2013 has to be the year that was Bizarro World. Jesus Radicals posted one of the strangest, perhaps, celebratory posts about a group of anarchists stealing calendars (that exploit women) from a Georgia store, while they left signs like, “F*ck the Patriarchy” and “Sorry, misogyny is out of stock.” No, you know what’s out of stock? Your compassion, that’s what.
Sarah Moon had an excellent write up on the whole incident. I think this type of activity highlights a looming fault with anarchism that I have had for a while, that is a march right back to feudalism. In a previous post on rape culture, I talked about my previous experience with “Christarchists” or Christian anarchists, only to be dismissed as “ignorant.” Anarchism becomes problematic when you take a look at interlocking forms of oppression. What’s quite telling is the number of persons (primarily male) anarchists that will work to shut down any conversation about said systemic oppressions in the name of condemning “identity politics.”
There is really no difference between the Anabaptist (probably) “Radicals” that stole $2,000 worth of property and “Christians” who don’t tip waiters and waitresses because “they give God 10%” or they may happen to disagree with their server’s sexual orientation. The action taken by the anarchists constitutes stealing on a number of levels; here is some of the advice that Jesus Radicals.com STANS for:
- Always use gloves for everything you handle (no fingerprints)
– Make sure you have enough bags/baggers (we had to make several trips, and the employee at your kiosk may not be so inattentive)
– Wear a very different change of clothes underneath your outfit–if followed, you can hide and remove the outer clothing.
– Wear something to obscure your face from cameras and passersby (if a hat, look down at the ground while passing a camera)
Be cautious, but don’t be paranoid. This was (and should be) easy and fun!
Be cautious???? What’s there to be cautious about? Oh the fact that you are breaking the law. Hey, I notice that you have John Howard Yoder posted all over your website, would you care to read his work sometime? In the Politics of Jesus, and in his other writings, he argued that we, as Christians should subordinate ourselves to the legal structures in society, as a form of non-resistance. One of his students, Stanley Hauerwas (along with William Willimon), said this about stealing and the Seventh Commandment, “So, to not to be caught up in a world of theft requires prayer. The first attitude of prayer is to receive, not to ask,, to listen rather than speak, to be willing by prayer to be formed rather than to use prayer to inform. Through learning to receive, we may be a people capable of sharing.”- The Truth About God, Page 114.
To listen to anti-sexism criticisms is not just to protest women’s objectification in the media. That is just a symptom of the larger problem. The bigger issue is the presence of Rape Culture, and the myths that reign behind it. Bikini-clad women (and men) calendars are possible only because we live in a world that views sexuality as something primarily consumed visually by men. The myth that men are visual creatures with uncontrollable appetites is what keeps the stores that sell these calendars in business. Perhaps the superior, more non-violent form of activism would have been to maybe make your own calendar with anti-sexist and anti-Rape Culture quotes, and ask them to be sold along with the other sexy calendars.
My point is that a commitment to both intersectionality and peacemaking would make all the difference in the world. It is great that radicals will go out of their way to oppose gender violence, but in the process, these anarchists committed an act of economic violence. One of the anti-racist and anti-sexist voices that I listen to is womanist and relational theologian Karen Baker-Fletcher. In her essay in Deeper Shades of Purple entitled, “A Womanist Journey,” Beker-Fletcher notes, “Sexism, racism, classism, heterosexism, ableism, and ecological destruction are interrelated systems of oppression in womanist understanding. [….] The masses of black women in the United States work in the lowest paying jobs and struggle to feed their children. They have not benefited from higher education with its economic opportunities. Middle-class womanists in academia, like myself, experience less economic oppression than many poor black women in the United States and abroad.” In other words, for Fletcher-Baker, and many Womanist thinkers, “In spite of our activism, we benefit from global economic structures of oppression.”
First of all, this is a great example of intersectionality at play: we have writer recognizing her privileges all the while analyzing other persons’ experiences without objectifying them. I benefit from my male privilege at both of my jobs, and online. I have had my share of trolls and derailers, but when women speak up about any issue, they get challenged because of their gender. So, instead of anarchists claiming that “In perusing the coverage and in reading comments, I find very few people engaging in discussion around the serious issue of the sexualization and objectification of women” like Mark Van did, maybe they should try listening to other voices (prayer) who have been talking seriously about the issue of women being sexualized and objectified (in the name of Rape Culture). Christian Anarchists are not the first group of people to point out that women have been used by men. Duh! So maybe look around, read, listen, hear out what others are saying about women in the media. A good place to start would be The Representation Project’s “How The Media Failed Women In 2013″:
Video linked here
I would hope that the Anarchists responsible for robbing Jessica Roy would return her property to her, so that she can at least find a way to pay her employees Christmas bonuses or perhaps they can compensate anonymously Ms. Roy for the damages they have cost her. But that would mean taking responsibility for your actions, and thinking of others outside yourself.
“Prayer is the spirit that is evident in all oppressed communities when they know they have a job to do. It is the communication with the divine that makes them know they have very little to lose in the fight against evil and a lot to gain.”- James Cone, A Black Theology Of Liberation