Herstory 15 (scp.6 House2) Consensus requires discussion

my idea of consensus culture [ THIS DID NOT HAPPEN dec13 2008, where the decision on a 2 year ban, was made ]:


1 ) .. consensus ethos* (culture)

2 ) .. meeting structure

*ethos: the distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person, group, or institution



1 ) .. consensus ethos* (culture)

The idea is to get past ego, and start thinking about what’s best for the group, and at the same time still care for all the individuals in it. In this culture it’s important to take in to consideration the feelings / emotions of everyone involved. The group is not only about physical actions. This culture is there to create more inclusion and therefor more emotional and practical involvement of everyone. The idea is to break with internalized invisible societal power structures, that tend to have a destructive effect on the creative drive / efficiency / loving, caring mood of groups.

2 ) .. meeting structure

So in order to break with the tyranny of informal structure – so people avoid repeating the habitual status games of everyday life – both the way of discussing and some of the roles people take during the meeting, are made formal in consensus culture.

and in general

– meetings are not only about making consensus decisions

– it’s also about having fun / talking about feelings / socializing

– having discussions. debating, bringing out the issues that divide

– and when consensus isn’t possible, agreeing on voting (or using some other method) instead


Consensus is the agreement of everybody involved.

Consensus means to agree, to compromise until everybody can agree on something. It’s a method to practice direct democracy. It doesn’t mean that everybody should be of the same opinion. It simply means that it’s possible to agree on a decision that everybody can accept.

The proposed consensus can be blocked by anyone who has strong objections, also this power has to be exercised with utmost care and responsibility.

In the following paragraphs we describe the most important methods that help the process.

The facilitator

Each individual is responsible to ensure that everybody has equal say in the meeting and that the discussion stays relevant. However especially when many people come together the need arises for a person who explicitly facilitates the meeting.

The facilitator has an active guiding role.

The facilitator guides the discussion while making sure that each person is allowed to say their piece and that participants listen to each other and take each other seriously.

• She ensures a clear structure for agenda, agenda points in a logical order, and make sure that the meeting sticks to these points.

• The facilitator ensures that each point is introduced properly and that as many people as possible take active roles in the decision making process.

• She gives the word and periodically updates the participants on the status of the meeting, like which agenda point is under discussion, what are the major proposals and arguments, how much time remains to reach a consensus.

• If she smells that consensus maybe near, she summarizes the current proposal and asks the participants if they accept it.

In big and complicated meetings it is good to divide the roles and powers of the facilitator between several people. For example someone can keep a list of people who are waiting to speak and give the word, while another person takes care that the meeting constructively follows the agenda, and a third person ensures that the atmosphere stays under control.

The minute-taker

The minute-taker’s role in the meeting is equally important as that of the facilitator. The minute-taker listens closely to the arguments and writes them down as well as the decisions made. Good and complete minutes avoid misunderstanding. It’s important that the reader gets a complete picture of the discussion, the arguments exchanged and the decisions taken. When a degree of secrecy is required, the minute-taker can use only nicknames or perhaps completely omit reference to individuals.

The consensus meeting method

In consensus meetings, the group chooses the facilitator and minute-taker at the start of the meeting. Then, after a round of proposals the agenda is decided upon. If an agenda point is not explained well or is unclear, then reaching a good conclusion and decision is already impossible before discussion has even started.

Step one: When an agenda point doesn’t cause much discussion, then consensus can sometimes already be achieved after the first discussion.

Step two: When there are objections, probably more discussion and / or clarification is necessary. In order to avoid discussing all objections at the same time, a list can be made of the objections. This can then be grouped according to the type of objection.

Step three: Each group of objections is considered one by one. For each objection you try to reach a satisfying solution which shows considerations for the objections, then you try again to see if there is consensus.

Step four: If that’s not the case, then the point is obviously so sensitive that more discussion is necessary. You then note the remaining objections and ask the objectors for more clarification. Then you ask what would remove the objection. You do this for each individual objection.


Herstory 14 (scp.5 House2) Masculinist culture

Still tired when speaking in this clip. The film I’m talking about is about a guy called Ron English. And the Marilyn Monroe with Mickey Mouse breasts can be seen here.

and this is taken from a web page, talking about R.E’s actions in life as very important for some reason:

“He started by setting his friend on fire.

To be fair here, his friend asked for it. Ron was young then, high school age, and he had discovered the art of 8 mm film. He and a group of pals were recording themselves doing wacky stunts, each one crazier and more life-threatening than the last. When one of the guys accidentally caught on fire, they stumbled onto a formula that took Jackass two more decades to figure out: people on fire are cool. And so Ron’s friend doused himself in lighter fluid and Ron rolled the camera.

˜The interesting thing about making the movies,’ says English, ˜is that they were silent, so you had to get up and narrate. So I would throw parties and have bands play and then, between the bands, we would come out and play the movie. It was like the centre of our social life.’

