SkillShare#2: Carceral Feminism, Decision Making, Accountability | The HEAL Project

Jun 23, 2021 12:00 · 8994 words · 43 minute read

Aredvi: Great. Well, hi everyone, coming back for another Skillshare meeting. Today we’re gonna do carceral feminism. That’s my topic. And then Ignacio is gonna do a presentation on decision making, which is going to be followed by Rida’s presentation on accountability. I am very excited about all of these, I’m going to share my screen with you because I have made slides this time if they can figure it out, great, alright carceral feminism.

I’ve been really excited about this topic lately, because it’s been coming up a lot in our work. And it’s been a phrase that I’m seeing actually coming up because a lot of people don’t really identify as carceral feminists, particularly nobody really wants to like be labeled like that. But in the ways we talked about sexual violence prevention, especially CSA, but just like the way we talk about sexual violence, has a lot of tones in it that kind of get mixed up with carceral feminism.

So I thought it was good to just open this up and understand more as to like, how it shows up in our work. So what is carceral feminism? Carceral Feminism is a term that was coined by Elizabeth Bernstein, who’s a professor at Barnard College, I believe, and it’s in the essay called The Sexual Politics of the New Abolitionism. It is defined as roughly advocating for policing, prosecution, borders, and imprisonment as the primary solution to gender-based violence.

So gender-based violence, I’m using that term to kind of mean, the larger understanding of violence that is include like sexual violence, domestic violence, you know, any kind of violence that is mostly in this framework targeted towards women. But the definition itself is just the focus on you know, all of these things are institutions policing, prosecution, borders, and imprisonment, institutions that are kind of state solutions to violence.

And they require this like governing body to organize, hire people, and go into communities to actually implement these laws around who is the harm doer, perpetrator, and how sexual violence can be stopped. So that’s kind of like the larger framework of like how carceral feminism is understood as, but what are the problems with carceral feminism. So first of all, is that the a lot of people who are in the carceral feminism, completely ignores the very fact that policing and the state itself, and policing again, shows up in different ways.

It’s not just the police force, it is also like the prison guards, it is also ICE and Border Patrol. It is all of those institutions that kind of watch over us and are hired by the state to do so is that they themselves are agents of violence and the kinds of violence that they perpetuate in our communities are a part of the problem of why sexual violence happens in the first place. So then relying on these institutions in order to address violence is problematic.

The other problem with carceral feminism is that prisons are sites of violence, right. And we did run into this a lot in our work, because a lot of times when we talk about sexual harm doers, we kind of immediately go to this place of like, oh, let’s put that person in prison. Very kind of cautiously, a lot of times in with understanding that prisons are sites of violence, especially sexual violence. So it’s like wishing sexual violence onto sexual harm doers as a form of punishment.

03:45 - Then, the other problem is that gender-based violence perpetuates binarism and erases violence against non-women. So again, like this is it’s called carceral feminism and mostly because feminism for the most part has really focused on the liberation of cis-women. Right. And by that it really enforces that idea that men are perpetrators, women are victims.

04:09 - And so when we put them in prisons, which is a sex segregated institution by itself, it just like gets really complicated as to, okay, how are we? Would we still think for female harm doers, prison is the best place for them to go? How do we think about gender nonconforming and trans victims and harm doers who are get caught up in this system, which doesn’t even recognize their humanity? So like, all of these nuances of gender and sexual violence are erased or not talked about in carceral feminism.

Then the other problem is that the reality of economic and racial inequalities are not really talked about as the driving force of violence what a lot of studies show that basically, most people who irst of all most sexual iolence happens domestically nd the driving force of why a ot of survivors stay in omestic violence situations is ecause of economic inequality, hich is tied with racial nequalities. And this has been roven, there’s a lot of studies round that this is experiences f a lot of people.

So very learly, it’s like if we just ave people more ways to take are of themselves, besides elying on abusers and harm oers, we could immediately just ike give a lot of folks a lot f people and way out of their eally terrible living ituations that are where abuse s happening. But despite that, ight, we’re still focusing on ow can we punish harm doers arsher? How can we put them ore in prison? How can we call n the police, so that that may omehow actually address the roblem of sexual violence.

nother problem is that tate-based solutions are not ccessible to people who are lready at risk of state iolence. And that is basically ll marginalized people right, t’s like if someone is a person f color, poor people, you know, f someone is a person of color, ho’s poor who already is truggling, and is dealing with lot of stigma around being ike a single parent, these are he least likely people to ctually want to have state nvolved, because they are the ost impacted by the ongoing iolence by the state to begin ith.

