Abuse Is Not an Olympic Sport

Ah. I see Richard Dawkins has “apologized” for his asinine comments about pedophilia. The best I can say about it is, at least this time, he attempted to apologize for being a gigantic ass. For an anatomy of this “apology,” I encourage you to visit the incisive comments from Jafafa Hots here and here. Off you go. Especially you, Richard. Yes, you. Now. Look, I’ll even publish those comments at the end of this piece for those lazy buggers who can’t be arsed to click links.

Are you back? Perhaps you can see why I’m disappointed, but in case not, read on.

Dissapointed cat

I’m not going to write a long manifesto exploring all the ways Richard Dawkins has, once again, gotten it wrong, because that’s rather been taken care of by survivors in this thread. I’m just going to say this:

Abuse is not an Olympic Sport.

No medals are awarded for Worst Abuse Survived. No points are detracted for Not Surviving Abuse Quite Right, or Making A Fuss Over “Minor” Sexual Assault. There is no Abuse Olympics Committee drawing up the parameters as to what constitutes Really Real Serious Abuse and what is Less Serious But Still Impressive and Too Petty to Be Included as a Sport.

The fact that you insist on their being such degrees, that you feel you must slot survivors into these categories, wherein only the Repeated Groping by an Adult in Authority qualifies for consideration – Richard, that tells me you’ve suffered more damage than you think. Because not being very traumatized by an assault is one thing (I’ve got some in my past that have hardly been a blip on my radar, too, so I get that.) But this insistence on minimizing this type of assault, statements like this:

Now, given the terrible, persistent and recurrent traumas suffered by other people when abused as children, week after week, year after year, what should I have said about my own thirty seconds of nastiness back in the 1950s? Should I have lied and said it was the worst thing that ever happened to me? Should I have mendaciously sought the sympathy due to a victim who had truly been damaged for the rest of his life? Should I have named the offending teacher and called down posthumous disgrace upon his head?

No, no and no. To have done so would have been to belittle and insult those many people whose lives really were blighted and cursed, perhaps by year-upon-year of abuse by a father or other person who was deeply important in their life. To have done so would have invited the justifiably indignant response: “How dare you make a fuss about the mere half minute of gagging unpleasantness that happened to you only once, and where the perpetrator was not your own father but a teacher who meant nothing special to you in your life. Stop playing the victim. Stop trying to upstage those who really were tragic victims in their own situations. Don’t cry wolf about your own bad experience, because it undermines those whose experience was – and remains – so much worse.”

That is why I made light of my own bad experience.

That’s a whole other kettle of fish. It screams of someone trying to convince themselves that things really weren’t bad at all, who so needs to be convinced of this that anyone who survived the same but admits that it traumatized them must be belittled and shouted down, even in an apology. Because otherwise, you’d have to admit that what you experienced was more than just a silly little nothing you don’t have to fuss over. If those survivors clamor about it, that means you were a victim, too. And you just can’t face that.

If that’s not what has led you to sneer at people whose abuse was less than spectacular oh, so many times, I apologize. But I do hope you think about it. And I do hope you realize that, even if you’re not motivated by trying to minimize your own trauma to protect yourself, you sure as shit look like it, and furthermore are doing quite a lot of harm to your fellow survivors, and should stop now.

Take the example of those of us who have survived our own abuse, some of it which even you would admit qualifies as really real serious stuff, and don’t minimize what happened to others just because they didn’t react the same way as you. They’re people with different thoughts and experiences and expectations than you. They’re people who experience life differently from you. The fact they stumbled over what you took in stride doesn’t make them lesser people. It doesn’t make them fake victims crying wolf. It simply means that they are not you.

And I guarantee you that somewhere along the way, they’ve hopped lightly over something that brought you crashing down on your face, because that’s just a fact of being human.

Put the scorecard away.

[warning]A special note to the Dawkins fans who might feel compelled to defend their Brave Hero by shitting on everyone else: I’ve got a spam folder empty and waiting. Don’t even bloody bother. You are, of course, welcome to spew that nonsense elsewhere, so do make sure you save your comment so that you can repost it in full where other Dawkins fanatics can admire your mad apologetics skillz.[/warning]

***

Here are Jafafa Hots’s comments in their entirety:

 

It is not an apology.
It’s a rephrasing of his argument for those of us too stupid to get it.

Right off the bat he says that the disagreement is the result of a misunderstanding, the implication being that we did the misunderstanding. Perhaps also that he needed to elaborate, but not to change his stance – to reassert it.

Today we read, almost daily, of adults whose childhood was blighted by an uncle perhaps, or even a parent, who would day after day, week after week, year after year, sexually abuse a vulnerable child. The child would often have no escape,

That “year after year” sentiment crops up again and again.

Now, given the terrible, persistent and recurrent traumas suffered by other people when abused as children, week after week, year after year, what should I have said about my own thirty seconds of nastiness back in the 1950s?

More “year after year” which is what apparently is needed for you to feel bad about being sexually assaulted.

That is why I made light of my own bad experience. To excuse pedophiliac assaults in general, or to make light of the horrific experiences of others, was a thousand miles from my intention. I should have hoped that much was obvious. But I was perhaps presumptuous in the last sentence of the paragraph quoted above.

It should have been obvious, but he presumed too much of us, so he’s forced to explain it like we’re children.

As far as the complaint that he was projecting his experiences onto OTHERS, including his classmates?
First, he talks about how they talked among themselves – as if that somehow eliminates the fact that kids will “buck up” in front of friends, or not recognize the damage until later.
The concession he gives about his painting his experience onto others is this:

“I cannot know for certain that my companions’ experiences with the same teacher were are brief as mine, and theirs may have been recurrent,/b> where mine was not.

if, perhaps it happened many times and amounted to more than the single disagreeable but brief fondling that I endured, I apologize.

All this “apology” is is a doubling down of his
mild” versus “real and damaging” pedophilia stance.

And what if he (and by implication others) HAD claimed he was harmed by a single instance of being molested?

To have done so would have been to belittle and insult those many people whose lives really were blighted and cursed, perhaps by year-upon-year of abuse by a father or other person who was deeply important in their life. To have done so would have invited the justifiably indignant response: “How dare you make a fuss about the mere half minute of gagging unpleasantness that happened to you only once, and where the perpetrator was not your own father but a teacher who meant nothing special to you in your life. Stop playing the victim. Stop trying to upstage those who really were tragic victims in their own situations. Don’t cry wolf about your own bad experience, because it undermines those whose experience was – and remains – so much worse.”

Because if he had claimed his teacher putting his hands down his pants was harmful, apparently we all would have jumped on him for claiming that was harmful, and properly so, because that’s his opinion also.

There is no apology here.
There is an explanation and reiteration of his “real and damaging versus mild and harmless pedophilia” stance, that he has to rephrase because he apologetically understands that we were too thick to understand him.

The whole thing is a cowardly BS restatement of his original stance.

I not only reject it fully, I’m embarrassed that the cult of personality, the “need for leaders” problem we seem to have is helping him make the same offensive statements as an “apology” for his earlier expression of the same damned opinion.

 

And in case I didn’t stress that part enough, his concession that his friends might have been harmed hinges on the possibility that they, unknown to him, suffered it repeatedly, “many times.”

Because again, to be harmful sexual abuse, it needs to be REPEATED. Not like the harmless “mild pedophilia” he suffered. His mistake was in presuming that they also may have only suffered the one-off “harmless” sexual molestation.

THAT is doubling down.
He has not changed his attitude one bit, and all he has done is to explain to us mere nitwits the true standards our abuse has to meet to be considered harmful, and not “crying wolf.”

Doubling down because people are too damned stupid to understand you is NOT an apology by any stretch of the imagination.

I am sickened by the fact that hero worship is so entrenched that he can successfully pull this off and get people to thank him for it.

 

Guest Post: “Quit Sitting Around Here Being Brand New to This”

Ceesays has put together the beginnings of a fantastic resource for those of us willing to buckle down and educate ourselves, but who aren’t quite sure where to go for our 102-201 level courses. JesseW, the Juggling Janitor, was so kind as to list the links. Good thing summer’s almost over (in the Northern Hemisphere) and summer beach reading time is approaching (in the Southern) – we’ve got a lot of resources to read.

Turning it over to ceesays:

 

Okay now go on to step two and start looking for more blogs of people talking about racism. Black skeptics and the Crommunist archive are only a start. there are many, many more people who have been talking this talk for years, in dead tree books and online, things that have *already been said.*

The truth is, dezn_98 should not have had to make this blog post. It is a shame that dezn_98 did, and the shame is yours.

