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.
He iniciado una demanda alegando que la oficial Mary Brockett, de California State Prison - Sacramento (CSP-SAC) me sometió a acoso sexual. Esto ocurrió dentro del Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP) el cuál es parte de los servicios de salud mental del Departamento de Corrección y Rehabilitación de California (CDCR). Cuando yo reporté el comportamiento depredador de la oficial Brockett a otros oficiales de más alto rango, ellos no me creyeron porque soy de raza negra, y Brockett es blanca-Americana. Ellos además no entendieron porque un prisionero presentaría una demanda contra una oficial por mala conducta sexual. Como un resultado directo de la mala conducta sexual de Brockett contra mi ella fue suspendida, pero altos oficiales de clasificación se negaron a arrestarla e identificarla como una ofensora sexual.
Yo solicité una investigación de la Oficina de Asuntos Internos (OIA) contra Brockett por su comportamiento depredador hacia mi. En Diciembre 2003, yo fui entrevistado por la agente especial Jill Chapman de la OIA, y yo consentí en ayudarla con una investigación contra Brockett para probar mi acusación de acoso sexual. Durante dicha investigación la OIA tiro la bola, y agentes de OIA permitieron que Brockett me agrediera sexualmente cuatro veces después de empezar la investigación.
En Enero 15, 2014 el juez Hunley de la Corte de distrito de los Estados Unidos, decidió que la conducta de la oficial Brockett violó claramente una ley establecida de la cual Brockett habría estado enterada. La corte encontró que Brockett no tenia derecho a inmunidad limitada en mi derecho a la octava enmienda sobre su mala conducta sexual.
Mi investigación había revelado que muchos otros prisioneros quienes reportaron violación y otras formas de agresión sexual por personal del CDCR fueron enviados al SHU como una forma de represalia o de intimidación. Mi equipo de defensa y yo hemos sido hábiles para identificar muchos otros casos de prisioneros sexualmente abusados por personal de salud mental, médico, y correccional, y muchos más encubiertos por supervisores, en varias prisiones estatales de California.
Yo tuve que contratar un investigador privado para ayudarme en vista de que el hecho de acudir con oficiales de clasificación me siguió poniendo en módulos encerrados. En vez de acusar a Brockett con violaciones sexuales, los oficiales de la prisión del CDCR en Sacramento permitieron que yo fuera sujeto a una serie de traslados en represalia intentando intimidarme. En Septiembre 8, 2009 oficiales de la prisión fueron informados acerca de mi demanda y ese mismo dia fui puesto en segregación administrativa (ASU) con falsas acusaciones de peleas. En Diciembre 2009 fui enviado y puesto en ASU pendiente en una falsa validación de pandillas en la prisión. Traslados en represalia son una violación a las normas del CDCR.
La evidencia mostrará que acosos y violaciones sexuales por personal de salud mental, médico, y correccional no fueron incidentes aislados dentro del EOP en el CDCR. Te pido ayudarme a mi y a mi equipo de defensa a difundir la palabra. Otras víctimas están allí afuera. Mi propósito de la demanda es aclarar abusos sexuales contra enfermos mentales en California, incluyendo tácticas de tortura a través de actividades y delitos criminales organizados dentro del CDCR.
MIM(Prisiones) responde: Las personas usualmente conceptualizan con patriarquía a esos cuando biológicamente categorizados como varones oprimiendo a esas categorizados como femeninos. Pero violación sexual de prisioneros nacidos varones por guardias nacidas hembras es un ejemplo de como opresión de género no está necesariamente relacionada a una categoria biológica sexual. En la primera edición de Under Lock & Key escribimos acerca de violaciones dentro de la prisión, y usando la mejor estadística disponible, sugerimos que hombres de raza negra podrán sexualizarse femeninos en los Estados Unidos, principalmente debido al índice de encarcelamiento y a el abuso sexual que viene con el encarcelamiento. Las abusadoras, guardias nacidas femeninas, están ciertamente sexualidadas masculinas, y son parte de lo que llamamos el género aristocracia.(1) Amerikanas (y especialmente blancas) nacidas hembras gozan de beneficios en tiempo libre basados en sus nacionales vínculos a blancos nacidos varones, basados en una larga historia de linchamientos, sufragio, y opresión del tercer mundo.(2)
Pelear el abuso sexual a través de las cortes puede ser difícil para cualquiera, y especialmente para cualquiera, y especialmente para prisioneros. Como este corresponsal escribe, Brockett (de raza blanca) no fue ni siguiera acusada de violación sexual. Cuando casos de violación sexual van a corte, el juez, el jurado, como muchos en la sociedad de E.E.U.U., quedan colgados en el debate de si el sexo fue "realmente violación", una medida subjetiva de que si la víctima dio el consentimiento a la actividad sexual o no. Las cortes y la sociedad suponen que los prisioneros tienen una reputación de moral baja, y esta subjetividad sangra en el juicio de que si ellos fueron "realmente violados", y si ellos deberían ser protegidos aún si ellos son considerados de haber sido violados. La gente ha debatido por décadas acerca de donde se debe dibujar la linea con consentimiento, y este debate ha recientemente reaparecido en círculos Maoístas del Primer Mundo.(3)
Cuando se está decidiendo si un encuentro sexual fue una violación, una tendencia es enfocarse en si la víctima de violación sexual verbalmente dijo que quería o no tener el encuentro sexual, qué palabras ellos usaron, en qué tono, cuántas veces ellos lo dijeron, si ellos estaban intoxicados, cómo se intoxicaron, su historia sexual, qué vestían, etcétera. Otros aún dibujan la linea donde "la mayoría de las víctimas instintivamente reconocen la diferencia entre sexo consensual y violación."(3) Pero todo este criterio esta basado en estándares sociales subjetivos en el tiempo. Mucha gente no empieza a llamar a un incidente sexual una violación hasta meses o aún años después de eso, porque ellos han aprendido desde entonces más acerca de la sexualidad y normas sociales, o que las normas sociales han cambiado. Las cortes cambian su definición de violación dependiendo también de la opinión pública. Cuando minifaldas era atrevidas, esto fue considerado por muchos como una invitación al sexo. Ahora que minifaldas están normalizadas como bragas en nuestra sociedad, casi ninguno haría este argumento. Normas sociales y sentimientos subjetivos no son fidedignos como medidas de opresión de género. Ellos se enfocan demasiado en las acciones y sentimientos de los individuos, ignorando la relación entre el grupo y el individuo.