And when they get involved ith the state, they really, in ost cases, the harm is a lot ore than any kind of remedy to heir situation. And lastly, here, these are not the only roblems. But lastly, limiting cope of feminism to the ndividual and punitive pproaches is kind of the take hat carceral feminism is taking n this situation. So basically, nstead of really thinking about exual violence, as what we alked about at The HEAL Project s like the intersection of our ollective failures of systems hat are systems of arginalization that are roviding the context for iolence to happen, instead of ocusing on how can we do ollective liberation work? The ocus is like, oh, well, the ere are a few, you know, really eranged individuals, who if you ust punish them harsher, if you ust caught them earlier, if we ust put them in prison for onger than our problem would go way of sexual violence, which s a very different type of pproach to to prevention, which s it’s not actually even revention work it’s just after he facts.

So then I thought it ould be helpful to actually ith that background, go in to ome of the statistics as to hat what are some of the things hat happened carceral feminists ave done and one of the ealities of this framework. So he first one is that you may be amiliar with the Crime Bill, he 1994 Crime Bill that that is till was talking a lot about round Biden’s presidency ecause he was really for it, he Clinton administration for as for it, and it was the riving force of hiring a lot of olice officers, and policing a ot of communities of color, and hy a lot of black people and lack men are today in prison or ave a history of incarceration.

nd Excuse me, and for that bill, one of the things that actually really put some force behind that was the complaints that feminists were making to the police about how they ignore sexual violence. Now, that’s a very valid complaint, because the police do ignore sexual violence and like they treat d n’t really treat the reports o sexual violence too well, h wever, again, because this f cus of this, and the history o that actually goes back to t e 70s when it really started w th the feminists, carceral f minists really being raising t e issue of like, why isn’t p lice taking care of rapists, t ey need to be doing more, they n ed to be all of these like m re laws and legislations a ound it.

So the Violence A ainst Women Act was part of t e Crime Bill that was passed i 1994. So that’s, that was, I t ink, interesting. And then a other interesting fact is that r ght now in half of the states, t ey have mandatory arrest laws f r every domestic violence c ll. So like, if they get d mestic violence call and the p lice shows up, they have to go b ck with at least one person a rested for that call, which is r ally fucked up to begin with.

B t something else that I l arned separately, is that, so f r opposite sex couples, o tentimes the man the man is a rested, sometimes only the w man is arrested. And then in 1 of the cases, both parties a e arrested when the police j st like we don’t even know w o’s who’s doing what. But for s me sex couples in 27% of the c lls of domestic violence c lls, both of them get a rested. So you can thinking a out how marginalized c mmunities who are already e periencing violence at the h nds of the state get more they g t harmed disproportionately t is is I thought was a really g eat example of that.

And and c nsidering that half of the s ates require these arrests, r ght. Another interesting fact w s that 40% of police officers c me from households with d mestic violence. Compared to t e 10%, of general population, s I don’t know what that e actly says. But that means t at about one in two people, t o police officers who show up a a domestic violence call, t ey themselves are experienced i most likely with like u resolved trauma from their own c ildhoods.

And having come from a household that experienced d mestic violence, and how that i pacts the situation. I think t at would be really i teresting. Another interesting f ct is that the police punishes l ndlords, where they get too m ny 911 calls from their t nants. So then in turn, l ndlords actually evict people w o make too many 911 calls, w ich means in a lot of cases, v ctims who make a lot of calls f r even legitimate reasons, r ght? They, they actually can b at risk of losing their h using.

And then we have the, l ke we talked about it before i that financial dependence and f nancial abuse is the driving f rce of why people stay in d mestic violence situations. A d lack of policing is not r ally the issue. It’s not that i we give people more ways to c ll the police, or the police s ow up more at places or more p ople be like bystanders who c ll, somehow this issue is g ing to go away. Rather, we’re s eing a correlation between how w ll is someone doing in terms o their social economic safety i society, you know, having a cess to all sorts of care, and c mmunity care, and how much t ey are at risk of sexual v olence and domestic violence.

L stly, as we know, black and b own harm doers are more likely t be arrested and charged and a so they serve much, much l nger sentences for the same c imes as white harmdoers. Okay, and now a quick thing about I found this really interesting about feminism and race, right? It’s like, we’ve already heard kind of, like the history of white feminism in the US started with very specifically white women who wanted liberation for themselves.

And like, their concerns weren’t so much around how, you know, non white, especially Black women were doing, and that there was kind of a separation from the beginning. But I thought a piece that was really interesting was how white feminists specificall actually used anti sexua violence rhetoric to furthe marginalize Black men, and als perpetuate more of this stuf that was happening with slaver and emancipation. So anothe specific piece of this that wa interesting was that th narratives this, the se Ignacio: That was awesome.

