Pickup Artists: Still Proving to be Scumbags

asshat1So this is going to be pretty brief.

Here’s a photo of three guys. They’ve been going around the University of Southern California sexually harassing women, including (sometimes especially) drunk women. This video in particular, where they creep up behind women and start massaging their shoulders, is really kind of… icky. It made my skin crawl. Many women don’t really know how to react in those situations.

“Jesse, Jason and Kong (no last names available) run a Youtube channel called “Simple Pickup” which supposedly instructs the viewer how to ‘pick up’ girls. In reality, the channel is a guide to street harassment.

They harass numerous girls in their videos and encourage their male viewers to do the same thing. They sexually humiliate women by ambushing them on the street and saying hideously inappropriate things, like ”do you shave your vagina?” or “your nipples are obviously pierced” .

They touch girls without permission, even fondle their breasts without consent. In one video, a girl tries to get away from being touched, and then gets so scared, she calls to two other strangers for help.

They live in California. If you live in California, report them. It doesn’t matter whether or not you think it will ‘do’ anything these men have committed sex offenses and deserve to have their names dragged through the mud, not celebrated for their victimization of women.”

-Via Tumblr (trigger warning if you follow the link: I’ve removed a reference to immigration status, FYI, which I wasn’t sure was relevant and felt racist in a discussion about nonconsensual behaviour)

Want to let the university to keep an eye on them? Submit a form here with the USC Department of Public Safety.

Know of similar pickup artist type jackassery who are dumb enough to post video/photographic proof of their sexual harassment and assaults on the internet? Ping us and let us know so we can signal boost. So many pick up artist type douchecanoes depend on women not knowing how to react and smiling nervously to try to diffuse the situation, because we’re taught not to fight back, not to make things worse, just to be nice. They consider that passiveness a win. It’s fucking awful, and rape culture at work.

Nine Abuser Personality Types

I wanted to add this as a resource on Consent Culture, though I want to note that I find the language very binary gender-wise and very heterosexist. I think this is a good starting place for acknowledging where we ourselves can look at our behaviour and say to ourselves- does this look familiar? What can I do instead? In addition, I want to link to Pervocracy’s “Why Does She Stay With That Jerk?“, which is also good for a personal check in.

These are summaries from Lundy Bancroft’s book ”Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men“. 

The Demand Man–He has little sense of give and take. His demands for emotional support, caretaking, or sexual attention are well out of proportion to his contributions to the relationship; he constantly feels that you owe him things that he has done nothing to earn. When he doesn’t get what he feels is due him, he punishes you for letting him down.

Mr. Right–He considers himself the ultimate authority on every subject under the sun; you might want to call him “Mr. Always Right”. His superiority is a convenient way for him to get what he wants. When he is arguing with you about conflicting desires, he turns it into a clash between right and wrong or between intelligence and stupidity. He ridicules and discredits your perspective so that he can escape dealing with it.

The Water Torturer–He proves that anger doesn’t cause abuse. He can assault his partner psychologically without even raising his voice. He tends to stay calm in arguments, using his own evenness as a weapon to push you over the edge. In an argument you are the one who leaves the room crying, or yelling, and then he can accuse YOU of being the one with a problem.

The Drill Sergeant–He takes controlling behavior to its extreme, running his partner’s life in every way he can. He criticizes your clothing; tell you where you can go and how long you can be there, even to the grocery store. He doesn’t want you to develop relationships outside of him, not friends and in many cases no family contact. He accuses you of cheating because he can be very jealous. Getting away from him can be very difficult because he is watching your every move. This type often has some psychological problems, although mental health issues do not cause abusiveness.

Mr. Sensitive–He appears to be the diametric opposite of the Drill Sergeant. He is soft spoken, gentle and supportive – when he is not being abusive. He loves the language of feelings, openly sharing his insecurities, his fears and his emotional injuries. [I pull you in with words like developing closeness, working out our issues and facing up to hard things about myself.] He presents himself as an ally. With the passing of time he increasingly casts the blame onto you for anything he is dissatisfied with in his own life; he starts to exhibit a mean side that no one else ever sees.

The Player–The player is usually good looking and often sexy (sometimes he just thinks he is) in the beginning of the relationship he seems head over heels in love and want to spend as much time as possible with you. Then over time his attention starts to wane towards you and starts to focus on other women, even your friends. He knows how to make a woman feel that she’s the special one and yet at the same time keeps her off balance, so that she never feels quite sure of where she stands with him. Eventually you will start to view any women as a potential threat to you. Chronic infidelity is abusive in itself, but the player doesn’t stop there. He is irresponsible, callous and periodically verbally abusive. His abuse can escalate abruptly if he is confronted about his behavior and can turn physically, fighting if he is caught by his partner cheating.

The Victim–Life has not been fair to the victim, he is misunderstood. He is the one who had the awful ex-wife and he tried everything in his power to make the relationship work. When you accuse him of being abusive, you are joining the parade of people who have been cruel and unfair to him. This makes you just like the rest. He had it so hard he is not responsible for his actions. He knows how to look and sound so pathetic; you may find yourself feeling sorry for him.

The Terrorist–He tends to be both highly controlling and extremely demanding. His worst characteristic is that he frequently reminds his partner that he could physically harm her or even kill her. He doesn’t have to beat you to terrorize you. He seems to get enjoyment out of causing pain. His goal is to paralyze you with fear. He is the type who may stalk his partner if she leaves him.

-Lundy Bancroft

 

On “We’ve All Been Abused & We’ve All Been Abusers”

I tried to find a gender neutral one of these, but this was all I found.

Recently my attention was drawn to a piece, “Developing a Better Call-Out Culture“, that discusses call-out culture (which Consent Culture certainly champions), and critiques some directions it can take. While I agree with the fundamental principle that we need to consider multiple approaches and multiple experiences while developing our responses to abusive situations, I feel that many of the things discussed within the article point, to me, to a greater need for call-out culture rather than a lesser need. The scope of my critique is too broad for one article, however, so I’m going to break it down into a few, namely:

- “We’ve All Been Abused & We’ve All Been Abusers”
– Shunning- The Cons, and the Pros
– On Accountability and the “People Change” Approach
– Personal Ownership Within Consent Culture
– The Political Nature of Forgiveness Narratives

These will, of course, take a while to write, because they’re difficult subjects and pretty triggering, but I think that they all make up pieces of a whole that’re important to address (and really, I think it’s important to note that author of the original article, Queste Desmarais, is raising some great and important questions- she’s just summarized in one place so many arguments that end up used against *any* call-out culture that it’s a good launch point). I consider this a fluid piece, in that I am hoping to have a discussion and keep developing this as I go. I am not an expert, by any means, and I don’t have everything figured out! Critiques are welcome, and encouraged. Let’s keep developing this consent culture thing bigger, better, stronger. 

