Strategies of Domination (in Meetings and beyond)

Post from http://theviolentminority.wordpress.com- follow them cus they is comrades ennit

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The following list, is a collation of different “tactics” or actions that people may consciously or unconsciously use in meeting, conversation or other group settings to dominate and exclude others (alternatively as a method of self defence against dominators in some cases).  We think they are really useful to look at and think about within the program of evolving our selves, challenging our own dominant behaviours and those of others around us and generally making a conversations and actions more radical, equal and revolutionary.

1) Make them invisible

 Make someone feel ‘invisible’, by ignoring them or their ideas. You can do this by not asking them to speak, doing other things while they are speaking, interrupting them before they are finished, and not responding to their ideas. This should make them feel insignificant, unsure of themselves, and incapable of action. Another option is ‘pirating’ their ideas – giving someone else credit, even though they did not come up with it first.

Example 1: When it is someone’s turn to speak, start talking to the person next to you

Example 2: When someone proposes an idea, don’t respond to it – act like it never happened

2) Ridicule them

 Constantly degrade and make fun of someone, or their social group, or their ideas. This will make them feel stupid and embarrassed, and make them look less important in the eyes of others. Ridiculing is effective because laughter is on your side, and the other person will look boring if they tell you to stop. You can do this by making sexist or racist comments about people, patronising them by acting like they can’t understand you, and making fun of them personally (for example, the way they speak). Always talk about how and why they speak, rather than what they actually say.

Example: When you disagree with a woman, make a joke about women being  ‘emotional’ or ‘irrational’. If you are criticised, just pass it off as ‘banter’.

3) Withhold information from them

 Keep someone out of where the real decision-making happens, or keep useful information away from them. Form small, informal groups where you can discuss things away from those you want to oppress. This not only means you can make the real decisions without their input, but keeping them out of the discussion also means you don’t have to tell them everything you know.

Example 1: Exclude people with less money from a meeting by going to a posh pub to chat beforehand

Example 2: When you make points at a meeting, use academic words that only a few people will understand

4) Criticise them, regardless of what they actually do

 Find reasons to punish or complain about someone, regardless of what they actually do. You should always give a reason for the criticism, so the real reason you are belittling them (e.g. because of their class, race, or gender), is not obvious to anyone listening. The fact you always complain regardless of what they do means that they will feel trapped. Eventually the constant criticism, which no-one else seems to get, will make them feel unwelcome and excluded.

Example 1: Accuse women of weakness when they try to listen and not interrupt people, but accuse them of not being feminine when they stand up for themselves.

Example 2: Use the techniques in this guide to oppress other people, but call people out for using them if they fight back

5) Lay the blame on them

 When someone starts to notice that they are being oppressed, blame them for it, even though it is your fault. This will make it harder for them to realise or stop what is really going on – by creating doubt about whose fault it is, and by making them feel guilty or embarrassed whenever they try to pick you up on it. Try to make them feel as though they are being oppressed because they themselves are inadequate. This will also help you and other oppressors to feel justified, and stop you from questioning yourself or feeling guilty.

Example: When someone in a group complains that a small number of people are making all the decisions, tell them that it is their fault for not doing enough of the work (even though the reason they don’t take on more is because you have excluded them)

6) Treat them like objects

 Treat someone as though they were an object, not a person – talk about and judge their appearance when it isn’t relevant. This will distract others from what they are actually saying, and make them get taken less seriously. It will also empower you to oppress them further, as treating them like an object means you will feel less sympathy for them, and means you will feel justified in treating them as less important than you. If you do it in their presence, it will embarrass them, and cause them to take themselves less seriously.

Example: Make remarks about the sexual attractiveness of the women in your group

7) Threaten or use violence

 Threatening someone with violence makes them feel afraid and unsafe, while making you feel strong. Though you can directly threaten someone, it can also be done subtly – for example by intimidating someone physically, showing aggression with your voice and body language. Aggressive talk and action creates a space that will feel especially unsafe for groups that are often on the receiving end of violence. This happens even when the aggression is between people who it doesn’t make feel unsafe – because everyone who hears it will worry that they will have to face the same aggression if they say anything.

Example 1: Show disagreement by making threats rather than arguments, such as: “Feminists should be shot for dividing the movement!”