En vez de caer dentro de esta trampa subjetivista, MIM(Prisiones) mantiene la linea que todo sexo bajo patriarcquía es violación. Entre el público general, viviendo en una cultura altamente sexualizada con una larga historia de consecuencias materiales por admitir y negar acceso a la sexualidad de uno mismo, no "si" puede ser admitido independiente de relaciones de grupo. Esto es especialmente cierto para una población cautiva; diciendo "si" al sexo como un negocio por privilegios, o a un guardia quién tiene totalmente tu vida en sus manos literalmente, no puede ser consensual, aún si a todos los envueltos "les gustó" o "lo querían". El juego de poder esta muy atado dentro del tiempo libre a el punto que un coactivo acto sexual puede sentirse agradable a todos los envolvidos. Otorgando consentimiento en una sociedad con opresión de género es un punto discutible. La gente siempre se comporta en una manera que es determinada por relaciones de grupo, y esto no es diferente para el género oprimido bajo patriarquía.
Mientras los Liberales están preocupados de como definimos a violadores para que podamos encerrarlos y aislarlos, miramos el problema sistemático en vez de fundamentalizar a individuos. No nos adherimos a los estándares burgueses de criminalidad por robo, entonces ¿Porqué seguiríamos sus estándares de violación? En vez de eso queremos construir una sociedad socialista que permita trabajos para todos, separados de la sexo-industria. Entonces prohibiríamos todo sexo por beneficios, toda pornografía lucrativa y todo el trafico sexual. No penalizaríamos esclavas sexuales o gente que elige tener sexo para su propio placer subjetivo, pero penalizaríamos a cualquiera que obtenga beneficio completamente del trabajo sexual, especialmente del multimilonario de dólares de los mafiosos de la pornografía y secuestro. Padrotes de bajo nivel y "autoempleandose" como trabajadores sexuales al menos necesitarían ir a través de una autocrítica y reeducación y tomar una fría y dura mirada a como sus actividades están impactando a otros. Cualquiera que quiera dejar estas industrias antipersonales tendrían otras opciones mas factibles, algo que no podemos decir por la inmensa mayoría de trabajadores sexuales en el mundo de hoy quienes fueron secuestrados o sujetos a manifestaciones de opresión nacional tales como desprotección y drogadicción.
Como con cualquier forma de opresión bajo imperialismo, animamos a las personas a usar las cortes cuando creamos que podamos ganar ventajas materiales, sentar un precedente útil para otros casos, o hacer un propósito político para movilizar las masas. Pero el expulsar a Brockett de las instalaciones solo la reemplazarán con otra oficial del género opresivo. Finalmente necesitamos cambiar las condiciones económicas que refuerzan las coercitivas relaciones de género en nuestra sociedad y atacar el sistema de patriarquía en si mismo.
1. Para saber mas sobre género (gender) consigue ULK1, ULK6, y MIM Theory 2/3. 2. En contraste al hilo de opresión de clase la cuál esta basada en relaciones de trabajo, y el hilo de opresión de género esta basado fuera del trabajo, o en lo que llamamos "tiempo libre". hablar de prisión como "tiempo libre" puede sonar extraño porqué esto ciertamente no es un día en la playa, pero el punto es que no es tiempo de trabajo, y no esta basado en clase. Vea "Claridad en lo que es género" 1988 MIM Congress Resolución. 3. Comentarios sobre "Todo Sexo es Violación" 20 de Julio 2014, LLCO.org. Escribanos para una más profunda critica de esta muestra.
The Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) needs more activists focused on gender. MIM had a rich history in work around gender. Today a gender-focused MIM cell could do a lot to advance the struggle in the First World. For the majority of people in the richest countries, class is not an issue that will gain us much traction. But these leisure societies, dominated by gender oppressors, are concerned with the realm of leisure time where there are battles to be fought. Yet almost no one is drawing hard lines in the gender struggle today. Even some who give lip service to the need to divide the oppressor nations maintain a class reductionist line that prevents them from taking up revolutionary positions on gender.
Importance of the Gender Aristocracy
MIM sketched out the gender hierarchy as shown in the diagram below, with biological males above biological females, but with the whole First World far above the whole Third World. The line between men (gender oppressors) and wimmin (gender oppressed) is between Third World biological males (bio-males) and Third World bio-females. In this simplified model, the Third World is majority wimmin and the whole world is majority men.(1)
Near the top we see a small portion of the bio-females in the world are men of relatively high gender privilege. The term gender aristocracy was coined to account for this group of people who are often viewed as part of the gender oppressed, but are actually allied with the patriarchy.
MIM line distinguishes class and gender as class being defined by the relations of production and distribution, and gender defined as relations during leisure time. Largely due to their class position, the petty bourgeoisie, which makes up the vast majority in the First World, have a lot of leisure time and our culture in the United $tates is therefore very leisure oriented. Many of the things that are prominent and important in the lives of the gender aristocracy are not so for the majority of the world.
While MIM got a lot of push back on the labor aristocracy line, this came mostly from the dogmatic white nationalist left. The average Amerikan didn't get upset until MIM criticized their video games and explained how all sex is rape. These are things that are very important to the lives and pleasure of the imperialist country petty bourgeoisie. Knowing this is helpful in our agitational work. Our principal task overall is to create public opinion and independent institutions of the oppressed to seize power. In the First World, dominated by the oppressor nations and oppressor gender, this requires dividing the oppressor in an effort to break off allies. Even if we can't recruit whole segments of the oppressor groups, dividing them over issues of importance to the proletariat is a useful strategy.