I love that. It totally made me ualization and racialization of exual violence of Black men aga nst white women, was som thing that was really used to ustify things like lynching and also to scare the North from wan ing free Black people, and fre Black men from migrating nort. And that kind of that’s how he South kind of kept the Nor h interested in maybe con inuing this separation of lik. Where are black people now all wed to go? Where they can th y can they migrate? And this wa kind of really navigated, or re lly monitored with this arrative of like, we don’t want lack people come here and aping our women, right? There’s lot of history around this, hich is very fascinating, but I hought this was a interesting ittle point.

Anyways, lastly, orry, check on time. How am I oing? I’m doing terribly. So, la tly, I’ll cut this really quic in terms of how it shows up in our work. So like I said, nobo y’s going to go around and say I’m a carceral feminist very few people will do so However, there are ways in whic a lot of times people who are in sexual violence preventio this can show up in their work o one of them is that anytime ou see a lot of energy being directed towards more crimina justice system solutions, and way from community solutions, yo want to look at like, i there a carceral feminism appening here.

And other ways t look at it is when criminal j stice is conflated with healing justice, when we think that, ou know, the survivor needs, eve y survivor needs to see that ha m do or go to jail and being li e, they have to have to press ch rges, they have to take this p rson out of the society. And t at’s the way to for healing That narrative really perp tuates carceral feminism, we ve talked a lot about making monsters out of sexual harm do rs, because then that can re lly justify this idea of then harming the harm doer, righ , specifically sexually harming he harm sexual harm doer has bec me this like new thing that is like, that’s cool.

That’s j st you know, that’s a justified hing to talk about. And I just w nt to make a quick note aroun that I have personally no problem with people privately expressing a lot of anger and a lot of whatever they ne d to express against sexual harm doers. But I have a problem with that being taken with publ c rhetoric around this at insti utions and organizations and peo le who are doing this work for liberation and for actual pr vention of sexual violence like proposing this as a solution s a problem, not so much a surv vor, or in a in a private gro p expressing anger and wanti g, you know, whatever happen d to harm doer, and advocating or laws to criminalize vario s forms of sexual harm, I think is one and this goes back to how you know conflating traffic ing with sex work, how sexual expression, sexual education an liberation is all conflated wit , like, you know, it’s groomin , and it’s, we’re just trying to like get sexualized peopl as if like sexualizatio , right, is something that in erently, we should just stay aw y from, and it’s inherently harm ul.

So then we have this whole dea that if we just have more l ws and more legislation, the we will be free that that’s he problem. That’s the solution. And lastly, the whole idea of fe r mongering around ra e, class, and immigration status And the idea of like, you kn w, the sexual violence happen , because the other people re doing it’s really not f cusing on the domestic issue, a d focusing on how can we clos the borders? How can we not let people of color in our comm nity? How can we police more eople, poor people? Because thes are people who are actually d ing more of the sexual violence which is a false narrative.

An how can we resist it? I think don’t have much time. So I wil leave this one up for later, I anna let more of you folks go. B t we talk a lot about this in T e HEAL Project, and how the wor that we do are alternatives o the ways that carcer l feminists are participating i the prevention work of sexual violence. And I think he last one are resources, whi h is also I put it up there for further reading for anyone w think about this, this conversation that we often have about, you know, laws or legislations that we’ve had.

And you know, we’re critiquing now and, and I remember when that law changed, when I was a kid, I remember when that happened, I had a family member who was being abused, intensely. And at And I am doing the really sexy topic of decision making. So the time, every time the cops came, she was too afraid to say, you know, anything, and so she wouldn’t say anything. And so they would always leave. And so that, that became the push for that, right? So because they’re afraid now it’s mandatory, they just get arrested.

So in that time, that was the thing that was that was needed in that time. It is not, it’s not the thing anymore, right? So it’s like reevaluating these things that we’ve had for 20, 30 year , and really need to shift tha. Thank you. sexy. So, um, decision making procedures. And it’s, it’s very short, but there were some things that came out of just doing a little research on this, that were really not as surprising, but it really in alignment with how we talk about things that The HEAL Project.

So I’m just thinking about what group decision making refers to the process. I have to move this. Oh, fuck. Oh, sorry. I can never move the thing, and I can’t see the frickin slide. O ay, there we go. Got it. Al ight. So, group decision ake group decision making ref rs to the process where the roup as a whole makes the decisi n, right. And so this seems like a pretty, you know, simple th ng to do. But when we’re thin ing about like, pro ects, and organizations defi itely this becomes much more co plex.

When we think about many many different people, the num er of people and the ideas th t are being put forth, als , the structure in which every ne is trying to make this dec sion. But we’re focusing on group decision making, because t is is like something that we’ e, we try, we haven’t like m de an official, like how w make decisions, but we hav made decisions in a way wh re we share and give opinions, we go around, and then we prett much for the most part have co e to, you know, understanding like yes in agreement or a iddle ground, right.