The material available for white folks to educate themselves about racism has existed for over a century, and the sheer volume of material has been growing at an astonishing rate for over 50 years. So stop patting yourselves on the back and being thankful. Y’all are fcking late.

Y’all ought to be going after racist claptrap with the ferocity and eloquence that you use to go after sexist claptrap, and you really ought to have been getting to that level of competence *years* ago. So quit sitting around here being brand new to this. Get wise, and fcking HELP US.

And I don’t mean get wise as in get Tim Wise. The fact that a white man is making a living talking about anti-black racism is a further shame, because it actively demonstrates that white people are so racist they refuse to listen to anyone but a white man about what happens to black folks. Yes, he knows all the moves and he makes all the arguments. Realize that not a thing he says is original to him. He stole it all from Black people talking about their lives. he’s the Elvis Presley of anti-racism.

Kwame Ture’s birthday was yesterday. You might remember him better as Stokely Carmichael. Read him. But don’t just limit yourself to reading black men. Find yourself some Audrey Lourde. Read Blackamazon. Gather comforting things around you and read Beloved. Read Kindred. Find books about the atlantic slave trade, just make sure that the author is black. Read Zora Neale Huston. Read Langston Hughes. Read the archives of The Bad Dominicana. Read Racismschool.

Zora Neale Hurston. Image courtesy the U.S. Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons.

Zora Neale Hurston. Image courtesy the U.S. Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons.

Read Angela Davis. Read bell hooks. Read Gradient Lair. Read TransGriot. and if I sat and thought I could come up with twenty more, and more after that, because the sheer number of black writers writing about blackness ain’t nobody heard of is truly staggering.

And every time you get angry, or feel the tears coming, Stop. grab a journal. write down how you feel in that moment. don’t edit or correct. then close the book, and don’t go back to read what you wrote before. Go for a walk or something, clear your mind, and get back into the book you were reading, but start 5 pages back from where you got angry, and read it again. Keep going. Keep reading, keep thinking. And everytime you start to feel upset or angry, write it down, and don’t go back and read it.

If all goes well, in a year you will be appalled by the person who wrote their anger in that book. Read it anyway. Understand what it took to come as far as you have come. Understand that there are literally millions of people who still think like that. that we’re all of us raised to think like that. we swim in racism as pervasive as the sexism you fishes have noticed. you have to actively work to raise your consciousness about racism in a way you didn’t really have to about sexism, because there were enough feminists talking that you were willing to listen to.

There are not nearly enough anti-racists for your consciousness about racism to be lifted with as much ease. If you wonder why that is, think about how much harassment the prominent feminist women you’re familiar with go through. Realize that adding a color to that – any colour, though I speak specifically of anti-black racism – easily doubles the harassment.

Read the comments on any article you happen to find written by a woman of colour or a man of colour about racism. note the bonus additions that white women do not have to suffer while they talk about sexism.

Get out there and help us. I’m too tired. I’m tired of trying. I’m weary of the ways of white folks. More and more, I retreat to where most of the voices online are black and get the hell away from the white man’s internet, because it’s killing us while it robs us blind. Stop being comfortable and pleased with yourself, and help us.

Go now, and educate yourself. there are millions of words already provided. go find them. Go read them. Quit being brand new.

***

oh and I forgot to mention – the diarizing is an important part because reading about racism isn’t going to leave you with a lot of choices about who you can talk to about it. And you do not want to try – because it’s an imposition to the people who know, and talking to people who don’t know will not help you. however I am certain that everyone will understand that experience fully if they take my advice!

***

And like i said, there are a lot of black writers writing about blackness. we could add to this list for days and days. If we started listing the writers talking about colors that aren’t black, that would be one heck of a library.

i find the online resources a lot easier to access of course, being poor, but also – these books aren’t in my library. I’ve been fortunate in that people have gotten books to me so I can read them, and I have passed these books along, because many of us are poor, and the small press and short print runs that are a “natural” consequence of publishing “niche work” means that a lot of these books can be quite difficult to find if you haven’t got cash to spare. But I’m building my shelf, gradually.

I wonder how many people would find that same thing? that for some, it’s just a matter of just buying them, but for others, the books stay out of their hands because Blackness isn’t valuable enough to make it available?

 

If that last sentence doesn’t shatter you, you haven’t got a heart.

So let’s do this. Those of us who need to be reading will get reading, and I hope those of you with the knowledge will expand this list. I want that “one heck of a library.” We should have a “one heck of a library” page, and have enough reading there to keep a speed reader busy for a few lifetimes. And if any of you know about groups or programs dedicated to republishing these works, any groups working to get them into the hands of people who need them, tell me so that we can throw our collective strength behind them. If they don’t exist, they need to. I’m hopeless at creating that sort of thing, I’ll freely admit – but this is Freethought Blogs, and I’m sure someone reading this is the person who can make it happen.

Thank you, ceesays, and dezn_98, and all of you who have taken the time to educate those of us who haven’t had to face life as a person of color, on the previous thread and on Pharyngula, and Blag Hag and Greta Christina’s Blog. For several of us comfortable white folk, it’s been the hammer to the head we needed to jolt us into awareness. I’m sorry you had to rap on thick skulls yet again. Hopefully, we’ll be better at wielding that hammer with you from now on.

If there are any white people in the audience now gearing up to howl about the usual shit butthurt white people* do when confronted with the fact that they are not The World’s Most Perfect Ally: please go read what dezn_98 said. And then bite your tongue, and dedicate some time to reading this Pharyngula thread. If you’re pressed for time, zero in on this comment in particular.

I’m shutting up now so I can get back to reading.

*Full disclosure: I was once a butthurt white person, and too often still am. At least until I remind myself just what vast amounts of shit I don’t have to live with every day because I am not brown. Amazing how the pain goes away when one considers that. Try it yourself!

Guest Post: “I Am Tired of Being Treated as a Subhuman When I Get Angry Over Racism”

By now, those of you not spending your summer hiding under rocks will have heard about JT’s extraordinary arrogance. And his quadrupling down on that arrogance. And maybe it wouldn’t matter so much, except this shit is done by people who refuse to listen to the voices of the people this shit is done to all the damn time.

I’m going to say a few words to my fellow white people before turning the floor over to the person you should really be listening to. I’m saying these few introductory words so that you can take a moment to prepare yourself. If you do not need this lecture, skip to dezn_98′s words, where your focus should be. If you find yourself getting defensive, and wanting to lecture rather than shut the fuck up and keep listening, return back here and read from the beginning.

One of the hardest lessons I learned as I became interested in social justice issues was this: don’t speak, listen. Don’t lead, follow. We white middle class liberal sorts want to change the world for the better, and oh, do we have ideas. Problem was, many of my ideas were based in abject ignorance. I was hurting more than helping. I knew it all, but didn’t know a damned thing. That’s privilege. Makes you think you’re qualified to pontificate on any problem, despite the fact you haven’t a clue as to what the problem actually is, much less how to solve it.

And it’s hard to face that, hard to admit that you don’t know it all and can’t solve all the problems facing those who don’t share your advantages. Hard to admit you’re wrong.

Suck it up.

If you truly want to help, you must be strong enough to admit that you don’t have all the answers. Brave enough to admit when you’re wrong, when you’ve made a mistake, when you hurt someone. Wise enough to keep your mouth closed and your ears open. Strong enough to handle the rage and pain you’re going to hear. Have the integrity and humility to step back and let others lead.

If you can’t do that, walk the fuck away. You’re of no help. People need an ally, not a self-appointed savior. They need a genuine ally, not a self-declared ally who refuses to act as one.

Now. If you’re ready to become part of the solution rather than the problem, put your tongue in neutral, turn your defensiveness off and yours ears on, and just listen.

Listen. Image courtesy Ky via Flickr.

Listen. Image courtesy Ky via Flickr.

I cede the floor to Dezn_98.

I want to tell people something. The reason people of color are not into this brand of atheism right now is because of people like JT. It is not because there is this KKK element to it.. it is because of deniers and ignorant people like JT. I would never feel comfortable in a room filled with people like him. My views on social justice are my priority, not my atheism… and I won’t be a part of any crowd that lets people like JT fester and not have the ability to call him on on BS. The only reason, I have come out of lurking is because of people like crommunist and like yourself [Greta], because you guys really do get it… and I am so tired of making people understand that our plight is real.