While we say First World people are men in the gender hierarchy, unlike economic exploitation, anyone can be the target of gender oppression. Even First World bio-males are raped or killed for reasons related to gender and leisure time. This does not make them of the oppressed gender, but it does make such extreme forms of gender oppression a reality in the lives of the First World. In addition, the exploiter classes can benefit from the labor of others without ever having to use force themselves to extract that value, yet gender relations are something we all experience. As a result, even in the First World some people come to see the negative aspects of the patriarchy, with or without first-hand experience of extreme gender oppression, because of the very persynal and alienating emotional experiences they have.
A small minority in the First World will join the proletarian forces due to their own experiences with gender oppression. So it is important for there to be an alternative to the pro-patriarchy Liberalism of the gender aristocracy as a way to split off sections of the gender-obsessed leisure class. Below we take on one example of the gender aristocracy line in an effort to reassert an alternative.
Comments on the LLCO
We are using an article posted by the Leading Light Communist Organization (LLCO) as an example below. But before getting into the theoretical debate, we feel compelled to address the unprincipled approach of this organization. The article in question demonstrates a pattern of nihilism and bad-mouthing by LLCO that is akin to wrecking work.
LLCO was born in a struggle to separate itself from MIM, which had recently dissolved. Two of the main ways they did this was by bad-mouthing MIM and dividing on gender. The gender divide amounts to nihilism because they tear down the advances MIM made in building a materialist line on gender, but put nothing in its place but the Liberal pseudo-feminism of the past. Humyn knowledge and theory is always advancing; to tear down advanced ideas without replacing them with better ones is reactionary.
In the piece in question one of the logical fallacies they use is ad hominem attacks on people who acknowledge that all sex is rape by using meaningless buzzwords. Even worse, they go on to claim that those that take this position might be crazy and out of touch. This is a common attack used by the imperialists to ostracize radical thinkers. It is not a productive way to engage a developed political line that has been clearly spelled out for over two decades.
"All Sex is Rape" Needs a Comeback
Where LLCO actually engages the theory of whether all sex is rape under the patriarchy, we get a typical critique:
"Setting the bar for what counts as consent impossibly high obliterates the distinction between, for example, a wife initiating sex on her husband's birthday and the case of a masked man with a knife at a girl's throat forcing sex. To set the bar so high is completely at odds with what most people think, including rape victims themselves. Most victims themselves intuitively recognize the difference between consensual sex and rape."(2)
This is completely backwards. We do not have a problem of the masses confusing a womyn being compelled to have sex with a man because the patriarchal society tells her that is her duty on his birthday, and a womyn being compelled to have sex with a man because he is holding a knife to her throat and threatening to kill her. Rather, we have a problem of people not understanding that we need a revolutionary overthrow of patriarchy and a subsequent upheaval and reeducation of current humyn relations in order to end rape in both cases.
Furthermore, it is Liberalism to rely on the subjective "i'll know it when i see it" argument to define rape. This is exactly what MIM argued against when developing their line on gender. When an Amerikan judge hears a case of rape charged against a New Afrikan male by a white female, we can accurately predict the outcome of the judge's "intuition." When the roles are reversed, so is the verdict. And we only pick that as an easy example; we don't have to involve nation at all. It is quite common for Amerikan females to admit to themselves that they had been raped, months or years after the incident. What it takes is a social process, where rape is defined in a way that matches her experience. This social definition changes through time and space. And those who recognize this tend to gravitate towards the MIM line on rape.
The gender aristocracy is very concerned with distinguishing between rape and good sex, because good sex is the premise of their very existence as gender oppressors. For the gender aristocracy the bio-male provides safe/respectful good sex and the bio-female provides good sex in the form of a respectable/chaste partner. "Good sex" helps to distinguish and justify the existence of the gender aristocracy. Good sex is also a central source of pleasure for the gender aristocracy, to which they have very strong emotional attachments.
But the opponents to the MIM line on rape cannot explain away power differentials that are inherent in the patriarchy. They have no appropriate label for the sex that a womyn has with a man because she feels trapped in her marriage and unable to leave because of financial dependence. Or for the sex a womyn has with her girlfriend who is also her professor and in control of her grade at University. Or for the sex that a prisoner has with another prisoner because he needs the protection he knows he will get from someone who is physically stronger and respected. There are clear elements of power in all of these relationships. These are pretty obvious examples, but it's impossible to have a sexual relationship in capitalism under the patriarchy that does not have power differences, whether they be economic, physical, social, work, academic or some other aspect of power. This is not something we can just work around to create perfectly equal relationships, because our relationships don't exist outside of a social context.
One assumption of our critics is that rape cannot be pleasurable to both parties. We disagree with this definition of rape, and believe that power play is very tied up with pleasure in leisure time, to the point that a coercive sex act can be pleasurable to all involved. We expect this is more common among the gender privileged.
Another theme throughout the LLCO piece is the question of how we are going to determine who the "rapists" are that need to be punished if we are all rapists? This is combined with taking offense at being implicitly called a rapist.
The gender aristocracy cares about labeling and punishing rapists, again, because it distinguishes their good sex from others' bad sex. It is an exertion of their gender privilege. That is why most people in prison for rape in the United $tates are bio-males from the oppressed nations, and the dominant discussions about rape in the imperialist media are about places like India, Iraq, Mali or Nigeria.
LLCO accuses our line of discrediting anti-rape activists. MIM has been discrediting pseudo-feminism in the form of rape crisis centers for decades. Amerikan anti-rape activists take up the very line that we are critiquing, so this is almost a tautological critique by LLCO. Even in regards to struggles initiated by Third World wimmin, they are often corralled into a Liberal approach to gender oppression when not in the context of a strong proletarian movement. The imperialist media and those pseudo-feminists pushing an agenda of "international sisterhood" help make sure of this. This is an example of gender oppression and enforcing the patriarchy across borders using the gender aristocracy to sell it to the oppressed.
