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Announcement :: Gender : Human Rights : Labor : Organizing
Boston IWW's Statement of Solidarity with Survivors of Gender-based Violence
by Boston IWW
05 Feb 2013
Statement of Solidarity with Survivors of Gender-based Violence and Condemnation of the PLP’s Defense of Rape and Class Reductionism
A few years ago, a Fellow Worker was raped by Seth Miller, a member of PLP (Progressive Labor Party) in Los Angeles. He and the Fellow Worker had been friends and had done organizing together prior to this attack. Last year, the survivor decided to go public with what had happened and approached PLP hoping that they would help her hold the perpetrator accountable. The response of the PLP has been appalling: obstructing the survivor’s desired accountability process, and requiring only a self-evaluation and a drinking partner for the perpetrator. Worse still, they have started an insidious misinformation campaign intended to undermine the credibility of the survivor, her account, and her allies. In their official response they claim to fight “sexism, patriarchy, and misogyny in every aspect”, and then promptly continue with slandering the survivor and her allies as “informant-provocateurs” acting in collusion with the “fascist police state.”
In our analysis, what leads groups to engage in this kind of rape apologism and victim blaming is the ideology of class reductionism. Stated simply by the folks at the riseup.net, class reductionism is “The idea that class oppression supersedes race or gender oppression.” Consequently, all forms of oppression -racism, sexism, ageism etc. – are merely reflections or flavors of class oppression. According to this line of thinking, anything that interferes with a class reductionist organization’s program to overthrow capitalism and abolish class oppression can rationally (and conveniently) be suppressed by any means necessary. We seek to distinguish this from an approach to anti-capitalist organizing that sees intersectionality rather than a hierarchy of oppression.
The response of PLP is class reductionism at its worst. It is being deployed here to protect the privileges of men and clad rape apologism and victim blaming in the false armor of bogus class struggle heroics. It is our duty to recognize and take action when those that call themselves revolutionaries perpetuate the forms of oppression that keep the working class divided. There is nothing more damaging to class struggle than denying the interrelatedness of all forms of oppression or subsuming the real, lived experiences of comrades into a self-serving ideological framework: one that does not face the reality of oppression but instead prevents the underlying social relations which prop up privilege and maintain oppression from ever being analyzed properly, much less dismantled.
Whereas the Boston Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World is determined to fight rape culture and patriarchy in our union and in society at large, and
Whereas we reject class reductionism (the belief that class oppression supersedes race or gender oppression), and,
Whereas our approach to the class struggle recognizes the intersectionality of all forms of oppression without the attempt to simplify or reduce them into a hierarchy, and
Whereas a Fellow Worker was raped by Seth Miller, a member of the Progressive Labor Party, as described at http://necessarymeansfight.blogspot.com/2012/12/progressive-labor-party-, and
Whereas the response of the Progressive Labor Party to the survivor’s efforts to have them hold Seth Miller accountable has been abhorrent, and
Whereas the Progressive Labor Party has sought to undermine the credibility of the survivor and has sought to protect the rapist, and
Whereas the survivor, a Fellow Worker, has asked that we a) exclude PLP from our organizing campaigns and spaces, b) warn our allies, c) examine and address patriarchal behavior in our organizing communities, d) actively support and defend survivors of sexual violence, and
Noting the formation of an anti-patriarchy committee at the Boston General Membership Branch Meeting on January 13th, 2013 to address the problem of patriarchy within our branch and in our organizing, including the implementation of this resolution, therefore be it
Resolved, That the Boston General Membership Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World, in solidarity with the survivor and in support of her wishes, will no longer collaborate in organizing campaigns or share organizing spaces with the Progressive Labor Party, or any other organizations which protect rapists and promote rape culture through their words or actions. This proposal and accompanying documentation will be made available to groups that we organize with, and to the stakeholders of venues where we meet regularly. We pledge to stand in solidarity with all victims and survivors of gender-based discrimination, assaults, and other forms of violence, both in the “revolutionary left” and in the broader society. We recognize that the only way to do that is to listen to survivors and to honor their wishes.
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This work is in the public domain.