Hi, yeah! So did you know that before I ever wrote one of these columns I was in MRR three times? The first time was because I wrote a letter when I was 14 saying that I had lost the notebook keeping track of my zine orders and to write me if you had ordered something and I’d send it out. I didn’t actually have a notebook or any zine orders but I felt like maybe writing that letter might convince someone to try and scam me and then like, a stranger would have my zine. Plus it would make people think that my zine was important or something since I had enough orders that I had to keep track of them in a notebook or whatever. The second time was when my picture was published along with an excerpt from an interview that Cindy Crabb did with some other members of the Transformative Justice/Accountability collective I work with.
The third time was when I got interviewed about my old fanzine Slice Harvester, which was super exciting and I was like SO STOKED to Be In MRR and then I ran into Gabe that owns the comic shop and he was like, “I heard you were in the new MRR?!” and I was like, “Yeah, I mean, whatever… who even reads it anymore anyway? Like, I guess it’s cool or something. Or not. Who cares?” Because I suddenly got nervous about earnestly caring about something, I guess. But then Gabe was like, “STOP IT. You’re allowed to be excited about this.”
Anyway mostly I wanna talk about the second thing. So like, for the better part of the last decade I’ve spent either some or most of my time working with this collective dedicated to “healing the effects of sexual assault and abuse,” to quote our mission statement on our website. Basically we try to use a transformative justice model to hold people in our community accountable for harm they’ve caused to other people in our community, in order to create a space where genuine healing can occur and also to avoid letting the tentacles of The State wind their way any further into our lives. This model is kind of contentious for some people and I’m definitely not here trying to pick a fight with those folks or evangelize, I just wanna contextualize the rest of the stuff I’m thinking about.
I had originally written my column this month about how Entrenched Patriarchal Narratives weasel their way into the most well-intentioned people’s lives, but it got a little TMI about the dynamic of the relationship I have with one of the people I’m dating and I couldn’t really think of a way to talk about it without saying all that stuff, so like, even if I wanna be transparent about my own learning process I don’t wanna do it in a way that might make someone else feel super awkward.
But there’s another thing I’d like to discuss and it’s this phenomenon that happens in Party Dawg Cultures where someone in the community turns out to be dangerous or violent to women when he’s getting all fucked up and partying, but he’s like, really fun otherwise. Everyone knows about it but doesn’t really do anything because “he’s just like that” or whatever. Or like, I know in my life I’ve rationalized a lot of the heinous behavior of violent men that I’ve known because I was aware of their trauma histories and I used that knowledge to excuse them or obfuscate the impact of the violence they were committing. Because knowing the violence they had been the recipient of made their violence seem almost inevitable and kinda not their fault in a way. Which is clearly a rationalization and is so bogus and people are responsible for the harm they cause others no matter how wounded they are.
But back in this archetypal/hypothetical situation (which I have seen play out in so many punk scenes either because I was there or because out of town friends called me for advice on how to deal with situations in their towns), some of the outcomes of knowingly harboring a dangerous person in your community are that he can potentially just keep hurting more and more people, everyone who starts hanging out with your group of friends is at risk of violence, and eventually it’s gonna boil over. Eventually he’s gonna hurt someone who’s not just gonna brush it off and in my experience, at this point, everyone just doubles down and gangs up on the person who got hurt. Because it’s easier to ostracize and distrust a woman’s experience than it is to challenge and confront some drunk dude who you know has a tendency to be violent.
And this is one of those Entrenched Patriarchal Narratives we were talking about before! It’s something we were all socialized to think and believe—that women’s experiences and accounts of events are inherently not trustworthy. It’s just one of those bobo notions that everyone picks up without trying because there’s tons of little things reinforcing it all the time. That’s what’s so insidious about the societal norms that are socialized into us, that they get put in our heads when we’re really little and we’re not paying attention or on guard against hateful shit, and then they just lurk around all quiet until one day they pop out and they’re like “YO! Don’t trust that woman!” And it’s like, that’s not cool to just show up and tell me that when I didn’t even invite you here in the first place.
What it comes down to is this: if your friend is a shithead and you know about it and you don’t do anything to intervene, you’re just as responsible for anyone else he harms from then on. It’s not easy to challenge the toxic behaviors of the people we care about but it’s super important and it’s probably the most loving thing you can do for someone. Also if something shitty happens to someone and they try and deal with it and the way you respond is by icing them out or bullying them, you’re a true dickhead and you need to get it together and act right.
In closing: since we, the punx, agree that society is fucked and we want nothing to do with it, it’s our duty as punx to shed all the bullshit that society forces on us. This includes Entrenched Patriarchal Narratives such as not trusting women, such as creating a safe space for shitty violent men. SO BASICALLY unless you’re actively working to dismantle structures of oppression and systems of control and extricate them from all the little ways they’ve become incorporated into your own life just by the sheer fact of having been socialized in this culture, you’re not punk.
If you have any questions or you totally disagree or you’re totally stoked or you just wanna have a conversation about this, I’m happy to do so. As always, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my address is Slice Harvester / 442-D Lorimer St #230 / Brooklyn, NY 11206.
No Cops, no creeps. Peace in the pizzeria. I’m out.