In general, we are not interested in finding the "real rapists" as we don't believe there is such a thing. Rape is a product of patriarchy — that is the essence of our line that all sex is rape. Imprisoning, beating or killing rapists will not reduce gender oppression in the context of a patriarchal society. Yet this is the only solution that is even vaguely implied in LLCO's critique.
Of course there are those who take the logic of the patriarchy to the extreme, just as there are those who take the logic of capitalism to the extreme. 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. This does not mean these people never exploited, stole from or sexually coerced another persyn before.
Today is another story. We adamantly oppose the criminal injustice system as a tool for policing sexual practices, just as we oppose it in general as a tool of social control to protect imperialism and the patriarchy. Therefore we find this desire to identify rapists to be a reactionary one.
Pushing for Gender Suicide
The problem with the ideology of the gender aristocracy is that their attachment to "happy sex" and the importance that most of them put on it will put them at odds with revolutionary attacks on the patriarchy. This is the practical side of "all sex is rape" as a tool to defang the gender aristocracy who will side with the imperialists on gender alone. If our critics get sad when we question the consensualness of their sex that is a good thing, because it challenges their attachments to the status quo. Truly radical changes must take place in our sex lives, our gender relations and our leisure time in general. The less resistance there is to this the better.
The Liberal argument is that by policing individual behaviors you can avoid being raped or raping someone else. This is just factually untrue. Yes, we need to transform the way people interact as part of the overthrow of patriarchy, but because gender relations operate at a group level, policing individual behaviors alone is just another form of lifestyle politics.
Just as all Amerikans must come to terms with their status as exploiters, and must view themselves as reforming criminals, gender oppressors must come to terms with the ever-presence of rape in the behaviors that they get much subjective pleasure from. Until they do, they will not be able to take on or genuinely interact with a proletarian line on gender.
Captive Genders Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex Eric A. Stanley & Nat Smith, Editors 2011, AK Press Available for $21.95 from AK Press: 674-A 23rd St, Oakland, CA 94612
This book is a compilation of essays from various transgender individuals, activists, prisoners and researchers. The unifying theme is progressive in that the book is not only devoted to exposing gender oppression faced by transgender people, specifically the criminalization of gender variance in the United $tates, but also to the abolishment of the current United $tates prison system itself. It tackles the often incorrect focus of queer activists who call for expanded laws and punishment, correctly exposing this strategy as reactionary and counterproductive. Unfortunately, although this is a pretty long book, it includes only vague anarchist solutions to the problem, with no coherent strategy to abolish the criminal injustice system.
Before going into detail I will briefly mention that MIM(Prisons) disagrees with the use of the term "prison industrial complex" (PIC) which is found throughout this book. This phrase implies that prisons in the United $tates (and other First World countries when applied there) are part of a money-making industry. In reality prisons are a money-losing enterprise, built and sustained by the state as a means of social control. Anyone making money off of prison contracts are just participating in the shuffling of imperialist wealth stolen from the Third World, not making profits off of prisoner labor. The use of this term in this book is perhaps not a surprise as a failure to grasp the underlying purpose of a system is going to lead to mistaken analysis of how we can fight that system.
We Can't Work Within the Criminal Injustice System
In the introduction, the editors wrote: "Mainstream LGBT organizations, in collaboration with the state, have been working hard to make us believe that hate crimes enhancements are a necessary and useful way to make trans and queer people safer. Hate crimes enhancements are used to add time to a person's sentence if the offense is deemed to target a group of people. However, hate crimes enhancements ignore the roots of harm, do not act as deterrents, and reproduce the farce of the PIC, which produces more, not less harm."(p3) This is an important point for activists of all stripes who fight for expanded laws to protect whichever oppressed group they are working to defend. We cannot look to the state to defend us against the state. And the prison system in particular is a repressive arm of the state; anything we do to expand that arm is inherently reactionary.
In "Transforming Carceral Logics: 101 Reasons to Dismantle the Prison Industrial Complex Through Queer/Trans Analysis and Action," S. Lamble writes:
"Although some people believe that we can train transphobia out of law enforcement agents or eliminate homophobic discrimination by hiring more LGBT prison guards, police, and immigration officials, such perspectives wrongly assume that discrimination is a 'flaw' in the system, rather than intrinsic to the system itself. Efforts to make prison and the police institutions more 'gay-friendly' perpetuate the myth that such systems are in place to protect us."(p. 239)
This author goes on to write: "The pervasiveness of state violence against queer and transgender people is reason enough to fight the prison industrial complex. But it is important to include anti-prison work as part of antiviolence struggles more broadly. Too often mainstream antiviolence work around hate crimes, sexual violence, child, and partner abuse excludes or remains disconnected from struggles against state violence."(p245) We agree with the connections made by Lamble here. It is important that people recognize that state-perpetrated violence is far broader and more deadly than any individual violence. It is laughable that some turn to our violent state to protect them. The state will only protect those whose interest it serves. In the case of the Amerikan government, that includes the vast majority of the white oppressor nation, but often excludes oppressed groups of like trans people.
"Unfortunately, many LGBT organizations in Canada, Britain, and the United States — particularly white-dominated and class-privileged ones — are increasingly complicit in the forces of prison expansion: calling for increased penalties under hate crimes laws; participating in police, military, and prison officer recruitment campaigns....LGBT groups nonetheless helped to legitimize imprisonment and channel further resources into locking people up — despite a lack of evidence that such measures reduce hate-motivated violence."(p. 249-250)
In "Identities Under Siege: Violence Against Transpersons of Color[", Lori A. Saffin bolsters this point: "Arguing for the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in state hate crimes laws will ultimately end in limited social reform because 'equality' within the existing social system only accounts for and remedies the most blatant forms of injustice."(p155) And she concludes:
"By not taking into consideration the ways in which the criminal justice system regulates, pursues, controls, and punishes the poor and communities of color, LGBT hate crimes initiatives reproduce harm and do not end it. Calling for an increased role of the criminal justice system in enforcing hate crimes legislation is insular in that it assumes a white, gay, wealthy subject while also soliciting victims of hate-motivated violence to report into a penal system without regard for the fact that people of color and the poor are disproportionately punished. By ignoring racism and economic inequality in their arguments for hate crimes statutes, national gay rights organizations assume an assimilationist stance that reinforces the status quo at the expense of communities of color and the poor."(p156)
Queer and Trans People in the Criminal Injustice System
Captive Genders has some good data on the incarceration of queer and trans people in Amerika who are disproportionately targeted by the criminal injustice system and face additional dangers and abuse within prison. In "Rounding Up the Homosexuals: The Impact of Juvenile Court on Queer and Trans/Gender-Non-Conforming Youth" Wesley Ware writes:
"Further, the data tell us that queer and trans youth in detention are equally distributed across race and ethnicity, and comprise 15 percent of youth in detention centers.... Since queer and trans youth are overrepresented in nearly all popular feeders into the juvenile justice system — homelessness, difficulty in school, substance abuse, and difficulty with mental health — the same societal ills, which disproportionately affect youth of color — it should not be surprising that they may be overrepresented in youth prisons and jails as well."
