WORKING TO END DOMINANCE
Three articles by males dealing with specific steps men espeically, as well as women, can take to end domination by males, whites, professionals, loud mouths, bullies, frauds, etc. in any group organizing situation.
Many of the problems we run into in movement groups are those of
within the movement.
People join a social change movement in order to alleviate an external problem. Too often we are confronted with the same kind of behavior we find in our everyday lives. We’re all too often stifled by heavy-handed authority: bosses at work, parents or spouse at home and teachers at school.
People want not only to be accepted in these groups, but also to make a contribution and be active participants. In order to work successfully to change things we must also pay attention to our own behavior. More often than not, men are the ones dominating group activity. Such behavior is therefore termed a “masculine behavior pattern,” not because women never act that way, but because it is generally men who do.
Men are beginning to take responsibility for their behavior. The following are some of the more common problems to become aware of:
Hogging the show. Talking too much, too long, too loud.
Problem solver. Continually giving the answer or solution before others have had much chance to contribute.
Speaking in capital letters. Giving one’s own solutions or opinions as the final word on the subject, often aggravated by tone of voice and body posture.
Defensiveness. Responding to every contrary opinion as though it were a personal attack.
Nitpicking. Picking out minor flaws in statements of others and stating the exception to every generality.
Restating. Especially what a woman has just said perfectly clearly.
Attention seeking. Using all sort of dramatics to get the spotlight.
Task and content focus. To the exclusion of nurturing individuals or the group through attention to process and form.
Put downs and one-up-manship. “I used to believe that, but now...” or “How can you possibly say that...?” Negativism. Finding something wrong or problematical in everything.
Focus transfer. Transferring the focus of the discussion to one’s own pet issues in order to give one’s own pet raps.
Residual office holder. Hanging on to former powerful positions.
Self-listening. Formulating a response after the first few sentences, not listening to anything from that point on, and leaping in at the first pause.
George Custerism. Intransigency and dogmatism; taking a last stand for one’s position on even minor items.
Condescension and paternalism.
Being “on the make”. Treating women seductively; using sexuality to manipulate women. Seeking attention and support from women while competing with men.
Running the show. Continually taking charge of tasks before others have the chance to volunteer.
Graduate studentitis. Protectively storing key group information for one’s own use and benefit.
Speaking for others. “A ‘lot of us think that we should.. .“ or “What so and so really meant was...”
The full wealth of knowledge and skills is severely limited by such
Women and men who are less assertive than others or who don’t feel
participating in a competitve atmosphere are, in effect, cut off from
interchange of experience and ideas.
If sexism isn’t ended within social change groups there can’t be a movement for real social áhange. Not only will the movement flounder amidst divisiveness, but the crucial issue of liberation from sex oppression will not be dealt with. Any change of society which does not include the freeing of women and men from oppressive sexrole conditioning, from subtle as well as blatant forms of male supremacy, is
Here are some specific ways we can be responsible to ourselves and others in groups:
who are speaking. We can even leave space after each speaker,
to five before speaking.
Becoming a good listener. Good listening is as important as good speaking. It’s important not to withdraw when not speaking; good listening is active participation.
Getting and giving support. We can help each other be aware of and interrupt patterns of domination, as well as affirm each other as we move away from those ways. It is important that men support and challenge each other, rather than asking women to do so. This will also allow women more space to break out of their own conditioned role of looking after men’s needs while ignoring their own.
Not giving answers and solutions. We can give our opinions in a manner which says we believe our ideas to be valuable, but no more important than others’ ideas.
Relaxing. The group will do fine without our anxiety attacks.
Not speaking on every subject. We need not share every idea we have, at least not with the whole group.
Not putting others down. We need to check ourselves when we’re about to attack or “one-up” another. We can ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this? What am I feeling? What do I need?”
Interrupting others’ oppressive behavior. We should take responsbility for interrupting a brother who is exhibiting behavior which is oppressive to others and prohibits his own growth. It is no act of friendship to allow friends, to continue dominating those around them. We need to learn caring and forthright ways of doing this.
1. Practice noticing who's in the room at meetings - how many men,
how many women, how many white people, how many people of color, is
it majority heterosexual, are there out queers, what are people's
class backgrounds. Don't assume to know people, but also work at
being more aware.
2a. Count how many times you speak and keep track of how long you
2b. Count how many times other people speak and keep track of how
long they speak.
3. Be conscious of how often you are actively listening to what
other people are saying as opposed to just waiting your turn and/or
thinking about what you'll say next.
4. Practice going to meetings focused on listening and learning; go
to some meetings and do not speak at all.
