Statement on Maintaining Safer Spaces by the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair Collective
(updated May 2018)
The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair 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 just world we want.
People participating in the Anarchist Bookfair are asked to be aware of their language and behaviour, and to think about whether it might be oppressive to others. The Bookfair is no space for violence, racism, ageism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, sizeism, or touching another person without their consent. Acting in a way that perpetuates oppression, including through language, is not acceptable.
We define oppressive behaviour as any conduct that demeans, marginalizes, rejects, threatens or harms anyone on the basis of ability, age, cultural background, education, ethnicity, gender, immigration status, language, nationality, physical appearance, race, religion, self-expression, sexual orientation, status as a parent or other such factors.
Consistent with our opposition to capitalism and patriarchy, and in support of our core principles of autonomy and self-determination, the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair collective expresses its support and solidarity with all precarious and marginalized workers, including temporary workers, domestic workers, non-status workers, migrant workers, sex workers and underground workers. We are critical of all work within the capitalist system, but we also support the struggles of marginalized workers to fight for more rights and dignity, as part of a larger struggle to abolish capitalism, patriarchy and wage slavery. We interpret our Safe(er) Spaces policy consistent with this expression of solidarity.
It is with the goal of stopping oppressive behaviour that we will be conducting the Anarchist Bookfair with certain principles in mind. We will have a Chill Space, we will have gender-neutral bathrooms, there is barrier-free access (with the exception of the 3rd floor at CEDA), there will be a Kids Zone, childcare and more.
Our full statement on accessibility is available HERE.
Oppressive behaviours 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.
• The Anarchist Bookfair encourages the participation of children, through the Kids Zone, but also in other Bookfair spaces. Please be mindful of the presence of children. Try not to leave anything around that could endanger them or other adults.
• 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 a 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-free or cop-free space. Please keep this in mind during any discussion at the Anarchist Bookfair.
• Be mindful of any non-human animals. Try not to leave anything around that could endanger them.