I am tired of being treated as a subhuman when I get angry over racism. I am tired of society telling me that “this tone of voice” is the only acceptable form of expression for minorities talking about their pain… and anything short of that – you are not worth listening to. They really treat us like trash, and people do not know how incredibly traumatizing and devastating that sort of constant cultural racism can be.

It is so tiring… I saw JT’s treatise of racist white garbage tone policing…. and I can’t ignore it. I actually have to waste my day writing a reply to his garbage. Do people not get how exhausting this sht is? How likely it is that, because of people like JT, most minorities run out of steam on these issues? That most give up? That most just walk away? The only reason I am not ignoring it is because I am as stubborn and silly as PZ.. not matter how much personal pain JT’s ideas give me.. I still gatta say something.

[snip]

Lots of people in this culture just do not get how utterly dehumanizing and traumatizing it is to talk to people like JT when you are a person of color.. it is indescribable. Yet I have to put my humanity on the line everyFCKINGtime when I talk about racism… and everytime, I feel like a piece of my empathy is being taken away, being chipped at, making me “apathetic” to my own oppression… this type of sht drains people of color.. so they stay away from it as much as they can. Yet no matter how much they run away, now matter how much we already dictate our tone everyday to avoid conversation with white people like JT… it JT’s racist micro-aggression and HIS ILK always find us and smack us in the fcking mouth.

***

As a person of color who has to constantly deal with this type of rhetoric from well meaning white liberal allies… I am always shocked, even though I know it is terribly predictable, by the amount of ignorance coming from privileged people who seek to “instruct” minorities on proper ways to behave. It really is disturbing, this sht is not even about JT.. it is about white privilege in general. His response is sooooooooooo cliche to every fcking person of color, in that it functions in a racist way. His response is not unique, it is the same racist rhetoric we are constantly barraged with everyday. In fact, he ain’t even the only one.. if you follow crommunist on twitter, you can see how even Matt Dillihunty felt obligated to share his “enlightened” opinion on how to proceed. The conversation that I saw was not only condescending, passive aggressive, and stupid, but also reveal that yes, even people on FTB like matt dillihunty should STFU once in a while and understand that if your ignorant about a subject – do not argue your fcking case like you understand it. Fck Matt, Fck JT, and fck any white privileged dck who want to come and tell me or anyone how to act. (I recall that other arse from “cammels with hammers” doing something similar – oh and his ignorant arse is now at patheos too… good riddance. He had nothing of substance to say when he tone policed either.. jerk)

Man, I live through this sht… and I will tell any white person right up front any time we begin a conversation about race, that they can never say anything, anything that I have not heard before . Therefore their advice is not only unwarranted but useless. Not only that, I then have to explain to ignorant white folk how an amalgamation of these “bits of casual advice” over a lifetime of dealing with racism… is actually just a racist microagression. So when I reject that advice based on their ignorance, most then write entire treatise trying to defend themselves… and as “white allies” they somehow think I am obligated to go over ignorant BS everyday to “teach the white man how to be not racist.” When they are too lazy to pick up a fcking book and read for themselves about racism – which in about 5 fcking minutes would demolish any god damn “argument” they put up. What a waste of fcking space. Ignorant white folk, always stuck in racism 101…

Probably the only reason I stick around on FTB is because I found a few white folk here… who actually fcking get it – well not all of it, but get it to a degree where I do not feel the need to have to educate anyone on any racism 101 BS.

I just want to say this is just a trend to a larger problem, and it is tiring… How many hours do I have to spend educating some white privileged buffoon, only to have another one come in 5 minutes later and almost demand I educate him as well on the same exact sht? I mean, the responses are always the same cliche BS… and even if by some luck I manage to get someone to turn around… that don’t mean sht to a lot of white folk. All they seem to care about is making themselves be less racist… not actually concerned about ending racism by actually doing something about it. Most white folk only enter the issue when tone policing… then they leave, no matter if they were finally convinced that they are wrong, or ignorantly insisted they are right till the end… they always leave and then never actually do anything about it. So crommunist was right… man don’t give me that BS that you care.. cause a lot of you don’t and that shows through actions.

Let me explain this one, cause this is a stumbling block for a lot of white folk. Most white folk “care” as much about racism as I, and most of us “care about starving children in Africa.” This is a normal everyday human flaw. We care about things that effect us, and hit home with us, more than we care about things that do not effect us and are far away.

I “care” about starving children in Africa as in… if told about the issue I say it is wrong, then I go spend absurd amounts of money on food and throw half of it out. I just go about my day, making no effort whatsoever to help starving children. I feel sorry for them, I think it is a shame, I think they deserve help… and I do nothing about it. Even when I am part of a system that works to oppress people like that.

Most people are exactly like this, otherwise there would be more Aid going to solve the world hunger problem. So when anyone says they “care” about world hunger…. it is this shallow from of caring. A caring that is only committed to words, and not actions – a caring that absolutely does nothing for people who are starving but makes us feel like we are “oh so good people cause we care.”

Note* Before someone comes with with the silly point of “that means we can’t talk about any issue then?” No, it does not mean that. It means that, as you will read below, because of the nature of things this kind of apathy is, terribly normal – and no one can truly care about all causes… which is why you have to pick the ones you care most about. This would suggest that, if you want to talk about an issue you are not effected by directly, and are not involved in, in some way shape of form… then you probably got no business “giving instructions or advice” the ones who actually care. You should instead ask questions and attempt to educate yourself, rather than argue any point of give advice.

Basically…. lots of white privileged people pay lip-service to being anti-racist but when asked to commit any action.. most of them not only decline, but out of ignorance, like JT and Matt, usually function in a racist manner. The only ones who are actually qualified to say they care about racism are the ones effected by it, and the ones working in some fashion to end it. All the rest… “care” in a sense that is not practical to solving the problem.

Now, this is not a crime… and, even though it is fairly normal, that is not to say it is not an issue either. Apathy like this is an issue, it is an issue the people in the movement have to fight against. They have to make people care more than they do, care enough to commit to some action, no matter how small. People are also “too busy to care” and that is not a crime either, but it is an issue that needs attention. This stuff is relatively OK, I am ok with a white person fighting for a social issue that hits close to home… good for that person.. what I do not care for is people insisting they care, when really…. they don’t care all that much. Then what really pisses me off is how “offended” they get at a minority who rejects their shallow opinions… and how they try to victimize themselves by saying “I was your ally!” and such nonsense. That is crap.

The degree in which you are measured to care about an issue, the degree in which you gain credibility as an ally, is not through fiat or announcement.. it is seen through what you do. Those who spend no time educating themselves about an issue before they speak about it and hurt people; those who commit to no action ending a social issue, those who frequently land on the side of “telling a minority how to act” in unsolicited advice…. those people who say they “care”…. well that, that is BS. Take that sht out of here. I tire of it. When you start railroading people who are doing something about it, when you are constantly in the way of minorities speaking out… then, no you don’t fcking care. Whatever your intentions are, whatever warm fuzzy feeling you might want to pull out a conversation, or whatever intellectual point you want to raise out of curiosity about issues that actually hurt people…. that does not count as caring, so fck off.

With that… Lets look at JT’s and Matt’s “actions”…

1) JT and Matt almost never talks about racism, and are, to my knowledge, not involved in any anti-racist movement in any meaningful way. (This shows how much they care about it) This means neither of them has credibility if any of them claim they “care about racism.” No one is inclined to believe that sht, and no the benefit of the doubt is not a given.

2) The one time I see JT and Matt talk about racism… they are either trying to tell a minority “you are doing it wrong” (JT) or trying to argue some stupid insipid intellectual point (MD). Aint that funny… they never talk about racism, and when they finally do, instead of talking about how bad and racist that question was, instead of educating people why this question is racist, instead of using the minorities anger to show how deeply racism effects us emotionally… they argue that minorities need to behave in this “balanced” way when confronting racism. JT insisting he knows better if someone is acting racist with intent, and Matt insisting that he does not berate people in the same fashion… what fcking laughable points.

That speaks… and it speaks of them not as allies, but as fools. White privileged fools who need to STFU. Now, the exchange with crommunist and matt was not that long, so I am done with Matt… let me dig in deeper with JT.