Ironically, Ron’s 8 mm film career ended in fire at an award banquet when the same friend, in an accidental encore performance, caught fire and had to be rushed to the hospital where he was treated for second-degree burns. From that point on, the only person who would feel the painful wrath of English’s art was English.”

So, when I say she sets fire to herself, that isn’t true. She was setting fire to her friend, not herself. And somehow the person writing the text above, seems to think that this is developing for humanity.

When I would state that this is yet another “out in the open” expression of how idiotic and violent and pointless and harmful male culture is. Well well…

Herstory 13 (scp.4 House2) Setting boundaries

Hmm. I was a bit tired when doing this recording, and for me it’s always difficult to understand when persons are describing places or situations involving people I don’t know. So, I write a written explanation with this video. It’s repeating what I said, and also correcting some of what I say in the film, because I didn’t relate it correctly.

Situation 1: A guy who I  wrote an sms, saying I liked her, and that I would like to see her again. She talks with my flat mate about this sms. Says that I only “want dick”. My flat mate tells me this. I send another sms, where I say I feel hurt by this comment. My flatmate and this guy is in the same capoeira group. They ‘play’ / sparr with each other in one training (in capoeira you don’t have physical contact, some of the kicks are deadly, for instance against the head). The guy swoops my flatmates legs so she falls. The guy approaches her, asks if she hurt herself. My flatmate answers “Yes”. The guy looks her in the eye and says: “Good. Consider it payback.” This then being about her telling me what the guy had said about my sms to her.

One woman offers herself to tell this man to not approach me in one of the houses. The same woman had in that house also asked me if I considered myself to be “sexist” against men.

The man accepts not approaching me.

Situation 2: This is a situation going on for years. At one woman’s birthday party this man starts talking about prostitution and pornography with me. Saying that I victimize women for stating that prostitution is a a part of an oppressive society. This rapidly turns into a discussion not worth having. Her only arguments are that I victimize, and that she has a right to say so because she’s a feminist. So I try to end the discussion. Which she refuses.

I later meet this man at the social centre called Siperia. Five times in the same evening she approaches me. I try walking away. I also tell her to leave me alone. One woman watched one of these encounters, and later told me that it looked like the man was coming on to me, flirting with me. At that occasion she had tried getting my phone number so that we could talk about this. The last time she approaches me, I’m sitting on the floor. She comes from behind and puts her arms around me. I find this especially disturbing since I had told her many times that I didn’t even feel comfortable speaking with her. Two other women break in, and start arguing with this man to leave me alone (this is a rare occasion. Usually nobody cares.)

Some year later, I start bumping into this man in different places. She still won’t leave me alone. I’m rude. I tell her to “Piss Off!” At another occasion I just scream my head off. Nothing works. Everytime I happen to be in the same space as her, she approaches me. Starts asking me “Why I hate her?”.

Since I don’t have the social network, where there would be any persons understanding my political reality, or willing to support me in having my boundaries set. Finally in desperation, I sent an email to the same mailing lists that this man is on, where I name her, and tell her to leave me alone. I also send some texts, that I think would be worth while reading for her, since she’s constantly asking me why I don’t feel comfortable with her.

Subject line for the mail I sent:

creative resistance >> stopping abusive behavior

i’m outing Dominant #5 (Yakup) <dominant#5@yahoo.com>
for repeated harassment. and am hereby asking him
to respect my [*often* repeated] wish to be left alone.

[no i’m not talking rape. he just won’t leave me alone,
talking to me – even though i tell him i feel bothered by it –
and that makes me very angry and sad.
no always means no. and should always be respected.]

i’m tired of sexism

so. deal with it.
Taking The First Step:
Suggestions To People Called Out For Abusive Behavior

Ten Suggestions For People Called Out For Abusive Behaviour

1. Be Honest, Stay Honest, Get Honest

If you know that you hurt the person calling you out for abuse,
acknowledge it. If you think its a possibility that you might have
hurt them let them know. If you have any inkling that some way that
you interacted with them might have compromised their dignity and
boundaries let them know. The first step to dealing with our abusive
tendencies is getting out of denial. Denial is like an infection. It
starts in some locality (specific instances and situations, nitpicking
at certain parts of an account of the situation[s]), and if untreated
festers and eventually consumes us entirely. When we are able to
vocalize that we are aware that something isn’t quite right with our
behaviour it brings us a step closer to dealing with it in a
meaningful and honest way.