We live in a truly fucked up culture. It’s filled to the brim with institutionalized violence and abusive behaviour, and it normalizes both of these things to an extent that we often don’t even recognize the myriad, intersectional ways it’s going on. Our media normalizes microaggressions, encourages trolling, waxes poetic about online bullying while simultaneously riling up flame wars in comments sections.

So I can understand why someone would say “we’ve all been abused and we’ve all been abusers”, and feel that it’s an accurate statement. If, when we say “abuse”, we mean everything from insulting people to physical assault, there’s a lot of ground that gets covered. And yes, I agree that we are all exposed to abusive behaviour, even recipients of it, and we are all likely to have engaged in those abusive behaviours ourselves at some point. In fact I think it’s incredibly necessary for us as activists working towards a culture of consent to reflect on how we personally have been impacted by being on both sides of abusive behaviour, perhaps within the same interaction. It’s not simple, or binary, a good amount of the time.

But I have to critique the way that the “we’re all abused and all abusers” seems to come up as a response, often towards marginalized people as a way to silence their very real pain. We are not all abused, or abusers, at the same rate. Privilege, access, agency- these things lend a hand in who ends up enabled and who ends up blamed, in who feels like they can call the police and thus often be considered “legitimate” in their experience of abuse. Who gets to call abuse out, and who doesn’t, who gets away with being abusive and who doesn’t, this is entwined with systems of power and the dynamics within those systems. Race and abuse is one such example:

Another major concern connected to racism and domestic violence is the status of the African-American man within the United States. Unfortunately, African- American victims of abuse receive the message that to report abuse by an African-American man is to feed the stereotype of African-American men as violent. Research, which the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence relies on from 1998, concluded that an African-American woman was more likely to feel protective of her abuser than a white woman. The reason for this reaction is a manifestation of the effects of discrimination and the “hard times” the African-American male has faced in the United States. Some African-American women feel that incidents of violence against African-American women by African-American men should not be reported because “they would be putting another ‘brother’ in prison.” Furthermore, the image of the “strong black woman” is forced on African-American women by each other in an attempt to defend ignoring the violence, because this violence has happened before and they should just go on with life as women have before.

The African-American female feels an obligation to support and assist her male counterpart emotionally in order to preserve the family. The reality is that “police brutality and blatant racism in the criminal justice system” exist, and when an African-American victim reports the abuse she is not only reporting abuse, but she is subjecting the abuser to the biased system. The choice for African-American women is not just whether to stay with the abuser, but whether to make a decision that may, on the surface, look to others in the community as selfish. If she reports the abuse, and the batterer is arrested, she does take the chance that the batterer will experience racism by the police or within the legal system. The victim is forced to make a choice between the violence she experiences and the racism that her batterer may experience. Racism, when considered a more serious problem, can keep African-American women from trying to end the violence.

-The Effect of Racism on Domestic Violence Resources, Lisa M. Martinson

I could point to examples where one partner is a sex worker, or is queer, or is trans*, or has mental health issues. If one partner has institutionalized support in ways the other does not have access to, this can of course create an imbalance of power. Call-out culture can sometimes be a vital possibility when the justice system will be stacked against you.

I think back to another movement with a patriarchy problem — the local chapter of Students for a Democratic Society I joined as an undergraduate. While we mocked the old sexist slogan from the Vietnam War era — “Girls say yes to boys who say no” — implicitly congratulating ourselves on how far we had come, the group lacked a framework for examining gender dynamics. We were hindered by white male dominance; women felt their opinions were not valued. When we formed a women’s caucus, we discovered that one of the group’s most dominant and charismatic men had abused or sexually coerced several women in the group. Lacking another model to address his behavior — and prioritizing our own emotional safety — we asked him to leave.

One in three women in the United States in both queer and straight relationships reports domestic abuse in her lifetime (27). Activists are no different. Patriarchy and violence surface regularly among activists on the Left — even, and perhaps especially, among those who fancy themselves liberated from all oppressive tendencies. Abusive behavior among activists traumatizes individual survivors and, if left unchecked, can poison social movements. Those abused by fellow activists may find themselves with nowhere to turn if the community fails them by siding with their abuser…

…It was inspiring to see the commitment of the Chrysalis Collective and the other groups featured in the book to a process that, under the best of circumstances, supports the healing of a single survivor and changes the outlook of a single abuser. This is one vision for creating a world without abuse; if each survivor and each abuser is surrounded by friends and allies, with the support they need to heal and change, we may — slowly, steadily — build the framework for a better world. This and other stories in the book left me marveling at what a privilege it can be to have a community strong enough to support the profound processes of healing and accountability. The task of establishing these communities when so many survivors never even feel empowered to speak about their abuse is a daunting concept, but a beautiful one. I also wondered how this model could ever spread to survivors who are not members of activist communities, or to those who have been isolated by abuse, or by racial, class, immigrant or sexual identity, or other circumstances, and who do not have a community to support them. The issue of child abuse is also not addressed directly by this book, although at least one essay mentions abuse involving young people. Perhaps these are topics for future books.

One of this book’s many takeaway messages is about deconstructing the victim/abuser dichotomy, in part by acknowledging that those who are being abused may react abusively to their circumstances. While the mainstream domestic violence movement makes demons of abusers and heroes of survivors, embracing incarceration as the solution, contributor Shannon Perez-Darby in her essay “The Secret Joy of Accountability: Self-accountability as a Building Block for Change,” shows how this outlook renders abuse in activist communities invisible: “If survivors are perfect, then people who batter are evil monsters, barely human. This binary allows us to think of batterers as people who exist somewhere else, in fantasy and stories but not in our lives, communities, and homes” (101-102). Perez-Darby asks us to look inward and take responsibility for our decisions in order to begin the process of changing our communities (107). Examining our own abusive patterns may be one of the most difficult things we do as activists. It is also one of the most important.

-“Our Movements Suffer as We Do”: Ending Abuse in Activist Communities, The Revolution Starts at Home reviewed by Amy Littlefield- emphasis mine

Silence often reads as complacency, even if you don’t intend it to.

We can recognize, I think, that sometimes people who have histories of being abused then turn to abusing others, while still recognizing that abuse isn’t ok and deserves to be called out. We can recognize that sometimes people who have mental health issues abuse others and also recognize that people without mental health issues abuse others as well, and really while managing mental health may help stop abusive behaviour, it also might not be connected at all. We can recognize the way power dynamics empower some and disempower others while still believing in calling shit out. We can be imperfect, and humble, and still learning, and still not silent or complicit.

I’ve engaged in abusive behaviour, and I’ve been abused. I believe in call-out culture because without it I would have retreated entirely when my abusers didn’t acknowledge what they did as abuse. He would have succeeded in chasing me from my spaces simply through his denial, and other people’s support of that denial. And similarly, without a belief in call-out culture, I would not have any reason to discuss my own history of abusive behaviour, or any reason to confront it. I could just close my eyes and pretend it didn’t exist. That’s what society certainly seems to tell us to do, and I don’t see it helping- if we’re waiting for abusers to suddenly take accountability I suspect we’ll be waiting a long ass time. I refuse to wait years and have panic attacks in my own community in the meantime, continuing to make space for his self-discovery. We had a whole relationship of that.