But mos ly in agreement, I would s y. So there’s some positiv s and negatives about for de ision m And so the pros for group decision making are that they generate more ideas, they generate knowledge and they generate more alternatives. So there’s a lot more in abundance, a lot more opportunities and ways to look at things. But the cons are that it is very slow moving, oftentimes there’s lack of accountability, and too many opinions.

And sometimes there’s overpowering personalities in which those people often make the decisions. And it’s not really a group decision. Right.

20:27 - And so, here are there were like, so many ways that people make decisions, but I kind of take these out as like the ones that I kept seeing coming over and over. And then I’m going to focus on two of them. Because these are the ones that I thought were really interesting. And so decision making techniques are flop. Basically, flop is like, people brainstorm, they kind of generate these ideas, but nothing really happens. And it’s not really a big consequence, because it just kind of fixes itself.

Because it wasn’t really a big decision making make or break kind of thing. So it’s kind of this flop thing. So there’s no real accountability, things just kind of fall through the cracks, right? And then there’s delegating to an expert. So if it’s a really, really big decision, especially if it’s a big company, sometimes they would want to bring somebody in, who has this expertise. And really, that sometimes just takes the pressure off of people for someone else to give that final say, right? Then we have averaging, which is a pretty much like finding a middle ground, right? So people give their opinions and and then we come to a place where everyone can live with it.

Right. And we have voting. We all know what voting is. So people vote majority rules. And then brainstorming, brainstorming where people just make lists of things. And then from those brainstorms kind of develop bigger ideas until they come to something. And then pros and cons and rank the possibilities.

21:59 - It’s almost like brainstorming, it’s just like what’s best and kind of figuring it out as a group. So lots of ways where people either pretend to make decisions as a group or actually make decisions as a group. But two that really stood out to me that I thought were interesting were groupthink, and then of course, consensus. So, groupthink is the desire to avoid dissent from the group’s position so as to maintain a consensus of the group.

Or generally groupthink occurs when a very important decision is made in a stressful situation.

22:36 - And when the stakes are potentially very high. So this is something that we talk about a lot at The HEAL Project, one of the things that I’ve said that I do not want to do is I don’t want I really want to try very hard as much as we can never to work from a place of high anxiety. But there has to be a decision that has to be made right now because life or death, or is because our decision is the most important decision right now, right? Putting ourselves up like that.

23:08 - I can’t function in those kinds of ways. And so this groupthink thing is like, it made me think of like these giant companies that sit around a boardroom, where, you know, people are like, yes, like, yes, men. Yes, yes, yes, they agree with what somebody says they don’t want any problems. So this, to me is like it, maybe maybe I’m minimalizing it, but it it sounds, it’s very capitalist kind of model, right? It’s that kind of framework that we don’t want to, to be a part of, like, we want to be able to hear people’s opinions and speak, you know, talk them out, and that nothing is ever that, like time, time sensitive that we would have to like, absolutely make the decision that we weren’t, we wouldn’t stand behind that we wouldn’t stand behind.

24:02 - And then consensus and consensus is usually the probably the way that I have worked with tons of people to make decisions with it’s the one that seems you know, kinda like the the best.

24:14 - And so consensus is finding an established proposal that all members can support. So achieved when a group of individuals with a common goal agree to support activities necessary to achieve that goal, even if that agreement, flies in the face of the wishes of individual members of the group, facilitated when leadership is strong. So this is another thing that came up around leadership too. So consensus, you know, this, this idea that, you know, we can take the time to listen to everyone and continue to listen to people as we hash this out, right.

And so I remember when we started first talking about consensus like about 20 years ago, and how many people were a lot of people were upset by it because it was like it just takes too damn long, right? Because we were working in models of, like, you know, 15, 20, 30 people trying to do consensus with that many people, it was a nightmare. It was a nightmare, but we did it right. But and it took so long. So that was one critique of it like it taking long, but it really made me think as I kept reading around about consensus, I was like, this is like circle.

25:23 - And so I was like, and in the resources that I will provide, one of the articles is the history of consensus, and, you know, the consensus model, and it’s like, you know, pieces, pieces of it, if not, a lot of it come from, you know, indigenous circles. So that’s how circle works, right? It’s like, you know, you, you speak, and you keep on speaking until there’s a resolution, right, so that, you know, we don’t stop until it continues on.

So it’s rooted in, in, you know, POC and indigenous, you know, teachings and stuff and and the way it says like, it says, you generate, you did, you discuss an issue, you generate a proposal, you discuss the concerns, and then if there’s concerns, you repeat, concerns, repeat, concerns, repeat. And so consensus seems to be the model that kind of, I think fits with us most, or the one that I would, you know, propose. But the key to consensus, I think, is to stay small.

