Policy on Supporting Survivors and Consent
The Toronto Anarchist Bookfair Collective recognizes that organizing and activist spaces are not spaces liberated from sexual assault and gender-based violence. We are all affected by the dysfunction wrought by being socialized within or in proximity to a deeply hierarchical, competitive society. We recognize that a history of sexual assault, harassment, transphobia, and other forms of gender-based violence can limit the participation of survivors in workshops and other bookfair spaces. We aim to lessen this burden by creating structures in which people feel safe and comfortable, while collectively working to redress past wrongs and work toward more egalitarian relationships based on consent. Above all, we will uphold the principles of voluntary association. We expect participants to respect others’ wishes regarding space, and engage respectfully in dialogue with bookfair volunteers to produce safer spaces for all.
To this end we are committed to:
- Soliciting workshops that allow us to productively work through issues of consent and power dynamics;
- Rejecting the silence and stigma that surrounds sexual violence and abuses of power;
- Having trained volunteers experienced with sexual assault support present to assist as needed;
- Creating an atmosphere where people feel comfortable approaching identified bookfair volunteers for assistance in making the bookfair comfortable and safe;
- Taking action as needed based on community or survivors’ wishes. This may include discretely asking individuals to not be present for certain workshops or to maintain distance from an individual; asking an individual to voluntarily remove themself from the bookfair; or in extreme cases, ensuring their removal.
- We recognize that power and privilege are often rendered invisible to us by our upbringing, and highly encourage participants to attend workshops that are challenging, and that question your assumptions. All genders can be guilty of failing to acquire consent, and can use their power to manipulate and coerce. None of us are immune from this, and all of us must work together to combat rape culture and abuses of power.
We encourage participants to make consent and understanding a part of their general practice at the bookfair. Examples of how to do this include asking before touching anyone, and ask for pronouns rather than assuming. Please see our Safer Spaces policy for more information.
- If you experience harassment, abuse, sexual assault, or any other kind of consent violation while participating in the bookfair
- If a perpetrator’s past or current sexual violence is interfering with your participation in the bookfair
- If for any other reason you need support to deal with sexualized or gender-based violence…
Please contact any bookfair volunteer.
There will be trained and experienced advocates and support people for survivors of sexual assault present at the bookfair. You can also get in touch with us before the bookfair at AnarchistBookfairTO@riseup.net
- Consent: is actively and voluntarily expressed agreement, not just the absence of “no.” Doing personal work to consistently seek consent and respect the times when it is not given helps to combat rape culture, and informed consent, sexual and otherwise, is necessary in the building of strong, healthy, and anti-authoritarian communities. The following does not qualify as consent: silence, passivity, and coerced acquiescence. Body movements, non language-based responses such as moans or laughter, or the appearance of physical arousal do not necessarily constitute consent. Further, someone who is intoxicated is not able to give INFORMED consent. Anything that negates understanding or knowledge can invalidate consent, including lying about condom use or STI status, and other intentionally duplicitous acts. Consent is required each and every time there is sexual activity, regardless of the parties’ relationship, prior sexual history, or current activity.
- Consistently asking for consent and listening to your sexual partner at every step in every sexual encounter, regardless of length, history, or specific situation, is the only way to prevent sexual assault from happening. Consent includes asking, listening and respecting. It does not include coercion, expectation, or assumptions.
- Sexual assault: is any sex that is not agreed to. Often this is unwanted sexual contact. Sexual assault happens, and it happens in activist and radical communities as much as anywhere else. Sexual assault can be perpetrated by a complete stranger, but is usually perpetrated by someone known and trusted by the survivor and community. Sexual assault is a tool of domination, of taking power and can rob someone of their self-worth, autonomy and sense of safety. Sexual assault is rooted in broader systems of oppression such as patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism, transphobia, ageism, homophobia, ableism, and colonialism – and is not separable from them in how and why it is perpetrated, experienced and dealt with.
- Rape Culture: is the culture in which sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence are condoned, excused, ignored, and even encouraged. Rape culture is part of a broader culture of violence, wherein people are socialized to inhabit different positions in hierarchical relationships, to commodify their fellow human beings, and to relate to each other through violence and coercion. In colonized North America, we live in a culture of rape.