting lengths these pigs will go to, to secure prison rape funding “just in time” for the audit, but nobody is fooled.
This is one of the most disgusting and damaging pig setups I have witnessed and likewise read about. But what now can be done?
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a good example of the so-called Prison Rape Elimination Act actually leading to more harassment and gender oppression. We can't rely on the oppressors to take action to eliminate oppression. If we want to see an end to rape in prison, prisoners must come together to build unity and peace, and protect one another from any predatory or violent individuals. Of course the guards have the power, and when they are the rapists it is very hard to fight back. Even when the rapists are other prisoners, when this is sanctioned or at the bidding of the guards, it becomes very difficult to fight. But we will build far more peace and security through independent institutions and organizing of the oppressed than will ever be achieved by appeals to the administration or government for protection and new rules and regulations.
Resolutions on Gender Pronouns and Secure Communications
A couple resolutions passed at our 2015 Congress in July. One was focused on clarifying our policy on securing our communications outside of prisons. The full policy remains internal, but it reads in part, "Our policy is that we do not have cell relations over the internet if the other cell will not use PGP or equivalent encryption." This clarifies our existing practice.
The second resolution was proposed to change our use of pronouns to reflect the non-binary reality of biological sex categories. This proposal was taken as a task for further research as comrades were not well enough informed on the topic to put it to a vote at that time. Below is our final resolution on this question, as a result of further research and discussion.
Distinguishing Biology from Gender
As revolutionaries committed to fighting gender oppression, we distinguish between the biology/physiology of sex (male/female), and the socially constructed categories of gender (men/wimmin).
Our definition of gender places it firmly within leisure-time:
"Historically reproductive status was very important to gender, but today the dynamics of leisure-time and humyn biological development are the material basis of gender. For example, children are the oppressed gender regardless of genitalia, as they face the bulk of sexual oppression independent of class and national oppression.
"People of biologically superior health-status are better workers, and that's a class thing, but if they have leisure-time, they are also better sexually privileged. We might think of models or prostitutes, but professional athletes of any kind also walk this fine line. Athletes, models and well-paid prostitutes are not oppressed as 'objects,' but in fact they hold sexual privilege. Older and disabled people as well as the very sick are at a disadvantage, not just at work but in leisure-time. For that matter there are some people with health statuses perfectly suited for work but not for leisure-time."(1)
Our definition of gender has not changed. But with our growing understanding of the artificially binary definition of biological sex, MIM(Prisons) is changing our use of language to better reflect the reality of biology.
A Bit of History on Biology
In the past MIM line has treated the biology of sex as basically binary: males and females. But humyn biology has never been entirely binary with relation to sex characteristics. There are a range of interactions between chromosomes, hormone expressions and sexual organ development. The resulting variation in anatomical and reproductive characteristics include a lot of people who do not fit the standard binary expectation. Studies suggest that as many as 1 in 100 births deviate from the standard physical expectations of sex biology.(2) To this day anything deviating from the "normal" binary of distinct male or female is seen by mainstream society as a disorder to be corrected or covered up. Genital surgeries are conducted on newborn babies causing lifelong pain and suffering just to "correct" a body part that is seen as too large or small, or even just because a baby identified by doctors to be a boy might grow up unable to pee standing up.(3)
People who are born with variations in sex and reproductive organs that don't fit the typical binary are termed intersex. This term encompasses a wide range of biological expressions, including people entirely indistinguishable from society's definition of males and females without a chromosomal test or other invasive physical examination. There are even instances where someone would be identified female by a certain set of criteria (such as an external physical examination) but male by another set (such as a chromosome test).
The Value of Removing Biologically-determined Pronouns
From studying the history of humyn biology we learn that it's not possible to easily identify the biological sex of an individual. In fact, there's nothing wrong with having a spectrum of biological characteristics that we don't have to fit into two neat categories. Further, we do not generally see value in identifying biological sex unless it is the specific topic of discussion. We are committed to fighting gender oppression. And part of this fight involves teaching people not to be concerned with the biology of others, and instead to judge them for their work and the correctness of their political ideas.
Many languages are relatively gender neutral compared to english. Chinese is just one example. These languages do not suffer from confusion about the identity of people, and they are arguably much easier to learn and use in this regard. In Spanish, the transition to a gender neutral language has already begun with the use of @ in place of o/a in gendered words. While English does not offer us a similar gender-neutral option, we have a history of modifying the language to suit our revolutionary purposes. We have changed America to Amerikkka to identify the domination of national oppression in this country. And we have changed woman to womyn to remove the implication that a "woman" is just an appendage to a "man."