Example 2: Start arguments with anyone who disagrees with you – making sure to raise your voice, cut in when they’re speaking, etc

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 This post was inspired by Berit Ås, a Norwegian feminist and social psychologist. In looking at the question of how men maintain their superiority in society, she put together the five ‘Master Suppression Techniques’, which she observed being used by men to oppress women. For more information, I suggest you start by reading the following:

 I should also add a disclaimer: the point of all of this is to expose how the “systematically privileged” keep and use their power. For one thing, this means that the techniques above are a lot more damaging when used against people who face constant and “systematic” oppression (for example, on grounds of gender, race, social class, etc). For another, using these techniques isn’t necessarily oppressive – in some circumstances they can be used to fight back too. For example, being aggressive with people, even to the extent of using violence against them, may well be the only possible response to people using these techniques. Basically, what I’m trying to say is: “manarchists”, you are not being oppressed by feminists, please fuck off and do not use this guide for your own twisted ends. Christians (in the UK) – you are not being victimised or systematically oppressed for your religion in this country at the moment: what is happening is that you are slowly loosing the unfair privilege and power you have had for hundreds of years, and if you actually believed what your religion says then you’d be grateful for this! Ok, rant over…

Final note: Please feel free to copy/re-print/plagiarize this article however you like.

 

At Your Service (Tales From Community Service)

Article written by contributor who is currently serving a 120 hour community payback order, in which they are required to do a program of unpaid work for the terrible “community”1. This Article forms the First part of a short series detailing different aspects and analysis of the community payback program, from thinking about the actions being performed and their implications to offering a kind of insight into what this shit is actually like. Please distribute to anyone you know who might be about to get sentenced to community payback.

Part 2: Faggot Till I Die.

Identifying as Queer has never been a particularly easy part of my life- from growing up in a working class area where homosexuality was seen as either a mental health problem or an infectious disease, to social isolation from the gay community for my attraction to women as well as men, to getting beat up for wearing dresses and having long hair as well as a penis. Life more recently has been somewhat easier, it’s very easy to use the personal pronoun IT, fuck men, and wear makeup when you live in and around queer squats and have friends/comrades who are up on their queer theory, but re-entry into mainstream culture through community service has been something of an uphill struggle and challenge to my queer identity and politics.

The first time I really came up against it was my first day in the probation office; i sit down at a desk and start filling out this twenty page questionaire abo0ut my gender, sexuality, drug use etc so that they can tick all their boxes of inclusion, assimilation, and so called safe gaurding. I sit for several minutes pondering what to answer for gender- i mean clearly (at least today, at least when I am presenting to most of the world) I look like a man, I receive the same male privelige that other people with my body/sex recieve and most people (who don’t know me) would certainly pronoun me he/him/his; but that’s not the point, that’s not who I am, that’s not how I feel and that’s not how I want to be seen. I’ve struggled damm hard and found communities that accept the identity i feel so attached to: a fucking IT, genderqueer, who wears dresses some days and jeans others, and fucks with people who they like regardless of their gender.

I start thinking maybe it’s my fault; i’ve wrapped myself up in this little squatter/anarchist bubble outside of  questionaires,  jobs, mainstream straight culture and i’ve forgotten what it’s really like out there, what it’s like to feel singled out for the way you feel about your body/sexuality and what its like to be in conflict with hetronormitivty 1 and the gender binary 2. This first question, this tiny tick box on some stupid piece of fucking paper has really spun me out. In the end, I write a tiny, but perfectly formed n (for neither/neutral) in the space after the question; this might sound pathetic and teenage, but for one beautiful moment it felt like a tiny act of queer insurrection, like resistance to the straight culture. I smash the next question (spurred on by my aforementioned act), are you gay, straight, bisexual, other? with a swift tick in the other box and proceed through the rest of the sheet (mostly meaningless rubbish about my drug histories and mental health- both of which i lie profusly on) and hand the questionaire back to my case manager.

There is a brief pause as my case manager looks down at the sheet, after what feels like a year they look up at me and asks the fatal question, a question that to gender straight3 readers probably seems tiny and meaningless, but a question that smashes the resolve of my previous box ticking and brings years of “but you look like a boy”, “but your to straight looking to be…”, “boys can´t do that” flooding back to me- why have you put an N here? For a brief moment, i see myself standing proudly up and detailing the twenty one years it´s taken me, the specific moments of my struggle, and all of many reasons that I hate the male identity; but in the end a little whimper of “I just don´t see myself as a man” comes out, my case manager looks at me a bit oddly and (as i realize from future correspondences/notes about me) proceeds to gender me as male. Then comes the awkward explanation of the other tick box. In this respect, my case manager is at least not biggotted, but rather interested and wanting to learn; they ask me about what this means- explaining that they are learning about all these things (I feel something between appreciation for their consideration, and like an animal at the zoo) and want to know more; i explain this in more detail, offering examples and explaining my identity as queer and the various reasons I choose to use it rather than bi/gay, they ask a few questions and we move on.

