Don’t Call Yourself a Revolutionary…

By Infinite Venom

Don’t Call Yourself a Revolutionary…

A Dispatch from Seattle


Don’t call yourself a revolutionary if you respond to allegations of sexual misconduct within your group with denial, character assassination, apologia for patriarchy, jokes that uphold rape culture, or any other infantile behavior that demeans the seriousness of such allegations.  No, your group identity is not more important than confronting patriarchy.  No, your group identity is not more important than honoring and respecting those who have put time and effort into the work.  No, your group identity doesn’t mean shit if you are replicating systems of oppression by refusing to acknowledge the tensions and dysfunction that a patriarchal hierarchy has created.  You are counter-revolutionary.

Don’t call yourself a revolutionary if doing the work around confronting sexual assault and patriarchy is not considered worthy of time and effort, yet you can put massive numbers of hours into planning other campaigns that keep you inside of your comfort zone and give you the illusion that you are “productive”.  No, you are not being productive if you think winning small victories and keeping yourself seen and heard matters more than tearing down the oppressions that lead to the necessity for doing the campaigns in the first place.  No, it is not a matter of capacity or time management.  I see what you are doing.  You are counter-revolutionary.

Don’t call yourself a revolutionary (or someone who has moved past the gender binary) if you buy into that same old patriarchal shit at every opportunity.  No, you are not a feminist if you replicate patriarchy and white supremacy by playing into the social construct of what “woman” is in men’s eyes.   No, you are not a master at polyamory or open relationships if you shit all over everyone in the name of “free love”.   Polyamory doesn’t mean everyone has to put up with your shit, or forgive acts of disrespect because “hey y’all, I am free to fuck whomever I want”.  Bullshit.  You are acting like a narcissistic asshole and you are counter-revolutionary.

Don’t call yourself a revolutionary if you can’t comprehend the very simple concept of CONSENT.  No, it is not ok to continue having sex with someone if he or she says “STOP” at any time during the encounter.  No, it is not ok to have sex with someone who is so intoxicated that they can’t possibly know who you are let alone what is happening.  If you think there is a chance you will have to explain what happened to your partner the next morning than you need to show some motherfucking respect and wait for an opportunity to have a discussion when both parties are sober.  No, it is not ok to cajole, harass, guilt, shame, or intimidate someone into giving in to your sexual advances.  Fuck you – you are counter-revolutionary.

Don’t call yourself a revolutionary if you expect me to behave in a certain way that plays into your need to feel comfortable with yourself.   I don’t have to be happy, friendly, polite, nice, considerate, supportive, discreet, quiet, cheerful, endearing, sweet, pleasant, or any of the other things woman are supposed to be.  No, I am not going to tone down my anger to make you more comfortable.  No, I do not have to modify my behavior because you can’t handle the things I am saying.  Scandalizing feminist responses is a classic tool used by patriarchs and those who support them, and it is intended to make us shut the fuck up.  No, I won’t shut the fuck up.  If I am unhappy then I am allowed to own that feeling and express why, and if you can’t handle it you should examine YOUR response to it and not my actions.   No, it is not ok that so many vital conversations get shut down because everyone starts focusing on the responses and not the actual transgressions that have caused the response.  I am tired of feeling silenced by others discomfort because they feel the need to maintain the status quo.  Fuck the status quo – you are counter-revolutionary.

Don’t call yourself a revolutionary if you say or do things that cause a break in feminist solidarity.  Nothing about this behavior is ever okay.  If a man acts in such a way that he creates the breaking of socialization of feminist comrades he is definitely counter-revolutionary.  If a person attempts to break feminist solidarity by talking shit to a feminist comrade about another feminist comrade, they are definitely counter-revolutionary.  One of the many ways patriarchy plays out in our society is the breaking of bonds between those of us who do not benefit from patriarchy (female bodied comrades, for the most part), because how can we fight patriarchy if we are fighting each other?  This is one of the most insidious forms of disruption and infiltration of movement work.   Patriarchy is our enemy, and if you create barricades to feminist praxis by breaking feminist solidarity you are definitely fucking counter-198791771022283644_RUDeRaz8_crevolutionary.  And when we call you out for it and others support you they are also counter-revolutionary.