5a. Count how many times you put ideas out to the group.
5b. Count how many times you support other people's ideas for the
6. Practice supporting people by asking them to expand on ideas and
get more in-depth, before you decide to support the idea or not.
7a. Think about whose work and contribution to the group gets
7b. Practice recognizing more people for the work they do and try to
do it more often.
8. Practice asking more people what they think about meetings,
ideas, actions, strategy and vision. White guys tend to talk
amongst themselves and develop strong bonds that manifest in
organizing. This creates an internal organizing culture that is
alienating for most people. Developing respect and solidarity
across race, class, gender and sexuality is complex and difficult,
but absolutely critical - and liberating.
9. Be aware of how often you ask people to do something as opposed
to asking other people "what needs to be done".
10. Think about and struggle with the saying, "you will be needed in
the movement when you realize that you are not needed in the
11. Struggle with and work with the model of group leadership that
says that the responsibility of leaders is to help develop more
leaders, and think about what this means to you.
12. Remember that social change is a process, and that our
individual transformation and individual liberation is intimately
interconnected with social transformation and social liberation.
Life is profoundly complex and there are many contradictions.
Remember that the path we travel is guided by love, dignity and
respect - even when it is bumpy and difficult to navigate.
13. This list is not limited to white guys, nor is it intended to
reduce all white guys into one category. This list is intended to
disrupt patterns of domination which hurt our movement and hurt each
other. White guys have a lot of work to do, but it is the kind of
work that makes life worth living.
14. Day-to-day patterns of domination are the glue that maintain
systems of domination. The struggle against capitalism, white
supremacy, patriarchy, heterosexism and the state, is also the
struggle towards collective liberation.
15. No one is free until all of us are free.
A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
Deal With It is a journal currently put out by anti-sexist anarchist
men in support of the struggle to end sexist oppression, deconstruct
gender, overthrow patriarchy, and acheive total liberation.
FROM THIS ISSUE: (Number One)
Deep Inside the Mind of a Manarchist: Part one
Deep Inside the Mind Of a Manarchist part one
By Kooky, an ex-Eugene manarchist
Sexism has proven itself to be quite a controversial and divisive issue
within the anarchist community. Wimmin in increasing numbers over the years,
have risen up, in defiance of the male "leadership" that dominates anarchist
circles, to demand, among other things, the inclusion of the struggle
against sexist oppression into the anarchist agenda. In theory, anarchy opposes all
forms of oppression, so it seems ironic to me that wimmin should have to
spend so much of their time attempting to convince anarchist men of what
should seem obvious.
For wimmin, sexist oppression is the reality that they must deal with on a
daily basis; being objectified, ridiculed, and silenced by men in their
lives and reduced to second class status by a male hierarchy that views wimmin as
objects to be possessed, and raped and murdered by men. For men, the luxury
to ignore these atrocities and avoid active participation in anti-sexist
struggle is a reflection of our own privilege. It is nearly impossible for
men to avoid the sexist indoctrination of male supremacist culture and
sexism does not just disappear from men because they call themselves "anarchists"
and proclaim themselves "liberated". What is more likely to actualize the
demise of sexist oppression, would be for significant numbers of men to
break ranks with the dominant supremacist culture, identify and work to transcend
their own sexist behaviors and attitudes, support wimmin in their daily
lives and speak out against sexism to other men. In mainstream society, very few
men are willing to break the silence that maintains the culture of violence
that manhood has imposed on upon wimmin. Patriarchal culture has trained men
to either "mind their own business" and ignore the epidemic of violence that
men unleash on wimmin or to accept it as commonplace and blame wimmin for
what men do to them. The silence of men, along with the silencing of wimmin,
by men, has allowed for us to remain in denial, sweeping the problems under
the rug, pretending they do not exist.
Many men assume that because they do not actively participate directly in
physical violence against wimmin, that they should be resolved from
complicity. Yet, rape, murder, and battering of wimmin only represent one
end of the continuum of sexist oppression that includes on the other end, the
degrading sexist slurs, controlling and abusive behaviors, condescending
attitudes, and male silence that maintain an environment that encourages men
to physically violate wimmin.
I am reminded of an incident last year, in Central Park, New York City.
