Statement on Sexual Assault and Consent from the Toronto Anarchist Book Fair Collective
The Toronto Anarchist Book Fair Collective recognizes that organizing and activist spaces are not necessarily spaces liberated from sexual assault and gender-based violence. Sexual assault breaks our movements and our communities. We reject the silence surrounding these issues and commit to creating spaces that acknowledge this reality as well as fighting structures and individuals that sustain rape culture within our society. We also believe in the importance of establishing support and inclusion mechanisms for individuals who have experienced sexual assault as a way of trying to break through the isolation and alienation that sexual assault creates.
We will do this by:
- creating spaces where we can talk as a movement about the presence of patriarchy and rape culture in our communities through workshops.
- having trained volunteers experienced with sexual assault support present throughout the book fair to support survivors.
- based on the community’s and the survivor’s wishes, discouraging attendance or barring from the book fair persons with a known history of perpetrating assault who have not completed accountability processes to the satisfaction of their communities and the people they have hurt.
We acknowledge that women of colour and Indigenous women, trans people, women with disabilities, non-status women, psych survivors, women using substances, and poor women are disproportionately affected by sexual violence and this is the product of the racist, colonialist, ableist, ageist, capitalist, misogynist system within which our society exists.
We also acknowledge that sexual violence happens in lesbian and queer communities and that men, too, can be survivors of sexual assault, usually, but not always, perpetrated by other men.
The Toronto Anarchist Book Fair Collective believes that providing spaces to have conversations about sexual assault in anarchist and activist communities is critical. We know that, despite believing we have good language or practices around sexual assault, our communities are not safe spaces and we, as radicals, are not immune from rape culture and patriarchal domination. We heavily encourage participants to attend workshops that are challenging and that question your assumptions.
Due to our commitment to talking about these issues, several panels and workshops will address rape culture, consent, and sexual assault. We know that these conversations can be triggering for survivors and support people will be available throughout the book fair. Please talk to any book fair volunteer if you need support.
Some working definitions…
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 legally able to give INFORMED consent. 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 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 often 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-respect, 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 North America, we live in a culture of rape.
If you experience harassment, abuse, sexual assault, or any other kind of consent violation while participating in the book fair
If a perpetrator’s past or current sexual violence is interfering with your participation in the book fair
If for any other reason you need support to deal with sexualized or gender-based violence…
Please contact any book fair volunteer.
There will be trained and experienced advocates and support people for survivors of sexual assault present at the book fair. You can also get in touch with us before the book fair at email@example.com.
We can offer:
- Support, caring and listening,
- Community agency referral
- Advocacy on your behalf, including the removal of perpetrators of violence
- Transportation to the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre
- Resources for further support and or action
- Someone to support you while you are making a statement to police/law enforcement
Perpetrators of Sexual Assault, Abuse and Harassment are not welcome at the Toronto Anarchist Book Fair and associated events.
This includes people who have perpetrated in the past, people currently engaged in or running away from accountability processes, and people who refuse to respect consent guidelines.
We understand and respect that communities have engaged in their own processes around these incidents. If you have gone through an accountability process and the survivor, joined by the community, feels you have sufficiently dealt with your shit, this statement does not include you.
It is no way acceptable that the presence of a perpetrator hinder the participation of a survivor during the book fair. We encourage survivors and allies of survivors to identify ways in which we can assist them if they feel that their participation is being obstructed by the presence of a perpetrator.
To identify someone perpetrating abuse, to get support for yourself or a friend, please contact any book fair volunteer, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perpetrators of sexual assault, abuse, and harassment are not welcome at the Toronto Anarchist Book Fair or associated events and will be removed.
We are survivor centric, and survivor oriented. When a decision needs to be made to give benefit of the doubt to a perpetrator or support to a survivor, the preference will be to support the survivor.
Incite! Women of Color Against Violence has resources on domestic and sexual violence here:
And on community accountability here:
Philly’s Pissed has a resource section on both here: