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Privileged dudes litmus test

Blog posts are the work of individual contributors, reflecting their thoughts, opinions and research.
He's white, he's male, he's privileged - and he understands oppression better than you
He's white, he's male, he's privileged - and he understands oppression better than you

Victoria, →Vancouver Island

Dealing with sociopaths in social justice and media collectives

Privilege-denying dudes. They're everywhere, even in our social justice collectives and alternative media groups. Some are dangerous, some are just enablers. In the last ten years, I've probably butted heads with all of them.

Got privilege-denying dudes? It's not always obvious, because they know the language of anti-oppression. The difference is, they use it to manipulate others and hide their motives. Bad faith is the key indicator that your dude is a privilege-denying piece of shit.

But privilege-denying dudes have their uses. The worst offenders – the violent sociopaths – provide a handy litmus test. They draw out the smarmy suckups who chime in to defend the asshole's "right" to abuse women. Without this support, the sociopaths wouldn't be half as successful at what they do. Simply removing an abuser won't cure a PDD infestation, because privilege-deniers quickly turn any group into a political wasteland dedicated to preserving the patriarchal status quo above all else. Sometimes, it's just better to walk away.

The litmus test instantly shows whether your sincere-sounding dude is actually a sexist jerkoff, and whether your white-male-dominated collective deserves another minute of your time.

In Vancouver, my litmus test was this misogynist woman-beater who stalked me for about a year. He came to my workplace, he came to my volunteer gigs, he would appear suddenly on the street and tackle me. I wasn't the only one he attacked; several of us were getting the same treatment around the same time.

After the third or fourth time the stalker knocked me down, my world divided in two. Places where he was banned (there were several), I could relax and hang out. Places where he was welcome, I had to avoid. I started carrying a weapon everytime I left the house. I was wound tight, watching for him, waiting for him to hit me again. I was pissed right off.

It was no secret this guy was going around attacking women. He did it in public places, in front of lots of witnesses, and the women he attacked complained loudly. But the privilege-denying dudes who acted like they were in charge of certain social justice and media groups did nothing when he showed up. 

One group of privileged dudes explained to me that their hands were tied. There was nothing they could do about the stalker. They couldn't exclude him, because that would violate his rights. This is an inclusive space, they assured me. We can't exclude people. But if you don't feel comfortable, you can leave. I did.

In another collective, the alpha males went out of their way to enable the stalker. They invited him to meetings and to a large public event where I was volunteering. I will never forget their faces when the stalker showed up and made a beeline right to me. They enjoyed it. They watched every move, grinning and baring their teeth. They taunted me and egged him on. That was enough of that; I was out of there.

In a way, I should be grateful to that stalker. If it wasn't for him, I might still be working with those ignorant suckholes. The stalker is a sociopath, and I don't expect anything better from him. But it was a shock to witness men I thought of as comrades shitting all over me and the other women in the collective. (The stalker started harassing them too, and they all left soon after I did.)  Solidarity, for these assholes, meant using women however they liked, and mocking us when we complained.

Fast-forward to now: A 66-year-old political candidate was convicted of sexually assaulting a young teen. This creep has a huge hate-on for me because I told the world about his criminal record. So I've made him my new litmus test.

A self-styled "media activist" in Victoria invites me to work as a volunteer fundraiser for  "his" collective. When I ask, media dude says the creep isn't a group member yet, but he's welcome to join anytime he wants. It wouldn't be ethical to exclude him, you see.

What about adopting policies to protect volunteers? No, no, never mind that – what dude-man really wants to hear is more about the harassment, please. Dates, times, witnesses, detailed descriptions of exactly what the creep said and did, and physical evidence (tape recordings, if possible). He needs to know all this so he can judge me. It's for my own good. After all, he explains, I'm probably just paranoid. And if I'm so afraid of the creep, why don't I just call the police? I tell him to fuck off and find someone else to exploit.

A longtime peace activist at a mini-conference in Vancouver explains that they hired the creep before they knew he raped a child. But they can't exclude him now – it's illegal to discriminate against people, you know. Does the peace group have a human-rights policy? A safe-space policy? Any procedures to address harassment? No, they don't.

This activist isn't a dude – she's a woman in her 60s. Surprise!

By her logic, if Baby Doc Duvalier shows up, she's obligated to let him join. If the Young Conservatives, StormFront and the entire Canadian Armed Forces want to participate in this peace group, they would be welcome too. Right, dudette?

It's frustrating to explain the blindingly obvious to someone who should know better, but I'm giving it the old school try:

What I'm hearing from your letter is that you believe the group can't "legally" exclude someone they would prefer not to work with. But any group, non-profit, club, committee, or ad hoc organization has the right to choose who to admit as volunteers and who to exclude. It is not discrimination to say "we don't want to work with someone who raped a child and harassed another woman."