Building on MIM's Legacy
For most of MIM's history, it used gender-neutral pronouns of "h" instead of his, her, him, hers; and "s/he" instead of she or he. Ten years ago at MIM's 2005 Congress, a resolution was passed on gender-neutral pronouns, which read:
"MIM hereby extends its policy on anti-patriarchal language (including such spellings as 'womyn,' 'wimmin,' 'persyn,' and 'humyn') to cover the use of gender-neutral third-person singular pronouns. Henceforth feminine pronouns will be used for persyns of unknown sex who are friends of the international proletariat and masculine pronouns will be used for enemies of unknown sex.
"Examples: 'From each according to her abilities, to each according to her needs.' 'A true comrade devotes her life to serving the people.' 'The enemy will not perish of himself.' 'A labor aristocrat derives much of his income from superprofits.'
"This rule applies only to the otherwise ambiguous cases when sex is not stated. Accordingly, George Bu$h is still 'he' and Madeleine Albright is 'she,' although both are enemies. All MCs, HCs, and others close to MIM are 'she' at this time, since their real sex cannot be revealed, for security reasons.
"Traditional patriarchal grammar maintains that 'he' is the only correct 'gender-neutral' pronoun in all of the examples above. MIM's realignment of the pronouns along the lines of 'Who are our friends? Who are our enemies?' is more egalitarian and corresponds fairly well to the facts at this point in history."
While we see great value in the above resolution, in applying it to our practical work we ran into many problems. Regular readers of ULK may recognize that MIM(Prisons) has defaulted to the old MIM practice of using "h" and "s/he" pronouns.
The vast majority of MIM(Prisons)'s subscribers are cis-males, meaning they were classified as male at birth and they self-identify as male today. (Note that these criteria are not material tests of one's sex.) Much of our subscribers' reasons for being imprisoned in the first place is related to this male classification. And they are held in facilities that are "male only." Prison is an environment which heightens all of society's contradictions, and this environment tends to be even more violent in reinforcing social codes of conduct (including "male" and "female" social markers) than the outside world.
In our practice of running a prisoner support organization with our organizing resting heavily on the written word, we have seen it as too confusing to use "she" pronouns for our cis-male comrades. Further, the 2005 resolution is not clear on whether prisoners as a whole, who are of the lumpen class, should be referred to as "she" or "he." Historically the lumpen is a vacillating class, which is in a tug-of-war between bourgeois and proletarian influence. Determining if the lumpen are "friends of the international proletariat" is sometimes unclear. Thus the use of "h" and "s/he" was much more useful in our specific work.
We believe this new writing policy will have a positive impact for our transgender, transexual, and genderqueer subscribers and contributors as well. The preferred pronouns of these groups are often individually self-selected, as is how they present their gender identification. (Note that preferred pronouns and gender identification are not material definitions of one's sex or gender.) Defaulting everyone's pronouns to a singular set of gender-neutral pronouns reduces the subjectivism inherent in this type of identity politics. We hope our new writing policy will draw this movement into a more materialist and internationalist direction.
New Writing Policy
When referring to an individual in the third persyn, we will use either their name or the neutral pronouns of ey, em, and eir to replace s/he and h. Ey, em, and eir are singularized versions of they, them, and their and we believe these more accurately reflect the biological sex of humyns, in that they downplay the inaccurate binary which has developed over thousands of years of patriarchal history. We also think ey/em/eir will have the greatest ease of use, from the wide selection of gender neutral pronoun sets which have been proposed in the past.(5)
We define men and wimmin as those who are oppressors in leisure time and those who are oppressed in leisure time, respectively, and regardless of biological genitalia or reproductive capacity.(4) This is the strand of oppression called gender. When referring to people or individuals when gender is relevant, we will refer to them as men or wimmin and use he or she pronouns. (Similarly, we don't always reference other defining characteristics of our correspondents, but we do refer to someone as "New Afrikan" or "clean-shaven" when relevant.)