I think that’s what my problem is, ultimately. When people have said to me “but we’re all abused and we’re all abusers”, it seems like it’s usually a silencing tactic (“so your experience is invalid, because you’ve probably been abusive before”), or it comes with a sense of hopelessness. Why do anything at all when we’re all caught in this struggle? Why call abuse out at all when we’ve all been abusive?

If anything, to me that speaks to *more* of a reason for call-out culture- if we are truly dedicated to accountability, to not silencing survivors, to taking a stand against violence, then we need to recognize it in ourselves, we need to name it in others, and we need to not be defensive when made aware of our own ownership that we’ve missed or ignored. I believe people can change, but I also believe that having other people know your history of red flags is one of the best ways to prevent you from repeating bad patterns. Yes, I think it’s worth asking if there are amends to be offered to those you’ve hurt, and understanding if the answer is that you can never be forgiven. Call-out culture doesn’t have to lack compassion, but it does have to embrace honesty in recognizing the problem and hard work to change it. I think the amusingly named “Ditch That Jerk” sums it up rather concisely- “(People) who don’t change are those who don’t assume any responsibility for who they are and what they do.”

One of the things I say a lot is that guilt is a wasted emotion. Either you’re changing the behaviour, in which case, why feel guilty, or you aren’t, in which case, why feel guilty? For me, this is about choices. We make uncomfortable choices all the time, ones that make us uncomfortable and ones that make other people uncomfortable. I wonder if we just try to pretend they aren’t choices we’re actively making, because god, that’s a lot nicer feeling. Ignorance certainly feels like bliss, even if it isn’t.

Guest Post: Guilty By Association

Kitty Stryker here, bringing you a guest post from BoldlyGo that I felt strongly should be hosted here on Consent Culture. It discusses the various complications of friends who stay friends with those who have hurt us… or our staying friends with those who we know have hurt others. Why might people do this? Why might people be upset by this? It’s certainly complicated. I’m personally thinking a lot about how it’s possible to be compassionate to those complications while also having strong boundaries, and will be bringing a piece soon about that.

I’ve got this huge post on accountability sitting my queue and right now I’m waiting to get a copy of Why Does He Do That so I can cite the references on steps abusers make to change their behaviour and how to tell the difference between a genuine effort at recovery and a false attempt to sway an audience. But right now, there’s something related to this type of thing that I want to talk about and that’s going on with a variety of my friend groups and me in particular. This is about “shunning”. For the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to talk in generalities about hurt, rather than “abuse”. Not only because I believe this is still applicable when we’re talking about “hurt”, but because I think it makes the discussion more accessible for people who get hung up on the definition of “abuse” and to decide to police that.

After we’ve done the long and hard work it takes to realise that someone has hurt us, and sometimes it takes a long time and a lot of work for you to not only realise but admit to yourself that someone is hurting you, we often have a lot of choices to make about how we’re going to use this information. Are we going to stay in the same environments with this person? Are we going to talk to this person? Initially, just for yourself, these decisions can be difficult, if not impossible, to make. For example, those of us who have disabilities where we require the care of those who hurt us to survive don’t have the luxury to exclude people. But if we do have that privilege, we wonder about exacting it. And sometimes we make this choice right away, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes the boundaries of that choice shift and we feel comfortable with them in our circle, and then we change our mind. But that’s one stage of the process.

 

I'm not the only one who's often wondered how Lily could befriend both Snape and the individuals who continued to bully him, by their own admission, purely for amusement. It would be understandable for Snape to feel abandoned by Lily's friendship with them (before he decided to throw a slur in her face, at least).

I’m not the only one who’s often wondered how Lily could befriend both Snape and the individuals who continued to bully him, by their own admission, purely for amusement. It would be understandable for Snape to feel abandoned by Lily’s friendship with them (before he decided to throw a slur in her face, at least).

Another process involves our friends and acquaintances. It’s perfectly understandable for us to believe that the people who love us or care about us also care about when we are hurt. It is understandable for us to feel disappointed when people make decisions that reflect to us that they don’t care about our feelings – or at the very least, our feelings are not among their top priorities. So sometimes we wonder about how we handle the situation with our friends. Do we tell our friends all about it? Do we stay silent because it’s easier? While no one wants to say, “Either you believe me, or you’re not my friend,” one cannot deny the emotional repercussions of what happens to a relationship when someone makes a choice that you don’t feel supported by. It’s inevitable, regardless of their intent or their true meaning, that feel abandoned in some way by them. While logically we may understand that friends may have very good reasons for the choices they make, it doesn’t erase the feelings you have.

To put it plainly, I’ve been involved in a lot of situations where people have expected me or I have expected others to not associate with someone anymore. Now, in my case, I’ve not always voiced this. I’ve just told people about the hurt I’ve been through and watched and waited. I’ve never actually gone to the point of expecting people to not associate with individuals who hurt me because in all honesty, I’ve either been uncomfortable being so public about things or I’ve just felt like I didn’t want to bear it if people just outright refused. That’s a different kind of hurt and a different kind of pain. But even though I’ve never asked outright, I have still felt incredibly unsupported and abandoned when people continue to associate with individuals who have hurt me, while KNOWING that those individuals did hurt me. Every single time it happens, it kind of kicks my morale down a peg. I’ve all but given up on the idea anyone would go through the awkwardness and trouble it sometimes takes to say, “Hey, so you did this thing to someone I care about and that makes me feel not so happy to be around you.” I just don’t think anyone’s going to do that any more, so I’ve kind of given up hope.

 

While Anakin's choice to turn to the Dark Side seems understandable in light of what we see him experience, likewise Padme's choice to not support Anakin in his decisions is also understandable.

While Anakin’s choice to turn to the Dark Side seems understandable in light of what we see him experience, likewise Padme’s choice to not support Anakin in his decisions is also understandable. 

On the flipside, I have been asked by friends of mine to stop associating with certain individuals. I’ve either been asked outright or it’s been heavily suggested. Sometimes, I have made the decision to not associate with that person. And there have been situations where, because I was concerned about the safety of other friends of mine, I have chosen to disregard those requests. Sometimes I made a choice about associating with someone, but then changed my mind when I gained new information. Sometimes I’ve waited to make my choice until I gained more information. And other times, I’ve only associated with a person because I’ve not had the energy and support to confront them just yet. But in all of these cases, I’d like to think that I own my choices and their consequences.

Likewise, I’ve also witnessed friends of mine being ignored or not talked to because they’ve chosen to associate with some people and I’ve been angry and frustrated by the isolation that creates for them, especially when I feel they are in vulnerable positions. When I choose my associations, I’d like to think I make my choices in the best way I can to ensure that if there’s someone at risk, they don’t feel as though I’m trying to hurt them and yet – I understand perfectly if they feel as though I do not actually support them.