3) JT said he walked out because he did not like the tone of what that POC was saying in her defense against racism. WOW. So you never talk about racism, and when you get the opportunity to learn something from someone who suffers from it you “walk out” in protest of the tone? Then you berate the person for not having a more sympathetic reaction to white racism? You go off the walls, writing pages and pages of intellectual racist garbage practically defending the “right” of white people to say whatever racist garbage they want, while telling minorities that they are only allowed to use their anger about racism in a specific way (a way you get to define as “productive”, and a way where that productivity centers the conversations primary objective on making the white person less racist (why should that be?).. instead of just… talking about how bad racism is and how it effects minorities). FFS…

This guy by fcking definition of anti-racist ally… just functioned in a way that would categorize him not as one, but also probably acting like a racist himself. He “exited the room in protest?” Are you fcking serious? Someone should tell him that there is this racism against strong black women, and that type of racist bias.. tends to make lots of white men not only not listen to strong black women, but also try to make them out of “irrational” or “berating”.. and guess what this mther fcker just did? If that is not a racist microagression, and no one better fcking tell me any different, then I don’t know what is.

I have like loads more to say…. but… whatever, I got more sht to do in meatspace rather than specifically outline how lots of white liberals betray minorities at every turn.

 

Thank you, dezn_98.

I encourage those of you who are prepared to keep listening to read the linked threads, and definitely read our own Black Skeptics, and Crommunist’s archives. None of us who have not directly experienced racism will ever know on a visceral level what it’s like, but by listening to those who have, we can at least gain some comprehension, and understand what we need to do to help end this shit.

Those of you not prepared to listen… please just walk away until you are. And for fuck’s sake, at the very least, refrain from lecturing oppressed people on how to react to oppression.

[notice] Hola, new commenters! Please do peruse the comment policy thoroughly before you expend valuable time sharing your thoughts. Or tl;dr: I reserve the right to drop asshats in the trash without a second glance. Bad behavior elsewhere will also get you instabanned here. Not an asshat or someone who’s been kicked out of other places for bad behavior? Then you’re probably cool. Thanks for reading![/notice]

One Reason Why False Rape Allegation Statistics Are So High

Men, even good men, believe women lie about rape. There’s this myth that runs amok saying that some enormous proportion of rape accusations are just women lying to get attention, or revenge, or to hide their summer fling from mommy and daddy. And they believe it without question.

When male friends toss that grenade at me, I toss it back by asking if they know what the percentage is. “Fifty percent,” they’ll say, or above, depending on which MRAs their stats are coming from.

“It’s two to eight percent,” I say, and I need to remember to never do this when they’re walking or have something in their mouths, because the good ones are always staggered, and they always gasp. “But even those numbers are on the high side.”

Image courtesy Tim Fields via Flickr.

Image courtesy Tim Fields via Flickr.

I don’t need to go in to detail with the good ones. I don’t need to do more than remind them what actually happens to women who report. They realize immediately that very few people would be so motivated by some other factor that they would willingly subject themselves to the hell that is rained down upon rape victims. And then I remind them that while our culture often makes reporting a rape worse than the rape itself, when it comes to male victims, it’s damned near impossible to report at all. And if you’re a trans* person? Hell doesn’t even begin to describe it. Once we have finished that brief survey of Rape Culture Today, the good ones never spout nonsense statistics again.

For those who stubbornly wish to believe that bitches be lyin’, I can point them at studies. I have before and will again. But in the future, I will first make them chew on this “false” rape allegation statistic until their teeth break.

[error]Massive trigger warning for graphic description of violent sexual assault and horrific treatment by law enforcement[/error]

Now, some of them will spit out that report along with their shattered teeth and flap their bleeding gums at me: “That’s just an anecdote.” And that is true. It is just one data point behind the 2-8%. Since we are Good Skeptics™, we know to look beyond anecdotes.

So let me add in a study of police attitudes toward rape victims. It would seem EEB isn’t alone, then. And if we could factor in the victims who never reported at all because of shit like this, that “false” rape allegation statistic would drop like a rock. Since they don’t, the statistics are skewed, making “false” allegations look more prevalent.

Now add the horrific treatment victims experience from defense attorneys who believe they’re scum. I can tell you from experience this can be worse than the rape. It can be a form of torture, and like torture victims, some rape victims will recant just to make the pain stop. Magically, their allegation is now “false.” But they’re no less raped, and the rapist is no less a sexual predator.

Add in the fact that some rapists have the lock on society, and can crush their victims. If their victims had the courage to report, they’ve soon got their buddies to sweep the crime under the rug. And another several ticks are added in the “false” rape allegation column.

Add in children who receive such a terrifying reaction to their attack that they recant just to protect themselves. More “false” rape allegations.

What about victims who aren’t supported by friends and family because many cultures make it easier to believe the victims are filthy, disgusting, crazy liars rather than people suffering from sexual assault? I think you know what happens to the statistics by now.

Add in the fact that some police departments don’t make a distinction between “reports that are actually, genuinely, provably false” and “reports that can’t be prosecuted due to statue of limitations, lack of evidence, or some other reason, but no doubt the victim was assaulted.” Both numbers end up counting under “false” allegations, although a sizable percentage weren’t false at all.

Add in about a trillion circumstances I haven’t remembered to include. Compare that to the enormous number of rapes and sexual assaults.

Image courtesy roga muffin via Flickr.

Image courtesy roga muffin via Flickr.

The reality is that false rape allegations are a tiny bit of flotsam on a sea of rape. Even if that 2-8% number were accurate, it would still be far too small to use to discount rape allegations out of hand. The fact that even that tiny percentage is inflated by cases like EEB’s should ensure that every decent human being treat victims’ reports as provisionally true. The idea that most or even many rape allegations are false is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence. Those who continue to insist otherwise have forfeited any right to be considered good people.

The Path of the Privileged Paternalistic Ass

Another day, another person spinning out because they insist they know better than the people who actually deal with the same shit over and over and over every fucking day of their lives. After watching a pattern of behavior unfold itself over years, I’ve come to the conclusion that JT’s decided to walk the path of the privileged paternalistic ass at an early age. Many of us do. Hopefully he’ll have the courage to realize it’s a dumbshit direction and make a course correction, before he turns into a Mark Farris.

36ca4e08-e6b4-49ea-863b-ff50fffc99e8But I’m not really here to talk about him, or to him. Said all I needed to say in a private communication. If he chooses to make his response public, I shall fisk it thoroughly then. But I won’t be doing it for him. He’s proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he’s incapable of comprehending why he’s not the ally he claims to be. There are, however, onlookers who watch the famous folk go careening off the track and realize, oh shit, that’s a slippery road. I’d better listen to the people who drive it every day before I, too, end up in the ditch, shamefacedly waiting for a tow.

I was one of those speed-demons, once. Happily, this was in the days before I could make a spectacular ass of myself in public, but I’m sure I managed to put my foot squarely in it many a time. I had that condescending attitude towards many minorities. Figured they’d be better off if they were quieter, politer, more patient, less demanding, and for fuck’s sake, why are they attacking their own allies? Sheesh, you’d think they’d be more grateful that these non-minority are trying to assist them with helpful questions and sage advice, sticking up for their rights and all (as long as they aren’t obnoxious about it). Fucking good thing I didn’t come to any sort of activism until later in life, because I would’ve been that clueless git getting it with both barrels from someone utterly fed up with JAQoffs.

I learned a few things before I had a chance to unhinge my jaw. One: STFU. Two: Listen. No, really listen, not merely allow the minority in question to jabber until they were done and I can get on with what I was splaining to them. Three: I am bloody fucking ignorant, and a lot more privileged than I’d ever realized. Four: Ignorance is no damn excuse. It’s my responsibility to educate myself, and apologize if I spout off without having done so.

Looking back, it’s not those paternalistic folks counseling calm and accommodation who changed the world. No, it was the stomped-on folk themselves, getting loud and in-your-face, who did that. Do you think Rosa Parks would’ve struck the match that lit the kindling of the Civil Rights Movement if she’d moved to the back of the bus, explaining meekly on her way why this is sort of not nice? Nope. I don’t think Martin Luther King could’ve done what he did without being loud and defiant. Not to mention, don’t know if you’ve noticed, but he wasn’t white. And those more radical folk, the ones who terrified the poor privileged white people? They helped. They made it impossible to ignore the issue. They made it impossible to return to the status quo.

Women weren’t handed their voting rights by enlightened men: they fought tooth and nail for them, enduring vicious attacks along the way.

LGBTQ folk haven’t made strides in equality by letting straight folk decide when and where they would be allowed to become equally human. They’ve done it by being loud and proud, and pulling the hetero cis people along in their wake.