Black lives matter, or so the slogan goes. To who does these lives matter is the real question. Tell this to the black mother who teaches her son to be careful of strangers, polite and respectful to his elders. He pays strict attention to his mother and plays in the playground, where he feels safe. He runs back and forth playing with his friend, his little amerikkkan baseball cap and his two dollar plastic water gun, only to be shot down in a hail of 9mm bullets by men who spend their days training at a gun range qualifying to achieve only the highest marksmen scores.
Black lives matter, or so the slogan goes. Just attempt to explain that to the Black mother whose son's bullet riddled body lies in the street on display for four hours, for other Black men to witness and be a reminder of what is in store for them if they dare think about talking back to a police officer. Yet after the gun smoke has cleared and the law deems this an appropriate action, against a creditable threat, there are those who still are foolish enough to think about having a sit down and dialog the matter of why Black lives don't matter to them.
The so-called Black leaders are only leading us to the devil for slaughter. Black leaders jump on a plane and travel halfway across the globe in an attempt to diplomatically broker a cease fire in a foreign country, yet they are missing in action when it comes to driving into the next county to stand up to the racist cop who proudly stated that he hates niggas.
Black lives matter, or so the slogan goes. Yet if a gay couple gets stared at sideways, the whole country is up in arms and the very best lawyer that money could buy defends them, free of charge, to prove that this great country has stepped into a brand new day. While little Jamal's mother is given some background public defender who claims that the world will listen to us and we will make a difference.
When will they learn that the only way these Black lives will matter is when they tell the world that talking and dialogs only ends up with dead children. The time is done for talking, let's give them the only thing that they understand, the only thing they respect. When a rabid animal approaches you it's not interested in talking or being rational, it deserves to be put down, or the infectious disease that it suffers from will only spread wider and stronger until it consumes an area that can no longer be contained. When will we wake up and stop being lead, and take the lead, before there are no more Black lives to matter.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We echo this writer's call for organizing against the entire system that uses police brutality as just one tool in an arsenal of national oppression and social control. Dialogues with those who have the guns and power will not convince them to just give that up. We can only make serious and lasting change by force. This is why MIM(Prisons) is a revolutionary communist organization: we have learned from history that only a revolution, led by the proletariat and so fought in the interests of the oppressed and exploited, will put an end to the brutality and suffering under capitalism. Police brutality is just one aspect of this suffering.
This writer draws a contrast between the fight against gender oppression (against gays) and the fights against national oppression, noting that there is institutional money and support to fight the former while there is institutional support to maintain the latter. Overall we agree that within U.$. borders the majority actually enjoy gender privilege. But we should not ignore the hate crimes against the queer community. Many of these attacks target oppressed nations. Being New Afrikan and gay or transgender is even more dangerous than just being New Afrikan. In 2012, for instance, 50% of LGBTQ homicide victims were New Afrikan, 19.2% were [email protected] and only 11.5% were white.(1) And we should never pit the gender oppressed against the national oppressed. All oppressed people are allies in the fight against imperialism.
As a prisoner who has been studying revolution and theory for some years now I must admit that even for the most politically conscious prisoner, the issue of gender oppression is not as clear as it should be. Part of the problem, at least in my opinion, is that gender issues are largely taboo topics within prisons and this is a reflection of the grip of patriarchal culture and backwardness which plagues these dungeons.
For those of us attempting to de-colonize not just our own minds but also the minds of our fellow prisoners, it is necessary to understand what gender oppression entails. It seems ridiculous to learn about uprisings and liberation struggles without learning who was liberated. Our aim should be to discover how all of society was freed, not just how men were freed, or how a certain gender was freed. Consciousness means we become educated in more than gun battles or our people's history. It means we understand people and the struggles they go through because in one way or another we are part of this struggle.
There should be no part of society that we do not understand. Gender issues are a part of our society so we should understand them fully. But this takes us going outside our comfort zone.
Homosexuals and trans people will continue to exist even if some don't like it or people don't talk about it. Just like biological wimmin will continue to exist, or men for that matter. Not understanding a phenomenon will not make it change or disappear. Rather by not understanding something we usually only react to it in the wrong way, which only helps the oppressor.
Having been born and raised in a colonial-patriarchal-capitalist society, like most other prisoners I have gone about my life unaware of the realities of gender issues. An oppressive society works hard to keep our minds off the tough issues and even shapes the gender roles the way they want people to follow them to reinforce their hold on power. If we don't make an effort to understand our social training, we simply grow up lining up to the role capitalist society has laid out for us; what they say is right.