Don’t call yourself a revolutionary if you can’t make confronting and dismantling patriarchy one of the basic tenants of your organizing work.   We deserve nothing less.  If you refuse to acknowledge this you are counter-revolutionary.

~Love, rage, and death to patriarchy

33 Responses to “Don’t Call Yourself a Revolutionary…”
  1. Julia says:

    Being anarchist doesn’t make you feminist.

    Your gender identity (or lack thereof, I am a gender abolitionist) doesn’t make you feminist.

    Being polyamorous doesn’t make you feminist.

    Only being a feminist and treating females with *respect* makes you feminist.

  2. dgrindiana says:

    Well said! It seems that too often the ‘she’d be prettier if she smiled’ attitude goes unchallenged even among ‘revolutionary’ groups. We need to keep confronting this attitude – hard.

  3. mhairi says:

    Such a good post.

    There are so many issues around sexual behaviour on the left – the current situation in the UK with the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) covering up a rape by one of its leading members has highlighted this.

    Going beyond sexual violence tho, there is the whole issue of power and sexuality – how women are used sexually to increase the influence of a particular man or to drive wedges between female comrades through narratives which value (hetero-) sexual relationships above other relationships and the minimisation when issues of sexism are raised – too often shrugged off with a “but I’m trying…” or demanding that female comrades support women who have been affected without tackling the underlying causes.

    There is also more mundane aspects to it – the ease of access of women to political space and the depoliticisation of pregnancy, nursing and childcare which are seen not as political issues in their own right but as inevitable burdens which “excuse” women from political work.

  4. selch says:

    i like the points made. but where do you stand on seeking justice outside of collective groupthink and maybe even within the justice system when a survivor chooses that form of justice?

    • mhairi says:

      It depends what you mean by “justice”. I think the priority has to be to protect people in cases of sexual violence rather than retribution or punishment. I wrote a little about what such an alternative strategy might be here

      • 1in5 says:

        I’ve see the anarchist ‘community response’ in the form of ‘accountability groups’ in action in London and its bloody awful. Basically there’s a lot of hand wringing, his friends offer to ‘help him through it’ and within a few months he’s back in the scene, free to attack again. It’s disgusting and these people shouldn’t be calling themselves anarchists

  5. Emma G. says:

    A very strong argument against jealousy is to be found in the data of historians like Morgan, Reclus, and others, as to the sex relations among primitive people. Anyone at all conversant with their works knows that monogamy is a much later sex from which came into being as a result of the domestication and ownership of women, and which created sex monopoly and the inevitable feeling of jealousy.

    In the past, when men and women intermingled freely without interference of law and morality, there could be no jealousy, because the latter rests upon the assumption that a certain man has an exclusive sex monopoly over a certain woman and vice-versa. The moment anyone dares to trespass this sacred precept, jealousy is up in arms. Under such circumstances it is ridiculous to say that jealousy is perfectly natural. As a matter of fact, it is the artificial result of an artificial cause, nothing else.

    Unfortunately, it is not only conservative marriages which are saturated with the notion of sex monopoly; the so-called free unions are also victims of it. The argument may be raised that this is one more proof that jealousy is an inborn trait. But it must be borne in mind that sex monopoly has been handed down from generation to generation as a sacred right and the basis of purity of the family and the home. And just as the Church and the State accepted sex monopoly as the only security to the marriage tie, so have both justified jealousy as the legitimate weapon of defense for the protection of the property right.

    • Prizrak says:

      Even though I’m not jealous (I used to be, though), I can see how jealousy can be understood (or be born) as something beyond artificial constructs and monopoly of women (or anyone for that matter).

      Not every person is a desirable mate, that’s a fact. And for some of us desirable mates are extremely scarce to the point where finding eligible mates becomes nearly a miracle. When such a person is found, the prospect of losing the desired interaction with that person – which arguably could be mostly due to that person’s interaction possibilities with others – is quite dire, straining and mental and emotional mechanisms to fight that off may be set in motion. I see jealousy as one of such mechanisms.

      So more than an expression of property rights, it might be a manifestation of how valuable interaction with a certain person is for you.

