My reflection

by Milla

I’ve spent a long time obsessively staying engaged with the conflict regarding exclusion and hierarchies within the squatting scene here in Helsinki. After a year long conflict resolution period, starting with me contacting the conflict resolution group, and they then going to a House Meeting, and then coming over to my place telling me that I would be welcome to join a demonstration and also that I could come over to the house attending the party afterwards, as long as I would be okay with giving up free speech and not talk about feminism [sic! this is how the conflict resolution started – i give up my free speech and then i would be okay to go to parties] at the same occasion I was told that I couldn’t come to a workshop weekend where topics like “direct action”, “feminisms”, “everyday power structures” would be discussed (topics that i’m engaged with). I was told that me being there might cause an unpleasant atmosphere. (I guess this meaning that my political views would come out in the open, and would have a possibility to be discussed).

After the conflict resolution starting with the request of me giving up politics and free speech, it took me a year to pressure people into making a meeting happen where I could actually attend a decision making meeting myself, and speak my reality with my own voice. During this time the self-proclaimed leader of the conflict resolution group – Taru Salmenkari – was reassuring that “we” are “working on it” at the same time as I got to hear that she herself had actively been sitting at a meeting voting for me not to come in to a meeting to speak with my own words (this while I was left alone, standing outside the same meeting for several hours, in the freezing cold of the early Finnish spring). I was also told by others that she’s actively gone around in the house saying that I’m impossible and that I’m working against resolving the conflict. (Nice work.)

Anyways. Finally after getting a meeting where I would be able to attend myself, with at least 3 written statements pointing out how un-democratic and sexist the House is functioning, pleading to listen to what I have to say, and also two other persons attending the meeting being absolutely against a ban. The dissident voices once again got run over by the leaders. Micke Brunila said openly that one statement pointing out lack of democracy and sexism, wasn’t important because the guy wasn’t involved anymore, this in spite of a clear statement that the dis-involvement was because of not feeling that there would be any way to influence or be heard within these structures.

Apart from yet another traumatic experience, I also got an official ban from the social centre during a two year period, probably most likely because Micke said she would leave the project if I would get involved and be made to speak. Micke was also the one who decided that I could be made to attend the Ladyfest.

The reasons for the ban are still not made clear to me. And they are not clear to the people in the house. There are no clear sentences stated with concrete actions that might cause harm to people in the house if I would be there. There are no other statements made apart from some persons feeling uncomfortable when I point out sexism.

I don’t understand why I would not be considered to be harmful and dangerous during Ladyfest, but that during the rest of the time my mere presence would cause the house principles to shatter into pieces?

Being in the house during Ladyfest, noticing how nothing had changed. There’s still rape and sexualized terror, men groping women, bands playing with sexist lyrics – without safety and violence being discussed. Instead there’s the focus on the outer enemy – the state, the motorcycle club neighbors Bandidos, the Nazis. Internal terror is considered to be private matters. One woman – Ronja – who had been continuously bullied by one man – Sony – was said to be “weak” and “passive” and that that was her problem. The problem being in her not being able to say no. While in fact she was strong enough to bring the matter into public attention and ask for the community to help out in a house meeting. But of course it was seen as a problem not related to the house, that one man can walk around and intimidate “weaker” more “passive” persons to stay away from the social centre.

I’m sick of the house. I’m sick of the dysfunctional politics of the house. I’m ready to move on. At least I’m not obsessing about the conflict anymore. I know where I stand. What’s going on in there is totally damaging and insane.

I learned the same about the Morze Infoshop in Hungary. The same sick social relations going on. And I managed to once again get involved and get traumatized and damaged.

Now. After two months at a friends place. Going through all kinds of madness, and feelings and A LOT of hurt. I’m on the move again. Don’t know where to. There will be a LoveKills festival in Romania. That’s the only thing I know.

And the thing I’m obsessing about currently. Getting clarity of what kind of personal politics Daniel is doing. One woman who called Daniel to ask her to have a meeting with me was talking about her own heart break related to the same type of situation. A man getting close, and then refusing to talk. Just breaking off without explanation. These things are painful, and always considered to be a-political. Not a part of how women are made to be kept submissive and giving when it comes to love.

