A Tiny Valve

oh god there’s someone trolling the elementary tag saying it’s sexist bullshit and telling everyone to watch a show that’s got an entirely white cast instead, because it has a “strong female lead.”

I mean, I guess I am making some assumptions here but a cursory look at the show’s wiki page (plus the fact that it’s called “Made in Jersey” and no media about Jersey ever focuses about the POC that live there) makes me HIGHLY suspicious.

And for fuck’s sake, Lucy Liu.

shared from a FB friend. Peter Young is one of those stupidly popular AR/Vegan activists who did some shit a while back and spent some time in jail and now just talks about it a bunch. He had always to me represented some of the worst tendencies of that movement and community but I had difficulty trying to articulate it to friends at the time in the face of his overwhelming popularity and/or cuteness - lack of intersectionality, classic white privilege, lots of proscriptive bullshit. No point in me discussing him here.

What’s interesting although totally unsurprising about all this is that he’s apparently a fucking creeper/perpetuator of sexual assault and domestic violence. His response, again totally unsurprising of a privileged white dude, has been to file lawsuits against the survivors. The website linked above is fairly recent, and written by one of the survivors, documenting some of the process that has unfolded. As the litigation is still in process, it doesn’t go into a ton of detail - but yeah, totally unsurprising that a white dude who claims to be totally against the system falls back on litigation instead of taking responsibility/accountability for their bullshit.

See, I know a lot of vegans and activists who are working pretty hard to be accountable for this type of shit, and I respect them a great deal, even though I am no longer vegan and I am confronted with more immediate forms of oppression that I have to deal with on a day to day basis. (for that matter I always steered clear of the vegan/related movement because of its frequent lack of intersectionality). But like in so many other movements, communities and scenes, charismatic white dudes fucking ruin everything for everyone, and derail any attempt at dealing with it by claiming that accountability wastes time. I dunno. This is kind of incoherent but it hits close to home.

I hold people of color to a higher standard. I expect them to be able to understand racism and how it functions. And yet I realize they (and I) were steeped in a racist society. It is work to find our way out.

It is hard sometimes to feel commonality, to feel kinship, especially with people who are not feeling that kinship with you. Yet I am reminded that communities of color share many similarities of experience. I remember that I identify as a person of color and not solely a person of an ethnicity. I see the ways in which prejudice and racism harm all of our communities by supporting a racist hierarchy in which whites are acknowledged to be superior.

And these are the ways in which the Asian and African American communities are encouraged to hate each other. Instead of talking about systemic racism, we think about our own superiority and receive our pats on the back. Instead of talking about systemic racism, we resent other groups for the ways in which they are favored. Close your eyes and you’d swear white voices were coming out of Asian and black mouths. And those voices are supported and promoted by whites. (Michelle M@lkin, anyone?)


it does not serve a white agenda to tell the complex stories of people of color. […] But we need to tell these stories rather than having our history written for us. And shaping our communities by our own hands rather than letting others create us in their racist imagination. That means also fighting the racist imagination when it is impressed upon other groups.

“Examining Interethnic Prejudice in a Racist Society”

I’d also recommend this Racialicious post “Talking About the Things We Do to Each Other” as a companion piece (h/t: tsg2011)


since I was seeing stuff attached to the quote about the Gloria Steinem documentary, about how intersectionality was too vague to be useful. And I’m reading Mia Mingus’ speech from the Femmes of Color Symposium, and I think that this part of her speech sums up what intersectionality means, or what it can and should mean and how it can and should be done:

I do this work in service of community.  I tell my story with the knowing that our stories are tools for liberation.  I speak knowing that all of our voices are important.  I speak to leave evidence for the people like me who are searching for reflection and recognition and a “yes, we exist.”  I speak to leave evidence for folks who have been told that disability is not as important as race, or that gender justice will have to wait until after class equality is won.  For folks who have been told that how you feel is less important than what you think; for those who don’t have the luxury of being able to rattle off 10, even 5, writers or books that reflect their identities or experiences.  Those of us who straddle the lines between multiple oppressed communities. For those of us who are working to end violence for all of us, not just some of us. For those of us who truly believe that no one’s safety is more important than anyone else’s, even when we feel unsafe…

I don’t think that what she’s saying is too vague to work. In fact, it’s a framework I’ve seen in action and I’ve seen it used to build amazing alliances that aren’t normally encouraged to exist, and to make those alliances flourish. It is an idea that has the potential to be co-opted, for sure; think of how often white feminism throws in the periodic inclusion of women of color, or acknowledgement that trans and genderqueer people also deal with gender, or so on.