  6. haven'tforgotten yet says:

    same shit, different day. how many women have been assaulted by lefty boys? how many of these statements have we written, only to have them forgotten by the newer younger boys who didn’t read the last one? do the boys from the 90s remember excommunicating the women who didn’t want a fundraiser party at a known rapists’ house? i believe we were called “liberals” and “divisive.”

  7. Jesse Jane says:

    Also, don’t let any accusation disrupt the work of your organization. Don’t let serial wingnuts parade around your meetings insisting that their effort to disrupt your group is challenging oppression. Recognize that an accusation of abuse is just that. And that there are provocateurs who can be counted on to attack ANY group as “racist” and any male leaders as “sexist” simply because they oppose them speaking.

    Treat this shit seriously. Both the norms and behaviors we expect of ourselves, and also that agents/provocateurs will ALWAYS use the tools most handy.

    I have seen allegations brushed aside, and also (at times) taken so “seriously” that they shut down organizations because people were upset after breakups. I mean, organizations of full-time political workers where a single allegation of problematic behavior was sufficient to provoke show-trial like atmospheres that left no one happy, when really they were political efforts to attack prominent people.

    If a hundred cops attack our meetings, we would unite and repel them. If one provocateur comes in and calls somebody “racist” or “abusive” — and our organizations can’t handle it, then what is the fucking point?

    • NSHarris says:

      ‘Don’t let serial wingnuts parade around your meeting insisting that their effort to disrupt your group is challenging oppression’ – should be taught in organizing 101, at the top of the list. Perfectly well said

    • Rowan Badger says:

      The best defense against that ‘agent provocateur’ is remarkably simple and happens to be the correct way to act in general: be able to point, over the history of your organisation, to a longstanding practice of egalitarian respect for people of all genders. The best way to take the teeth out of any false accusation or misdirection is to be able to say, “We shall take this complaint just as seriously as you all know we have taken every complaint, investigate it completely, and seek a resolution based in personal accountability and respect for every single person as an individual.”

      You will know you are doing it right if the *women* (or other oppressed groups) in your organisation step up for you when that accusation comes and say, “I’m confused by this allegation because it’s out of keeping with the historic demonstration, in word and deed, of respect,” instead of “Well, I’m disappointed but not surprised…”

      You’ll also know you’re doing it right when the group response to that accusation is to initiate an open conversation regarding the accusation (including a review of its own gender/race/other policies), to establish its credibility or lack thereof impartially, and to seek the *truth* of the situation on the assumption that neither you nor the organisation should have anything to fear from it.

  8. Thank you. In the past 24 hours I have read several pieces by “revolutionaries” who seemed to think that choosing different noun, verbs, and adjectives while playing Patriary MadLibs somehow changed the discourse. Nice to see that this pisses other people off as well.
    Thank you again for sharing your thought. It helps.

  9. Thank you so much for your blatant raw honesty. As an Afro-Caribbean-American woman, who sparked a grassroots movement by calling a “friend: I mistakenly thought was “revolutionary” in this battle for “gender- equity’ – your rage is like salve to my soul. It’s really sad to see how psychologically damaged some American women who have been forced fed the “patriarchy Koolaid” really are. This chick really thinks that American women of color are NOT VITAL to winning the rights for all women to determine their own “autonomy” and “agency”.

    “My Feminism will be intersectional or it will be BULLSHIT!”

    The common denominator for ALL human dysfunction IS GENDER INEQUALITY through the devaluation of women! Thank goodness there are other people in this world who mirror my passion.

  10. Jim-Bob McGee III of Pennington says:

    Not a bad post, shame it comes from an Anarchist making it….COUNTER-REVOLUTIONARY!!!! AAAAHHHHHH!!!!!

  11. natalie says:

    Wow. There’s a whole lot of slut-shaming going on in the third paragraph. Maybe the author should kill the patriarch in their head?

    Sorry, but if that’s your revolution, then call me counter-revolutionary, because I want no part of it whatsoever. It absolutely disgusts me. (Maybe I should wear a scarlet “A” for my sin?)