Love is a dirty word in a patriarchal society.

It felt great over-coming my fears, and just taking that step right out there: Shame on you Daniel. For with your words making me feel small. Shame on you for not taking me seriously. As the woman said:

It is especially sad, because people who are supporting anti-authoritarian ways in political life can not control their own behaviour. Well I think many of us face this problem.

I guess it is difficult to learn and activate new patterns of behaviour as you say. It is one thing to be able to reflect on non-paternalistic ways and it is another thing to be able to behave in an alternative way.

One of my pains have been in the way the relation has slipped and sloped and her eternal indecisiveness and pushing the problems ahead. It’s painful not knowing what I am in relation to her. She’s been wanting me in her life, and making suggestions on communal living, but at the same time pushed me away, and not really dealt with sexism in a concrete constructive way.

She says she’s not a “user”, and that I could talk with any of her partners about that. The advice I got from her ex girlfriend was to break up, cause she doesn’t really see that there’s any progress in her development. And I’m eternally grateful for that, cause this could have gone on a whole lot longer, and I could have been a whole lot more messed up by the inequality in this relation.

It’s really strange that there’s this contrast. Of her wanting to break free from societal roles, but at the same time, can’t take in criticism on her own way of interacting in human relations (especially in relation to women, especially in relation to the women that she’s choosing to be intimate with).

The worst part of the conflict with the social centre was the loving feelings I had for Micke. The sexism she doesn’t want to deal with, the reflection she doesn’t recognize herself in.

She wrote to the mailing list of the social centre about our relation. Quoting phone messages and emails that I had written when she had completely withdrawn from communication. It was a gradual process of getting more and more evasive. And me getting more and more desperate. At the end I was completely wallowing in self-hatred, depression, craziness and hopelessness, aggression in and out. There was a lot of disappointment and pent up anger coming her way.

She wrote about one incident. Where she was over at my house. Two more women there. (h) from the conflict resolution group – a woman from the group I could trust, and also willing to work on the conflict – and also my sleepy friend (p). We talked about a sexist letter that Micke had written. And we started to get into the personal stuff. But I felt so exhausted. We stopped at some point. We agreed on a break. To not be in contact for some time.

Her description of this meeting on the mailing list was that I had managed to turn the other women against her, that she was attacked by the other women, and that this had been an awful experience to her.

This was something that came to my knowledge only later on. After the agreed break-period I contacted her. And she didn’t reply. It wasn’t until I and another woman was saying that we were considering taking this to the news papers that she agreed on having a meeting where my voice could be included (the meeting where I was banned for 2 years). The three of us sitting there – (p), (h) and me – just talking on the phone, (p) saying that Micke was really dominant on the phone. We were amazed that the papers would be seen as a “threat”. (Who cares what’s in the papers!? And especially if it’s something real, related to sexism, that’s hardly ever talked about in a sensible way.) It was after this that the betrayal became clear to me, and that the willingness to talk never had been there (I had also found out that she had voted against having me in the house at an early meeting in the spring). (h) had told me about this, and when I had mentioned this at the meeting where Micke had felt “attacked” by the women present, Micke snapped and said – “That was supposed to be confidential information!” I myself don’t really see any reason to hide who wants what for what reasons. Transparency – makes it easier not to be paranoid.

When I got in contact with Daniel, I was absolutely broken down, not knowing what to do. I’m glad that I got to know her. I’m sad that the love I feel for her got me blinded and trapped in structures I can’t live with in order to be able to consider myself to love freely. Every day I wait for a reply. A sign that there’s respect for me as feminist and me as a loving human being. We shared moments. She made huge efforts to “get under my skin”. It’s so harsh to just turn away from this without giving clarity in why this happened.

Inspiration to the blog post of today, came from seeing a woman posting this video on Facebook. It contains some of the repeated things in the talks with Daniel. Mountains and love. Oceans and the other “usual” stuff. I’m still hoping for her to listen to the persons contacting her, and arrange a time and a place to talk through what happened in the relation between “us”. The personal is political.

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