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Open Letter to Microcosm Publishing

June 30, 2012

brainscan21We signed on to this statement about Microcosm and Joe Biel after being informed about Joe’s behavior both in Brainscan 21 zine as well as from Cindy Crabb’s statement about no longer publishing her work with Microcosm.
June 29th, 2012

Dear Microcosm,

We write as zine distributors, zine-makers, library and infoshop collectives, community accountability supporters, and festival organizers from the DIY (queer, feminist, punk and/or anarcha-) community. We express our concern regarding your support of a perpetrator of abuse. The wide reach of Microcosm’s distribution can be intimidating for any individual to speak out against, so we write this together, in solidarity.

We refer to your statement from June 2011, regarding Joe Biel’s involvement in Microcosm. You ended with “We do sincerely hope to open the conversation” and “Expect to hear more from us soon!” We ask, was the conversation opened? And, what was the follow-up to this?

You wrote: “Joe stepped down from being a collective member, and Microcosm will be collectively owned by the remaining members by the end of this year [2011].” Yet in 2012, Joe is listed in your newsletters and homepage as a member of Microcosm. We think this to be insensitive, considering that people are emotionally invested in your real and genuine response to Joe’s lack of accountability. You mentioned transparency, but we ask, what has been done since June 2011? Why is there no visible communication, on your website, newsletter or annual report?

Restructuring is one thing, but our main point is the accountability of an individual who still works for Microcosm. His name was not added to your statement, and this appears as though he has other people speaking for – and protecting – him. A statement where he speaks for himself, and is clear about his role in Microcosm, is overdue. A statement about whether or not he wishes to take responsibility for his own behavior is long overdue. We are worried about the power that Microcosm gives to an individual who has been known to abuse his power. We are concerned that Joe is not working towards changing his behavior. Is Microcosm going to put into practice their rhetoric about supporting survivors, and reflect on their role in perpetuating abuser’s behavior?

We would like to support you, but cannot do so as long as you support a perpetrator of abuse, whilst being passive and/or unaccountable for it. We were surprised and left a little lost by the brevity of your statement/s. Your lack of action and communication has been frustrating, disappointing and puzzling to us – as anti-oppression, social justice, or anarchist collectives. Whether or not Joe continues to be a member of Microcosm, we feel that trust in the collective, in its ability and desire to respond and be supportive and to follow through, has been ruptured.

We don’t believe that boycotting Microcosm is an adequate response to abuse, but we are uncomfortable with having any kind of relationship with Microcosm without an acknowledgment of, and a response to, Microcosm’s continued work with and, through that, support of Joe Biel who has not been responsive to and responsible for his patterns of behaviour.

Hundreds of zinesters and collectives may not feel comfortable associating with someone who is not acting accountable for his abusive behavior. Has informed consent been given to all people that are being published or distributed by Microcosm?

These are some things you could do now: Read more…

Economic Recession and Women’s Shelters from Unbawse Life Advisory

June 4, 2012
The Economic Recession and Women’s Shelters

Don’t read another word of this post without clicking on the link above first. Sady Doyle is great and when she talks, you should listen. If you’re on this sentence only a couple seconds after reading the last one, that means you didn’t listen to me. Thanks to impatient folks like you, I’ll have to highlight the key statistics in Doyle’s article and force the people who followed my suggestion to see them again:- The Police Executive Research Forum states that 56% of police agencies reported an increase in calls pertaining to abuse this year, up from 40% reporting an increase in 2010. The Mary Kay Foundation reports a 78% increase in the same time period amongst domestic violence shelters that reported to the Foundation. According to Mary Kay, 56% of the shelters reporting also state that the abuse in question has become more violent.

These figures are disturbing enough in a vacuum, but the most ugly part about all of this is that while the need for women’s shelters in increasing due in part to the after effects of the recession, the funding for those very shelters has been decimated. At the same time, average stays at domestic violence shelters have increased by as much as 30% in some jurisdictions because many of the survivors cannot afford housing due to substance abuse, injury, job loss, and other factors that oftentimes become part and parcel of cycles of abuse. This attack on survivors is uncaring and unflinching. In Pennsylvania, Gov. Corbett wants to slash funding for domestic violence shelters by 20% – $40 million in all. This is after some Pennsylvania women’s shelters already saw their funds slashed by 20% between 2010 and 2011. Instead of maintaining preventative measures such as education, Corbett – and many others like him – would rather prop up an unsustainable prison system that has shown repeatedly that it is ill-equipped to deal with the unique challenges presented by domestic abuse. Seriously, think about the cyclical nature of most abusive relationships. Now think about the deliberately cyclical nature of incarceration. Even aberrations in the cycle of the latter eventually lead to even worse cycles, such as solitary confinement. This combination has “recidivism” written in letters the size of clouds; the more prisons take the place of shelters, the more likely that proactive solutions to abuse will wither away.