    • Vee says:

      Actually, there is absolutely nothing in that paragraph that condemns people solely for having sexual encounters with multiple/various partners (which is what I understand slut shaming to be). That paragraph is addressing a widespread problem that occurs in many activists circles (queer and not) where people use the language of polyamory to excuse their sleazy, fucked up behavior. A huge tenet of polyamory is respect and communication. If you leave this out of your polyamoryist praxis then, yes, you are a counter-revolutionary.

    • Rowan Badger says:

      Well, as the ‘sin’ referenced there is ‘shitting all over people in the name of fucking who you want’ then if that *is* your sin I’d appreciate the ‘A’ as a fair warning so I can stay away.

      Slut-shaming =/= asshole-shaming. If you’re poly, then you’re certainly familiar with all the varieties of jerk in the community who use “But I’m POLY!” to cover poor communication, disregard for boundaries (“Well, I told my wife I’d always wear a condom with other women, but just this once it won’t hurt…”), abusive behaviour, and a whole host of lies and self-serving narcissism. There’s nothing there against polyamory; in fact there’s an indictment there of those who use polyamory (a very revolutionary idea) to control and exploit women.

      And if you’ve never met those people, then congratulations: you found the Magical Unicorn Country. Do please leave a breadcrumb trail for the rest of us.

  12. Actually, the same might be said of those who state that class struggle is not essencial because the fight against patriachy is more urgent. Actually, patriarchy is PART of class society, not the mainstay of it. Racial oppression, sexual oppression, the destruction of the environment… are inherent to all class societies, but no other society has attained a level of atrocity as gigantic and as systematic as under the reign of capitalism and more particularly, under the dictatorship of the progress of capitalist civilisation, in its current development. Only a global struggle can destroy the real basis of the alienation – estrangement – of Man and all the inhuman manifestatiions and atrocities proper to capitalist social relations. Only one social class – the proletariat – contains in its being this project and its realisation, the communist revolution.
    Contrary to this project, the liquidation of the struggle by way of its fragmentation and the creation of specific movements (feminism, anti-racism, environmentalism) tend to reduce and to resolve each of these problems into a separate sphere, thus preventing any attack on their profound and common cause. They are therefore irremediable additional attempts to adapt, ameliorate and repair (plaster over) the system and, by these means, to reinforce the dictatorship of Capital. Practically, these types of movement have served and can only serve to divert the revolutionary energy of the proletariat, to improve the mechanisms of domination and oppression as well as to increase the rate of exploitation of the proletariat.
    The division of labour by sex (or age) is an objective element of the capitalist division of the proletariat which will only be abolished through the liquidation of Capital and the auto-suppression of the proletariat. Men, women, young, old… all proletarians, reproduce their lives as labour power of Capital, for Capital. The direct production of surplus value in Capital’s centres of labour (factories, mines, fields, offices,…) cannot be guaranteed if labour power is not itself produced. Capital, inheritor of the patriarchal society, has developed this labour power and whenever it has needed to it has used and still uses men and women of all ages for the direct production of surplus value. However, it has particularly condemned proletarian women to be the principal agent of domestic production of labour power (production which is part of the global production of the labour power commodity).
    Even if Capital, when it buys labour power, pays for the whole value of this commodity, that is to say all the work necessary for its production (domestic, educational, repressive, etc.) the one who receives the wage is the direct producer of surplus value and not the one who carries out this domestic labour.
    This element, in addition to others, constitutes a decisive factor in the particular submission and oppression of proletarian women by Capital.
    Feminism is the bourgeois response to this particular situation. Its starting point is to turn anything particular to the exploitation of the proletarian woman by Capital into the global condition of Woman in general. It thus transforms the proletarian revolt of men and women into an interclassist movement whose rallying cry is that “men in general exploit women in general”. In addition to feminism’s global counter-revolutionary work as a force of fragmentation, of diversion and of concealment of the real contradictions and solutions of the struggle of classes, feminism has also been a decisive instrument of Capital for gearing up proletarian exploitation. Thanks to equal rights, feminism now leads the proletarian woman to take on a more active role in the direct production of surplus value and to participate, side by side with men, each time more directly, in imperialist war. From the struggle for work for women to the demand for the right to vote via all the campaigns for women’s participation in the active life of the nation, feminism has always been a force asserting Capital against the proletariat, a force whose greatest achievements are female cops, the massive incorporation of women into patriotic armies (a necessity for Capital in order to make the whole of the civil population participate more and more directly in its war), female MPs, generals, Prime Ministers…