So a lot of the things that I read was stay below seven, seven or more is just a bias kind of seeps into that. And then group thinking can be an issue. Right? Oh, and then also the size of the group also, is connected to the wellness of the group as well. So I saw a lot of things talking about just wellness, mental health, and the, the bigger the group, the harder that becomes. And so keeping small, which keeps me going back to that, that idea that we’re always talking about, about, you know, how we envision the future about communities coming together, like little networks and stuff, you know, smaller, smaller groups supporting one another, instead of like, these big things where somebody is at the head making, you know, all these decisions, that’s just like a little ridiculous, right? So I have this quote, here, we communicate information and information is used in making of decisions.

Moreover, group decision requires transmitting of messages between members and the effectiveness, the effectiveness of this communication process will significantly impact the quality of group decisions. So here, we go back to talking about our you know, our ability to commute, I mean, commute communicate properly, right our ability to communicate properly. And a lot of the stuff that came up around this was, you know, it goes back to like, relationship building, right, so, and the leadership, right, there’s also an article in the resource that I’m sharing, it talks about good decision maker is a good leader, right? And so, and how to succeed in decision making is relationship building, your own personal internal work, self care, like how you take care of yourself, the vulnerability that you share, and also your communication skills.

So all of the things that we talked about at The HEAL Project that should be life skills for young people are the things that actually make people you know, just really good decision makers, and really good leaders as well.

28:32 - And so traits of a good leader, good leadership, so just wanted to show all of these things, again, connected to the life skills that we continue to go back to that supports and nestles like our, you know, sexuality, our gender identities and how we navigate the world. So traits of good leadership, self motivation, humility, integrity, innovation, honesty, active listening, so there’s so, so many good things that come, you know, out of that.

And then the one that comes up a lot is emotional intelligence. And we also talk about emotional intelligence a lot. And the ability to understand and manage your emotions and those of others is one of the most important qualities a leader must possess. The ability to understand and manage your emotions, and those of others is one of the most important qualities a leader must possess.

29:24 - And I read that over and over because I think, I started thinking a little bit about like, is this in some instances, I was like, is this a little ableist? Is this ableist? Right, because I keep on thinking about emotional intelligence. And I want to like, add to that definition, in some ways, because I think when I’ve talked about it before, it almost feels like I don’t want to I don’t want to talk about it as I am so much smarter than you because I have this intelligence, right? Like, it’s more so an ability that we all have to work on, right, this ability that we all have to work on, and it’s named emotional intelligence, but this ability to understand and manage, I always say that I’m always working on understanding and managing right? My emotions.

So kind of reframing that. And a leader’s mood, which I like this too, it’s the mood and not the mental health or anything a leader’s mood will resonate with others and set the tone for the emotional climate in an organization. I like that language there, because that has nothing to do with somebody’s mental health. It has to do with like the energy and the vibration and the positivity or how you, you know, put out information to to your people.

30:36 - And it is, oh, man, I was like the, for a great leader, I said it was the emotional intelligence, the ability to handle uncertainty and the ability to weigh evidence with intuition. And then it’s about, of course, relationship building. We can’t forget the relationship building piece, because that is everything. This is what we do the like the Skillshare. This is why we work at the the models that we try to do at The HEAL Project. We want to do the relationship building, which is providing a safer space for folks to speak as well, which focuses on feedback of decisions or strategies, and not individuals, express comments as suggestions and express feedback with empathy and appreciation for person’s work towards the joint goal.

And then about it’s about sorry, collective responsibility. So that was a safety one, collective responsibility. So this one means holding the whole group responsible for the actions of individuals or individual groups within the group, or individuals or groups within the group.

31:49 - Collective responsibility asserts that there is no individual action for which the group cannot in some way be held accountable. Acknowledgement of collective responsibility is often made in response to deep rooted social problems that cannot be addressed by targeting individuals or a single group.

32:06 - So this was interesting, because I kept reading more stuff about the collective responsibility, also known as collective guilt is a concept in which individuals are responsible for other’s actions by tolerating, ignoring or harboring them without actively collaborating on these actions. So when I first looked it up, I was like, collective responsibility seem like this good thing. And then it was like, no, it’s not to because it works against it works against the the, I think the the speaking up and it feeds into the groupthink as well.

And so I started thinking about what’s the difference between responsibility versus accountability with thinking about, you know, working in organizations, and so.

32:54 - And so that’s where I wanted to kind of bleed into the accountability piece. Because to me, when we’re thinking about decision making, yes, that sometimes people take responsibility for these decisions. But the hierarchy doesn’t allow for any kind of feedback correction or any kind of discussion for but if we have a model of this accountability, it changes that right? Because then we understand we have information about everything that’s going on.

