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MACC Safer Spaces Policy

This policy intends to be a positive, pro-active, preventative step towards making our community spaces safer. We use the word ‘safer’ to acknowledge that no space can be entirely safe for everyone and not everyone experiences spaces in the same way. This policy is not about policing others – it is about people monitoring themselves.

We have this safer spaces policy because we don’t live in a safe world. We live in a white supremacist, patriarchal capitalist society, in a city that is stolen from Indigenous people. This means that anyone who benefits from this privilege has more power over those that do not. Those who benefit from this privilege must be aware of how much space they are taking up, regardless of intent. MACC aims to create and perpetuate spaces that are safer than the outside world. We are an organization that is radical, accessible, and which aims to be a safer space for indigenous, not-white, mixed race, migrant, queer, trans, intersex, femme, butch, sex-working, disabled, non-neurotypical or otherwise marginalized people.

MACC will not tolerate rape, sexual assault, any other form of violence, sexual harassment, creepy, predatory and/or sleazy behavior, racism, ageism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, queerphobia, transphobia, transmisogyny, whorephobia, ableism, classism, sizeism, sex-negativity, cultural appropriation, or any other behavior or language that may perpetuate oppression.

These listed behaviors should be understood and assessed with a critical understanding of power, privilege, and societal and circumstantial hierarchies. Behaviors listed are not being equated, and even two infractions of the same type could have very different fair resolutions. These rules are to protect comrades and not our oppressors, interactions with whom should be considered self-defense.

This policy applies to all attendees of MACC-hosted events, meetings, online spaces, publications or communications as well as at all times between members (both online and in person). All participants in MACC will aspire to act in accordance with this policy in their relations with comrades (both members and non-members) and are expected to abide by and be held accountable to this as members of MACC.

We define the following as abusive behaviours which are not tolerated:

Physical abuse

  1. Violence and threat of violence: A deliberate action that is likely to cause somebody physical pain, or the threat of such action, made verbally or implied physically.

    This does not mean: Acting in self-defense or in defense of others, as a last resort, in response to a clear and direct physical threat.

  2. Use of force and threat of force: Preventing a person from leaving a situation or forcing them into one, either by physically restraining them, blocking their way, refusing to stop following them or refusing to move away from them when asked. Threatening to carry out any of these actions.

    This does not mean: Preventing somebody from doing violence to themselves or others, or preventing somebody from damaging a space being used collectively, or removing someone who is acting abusively or violently, using minimal necessary force.

  3. Rape/Sexual assault/Sexual harassment: non-consenting sex or sexual touching, as well as acting in a sexual way towards somebody, invading their personal space or making sexually suggestive moves orgestures to them without their explicit consent.

    This does not mean: Telling somebody that you find them attractive or initiating a flirtation, provided that lack of enthusiastic reciprocation is taken as an unequivocal “NO” with immediate effect, and all attempts at flirtation cease. Develop personal relationships at appropriate times and places, where nobody is likely to feel trapped, coerced, isolated or embarrassed, and make sure anybody you are flirting with has ample opportunity to exit the situation or end the flirtation at any time. It bears repeating: always treat the absence of enthusiastic reciprocation as an unequivocal “no” with immediate effect.

Non-physical abuse

  1. Verbal abuse: This means insulting terms specifically applied to individuals, or criticism made abusive by being shouted or expressed aggressively, with the outcome of causing hurt, intimidation or humiliation. This applies regardless of whether the outcome was intentional.

    This does not mean: A ban on insults, compliments or personal remarks in conversation amongst friends who know and respect one another’s limits. However, when engaging in such “banter”, we should always be aware of our context – where we are, who else is around us and how what we’re saying affects the general atmosphere of the space.

  2. Oppressive language: This is language used in general conversation, not necessarily in connection with a specific person, that insults, expresses prejudices or reinforces preconceptions about a group of people that are marginalised, disadvantaged or oppressed by mainstream society. This includes (but is not limited to) any racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic or ableist language and includes using such language as insults and slurs against political opponents such as fascists or police. The reason for this is not “political correctness” or fear of criticising people’s values. The real problem with such language is that it normalises prejudices and recreates the very hierarchies that we aim to oppose, as well as creating a space that is unwelcoming to anybody outside of a narrow demographic.

    This does not mean: Compiling lists of unacceptable words and phrases in order to catch out the unwary – we don’t need to ban words, we do need to meet challenges to our language without defensiveness, be prepared to apologise for unintentional offence and take the opportunity to reconsider our language, the implications behind it and the impact it can have on others. Free expression ends at the point where it becomes an act of oppression to another.

  3. Emotional and psychological abuse: This includes behaviour that undermines the targeted person’s confidence and credibility by patronising or dismissing them, putting them down or ridiculing them, ignoring, isolating and ostracising them, scapegoating them, and other bullying behaviours. It includes ‘gaslighting’, which is to try to make a person doubt the validity of their own senses and perception by denying or contradicting their perspective, and may include telling them and others that they are “crazy” or similar.

    This does not mean: That you can’t disagree with somebody or contradict them. Do this by outlining your own perspective or recollection of events rather than ridiculing or dismissing theirs.

  4. Harassment: This is a pattern of repeated, persistent, unwelcome behaviour targeted at a person. The individual actions seen in isolation may be benign, but become abusive by being repeated, especially when the targeted person has asked for the behaviour to stop. For example, contacting someone is not inherently abusive, but multiple unwanted calls or messages is harassing behaviour. Harassment may include making unsolicited and inappropriately personal remarks (complimentary or otherwise) about somebody’s appearance or other personal attributes, or making repeated personal requests of them, sexual or otherwise, which have been previously refused, ignored or not met with enthusiasm.

    This does not mean: Seeking clarifications or offering reminders about a task or action that somebody has agreed to. This section of the policy should be used to protect ourselves from repeated requests as an intimidation and bullying tactic, not to avoid answering a valid question or making a decision.

  5. Written abuse: While can be easier to both misunderstand written communication and to cross boundaries in terms of abusive language, the medium also has advantages for debate – many people find it easier to express themselves clearly and coherently in writing, to think their points through and to find the confidence to put their words into a public forum. But the same rules should apply in terms of avoiding personal insult, oppressive language, bullying and harassment, and for the same reasons.

    This does not mean: That you can’t discuss political issues or dispute things that people have said in writing. However, always try to always keep it generous and constructive, and if you feel that you are being antagonised, suggest a different format for the discussion (e.g. private correspondence or a meeting).