  13. A lot of valid points. Unfortunately you’ve landed deep in absolutist country with your piece. Problem the absolutism is that if and when you reach a position to achieve your goals in a complex system, like in or not, you will be forced to compromise. Secondly, absolutism, as a motivator works only works with the the gullible and ignorant (willfully or otherwise). I think I can safely assume that the people who would support you are neither, and those who’d oppose you possess both unfortunate characteristics.

  14. matt says:

    Does anyone have any other articles that call attention to this?

  15. T says:

    Lol good luck with being a man and not breaking up feminist solidarity. Feminists are twice as competitive as girls and will drop their friends and values in a heartbeat when a charmer shows up.

  16. Anon says:

    Patriarchy is stupid.. as a man should I say I am oppressed by other men because I have to look the way they want.. act the way they want maybe kill the way they want and show up to a job 40 hours a week in order to live my life the other 168? As a woman do you feel that you have to say the same? Anyways.. my point is it really doesn’t matter what gender your oppressor is because as long as there is an “alpha male” there would be an “alpha female”. Like it or not guys are going to want to have intercourse with females and vice versa. If we all had it our way we would be getting laid all the time.. therefore males assume seats of power to get laid all the time. If you think females play no part in the selection of power… you my friend need to reconsider yourself.

  17. Me says:

    So you believe that you, unlike certain manarchists, have “moved past the gender binary”, yet you seem to think “he or she” is inclusive language…

    Also, I don’t know what this is about: “No, you are not a feminist if you replicate patriarchy and white supremacy by playing into the social construct of what “woman” is in men’s eyes.”

    The meaning of this would change a lot depending on the gender/s being referred to. If you’re talking about women or including women, it’s problematic as hell.

  18. anna says:

    You’re missing a vital point here. Don’t tell ME how to be a revolutionary.

  19. swaneagle says:

    Excellent and strong. Appreciate this very much. First time i received death threats was for standing up against rape within activism. Little has changed since. So much hate from those who minimize just how serious it is on the planet for women who are increasingly being raped, disappeared and murdered. Deep thanks with all my heart. I was shaking as i read it cause i know how those bully boys are.

  20. swaneagle says:

    Personally, i think the whole gender flap around no gender is meant to disable a strong resistance among those most targeted on earth by rape: women. If this side tracking keeps going on and escalating, then no one can grab onto the reality of such serious assualts without being accused of being sexist for saying he and she according to the scenario rape lays out. I was called an “anti intellectual sexist racist prick” by a male born queer who specialized in threatening women because i called him on his bully behavior. I am a 63 year old grandmother. I have been taking on rapists since i first was raped at age 22. It is no fun. Never reported any of the 4 rapes i experienced to cops. Where is there to turn, still?

  21. Crunch says:

    Reblogged this on . . . Or Does It Explode? and commented:
    death to patriarchy in speech, structure, form, and thought!

  22. S.W. May says:

    Let us not forget, as this type of rhetoric often does, that men have body issues and emotions as well. What these types of messages spread is an idea that women can do little wrong, and that men must be extraordinarily careful being men.

    What it leads to, in my opinion, as men are set up to fail and women are impossibly empowered, is an atmosphere where apathy between genders is inevitable. Some will acclimate easily; some will be forced to pretend; none will be happy.

    A better approach maybe to explore how men and women can coexist in harmony. I would like to experience more rhetoric like I have suggested from both sides, not that there should be “sides.”

  23. Matt says:

    Humanism > Feminism/Chauvinism/Extremism/Hate/Violence/Isolationism…
    Humanism = Love Respect Joy Compassion Empathy Tolerance & Cooperation.

    Love a human being named Matt

  24. Editor says:

    But what about the Menzzzzzz????

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  1. […] about this blog post, one Facebook friend commented that it was a bit absolutist and another liked how it called out […]

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