2. Respect Survivor Autonomy

Survivor autonomy means that the survivor of abuse, and the survivor
of abuse alone calls the shots concerning how abusive behaviour is
dealt with. This means s/he calls the shots and you live with her/his
decisions. You don’t get to determine how or even if a
mediation/confrontation happens, or initiate action towards a
resolution. You get to make it explicitly clear that you respect their
autonomy in the situation, and that you’re willing to work towards a
resolution. They may prefer to never be in the same space with you
again and don’t wish to speak with you. It is not their
responsibility, nor their duty, to attempt for resolution or enter
into dialogue with you or take any specific course of action for that
matter However it is your responsibility, as someone being called out,
to respect their needs and desires.

3.Learn To Listen

It is imperative that you open your ears and your heart to the person
calling you out. This will likely be difficult, because people tend to
get defensive and closed when they are accused of wrongdoing. Very few
people in this world want to be pegged as the “bad apple of the
“bunch” To listen you will need to keep your defensive and knee jerk
reactionary tendencies in check. These suggestions could be very
helpful to you: A) Let the person calling you out direct the dialogue.
If they want you to answer questions do so, but otherwise let them
have the floor. B) Be aware when you’re formulating responses and
counterpoints in your head while they’re expressing their account of
the situation(s), and attempt to stop doing so. C) Focus on their
account of things, and save going over in your head how you remember
things until after they have spoken. D) Reflect upon the entirety of
what they expressed and not just the disparities between your and
their account of events. E) Talk with your friends about how you can
better listen before you enter a mediation/confrontation.

4.Practice Patience

Sometimes things take time to be resolved. Sometimes it takes months,
years, decades for a resolution, and sometimes there is no clear cut
resolution. However, there is no timeline for resolution when human
dignity is at stake. Be patient and never attempt to force a
resolution. a process, or a dialogue. You may ask for a dialogue or a
mediation, but if the answer is no it is no until s/he says it is yes.
Don’t attempt to wear down the boundaries of the person calling you
out by asking for dialogue or mediation over and over again. Stay put,
reflect, and think about the power dynamics in your relations with

5.Never, Ever, Blame The Victim

S/he did not ask for violence or abuse. S/he did not ask for it in how
s/he dressed. S/he didn’t ask for it, because s/he was under the
influence of alcohol or drugs. S/he didn’t ask for it, because s/he is
a sex worker. S/he didn’t ask for it because she chose to make out
with you or because s/he went back to your place or because s/he is
known to be into s/m or because she is a “tease” or because she is a
“slut”. S/he did not ask for it in anyway. It is not acceptable to
write off his/her responses to your behaviour, because she is
“hypersensitive” to �your’ threatening of abusive behaviour. It is not
acceptable to say that s/he is “exaggerating” the abuse, because s/he
is a feminist/queer liberationist/activist/punk/

youth/”a PC thug”/etc.
It is not acceptable to say that s/he is making it up, because s/he
has a history of abuse or any other such nonsense. Making excuses for
why someone is to blame for your hurtful actions are a way for you to
avoid taking responsibility for �your’ fucked up behaviour. They
expose you as a coward.

6.Speak For Yourself

You can account for your experience and your experience and your
experience alone. Don’t ever assume that you can know how the person
calling you out as an abuser experienced the situation(s). People walk
down the same streets everyday and have very different experiences.
This is a simple fact of life. It is, also, a very different
experience to have the winds of privilege blowing against your back
than to have the winds of oppression blowing in your face as you walk
down those same streets. You cannot know how someone else felt at a
certain moment, and so you should never presume that you have the
right to judge the validity of their feelings. If they have expressed
how they feel, then what you need to do, first and foremost, is to
listen. It is important that you actively seek to understand theirs
feelings. If you find that you simply cannot understand their feelings
no matter how sincerely you try it is still not your place to judge
the validity of them.

7. Don’t Engage In Silence Behaviour

By telling your “side of the story” you could be creating an
atmosphere that silences people who have been abused. If you feel that
their are major discrepancies between your account of the situation(s)
and their account, and that you are being “falsely accused” take a
deep breath. First you need to know that you can never stop sincerely
investigating the yourself and questioning how your behaviour affects
others ..the case is never closed. With time you might come to realize
that, yes, in fact your behaviour was abusive. It is your
responsibility to continuously challenge your notions about how your
behaviours effect others, and to challenge your understandings of how
you hold power over others in your relationships. Read books, enter
into recovery programs for batterer’/sexual assailants, seek out a
therapist, and discover your own ways of challenging yourself and your
conceptions of how your behaviour effects others.

Understand that if you attempt to silence the person(s) by promoting
your account of things as “the truth” you will silence others as well.
People will fear coming forward with their stories and fear
confronting abuse, because of YOUR silencing behaviour. If you are
committed to creating a world where people speak freely about the
wrongs done to them you will want to avoid focusing on how the
accusers are “lying” about you, and you will want to avoid airing your
presumptions and theories as to their “motives”. One example off the
top of my head is how one particular rapist/sexual assailant passed
out a list of 40 points of contention at a punk show to refute the
stories of three women calling him out. The flyer went on and on about
the disparities between these women’s stories and the “truth”. This is
one blatant example of silencing behaviour, but it can act in far more
subtle ways.