There are many elements of gender oppression, for example "male chauvinism." There is such a thing as "gender chauvinism" where one gender believes it is above another and as a result it will deny other genders of their rights. Gender oppression has existed since the birth of classes. Males took control of capital ownership from the beginning and the institution of patriarchy has simply been strengthened with heterosexual males at the top ever since. It is a social structure built on oppression just as vile as racism.
As I researched the Chicano movement of the 1960s and 70s I saw two things that were tied to one another. One was how there was a large current within the movements which was stuck in bourgeois nationalism, meaning it was all for the Chicano movement but was not anti-imperialist or even anti-capitalist. This was a shortcoming. But the other thing was many back then were homophobic and male chauvinist, and these two things fed off each other and served as a host for the other to exist and thrive.
The interconnections between gender oppression and class oppression are extensive. They, along with national oppression, are what keeps Amerikkka existing. Today's [email protected] movement learns from the past and we move forward combating gender oppression any way we can. Aztlán will not be freed without all [email protected] being free, including those oppressed because of their gender.
Gender is tied to the social reality in which we exist and I agree with those who argue that to snip the cord between gender and social reality is a metaphysical notion. We cannot expect to transform gender oppression without transforming society.
As prisoners we need to change the perception of male-dominated struggle. Even in the prison movement, which is struggling for prisoners/humyn rights, many believe it is a male prisoner thing. In reality, other genders are untapped and yet to be harnessed and set free to help lead our efforts within U.$. prisons.
If we look to the history of governments we find that nowhere was it possible to combat gender oppression with quicker results than in Mao's China. In 1976 when Mao died wimmin were about 22% of the deputies and about 25% of the standing committee of the National People's Congress which was the highest governmental body at the time in China. After Mao's death these numbers were reduced greatly. This was a period when wimmin in the U.S. Congress were about 1%!
When taking all this into account, with gender oppression existing in the United Snakes, it's important that we also understand that there is also a First World gender privilege which, like the worker elites, benefit just by living within U.S. borders. Wimmin in the First World, of all nationalities, enjoy a privilege that does not exist in the Third World. But of all First World wimmin, white Amerikans still enjoy the most privilege in the First World, just like their white worker counterparts. Complete gender equality will come when we reach communism, and until then we need to make a conscious effort to combat gender oppression within our struggles for liberation.
The comrade who reported in ULK 40 on a lawsuit around sexual assaults in California prisons(1) wrote back to reiterate that California law prohibits such behavior. "An inmate cannot validly consent to sex with a prison employee", see California Penal Code Section 289.6 and California Code of Regulations Title 15 3401.5. This is actually a good example of a law that tackles Liberalism around the question of rape in one fell swoop by recognizing the systematic relationship between prisoners and state employees that prevents consent.
Despite this law, our comrade documents a history of administrative coverups of sexual abuse of prisoners by staff. Clearly the gender oppressed need more than words on paper to be free of the patriarchy. And for prisoners who "cooperate" with prison administrators, administrative coverups operate in the opposite direction. Our comrade points to Freitag v. Ayers, 463 F.3d 838 (9th Cir.2006), which documents the case of a female correctional officer at Pelican Bay State Prison who was discouraged by her supervisors from filing disciplinary actions against prisoners who would sexually harass her "as a sexual favor to gain [their] cooperation."
In the previous article by this comrade, we pointed out the possibility that New Afrikan bio-males (especially youth) may be considered gender oppressed if one looks at prisons on a statistical level. Yet, we do not deny that bio-male prisoners often play the role of sexual aggressor, both against other male prisoners and female guards. The example of Freitag v. Ayers echoes one of these hypotheticals that our critics threw at us to ask the question, "who is the rapist here?"(2) Yet in this case we see the patriarchy, in the form of the CDCR administration at Pelican Bay, actively enforcing the roles of both the SHU prisoner being held in an isolation cell and the female guard who must endure the prisoner's acting out. The obvious culprit here, and the federal courts agreed, was the patriarchal institution of the CDCR.
Prison is an extreme example, but it helps us see the patriarchy at work. As we said in our previous article on the lawsuit, even when the female guard is the clear aggressor, firing her does not do anything to lesson rape on a group level, though it might help some individuals for a period of time. There are many institutions that serve to enforce the patriarchy throughout our society that serve to undermine the gender oppressed's power over their own bodies. We must build independent institutions that serve the gender oppressed, in order to create a world where sex can be consensual.