In "Maroon Abolitionists: Black Gender-Oppressed Activists in the Anti-Prison Movement in the US and Canada," Julia Sudbury writes about the gender binary in the prison system and the risks for transsexual prisoners who have not had gender reassignment surgery. They are assigned to a prison based on one part of their body, denied medical care, and put in extreme physical danger.
Many trans wimmin are forced to take a prison "husband" by the guards who think this will diffuse tension and make the prisons calmer. In "No One Enters Like Them: Health, Gender Variance, and the PIC," blake nemec interviews Kim Love about her experience in the men's prisons in California. Kim describes entering the prison, when the Correctional Officer (CO) assigned her to a cell and she objected to the placement, and "They told me that's gonna be your husband, and that's where you're going to be and you're going to love him."(p. 222) She goes on to explain why no one tries to take the COs to court: "We've had so many transgenders that have been raped in CDC [California Department of Corrections] and had proof. One of them even had the towel the CO wiped his semen on. Today I haven't heard of one case that a transgender won against a law officer, against CDC."(p. 222)
In "Out of Compliance: Masculine-Identified People in Women's Prisons" Lori Girshick writes about women "aggressives" in prison. These people, most of whom identify as lesbians or trans men, are often treated more harshly than feminine prisoners because they are breaking the social and cultural norms the prisons seek to enforce. "Legislation is being considered in California to segregate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) prisoners who self-identify at receiving."(p. 203) The author explains that this gives staff even greater access to harass and abuse them.
How to Organize for Change
In the essay "Building an Abolitionist Trans and Queer Movement with Everything We've Got", the authors, Morgan Bassichis, Alexander Lee and Dean Spade, tackle the critical question of how to organize. But they completely miss several important points. First, they consider the Amerikan workers to be on the side of the oppressed: "The US government and its ally nations and institutions in the Global North helped pass laws and policies that made it harder for workers to organize into unions..."(p20)
Second, they push reformist organizing without a clear goal of eliminating imperialism, as if we could abolish the criminal injustice system within imperialism. They do however, correctly identify that violence and discrimination aren't just individual bad behaviors:
"Discrimination laws and hate crimes laws encourage us to understand oppression as something that happens when individuals use bias to deny someone a job because of race or sex or some other characteristic, or beat up or kill someone because of such a characteristic. This way of thinking, sometimes called the 'perpetrator perspective,' makes people thing about racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism in terms of individual behaviors and bad intentions rather than wide-scale structural oppression that often operates without some obvious individual actor aimed at denying an individual person an opportunity. The violence of imprisoning millions of poor people and people of color, for example, can't be adequately explained by finding one nasty racist individual, but instead requires looking at a whole web of institutions, policies, and practices that make it 'normal' and 'necessary' to warehouse, displace, discard, and annihilate poor people and people of color. Thinking about violence and oppression as the work of 'a few bad apples' undermines our ability to analyze our conditions systematically and intergenerationally, and to therefore organize for systemic change."(p. 23)
We have a correct analysis here of the need for systemic change. But their ultimate goal is summed up:
"Abolition is not just about closing the doors to violent institutions, but also about building up and recovering institutions and practices and relationships that nurture wholeness, self-determination, and transformation. Abolition is not some distant future but something we create in every moment when we say no to the traps of empire and yes to the nourishing possibilities dreamed of and practiced by our ancestors and friends."(p. 36)
This is an unfortunate dive into individualism and the persynal-is-political anarchist practice. We cannot create a culture that enables better relationships between people and allows the oppressed to have their own institutions until we eliminate the system of imperialism that necessitates the exact opposite. Pretending that our individual practice can get us there is the same mistake these and other authors in Captive Genders correctly criticize when they talk about the fact that one racist individual isn't the problem but rather it's the whole system. We must dismantle that system first, then we can build a just and equal society.
The essay "Maroon Abolitionists: Black Gender-Oppressed Activists in the Anti-Prison Movement in the US and Canada" also gets the solution wrong:
"Movement-building that creates innovative models of justice that do not pimp prisoners for the success of capitalism are possible. It is time to view the current US economic hardships as an exit opportunity away from dependency on conservative foundations and government funding vehicles that bar groups from work that threatens pharmaceutical industries or gender/sexuality norms. Transformative justice models that empower lovers, friends, and groups of people to be accountable to one another rather than rely on unjust and unsustainable US systems, can work to abolish the prison industrial complex. We can, and are, creating these in forms that facilitate a domino effect of cultural and economic churnings."(p. 230)
Again here we have this idea of "transformative justice" that is anarchist individualism with people just holding each other accountable outside of the United $tates's criminal injustive system. Yet no matter how hard we try, we do not have the liberty to exist outside of the imperialist system. Take a look at the revolutionaries in the Philippines or India who liberated base areas and set up their own independent institutions only to have them attacked by the brutal military (funded and armed by the United $tates). Or look at an example closer to home: the MOVE organization, which attempted to set up its own peaceful self-policing community only to be violently destroyed by the Amerikan injustice system. There is a reason why the Black Panther Party trained its members in self-defense. We are misleading people by pretending that this transformation of the criminal injustice system is possible by just creating some independent structures. The Amerikan government will not just fade away without a fight.