Silencing behaviour is ANY behaviour which attempts to make the
survivor of abuse out to the perpetrator of misinformation. It is any
behaviour which attempts to make the abuser out to be the victim. It
very quickly puts into question the character of the person calling
out an abuser. Often it leads to a backlash against them both explicit
(threats, harassment, violence) and implicit (endless questioning, non
supportive behaviour i.e. “I don’t want to get involved in this” or
“I’m hearing a lot of different stories”). Silencing behaviour creates
an atmosphere where people fear and don’t call out their abusers, and
therefore an atmosphere where abuse flourishes.

However, this does not mean that you should not speak of how you
experienced the situation(s) differently from the other person(s)
calling you out. It simply means that it is your responsibility to do
so in a way that is respectful and that does not help to foster an
atmosphere of silence around abuse. You may need to relate your
experiences to those with which you have close friendships/working
relationships and to those that approach you, but as I said above
speak for yourself. Do not intersperse their account with yours to
illustrate the inconsistencies that you perceive. Do not relate the
person(s) stories for them. Do not go on and on about how they should
have called you out in a different manner. Do not talk about their
shortcomings in the relationship/ friendship. Do not cast yourself in
the role of the victim of a “witch hunt” or “cointelpro”. Do not
assert that they are lying, and if your account differs from theirs
make it clear that this is how you and only you account for your
experiences(s) of the situation(s). Let what you say be limited
exclusively to your recollection. If you feel the need to vent find a
good person to vent to whose outside of your immediate social
scene/community (if you look hard enough you might find a therapist
willing to work with you on a sliding scale basis, preferably find one
with a radical/feminist analysis) or someone outside the
scene/community altogether (who you know for sure has not been a
victim of abuse). If you honestly believe you are being falsely
accused your character will have to speak for yourself rather then you
speaking for your character.

8. Don’t Hide Behind Your Friends

Often the people most vocal in defending abusers are not the abusers
themselves, but their friends, comrades, and lovers. “But s/he’s
really a good person/activist/artist” or “S/he contributed so much to
the community/scene” or “The person I know would never do something
like that” are some common defensive reactions among many. If you feel
that people are trying to insulate you from your problems or from
questioning your actions….let them know that it isn’t acceptable.
You need to hear the criticisms and anger of the survivor(s) and their
allies. As well you need to stop others from engaging in silencing
behaviour. Let them know that if they truly care about you that
instead of defending your character and reacting to the accusations
they need to help you examine yourself and figure out ways of
transforming dominating behaviours.

9.Respond To The Wishes of The Survivor and The Wishes Of The Community

Taking responsibility for our harmful actions is an integral part of
the healing process. You will need to respond to the wishes of the
survivor and the community not just for their healing, but yours as
well. If s/he or they wish that you be suspended from certain
projects/activities or that you engage in a batterers/assailants
program or that you do book reports on books about ending rape and
abuse or if they want you to do anything within the realm of
possibility don’t argue with them….give them what they ask for. You
need to show the survivor and the community that you are acting in
good faith and that you are ready to deal with your problems of abuse
or at the very least that you are willing to sincerely investigate the
possibility that you engaged in abusive behaviour. You need to show
the survivor and the community that you respect their autonomy and
their ability to make decisions that meet their needs and desires for
safety, healing, and ending oppression. Again if you want to live in a
world free of abuse,rape, and oppression you will support survivor
autonomy and community self-determination even if you feel you are
being “falsely accused”. . Do not engage in the silencing behaviour of
attacking the demands and process of the survivor(s) or the community.
This is what abusers and their supporters typically do to create a
smokescreen of issues to take the heat off of themselves.

10.Take Responsibility….Stop Abuse and Rape Before It Starts.

It takes a lot of courage and self-knowledge to admit that you’ve hurt
someone, that you compromised their dignity and self worth, or that
you used power over someone in the worst ways. It takes a lot of
sincerity to make an apology without expecting to be applauded or
thanked for it. However, this is what it will take to start overcoming
our abusive tendencies. To know that you have wronged someone and to
do otherwise is to perpetuate the hierarchy. It is to be more than
simply complicit within it, but to actively support it. It will take
honesty, diligent self investigation, and compassion to start to
overcome our abusive tendencies. Once your able to admit that you have
a problem with (sometimes or always) abusing people you can begin to
learn how and why you do it. You can learn early warning signs that
you’re slipping back into old patterns, and you’ll be better able to
check yourself. My life has been a life of unlearning such patterns of
abuse, of learning to reject the roles of both the abuser and the
abused, and it is far from over. Bad habits are easily taken up again,
and many times it is easy to assume that we are not wielding power
over someone. We must persistently question this assumption just as we
would demand that any assumption be questioned, lest it become dogma.