One of the biggest issues with talk about “abuse” is the idea of “shunning”, which I do write about in my accountability article, is that I feel like people use the word and mean different things by it. There’s a huge difference, for instance, between someone making a public call to oust someone and someone making a decision to not associate with a person and also not associate with anyone who does associate with that person. If I choose to not associate with someone and decide that, actually, I don’t want to be friends with a person because they associate with someone, I don’t think that’s me calling for everyone to shun that person. That’s me making a choice about who I’m friends with. Now, if my friend feels I’m forcing them to make a choice, that’s unfortunate. But in the end, I get to decide the circle of friends I want to be around. And if that circle has to include people who aren’t also including someone who hurt me, than that’s my choice to make. Painting me as someone who’s trying to force people to choose isn’t fair, because if I had the choice in the matter, I wouldn’t want to force anyone out of my circle – including the person who hurt me. Very few individuals seek to bring this type of drama and pain into their lives.

 

Although it's more of benign example, Darla's decision to not be with Alfalfa when he tries to hide their relationship isn't necessarily about Darla forcing Alfafa to pick different friends, but more about her choice in how she wants her partner(s) to show that they value her.

Although it’s more of benign example, Darla’s decision to not be with Alfalfa when he tries to hide their relationship isn’t necessarily about Darla forcing Alfafa to pick different friends, but more about her choice in how she wants her partner(s) to show that they value her.

I personally make the choice of being friends with people, sometimes even partners, who continue to associate with people who hurt me. Others won’t make that choice because they don’t want to. I think both approaches are equally valid. I personally make the choice just because if I had to restrict my choices, I might end up having barely any friends at all. And since a lot of people who have hurt me are sort of popular and ubiquitous in my groups, there’s a lot of parties I don’t end up going to and a lot of places I avoid. To lose what little people I have on top of that would mean I’d lose what tiny social life I have. But I won’t deny that, for the most part, I feel very unsupported by a lot of my friends and partners. Because they continue to associate with people who hurt me, it does hurt. I often feel like no one cares and it’s a large part of why I feel hopeless about the situation.

The politics of these situations are nuanced and difficult, and I get that. Most people get that and understand that. But I feel like there’s a big taboo over the head of anyone who goes through pain who makes a request for friends to show their respect of that pain by not associating with certain people. I feel like that’s seen as manipulative and harsh. Maybe the fact that I can’t do that and honestly would like to in certain situations makes me re-think this, because it’s not actually that harsh. Because I think that there’s something understandable in wanting your friends and the people you associate to respect your pain enough to realise that they at the very least should show you that they respect it, even if they weren’t involved.

When you’re forced to make a choice about who you want to interact with and forced to defend why, it brings up a lot of defensiveness. I certainly understand that. I think people feel so defensive, guilty, and unsure about making the choice, that they fling those feelings back on the person who makes that request. So instead of them feeling bad that they continue to associate with someone who hurt someone, they make the request seem audacious and out of line. Now, I wouldn’t doubt there are people out there who request something like that and don’t respect the fact that we’re all dealing with certain issues that we can’t escape or avoid. If I associate with someone who has hurt my friend and they’re also a work colleague that I see constantly, it might be difficult or impossible for me to not associate with that someone. I think for the most part, when we’re making that request, we need to be understanding of people’s limitations.

 

Hermoine
 

One of the things I dislike about the treatment of Hermoine is the way that Harry and Ron constantly either rely on her to do their work or, especially when it comes to S.P.E.W., constantly put her down for what she thinks. In many cases I find myself asking why she’s friends with either of them when they disrespect her so much and the issue of S.P.E.W. really puts her in a difficult place. Should she befriend people with such polar opposite views? Practically no one supports S.P.E.W. with her. 

But also, I think we need to own our associations. If you make the choice that you are going to associate with someone, I think it’s only fair you realise the effect that choice has. It’s only fair to understand that the person who’s been hurt might feel more hurt, abandoned, or unsupported. For someone like me, who’s accepted it and doesn’t expect anyone to stop talking to people who have hurt me, it makes it much worse to have people expect me to be happy about associating with people who hurt me and to give that my blessing. I won’t give it my blessing. I will be unhappy when I see people associating with others that have hurt me. That’s how my feelings are. And I think it’s unfair to expect me to change my feelings or be happy about something like that. Ultimately, I get to define how people can best support me. And if people make choices, despite their best intentions and feelings, that I feel do not support me, I have the right to decide that and feel unsupported by it. I don’t have to operate by someone else’s definition of caring and support.

When it comes to who we decide to associate with, I think the most important thing for us to do is take ownership of it and to understand that, while we can’t control others’ feelings, we can at the very least understand the feelings others have about our choices.

Guest Post: Thoughts on Hugo Schwyzer & Mental Illness- Straight From His Sexting Partner

Kitty Stryker here. I normally wouldn’t get sucked into the discussion of Hugo Schwyzer, but I felt a draw to this piece by Christina Parriera, the sex worker who was outed by an abusive ex as Hugo’s sexting partner. I have seen mirrors of Hugo’s Male! Feminist! Ally! while being abusive and not taking ownership in his personal life in people in my own life, and I bet you might have seen it in your own circles.

I want to acknowledge that my privilege may be blinding me to stuff within this, so please do call me out if that’s the case!- but I do appreciate that it discusses mental illness, abusive behaviour, and accountability as not mutually exclusive.

Hyperbole and a Half Pain Database- also applicable to emotional pain? Discuss.

 

The past five days of my life have been an absolute clusterfuck. I live in Las Vegas, but flew to Boston for the weekend. Afterwards, I went to Providence to stay with friends, and now I’m back on a plane. I had hoped my weekend getaway would be stress free, and although it was pleasant, it was not without drama. This is likely the last piece I will write addressing the Huge Schwyzer issue. I think that many people want to move forward and begin to heal. There were positives that came from the situation, like the #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen trend, and several discussions about race, class, gender, consent, and privilege. His meltdown got people talking about critical issues, and so I’d like to acknowledge the silver lining. It also got people talking about mental illness and culpability. This is what I want to address, and although I know many of you may disagree with what I have to say, I’m going to say it anyways. I’m hoping that at least a few people will see my point. At the very least, perhaps this can spur some interesting and respectful discussions.

First, I need to preface this. If you’re reading my blog, by now you probably already know that I’m the sex worker who got caught in the “sexting” scandal with Schwyzer. You can read my piece in Tits and Sass I’m The Sex Worker Who Was Outed As Hugo Schwyzer’s Sexting Partner to get a background of the situation, and of how those texts got leaked.

