What happens when your abuser is a woke radical feminist cum human rights activist in a queer activist space both of you share? As a person who has heard stories of abuse of all ages, myself included, I find it difficult to learn from other activist women (I’ll speak for women here) are being abused by fellow activist men and women who are “woke”.
These interrelated issues of sexism, misogyny and homophobia in queer circles so rampant that it’s so unsurprising that queer women are abused physically and emotionally by activists, men and women with whom they work with on various projects. Men and women who take to social media to passionately defend their rights.
I know of various relationships between activist men and women in which the latter is being abused if not physically, then emotionally. I know of people who are with me in Kisumu Feminists’ Forum and are so passionate about the cause yet they still beat up their partners or verbally abuse other people in their circles and no one calls them out.
When women try to speak about the abuses they go through at the hands of woke individuals, they will be shunned by those in their circles. Some people will tell them to get over it, or to focus on “real” misogynistic assholes like prominent political figures who blatantly disrespect women or other people who don’t identify as queer. Others will tell them to not let their “personal problems” get in the way of “doing the work” and some will make them a topic of gossip groups for a few days.
Now, this abused woman will certainly struggle emotionally, is somewhat expected given that she is experienced abuse, either physical, verbal or emotional yet no one will care about her or her problems. The shame that comes with telling people that you have been abused is made even worse by the responses you get from people in your circle. Rather than be empathetic, many people are always disappointed in you.
Many times, you will be told by people that they are “surprised” to find out that you had “put up with that shit” because unlike “weak women,” you are a “strong” and “opinionated” woman who knows what she wants.
This response is misogynist as fuck because it denies how dominant patriarchy and hatred of women and the “feminine kind” is, and instead tries to place the blame on women. That is, we are to quick ignore that women are being abused and instead emphasize the character of women as the definitive reason for why some are abused and others don’t “put up with that shit.”
Regardless of one’s beliefs, women are being abused. Anyone who refuses to believe this either doesn’t listen to women or isn’t thinking about what women go through on the regular. And this is because they are just biased towards recognizing how pervasive and normalized patriarchy and misogyny are; both outside of and within queer circles.
Alot of us want to believe that queer activist men and women really are different from our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, boyfriends, girlfriends and the strangers we confront in our daily lives. We want to have some faith that the person who takes to Facebook to write a blog on sexism and posts it on their website is not writing it just to make themselves look good, to get laid or to cover up some of their extremely dangerous practices towards women but that they truly believe in queer women being respected for their skills, energy and commitment.
We want to believe that if a feminist ‘person’ makes an unwarranted advance towards a lady or physically/sexually assaults an activist woman, it would promptly and thoughtfully be dealt with by organizations and communities they belong in. We want to think that queer groups are not so easily enticed by the skills that an activist brings to a project that they are willing to let a woman be abused or have her recovery go unaddressed in exchange for their ideas.
We would like to think that “security culture” in queer activist circles mainly focuses around how to deal with misogyny, patriarchy and hetero sexism both outside of and within the activist scenes. How about activists who troll political spaces like predators looking for women that they can manipulate or fuck without accountability? Like abusive priests, they literally move from group to group, looking to recreate themselves and find fresh meat among those who don’t know them.
How about activist women who give their labor and skills to activist people (who don’t have any problem with taking the credit) in hopes that that abusive activist will finally get their act right or appreciate her as the human being she is? You know what’s sad? The amount of support abusive activist persons find from other activists, male and female but usually from other men. Not only do survivors have to confront and negotiate their abuser in activist circles, they must usually do so in a community that rants too much but in the end could give a shit about the victims’ emotional and physical safety. How many times do you have to listen to women’s stories of abuse being retold by activist in a hostile and sexist manner, where they often do in a voice that is snide, accusatory and mocking? A voice which makes the victim seem like they (the victims) are lying? Their tone always reveal an attitude that assumes that if activist women take issue with other activist men and women, they are “crying abuse” to cover up hidden sexual desires and anger over being rejected by people who “won’t fuck them.”
It’s sad that women’s physical and emotional safety is of little concern to activist spaces in general. While activist men will keep on ranting like overfed rams about how they need to keep their mouths shut when women are talking or how women only spaces are important, people do not want to face the fact that women are being abused by male activists in our circles. When the issue is “addressed,” more often than not attention will be given to “struggling with” the man or probably having “beef” with the another person in the circle instead of her being hurt.
The woman will always be labelled “unstable,” “crazy” or “too emotional”. People would prefer to help a cold, calculating bastard who can “keep it together” while they abuse women rather than deal with the reality that abuse can contribute to emotional and social difficulties among victims as they work to become survivors. All in all, these so called ‘woke’ queer spaces aka activist groups are no safe space for women because misogynists and abusive men exist and thrive within them regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. These abusers use the language, tools of activism and support by other activists as means to abuse women and conceal their behavior. Fuck being woke. Fuck being able to keep a conversation about women’s rights going on in high end forums. Fuck abusers playing the victim. Fuck that silence.
Queer women are being abused in spaces where they ought to thrive and feel safe in and its not funny at all.
© Nyar Afrika 2018.