I could go on and on and on, and on further still. But the point is, this paternalistic bullshit is just that: eau de cow’s arse. And it’s sadly predictable. Scratch the surface of any civil rights movement, and you’ll find plenty of people not belonging to the oppressed class who have all the advice on how to make waves without rocking the boat, and oh, you might want to make those waves barely noticeable, because otherwise someone in the status quo may become inconvenienced.

I know part of why that is, being a member of the white middle-class cis hetero contingent: it’s fucking uncomfortable.

It’s really unpleasant to watch clueless (intentionally or otherwise) people getting reamed by an outraged minority, and realizing, “Ohshit, that coulda been me, I think like that!” It’s damned uncomfortable to admit that people are pissed off for a reason, and probably would be pissed off at you, if you popped out with your privilege. It hurts to admit you are privileged, despite whatever disadvantages you may suffer. It’s painful to admit you, too, are one of the prejudiced, uncomprehending arseholes these poor folks deal with day after day after day. It’s really godsdamned difficult to change. And it’s so hard to shut the fuck up and listen.

I went through it when I starting reading Natalie Reed’s blog. Oh, the things I wanted to say… she pushed all my buttons, made me angry and uncomfortable and afraid. I wanted to tell her all about how she was turning off potential allies, how she should be kinder and gentler and so forth. But I kept my mouth shut and kept reading, and eventually, after much thought and reading in other places, realized she was right and I was wrong. I also realized that if she hadn’t hit me with a hammer, that privileged shell of mine wouldn’t have cracked. And that has been true of every other minority or disadvantaged person who’s hit me with hammers of their own. Their passion and anger broke through the comfortable fog of Being Right Because I Am White Cis Hetero Middle Class.

Hopefully, those on the path of the privileged paternalistic ass will have their own Damascus moments, and realize it might be a fantastic idea to try following instead of leading for once. To listen, learn, and accept the fact that you will never, ever know what it’s like to walk in those particular shoes, so don’t bloody pretend you know every blister. You’re going to be stumbling around, and it’s uncomfortable as hell, and sometimes you’re going to fall down and skin your knees, because it’s not so easy and smooth, this other path. You don’t know where you’re going, and you have to follow even though you liked being a leader. It’ll make you want to scream sometimes. But for all that, I’ve found it the better path. The people are more interesting, the world is full of variety I’d never known, and there’s hope that humanity will get shit figured out if enough of us walk this path together.

I’m glad for all the screaming that got me this far. Thank you, my loud and proud and demanding friends. Please continue to drop the hammer when I fuck up. I’ll appreciate it once the stinging stops. Hopefully, a few more of my fellow privileged people will join us here soon.

The Parable of “But That’s Not Theft!”

Ah. I see the fail is out in force, and some of our more despicable community members are attempting to redefine rape out of existence. Some of these shitlords are, themselves, rapists or wanna-be rapists who would like to ensure society will not recognize them as rapists and act accordingly. Some of them are proper little fanchildrenz, who wish to convince themselves that their heroz never in a billion trillion years committed the horrific act of rape, so of course the non-consensual sex those heroz inflicted upon other people totes wasn’t rape.

Neither of these categories are likely to understand the following parables, as they are motivated to not understand. To them, I am not speaking.

But there may be those in the audience who are wearing their rape-culture goggles, and as a result can’t see rape as rape. For them, the following series of parables may be of some benefit.

Some of the many things that are not consent. Not having clear, enthusiastic consent means you should probably err on the side of not raping someone. Photo courtesy Garry Knight via Flickr.

Some of the many things that are not consent. Not having clear, enthusiastic consent means you should probably err on the side of not raping someone. Photo courtesy Garry Knight via Flickr.

Parable 1: “But That’s Not Theft!”

Mr. Sherman is a very famous bloke, and ever-so-valuable to this community. He’s got a column in a venerable old magazine! He’s written many books! He’s in high demand as a speaker!

You are one among the many thousand who respect him. One of this books even changed your life. So far, so wonderful.

He’s bound to have lots of money. Rolling in it. And when you have the good fortune to meet him at a seminar, you’re shocked and flattered that this famous wealthy person wants to spend time with little old you. He even invites you to the bar for a drink that evening. And you find yourself walking on clouds.

Mr. Sherman has two drinks with you, while you burble about how life-changing his books have been, trying not to sound too over-flattering. He seems to like you. Compliments your intelligence. Admires your sense of style. In fact, after the first drink, he even asks if he can wear your watch.

A very lovely and valuable old watch, not something you'd let just anybody wear. Image courtesy Darron Birgenheier via Flickr.

A very lovely and valuable old watch, not something you’d let just anybody wear. Image courtesy Darron Birgenheier via Flickr.

It feels terribly awkward, but you decline. Family heirloom. You’d feel very uncomfortable letting anyone borrow it, even Mr. Sherman. So sorry!

You’re very relieved when he takes that refusal in stride.

After your second drink together, you both decide the bar is growing too loud, and decide to seek somewhere quieter. You offer to pay for the drinks – after all, you’re having a great time, and you want to give your personal hero something nice. Mr. Sherman protests it’s not necessary, but gracefully accepts.

Hungry, you go to dinner together. You share a bottle of good wine, and though you want to be frugal, you let Mr. Sherman talk you into the very expensive steak-and-lobster entree. And you enjoy it! You even order dessert. Why not live a little?

At the end of the meal, Mr. Sherman tells you he’s forgotten his wallet. How embarrassing. Could you possibly cover the check?

It’s $150, what with the wine and caviar and everything. You hesitate. You don’t want to do this – you’re not rich, and this will blow your food budget for the entire weekend. But you don’t feel you can say no in these circumstances, so you pay up, plus tip, but tell Mr. Sherman that’s it. You’re broke.

Well, of course he understands. And to show his appreciation and prove there are no hard feelings, he invites you to his room, where he’s got a nice bottle of sherry. You’ve both had so much fun talking, it would be a shame to end it now.

When you get there, he gives you plenty of sherry. And he admires your cell phone. What a beautiful device! Brand new, the most recent model, really fast and smart. Mr. Sherman would love to try out a phone like that. His SIM card would fit yours – could he borrow it for the weekend? He’ll swap his phone with you.

You advise him, feeling very uncomfortable, that you don’t really feel like that’s a good idea. You’d rather not.

Mr. Sherman understands completely. And gives you a very nice gin and tonic, as the sherry was a bit too sweet. And by this time, you’re so drunk the room’s begun to wobble. But you don’t feel you can decline another. And then the evening’s drinking catches up to you.

The rest of the night’s a blur, but you remember flashes. Like when Mr. Sherman takes your watch off, and you’re pretty sure you asked him not to, but he didn’t seem to notice and you were too plastered to insist he give it back. You were pretty much passed out when he took your cell phone. And you were completely unconscious when he ran off with your car keys.

I'm sure your car was very nice. So kind of you to give it away. Image courtesy John O'Nolan via Flickr.

I’m sure your car was very nice. So kind of you to give it away. Image courtesy John O’Nolan via Flickr.

You wake up, hung over and hurting, and find your stuff gone.

Have you been robbed?

Really?

Mr. Sherman didn’t take your stuff at gunpoint, right? Isn’t it true you paid for the drinks and dinner? And you willingly went back to his room, and drank yourself comatose – on his alcohol, you know. Why would you have done that when you knew he wanted your watch and cell phone? Isn’t it possible you changed your mind about giving them to him? And since you let him take those, why should anyone believe you when you say you definitely didn’t give him permission to take your car? Where’s the evidence he did any of that against your will? He doesn’t need to steal stuff – he’s rich and people give him things all the time. Aren’t you just saying he robbed you because you woke up regretting the fact you’d given your heirloom watch away? You’re just trying to get attention by accusing somebody famous! And really, if you actually did get robbed, why didn’t you report it to the police?

This is what you hear from friends, acquaintances, hotel security, the seminar staff… by the end of the ordeal, you choose not to report it to the police, because they won’t do anything when it’s just your word against a famous person’s, and if you press charges, Mr. Sherman and his fans will make your life hell, and he won’t even be convicted if it ever does make it to court because, hey, you were drunk and just asking to be robbed. Besides, you can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you didn’t give him your stuff.

You let the matter drop because you can’t go through more of this and worse.

Does that mean you weren’t really robbed? Or that Mr. Sherman isn’t a thief?

Think carefully before you answer.

 

Stay tuned for our next episode: the Parable of the Enema.

