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(en) US, NYC, The RAT* #3 (page 8) - ASK The Platypus! The New York RAT's very own advice column...

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 12 Apr 2005 08:50:16 +0200 (CEST)

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Dear Platypus, I am friends with this anarchist guy, and I love almost
everything about him. The problem is that everytime someone mentions `men's
groups' he scoffs and ridicules those that participate. I don't understand his
aversion to something that seems like a positive step towards smashing
oppression and building a stronger community. Why is he being so resistant?
<-> Dear Confused, Many anarcho-men have a knee-jerk reaction against men's
groups for a variety of reasons - some valid, some absurd. Some of us remember
the dark days of the 1980's with books like "Feeding the Wild Man Inside,"
which were part of a silly fad that swept not only across New York Bestsellers'
lists but also various radical scenes.

The basic premise was that modern men had become alienated from their true,
"heroic" selves and needed to get in touch with not
only their emotions, but also their manhood. The
resulting male-only camping trips did very little in
addressing sexism or oppression.
Over the decades mens' groups, at least in our scene,
have changed, but many still suffer the same defect as
the `wild man' gatherings- the lack of an outside per-
spective. Men who have not subjectively experienced
sexism and oppression are unlikely to be able to cre-
ate meaningful dialogs about such crucial topics. In-
evitably, they tend to focus on obvious topics such as
rape and overt sexual harassment. As presumably few
mens' group participants engage in rape, or defend
it, these topics provide the basis for a `safe' discus-
sion that does not personally affect those involved.
By sticking to these topics, men allow themselves to
feel good about resisting this caricature of oppression
and sexism, while avoiding many of the issues wo-
myn deal with in their daily lives and political work
with male comrades. What inevitably happens in this
situation is that some male/s in the group becomes
the sexism educator for the other men. Even a near-
sighted marsupial like myself can see this will not
lead to any great strides forward.
That being said, there is much good that can come
out of well-developed mens' groups. For example, a
men's group in Detroit many years ago invited various
radical womyn to share their experiences regarding
sexism and oppression within their collectives. The
womyn raised issues that the men had never thought
of, allowing them to specifically consider the actual
issues that effect womyn they respect. After the wo-
myn shared their stories, they left, leaving the men to
process what had been said. This produced a mean-
ingful dialogue and a strong motivation to change
sexist and oppressive behaviors within the men's
own relationships and projects. One of the inherent
problems with sexism (and any oppression) is the
objectification of the `other'. It is only when the `other'
is allowed to share their own insights (having lived
and dealt with the oppression), that they become real
people- the first step dismantling of objectification
and oppression.
I think a well-designed men's group where womyn's
voices can initiate and shape the dialogue would ben-
efit all males involved in our communities. On the
other hand, poorly designed men's groups probably
do more harm than good and should be left in the
foothills of California.

Dear Platypus,
I was at a protest where cops were backing their horses
into the crowd and leaning down from their saddles to
hit people with their batons. I started chanting `2-4-
6-8, fuck the police state!' Then someone next to me
started yelling `it's not their fault, it's their job.' Wtf?!?
Dear What The Fuck,
Unfortunately Platypus has also heard many of the same types
of ill-digested nonsense being vomited up by liberals and so-
called radicals at demonstrations. It is comments like those
that makes a platypus happy to have a poisonous spur on their
heel. I sympathize with all the other anarchist mammals that
do not have access to such a ready, and fatal, response to these
screeching jack-asses. So let me explain the silliness and dan-
ger of such arguments.
First of all, the cops in this situation were surely not "doing
their jobs." Nowhere in the flimsy social contract we citizens
have with law enforcement are they permitted to force two-
ton skittish animals into us, backwards at that. I have always
believed folks should be able to sue law enforcement agents for
malpractice...but that is another discussion. Even if we were
to accept that it is part of a cop's job description to trample
peaceful protesters engaging in their "constitutionally pro-
tected rights," it would still be wrong to excuse such repres-
sive and dangerous behavior.
Many of us work, and everyday we are confronted with de-
cisions. Each person must take responsibility for those de-
cisions, if not on a strictly legal foundation, most definitely
on an ethical one. Police in particular are given a great deal
of "officer judgment," due to the situational nature of their
work. Being a police officer is far less routine (and thus less
limiting) than working a drill press in a can factory. We have
a right to judge individuals on how they choose to interpret
their job and in which jobs they choose to partake. In fact,
we are required to judge people not only by their jobs, but by
their actions. While it is true that certain jobs are inherently
dicey from an ethical standpoint, in the end it is the behavior
that is more important than the job description.
So you were right in calling those animals (the one's in
uniform on top of the horses) on their shit. It is through the
expression of social displeasure that people come to understand
that they are individuals with choices. Shame can be
one of our most powerful tools when shouting truth to power.
When that doesn't work, use your spur, or grab a brick!

Write to the Platypus!
Send us your questions, ponderings, frustrations, and
curiosities about love, life, and anarchy!
* [RAT = Revolutionary Anarchist Tabloid]

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