• Enter search term(s):

Shelter as a Tool of Social Control: Is there a Domestic Violence Industrial Complex?

Opening Keynote for Women's Herstory Month at New York University (03/01/2002)

Below is an excerpt from an email Emi sent to the organizer to give them an idea about what this talk is going to be about. A more formal abstract will be posted here once the paper is finalized.

Description (tentative)

The tentative title for this paper that I'm hoping to finish sometime next year is "Shelter as a tool of social control: Is there a domestic violence industrial complex?" Basically, it's about how domestic violence shelters and other services supposedly created for survivors have become just as hostile and abusive as the environment they are escaping from. Many long-time DV activists who are radical feminists blame the patriarchal backlash and appropriation for this trend, but I would argue that not only is radical feminism not an innocent victim of the patriarchal takeover, but its faulty assumptions are directly responsible for the domestic violence movement's collusion with the enemy. In conclusion I will call for a pragmatic skepticism of our own feminist sensibilities as anti-DV activists to adequately hold ourselves accountable, and for structural remedies modeled after homeless advocacy groups or even civilian oversight systems on the law enforcement.

Heavy, isn't it? But I think it'd be a good way to start critical discussions about our feminist legacies, rather than obliviously celebrating fabricated herstory of constant progression. Also, I will be throwing in trans stuff, sex worker stuff, racism, classism, etc. because these are important factors in the problem I'm addressing.

This topic is very important for me, because after I've worked for many organizations that fight against violence against women, it came to the point that I can no longer tolerate working for any domestic violence shelter anymore, because that would put me in the position of an abuser in relationship to people receiving services from us. Right now, I'm interviewing many survivors who received services from shelters, learning how they felt about their experiences at the shelter, and thinking about how I can help put this issue on the table at places like National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. I'm actually hoping to start a new organization next summer that will create those structural remedies I mentioned above.