The reason I say all of that is to say this. I have worked with survivors of domestic abuse. I have worked side by side with court advocates. These folks work heart-wrenching, oftentimes thankless jobs for little pay simply because they are utterly dedicated to helping survivors survive. Court advocates and women’s shelters are already stretched beyond their limits and I think that as [insert pro-woman term of choice here]s, it’s imperative for us to help out however we can. Look into volunteering at or donating to your local women’s shelter. If you don’t have the financial/temporal privilege of doing either, then at least get people talking about this. Call your state representative. Chat up your friends even though this is just about the least fun conversation ever. Do something. You are not a windowless house. Helping survivors matters, and so do you.

Reposted from Unbawse Life Advisory, a tumblr worth following if you are interested in insightful feminist and anti-racist critiques of our culture seamlessly intertwined with Rick Ross references.

New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s Annual Conference, May 9-10

May 8, 2012


This Thursday two Support New Yorkers will be speaking at the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s Annual Conference in Albany.  This year’s theme, “Weaving A World Without Violence,” signifies all of the tremendous work so many of the various organizations and presenters are doing to address violence in their communities.  Topics will include bystanders’ work to prevent violence, mobilizing men and youth to prevent sexual assault, and the use of art therapy in healing.

Leah Todd and Sarah Hanks, a member of For the Birds, will present a panel about the work of the Support New York Collective entitled “Community Accountability and Transformative Justice: An Alternative Approach to Responding to Intimate Partner Violence”.

Find out more about NYSCASA, how to become a member, find a crisis center, or take action by visiting their website.

Church Puts Legal Pressure on Abuse Victims’ Group

March 13, 2012

From the New York Times. This is so fucked.

Turning the tables on an advocacy group that has long supported victims of pedophile priests, lawyers for the Roman Catholic Churchand priests accused of sexual abuse in two Missouri cases have gone to court to compel the group to disclose more than two decades of e-mails that could include correspondence with victims, lawyers, whistle-blowers, witnesses, the police, prosecutors and journalists.

The group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, is neither a plaintiff nor a defendant in the litigation. But the group has been subpoenaed five times in recent months in Kansas City and St. Louis, and its national director, David Clohessy, was questioned by a battery of lawyers for more than six hours this year. A judge in Kansas City ruled that the network must comply because it “almost certainly” had information relevant to the case.

Read more…

Audio Interview with Martyna Starosta

January 31, 2012

Survivor Support and Accountability Processes: Interview with Support New York

By Martyna Starosta

My participation in various OWS working groups taught me that safer spaces don’t simply exist. It actually takes a lot of critical analysis, effort, and patience to create those.

My comrades and I had a lot of heated discussions about the surprisingly persistent figure of the “male anarchist hero” and the often outraging paradox of patriarchal behavior in anti-oppression working groups.

I recently interviewed the Brooklyn-based collective Support New York about this question. In this conversation, the volunteers Liz, Kat and Milo analyzed harmful patterns of behavior in radical communities and talked about their methods to transform these patterns.

Support New York is dedicated to heal the effects of sexual assault and abuse within the radical community.The collective focuses on meeting the needs of the survivor, and holding accountable those who have perpetrated harm. The volunteers also strive for a larger dialog within the community about consent, mutual aid, and challenging the society’s narrow definition of abuse.
Even though Support New York operates within a narrow local radius, it can serve as an inspiring case study of community empowerment and transformative justice.

Listen to the interview

Stop Telling Women How to Not Get Raped

January 20, 2012


by Zerlina Maxwell (Ebony)

New rule for 2012: No more ad campaigns and public service announcements targeted at women to teach them how to avoid rape.  It’s not effective, it’s offensive, and it’s also a lie. Telling women that they can behave in a certain way to avoid rape creates a false sense of security and it isn’t the most effective way to lower the horrible statistics which show that 1 in 5 women will become victims of a completed or attempted rape in their lifetime.  The numbers for African American women are even higher at nearly 1 in 4.

We need anti-rape campaigns that target young men and boys.  Campaigns that teach them from a young age how to respect women, and ultimately themselves, and to never ever be rapists.  In addition, we should implore our men and boys to call out their friends, relatives, and classmates for inappropriate behavior and create systems of accountability amongst them.

There are a number of men who do not understand what constitutes a “rape”, which is a consequence of the “stranger in the alley” falsehood presented in movies and popular culture.  You don’t need a mask and a gun to sexually violate a woman. The truth is that rape can happen with a woman you are dating whom you’ve had sex with previously, in a monogamous relationship, and even in marriage.  If one party withdraws consent at any time then it’s rape.  Consent can be withdrawn by the words “no “or “stop” and in many states, a woman doesn’t have to say no at all.  Consumption of alcohol can prevent a woman from being able to legally offer consent. Therefore, it is important for men and women alike to be very clear about their intentions and prioritize consent over the excitement of getting some.

