After Rigaer78’s last public text on the case of sexualized violence in their collective, our first impulse was to again respond publicly, in order to present issues from our perspective. However since we see little sense in treating the case as part of a back and forth, we decided to look at the issue of sexualized violence in an overall context and treat it for what it is: a structural problem and not an isolated case!
With this text, we want to make it transparent that in recent years we have repeatedly become aware of cases of sexualized violence in our structures, which we have dealt with to a greater or lesser extent (but in any case not sufficiently). Due to the many outings, we currently see the possibility and the necessity to continue the discussion publicly. And we would like to make our previous dealings transparent and thus open to criticism.
About us: We, the Interkiezionale, are not an organized group but an alliance or association of projects in Berlin that are threatened with eviction or are now also evicted. We are a relatively loose association in which collectives and individuals come together. Our original goal was to connect the projects, to exchange ideas and to organize joint protests. The exchange regarding topics other than the threat of eviction was treated as secondary by us. Contradictions and disagreements were often put aside and not addressed and discussed. A joint evaluation of this is still pending.
Regarding the topic of sexualized violence, the platform Interkiezionale was used several times to make incidents transparent to other collectives. The first outing concerned a person who regularly sat on the Interkiezionale plenum for a collective threatened with eviction. The people involved had the desire to decide for themselves to whom the outing was brought. Practically, this meant creating transparency in structures in which the person was organized. The perpetrator of violence had already been excluded from his collective. After the outing, the Interkiezional Plenum made it clear to the perpetrator that he was no longer wanted in the plenum. Further, a separate plenum was organized internally, where we discussed the specific case and especially the aborted transformative process. We set out to do some things at this meeting, most of which we did not implement.
In the course of time, other cases of sexualized violence were made transparent
in to the Interkiezionale. IK was mainly used to disseminate information; the decisions on how to deal with the perpetrators of violence were incumbent on the respective collectives and were always supported by the Interkiezionale. In some cases, exchanges were sought with other collectives and individuals. In all cases, the perpetrators were excluded from structures. In total, 5 cases were explicitly brought to our attention as IK. These cases were not publicly disseminated at the request of affected persons.
In the case of the outing of a resident of Rigaer78 it was different: in this case, the Interkiezionale was asked by the support group of a victim to support her. Pressure was to be exerted on the Rigaer78 after the support group had failed to make any progress in the exchange with the house collective. It was finally decided together to make the case public.
As a group we have also experienced moments in which we were confronted with patriarchal violence together. FLINTA*s were the only ones who reacted. For the cis-men among us, the urge to act was usually not very strong. Only through these moments did we begin a process of confrontation with patriarchal violence in the plenum. In this process, individuals and collectives are at very different points. As interkiezionale we are therefore only at the beginning of a discussion about our common role and our possibilities.
We would like to share here what we have learned so far (at least theoretically):
- Processes should run continuously and not be triggered and checked off by events, because they cannot be checked off.
- It is possible for collectives to take responsibility even if people are no longer part of collectives. However it must not be an excuse to keep a person in a collective who uses violence at the expense of others because only then would a “process” be possible.
- The highest goal should be that those affected can move without fear or are not forced to leave or avoid spaces/collectives/places themselves. There must also be transparency about whether those affected can move safely in our spaces.
- So that affected persons can move without fear, we support street or city bans of perpetrators.
- It is important not only to look at perpetrators but also at the environment that supports sexualized violence or makes it possible in the first place. It is important to recognize the dynamics within our structure that can lead us to be abusive or protective of perpetrators, and to work on them. We have not done that so far.
- It is possible and important to seek support from process accompaniment. There are communication collectives and groups that have experience with this. We should have resorted to this at several points.
We need to work collectively on our relationships with each other and build them free from oppression and exclusion. There are no individual or isolated cases. We have to share experiences and all together learn from them, find approaches for action for what we have learned and act accordingly together. For this reason we want to talk with you about the continuation of sexualized violence in our structures in order to discuss ways to fight patriarchal and sexist behaviour.
We therefore invite you to the next VV on 26.03.22 at 14:00 in subversiv – brunnenstr. 7
The VV will be split into two parts, first a FLINTA* and non-FLINTA* session for around 2 hours, then a break and afterwards an all-gender part.
There needs to be communal work that help us to build new ways of relating to each other free of oppression and exclusion. There are not individual or isolated cases. There is the certainty that we need to work collectively, sharing experiences and learning from them. In this occasion we call for a VV that brings us together to discuss ways of challenging such behaviours without relying on juridical processes led by capitalist and neoliberal institutions that far from repairing the damage, produce more pain through punishment.
Please discuss the following questions in advance with your collectives:
- How was the reaction in your project to our invitation? Are there people missing today?
- Do you take into account the gender balance (this includes non-binary gender categories or identities) in your move-in policy?
- Where does sexism start? Where/when in your life did you fist encounter it? What are patriarchal behaviours/patterns? What is dominant behavior? What are typical gender roles? Why do they exist? In living together, in discussions, in the distribution of tasks in the house/project/structure? Do you have instruments you use to try and move away from these roles?
- Are there discussions about (toxic) masculinity in your house and if so, what do they look like? Are there discussions about sexism among cis-men?
- Do you have gender split meetings? Is there a FLINTA* Plenum?
- How did you deal with cases of sexualized violence? Do you have a support system for affected persons?
- Do you have a strategy for it? Have strategies failed? Have you reflected on it and changed things? Do you have a strategy for dealing with perpetrators/persons exercising violence?
- Do you have the feeling you can talk openly about sexualized violence in your collective?
- Do you think you know about all cases of sexualized violence in your collective?
- Do you have an awareness structure for parties and public spaces ?
- Is there a possibility for contact for persons outside and inside your project and how do you deal with criticism from outside and inside?
- Do you need any support in working on this topic?