Associations like [this peace group] are run on mutual-aid principles by like-minded people, and much of the work revolves around making principled decisions about which individuals, groups, and causes to support.

The courts have long held that "collegial" groups like yours have this right. In fact that's a major purpose of such groups -- to bring together like-minded people. It might be helpful to discuss this point with a lawyer or human rights advocate if it is not clear. 

I follow up with the suggestion that "inclusion" means creating spaces and policies that support diversity and human rights, not providing a safe haven for creeps. That was five months ago. I'm still waiting for a response.

At this point, I have some questions for the privileged dudes (and dudettes): What the hell do you think we're here for? Is this a social justice movement or a mutual admiration society? Is our movement so desperate that you need to recruit any sexist idiot and child-molesting dirtbag who comes along? Aren't you concerned that this predator might be using you to find more victims? Are you so afraid of rocking the boat that you won’t even try to protect your own volunteers? What kind of "activists" are you?

Have you heard of the global war on women? Are you aware that hundreds of thousands of women are murdered by husbands, fathers, boyfriends, and strangers every year? Did you know that millions more women and girls are raped, molested, and terrorized? That gender violence is a weapon of war and social control? Do you believe that peace and justice includes peace and justice for women too?

Do you think being "nice" and "inclusive" is going to stop this shit? It won't. You know what stops it? Stopping it. Let me show you how.

-------------------

Dudes who feel the need to jump in with a privilege-denying comeback should consider the following:

1.      Dude, I don't give a fuck if I've offended you. I really don't.

2.      Don't tell me I'm giving feminists a bad name. In fact, don't tell me anything about feminism, jackass.

3.      I don't need to forgive anyone, and I'm not going to apologize. The rapist is the one who needs to apologize -- to me, and to his young victims. Until he demonstrates some real remorse and a change in attitude, he's my enemy.

4.      I'm not going to shut up about this bullshit, ever.

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Comments

Thanks for writing this

I'm trying to remember where I ran into the guy in the video, because I don't think it was Vancouver. I'm pretty sure it was the late April anti-mining conference in Toronto, or some related event out east, in 2009.

I *do* however remember being instantly repulsed by and wary of him, a feeling that deepened when he would use any excuse to talk to and get close to myself and other women. At one point, he also went around the room [mostly full of young women], giving massages, *without* asking permission whatsoever. I staunchly refused, but I was the only one, if I remember correctly. It would be *really* useful to have more accounts like yours to warn other women...

Hope people re-post your piece!!!

That sounds like him

I'm sure that's him. Jean went back to Montreal several years ago and I think he has a warrant in BC, so I doubt we'll be seeing him here for a while. Sorry I wasn't at this conference, I would have led a workshop on how to non-violently boot his ass out. I know when he first showed up in Montreal, Jaggi said he and a few others were warning folks about him.  If you have any thoughts on spreading the word, let me know. Thank you!

One thing to do

You might consider contacting the people who organized that 2009 conference to let them know that you have info that this guy is dangerous and to insist that they bar him from future events. I have details about his record of assaulting women if needed. 

Re: to your question "Is the

Re: to your question

"Is the movement so desperate that it needs to recruit sexist idiots and dirtbags?"

Unfortunately, I think that's a huge part of the problem. I was part of an organization for years that completely crumbled after one of the long-time members did something extremely misogynist and disrespectful to another member. He apologized, but then went around for months doing character assassination on her, and the whole group ended up choosing sides and fell apart.

Aboveground radical organizations are always trying to balance security culture with being friendly and inclusive, because lets face it, membership is usually low. But there's a lot to be said for some direct confrontation when it comes to completely unacceptable behaviour. 

The rhetoric of nonviolence becomes an excuse for not confronting people that you can't reason with. For example, creep # 1 needs people to follow him home and break his legs.

Problem solved. Hard to attack women with both your legs broken. Just sayin'. 

???

The rhetoric of nonviolence becomes an excuse for not confronting people that you can't reason with. For example, creep # 1 needs people to follow him home and break his legs.

Exactly! The liberal leftists in this scene simply don't realize that they just make things WORSE by retorting to such sneaky, stalky technique of bringing down an oppressor.

Why is Jean's story keeps spiraling between Vancouver and Montrealafter all these years is beyond me... that's insane! As much as this seems to be legitimate exposure of a problematic person, it FORCES people in the scene into doing going as low as defamation.

Is this really how you (we) wanna fight male oppression??? By letting them sleep on your couch with a smile and then spreading accusations the next day through the Internet? Aaaaargh!

My point is we don't have to spoil ourselves with such a rampant, cowardly policy of defamation and back-stabbing as a way of collective self-justice. We just have to confront the bastards when and where they oppress us, as much as we can. 

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