We can we this, it’s the processes that we can question it and in and interact with it. It’s a different, it’s a different process than having the collective responsibility or the hierarchical responsibility, and shifting that to this group, decision making process that works for us, whether that’s consensus or not, but that’s rooted in accountability. That to me, is also rooted in our respect for one another, and the idea of growth and deeper relationship building.

I am done. Okay, I will stop sharing. Aredvi: Thank you, Ignacio.

34:09 - Rida: Is it showing up anymore. It’s at the bottom now. Right? Yeah. Okay cool, all right. Awesome. So alright, so accountability is not lying or denial about harm that you have caused. And it is not scary because it should be seen as an opportunity for growth rather than a punishment, which it also is not because as we know, punishment is not an effective means of changing behavior. It just increases fear. And usually when people are punished, they just do the thing, just in a way that they won’t get caught another time.

So I wanted to say what accountability is. So it is a long term process. It’s not something that can just happen overnight. It can take months to years, and being a part of an accountability process is being committed to spending that time on yourself and on others. Also, it’s hard because you have to be vulnerable and delve into topics that people are usually averse to talking about because they’re heavy, like shame, regret, grief, trauma.

And so it is also showing up. So showing up when you’ve done the harm. And I think the important part of showing up is showing up in a space where you are able to be accountable, when you’ve healed from all the shame and other trauma that you have. Because if you have a lot of shame, then you’re not going to be able to be 100% present with your like accountability. And it has to do with like a commitment to those around you. For example, choosing to stay in a relationship when you know that everyone harms, it’s a way to respect each other’s dignity and humanity while acknowledging we all make mistakes.

And accountability is making sure that behavior that you did doesn’t happen again. And the first step is understanding you are responsible for your choices and the consequences of those choices. Once you realize that it’s very much sitting with uncomfortable feelings you have in figuring out where that behavior really comes from. And then it’s making a commitment towards change, a plan to shift your life away from the patterns that cause you to harm.

And then lastly, it’s repairing, right. So it is either an apology or making amends. And I think an important part of repairing is understanding that your actions are not individual, but collective. Meaning that not only did the person you harm get hurt, but their community was directly and indirectly impacted as well. And then another part of accountability is holding yourself it’s looking inwards, it’s figuring out, when you do cause harm, what actions went against your core beliefs, it’s figuring out the impact of the harm that you did, it’s doing healing work, it’s doing trauma work, it’s working basically towards the person you want to be in this world.

And lastly, it takes time, and you might fuck up a couple of times. And that’s okay. It’s just making sure that you get back up and try again. So this is a very simplified steps of accountability. But because it’s very nuanced, and very complex about like, first like I said, acknowledging the behavior, so moving past denial and excuses and blaming and really admitting to yourself and others that you caused the harm.

37:39 - Then it’s dissecting the behavior, understanding why the behavior happened, where it comes from, what needs were not being met, which caused you to do this. Then it’s adjusting the harmful attitudes, which is making a plan to change the behaviors that cause you to do harm. And that can be in any module of like, it could be like therapy, it could be trauma work, it could be like building a community, because you don’t have that support.

And then it’s making repairs, which is apologizing or making amends. And then by doing all of those things, you can become a more healthy community. So there are a lot of obstacles to accountability, which I’m sure you all know. So one of the big obstacles is fear, right? So fear of losing community and loved ones, if you admit to doing this harm, it is being scared of change and what will come from that change. Because change can be really scary.

And it’s also fear of causing harm to your ego, because everyone because of like a lot of individualism and that type of thing. They want to protect themselves and their ego and accountability makes you take off those layers.

38:56 - Um, and also it’s fear of rejection, because you don’t, no one is going to want to try to be accountable if they’re just going to be rejected from everyone so that you kind of have to make it worth it for someone to admit that they harm.

39:10 - And also people are scared of accountability itself. Like I said, it’s seen as a threat when it should really be seen as an opportunity for growth. There’s also a lot of assumptions around accountability. So the first assumption is that people who harm are bad and have a moral flaw. And that’s it. Like, there’s nothing we can do about it. And we’re just gonna end it there. It’s also assuming that we’re outside of harm, because we are on the right side of justice, like a holier than thou mentality.

Because like you can do no wrong because you’re always right, or like you’re woke or you do something that’s like, good, so you can’t do harm. And then it’s also assuming that there’s a right and wrong, which it’s like there is so much gray area in between and it’s complex, and it’s nuanced. And it’s not just two things. It also has to do with punishment norms. So like vengeance is when a person who harmed needs to be harmed like an eye for an eye mentality, right.

And these punishment norms are learned from childhood, when you do something wrong, you’re punished. And it also has to do with blame mentality. The fact that like people feel like they need to have like a person to blame, so that that person can be hurt somehow, which goes into incarceration, which is assuming that people who do wrong need to be put in prison and punished, instead of trying to get to the root of why they caused harm and making it not happen again, because just punishing someone will just the behavior will happen again, because they’re not getting anything out of the behavior not happening again, if that makes sense.