 

Second, I will once again clarify that I have never met Schwyzer. I have had several phone, email, and social media interactions with him, and was going to speak in his Navigating Pornography course last February, but that never happened. Third (and perhaps most important to the context of this article): I DO NOT CONDONE WHAT THIS MAN HAS DONE. He is an abuser. He is manipulative, attention seeking, selfish, and he has done unspeakable things to women in his past. Full stop. There is no excusing that, and if you read my article in Tits & Sass, you’ll see that he also betrayed my trust. So, given all that he’s done, I can understand why people’s immediate reaction to his mental illness is “that’s no excuse. He’s still an asshole,” and some even believe that he’s not mentally ill. I honestly cannot wrap my head around anyone who could possibly think Hugo Schwyzer is not mentally ill. Perhaps this has to do with a public lack of awareness about the different types of mental illness. I obtained a MA in clinical psychology and got through almost two years of doctoral study in the same discipline. I treated patients in various settings for almost 3 years, including at an intensive outpatient clinic that exclusively treated patients with borderline personality disorder (one of Hugo’s major diagnoses). There is more to mental illness than just anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADHD some of the most commonly talked about illnesses.
Many people are asserting that he’s not ill, but rather, that he’s a sociopath. Well, that statement makes no sense. The term “sociopath” is actually a way to describe individuals who have been diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder. This is a very real mental illness. It is difficult to treat, and characterized by abusive behavior, manipulation, and many of the other behaviors that Hugo presents with. Again, I am not making excuses. I am simply stating facts. He has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, a very serious Axis II personality disorder that is pervasive and difficult to treat. Signs of the disorder are usually present early on in life, and continue through adulthood. Common features include self-harm, suicidal tendencies, attention-seeking behavior, a pattern of unstable and volatile relationships, sexual promiscuity, identity crises, and extreme black & white thinking. Sound familiar? Yes of course it does. It sounds exactly like Hugo.
He’s also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder with psychotic features. This is perhaps the most severe aspect of his illness. I’ve seen people critique his constant manic episodes, saying that it’s not possible to swing that rapidly. However, there is a form of bipolar disorder that DOES rapid cycle, and it’s the biggest pain in the ass to treat. So, all three diagnoses are very severe and in my honest opinion, I believe they are accurate. Now let’s be clear- I have never met him, I am not qualified to diagnose him, and I am not his therapist. However, I am extremely familiar with the disorders, I used to diagnose patients in a healthcare setting, and from my interactions with Hugo, I think it’s likely that they’re spot on. Just my opinion.
So, what does this all mean? For starters, he should not be agreeing to interviews while he’s in this state. He’s on very heavy and sedating medications. He appears to be rapid cycling through mania. I think journalists should have waited to interview him. He’s not even remotely close to stable right now, as is clear by his frequent Twitter meltdowns despite his claim of “quitting the internet.” He should stay the hell OFF the internet. It’s not doing him any favors and it’s only upsetting to the people who he has hurt. But once again, he’s hardly in a place where he can think clearly. I messaged him yesterday and told him to GET THE FUCK OFF TWITTER. I’m not enabling his destructive behaviors, and once again, I hope everyone understands that the point of this article is not to enable him.
I am not an apologist for his bad behavior, but here is what I do want to stress: it is possible to be a complete asshole/abuser AND be mentally ill. When people make statements such as “he’s not sick, just an abuser,” I’m baffled. Why are we unable to hold the dialectic that both are possible? Is his illness an excuse for his behavior? Absolutely not. He must be held accountable, but we must also be savvy enough to consider the possible etiology of some of his behaviors. I think it’s much easier for people to just close their ears and say “I don’t care that he’s sick. He’s a jerk.” Well, that’s the easiest way to look at the situation, especially for his victims. It’s just not true though.

Perhaps people are quick to discount his illness because they fear that it will excuse his bad behavior. As a society, we need to get over that. It should not excuse his behavior. If a sociopath kills someone, he should go to jail. However, I think it’s interesting to explore the disorder and what led the sociopath to do such a heinous thing. It likely has to do with his disorder, right? Of course it does. Perhaps the only reason I’m intrigued is because of my background and mental health training. I’ve always been fascinated by disorders, etiologies, behaviors. I’ve also had my own struggles. My fascination does not translate into forgiveness. I’m just taking a balanced and fair assessment of the situation. As an aside, I did some crappy things that I’m not proud of when I was in an abusive relationship. That’s no excuse for some of my behaviors, but it is important to note that they were brought on as a result of being abused. That doesn’t mean I’m not taking responsibility.

 

Some say that he’s faking the whole thing and that he’s not ill. What? That man is sick as hell. Mentally healthy people don’t behave in the way that he has. On the other hand, not all mentally ill people do behave the way he did, and no one says they have to. I’ve seen a lot of people say “he’s making mentally ill people look bad.” That’s ridiculous. There are hundreds of different types of illnesses and thousands of ways that they can be co-morbid and manifest themselves. He doesn’t need to be a poster child for mental illness, but to discount the fact that he does have several of them isn’t helpful either.

Another point of interest- people saying that he’s white and privileged and can get treatment. They seem upset about this. If Hugo were a minority of low socioeconomic status, he wouldn’t be able to get the high level of care that he’s receiving. Yes, that’s absolutely true, and it’s terrible. But, what does that mean? Does it mean that Hugo shouldn’t get treatment? That’s also absurd. I wish that everyone could get the same level of care that he’s getting. It should be a basic human right, but just because some people get it and others don’t doesn’t mean that no one should. This man is destructive and has hurt MANY people, including me. Shouldn’t we ENCOURAGE him to be in treatment so that he can stop his abusive behavior? That’s the ideal outcome.

We should also be angry. We should express it, write about it, tweet about it, etc. Absolutely. People have a right to be pissed off. Women of color have a serious right to be pissed off. Again, my point is that all of these things are simultaneously possible. For some reason, people have a hard time accepting these many truths, and sometimes it’s not a neat and tidy presentation. A man can be abusive, manipulative, mentally ill, and deserving of care. All at the same time, even if some of us hate him. We also don’t (and should not) use his illness as a free pass for him. He’s gotten enough of those, and he should not be enabled right now. All I’m saying is to examine the possibility that his mental illness is a large part of what leads to his terrible behaviors. If you look up the symptoms of borderline personality disorder, it’s characterized by his exact behaviors, even the worst of his behaviors. So, that’s all I want people to take away from this. That it doesn’t need to be black and white. It doesn’t need to be either “he’s mentally healthy and just lying to all of us” or “he’s mentally ill and deserves a free pass.” It can be “he’s mentally ill and should be accountable for his actions.” These aren’t excuses. They’re truths, and we don’t have to place judgments and assumptions on them. They can simply be. Actually, this is a large premise of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, the only empirically supported treatment for those with borderline personality disorder. I worked at a DBT unit, and we used to teach our patients about mindfulness, non-judgmental stances, and radical acceptance.