But I think that just because some people do it badly and in a way that’s not built on real solidarity, doesn’t mean we have to all abandon it too. I think this way of building that Mia outlined here can be really powerful and radical, and when done right, is obviously being based on trust and solidarity and care.

true. it did seem like a lot of the comments on that thread were critiquing how academics use intersectionality to cover their own asses - using the right language to avoid a certain amount of responsibility for problematic opinions - as opposed to how it can be useful in personal and interpersonal relationships, looking at the commonalities between modes of oppression and resistance to it.




So, uhm, I’m calling out pretty much every anarchist in the US.

edit noon eastern time, elaborated on the last few paragraphs.


I’ve had a long history as part of the anarchist movement/community/scene. More accurately, I’ve had a long history on the sort of fringes of the anarchist movement/community/scene being othered and and silenced and relegated to indentured servitude and accused of being an FBI agent. I’ve put up with all sorts of things I shouldn’t have had to put up with, and shouldn’t have put up with.

This post describes many kinds of oppression, alienation, and marginalization.


It’s hard to know where to begin, really, but I’ve had three conversations today that were basically about the utterly ridiculous ways I’ve been treated by the anarchist scene, so obviously SHIT IS ON MY MIND and I need to fucking get it out.

I guess I should start out by pointing out how fucking othering it all was to me. From the start it was very clear that whenever an anarchist would talk about an issue that actually affected me, be it anti-queer violence, police brutality, the existence of prisons, homelessness, whathaveyou, it would be in a very othering way that made it very clear how little the solidarity they chanted about differed from the one-sided charity I experienced as a homeless person all the time. The Salvation Army handed out its literature and the anarchists handed out theirs. The Christians promised me their utopia and the anarchists promised me theirs.

I appreciate it that anarchists brought attention to my plight, just as I appreciate (most of) the shelter provided to me by many non-profit organizations. I just wish I could see how, exactly, waiting in line for Food Not Bombs differed from waiting in line for MREs at the homeless shelter, except in that the MREs weren’t periodically forty minutes late and had shorter lines.

It quickly became clear to me that to anarchists and in anarchist literature, people like me were the other, we were there to prove a point, to illustrate the meanings of big words like prison-industrial complex and to be a faceless victim for an overwhelmingly middle-class youth movement to understand why a class-structured society, which most of them seem to be doing quite well in, was a fundamentally flawed idea. 

When I wasn’t actively involved in some local struggle, I spent a lot of time as a traveler kid. Unfortunately, while anarchists don’t romanticize that lifestyle as much as a lot of other people, they don’t really respect it either. Anarchists have often been willing to let a stranger sleep on their couch for a night, or a couple nights, and I don’t want to understate how valuable this is. On the other hand, it gets creepy when they expect something in return, and they so often do. Often they would demand rent; when I had no money to pay they demanded work. Now, personally, I’m incapable of doing most kinds of housework because of my disability. The housework I could do, I would do, but this obviously didn’t guarantee me any kind of stability or dignified existence.They were privileged over me and knew it; my very presence made them uncomfortable and was allowed only in an attempt to assuage their guilt. After a few days, they would kick me out and I’d have to hit the road again.

Repeat for a year and a half.

I don’t think I ever really had too many honest and open discussions about how my privileges and oppressions intersect with that of any anarchist; while many were happy to call me on my own (often in extremely problematic ways; apparently it’s appropriate for someone whose parents pay for their college to decide that my disability check is “disposable income”) I had a harder time being heard when talking about their privilege over me. 

We never talked about why we lived in an overwhelmingly black area in Oakland but our friend group was damn near exclusively white. We never discussed why so few of the POC who set foot in our house ever came back. We never discussed if we were othering the actual homeless people participating in our park occupation by holding a meeting while they were all asleep, or if the upside down cross in our doorway (or on our pamphlet, or tattooed on your arm) was potentially alienating to people who practiced a religion. No, when we discussed oppression it all took place in the abstract absent the input or even acknowledgement of the people we were oppressing in the room, sometimes by our very presence in a space.

As an example, many of the people I squatted with… you know, could have done things in other ways. Most of the people I squatted with had recently left college or their jobs of their own free will. A minority were still attending college or working rather cushy jobs and could have done things differently. I’m genuinely homeless, and there aren’t that many houses to go around. While I’m sure this was liberating and reclamatory for some people, as a genuine uneducated, unhoused, unemployed, homeless person it felt like fetishization of my lifestyle and appropriation of my experiences, and again I’d like to emphasize that their privileges over me went unacknowledged and unspoken of. One incident that particularly stings is when I was kicked out of my room by someone who my housemates had just met a few days ago smoking weed downtown. This person, who had their own car and had attended several colleges, argued that they needed my room more than they did, because, among other things, I hadn’t “done anything with it” and they “really needed a room of their own to do homework.” For the record, I was busy trying to pull together the lost pieces of my mind after being raped and couldn’t put too much energy into the interior decorating. After that incident I was kicked out of the house and spent some of the most delicate and emotionally volatile months of my life in rather precarious living situations. 

