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Joint statement by MAC and ASF (Melbourne) regarding sexual assault within Melbourne anarchist milieu


Since 2010, the question of how an anarchist group can respond effectively and fairly to sexual misconduct by men against women has been the subject of debate and action by the MAC and the Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation Melbourne.

By sexual misconduct we mean the spectrum of conduct from low level sexual harassment through to opportunistic or predatory sexual behaviour.

This misconduct is a fundamental challenge and threat to our anarchist goals of a free and equal society. In the absence of an effective anarchist justice system we are ill-equipped to respond.

For this reason, we want to put on the public record our support for the right of women to choose the appropriate avenue for redress when wrongs are committed against them. This includes the criminal justice system.

An injury to one is an injury to all. Our anarchist community must develop its sophistication in making that axiom real for women who suffer injury from men.

Endorsed at the 27 October meeting of the MAC
Subsequently endorsed at the assembly of the ASF Melbourne

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  1. you mention methods of redress after wrong is done but what about prevention?

  2. Hello fb,

    Thank you for the comment.

    The statement was authored by two collectives and a collective response to your question would obviously require some discussion before it was made (assuming it was thought a worthwhile endeavour). The following comments, therefore, which are brief, should be understood as merely being those of one member of MAC – and not necessarily reflective of the views of either group.

    First, I think the statement can be read as being part of an attempt, not to prevent (as such a thing is obviously very difficult to achieve) but rather to mitigate against, in some small way, the possibility that a man active within or around the ‘anarchist milieu in Melbourne’ might think such behaviour to be in any way acceptable or likely to be tolerated by MAC or the ASF.

    Secondly, the fact is that the question of how to *prevent* sexual misconduct by men is very difficult. Why it’s difficult depends partly on understanding what perpetuates it as an expression of (hegemonic notions of) masculinity. That is, forms of masculinity which promote, condone and make possible the forms of sexual misconduct referred to in the statement. Remaking masculinity in this fashion is a massive project, one which obviously requires the efforts of a vast range of actors. The most that very small groups such as these can accomplish in the short-term is attempt to be conscious of the issues and to act in a manner thought appropriate and in keeping with the longer-term goals of eradicating patriarchy and male violence. Again, issuing such a statement is, hopefully, one very small step in this direction.

    Finally, part of the intention in issuing this statement is to promote and to contribute to a discussion around these issues. Thus if you have some suggestions to make with regards prevention, I would encourage you to share them, so that we and others might learn from and possibly adapt them to our practice.

    ~ G

  3. A good statement, but why explicitly limit it to female victims of male violence? Men are victimised as well, and women can be offenders.

  4. Hi Duncan,

    Note: the following comment is made in a strictly personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the views of MAC.

    Acts of anti-social violence, sexual or otherwise, are abhorrent. Most violent crimes are committed by men. Most crimes of sexual violence are committed by men against women and children. (See the ABS publication, ‘Sexual Assault in Australia: A Statistical Overview’ (cat. no. 4523.0), 2004, for recent statistics.) These are not insignificant facts but inform our response to these crimes. In this statement, MAC is responding to the occurrence and alleged occurrence of various forms of “sexual misconduct by men against women” in the local anarchist and radical milieu. In future, should similar wrong-doings assume the form of misconduct by women against men, another statement might be issued.

    ~ G

  5. John,

    I understand that the preponderance of such violence is by men, against women. My point was merely that it isn’t *all*, and thus I’m suggesting that statements and positions should take all forms into account, rather than expressly exclude some.

    As it stands your statement can be paraphrased to “we are against sexual violence by men against women”. Which is a good statement in itself, but “we are against sexual violence” would be more inclusive, and would acknowledge the suffering that all victims experience, regardless of their sex or the sex of the perpetrator.

  6. Hi Duncan,

    Keeping in mind the proviso above:

    Yes. There is no disputing the fact that women are capable of and commit sexual violence against men, women and children. And yes “we are against sexual violence”, whatever form it takes. But to devote particular attention to and to address directly sexual misconduct by men against women (which may or may not include ‘violence’) in the local anarchist/radical milieu does not deny this fact or detract from this principle. Rather, it seeks to identify and address matters of direct and indirect concern, based upon our own experience, perspective and situation.

    ~ G

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