Tessa Kendall has a post on Bullies and predators, expanding on Michael Story’s post yesterday.
Because of the stupid libel laws in this country, the Offender cannot be named publicly, which makes him harder to deal with.
I’m one of the hosts of London SitP, along with Carmen and Sid. When I started going to SitP, very few women came. Sometimes I was the only woman there at the King’s Head in Borough. Over the years, we’ve worked hard to encourage women to come and now a lot do. We want them to feel safe and comfortable. This isn’t a major problem, we don’t want to blow it out of proportion, but we do want to act responsibly and nip it in the bud.
This shouldn’t need saying but apparently it does – this is not acceptable behaviour. There are no excuses. You are not ‘just being friendly’. If you were, you’d be doing it to men too. You are not lord of the manor and women are not your personal fiefdom. Your position in the Skeptic community does not give you immunity. Even though the law may protect you, there are other ways we can deal with you – and we will.
What does “in Borough” mean? Southwark? Lambeth? Elephant and Castle?
But never mind that; notice the difference between that response and the response of an important segment of US skepticism. Notice the difference between telling off the perpetrators, as above, and telling off the women objecting to the behavior, as last May. Notice standing shoulder to shoulder with the women versus rebuking the women for speaking up.
Well done London SitP. If only if only if only that important segment of US skepticism had done as well. If only. Think of all the rifts that would not exist, the quarrels that would not have happened, the friendships that would not have broken. If only.
It should have been so easy – such a no-brainer. Tessa certainly makes it look that way. By “easy” I don’t mean easy to carry out or problem-free, I mean morally unambiguous. Easy to choose. Which side should we back up, here? The gropers, or the women who don’t want to be groped without invitation? It should have been so easy to choose.
This kind of sexual predator behaviour is a kind of bullying and, like all bullies, the Offender is relying on silence. I’ve been bullied in the past; I know how it makes you feel and I know how hard it can be to do anything about it so I know it’s a lot to ask you to speak up. But we will sort this out.
Bullies and predators pick their victims carefully. It is not your fault he does this to you. You have not ‘led him on’, you do not ‘deserve’ this. He is the one in the wrong. You’re not ‘making trouble’ or ‘causing a fuss’ by telling us. And anything you do say will be treated in confidence, so you don’t need to fear any personal consequences – which is another way bullies maintain their power. [emphasis mine]
See? It’s so clear, isn’t it. Why couldn’t we have had that? Why couldn’t we have had that instead of blame for speaking up? Blame for speaking up, let me remind you, a mere few days after the speaking up happened. Why did we get told off for making trouble and causing a fuss instead of told we weren’t doing that?
Well, maybe the London skeptics learned from what happened last May, and resolved to do the opposite. Maybe doing it the wrong way helped to make clear what the right way is. But I can’t help feeling rather sad that we had to be the raw material of the lesson.
Carmen, Sid and I really strongly encourage you to tell us if you see or suffer from the Offender. We will back you up and anything you tell us will be treated in absolute confidence. You can leave comments here (which in no way implies that you’ve been directly affected unless you make that explicit), you can email us, DM us on Twitter or tell us face to face. That’s @tessakendall, @carmenego or @sidrodrigues.
But DO NOT name him publicly.
For legal reasons. That means here, too.