As anarchists, we work to create spaces that are free of as many barriers as possible. We also work to create these spaces without external authority, both as creators of barriers, but also as enforcers of rules and procedures. It is with this in mind that we must work to create anarchist space relationally. This means that we are all responsible for creating the spaces we desire, by educating ourselves, each other, and ensuring that we are in dialogue. We must aim to break down relationships of service provision and build relationships of mutual aid.
Statement on Maintaining Safer Spaces by the Toronto Anarchist Book Fair Collective
The Toronto Anarchist Book Fair Collective recognizes that the dynamics of hierarchy, power and privilege that exist within society are also found within our movement. We believe that failing to address these dynamics alienates and further victimizes our friends and allies and stops us from creating the equitable world we want.
People participating in the book fair are asked to be aware of their language and behaviour, and to think about whether it might be oppressive to others. The book fair is no space for violence, racism, ageism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, sizeism, sleaziness, or touching another person without consent. Acting in a way that perpetuates oppression, including through language, are not acceptable.
We define oppressive behaviour as any conduct that demeans, marginalizes, rejects, threatens or harms anyone on the basis of ability, activist experience, age, cultural background, education, ethnicity, gender, immigration status, language, nationality, physical appearance, race, religion, self-expression, sexual orientation, species, status as a parent or other such factors.
It is with the goal of stopping oppressive behaviour, that we will be conducting the bookfair with certain principles in mind. We will have a quite space, we will not be serving animal products, we will not have gendered bathrooms, there is barrier-free access, there will be childcare provided, etc.
Oppressive behaviour occurs every day, often in seemingly trivial ways. For example, interruptions, jokes, and oppressive language are common behaviours that reinforce power dynamics. Over time, such behaviours can develop into a pattern of oppression that is far more damaging than an isolated incident. Other individual acts may be more severe, involving physical and emotional violence.
Please keep the following in mind while interacting with others:
• Respect everyone’s physical and emotional boundaries. Ask first before touching, and listen and change your behavior if someone tells you that you are making them uncomfortable.
• Check in before discussing topics that might be triggering (e.g. sexual abuse, sexual experiences, physical violence, or encounters with the police).
• Be responsible for your own actions. Be aware that your actions have an effect on others despite what your intentions may be.
• If you are called out for problematic behaviour, do not be defensive. Your intentions and character are not under attack, just the behaviour that is being challenged. Be open to understanding the role your behaviour has in other people’s experiences of oppression.
• Respect the pronouns and names of everyone. Do not assume anyone’s gender identity, sexual preference, survivor status, economic status, background, health, etc.
• Respect people’s opinions, beliefs, experiences and differing points of view.
• We cannot guarantee a snitch-fee or cop-free space, and is therefore not a safe place to discuss your own or others’ illegal activities. Please maintain security culture.
• Be mindful of the presence of children and non-human animals. Try not to leave anything around that could endanger them or other adults.
Updated June 15th, 2012