Moving on to the interesting parts.

But before I do, one thing to mention here, to gender rebels, fellow faggots, feminists, anti racists and other people who generally find themselves in opposition to mainstream attitudes that may be about to start community service is that there is a constant conflict (at least there is for me) in picking battles about calling out sexist/homophobic behaviors which might be considered minor (e.g. use of “casual slurs” based on gender/sexuality etc) and seriously stopping/challenging more serious ones (street harrassment, threats of violence etc). The thing i found, is that sometimes you have to let words/behaviours slide (whilst still showing your dissaproval by refusing to enter the conversation/laugh at jokes) which you would normally call out, in order not to get labled as the weirdo/person with a problem with everything, in order that when something more serious happens you can make an effective intervention. In short sometimes you have to earn friendship/street cred in order to get any of your ideas accepted, and to be able to be effective at stopping harrassment/oppression.

Roughly three weeks later i´m out on a site picking up litter and cleaning up an old cemertary. Your kind of classic pub banter about homosexuals, men fucking, and the latest celebrity faggots is being rolled out and as usual I’m standing silently in the corner refusing to be involved in the banter, but not wanting to speak up both for fear of alienation (which I accept is weak and also only possible because i can fairly easily appear to assimilate) but also because I know someone is going to say something really bad at some point and I am going to have to intervene. Then one of the people in the group does it, “I think, personally we should just shoot all the gays, i mean when they kiss in front of us, it’s just it’s fucking disgusting why do they do it- we should shoot them.”

I flip, i pipe up and shout ok big man, do you want to kill me hey, take your fucking spade and kill a fucking gay then- cus you know what i’m a faggot till I die  and (turning to everyone else to try and make a slight joke in order to undermine this dick head) given what you’ve just said that might just be today! Everyone erupts, and the questions start flying- “so you take actual dick in your mouth/your arse”, “you actually fuck boys?”, “what, how do you do it”, “can’t you just like choose to be straight”. To be honest, at this point in my life it’s all quite normal  and actually conversations like this have become something of a challenge, how can I maximise both the education experience for the people I’m chatting to whilst simultaniously making as much of a joke out of it/making it as uncomfortable for the homophobes as possible. The highlight of this situation comes when someone asks me if when I fell off a wall and broke my wrist my boyfriend was there to catch me in his arms- “no,” I responded calmly “I Landed on his erect dick, ruined my arse hole and split my spleen, yano it’s a normal gay thing we also get the worst injuries us gays, cus we’re so busy getting our bums raided that we can’t do any of that stuff the straight people do without someone getting a collapsed sphincter”. There is a general uproar of laughter, disgust, and actually begrudging acceptance- sometimes when you say the most extreme things, people seem to accept you more (not that you should say this unless you feel completely comfortable with it, and are aware that it might mean having to fight or be hurt for what you say) at least in community service where so much seems to be about front and attitude.

I wish I could have gone back to the project where all this happened, it felt like at the end of that day I was really getting somewhere, like people were kind of accepting in as a normal thing, like maybe just maybe people were learning something. Sadly I got moved to the quite charity shop i spoke about in the last article, moved to the quiet middle class environment with the gay manager and the general acceptance of the assimilated homosexual´- where as long as you don’t talk to much about the specifics or kiss people of the same sex it’s all fairly above board. On the plus side, I can always escape back to my sheltered little queer circles where everyone is supportive about the situations I face and people have similar experiences to myself, but this doesn’t really feel like enough, I mean sure it’s safe and comfortable and really really fucking nice, but I do feel like on the projects I could do something, I could chance peoples minds, and I could fight the fight of the queer struggle.  I don’t really know what the answer is, but hopefully some of this is useful to someone….

Faggot Till I Die.

1. Hetronormitivity is the assumption people make when they see a man and assume he is attracted to women or visa versa.

2. The Gender binary is the societical assumption that there are only two genders, male and female. Queer theory argues that this is not the case, that there is a vast range of different relationships people have to their identity and that our identities should not be defined by our sexual organs

3 Gender Straight- Living and wanting to live as the gender that you would naturally be assigned based on your sex, socialization etc.