A great example of prisoners doing this behind bars is in the organization Men Against Sexism which was in Washington state in the 1970s.(1) Our conditions today are different than those faced by Washington prisoners at the time, but we can still address gender oppression as part of our overall struggle to build unity.
In their response to us, (see "Who has happy sex?"), the Leading Light Communist Organization (LLCO) questioned some accusations we made about their organization contributing to wrecking work aimed at the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM).(1) The author is either unaware of, or being dishonest about, the history of their organization. Prairie Fire was highlighted in a recent interview at llco.org retelling h young adulthood, so certainly s/he can recall what h comrades were printing about MIM a handful of years ago. They participated in a long-standing campaign to paint MIM as crazy wackos as the original MIM comrades suffered the crushing defeat of every aspect of their work. We condemned the Monkey Smashes Heaven (MSH) website for this at the time, but did not call it wrecking work.(2) To accuse us of escaping "the crazy town hotel" because of our critique of the gender aristocracy is not just unprincipled, but once again echoing the imperialists who try to paint radical critiques of the status quo as the work of wackos.(4) And we don't see a reason to give them a pass this time. We're concluding here that this is an ongoing problem within their organization. This should have been obvious from our previous article(3), but we felt we should clarify our point here if LLCO is going to accuse us of spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt in what they refer to as a "phony setup," while their comrade accuses us of trying to deflect criticism. If we were afraid of criticism why did we publish an article linking to LLCO's criticism of our line?
Liberalism is Liberalism
Liberalism puts individual liberty and choice at the forefront. It is not concerned with groups and systems.
Liberalism equates happy sex with consensual sex. MIM Thought does not.
We never said happy sex doesn't exist. Rather, the main point of our article was that the gender aristocracy is very happy with its sex. We go on to argue that the happy sex of the gender aristocracy presents a challenge to our efforts to organize them against imperialism.
We also say that the struggle to have "good sex" is lifestyle politics and that it supports the pseudo-feminists' (read pro-patriarchy) agenda. Rather than "good" or "happy," a more precise criteria to debate would be "consensual sex." And we say there is no such thing under patriarchy. LLCO broadens this assertion to accuse us of saying consensual sex has never existed for all of humyn history. But patriarchy has not existed forever, so we do not agree that our line implies that "consensual, happy sex has never existed." More importantly, the theoretical existence of happy sex is not important to us in the struggle to end oppression.
LLCO doesn't like the examples we listed in our last article, condemning them with their own hypothetical example that is essentially the same, proving our point that power and sex are intimately tied up (pun intended). Rather than measuring individuals' power differentials to determine which one of them is the rapist (and implicitly then which persyn should be ostracized, imprisoned, or we don't now what because LLCO hasn't told us), maybe LLCO can speak to the problem that patriarchal society has conditioned females for centuries to enjoy sex as an oppressed gender as part of the process of producing male pleasure. Such systematic problems of power are not considered by the Liberal who is assured by the individuals involved explicitly saying the word "yes" and having fuzzy feelings inside while doing it.
Since their last post, LLCO stepped up their artwork from "Make Love Not War" to "Keep Calm and Have Good Sex." It's hard to believe they still don't get it when they caricature their own line with such blatant sexual Liberalism. Rather, it seems quite clear that they do intend to promote sexual Liberalism and call it proletarian feminism.
Biological Determinism and the Self
Liberalism, as an ideology, was a progressive force in a certain period of humyn history. Around the turn of the twentieth century theorists discussing sex used animal behavior to argue against the Christian ideas of the "natural order" ordained by God. But today people read too much into Darwin's Theory of Evolution, using it to validate their own experiences of pleasure. The biological imperative to reproduce and feelings of pleasure are not one in the same. So it has little meaning in this debate to say, "Sexuality is normal behavior for any complex species." We would like to see some evidence that, "Most people desire a sexual life even in the context of oppression." For the gender aristocracy, this is apparent, but the gender aristocracy is not most people. More clearly, we'd like to see evidence that most people experience the kind of pleasure from sex that the gender aristocracy does. As an aside, the assertion that "[m]ost people do not desire to be raped" is a tautology when you define rape as something that the average persyn does not desire.(4)
With the advance of the productive forces, widespread leisure societies developed for the first time in history. Members of those societies are much more gender privileged than the rest of the world, and the evolution of pleasure around sex is very tied up with the development of that power differential and an obsession with pornography that came with it. There are many nations that remain resistant to the pornography of the leisure societies, yet the imperialists use it as a tool to divide those nations. MIM saw pornography as any cultural propaganda that props up the leisure lifestyles of the bourgeois classes. LLCO's recent articles on rape and gender oppression can easily be categorized as part of the patriarchal pornography machine.