Sexism, Skeptics, and the Burden of Proof

Never fails. Women reveal they’ve been harassed, threatened, stalked, abused, assaulted, or otherwise harmed, and a concerned contingent shedding crocodile tears descends upon the comment thread squawking about the evidence. Hyperskeptics demand the allegations be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. Legal eagles screech about innocent until proven guilty. There are howls of libel, slander, defamation, etc. Presumptuous jackasses pontificate upon the necessity for the victim to prosecute if there really was a crime. And so on.

To repeat the refrain from one of my favorite songs from the Vietnam War: Fuck ‘em all, fuck ‘em all.

But I shall review standards of proof, just for our own edification, and because I want to have a place to refer back to when people stutter, “B-b-b-but we can’t possibly eject so-and-so from the community without a trial, conviction, and Supreme Court ruling!”

Dublin Castle's Gates of Fortitude and Justice - here the Justice statue by John van Nost the Younger on the Gate of Justice - in Dublin, Ireland. Image and caption courtesy J.-H. Janßen.

Dublin Castle’s Gates of Fortitude and Justice – here the Justice statue by John van Nost the Younger on the Gate of Justice – in Dublin, Ireland. Image and caption courtesy J.-H. Janßen.

I shall take various burdens of proof from United States law as my template. ***METAPHOR ALERT*** This is, of course, not legally binding, nor to be construed as legal advice. We are merely discussing the many standards used in legal matters, and how they might translate to our own interactions, as it seems many people in this community get hung up on a single standard.

One further disclaimer: Potential victims may use any standard they wish in order to decide what action will best address their safety concerns. This includes avoiding someone because something about that person makes their spidey sense tingle. None of us have to provide ironclad evidence that we are right to be concerned in order to decide we wish to have nothing to do with certain people. Freedom of association is a thing. Deal with it.

Without further ado, then:

Reasonable suspicion: “a low standard of proof in the U.S. to determine whether a brief investigative stop or search by a police officer or any government agent is warranted.” For our purposes, this would mean that convention officials don’t need a notarized statement from a dozen witnesses and video from nine different security cameras in order to check out possible skeevy behavior. It is the standard of evidence we might use to chase down that somewhat fishy smell issuing from the vicinity of a certain leading light.

Probable cause: “a relatively low standard of evidence, which is used in the United States to determine whether a search, or an arrest, is warranted…. In the civil context, this standard is often used where plaintiffs are seeking a prejudgement remedy.” In our circumstances, it means we have enough evidence to pursue inquiry, and possibly eject a probable offender from our gatherings. No legal remedy is being pursued. There is no great harm coming to the accused, just perhaps some temporary embarrassment and inconvenience. This isn’t a criminal case; presumption of innocence does not apply, and a higher burden of proof does not need to be met. Sorry, legal eagles.

Now, let’s move on to legal standards used in administrative hearings. We’re not even within sniffing distance of a trial court yet. This is an important point to remember.

Some credible evidence: “does not require the fact-finder to weigh conflicting evidence, merely requiring the investigator or prosecutor to present the bare minimum of material credible evidence to support the allegations against the subject, or in support of the allegation…” In other words, this is definitely enough evidence to warrant ejecting Probable Creeper from the gathering, and to encourage further fact-finding if the aggrieved party (or parties) wishes to pursue the matter.

Substantial evidence: “[M]ore than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” At this level, Probable Creeper should not be surprised should they not be welcomed back into whichever venue they were misbehaving in, now or in the future. This is more than enough evidence for reasonable people not directly targeted to use in deciding what precautions to take against Probable Creeper for the comfort and safety of those relying on them to provide a safe space. Note: presumption of innocence still has not come into play. (I am ever so sorry for those of you who own that drum and love to beat it. You’ll get your chance, never fear! Hold your drumsticks in the meantime.)

Now, let us move on to civil burdens of proof, which are rather more strict.

Preponderance of the Evidence: “met if the proposition is more likely to be true than not true. Effectively, the standard is satisfied if there is greater than 50 percent chance that the proposition is true.” Note it does not say much greater than 50% – 50.1% will do. If there’s a greater than 50% probability that Probable Creeper is a predatory asshole, it’s quite reasonable for folks to refuse to share a stage with or offer a platform to Probable Creeper. The proof need not be ironclad. And, as Probable Creeper is still free to roam (just not in our spaces), there’s still no requirement for a presumption of innocence.

Clear and Convincing Evidence: “means that the evidence presented by a party… must be highly and substantially more probable to be true than not and the trier of fact must have a firm belief or conviction in its factuality.” This, my friends, is the standard of proof PZ used in deciding to release the information he’d been given regarding Michael Shermer. I think this is the lowest standard we third parties should use in deciding to publicly out someone as a probable abuser (note this is an opinion, not a rule). At this level of evidence, it’s my belief that we have a moral duty to do so. But the victim does not have to press charges in order for this decision to be made. The accused remains free, suffering only social penalties, and often not even those, as there are always plenty of lickspittles and apologists around to make excuses for their behavior. Also, we are still not in criminal court. No presumption of innocence is required even now.

And you do realize that none of the above burdens of proof being met precludes the accused from providing evidence of their innocence, right? They are welcome to present it at any time. They have every right to tell their side of the story, and this will become part of the evidence that is weighed. Opinions may or may not be revised as a result, depending on what they offer.

Beyond those standards, once we reach the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt, we would be fools to allow the predator to hunt within our community. It’s likely they should end up charged with a criminal offense. Alas, due to the deplorable state of our society, this is all too often impossible. The police, the prosecutor, the judge, the jury, the appeals courts, all have a tendency to ignore all but the most obvious sexual assaults, and even then, when the circumstances are such that the offense cannot be ignored, they’re all too likely to let the offender go with a tap, and society welcomes them back with open arms. Our civilization is stacked firmly against the victims of sexual crimes. So we may have proof beyond reasonable doubt, but the offender will never so much as catch sight of a cop. (This is the harsh reality, and those bloviating about how if such-and-such situation really happened the victim should prosecute can either accept it or get lost.)

The inability to secure a criminal conviction, the unwillingness of a victim to put themselves through the unique hell that is trying to report a sex crime, or the fact that the undesirable behavior didn’t quite break current laws, doesn’t mean we’re required to allow predators to wander at will through our spaces and within our organizations. That doesn’t mean we must keep their name and offense secret. We can and must act to remove them from our community, and warn others to protect themselves from these known predators.

As for the presumption of innocence? The only place that applies is within a criminal court. The jury is required to presume it until the situation is proved beyond reasonable doubt. We are free to form our own opinion on the strength of the available evidence at any time.

If this is anathema to you, if you’re absolutely set on the idea that every criminal act should be prosecuted, too fucking bad. I’ve a reasonable suspicion you’re one of the shitlords who have made it nearly impossible for victims of sexual predators to obtain justice. I have probable cause to believe you’re among those who make seeking justice more traumatic than the assault itself. Your stance provides some credible evidence that you’re likely one of those who’s delighted to presume victims guilty until proven innocent, all the while squawking about the right of the abuser to be presumed innocent until God appears and declares them guilty.

Perhaps if you so desperately want every offense prosecuted, you should work on changing the culture that makes that impossible.

As for those screaming for proof beyond the shadow of a doubt? You’ve revoked your right to be called skeptics. That standard of proof is as mythical as Bigfoot. The demand that such proof be offered before you will believe a victim makes you a huge part of the problem.

We’ve got enough problems without you. We will solve them without you. It’s up to you whether you’ll join us in working toward that solution, or continuing to be horrible human beings.

 

I had this queued up before Greta published her excellent post, which says much of the same more succinctly. Still. I figured that standards may be helpful.

Dear Survivors

This is the truth I’d like you to place in front of you right now, where you can see it: you survived. You did what you had to in order to survive the assault or abuse or other horrible thing that happened to you, changing your status from “one of the lucky ones” to “survivor.” You got through a situation that could have completely destroyed you. That alone is a triumph. May not feel like one, but you’re here and breathing because you found a way to survive.

Excellent.

That’s something other people don’t get to take away from you. Not ever.

Now. You may have noticed a contingent of shitwads who think your survival technique is something they get to judge, like this is some kind of Olympic sport where you get a score based on how flawless your performance was. They’ve generally never been there, done that, but they would’ve handled your situation totes different and you should have done x-y-z and not done a-b-c, just like they would. And they’ve never been in a situation like yours or really listened to people who came through similar, but they’re self-appointed experts in what you should have done then and should be doing now; how you, the survivor, should act and behave and feel.