It is crucial that we learn to ask for consent from our sexual
partners. It is crucial that we learn to recognize aggressive and
passive aggressive abuse in its various emotional, economic, physical,
and sexual manifestations, and that we stop it before it escalates to
more severe and harmful levels. We need to call it out when we are
aware of it in other people, as well as ourselves This process is a
process of overcoming of oppression, of rejecting the roles of
oppressor and oppressed. It is a path that leads to freedom, and a
path that is formed by walking. Will you take the first step?

greetings from Milla



In House2, I finally get help from one man. I ask her to come along as a witness when I make a request for Dominant #5 to respect my boundaries, and promise to leave me alone. The only exception would be if the police is coming or if there’s a fire or something such. She finally agrees. After which this man, who calls herself a feminist, goes and destroys the work of a woman.

One woman had written “Once I thought I was a slut, but then I realized I was acting like a man.” In a humoristic way pointing out the double standards we live with. Women with several sexual contacts are usually considered to be “trash”, and seen as having a “lower” or “spoilt” “value”, while men doing the same are seen as great “conquerers”.

Dominant #5 went straight to this feminist anti-sexist statement, and tried to smear it out. When that didn’t work, she put a big cross over it, and wrote “No sexism in this house” next to it.

SIDENOTE (more sexism): During this period, stretched out for years (I didn’t see her often, but everytime we were in the same space, infallibly she wouldn’t leave me alone). One period where I was unfortunate to bump into her often, I was having a brief contact with a man. A lover. Which also caused me grief. My lover and I had a talk about insecurities, where the difficulties in opening up and trusting came from. I talked about childhood, and also the everyday experiences from being oppressed as a woman. I gave an example where I had been raped by a friend. We had started having sex, and when I wanted to stop, my friend didn’t listen. I had to put my hands between my legs, and push her down on the floor. This friend of mine didn’t grasp what she had done, until the second time I talked with her about it. The reason she understood it wasn’t okay, was because I had been crying, when I talked about it. When I told my lover this story, her response had been:
“Well, a guy can’t just stop like that, she would need a ton of ice.”
I was devastated by this comment. [implying that rape is something that men can’t prevent. that it would be a part of their natural sexual drive… disrespecting boundaries and the humanity of the one they happen to be with, while they’re “at it”. ] We later got to talk it through. But it was really hard hearing something like that from a person I wanted and had physical closeness with.

Herstory 12 (scp.3 House2) “Reversed sexism”

It’s very confusing to be part of a “movement” that state to be fighting for a social centre but never talk about what a social centre is for. [except for the talking heads doing the usual “a place for anybody to realize themselves” gah gah for the media, there’s not really any internal discussion going on on this issue.] The same goes for making proud statements about being against sexism, but never having any discussions about what sexism is. The word being used in a variety of ways.

And any person indicating that sexism might have anything to do with a power system keeping men above women, is viewed by most as crazy. And also ‘hurting’ men. Being ‘sexist’ towards men. Criticism towards a male person, behaving in a sexist manner, is most often viewed as ‘personal attacks’. There is currently no safe way to bring up the issue for any person experiencing discomfort in the movement because of sexism. We end up being scrutinized and silenced.

With Dominant #4 – Micke Brunila – it’s been particularly exhausting discussing the issue of sexism, since she’s been using every piece of feminist theory and reversed the meaning of it, victimizing herself in relation to me. On the traveling we did together I wished for her to get an understanding of Power of Definition and Partiality in order to understand what was happening in our relation. Immediately after she read it she tried to use it against me. Behaving like a sulky kid, and saying that I should support her in her reality because she had felt hurt when I had asked her to clean the kitchen, and then when she had done a fairly sloppy job at that, I resolutely went and cleaned it myself, since I had been tired of trying to explain anything to this person, incapable of taking any kind of negative statement or feeling from my side (women should always smile and be happy. never complain. not when we’re with mr. Perfect-can-do-nothing-wrong).

So me, cleaning the kitchen, and not behaving like a smiling and comforting walking talking bosom to this man-child, had been a ‘boundary violation’ to her, and she wanted me to support her in her ‘Power of Definition’. I was disgusted by this behavior. This way of using feminist theory to twist it in favor of the privileged (white, middle class, man). Power of Definition that should be used for the weak. In support of the ones whose reality is silenced and denied.

Power of definition and Partiality. —- Power of definition: The affected person has the right to define what is to be considered as a violation of their boundaries. They have a right to define a situation as oppressive according to how they’ve experienced it. —- Partiality: The person who is regarded the affected person is the one who, considering structural power relations, is in the oppressed position and who, additionally, considers themselves an affected person. Partiality means positioning oneself with the affected person and supporting their power of definition. —- Revolution could be really easy. Just: Shut up and listen.