While our critic refers to biological determinism rather than sociology to explain sexual pleasure, both explanations imply greater forces are at play than the choices of two individuals. Yet, LLCO thinks our line denies humyn agency. Against this, we already said that we cannot go around telling people how to have sex in a way that they can avoid rape. Anyone who does this is being dishonest. That does not mean that proletarian morality has ceased to exist. It just means there is no magic combination of individual actions that can get you out of the patriarchy. While we must operate within the limits of the material reality we find ourselves in, we still get to make a choice of what to do at every moment of our lives. Pretending happy fucking is the same thing as sex without patriarchal influence is ridiculous.
In their discussion of Descartes, LLCO argues that we are idealists for daring to envision a world without oppression, where there would be no coercion in sexual relations. We call that being communists.
Answering some more questions from LLCO
LLCO claims there is another hole in our logic by asking, "How are all these systems of oppression reduced to a single measure whereby we can determined[sic] rapist and victim?" We already stated in our article, we don't care. We are not trying to answer the pornographic questions that they pose in their response, we are trying to convince people that patriarchy needs to be overthrown!
LLCO tells you to "[t]hink about how silly this is for a moment. MIM implies that you cannot both have a plan to eliminate individual cases of rape as part of a broader, revolutionary plan change society fundamentally."(1)
No, we said you should act scientifically. In other words be aware of the outcome of your actions. The LLCO/Liberal line means more Black males in prison and more Amerikans happy with the status quo. Maybe this is their strategy to strengthen the national contradiction in the United $tates. But no, there is no mention of principal contradiction, or overthrowing imperialism or patriarchy in their response. The whole content of the article could have been written by the Democratic Party if one just cut out the words "Leading Light Communism."
We also addressed this in the article they are critiquing when we wrote: "And we agree that under the dictatorship of the proletariat the masses will pick out these unreformable enemies for serious punishment. Yet, the majority of people who took up practices of capitalism or of the patriarchy will be reformed."
"Thus, for MIM, everyone who has ever had sex has been involved, one way or another, in rape. Every great communist leader has been a rapist or a victim of rape, or both. MIM even named their movement after someone who they see as a rapist. Mao was reported to be sexually vigorous. According to MIM, all sexually-active people of Third World and First World are rapists or victims, or both. All children from happy homes, from loving couples, are really products of rape."
Hey, we'll one up you there. Being asexual doesn't eliminate gender power either. The gender power that you hold is inherent in a patriarchal society regardless of who you fuck and how.
Perhaps LLCO should disavow Lin Biao because he did not come from a proletarian or peasant background. Lin was not from the oppressed classes. Neither were plenty of other great communist leaders, and we would assume the same for plenty of LLCO folks who are First World residents. People are a product of their birth circumstances and the society into which they are born. We don't judge individuals for this, we judge them for their political line and practice. Apparently LLCO can stomach this when it comes to class but not when it comes to gender.
Pushing the debate forward
LLCO correctly argued that the slogan "all property is theft" ... "can undermine the people's struggle under certain conditions." They then imply that the same is true for "all sex is rape." Okay, but what are those situations? Because we're saying "all sex is rape" is a powerful anti-Liberal slogan right now in the First World and we don't see it undermining the struggle to liberate the majority of the world's people.
Since we both seem to think the other is talking past us, here are our suggestions for points we'd like to see LLCO address to make this debate worthwhile going forward:
In what actual conditions do you see "all sex is rape" sloganeering as reinforcing bourgeois or patriarchal interests? and how?
Or the other side of that question, where do you see "you can have good, consensual sex" being used to effectively challenge the patriarchy or imperialism or working in the interests of the oppressed masses in general?
Until they can do this, we don't see how their arguments are based in any attempts to overthrow patriarchy (which would be implied by their claim to uphold proletarian feminism). It all comes across as a defense of sex because they know sex makes people happy. While clarity may be lacking on both sides, it is at least clear that we hold opposite views on this issue.