Politics & Lifestyle

Your abuser is a woke radical feminist? What next?

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On Feb 21, 2018

What happens when your abuser is female, woke, queer and a radical feminist cum human rights activist who shares all the same activist spaces and is lit on social media?  

Can you call her out on her shit? If you have done so, did your respective organisation do something about it? Did they label it is as a ‘personal’ issue both of you needed to solve? Does being these things excuse her abuse.

I can answer the last one, no.

These interrelated issues of sexism, internalized misogyny and internalised homophobia in the “woke” circles is so rampant that it’s unsurprising that women are abused physically and emotionally by female activists with whom they work with on various projects. Women who then, in turn,  take to social media to passionately defend the rights of women who are very similar to the ones they abuse.

When these victims try to speak about the abuses they go through at the hands of woke individuals, they will be shunned within their circles.

I know of various relationships between women within activist spaces  in which the latter is being abused physically or emotionally.  I know of people who, like me, are part of the Kisumu Feminists’ Forum, are wildly passionate about the cause yet they still beat up their partners or verbally abuse other women in their circles and no one calls them out.

Not even me.

When the victims try to speak about the abuses they go through at the hands of woke individuals, they will be shunned within their circles: some people will tell them to get over it, or to focus on “real” misogynistic assholes like prominent political figures who blatantly disrespect women or other people who don’t identify as activists or homophobic assholes.

Others will tell them to not let their ‘personal problems’ get in the way of ‘doing the work’ and some will make them the topic of gossip for a few days.

The woman who is abused struggle emotionally, which is somewhat expected given that she is experienced abuse, either physical, verbal or emotional yet no one will care about her or her problems.

The safe spaces are not really that safe

A lot of us want to believe that activist women really are different from the patriarchy and violence apologists we confront in our daily lives. We want to have some faith that this woman who takes to the internet write a blog on sexism is not writing it just to make herself look good, to get laid or to cover up some of her extremely dangerous practices towards women. We want to believe it is because she truly believes in women being respected in their entirety.

We want to believe that if a feminist makes an unwarranted advance towards a lady or physically/sexually assaults an activist woman, it would promptly and thoughtfully be dealt with by organizations and communities they belong in.

We want to think that woke groups are not so easily enticed by the skills that these activists brings to a project that they are willing to let a woman be abused or have her recovery go unaddressed in exchange for their ideas.

We would like to think that “security culture” in activist circles mainly focuses around how to deal with misogyny, patriarchy and heterosexism both outside of and within the activist scenes.

How about activist women who troll safe spaces like predators looking for women that they can manipulate or fuck without accountability? Like abusive priests, these women literally move from group to group, looking to recreate themselves and find fresh meat among those who don’t know them.

How about activist women who give their labor and skills to other women( often times, holding positions higher than them) in hopes that the abusive activist woman will finally get her act right or appreciate her as the human being she is?

Their tone always reveals an attitude that assumes that if these women take issue with them, they are “crying abuse” to cover up hidden sexual desires and anger over being rejected by these women who “won’t fuck them.”

You know what’s sad?

The amount of support abusive activist women find from other activists. Not only do abused women have to confront and negotiate the presence of their abuser in activist circles, they must usually do so in a community that rants too much but in the end could give a shit about the victims’ emotional and physical safety.

How many times do you have to listen to women’s stories of abuse being retold by activist women in a hostile manner, using a voice that is snide, accusatory and mocking? A voice which makes the victim seem like she is lying?

Their tone always reveals an attitude that assumes that if these women take issue with them, they are “crying abuse” to cover up hidden sexual desires and anger over being rejected by these women who “won’t fuck them.”

It’s sad that women’s physical and emotional safety is of little concern to queer activist groups.

We, as queer activist women, will keep on ranting like overfed rams about how women only spaces are important, we do not want to face the fact that our women are being abused by our fellows, right in our circles.

When the issue is “addressed,” more often than not attention will be given to “struggling with” the other or probably having “beef” with the her instead of  this woman being hurt.

The woman will always be labelled  ‘unstable’, ‘crazy,’ ‘too emotional’ or a ‘bitter ex.’ People would prefer to help a cold, calculating bastard who can ‘keep it together’ while she abuses women rather than deal with the reality that abuse can contribute to emotional and social difficulties among victims as they work to become survivors.

All in all, these so called safe spaces aka activist groups for queer women are no safe space at all.

Queer women, even among their fellow women still live in fear of being abused because misogynists and abusive women exist and thrive within us. They feed of our silence as women.

These abusers use the language, tools of activism and support by other activists as means to abuse women and conceal their behavior.

At the end of the day, fuck being woke. Fuck hurting at the expense of activism. Fuck being able to keep a conversation about women’s rights going on. Fuck abusers playing the victim. Fuck the silence that is caused by either fear or shame.

Women are being abused in spaces where they ought to feel safe and thrive in and it is not funny at all.

© Nyar Afrika 2017.

For all the articles and pieces on #QueeringTheCloak (our series on abuse and violence in queer women communities) click here.

There is so much information out there such as an article on 11 Signs You Are being Gaslight in a relationship and another 10 things the author learned from someone using gaslighting as an abuse tactic.  There is also another piece on how to support a victim of woman on woman sexual assault. For more on supporting people here is a piece on supporting someone in abusive relationship and also a piece where the woman says At least she didn’t hit me”. There is also a piece by a woman who writes a letter to her ex abuser’s new girlfriend. Also some healing words for after the relationship is done.  There is also this piece about the theatre piece we did on the topic and another story entitled Wanja about a woman who leaves an abusive relationship. There is also this one about missing your abuser

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