Examples of objective structural power positions:

privileged: Human, Adult, Man, White, Able-bodied, Hetero, High Class, Meat-eater

oppressed: Non-human animal, Child, Woman, Non-White, Disabled, Non-hetero, Low Class, Vegan

Herstory 11 (scp.2 House1) A house meeting

This is from one of the places squatted during the over year long process of getting a new social centre in Helsinki, after Siperia burnt down.

The man facilitating at this meeting, was the same man who had also physically assaulted my flat mate at capoeira practice. In general, during my pre-ban time with the squatting scene, what I’ve witnessed at meetings have been the same as with this man. The one facilitating either being in a strong position already, being one of the ones with power, and therefor using the time facilitating to speak most of the time themeselves. Or that it’s someone who’s not in a dominant position who just hands out the speaking turns in between the dominant ones. And if there’s some unwanted opinion mentioned, then the facilitator has lost their status to interfere, and the dominant ones take charge of the meeting, and speak in whatever order they please.

I’ve never seen a facilitator encourage silent ones. [some people attend meetings and stay silent for years. in general there’s the idea that it’s wrong to “force” people to speak. and that even asking would possibly make someone feel so uncomfortable, that they would be discouraged from attending any meetings in the future] Nor have I seen a facilitator asking dominant ones to step back.

Facilitation is very often talked about as a wanted skill, but there’s never really been any effort to introduce it properly as a regular practice at meetings, where the facilitator would actually have the role of helping the meeting to move forward, instead of just being a tool for the ones in power to use. (i would be willing to help out in this process. but am unfortunately no allowed to do so by the dominant ones. my skills are unwanted at the social centre.)

Herstory 10 (scp.1) Siperia

Here’s some more info about Siperia social centre. There was a lot of open sexism in this place, both men taking more space and also verbal and physical aggression. I wasn’t very involved in the space. I came there to just be able to be. And meet some people whose company I enjoyed being in.

Once after having a discussion with a dominant man (#3, A man called Hemi, who can be seen in this click here: film, she’s the person with the curly hair lying on the mattress stating that there’s been a “house decision” about having me banned, hence no support… in creating an equal political discussion..), she said she could give me a ride back to the city. It was in the middle of winter and I appreciated not having to walk back. I remember in the discussion, that this created a power situation for me. I held back on what I was really thinking and feeling. She was fairly aggressive towards me.

Later when we were by her car, she said she was sorry she had been kind of rough. And I smiled and said “It’s okay.” Or something such.

I thought about it. It was there in my mind all the time. That the behavior I had been exposed to was about male privilege (this man always turned discussions about oppression, or women like myself sharing our individual experiences adding to the collective body of pain. this man always started talking about that she as a white person also having been exposed to racism, or sexism, or so on so on. there was never a listening welcoming atmosphere to the reality of women as oppressed by men in this society – statements like these were mostly taken in as “gross generalizations” that might even be “dangerous thinking” not good to express out loud.)

The next time I talked to this man. That just because I was in some sort of “dependent” situation. She giving me a ride. I had not been honest. And I pointed out the statements that I had seen as sexist the last time we had discussed.

The time I had in Siperia was about me allowing myself to be as honest as possible. This is still a process I am in. Giving myself the right to exist.

Herstory 9 – Friends of the earth

killing with an axe is related to finnish (male) culture. some years ago a person was killed with an axe in the helsinki metro. it’s a manly thing to do. the silent finnish hero gets her vengeance with an axe.

and, the translations are not word by word, cause i’m not that fluent in finnish.

Subject: Nuuksio retki: palaute (seksismistä)
[Nuuksio trip: feedback (on sexism)]

Nuuksio was beautiful. But unfortunately we still live in a society
where overt (open) sexist behavior is socially acceptable.

Apart from coming with slippery sexual comments that he
himself set up, (H) also managed to retraumatize me,
a woman who have been exposed to rapes and other
male use and abuse.

Examples: He asks one woman how to say “first aid” in Russian
and after she says it, he says “aha, pikasuihinotto” [quick blow job] and
then he continues asking me, a Swedish woman, how you say “blow job”
in Swedish.

He was constantly using foul language and coarse
sexually harassing “humor”.

At one time the situation also turned dangerous and frightening
when he was supposed to go and meet a woman who arrived
later in the night. She had biked to a path that was about 500 metres
away from the cottage.

I felt like going for a night walk, experiencing the forest
in the dark. So I trusted him to lead the way.
I am not an outdoor person. I have no experience of
moving about and finding my way in the woods.
We didn’t have any light. Even if there were stars out, it was very dark.

I don’t know if the fact that he had been drinking has
anything to do with him getting lost after 200 metres.
He was constantly saying that it’s easy to walk around,
cause the “path is always darker or lighter than the surroundings,
or then you just ‘feel’ the path”.

