Zero tolerance! Abusers out!
The following editorial was written by gender non-binary and women comrades of Workers World Party.
The progressive movement has come a long way from its shameful history of gender abuse. There is still a gargantuan mountain to climb toward socialism, gender equity and justice. We link arms and will continue to climb together.
We must resoundingly affirm that we will protect each other from racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism and abuse. If we are to succeed, abusers and their enablers must not be welcome in our spaces or in our movement.
In consulting the 2010 essay, “Why Misogynists Make Great Informants” by Black gender activist and academic Courtney Desiree Morris, we find that the danger is twofold. Misogynists and abusers chase people of oppressed gender out of the movement. In fear for our safety and in recognition that trans and cis women, trans men, lesbians, queer folks and gender- nonconforming individuals’ lives and contributions are not valued the same as cis (het) men’s, we are wary of entering spaces where we are not supported.
Losing comrades in the movement is always a detriment, and losing the unique perspective that gender-oppressed comrades contribute to the struggle is a road to failure. By accepting abusers into movement spaces we allow a fertile ground for state infiltration that takes advantage of the havoc abusers create.
People of oppressed gender have the right to defend themselves from abuse, homophobia and misogyny. We have the right to hold organizations accountable that do not support our self-determination. Spaces and organizations that do not take this into account create an untenable situation for the 21st century.
Women and others of oppressed gender are expected to silence ourselves and put up with abuse in an effort to build unity. Unity for who? Not unity with women and others of oppressed gender who have every right to insist on their inclusion in the movement. After all, we are also struggling for liberation. We are the backbone of the struggle for liberation.
Abusers and their enablers will see this insistence for safety as proof that we are not putting the movement first. We are told to “close our eyes and think of socialism.” But what socialism can we visualize when we cannot be sure it will prioritize our safety and contributions? We can only see a form of socialism that prioritizes our safety and contributions.
Under a Trump administration that is attacking the bodies of women, trans and GNC people, people of oppressed gender have a rage that is growing. It is a righteous rage. Our fears that our comrades and allies in the movement do not have our back is made manifest every time an abuser is allowed to remain in our movement.
While transformative justice is an important model to develop, it cannot be practiced in an environment where women and people of oppressed gender feel under physical threat. It cannot be developed in an environment where we feel like our comrades and allies do not have our backs. It cannot be developed in an environment where abusers do not take responsibility for their actions.
Until there is unity around removing abusers from our movement, there can be no discussion of how to bring them back as healed individuals.