Fuck ‘em.

And there are some survivors who’ve decided Their Way is the True and Only Way™. They went through this one similar thing once, and that has made them The World Experts in Surviving All The Shit®. They’ve got a list, and they tick off what you did wrong, clucking their tongues and murmuring in severe tones that You Are Not a True Survivor™.

Fuck them, too.

Survival isn’t one of Plato’s perfect Ideas, which all should emulate. There’s no one and only way of surviving. This isn’t a fucking contest. There is no standard set by a panel of Expert Survivors that you have to measure up to.

This little tree needs no one's approval, just a place to put down roots and fight to survive.

This little tree needs no one’s approval, just a place to put down roots and fight to survive.

You survived. That’s it. That’s the one fact that matters. The way you did it doesn’t invalidate that fact. No matter how you pulled it off – whether it was fighting like fury or not fighting at all; memorizing every detail or sending your mind to a safe place; screaming, staying silent, or cracking jokes – you made it. You did what you had to do. You did what was right for you, did the best you could, and now you’re here. The shitlords who think their opinions matter can go piss against a stiff wind in winter.

All right, and now you’re taking back your life. How you’re doing it isn’t any of their fucking business. They have zero say in your decisions. They don’t get to set the Gold Standard, no matter how much they think so. Their opinion has as much weight as a warm fart on Pluto. It matters about as much as whether someone had Grey Poupon or French’s mustard on the sandwich they ate before getting squashed by a semi. They don’t get to expect jack shit from you.

Fuck ‘em. Do it your way.

If you need to become a virtual hermit in order to cope, then that’s what you do. Maybe you visit a therapist twice a week. Maybe later, maybe never. Maybe you let yourself scream. Or cry. Or laugh. Or all of the above, simultaneously. Take self defense classes, or learn how to build things in bottles. Only venture out to coffee-shop poetry readings, or go clubbing. Hang out quietly in a back corner, or crowd surf. Never let another human being touch you, or go for all the touching you can get. Spend years working through the sexual issues you were left with by consulting a counselor, or going out and having as much sex as you can. Wear fourteen layers of clothing in summer, or go with virtually none. Take years to recover, or pretty much take it in stride. Treat the subject with utmost seriousness, or unleash every bit of black humor you can conjure. And etc., in any combination, any point(s) in the spectrum, at your own pace.

You get to decide what you need. You decide how you’ll react. You will go about this in a fashion unique to you, because you’re you, and no one has any right to tell you how you should and shouldn’t survive.

There is no Authentic Survivor™ to live up to. Other people may act like there is, but they speak from their sphincter. Those of us who aren’t dumbfuck judgmental assholes will tell them to flush it. Their opinion belongs in a cesspit, not society.

You just get on with the surviving, your way, all the way. Do what you need to do to take back what was stolen, as much as that’s possible. Do what it takes to reclaim your power. Proceed in any fashion necessary to make yourself reasonably whole. No one else gets to dictate the method and means of your survival.

Love,

Your fellow survivor,

Dana

A little tree that is attempting to thrive in very hostile conditions: the Big Obsidian Flow, Newberry Crater, Oregon. It's found its own way to survive.

A little tree that is attempting to thrive in very hostile conditions: the Big Obsidian Flow, Newberry Crater, Oregon. It’s found its own way to survive.

 

P.S. None of the above should be interpreted as deterring you from getting help should you need it. Genuine help is great! And you’ll know it when you see it, even if it takes you a little while to recognize it. Unhelpful arseclowns, on the other hand, should be fairly simple to spot, and you can do safely without their brand of “help.”

Why Is Kink Fun? A Guest post by Greta Christina

Unzip your mind. Sit back, relax with your drink of choice, and read the following with a healthy spirit of inquiry. Many of you won’t even need to do that much – you’re kinky yourownselves, and you’re ready to go dive into the book without advance preparation. Some of you aren’t kinky at all, or haven’t ever discovered more than a mild, currently socially-acceptable kink within yourself (fuzzy handcuffs, eh? Nice!). Some of you have been conditioned to believe kink is sick and horrible and never ever good.

As with many things, you’ve been lied to. And Greta will attempt to explain why this thing you think is no fun at all is actually very fun and healthy and mucho bueno for many folks. Ready? Then go:

 

Why Is Kink Fun?

Guest post by Greta Christina

"Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More" - by our own Greta Christina - is currently available as an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. Audiobook and paperback are coming soon!

“Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More” – by our own Greta Christina – is currently available as an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. Audiobook and paperback are coming soon!

Why is kink fun?

Why is it that some people — in very specialized, negotiated, enthusiastically consensual circumstances — find it not just acceptable, but actively and deeply pleasurable, to be controlled, dominated, physically hurt, used, objectified, shamed, humiliated, and/or have their freedom curtailed?

Quick bit of background. I’ve recently published a collection of erotic fiction — mostly kinky — titled “Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.” (Currently available as an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords — audiobook and paperback are coming soon.) The book has gotten an excellent reception so far, with lots of lovely gushing reviews. But it’s also been received with some bafflement, and in some cases even hostility, from a few readers and people who’ve seen excerpts or read what I’ve written about it… and who don’t understand how it can be healthy to get sexual pleasure from experiences that are so obviously unhealthy and negative and bad. Example: I got this message on Facebook recently, which I’m printing with the senders permission (anonymously at their request):

I am right in the middle of your book “Bending”. As someone who has a very “vanilla” sex drive with no kinks (literally, none.. I’m as bland as they come) I don’t quite see the appeal to feeling shame that comes with BDSM-style punishment and discipline. As someone who’s been shamed in real life by religion in years past, and by friends and family who don’t understand my hobbies and quirks, I find it hard to empathize with how shame can be a turn-on for some people.

I ask this in the most non-judgmental way possible… but, what is the appeal? I’m a little hung up on your book because I don’t understand how humiliation can be erotic. I think the book is very well written but I’m just having a hard time reading through it because there is a stark disconnect between my sexuality and the sexuality of the characters portrayed in your short stories.

Thank you very much for your time. I love the work that you do and look forward to possibly hearing back from you.

I’ve been doing kinky sex for so long, I sometimes forget how incomprehensible it sometimes seems to people who aren’t into it. But I do recognize why this might be hard to understand. In some ways, consensually sadomasochistic sex can almost be defined as sex that eroticizes, and makes pleasurable, experiences that would normally be actively unpleasant, and in some cases even horrific.

What about that feels good?

There’s a limit to how well I’m going to be able to get this across. Sex is such a personal, subjective experience. Explaining why you like any kind of sex that someone else doesn’t — kinky or otherwise — is tricky at best. Try explaining why you like sex with someone of the opposite sex — or the same sex — to someone who really, really doesn’t. It’s like trying to explain what it is that tastes good about broccoli, to someone who totally loathes it. But I’m going to take a stab.

Caveat #1: I’m just talking about myself here. I know that my experiences are shared by many, but I don’t presume to speak for all kinky people. Caveat #2: This is a complicated issue — what’s the phrase the social scientists use? Multi-factorial? — and anything I say to explain this is going to oversimplify pretty much by definition. All that being said, I’m going to take a stab.

For me, much of what it comes down to is intimacy.

The thing about pain is that it gets through. I can be a very well-defended, self-contained person: I don’t let myself get close to people very easily, and it’s hard to just let those walls down and let someone else in. But pain gets through. It’s impossible to ignore. The very intensity of it — the fact that my body is processing the sensation, on some level, as unpleasant — grabs my attention, wakes me the fuck up. If someone is hitting me, I can’t tune out the fact that they’re touching me.

And it isn’t just pain I’m talking about here. In my experience, most forms of sadomasochistic sex have to do with breaking down barriers. Shame and humiliation break down the barriers of dignity and composure. Bondage and domination break down the barriers of self-containment and self-possession. There is an intense intimacy in putting yourself in someone else’s hands, handing over the reins, letting them control what you’re going to be feeling for a while. And again, the very intensity of the experience, the fact that some small part of my brain is screaming, “This is not okay! Get away from this now!”, can — again, in the right circumstances and with the right person — be an intensifier, a magnifier of experience. Including the experience of intimacy, of connection, of being touched by another person.

There’s a lot more going on here, of course. I’ve found that I tend to fantasize about what I don’t have — and when my life is micro-scheduled and overloaded with responsibility, as it so often is, it can feel like a huge burden being lifted to just let go and let someone else be the decider for a couple/ few hours. (You know the cliché of the high-powered business executive seeking out a dominatrix, to relieve him of responsibility for a short while? It’s a cliché for a reason.)

