How much have we lost to sexual assault and discrimination?

Read Holly Dunsworth’s history of being treated like a thing in anthropology; sexual assault, bland avoidance of the topic by her colleagues, and yet she persevered. This stuff is everywhere.

Once again, there is a whisper network, or in this case, the lack of one in 2003, on which we rely to get the word out about these kinds of men, because academic communities tacitly support such oppressive behavior. We’re past due for some kind of reliable, readily available network of disclosure about these predators — maybe someone should set one up.

Here’s an interesting example, only it’s for science-fiction conventions rather than science conventions: Midwestern Convention Predators, an online list, with evidence, of creeps. I’d like to see similar accounts publicized everywhere. This isn’t a problem if you’re not ashamed of your behavior, is it?


  1. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    How much have we lost to sexual assault and discrimination?

    Too much.

    I feel for Dr Dunsworth: the way that the man who assaulted her took away her power in that one moment has reverberated for so long, echoes of that moment reproducing powerlessness in academic environments, conferences, even personal moments making career decisions. I hope that Dunsworth benefits from the writing she’s done on the topic, and I hope the rest of us do too.

  2. says

    A good idea in principle but a worry is the possibility that soon after the system goes online, people start putting false reports on it to settle scores… It can only work if it’s something more than gossip with actual evidence rather than a “Sign someone up for a free witch hunt” site.

  3. Alex the Pretty Good says

    @ adamcolley, 2.
    Yeah… Cuz bitzes, dey lie. Amirite?

    Ever considered that if the majority of people’s reaction to a harrasment claim wasn’t “Eh, probably just exaggerating what happened or an out right lie.” just like it was your default assumption this would be what the site would be used for, that we wouldn’t need such a site in the first place?

    “What happened to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty?” I hear you whine (typical complaint by people who throw around the word “witch hunt” like it’s nothing). Well let me ask you… How about we start for a change with the presumption that the people who dare to step foreward to tell about their traumatische experiences are innocent of lying?

  4. snuffcurry says

    People are already capable of lying or “gossiping” about other people, adamcolley. And it would’ve helped if you’d both read what Myers has written above (“Midwestern Convention Predators, an online list, with evidence, of creeps”) and then followed the link to see that, by and large, victims are being accountable when relaying their accusations by identifying themselves and providing evidence that supports what they’re saying.

  5. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    adamcolley @02:

    people start putting false reports on it to settle scores…

    You will, of course, back this assertion up with peer-reviewed studies showing the high incidence of false reporting of rape, assault and harrassment, right?

    snuffcurry @4:

    And it would’ve helped if you’d both read what Myers has written above (“Midwestern Convention Predators, an online list, with evidence, of creeps”)

    That can be dismissed. As we have seen, over and over and over again, a survivor’s experience, a survivor’s account of what happened, a survivor’s life, does not count as evidence, donchaknow. Only the testimony of two adult white cis-gendered straight men counts as evidence when it comes to survivors.

  6. LicoriceAllsort says

    The second-person writing makes this even sadder. I notice that I tend to switch to 2nd person, too, when talking about sexual assault. I wish her peace and the opportunity to crush those motherfuckers with her success and brilliance.

  7. Jachra says

    When I found out whisper networks existed, it exposed me to a new world of horror, like a slimy underbelly to my favorite activities. I grew up presenting male so I was never vulnerable until recently, but I don’t need to be at risk to feel horrified by it.

    It’s kind of ruined something I loved, and I hope we can fix it.

  8. says

    How do you deal with it. I suspect that unless you have pretty good evidence to back it up putting someones name on a list will create a legal minefield. Two cases in point. My late father was falsely accused of rape and only found out in the small hours of the morning when the police came to arrest him. After his brain cut through the fog of his night’s activities he realised he had a perfect alibi and directed them to 3 of their police colleagues who he was in a late night poker game with at the time of the alleged offence. Another more personal incident. My ex who had a firebrand temper once called the police and claimed I was physically abusive. I wasn’t. My bruises and scratches were from defending myself when she took a swing at me. When they called I told them to look up who at our address had the domestic violence orders taken out against them. You guessed it. At the time she was facing trial for assaulting two women in their own home. You have to be really careful about naming and shaming people. It can come back and haunt you. In her case she ended up with a conviction and suspended sentence.

  9. DanDare says

    Pointing out the pitfalls of such a system is not aligning with rape apologists. Our legal system has codified rules about evidence and about not disclosing without a conviction because of historical prevalence of tools that end up supporting mob rule. It’s a real concern. Here is something to consider can women appear on the list? They are not a major problem nor are they supported by a network or position of privellege. How long would it take though for MRAs to start adding women’s names along with witness accounts from other MRAs?
    If this is going to work it needs some stringent justice rules and possibly a professional judiciary.

