ADDRESSING SEXUAL ASSAULT WITHIN THE RADICAL COMMUNITY
Rich Mackin: writer, zinester, activist and sexual predator.
Who is Rich Mackin?
Rich is a somewhat well known writer, zinester and activist who recently moved to Portland from Boston. He is best known for his Lazlo Toth imitation (sending letters to corporations then publishing their humorous responses). He considers himself an anarchist.
In addition to the above, he is also a dangerous member of our community. Rich Mackin is a sexual predator.
Upon moving to Portland, Rich was looking to involve himself with the Anti-Capitalist Action group.
In response to his request to be part of the ACA community, Little Beirut #4 has published a list of demands put to him by survivors of his sexual assaults (and their supporters). The 8 demands can be read on page 4 of this pdf file:
Rich meeting these demands is a crucial part of the survivors' healing process, as well as his own, and is also crucial to the safety and health of the local activist community. Rich has chosen to sidestep and in certain instances completely disregard this list of demands. In doing so, he has repeatedly shifted the focus onto himself and what he alludes to as his own victimization that he hints was brought about by the zine BABY, I'M A MANARCHIST and the survivors' list of demands which is being sent to event organizers with whom he is involved.
BABY, I'M A MANARCHIST is a FREE zine written by some of the survivors of his sexual assaults. Look for it at your local radical info sources or at the zine symposium.
If you can't find it, ask for it.
We encourage you NOT to support him by buying his zines, books, or other zines that publish his material, such as RAZORCAKE. In fact, please consider writing to the publishers of these materials and voicing your displeasure with the commodification of the tragedy Rich has put forth.
Rich Mackin rides in Critical Mass. He attends a local radical mens' group. He is studying Zen Buddhism.
You should also be aware that Rich Mackin, when asked to leave a radical space in which women feel threatened by his presence, will refuse. He will ask to tell "his side of the story", continue to refuse repeated requests to leave, and will eventually make legalistic justifications as to why he should be allowed to remain at the perimeter of the space.
The following is taken from an anonymous flyer found at the Portland Zine Symposium:
SOME THOUGHTS ON "ADVICE TO MYSELF" (Rich Mackin's zine response to "Baby I'm a Manarchist")...
While Rich Mackin attempts to portray this zine as a humble and sage collection of advice to himself, his tone and direction thwart this effort, resting largely on a subtext of defensiveness and self-serving attacks on the integrity of the women who have come forth publicly about having been sexually assaulted by him. He relentlessly barrages the reader with "his side of the story", and while curiosity may be piqued by his inclusion of intimate details, their relevence is little more than smoke and mirrors distraction. His lack of sensitivity and blatant disrespect for these women involved compromises his own integrity.
Though later in the zine he advises against "taking sides", he attempts to draw readers into the position of playing judge and jury, exploiting each detail as an opportunity to absolve himself of responsibility (along the lines of, " I was sleeping; how'd that happen?"). That he is so intent upon exposing and pulling apart minute and personal details is not only in and of itself a violation, but clearly shows a lack of sensitivity for the impact that his transgressions have had on the lives of these women.
Throughout the zine, the reader is drawn into Mackin's self-analysis, but while he writes about self-awareness, it is unclear if this is a genuine desire to feel compassion for those he has hurt, or if it is more entrenched in a pathological narcissism. Something rings false. While Mackin uses all of the correct phrases and terminology about sexual assault, he couches it in parenthetical asides, hypothetical situations, barbs aimed at the feminist therapists he saw, condescending and offensive analogies, cryptic complaints against anonymous groups of people and a brief on Zen Buddhism that does little more than distract the reader from the reality that Mackin himself has some pressing and relevant issues around sexuality that need to be dealt with.
The dichotomy between the narrative of the first part (THE STORY) and the theoretical discussion of the second part (WHAT I WANT TO SHARE) is alarming, and leads one to doubt the sincerity of his soul searching. When abstractly discussing sexual assault, Mackin is clear, concise and makes some good points. But the dramatic shift between theoretical and personal indicates that Mackin has more work to do to internalize his book report information. While we support all attempts towards compassion and empathy, we feel that this "advice" is at best premature. Mackin may indeed be on a road to greater understanding but still must deal with some stumbling blocks.
Mackin's most flagrant affront in all of this is the sticker price. His audacity to sell this narcissistic work-in-progress indicates a lack of sensitivity not only to all readers and survivors but to the two women he claims to care so much about as friends. SEXUAL ASSAULT IS NOT A COMMODITY. We are insulted and offended that what could be a sincere and open dialogue with the community has instead been crafted into profiteering and more image-building for Rich Mackin.
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