GenderJam Anti-Oppression Statement
Welcome to GenderJam! We seek to create a space that is as safe, inclusive and supportive as possible for people who are woman, female, gender queer, and/or trans-identified. We recognize that we live in a society full of power imbalances along lines of race, class, gender, sex, sexuality, age, physical ability, size and other diverse identities. Though these differences can feel intimidating, we also affirm that we share common experience that inspires us to fight these norms. As we work towards ending sexism (SMASHING PATRIARCHY) in our society, we feel it is essential to build community and experience each other in new ways, loving and supporting one another. In order to create this space, we ask the following of all:
1) Please do not use oppressive language. “Gay” should not be used as a derogatory term; neither should “lame” or “retarded.” Challenge yourself to be aware of your words.
2) Be aware of how you use your body. Everyone has a different history, comfort level and personal space needs. Please make sure all touch, casual or not, is consensual.
3) Not all space at GenderJam is for everyone—there will be events for people of a particular identity group. Please respect these safe spaces.
Our assumptions sometimes get us into trouble. If we assume we know someone’s gender, national origin, sexuality, or preferred pronouns, for example, it can result in hurt feelings all around. Sometimes people suggest that we shouldn’t assume things about people. If you can do that, great! Teach us sometime. For the rest of us, let us start simple: When you assume something about someone, recognize that it is an assumption and try not to cling to it. Be prepared for your assumptions to be shattered!
Keep in mind: It is okay to ask people about WHO they are. It is not okay to ask people about WHAT they are. It is not anyone’s job to educate you about themselves or their identity. If you are curious, do some research on your own! That being said, if you treat people with respect and listen when they talk about their experiences, they will generally do the same.
But wait! I’ve never met a trans person before! I don’t know anything about trans issues!
…Well, actually, you probably have met a trans person before, even if they didn’t introduce themselves as such. Don’t panic: other people’s ignorance about trans issues is nothing new to most trans people. There are, however, some things you should know that will generally help us all get along and hopefully save trans people a lot of grief from always having to answer the same questions.
A word about pronouns:
A person’s pronouns, like their name, belong to them and them alone. When you ask someone for their name, also ask them what pronouns they use. If you call someone by the wrong name or pronoun, most people prefer it if you correct yourself by repeating the entire sentence correctly and not apologizing.
Much of the oppression GenderJam is working to eliminate is rooted in and reinforced by established societal institutions. One of these institutions is policing or the police. There has been and continues to be a great deal of violence perpetrated by the police towards trans, queer, women, lad.i.y., femayle bodied and/or identified peoples, poor people and people of color. Though we cannot legally choose to dismiss, ignore or act against the police, we do not agree with their actions or involvement in our lives.
If a GenderJam participant, volunteer or organizer is approached by the police, we ask that you do not speak with them or aid their investigation. Instead, please look for a mediator with a blue armband and let them know that the police are interested in you or your activity.
In this situation, a Gender Jam mediator(s) will approach the police and ask them to leave. Our intention is to limit their access to our space to keep all participants as safe as possible. However, we respect that it is your choice to respond to the police as you see fit.
If you do come in contact with the police, know your rights!
- Do not talk to the police.
- If the police approach you and begin to ask questions, ask if you are being detained: “Am I being detained?”
- If you are not being detained:
a. Leave immediately.
b. Let a GJ mediator know that the cops were interested in you or your activity.
- If you are being detained:
a. You must (legally) remain in their presence.
b. You do not, however, have to say anything. Say, “I’m going to remain silent,” and “I want to speak to my lawyer.”
c. Make it clear, if you are being detained, that you do not consent to a search: “I DO NOT consent to this search.” The police will search you and your belongings with or without probable cause.
- Do not invite the police into your house. If they try to come in, have one sober person talk to them outside, or do not answer the door.
- Cops are trained to lie, trick and manipulate you. However, you cannot lie to them (legally).
- Whether you are being harassed, detained or arrested, GJ recommends that remaining silent is the best decision to make in the face of police harassment and intimidation. According to the Miranda Rights, “Anything you say can and will be used against you…”
GenderJam Respects a Diversity of Tactics
GJ recognizes that people need to exercise different forms of communication and reclamation in order to attain their desires, as well as address their dissatisfaction with the oppressive societal structure in which we live. GJ believes in autonomy and affinity.
GJ has set out to create spaces for dialogue, motivation, and creativity. GJ hopes to aid the manifestation of your inspiration. But please remember to be responsible for your actions and the safety of others; the actions you take are autonomous of GJ spaces and vice versa.
"Consent is knowing and respecting my personal and sexual boundaries and learning, knowing, and respecting the boundaries of my partner." Of course, sexual consent, like our own personal boundaries, is a fluid concept that is different for everyone. The healthiest sex and cuddling starts from an understanding that what I might think is ok, might not be what you think is ok, and vice versa. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that people engaging in any kind of sexual situation or physical interaction communicate about their boundaries and definitions of consent before going at it. Antioch College made waves years back when they officially adopted the Sexual Offense Prevention Policy, which basically stated that one must ask for and receive verbal consent before each new physical interaction or sex act with another person. That would go something like this: "Hey, is it ok with you if I hold your hand?" "Yes, yes it is! I've been waiting all night!" "Can I kiss you now, too?" "No, I don't think I'm ready for that yet." "Ok, well, I'm happy holding your hand. Is this still ok?" "Yeah, it is." To some, this might sound a little awkward. To others, it's the ultimate in titillation. But for everyone, it's a damn good way to shed our expectations and assumptions, and to communicate in an open and healthy way (however silly it might sometimes seem) about our desires and boundaries. There are many different forms of consent communication--verbal consent, as discussed above, and non-verbal consent like innuendo and body-language. But the only surefire way to receive consent is through explicit verbal communication ("yes/no"), and it is the best way to receive consent from someone you have just met, say, at Gender Jam. Of course, like everything, consent practice isn't perfect. We have all been socialized in a misogynistic, patriarchal rape culture and have internalized a lot of unhealthy garbage, including guilt. I might say "yes" sometimes, even when I'm chanting "no" inside, simply because I feel guilty for saying no. Or maybe I'm just not quite sure what I want. For our own benefit, we have to figure these things out. Maybe a good guideline to follow is this: "When in doubt, shout it out: No!" Drugs and alcohol make asking for, giving, and receiving consent even trickier--some would argue that drunk and high consent isn't even consent at all. For our purposes (preventing sexual assault at Gender Jam), we'll have to agree. We're all in this together, and we all must work together to build an anti-rape--that is, consensual sex--culture. To this end, let's all remember to do a few things: - Think about consent--what does consent mean to me? Ask others, especially potential partners. - Practice asking for, giving, and receiving verbal consent. Be honest and clear. - Ask ourselves what our boundaries are. What are we into doing and what are we definitely NOT into doing? - Communicate about our sexual assault/abuse histories with potential partners. - Ask ourselves and talk to each other about how we feel about sex combined with alcohol and drugs. - Remember that consent practice helps prevent sexual assault and rape! Read more about sexual assault prevention and consent here: Learning Good Consent http://zinelibrary.info/learning-good-consent and for more awesome zines and info: http://www.phillyspissed.net/taxonomy/term/3