Over the years, we’ve come to adopt and refine several organizing principles, that ground our work, facilitate communication and internal support, and challenge us to grow as dedicated organizers enmeshed in a web of struggles for justice in a very broad sense. As a group dealing with community based responses to sexual assault we have found it very important to come from a common ground. Being far from a formal group that needs paperwork to back up our intentions to submit to a non-profit umbrella or something of the like, we did find it essential to create points of unity. It is something of an agreement for anyone wishing to join our group needs to whole heartedly believe in and understand. It is a living document that has changed as the group has over the years, but has always served as a center for how we approach the work that we do. Breaking these things down into sentences obscures the depth that these concepts hold and we explore them in many ways beyond what you see here (as we shall do with future postings in the blog).
We offer them here in summary for anyone to borrow, adapt or discard. We are all imperfect and humble our work and our lives by that fact. These are a reminder of that:
PHILLY STANDS UP * Points of Unity (as of January 2007)
• We are a group dedicated to dealing with sexual assault.
• Philly Stands Up formed in reaction to specific incidents of sexual assault in our community and will continue to exist as an avenue of support for the future as well as working on proactive means to deal with sexual assault.
• We strive to take an active role in our communities and to deal with the deeper rooted causes of sexual assault by challenging sexist attitudes and deconstructing patriarchy in our daily lives. In this, we also recognize the interrelatedness of systems of oppression and work to confront them on all fronts.
• We work to educate ourselves and others on issues in our society that contribute to sexual assault. As well as provide information to the public that will help confront these issues and provide access to resources that exist.
• We acknowledge that socialization in a patriarchal society greatly affects how we view and deal with sexual assault. In this, we recognize that gender does not define a person and we welcome anyone who agrees to these points of unity into this group.
• We are a group that survivors can come to for help and support. We will always support survivors and ensure survivor autonomy, where they will always be in control of how a situation is dealt with.
• We work with perpetrators to recognize, understand, and change behavior, not to simply punish them or run them out of town. Dealing with an assaulter includes the long term goal of ensuring that they are not a threat to others, recognize what they have done, and work to permanently change their behavior.
• We do not support the prison system as a viable means of rehabilitation for perpetrators, but we will always support a survivor’s wishes and engage the legal system on any level necessary.
• We are dedicated to this issue and this group. We all promise to ensure that our level of commitment is clear and consistent. This includes a time commitment and accountability to tasks that we agree to take on.
• There is no hierarchy within this group. We make decisions as a group with casual consensus, but will call on using formal consensus for making serious decisions.
• We value communication and honesty in our interactions. We practice active listening and do not attack one another, but rather work through conflicting views. We are not interested in “PC” responses, but communication of our true understanding/ feelings.
• Members of the group may at any time step back from an issue or situation that is being acted on by the group if they feel that they need to or that they cannot be objective.
• We operate under strict confidentiality in both our work as an action group and as a support group. Information shared within the group, stays within the group, unless consensed upon by the entire group.
• We work in tandem with Philly’s Pissed and hold our group accountable to theirs. Certain situations may also call for Philly’s Pissed to be accountable to us.
• We strive to include and support anyone who has been targeted for sexual assault, sexual abuse, gender-based assault, or gender-based abuse. This includes all sexual and gender representations and identities.
• We believe anyone can be assaulted. Sexual assault and abuse are not solely contained within heterosexual and gender-normative relationships.
• We always assume the best intentions of one another. Recognizing that none of us can be completely articulate in communicating our thoughts, we give time and space for clarity on things that may be hard to hear. We will work through the inherent difficulties between communication and misunderstanding.