And then another huge obstacle is white supremacy. So individualism, like, especially like in like United States and stuff, we live in a very individualist society, and like you care about yourself, and you put yourself first. And accountability requires listening and putting your ego aside and caring about the collective. And that’s not something people are good at, like, really want to do a lot of the time. And people avoid conflict, because it’s seen as negative.

So they don’t want to admit that they’ve done something wrong, which goes into like the right and wrong. And it also has to do with distancing from harm doers, right. Like when someone does harm, automatically, we’re just like, we don’t like this person, they’re done. And it’s like a huge part of is that we haven’t been socialized to be accountable. So we don’t understand that we can make someone be accountable without just like completely like canceling them.

And then it also has to do with shame. Shame, could be like a whole presentation on its own. So what I’m gonna say about it for now, is that like healing from shame, has to be a prerequisite to be present with accountability. So, another part of accountability is supporting harm doers. So paying attention to intention, right, so figuring out the root causes, and figuring this out to create conditions around which accountability will be possible, it’s processing the trauma so that you can be accountable.

And like patterns of lashing out can be rooted in like not being held and not being loved. And so if you’re not held and loved and your needs aren’t being met, you don’t really feel like a human being in are able to actually think about the impact of your actions. And it’s about barriers of access, like if, like making sure people have their basic needs met, like if they don’t have shelter, they’re not gonna give a fuck about an accountability process, they’re gonna care about where they’re gonna sleep at night.

So making sure that they have those things. It’s also having a support system with like deep love and commitment, like people who really believe that you can transform. And also it’s meeting regularly with the harm doers, it is also reframing accountability, saying that it is doable. And in reality, it can be liberating, because working through your shame, can help you have a new level of understanding about yourself.

43:32 - Also, it’s being non judgmental, right? Like not yelling, not screaming, not blaming, it’s really trying to understand why the behavior happened. And then also understanding it takes time for people people to process the impact they made to evolve their sense of self. And also to learn what I mean by this is, with a lot of the teaching that I have done, like scaffolding is a huge thing where you take little things and make it into a bigger concept, right.

So shifting the way we interact in smaller issues, because the smaller issues shape, how we relate. And those skills can be transferred slowly to larger issues. And also realizing that everybody harms. And so we are built, we should try to build relationships with people we can trust to be accountable, that are vulnerable, and that really understand and focus on fears and shame and guilt. And it’s like really setting a norm around accountability and what it means to be human.

So now I’m going to talk about accountability in the workplace, which is more relevant let me see how I’m doing on time. Okay, maybe I will continue accountability in the workplace next time. So that was just the definition of accountability because we only have 10 more minutes.

44:53 - Aredvi: Thank you Rida Ignacio: That was a good spot to end though.

44:57 - Rida: Yeah, it ended up working out, yeah Aredvi: Yeah, yeah, thank you for that I as well, I actually realize how both of your topics kind of like go into the carceral feminism and will actually tie in beautifully, right? It’s like, yeah, carceral feminism is when we don’t want to think about the skills that we need around accountability and decision making.

45:17 - Ignacio: Right? Aredvi: Right. It’s like this band aid solution that isn’t really working.

45:22 - Rida: Yeah. Ignacio: Yeah, I was thinking too about, like, accountability in a sense to like, as a, as a way of being to like, not only as this process, right, but also an existence of like, how we exist in community with each other and account of like, within accountability, meaning that there’s a level of like, at least like care or wanting to care.

45:53 - Rida: Yeah Ignacio: You put this work in, and that you that you want to listen to boundaries, and you want to understand where people are at so that you understand where you are, are in relation to that person. So you’re stepping into it with a with a better understanding, rather than fucking up and then having to be accountable. Right. So we’re taking it a couple of steps back and saying, let’s start with actually knowing all the know one another.

Let’s get to know all of this stuff and then start from there, you know? Aredvi: Yeah. And I think it’s something that I liked, Rida you mentioning is, like all the prerequisites to actually show off our accountability, right. And it’s like, I’ve always thought about how, when harm happens, the first thing that really is what I’ve experience is like trust is the most trust holds the weight, right? Especially when it’s just me and one other person.

When I experience harm from them, I no longer trust them. So I know and when that that’s broken, I no longer want to, I don’t trust their accountability process, I don’t even trust to be around them, I don’t care about what they have to say. So in order to lot of times, in that that’s exactly where I need community to show up for me, because I don’t think it should be my responsibility to like have to go through accountability process with a harm doer by myself when I don’t trust that person anymore.

And likewise, right, it’s like, I totally understand when somebody I’ve harmed doesn’t want to sit through accountability with me.