"[A]s societal advancements have made being gay less stigmatized and gay people more visible — and as the Internet now allows kids to reach beyond their circumscribed social groups for acceptance and support — the average coming out age has dropped from post-college age in the 1990s to around 16 today, which means that more and more kids are coming out while they're still economically reliant on their families. The resulting flood of kids who end up on the street, kicked out by parents whose religious beliefs often make them feel compelled to cast out their own offspring, has been called a 'hidden epidemic.'"
According to the Equity Project, leaving home because of family rejection is the single greatest predictor of involvement with the juvenile-justice system for LGBT youth.
Research done by San Francisco State University's Family Acceptance Project, which studies and works to prevent health and mental health risks facing LGBT youth, empirically confirming what common sense would imply to be true: highly religious parents are significantly more likely than their less-religious counterparts to reject their children for being gay.
LGBT people make up roughly five percent of the youth population in the U.$., overall, but an estimated 40 percent of the homeless youth population — an estimation that may be far too low considering that many homeless youth may not openly identify themselves as LGBT when seeking services.
The Center for American Progress has reported that there are between 320,000 and 400,000 homeless LGBT youths in the United $tates. The National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway Children put the number of homeless youth at 1.7 million. (Across the country there are only 4,000 youth-shelter beds, overall). Approximately one in five LGBT youth are unable to secure short-term shelter, and 16 percent could not get assistance with longer-term housing — figures that are almost double those of their non-LGBT peers.
For LGBT kids who remain homeless, the stakes are clearly life and death: they are seven times more likely than their straight counterparts to be the victims of a crime; studies have shown they are more than three times more likely to engage in survival sex — for which shelter is the payment more often than cost. And every four hours a homeless LGBT youth dies in the streets, whether it be from freezing to death, a drug overdose, or assault.
The summer that marriage equality passed in New York, the number of homeless kids looking for shelter went up 40 percent, reported the Ali Forney Center — the nation's largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth. Tragically, every step forward for the gay rights movement creates a false hope of acceptance for certain youth, and therefore a swelling of the homeless youth population. Up to 40 percent of LGBT homeless youth leave home due to family rejection.
Amerikkka's homeless LGBT youth is its hidden epidemic. Of the $5 billion the U.$. government spends on homeless assistance programs every year, less than five percent of that is allocated for homeless children, specifically. Amerikkka's homeless youth, in general, is its next true plague.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade provides some useful data on homelessness and queer youth and exposes a tragic consequence of gender oppression for these youth. We do not, however, agree with the author's conclusion that homeless LGBT youth are a hidden epidemic in the United $tates. Especially not with the implication that the U.$. government should spend more money on homeless assistance, as if the imperialist government can help end a problem that they created.
We don't like to look at problems like homeless LGBT youth in isolation as a "hidden epidemic" because this encourages an analysis of such issues in isolation, and suggests that we should tackle them directly and Amerika will be able to find a solution if only the epidemic is exposed. While the United $tates certainly has enough money to eliminate homelessness, the reality of homelessness in the United $tates is a tragic byproduct of imperialist decadence and individualism. The imperialist system exists to enrich the oppressors, at the expense of the oppressed. And if a few citizens suffer or die in the process, that's not really a problem for the Amerikans in charge. While the vast majority of Amerikan citizens are benefiting as either oppressor nation (white) or beneficiary class (petty bourgeoisie), or both, there are those who society does not bother to help. Most homeless are cast off because they are part of oppressed groups: gender (including health status) and nation play a big role here, and this is what's behind much of the homelessness of LGBT people.
We should expose the vast problem of homelessness in the United $tates, as it is an embarrassing and clear example of a wealthy country that doesn't even care about the lives of its own citizens. Other less wealthy countries do a better job addressing homelessness (i.e western Europe, some Asian countries), so it could be solved within the structure of imperialism, but only for the citizens affected. The many people in the Third World who are permanently without home and living in poverty because of the exploitation and plunder of imperialist Amerika are the truly hidden homeless.
We should point out, as this author does, that gender oppression is playing a significant role in LGBT youth ability to survive, and this is something we must fight. Both of these elements of the homeless LGBT youth issue are symptomatic of imperialism. And so rather than rally people for more government attention to homelessness in Amerika, we should focus on the root cause of global homelessness and organized to overthrow imperialism.
I have initiated a lawsuit alleging that Officer Mary Brockett at California State Prison-Sacramento (CSP-Sac) subjected me to sexual harassment. This occurred in the Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP) which is part of the mental "health" services in the California Deparment of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). When I reported Brockett's predatory acts to other top ranking prison officials, they did not believe me because I'm Black, and Brockett is a white amerikan. They also did not understand why a prisoner would file a staff sexual misconduct complaint against an officer. As a direct result of Brockett's sexual misconduct against me she was terminated, but CDCR top ranking officials refused to have her arrested and identified as a sexual offender.
I requested an Office of Internal Affairs (OIA) investigation against Brockett for her predatory behavior towards me. In December 2003, I was interviewed by Special Agent Jill Chapman of OIA, and I agreed to assist her with an investigation against Brockett in order to prove my sexual harassment allegations. During said investigation, the OIA dropped the ball, and OIA agents allowed Brockett to sexually assault me four times after the start of the investigation.
On 15 January 2014, Judge Hunley of the United States District Court, ruled that officer Brockett's conduct violated clearly established law of which Brockett should have been aware. The court found that Brockett is not entitled to qualified immunity on my Eighth Amendment sexual misconduct claim.
My investigation has revealed that many other prisoners who reported rape and other forms of sexual assaults by CDCR personnel are sent to SHU as a form of retaliation and/or intimidation. My defense team and I have been able to identify many other cases of corrections, medical and mental health staff sexually abusing the mentally ill prisoners, plus many coverups by supervisors, at several California state prisons.