 

By knowing his diagnoses, we can at least begin to understand WHY he did what he did. It doesn’t mean we have to forgive him, but at least we can be knowledgable. What’s so bad about that? Why are people so quick to assume he’s not sick? I don’t think many people would spend almost 2 weeks in a psychiatric facility if they were healthy. Doctors and psychiatrists would likely see through it after a thorough assessment. How did he get all of those prescriptions if he’s not ill? Or perhaps some of you think he’s also lying about that. Hell, maybe he is and maybe I’m totally wrong! That’s also a possibility but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and believing that he was in the hospital and that he was prescribed those medications. Is it possible that he’s exaggerating his symptoms and playing the “mentally ill role” for sympathy? Yes, and he probably is. That’s the sort of attention-seeking behavior that’s typical of borderline personality disorder. There’s a reason that most therapists don’t like to work with BPD patients. They’re difficult as hell. They’re a challenge, and one that I found exhilarating actually. It’s very complex.

 

Hugo needs to take responsibility for what he’s done, but we don’t need to accept his apology. Everyone has a right to feel the way that they do, and to react in a way that they can feel good about.
I feel good about acknowledging that many of his horrible actions are related to his diagnoses, that he’s screwing up, that he pissed me off, and that he still deserves proper mental health treatment.

 

Even if he is a one hundred percent sociopath, that still means he has a mental illness. Unfortunately, the prognosis isn’t great, but he claims to only have traits. I’m not sure how things will turn out for him, but I honestly wish him the best and hope he gets treatment.

 

Do I think he should teach again & be around students? No. Well, not unless he seriously goes through extensive treatment AND takes a LONG break. I doubt a short leave of absence will make a difference. Should feminists trust him again? Ha, fuck no. Should we recognize that he has an illness and it may have contributed to some of this. Yes. That’s ALL I’m saying.

 

I hope some of that made sense. It was written with good intentions.Yours truly amidst the chaos,
Christina Parreira

Sex Education – not just what you teach, but what you don’t

The UK government recently voted not to reform sex and relationship education in our country, notably leaving “same-sex relationships, sexual violence, domestic violence and sexual consent” out of the curriculum.

This absolutely horrified me: talking to my brother (who left high school last summer) it strikes me that virtually nothing has changed about sex education since I was at school ten years ago, despite the astounding developments we’ve made since then.

A legal partnership has been recognised between two men and two women in this country for more than half a decade – and yet we don’t teach our children about homophobia, biphobia and same-sex relationships – why? Isn’t that just asking for our more progressive laws to be trampled all over by the MPs of the future?

Brook, a sexual health charity that works with young people, reported in “Sex and Relationships Education Fit for the 21st Century” on Ofsted’s decision that sex and relationship education is “not yet good enough”, which only backs up their own research.

Public Health England reported earlier this month that half a million new sexually transmitted infections were diagnosed in 2012, which is a 5% rise and telling of how urgently we need to review what we’re telling young people about sex and staying safe. We have to be sure that we’re getting the message out effectively – and quickly, before teenagers start to experiment on their own and find themselves potentially saddled with infections that could leave them infertile.

I generally consider myself a sex-positive person, and although I generally try to avoid picking up an infection myself, I won’t judge people who do have diagnoses – but even I think it’s wrong that a child could end up with an infection that could render them infertile because the Government decided they didn’t need to know how to protect themselves.

And that’s just safer sex – the areas specifically mentioned by New Clause 20 are almost more important: in not passing this clause for further reading, our MPs essentially decided that we don’t need to explain to children the complicated mess that is consent and domestic and sexual violence. Just how are we going to make a dent in those rape and DV figures, which (whilst above zero) are far too high?

We don’t have to promote sex and relationships – we simply need to prepare children and young people, so that when they are ready to engage in relationships of their own, they have the knowledge they need to go about it safely and with respect for other people.

Children and young people themselves have said that they want more information about sex and relationships, and in rejecting NC20, the government is actively flying in the face of that. Well, they aren’t of voting age, so their thoughts don’t matter, right?

The good news is that the shadow leader of the House of Lords has taken the decision to raise the question of sex and relationship education again. There’s still an opportunity to make noise about it, and hopefully, this time, ensure that mandatory SRE makes it into schools someday soon. Brook has more information and we need to be pushing to make sure politicians understand the views of UK citizens.

Take Aim And Gun Down Creepshots

_MG_9839So there’s a Tumblr/Twitter calling itself “Creepshots”. The social media arena is just an offshoot from their site. Let me let them explain what they’re about with some bits from their “About Us”, which, at the time of this writing, was removed from their tumblr-

“What is a ‘CreepShot’ you ask? Easy. Creepshots are CANDID pictures. If a person is posing or aware that a picture is being taken, then it is no longer a creepshot. A true creepshot captures the natural sexy, embarrassing or funny aspect of the subject mater (sic)/person without their knowledge. “

If you discover you’ve had a photo of your body taken without your consent (which sites like this encourage men to do, and then encourages them to self-congratulate each other on violating boundaries), then you’re welcome to do one of two things, Creepshots says. You can feel admired, apparently, by the fact that someone found you attractive enough to stalk and sexually harass you! “If however, you wore something sexy, tight or revealing & are shocked, ashamed, belittled & embarrassed that you were creeped” (nice slutshaming there), then you can write them and demand the photo be removed and they may or may not listen to you because they’re a bunch of entitled douchecanoes.

This is fucking disgusting. I’m pretty sure the only reason Creepshots removed extra info about themselves and how to submit your own “candid creeps” is because of a Jezebel article drawing attention to them. Tumblr is aflame is fury thanks to Tumblr user themanwiththebluebox. And Tumblr has said… nothing. Not a word.

Contrary to what many people think, oftentimes candid sites like this aren’t protected legally, though sadly (as far as I know) not because it’s unacceptable stalkerish behaviour. It’s actually not protected because if it’s advertised as “sexy” or for erotic purposes, especially if money is being exchanged, they need to have 2257s to ensure they’re over 18.

“Take a look at the world around you,” the Tumblr urges. “There are creeportunities everywhere: durring your commute, shopping, coffee shops, office, sporting events or just even walking down the street!”

Gym-goers in workout gear and jean-clad shoppers — obviously asking for it while on exercise equipment and perusing the drugstore’s gift card selection — factor prominently. Surprise, surprise: all of the photos are of women. Some are in bikinis, others in sweats. It doesn’t matter; they’re all worthy prey by virtue of not knowing they’re being preyed upon. “She’s not asking for it,” one caption reads. “She’s begging for it.”

-Tumblr Has a Creepshots Problem, Katie J.M. Baker

This isn’t my first run-in with candid porn, by the way. I got into this with another similar type of site when I helped get it removed. I should check up on them too, while I’m at it.