He dropped his shoe, and spent five minutes looking for it
with a lighter. I suggested several times that we should turn back.
Or call someone. But he just continued walking.

He was saying over and over again that he was lost.
And that we had to find a certain route, that we should keep looking for it.
I had no choice but to follow him.
I trusted that he knew the area, since he had visited the cottage
before. So I couldn’t make out how bad the situation was.

We were walking in terrain that was clearly not “feeling like a path”.
At one point he started singing.
I was shocked by the lyrics.
I found the song on the internet. Apparently they sing
it at parties at the technical school.

sävel: Budapestin yössä

Illalla, kun mielipuoli kirveen saa, In the night when the madman gets an axe,
hän johdattaa mut aitan taa, she leads me behind the shed
siellä missä aivokoppa aukeaa where the skull bursts
ja verikin on punaisin. and the blood is red.
Nauraen lyö hullu niskan taa, Laughing the crazy man strikes the neck,
tunnen sen jo veri tirskahtaa. i can feel how the blood spurts
Vaikk’ on taju himmennytkin, even if my consciousness is dazed
hullu hakkaa vielä nytkin the crazy man strikes again
niskantynkää verta pursuvaa. Hahaa! blood is squirting from the neck. Hahaa!

Kaulavaltimosta veri purskahtaa Blood is squirting from the aorta
ja peittää maan kauttaaltaan. and covers the ground completely.
Mielipuoli nauttii koko sielullaan, The mad man is feeling soulfull enjoyment,
kun raajat kaikki irti saa. when she cuts of all the members.
Kylkiluuhun kirves kirskahtaa, The axe strikes the ribs,
kuola suussa hullu tirskahtaa: saliva is drooling from the mouth:
isken vielä yhden paukun, i strike one more time,
aukaisen mä vatsalaukun. i open up the stomach.
Suolenpätkät ulos kiemurtaa. Hahaa! The intestines wriggles out. Hahaa!

I told him that it was distasteful singing something like that.
That another woman might be scared by that kind
of song. Then he said that I would be running away from him
if I was scared.

At that moment my stomach turned. I told him I was frightened
by his behavior. That I wanted to use his cellular phone so I could
call someone from the cottage. I got the phone and talked with
someone who said that he would send someone to look for us.

I told (H) that there was someone looking for us.
But he continued walking. He had gotten into his head that
we should walk north. I couldn’t do anything but follow him.
I didn’t have any phone with me.

He walked into a swamp. I tried to tell him that it didn’t
make any sense walking north if he didn’t know where we were going.
That we would just get more lost.

I told him I wouldn’t continue walking. Standing in the swamp,
he asked me if my shoes were wet. His shoes were already wet,
so he thought that that made it ok to continue walking straight into
a swamp. I told him I wanted the phone again. That he had to come back.
That it wouldn’t be fair of him not to let me have the phone.

He came back and I talked again with people from the cottage,
who were giving me the advice not to move.

I told this to (H). And started shouting the name of
the person that was out looking for us. We were getting reply
and finally got back to the cottage.

There I asked for a meeting. We were 8 people.
And I think that all of us had suffered from the coarse insensitive
patriarchal behavior of this man during the weekend.

We sat inside the cottage and I told him what I had felt during the
weekend, and that his behavior in the forest had been completely

He refused to take it in. Said that I was just oversensitive
and seeing sexism in places where there was none.
That he in fact was a feminist.

He didn’t understand that he had been behaving badly
until I asked for support from the others.
Each and everyone told him of how they had experienced his behavior
in a very negative way.

For him it was incomprehensible. He didn’t see himself in the same
way that all the others had seen him during these few days.

When we parted on the bus in Espoo. He was saying goodbye.
And saying that he hoped I hadn’t taken last night to hard.
I said that I would go through days of sadness and anger.
“But then you will forget”, he said. I said, “No, I will not forget”.

He never got himself to apologize properly.
But I seriously hope that me writing this palaute [feedback] will help
him make some necessary changes in his behavior.

Or at least warn other women (and sensitive men) of going to
nature trips with this man.