For all the talk in such circles of marginalized queer youth, I’ve sure had a hard time meeting any. I’ve sure read a lot about marginalized queer youth in BashBack! literature, but I’ve had a very hard time finding any in these spaces. That experience again is often used to prove a point about how some queers are marginalized in comparison to others, which is a very valid point to make… but the marginalized queer is so often me and the other, un-marginalized queers are very, very often queer anarchists who I spent time with and we never. ever. discussed this fact. 

At the same time, the marginalized queer tends to be idealized as an archetype in these spaces, and the scene more or less demands that its members minimize their parents’ influence in their lives. It has been the norm in my life to encounter with regularity people who will eagerly compare the hardships of their experience branching out from their healthy, cushy childhood into finding their adult selves to my experience as a homeless, often friendless, marginalized queer with no family and no financial support. This is clear and flagrant privilege denial.

At the same time it is alienating to queers who do have families who they love. Some of my best friends have parents, and that’s okay, and frankly I have a much easier time getting along with the ones who acknowledge their privilege. It’s a big fucking deal to alienate your own parents, and if someone doesn’t want to or have to then it is all kinds of beyond fucked up to expect that. And it makes it a hell of a lot harder to tell when I’ve found people who share my experiences, and when I’ve found people who think it’s just so cool that I’m emotionally incapable of having any contact with my parents and strive to be like that.

And you know what, maybe I want kids one day. Maybe I don’t find the idea of being married inherently oppressive. I don’t think that alienating everyone who is married or wants or has kids is an okay thing to do. I think that, again, anarchists underestimate what exactly it is they’re asking for in demanding that everybody choose between their families and anarchism and it’s a gross reflection of their privilege to assume everybody can or wants to do so.

I mentioned earlier how I spent a lot of my time in the scene in utterly failing mental health. It’s not like I didn’t look to anarchism for answers. After all, the ideology is something like centuries old, surely at some point someone has said something about mental health? Hadn’t I spent a lot of time rioting in response to police killing people, and weren’t most of those people neurologically complicated?

I found that in this scene, people like me weren’t even acknowledged enough to be othered. I found that we were represented in the pathologically pacifistic, in the corporations who meet all the diagnostic criteria for a personality disorder, the insane lumberjacks, the rape of the salmon and civilization as an abuser, in capitalism as suicide and in the god delusion. 

And about the whole god thing.

I don’t talk about the religious experiences I was going through in the time leading up to my I guess, pretty concrete enrollment in lifestyle anarchism or the fact that I continued, in some ways, to practice Islam in secret for a few months afterwards. Eventually I had to pick one or the other. I had a bit of a rant prepared, but honestly, I don’t really even feel like I have to say anything beyond that the anarchist scene is a harshly unwelcoming environment to anyone with any sort of religious beliefs. This will surprise nobody, anarchists often go out of their way to ensure this, and what the fuck, anarchists, why is that ok at all? I had the privilege to choose, but as for the remaining ~80-90% of the world who practice a religion, a ~revolutionary movement~ like that could be, y’know, just a little alienating?

I don’t particularly care if you had a Repressive, Christian Upbringing. I had a repressive alcoholic upbringing, and you don’t see me trying to make a space unsafe for people who drink. In fact, I’ve spent a lot of time going out of my way to accommodate people who drink, even if it means curling up in some obscure room of a punk house trying to keep myself calm during my flashbacks while everyone else gets drunk and triggers the hell out of me.

The fact is that in many parts of the US, especially in the liberal college towns where anarchists tend to congregate, atheism isn’t a new thing. It isn’t persecuted, it isn’t subversive. It is privileged. It is pretentious. It is fully possible to create an entire social movement with militant atheism not as a current but as a fully assimilated part of the ideology, and that is what anarchists have done.

By contrast, when I talk about my alcohol trigger as someone who was abused as a child, anarchists have by and large been dismissive and unaccommodating. My triggers were presented as my own flaw to work through, and am I sure I don’t want anything to drink? 

I’m upset that I spent so much time in that scene, internalizing and perpetuating all those oppressive things. And it’s super disappointing that all this goes on, because honestly I think that opposition to hierarchy is a pretty solid idea that I’m still totally behind. It’s a shame that, well, y’know…

this is such an excellent post about (predominantly) western, white anarchist politics.

I like everything in this post except for the bit about marriage & kids. Having kids is fine and the anti-child sentiment so prevalent in political circles is fucked up, but it’s not comparable to anti-marriage beliefs. Cuz yeah, marriage *is* oppressive to many people and I find it ironic that in an essay that speaks so strongly against privilege denying, this person is denying that marriage is an oppressive institution. There are some pretty good arguments to be made about how it’s inherently oppressive and why it should be abolished altogether.

Otherwise, though, this is a really important post.

and a conversation that REALLY NEEDS to be happening all the time.