What annoys me especially as a porn performer is that this is my *job*, so I know better than most that there is a fucking time and a place. If porn is being made of you, you should be aware, and you should be getting compensated. There’s a need for consent to be clearly given and received for wank material, in my opinion, or you’re taking advantage of people, which makes you a sleazeball. It’s not an admirable thing to show off that you can lurk around and snap  inappropriate photos of women as they go about their lives- you do realize that everyone looks down on that person, right? Not only is it entitled, and patriarchal, and potentially illegal (are you sure of their age? REALLY sure?) it’s also just sad.

What makes me REALLY sad is this will be labelled as porn culture.

My porn culture is one of consent, joy, and sexyfuntime, not male privilege and sexual harassment.

Thanks asshats.

Tumblr hasn’t been the best in their response to this. So far, they haven’t commented at all, despite their Community Policy Guidelines drawing lines at self harm and claiming to be fiercely anti-harassment (what that means is vague). Last year, they deleted Predditors, which sought to identify the “creeps” posting these candid nonconsensual photos, though they’ve since reinstated it. What I really don’t get, though, is that *this is in their policy*

Don’t post content that violates anyone’s privacy, including … private photos of your ex’s junk (no matter how attractive).

But somehow this doesn’t cover *random women going about their daily lives*???

I despair, I truly do.

Anyway. There’s a call to action, which I’ll repost from Tumblr user TheRogueFeminist:

Want to report? There’s two ways-it’s more effective if you do both:

1) Block them here and then report for harassment.

2) You can also email tumblr at abuse@tumblr.com and tell them to ban creepshots. Provide them with the url to the blog (creepshots.tumblr.com) and explain why they should be banned. If you’re too lazy to write out an email, you can use mine:

Hello tumblr staff,

Please remove/ban the blog creepshots.tumblr.com. They post demeaning, humiliating and objectifying pictures of women (typically their asses and breasts and even under their skirts) that they take without their permission on the street and in public. These guys were banned and deleted from reddit. Can you really say that tumblr is less of a safe respectable place than reddit?

What they are doing is wrong. Many, many users on tumblr feel violated and unsafe by this blog’s presence in the tumblr community. These men are violating the privacy of women everywhere. They specifically state in their about me: “Creepshots are CANDID pictures. If a person is posing or aware that a picture is being taken, then it is no longer a creepshot. A true creepshot captures the natural sexy, embarrassing or funny aspect of the subject mater/person without their knowledge.” They specifically state that only accept pictures of people whose privacy has been violated (source: http://creepshots.tumblr.com/AboutUs).

Please do something to show that you care about the safety and dignity of women, particularly the women in the tumblr community. If you don’t care about that, can you at least ban/delete them in the name of protecting yourself from legal liability? because there’s a strong likelihood that some of those pictures are of underaged girls. Given that these men are taking pics of young women they don’t know, how can they know their ages for certain? All it takes is one concerned parent or adolescent seeing their picture on that site, and if you don’t take it down, legal action could be taken against you.

So please, in the name of what is ethical and right and even legally responsible and smart, delete creepshots. Thank you.

Sincerely,

________ (tumblr username/name)

Trigger Warning: Facebook

Adverts for their products appeared next to a group captioned “I like her for her brains” below a woman lying with a pool of blood around her head, and another titled “Violently Raping Your Friend Just for Laughs”.

-Pinterest: nudity welcome, Matt Warman

Ok, I just for kicked off Facebook for 24 hours. You know why? Because I just got scolded for my second warning. Oh no, you say! What did I do? It must’ve been REALLY AWFUL if pages and images like the above *are allowed to stay up forever because they’re just bad taste, right*.

The first time, I was booted because I posted an image on Instagram which posted to Facebook where you could see my nipple. Gasp! Horror! I mean, in this day and age! A nipple! Which is interesting, because while they are anti-women’s breasts, they are apparently cool with baby penises.

kitty-betty-1-poster-300x177This time, it was for posting a link to a trailer for a Queer Porn TV piece I did with my porno soulmate Betty Blac and filmed by femme fatale Courtney Trouble. Because sex isn’t ok on Facebook, right. And, you know, fair enough- it’s porn.Though actually, on contemplation, it’s a link to porn, which is actually ok according to their standards, and on looking at it further? It’s because when I shared it, this is the image that automatically came up when I shared the post via FB’s sharing button on my mobile (the original post, mind, is still up), and it showed… yep, that’s right. A nipple. HORROR. And I couldn’t elect to remove an image, cause FB doesn’t let you do that on your mobile.

Anyway I guess I got confused, because Facebook has been ok with so many other things lately that I didn’t think some loving sex would be an issue. Silly me.

Because, of course, had it been a video of a 12 year old girl being violently raped, that’d be ok. Not an isolated incident, mind- it happens often enough that it’s becoming a trend. Cause porn is bad, mmk, but videos of young girls and women being raped, that’s just bad taste entertainment! Never mind that the subsequent humiliation is further abuse that can continue long after the sexual assault. One piece I read believes that’s more of the point- the public shaming of a young woman as a group bonding activity. Thanks, Facebook, for fostering that but making sure that dirty porn stays far, far away!

Granted, you know, it’s also totally ok to use Facebook as a humiliation tactic. In one Youtube video that I won’t link to, a mother yelling at her 14 year old daughter (who she’s dressed up presumably as a “slut” for her public shaming) references that some boys posted photos of this girl engaging in sex acts to her Facebook page (which presumably didn’t get deleted immediately as Mum found it, despite being both nonconsensually shared*and child porn*). This mother also threatens that she’s going to beat her daughter, film it, and post that on Facebook as a lesson for the boys she sleeps with- cause, you know, that’ll show them!

She’s not the only parent to think of filming the beating of her child and then sharing it on the internet to further punish her kid, though. But maybe she hasn’t heard that those videos are being used as evidence of, well, child abuse. That said, even in those cases, the videos are allowed to be shared over, and over, and over again, furthering the humiliation which was the point of putting them online in the first place. Are we that addicted to human suffering?

Well, according to Facebook, the answer is yes. If you look at what they filter for their standards says things like it’s not ok to bully someone for their status as a sexual assault victim- yet they allow pages that actively encourage violence against sex workers, because that’s just funny, right? I can’t be a porn star on Facebook, but I can be a dead hooker! Hahahaha….oh.

I think I’ll just close with this, cause it pretty much sums up my disgust:

The specific clause in Facebook’s statement of rights and responsibilities that’s supposed to protect groups against violence and hate speech instructs the user: “You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.” However, Facebook has now defended the numerous pages that clearly violate these terms by claiming: “Groups that express an opinion on a state, institution, or set of beliefs – even if that opinion is outrageous or offensive to some – do not by themselves violate our policies.” Which is strange, because if a page entitled “Roses are red, violets are blue, I’ve got a knife, get in the van” isn’t hateful, threatening or gratuitously violent, I don’t for the life of me know what is.