I had to hire a private investigator to assist me in light of the fact that going to ranking officials kept getting me put in lock-up units. Instead of charging Brockett with sexual assaults, the CDCR prison officials in Sacramento allowed me to be subjected to a series of retaliatory transfers attempting to intimidate me. On 8 September 2009, prison officials were informed about my lawsuit and that same day I was placed in administrative segregation (ASU) on false allegations of fighting. In December 2009 I was ordered placed in ASU pending a false prison gang validation. Retaliatory transfers are a violation of CDCR policy.
The evidence will show that correctional and medical and mental health staff sexual harassment and sexual assaults were not isolated incidents within CDCR's EOP. I would ask you to help me and my defense team to spread the word. Other victims are out there. My purpose of the lawsuit is to shed light on sexual abuse against the mentally ill in California, including torturing tactics through criminal activities and criminal organized crime within CDCR.
MIM(Prisons) responds: People usually conceptualize patriarchy as those biologically categorized as male oppressing those biologically categorized as female. But sexual assault of bio-male prisoners by bio-female guards is an example of how gender oppression is not necessarily linked to one's biological sex category. In the first issue of Under Lock & Key we wrote about prison rape, and using the best statistics available, we suggested that Black bio-men might be gendered female in the United $tates, largely due to imprisonment rates and the sexual abuse that comes with imprisonment. The abusing bio-female guards are certainly gendered male, and are part of what we call the gender aristocracy.(1) Amerikan (and especially white) bio-wimmin enjoy benefits in leisure time based on their national ties to white bio-men, based on a long history of lynchings, suffrage, and Third World oppression.(2)
Fighting sexual abuse through the courts can be difficult for anyone, and especially for prisoners. As this correspondent writes, white Brockett was not even charged for the sexual assault. When sexual assault cases do go to court, the judge/jury, like much of U.$. society, get hung up on the debate of whether the sex was "really rape," a subjective measure of whether the victim gave consent to the sexual activity or not. Prisoners are assumed by the courts and society to have a low moral standing, and this subjectivity bleeds into the judgement of whether they were "really raped," and whether they should be protected even if they are considered to have been raped. People have debated for decades about where to draw the line with consent, and this debate has recently resurfaced in First World Maoist circles.(3)
When deciding whether a sexual encounter was a rape, a tendency is to focus on whether the victim of sexual assault verbally said they did or did not want to have the sexual encounter, what words they used, in what tone, how many times they said it, if they were intoxicated, how intoxicated, their sexual history, what they were wearing, etc. Others even draw the line where "Most victims themselves intuitively recognize the difference between consensual sex and rape."(3) But all these criteria are based on subjective social standards at the time. Many people don't start calling a sexual incident a rape until months or even years afterward, because they have since learned more about sexuality and social norms, or the social norms have changed. The courts change their definition of rape depending on public opinion as well. When mini skirts were racy, it was considered by many an invitation for sex. Now that mini skirts are normalized as pants in our society, almost no one would make this argument. Social norms and subjective feelings are untrustworthy as measures of gender oppression. They focus too much on individuals' actions and feelings, ignoring the relationship between the group and the individual.
Rather than falling into this subjectivist trap, MIM(Prisons) upholds the line that all sex under patriarchy is rape. Among the general public, living in a highly sexualized culture with a long history of material consequences for granting and withholding access to one's sexuality, no "yes" can be granted independent of group relationships. This is especially true for a captive population; saying "yes" to sex as a trade for privileges, or to a guard who quite literally has your life in their hands, cannot be consensual, even if everyone involved "liked" it or "wanted" it. Power play is very tied up in leisure time to the point that a coercive sex act can feel pleasurable to all involved. Granting consent in a society with gender oppression is a moot point. People always behave in a way that is determined by group relationships, and this is no different for the gender oppressed under patriarchy.
While Liberals are concerned with how we define rapists so that we can lock them up and ostracize them, we look at the systematic problem rather than essentializing individuals. We don't adhere to the bourgeois standard of criminality for theft, so why would we follow their standard for rape? Instead we want to build a socialist society that allows jobs for everyone, separate from the sex industry. We would then ban all sex for profit, all pornography for profit, and all sex trafficking. We wouldn't criminalize sex slaves or people choosing to have sex for their own subjective pleasure, but we would criminalize anyone making a profit off of sex work, especially the multi-billion dollar porn and abduction rackets. Low-level pimps and "self-employed" sex workers would at least need to go through self-criticism and reeducation and take a cold, hard look at how their activities are impacting others. Anyone who wanted to leave these anti-people industries would have other viable options, something we can't say for the vast majority of sex workers in the world today who were either kidnapped, or subject to manifestations of national oppression such as homelessness and drug addiction.
As with any form of oppression under imperialism, we encourage people to use the courts when we think we can win material advantages, set a useful precendent for other cases, or make a political point to mobilize the masses. But kicking Brockett out of the facility will just replace her with another gender oppressing officer. Ultimately we need to change the economic conditions that underly the coercive gender relations in our society and attack the system of patriarchy itself.
The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was signed into law in 2003.(1) National prison and jail standards were enacted in 2012, nearly a decade after passage of PREA, and inexplicably late for the U.S. prison system which is long plagued by a sexual violence crisis.(2) PREA national standards carve a benchmark for prison administrators to prevent, detect and respond to prison sexual violence (PSV). Most significant are sweeping changes affecting documentation, accountability, confidentiality, post-sexual-assault medical care, testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and mental health counseling for PSV survivors.(3)
The PREA audits began in August 2013, and are supposed to occur at every youth and adult, state and private prison, jail, and holding facility every three years, with punitive forfeiture of federal funding at stake for lack of compliance. With 50% of documented PSV perpetrated by staff, prison administrators face greater liability through the transparency now mandated by PREA.(4)
One in ten prisoners are sexually abused, which is more than 200,000 youth and adults in prisons, jails and juvenile detention each year.(5, 6) Many are left to march the road to recovery, while coping with HIV, other STIs, mental trauma — the morbid souvenirs of rape.(7)
With PREA, the New York Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) started promoting "zero tolerance" propaganda. I felt (foolishly) that we were on the same side for once. I formed and launched a non-profit project with the goal to support, educate and advocate for PSV survivors, and those at risk. I especially focused on LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/sexual, Queer, Intersex) prisoners who are at 10-13 times higher risk to be victim of PSV, according to Department of Justice statistics. Not thinking I was doing anything "disallowed," I conducted this openly with no attempts to hide my activities.
