Dealing with each other

Obviously the Action Camp is about actions, external impact and interrupting the current system. But: Action is not everything. To us a crucial part in activism is respectful dealing with each other, self reflection and the aim of overcoming own internalized power structures. Because the society we live in is full of oppression and violence and is constantly influencing us and our behaviour. Unfortunately this is also to some extent true for spaces that we call free spaces or safe spaces, such as this Action Camp.
We want to achieve a camp that is as little as possible influenced by oppressive and hurtful practises – so that the camp is at least a safer space for those negatively affected by oppression and violence.

Awareness
We aren’t able to and we don’t want to make strict rules, rigid regulations etc. We would like to live as free as possible of this crap. On the other hand responsible dealing with each other is most important to us – make sure how your actions affect others! Therefore the most important keywords for dealing with each other are: Awareness and mindfulness. Please watch your own boundaries and those of your comrades! Take care of each other – that’s no new idea, but too often it gets lost in the hustle and hot-headedness of preparing and making actions. And despite of the wide-spread self-designations as anti-sexists or anti-racists and so on, even in the left-winged community assaults occur on a daily basis – this must change!

Individual boundaries…
… are crucial to us. This means: Whether an act was molesting, boundary-crossing or violating is not defined by supposedly objective criteria. The essential criterium is the personal experience of the affected person. S*he owns the definatory power concerning the events that have happened to her*him. If s*he wants, the awareness group is supporting her*him in meeting her*his needs.

Partisanship
Depending on the situation an interaction is exceedingly influenced by patriarchy, racism and constructs of white supremacy or discrimination of people with special needs etc. On the camp these factors should be counteracted by partisanship with the discriminated. We are aware that most people are not exclusively oppressors or oppressed. But for example in a case of sexual violence between a man* and a non cis-male person, we will in principal at first take sides of the non cis-male person, if s*he accuses the man* to be molesting. We are also aware of the fact that there are cases of boundary-crossing of non cis-male persons against men* and cases of sexual violence against men*, too. Nevertheless, it’s important to us to take the social context into account and to hand the definatory power over to non cis-male persons/women* as a counterweight to the sexist society. On the other hand, if, for example, in a conflict racial insults are used by a white woman against a person of colour, we are in solidarity with the person negatively affected by racism. That’s also the case if the person of colour is academic and the other one isn’t. So if privileges are used against people at the camp and their boundaries are violated by this, let us respond as camp community in solidarity with the negatively affected person!
There could be situations in which no one can say easily who has the larger social privilege, if people hurt each other in a conflict. Often, however, an imbalance of power can be quite clearly seen. The principal of partisanship is not the same as a basic pre-condemnation of all privileged. It is an attempt to reduce and compensate structural disadvantages.

Sensitivity
Boundaries are not always visible for everyone and not everyone is always able or always likes to show their boundaries clearly. Therefore please be careful with topics which can remind someone of violent or oppressive experiences.
– Body contact or hugs and comments about the bodies of others are not ok for everybody. Agreements and requests help to prevent boundary crossings.
– Supposedly harmless jokes at the expense of minorities or disadvantaged people are really not required.
– The apparently natural presentation of naked male upper bodies – which is quite often perceived as uncomfortable – is not wanted. Two of many reasons for that: It can be seen as patriarchal presentation of the body and many women* would not be able to feel comfortable doing the same. Because the Action Camp seems no appropriate place to deal intensively with physicalness, we think it’s the best to avoid public nudity.
– Discussions and debates further most, if they are carried out without dominant manner of speaking, without unnecessary use of technical terms and without personal insults.
– Don’t obtrude your expectations and beliefs to others. Be respectful to the decisions and self-assessments of others. Don’t push others, neither during the preparation of an action nor during the action itself.
– Not everyone likes cigarette smoke or watching the consumption of alcohol. Please smoke at the smoking area and ask other people whether it’s ok if you drink next to them. Respect people who don’t want to drink and don’t push them.
– Cleanliness and tidiness are also important points. Be mindful with other people’s possibly higher need for cleanliness and therefore keep your area tidy, wash your hands and so on :).

And read the presentation text of the awareness group!

Let us make the camp into a place where as many people as possible feel comfortable!