January 28th, 2014

Tree

Bravery, Public Service and Priority

My last post about getting harassed at Arisia went viral, and I had my first experience with internet fame.

1) I got posted on reddit by some MRA type. My first reaction was "MRA's are criticizing me? GOOD" Then I panicked and spent about five hours cleaning my blog of all identifying information in case somebody decided to be a phenomenal douche and hunt me. Then I wrote a form letter in case I get threats. THEN I went to check reddit and realized that the first three respondents to the criticizing post were people saying "Well, I dunno that actually sounds pretty creepy." Gosh, even MRA's got my back on this one. Talk about a sea change. There were mostly objections to me naming him and posting his picture. Which I can take.

2) I was nearly outted on the Arisia facebook fanpage.  My blog got posted there and was deleted, which I support. I never saw the original posting before it was deleted, but I understand the comments discussion was heated and personal reputations were in play. I support the fan page declaring this was not the discussion they wanted to host. However, one of the discussants in the thread ABOUT the deleting referenced a post I made on the Arisia fanpage through my personal facebook account. Thankfully, I caught the comment within minutes and deleted my post. I wrote the discussant and pointed out to him that he just outted a victim of harassment with his reference and to please have more care with my identity. It was hella scary and I shiver to think what might have happened if I hadn't caught the comment soon enough to protect my identity.

3) There was much discussion of libel and slander in the discussion of the deleting, which honestly made me laugh. I support anyone who doesn't want to host a discussion of my blog on their blog. But the idea that someone who DOES wish to host this discussion might be in legal trouble for slander is ludicrous. First of all, I don't have to prove that my version of events happened (even though I have ample evidence and witnesses to do so). Slander and libel require that the story be demonstrably false. And the blog alone includes confirmation from the Arisia con chair of my report.

4) Because of the attention this post has gotten, the retribution I hoped to net for Dustin has been left in the dust. He is now getting fallout from cons across the country that he presumably has never attended. I'm not sure how I feel about that. What Dustin did to me was super-rude and disgusting, but I wouldn't characterize it as criminal. My hope continues to be that Dustin is remorseful, apologizes to me, accepts appropriate consequences, and demonstrably amends how he interacts with women. That's how it's supposed to work to improve our communities.

5) HOWEVER, also because of the attention of this post, several other people have come forward claiming more serious violations from the same person. Some of those violations DO deserve a massive public shaming and banning from communities.

6) I am giving a tiny bit of side-eye to people who are eager to ban a person who has been publicly shamed whom they are never likely to encounter. I would feel much better if people used this post to examine their harrassment policies, work with advocacy groups to devise staff trainings on how they handle sexual harrassment and reporting, and to make a concerted effort to CHANGE THEIR CULTURES rather than BAN THIS PARTICULAR GUY. The key isn't getting one person. It's making sure that everyone feels they live in a culture where non-consent matters and is taken seriously.

7) I'm also giving a side-eye to myself as I accept kudos for my bravery. And I finally figured out what it was. The point of my post was that I was not brave.

Let me say that again: the whole POINT of the post was that I was not brave. I didn't have to be.

I had an education about consent, support from close friends and authority figures, and Dustin was a stranger to me who never got an opportunity to make me feel betrayed, unsafe, or deeply hurt. I didn't need to be very brave to turn him in. That's the point. I want to celebrate the fact that, for privileged little me in my life in this con, I needed jack for bravery to do this.

Not everyone has the luxuries (both internal and external) that I had in this situation. And I HAVE been deeply hurt by someone close to me who made me feel not only unsafe, but that I had no right to be mad. And you know what? I stayed silent then. Because I was hurt and scared and had no support. And that's fine. I am not required to be brave in that situation. I had a little boy and myself to take care of and I felt I was all alone.

Several people have gotten courage from my post, which is great, but I want to emphasize it is not anyone's responsibility to see past their own trauma or to accept the consequences of criticism, loss of privacy, social devastation, disbelief and all the other hardship our culture is capable of heaping on victims to perform a public service. Because that's what this is. Posting Dustin's name publicly on my blog and making sure he faced consequences was a public service to the community and (stay with me here) to him. And the only reason I did it is because it was easy for me.

Educating Dustin to be a better human being and making our communities safe is NOT a victim's responsibility, nor should it be their main concern. Because timely, individual creeper education is not as important as people who are hurt. People who are hurt (and their wellness, safety and healing) get priority over creepers and public service announcements. Communities are responsible for making THEMSELVES into safe places. They should not rely upon the bravery of people who've just had something shitty happen to them. People should not be waiting for someone to be brave. They should be making their communities and cultures safe places so that people DON'T HAVE TO BE BRAVE.

I wasn't very brave. I didn't have to be. Lucky me. Please make sure no one has to be brave to report rape and sexual harassment. Do it in your own communities. Do it for your friends. Do it TO your friends. Do it for real.