It was back in August that feminists first began to notice the proliferation of pro-rape pages on the popular social networking site. Two months later over 176,000 people have signed a US-based petition calling on Facebook to take them down, and nearly 4,000 people have signed aUK-based petition calling for the same. The Facebook pages, such as the one cited above and others that include “You know she’s playing hard to get when your [sic] chasing her down an alleyway” still remain.

Facebook’s initial response to the public outcry was to suggest that promoting violence against women was equivalent to telling a rude joke down the pub: “It is very important to point out that what one person finds offensive another can find entertaining” went the bizarre rape apologia. “Just as telling a rude joke won’t get you thrown out of your local pub, it won’t get you thrown off Facebook.”

And in some ways they’re right: telling a rude joke probably wouldn’t get you thrown out of your local pub. I’d suggest, however, that propping up your local bar while inciting others to rape your mate’s girlfriend “to see if she can put up a fight” would not only get you thrown out, it would in all likelihood get you arrested as well. Still, at least you could log on once you got home and post your offensive comments on Facebook instead, safe in the knowledge that they wouldn’t do anything about it.

What Facebook and others who defend this pernicious hate speech don’t seem to get is that rapists don’t rape because they’re somehow evil or perverted or in any way particularly different from than the average man in the street: rapists rape because they can. Rapists rape because they know the odds are stacked in their favour, because they know the chances are they’ll get away with it.

-Facebook is fine with hate speech, as long as it’s directed at women, Cath Elliott

Feel free to tweet Facebook (or complain on FB) and tell them what you think about all this. You could also comment here but it’ll probably get lost in the noise.

A Confession

581903_10151288920806218_1395710096_nIt’s been a while since I’ve posted here in Consent Culture, in part because I’ve honestly felt a little embarrassed and triggered by this project, as much as I still consider this work important.

I started this project with Maggie Mayhem because I was frustrated on a personal level about a community issue, but also, I realize now, because I was in an abusive relationship and I needed it.

I needed a consent culture to exist, because I needed to come out about my experience, and I needed it to not be as bad this time as it had been before with the victim-blaming and the gaslighting and the ostracization and the accusations of “just stirring up drama”. I needed to be able to tell people that my relationship was abusive, that it scared it, without worrying I would lose friends over the confession.

So I co-founded a movement. Cause, you know, why take an easy path?

The problem, of course, with all this is that while I was doing the work on Consent Culture I would compare my story to other people’s and decide that it wasn’t as bad, and therefore wasn’t actually abusive. And then I think I got to a point where I felt I had to lie to myself to get by- how could I tour the country talking about abuse in BDSM when I was living and excusing it at home? So I kept quiet, and felt miserable, and trapped, and silenced. I felt shame as I advised people to leave abusive situations if they were ready while realizing I wasn’t ready yet, and hating myself for that realization.

In my experience, it’s hard to be an activist for a cause you’re living in.

My anger at my relationship falling apart and the systems that made that so excusable- the mental health system that told him he didn’t have depression, or anger issues, he just needed more sleep, or the police officers that pulled me aside after he had thrown a vacuum to ask me if I really wanted him to get arrested on Mother’s Day- got funneled into Consent Culture, and I became determined to change it so that this shit was fixed at the source, at every source, not just within the alternative community but outside of it. I was fed up with the expectation that I should put up with being treated badly because my partner “seemed like a nice guy/a good feminist”. And I was fed up that my friends expected me to feel triggered and upset because they didn’t want to deal with their own complicated feelings about confronting the idea that someone they knew was abusive, and therefore I should keep quiet so they could stay comfortable in their ignorance.

But Consent Culture began to make me have expectations about my boundaries. As I became more solid in the work I was doing as an activist, it became more and more obvious to me that my relationship was not healthy, that boundaries had to be drawn, that my partner needed to seek help that I could no longer give. It made me realize it was ok for me to tell my friends I needed them to choose between us, because his abusiveness and lack of accountability for it was problematic enough for me that I couldn’t be around them and not resent them for wanting me to pretend nothing happened. I lost some close friends in drawing that line. I don’t regret it a bit.

It kills me. Every day I hear at least one, maybe two, maybe more stories of women, men, children who have been the victims of rape culture. Often it’s brutally affected them. It’s hard to stay fierce when your heart is breaking because you’ve been that girl, more than once, and you want to reach out but it’s too late for her. It’s impossible to stay neutral.

This can’t keep going on while we turn our heads and pretend it’s not real life. This is happening in our communities, to people we love. People we love are the abusers. We need to deal with this, and I speak as an activist and as a survivor. Consent Culture is the personal and political entwined so tightly it chokes.

The system is broken. It’s very broken, and it’s broken in many places. But more and more people are saying “fuck that noise”. I don’t pretend to know everything about what a consent culture would look like, or how we get there, but I do know this- consent culture paved me some space to leave an abusive relationship and come out to my friends without feeling shunned. When I was raped 11 years ago, 90% of the people I knew and called friends blamed me or didn’t want to talk about it and didn’t support me. This time, about 90% supported me and thanked me for my boundaries and talking to them. You can read more about that whole situation here.

Things can change. WE can change. But it’s not going to be easy, and it’s not going to be one size fits all, and we’re going to fuck up and have to take ownership when we do. I realize now that this is probably the work I’m going to do for the rest of my life, that this work saved me, that it could save others. I hope you’ll join me in any way you can. We’ll need an army of lovers.

If this sounds at all familiar, I recommend reading “The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities” and reading this post by Pervocracy, along with Captain Awkward. Know that you’re not alone, wherever in the process you are. 

Bigmouth Strikes Again

Meanwhile, Fetlife explodes as man who was banned from one community for burglary now stands accused of sexual assault in another community. GOOD THING WE CAN’T NAME NAMES! OTHERWISE IT’D BE A WITCH HUNT, HUH GUYS?

I notice that no one is fussing about false accusations in this particular case- is it because pillars of the community are speaking against him? Is it because he’s a man of colour and white people are the ones accusing him (supported in part by at least one of the commenters on his “mug shot”)? Is it just a question of enough accusations? Is there enough proof to make it seem valid?

Anyway.

I’ve made screenshots of that thread because I foresee it disappearing. It’s notable that people (pillars of the community type people) who supported Baku’s “we can’t possibly name names, that would lead to LYNCH MOBS” TOS want to name names now. And don’t get me started on white people tossing terms like “lynch mob” around when it comes to things like “being held accountable” in the first place. I guess it’s only a lynch mob if it’s a white dude being accused? I mean, look, this guy seems like a complete asshat, but it seems really fucking obvious that when a white dominant guy is an unethical rapey douchecanoe, the peanut gallery rallies behind him to defend his honor against those “bitches” who are “just jealous” or whatever. But when it’s a black dominant guy with similar accusations, suddenly no one’s speaking up.

Funny that.  

Sometimes I wish I could gather up the whole community and smack the privilege and hypocrisy out of all of them in one full swoop.

I just really hope this is a kick in the pants to the community that this is exactly WHY being able to name names on our social media resource is potentially important.