47:33 - We need a third party here. We need we need help from our community. You both muted.

47:42 - Ignacio: I was just gonna say that is that is exactly it. The the relationship and community piece like that, is it. We think that we can bypass that, that that, um, this is why this is why police don’t work when it comes to like sexual violence and stuff, you know, like, they’re not. They don’t understand that they’re not, they’re not prepared. They’re not that it’s just, they have a certain kind of tactic, trying to deal with this.

And it’s not the right tactic. It doesn’t fit. It’s not the right puzzle piece. It just doesn’t work.

48:22 - Aredvi: Right. Yeah. I wanted to go back to you, Ignacio’s presentation about decision making. I thought that was really interesting. One thing that stood out to me is how I’ve been really thinking about, like different approaches to decision making for different types of situations and different decisions.

48:42 - Ignacio: Yeah. Aredvi: And because actually, we’re talking about consensus, it reminds me a lot, I used to live in cooperative housing a lot. And you know, there will be like, anywhere from over seven like eight to nine to 15 people in a room, trying to make the decisions. It was consensus based decision making, for a lot of important decisions that would impact our, you know, household and livelihoods. And I think actually, we had a thing that consensus minus one or consensus minus two.

So it was like, if one or two people disagreed in the group with a decision, we will still go forward with that. Right. So there’s like, a lot of really interesting, like nuances in that too. But it reminded me of how actually, I felt very much a lot of the times like not as someone who was like more of a marginalized person in that group as well. Um, a lot of times, I felt like, the whole group think would show up. You know, and the realities of like, we only have like this amount of time for this, like, bi-weekly meeting we’re doing and we just want to get out of here.

And so why should we spend time to actually like, hear these ideas that are new, right? It’s like, I like the dynamic between old members and new members, people who feel like more entitled to these decisions versus others.

50:02 - And again not that those are all wrong. But I’ve been really thinking about a way of doing decision making that is more customized. Right? To like maybe some decisions do depend on like, who’s assuming what role who has more experience in what do we want to give them more of a decision making power, specific to that decision.

50:22 - Ignacio: Yeah, I was thinking same thing. Because it was like, again, it’s like, you can’t use a cookie cutter model for every decision. Right? Just the same way that some people could use brainstorming to generate some stuff, you’re not going to use brainstorming for like this, like, really important decision that you’re going to make, right? Like, cuz you’re gonna use a different framework. So yeah, I think I agree with that.

50:44 - Aredvi: Yeah. Yeah. And then at the core of it, again, goes back to trust.

50:49 - Ignacio: Yeah, exactly. Aredvi: You can’t, you can’t end up feeling good about a decision in a group that you don’t trust its processes and its people and the members, right? Rida: Yeah, later in my presentation, I was gonna talk about trust and how like, a lot of the time, like, without accountability, or without, like, an actual decision making process, like the trust is just destroyed. Because people don’t think that they can come in, say, like, this happened, that’s wrong, or this is my opinion, or something like that, because they just don’t trust the people around them.

And that just like, dissolves a lot of the ideas and like cool things people could be doing because they just don’t trust and like people don’t try to build that trust a lot of the time.

51:33 - Ignacio: Yeah. Aredvi: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. It really goes back to that. Um, I also, I wanted to call out the white supremacy culture around accountability and how it like actively promotes lack of accountability. And just plug this new TV HBO TV show, which I haven’t watched yet. It’s on my watching list, but I want to put it out there. It’s called Exterminate All The Brutes. Have you heard of this? Have you seen I am your Negro? Ignacio: No, but I have it on my Aredvi: I am not Negro.

I forgot. The same the director of the same thing has made this TV show which goes into the history of white supremacy, and how basically that the roots of that continue to like, deeply embed into our cultural norms, the way we interact, the way we think about everything around us, right, like, the dominant way of thinking about society, and relationships, and all of that are impacted by these ideas of violence and colonization. And which, again, to me, immediately goes back to like, the whole idea of that not only history of their police and prison and incarceration comes from, and how intertwined that is with white supremacy, but like the replacement of having trust and accountability.

With that so, people don’t want to show up in their communities. They just want to call 911.

53:08 - Ignacio: Yeah, quick fix. It’s quick fix. Yeah.

53:15 - Rida: Yeah, I mean, like, with, like, violence, especially like, it’s not something like you’re even taught, it’s like, if someone does something wrong, they’re gonna get punished somehow.

53:24 - Ignacio: Yeah Rida: And I just feel like, it’s like something that like, I personally had to learn through other people because I don’t even think at one point, it was a possibility. I was like, oh, this bad thing happened. This person goes to jail. That’s it, you know, but there’s like so much more nuance to it. And like, yeah.

53:44 - Ignacio: So this all fit together nicely see.

53:47 - Rida: Yeah it did.