Also, I should point out that kinky people aren’t the only ones who think power is sexy. Humans are hierarchical apes. Get three of us in a room together, and we’ll create a dominance structure. It’s not hugely surprising that many of us would eroticize power. And it’s not hugely surprising that some of us would eroticize power in an overt, explicit way: not simply by being attracted to politicians or moguls, but by being aroused by a person standing over us with a whip.

Then there’s endorphins: the brain’s natural opiates, which kick in as a response to pain, and which under the right circumstances can get us high. And which sexual masochists will tell you about in loving detail, and at great length. If you understand why many athletes experience pain — and pushing through pain to get to the endorphin high — as a pleasurable experience… then you can understand at least part of why sexual masochists experience pain as a pleasurable experience.

And for me at least, there’s a certain hard-wired quality to these experiences that’s fundamentally inexplicable. I have been aware of being kinky for as long as I’ve been aware of being sexual. And I don’t mean since I was eighteen, or since I was thirteen. I mean since I was eight. I have been aware of being kinky for about as long as I’ve been aware of being queer. That isn’t true for every kinky person — but it’s true for a lot of us. I don’t entirely understand this stuff myself: yes, I have intimacy issues, but I think pretty much everyone has intimacy issues, and most people don’t handle those issues by intentionally eroticizing getting beaten and pushed around. Most people probably couldn’t eroticize pain and submission and humiliation, even if they wanted to. (There are people who come to kink later in life, and who nurture a kinky sexuality intentionally — in response to a partner who enjoys it, for instance — but in my experience, most of them had at least a seed of kink to start with.) The way my body processes pain, the way my mind processes power… I can’t entirely explain it, any more than I can explain why I like girls. The clit has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing.

But what it mostly comes down to, for me, is intimacy. Kink gets through. It breaks down my walls. I have formidable walls at times… and the intensity of kink sets dynamite underneath them.

I’ve so far been writing about this from the bottom’s perspective: explaining why it feels good to receive pain, to be humiliated, to be controlled. But I’m a switch, and I can tell you that it feels good on the other side as well… and for much the same reasons. Just as it feels good to both penetrate sexually and be penetrated, it feels good to be on both sides of the connection of sadomasochism. It feels good to break down walls, just as it does to have your walls broken. It feels good to touch, with the intensity of pain or power, just as it does to be touched.

If this still doesn’t make sense: There’s an analogy that some of my readers have made in some other conversations about this. Kink is like a rollercoaster, or a horror movie. It can be fun and exciting to subject yourself to otherwise unpleasant emotions — like fear — in a safe, controlled setting. There is a thrill to fear, a rush… and when you can experience that rush with people you trust, in a place where you know you’re safe, it can filter out the unpleasantness, and leave only the thrill.

Ultimately, it may not be possible to really convey what this experience is like. I will probably never understand on a visceral level what it feels like to enjoy broccoli, or what it is that people find pleasurable about that experience. And someone with no interest whatsoever in kink may never understand on a visceral level what it feels like to enjoy getting beaten or shamed or controlled.

And it may not matter that much. As long as you have an intellectual understanding of this stuff; as long as you have an understanding of the basic fact that people do like different sexual things from you, and that this doesn’t make them sick or bad; as long as you understand that there is literally no medical evidence suggesting that kinky people are sick or bad, and in fact plenty of evidence pointing to the conclusion that we’re every bit as healthy and good as everyone else; as long as you understand that no matter what your sexuality is, there is someone in the world who finds it incomprehensible and weird — and as long as you can use that understanding to accept kinky people and treat us with decency — I don’t know that it matters that much whether you can deeply, viscerally grasp what it is about this experience that people get off on.

But getting a glimmer of the visceral experience can help with the intellectual understanding. It may even help people who do have kinky feelings, and who have been shamed into thinking that they’re sick or dangerous or wrong, come to an acceptance of them, and feel more comfortable exploring them.

And anyway, it’s just fun to think about.

“Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More” is currently available as an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. Audiobook and paperback are coming soon!

What About Teh Menz? – Answered!

The next time some sniveling asshat starts the “But what about teh menz?!” whine, don’t sweat it. Yeah, it’s annoying as shit, and we’ve answered that “patriarchy hurts men too” about five quadrillion-zillion times, and we’re tired of it, but it’s all good. The question has been answered by someone with a masculine voice and a penis who identifies as a menz. All we have to do is aim the sniveling asshat at this video. Seriously. Watch it. Just use caution if you have any medical conditions that make punching a fist into the air and screaming “Fuck yeah!” at the top of your lungs painful. (And remember to say thank you to Mary at Skepchick for finding it.)

I can’t find a transcript. I want a transcript, but I haven’t got time to do one. If someone wants to do one, I’ll be happy to send you a nice sniny chunk o’ something from ye olde rock collection. This was fabulous. It’s not much different from what women have been saying for ages, but it’s from a penis-haver to other penis-havers who identify as penis-havers, and it’s phrased in ways I think will be hard for certain subsets of the penis-haver population to avoid if they don’t want to come off looking like complete social losers. And I love the way Jackson Katz has turned this right away from the victims back onto the perpetrators. It even works for when the perpetrators aren’t men. It’s setting the conversation down firmly where it should begin and end: not how victims should avoid being victimized, but how perpetrators should avoid perpetrating, and what we as a society can do to reinforce the idea that certain shit is completely fucking unacceptable. Yes. That’s what we’ve been saying. That’s what needs to be bellowed from the rooftops until even the thickest of skulls have been penetrated.

(Oh, and Ron Lindsay? I’d like you to pay especial attention to the bits where he talks about leadership. Take notes, please. Which principles can you apply to your own life and work? Write 500 words, due by next Monday.)

I found Jackson Katz’s website after listening to his talk whilst repeatedly saluting him with my cleaning products, and there’s this wonderful list, which he encourages us to share. So I shall (en español).

Ten Things Men Can Do to Prevent Gender Violence

 

  1. Approach gender violence as a MEN’S issue involving men of all ages and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. View men not only as perpetrators or possible offenders, but as empowered bystanders who can confront abusive peers
  2. If  a brother, friend, classmate, or teammate is abusing his female partner — or is disrespectful or abusive to girls and women in general — don’t look the other way. If you feel comfortable doing so, try to talk to him about it. Urge him to seek help. Or if you don’t know what to do, consult a friend, a parent, a professor, or a counselor. DON’T REMAIN SILENT.
  3. Have the courage to look inward. Question your own attitudes. Don’t be defensive when something you do or say ends up hurting someone else. Try hard to understand how your own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing them.
  4. If you suspect that a woman close to you is being abused or has been sexually assaulted, gently ask if you can help.
  5. If you are emotionally, psychologically, physically, or sexually abusive to women, or have been in the past, seek professional help NOW.
  6. Be an ally to women who are working to end all forms of gender violence. Support the work of campus-based women’s centers. Attend “Take Back the Night” rallies and other public events. Raise money for community-based rape crisis centers and battered women’s shelters. If you belong to a team or fraternity, or another student group, organize a fundraiser.
  7. Recognize and speak out against homophobia and gay-bashing. Discrimination and violence against lesbians and gays are wrong in and of themselves. This abuse also has direct links to sexism (eg. the sexual orientation of men who speak out against sexism is often questioned, a conscious or unconscious strategy intended to silence them. This is a key reason few men do so).
  8. Attend programs, take courses, watch films, and read articles and books about multicultural masculinities, gender inequality, and the root causes of gender violence.  Educate yourself and others about how larger social forces affect the conflicts between individual men and women.
  9. Don’t fund sexism. Refuse to purchase any magazine, rent any video, subscribe to any Web site, or buy any music that portrays girls or women in a sexually degrading or abusive manner. Protest sexism in the media.
  10. Mentor and teach young boys about how to be men in ways that don’t involve degrading or abusing girls and women. Volunteer to work with gender violence prevention programs, including anti-sexist men’s programs. Lead by example

Copyright 1999, Jackson Katz. www.jacksonkatz.com
Reprint freely with credit.

So there ye go. Point the “what about teh menz?” cadre at these items, and if they’re still sniveling about teh menz afterward, you know they’re not coming at this in good faith. They’re part of the problem, not good and useful critics, and should be treated accordingly.

And to those men who have already answered that question by stepping up and taking responsibility for making the world a better place for women and men? Thank you.

Carry on. We can win this thing, together.

slam dunk