Amongst a public gathering of thousands of people, a smaller group of men,
many of whom did not even know each other, took opportunity of the crowd and
began groping, molesting, and basically raping random wimmin. Not only did
other men not interfere, but rather, many men, when they realized that it
was possible, and that they could get away with it, joined in on the frenzy
themselves. Similar incidents have occurred at "Woodstock '99", and a recent
LA Lakers game that resulted in a riot afterwards. That abusive men can
safely assume to face no significant obstruction from other men that would
prevent them from assaulting and raping wimmin in public, in broad daylight,
is a clear testament that male silence acts as a green light for men to
Anarchist men, who posit themselves as enemies of oppression, have even more
of a responsibility to pick up the slack left by the broader, mainstream
male culture. Unfortunately, many male anarchists, much like their counterparts
in mainstream society, are rather selective in choosing their battles; Mostly
preferring to focus their energy fighting their own exploitation and
avoiding participation in liberation struggles that would require them to transform
their own behaviors and attitudes. Many anarchist men tend to view "sexism"
as an issue that is secondary to class struggle(their own struggle) and
insist that focusing their energy to fight sexism would distract them from
"the Revolution", which is often defined as a glorified class struggle
against "the State" and "Capitalism". That many anarchist men tend to
identify "the State" and "Capitalism" as the oppressors, suggests a
preoccupation with their own class exploitation. For many male anarchists,
many of whom are also white, young, able-bodied, and heterosexual, class
exploitation is the only area in which they experience any form of
institutionalized domination. Based solely on their own class exploitation,
anarchist men often mistakenly conclude that the cops, CEOs, landlords,
bosses, and politicians that exercise authority over them to be the sole
possessors of authoritarian power. By assuming that capitalist parasites and
officially sanctioned agents of state repression hold some sort of monopoly
on oppression, anarchists ignorantly disregard an entire spectrum of
oppressors to be targeted by anarchist revolt.
This limited, white male definition of what constitutes an "oppressor" does
not typically include the broader spectrum of sexist, racist, and homophobic
predators that are abundantly scattered throughout all classes of our
culture, even within our own movement. What about the rapists and child
molesters that have infiltrated our communities, conveniently disguised as
fathers, brothers, husbands, uncles, and boyfriends, or the misogynistic
bible thumpers who lay claim to the minds and "souls" of our society's men,
churning them into homophobes, bashing and murdering queers in dark alleys
behind bars and bombing abortion clinics? What of the organized racist
groups: The Klansmen and neo-nazis that litter the landscapes with their
vile presence and ideologies? Statistically speaking, the majority of these
predators tend to be heterosexual white men, the same demographic group that
controls both "the State" and "Capitalism" and ironically, the leadership
positions of Anarchist movement.
Should we not be concerned with these predators because they don't have
badges indicating positions of state power, or because they are not wealthy
property owners, simply because they do not exercise authority over us
straight white guys?
It seems to me to be completely ignorant to assume that "smashing the State"
and "abolishing Capitalism" as sole strategies of anarchist revolution would
somehow rid the world of these predators. In fact, to be honest, I shudder
to think of the horrors that would be unleashed upon the actualization of a
chaotic war-like scenario, within the contexts of an already violent,
racist, sexist, and homophobic society. The conditions imposed during wartime are
doorways for organized anti-gay, racist militias as well as those who prey
on wimmin, children, the elderly, and disabled people. For a bunch of
privileged white guys, far removed from the realities of systematic violence, with no
intimate understanding of oppression, to assume the authority to impose more
violence into communities of people, for whom violence is already a daily
reality is arrogant, and authoritarian.
I will state, for the record, that I am not proposing "pacifism", for I am
not a pacifist, and would never begrudge anyone their right to utilize
whatever means necessary to defend themselves or in defense of others. I
will not, however, succumb to the glorification of violence or romanticization of
war, and a disorganized, vanguardist movement of undisciplined white kids,
with no significant public support hardly seem capable of toppling the State
What I am proposing, however, is that we, as privileged men, recognize that
we are coming from positions of relative comfort, which has been obtained
from the systematic oppression of wimmin and children, communities of color,
the queer community, and other marginalized members of society. We must
learn to abdicate our positions of power that we have not earned, and begin to
support other communities and individuals, based on their own needs, which
they will define for themselves. Our struggle against "the State" and
"Capitalism" simply does not represent the entirety of the anarchist
struggle against an entire culture of domination. By dismissing feminist,
anti-racist, and queer liberation struggles as "single issue" or "reformist", white,
heterosexual, anarchist men reduce anarchist struggle into their own
struggle against their own exploiters, which is in itself "reformist" and "single
issue" as well as elitist, authoritarian, and everything else that Anarchy
There is no such thing as a neutral educational process. Education either
functions as an instrument that is used to facilitate the integration of the
younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about
conformity to it, or it becomes "the practice of freedom," the means by
which men and women [sic] deal critically and creatively with reality and discover
how to participate in the transformation of their world.