Our community, much like society-at-large, needs a paradigm shift as it relates to our sexual assault prevention efforts.  For so long all of our energy has been directed at women, teaching them to be more “ladylike” and to not be “promiscuous” to not drink too much or to not wear a skirt. Newsflash: men don’t decide to become rapists because they spot a woman dressed like a video vixen or because a girl has been sexually assertive.

How about we teach young men when a woman says stop, they stop? How about we teach young men that when a woman has too much to drink that they should not have sex with her, if for no other reason but to protect themselves from being accused of a crime? How about we teach young men that when they see their friends doing something inappropriate to intervene or to stop being friends?  The culture that allows men to violate women will continue to flourish so long as there is no great social consequence for men who do so. And while many men punished for sexual assaults each year, countless others are able to commit rape and other crimes against women because we so often blame the victim instead of the guilty party.

Holding women and girls accountable for preventing sexual assault hasn’t worked and so long as men commit the majority of rapes, men need to be at the heart of our tactics for preventing them.  Let’s stop teaching ‘how to avoid being a victim’ and instead, attack the culture that creates predators in the first place.

Zerlina Maxwell is a political analyst and staff writer for The Loop 21.You can follow her on Twitter: @ZerlinaMaxwell

Violent sex crimes by U.S. Army soldiers rise: report

January 20, 2012

By Mary Slosson (Reuters)

Violent sex crimes committed by active U.S. Army soldiers have almost doubled over the past five years, due in part to the trauma of war, according to an Army report released on Thursday.

Reported violent sex crimes increased by 90 percent over the five-year period from 2006 to 2011. There were 2,811 violent felonies in 2011, nearly half of which were violent felony sex crimes. Most were committed in the United States.

One violent sex crime was committed by a soldier every six hours and 40 minutes in 2011, the Army said, serving as the main driver for an overall increase in violent felony crimes.

Read more…

How to Stop Getting Called Out

December 27, 2011

mrr_342_cvrThis column was written by Support New York Network member Jess Silk and appeared in the November issue of MAXIMUMROCKNROLL.

Have you ever been called out? Are you a man who keeps getting called out by feminists who “take things too seriously” or “take themselves too seriously”? Are you a white feminist who has felt paralyzed when women of color questioned the inclusiveness of your efforts? Are you a white person who gets defensive when people of color bring up racism? Do you like to “mansplain” how things really are to women? Have you ever really said or thought a sentence starting with the words “But some of my best friends are…”? Do you ignore or mask your class privilege? Do you think people are “too P.C.” when they call out your language? Has a trans or non-gender-conforming person told you their preferred gender pronoun, but you can’t seem to use it because you don’t “get it” or you want to talk the way you’re used to? Are you a hetero person who gets weirded out when your queer friend asks you to hang out in queer spaces? Did you, hypothetically, get called out for drawing a transphobic, racist, and generally shitty comic and don’t understand why people complained because that’s how things really are and it’s other people who don’t “get it”?* You’re just calling it like you see it, right?

These represent a wide range of examples, but most of us have been called out before—myself included. The trouble is that most people are uncomfortable with admitting to these kinds of faults in themselves, past or present. Anyone who is reading this and exemplifies these kinds of behaviors would sooner go on the defensive than actually shut up and listen, but I’m hoping you are curious or bored or on a long subway ride or on the toilet or you want to pick a fight with me or something and you’ll humor me and read this.

Read more…

Awesome article about boundary setting for children.

December 27, 2011

Support New York collective member Leah sent over an awesome article by Amy Tierman, from Doing Right By Your Kids about helping children set boundaries for touch and play. I was away from New York for the holidays for the first time in my life and wasn’t on the internet much, so it’s a few days late, but conceptually, this sort of thing is always pertinent.

No Forced Kisses for Your Kids: A Holiday Safety Tip for Families

As parents well know, the holiday season is both incredibly exciting and potentially overwhelming for kids, sometimes all rolled together into one. At gatherings with families and friends, expectations about affection, attention, and teasing can create unnecessary stress and discomfort. By accepting our children’s different personalities and thinking through our boundaries ahead of time, we can teach our kids important life skills and make holiday parties and reunions more fun. Read more…

Miranda July’s “Hands Off” in Rookie Magazine

September 26, 2011

reposted from

Hands Off

My first feminist action.

This story begins when Xavier Reed* made an announcement in assembly. My high school was private, a prep school. Most announcements at assembly were about a bake sale or a basketball game, but Xavier Reed took the microphone and said, with complete seriousness, “Someone spilled their Coke on my BMW. If this happens again I’m going to be forced to sue for damages. Keep your hands off my car.”

Read more…