However, DOCS took a radically different view, and launched an Inspector General Office investigation, forcing me (under duress) to cease and desist further activity with the project. But unable or unwilling to issue writeups on this issue, they instead launched a salvo of "unrelated" administrative charges, resulting in 18 months of keeplock (isolation). They also transferred me multiple times. I'm now serving 5 months keeplock time, which I'd already served at the last jail.
All this has only served to strengthen my commitment and resolve. Our efforts, in concert with NY ACLU, have yielded a settlement with DOCS to reduce the use of SHU/long-term isolation, with caps on sentences and exempting non-violent/safety-related offenses. It's a start but I'd have preferred a court ruling to this "voluntary" settlement, which the state can renege on.
PREA mandates the first round of audits as of August 2014, with statistics to be published online. This increased transparency is progress. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights are little more than an ideal or paper unless we facilitate their power through litigation, demanding compliance with these standards. PREA can be just a stack of papers and "feel good" hot wind, signifying nothing. Or it can be a keen sword to excise the cancers of prison sexual violence and prison staff corruption and negligence. The burden falls to us to proactively safeguard our interests, and our futures. Fight to Win!
MIM(Prisons) adds: We regularly receive reports of sexual assault from prisoners across the country. In September 2013, one year after the PREA standards were finalized, Prison Legal News published an article detailing incidents of PSV all across the country. This article underscores the futility of federal laws to actually protect people in custody of an oppressive state.
The 2013-2014 PREA Resource Center (PRC) report was just released this week. It contains no statistics on the efficacy of the project, but does contain a lot of fluff about the trainings and webinars that the PRC has been hosting.
It is a step in the right direction that this comrade, with the help of NY ACLU, was able to place some restriction on the use of isolation to protect prisoners from rape. The use of isolation has been reported by the American Friends Service Committee to have an even worse affect on the victims of prison rape, causing negative psychological effects due to isolation, and making the prisoner even more vulnerable to abuse by prison staff.(8)
While we can and should make use of laws to stop prison staff sexual violence when possible, we call on prisoners to step up and put an end to sexual violence among themselves using their own inherent power as humyn beings. The issue of prison rape is one that activists must tackle head on, as it impacts our ability to build unity behind prison walls, and is indicative of a wrongheaded line on gender oppression overall. Take an example from Men Against Sexism (MAS), an organization in Washington State Prison in the 1970s. MAS pushed men to treat each other with respect, opposed all prison rape even of very unpopular prisoners, and defended weaker prisoners against attacks by stronger ones.(9)
Gender oppression is a product of our patriarchal society, and neither federal laws nor prison organizations will put an end to all gender oppression in prison on their own. This gender oppression is another tool used to control oppressed nationalities, and won't be done away with until we overthrow the systems that require the oppression of entire groups of people — imperialism and capitalism. Only through revolution can we start to build a society where gender oppression, like class and national oppression, are torn down in our culture, economics, and all levels of social relations. For a basic study of gender under imperialism, we recommend the magazine MIM Theory 2/3, which we distribute for $5 or equivalent work trade. And see the 1998 MIM Congress resolution "Clarity on what gender is" for a more theoretical discussion on the origins of patriarchy and its structure today.
MIM(Prisons) gets a number of requests from male prisoners to hook them up with female comrades. They are looking for romance or just "female companionship." Sometimes this request comes from an activist behind bars, looking to build a romantic relationship with someone who is also an activist.
MIM(Prisons) focuses all of our energy and funds on revolutionary education and organizing, but we understand that people have social needs and desires. Here we will address why we don't offer dating or pen pal services and why activists should think carefully about what they are really looking for.
We believe that humyns are social beings who need interactions with other humyns in order to be mentally healthy. That is why we say control units are torture. And in our culture, gendered relations can make it difficult for men to provide emotional support to each other, especially in the hyper-masculine prison environment. So seeking out female companionship is one way to deal with alienation of imprisonment and especially isolation.
Many people find their motivation in such relationships. All you have to do is turn on the radio to know that, even if today's culture has essentialized it to down to body parts and sex acts. But it may be helpful to separate those two things out. There is the patriarchal culture that has trained us to desire certain things, and to be validated by certain things. Then there is some genuine aspect of the humyn brain that craves social interaction.
There is a contradiction with being both distracted and inspired when you are in a relationship. Often when they are in it people can justify it in all sorts of ways, because it becomes the most important thing. Yet, we've also seen people who experience some difficulty that turns them off to romance and as a result they put their nose to the grindstone and pick up their work load. In fact, there are studies in the pop science news claiming that being in a depressed state is better for creativity and concentration. So consider how you can turn your state of loneliness to your advantage and not end up wallowing in it.
We don't hook up our subscribers with conscious sisters for political and security reasons. But even if we wanted to, how would we? Dating is hard. Finding people to date is hard. Doing so from prison has to be a hundred times harder. As cadre, when we look at our political lives and our bourgeois lives, we take a budgeting approach. Everything that isn't political is taking time away from the political. And so you need to parse out what it is you NEED to do to sustain yourself so that you can continue to do political work. Anything else is taking time away from the struggle, away from the people. And that's on you.
When people get into relationships they often disappear. Not just from politics, but from life in general, friends, etc. For the petty bourgeoisie it's probably the top thing to take people away from politics. For the lumpen it's big as well. If we tell people to just give it up and get over it, they'll say we're crazy and don't understand humyns. But for cadre level people this should be something we can evaluate. We should be able to look at our own lives, look at the society that shapes our lives, see what we've been taught and what we know we need, and work towards a lifestyle that best supports our work.