Milla Ahola

THERE were some replies. Mostly positive. And also some really sexist responses, that another man was taking care of, giving a careful analysis of the patriarchal patterns these people (men) were exposing on the list. I was also responding to some of the mails. Both sexist. And also curious mails. Some women wrote to the list about their own experiences within environmental organizations. And one woman wrote for the first time to the list. Writing about her own reflections on gender (not feeling very affected by sexist humor in the work place, saying that it was commonly accepted, and that people were okay with it. and also feeling ok with high heels and make up and “girly” stuff. she also spoke about boundary violations and other experiences of being a woman.). She was asking why i didn’t take this discussion with (H) in person. And also asking if (H) knew her behavior was being discussed on the list. And she was also curious about finding out why i wrote about this event on the list. If it was because i wanted to start a conversation about sexism in general, or if i wanted to warn others about (H).

and this is what i wrote back >>

I don’t care to talk with (H) ever again. He’s done
enough damage. I wrote the palaute [feedback] partly to relieve
the sadness and anger that i felt. Mostly I wrote it to
tell other people what happened to me and how i
experienced this weekend with this man, because
i wouldn’t want anybody to go unprepared on a trip
with him. (not that it would be their own fault if they
would go on a trip with him and he would effect them
in a negative way. the blame would still be (H’s),
of course)

And i don’t see why it wouldn’t be ok to say: “this and this
happened. he said and did this and that. and i felt so and so.
and it shouldn’t happen again. because i see it as wrong.
wrong for me. and wrong for anybody else. let’s not expose
each other to this kind of behavior.”

I’m surprised that there have been this many comments
on the list. I didn’t expect anybody to say anything. And
I didn’t expect that there would be any understanding, but
I’ve been happily surprised.

He’s on the list, [and here i put the full name] so i think it’s safe
to assume that he knows about the discussion.

If you feel that he should have information sent to him directly,
go ahead, do it:

I told him in Nuuksio already how i felt about his behavior.
I used the word traumatized. I was being very frank about
my feelings. And so were others. But he still couldn’t
understand that there would be anything upsetting or
wrong with his behavior. So the answer to your question
would be: yes he knows. but i doubt that he understands.

You mention sexist jokes in your work place.
We have different opinions on the possibility of sexism
being nothing but non-harmful läppää. [talk] I disagree.
I always see sexism as harmful. But that we grow up
with it as a ruling culture, so we think it’s normal and ok.

Today we have the rapper 50 cent visiting Helsinki.
He will stand on stage in front of thousands of young
idolizing eyes, rapping that “there’s no business like
ho business” (the song is called P.I.M.P)

In MTV we have pornography gone mainstream.
Women dressed in nothing rapped around stripper
poles. Plastic surgery shows. And people getting
their ride “pimped”, ie a really nice makeover is being
done to their cars.

It’s out there everywhere. And i don’t accept it.
I don’t see it as a neutral thing. And i see it as
a big puzzle or net, where it’s all connected.

The sexist talk at work is a part of the same sexist
thinking that men have when they call women
whores or treat women in prostitution like “whores”.

I don’t accept any culture that promotes this way
of thinking about women.

And another problem with sexist talk. That even though
it might feel like everybody’s accepting it, that might not
be the case. In Nuuksio, (H) had a few moments when
he was awestruck by the fact that people don’t perceive him
the same way as he sees himself. He suggested that we
could have a “turvasana” [safe word] that people could use whenever
he said something sexist or inappropriate.

I pointed out that i would probably be able to say
something, but that most people are afraid of confrontation,
a lot of people are also afraid of confrontation leading to
violence. So most people don’t say anything. Most people
shut up. And that would have led him to think that if he
would have gone through a whole day without hearing the
turvasana [safe word] mentioned, that that would mean that he wouldn’t
have said anything upsetting that day.

Could I ask how you know that no one is getting hurt
by the sexist humour in your working community?
Have you been discussing it in a safe environment, in
safe settings where everybody has felt that they can utter
their opinion without ridicule?

yes, i do see high heeled shoes as crippling as
the corset or whatever other gadgets and contraptions
that have been invented and used throughout history
to “make women beautiful”.

The subject of sexsim is endless.
I sometimes compare it with racism.
Just like white skinned people are not
aware of the advantages we have.
Men are not aware of the advantages that they have,
in relation to women.

Colored people standing in the post office, bus stop,
being in the metro or in a store. They know what it
feels like when they get that look. They know what it means.
White people don’t. And some won’t even understand
how widely spread the problem is, because it’s something
that they don’t have to deal with on a daily basis,
like a person of color has to.

The same goes for women. We all know what it feels
like getting that look. We know what he means.
But men don’t have to deal with it. Ever. So they don’t
understand how serious it is. How widely spread it is.
And that we have to deal with it day after day afer day.

Sexism is just as serious an offence as racism.
Not a joke.

super model:
little girls:

a girl like me:
there’s also a film about kids trying to flatten their hair,
can’t find it. but you see the “european” hair on all the famous
black actresses, models, singers. the curly kinky hair just wont do.
“When I endured all that pain, literally burning my flesh with lye,
in order to cook my natural hair until it was limp, to have it look
like a white man’s hair. I had joined that multitude of Negro men
and women in America who are brainwashed into believing that
the black people are ‘inferior’ – and white people ‘superior’ that
they will even violate and mutilate their God-created bodies to
try to look ‘pretty’ by white standards.”
— Malcolm X

hopefully some of your questions got answered.

❤ milla