  10. says

    Right, because strict justice rules and a professional judiciary have done such a bang-up job of prosecuting rapists already. That’s why we who survive such crimes are so willing to report it, and go to court, because they do such a great job of putting our rapists away.

    Privileged asswipe.

  11. twosheds1 says

    “Right, because strict justice rules and a professional judiciary have done such a bang-up job of prosecuting rapists already. That’s why we who survive such crimes are so willing to report it, and go to court, because they do such a great job of putting our rapists away.”

    That’s a false dichotomy, and you know it. Do you really want a legal system where someone’s testimony is enough to send someone to jail? I agree the system fails victims, and needs to be changed, but convicting people without evidence is not the way to effect that change.

  12. says

    Ffs, no one is sending anyone to jail on just a person’s word, especially when that person is a person who’s been raped. And the list doesn’t need those fucking standards, because it’s not putting anyone at risk of imprisonment, either. Fucking rape apologists always make the same bullshit wah-wah.

  13. DanDare says

    What rules? A difficult question that will probably play out.
    Caitie Cat is correct that we are not talking about sending people to jail. It’s more like blacklisting or what the British army called Sending Them To Coventry. A person on the list will be ostrasized. That’s useful at that level but it would probably be good if there was some right of reply. Real problem people will probably dig themselves deeper.
    On the other hand there needs to be an awareness that such public lists can be repurposed. People on such a list may come to the attention of officials or business owners who rightly or wrongly see that as a black mark that has stronger consequences.
    Here in Oz we have a senator Derryn Hinch. Back in the 80s he had his own current affairs show where he aired a shame file about people who did bad things. Some he accused of serious misdeeds. He ended up being sued and things got settled out of court. The shame file disappeared.
    So it’s important to be aware there are slippery slopes attached to the process and mitigate against them.

  14. DanDare says

    Brony I thought it was obvious we need to come up with the rules by discussion and modify them by experience.
    People have already discussed evidence. There are legal rules of evidence. Are they too stringent for this purpose? I am unsure. Many such rules are there to mitigate injustice. Which ones do we keep and which do we ditch? Can testimony evidence be fact checked? Could that involve a breach of privacy?
    What standard of doubt do we think is reasonable to apply? The legal one of “proven beyond reasonable doubt” or something less stringent?
    When thinking it through always consider how someone might game the system. Try to mitigate against that.
    For example a man who is a predator and is good at avoiding exposure sets out to implicate other men that he sees as a threat to his opportunities. Can he find ways to get them on the list even if it is unjust?
    I would like to have this discussion and see if a reasonable framework can be designed. I wish this was a forum rather than a blog but here we are so here the discussion is.

  15. DanDare says

    Me again. We could start with the Midwestern Predator List rules. I think that police reports is a good start. However if there is a policy of encouraging such reports that could spill over into pushing them. There are probably ways to identify this but off the top of my head nothing comes to mind. I’ll think some more.
    Reports are not as sound a form of evidence as charges being laid. Looking for patterns of behavior is still worthwhile but I would think that would not be enough for public naming. Instead it could be enough to warrant closer observation by neutral insidets?

  16. says

    I’m going to answer your posts more fully but first I’m going to preface my reply. A lot of people don’t want to acknowledge a basic reality of this situation that is that women are already dealing with precisely the problem that you are acting paranoid about. This is a basic social contract violation. They don’t have to care about your worry and fear (I’m in the socially awkward aggressive male-type group). A reasonable instinctual response is accept that until they get equal social treatment they can do some breaking of their own in response.

    Telling them to worry about those kinds of consequences is simply rude at minimum, full stop. This is why most of the time I simply play asshole by conscious choice, I have to shift the culture despite rules-flavored concern trolls.

    It’s enabling rapists. It’s shoving them at the same kinds of structures that already fail them. Rapists and their more overt enablers (among family) get a strategic benefit not matter what your intentions are.

    References to legals systems are rude and assumed to be invalid unless made with a specific solution that targets a specific problem with the minimum of effect on group effectiveness. Be useful or they have no reason to remember anything you say, or remember the way you want. Why should they care about what you need? This evens out the fairness of the situation even if the results are socially painful.

    Why would you assume that a system designed to warn people about sexual and social predators would not include women? No really, this is evidence of potential sexism to me and in other posters I have gotten really creative with how I pull on this little nugget. You need to be supporting fro what is a social accusation absent a relevant pattern of behavior. The word “woman” is used out of political expediency that is useful right now. Preventing victims is the goal and the language will evolve.

    Social blacklisting of people with bad character sounds fine to me. They already have right of reply from what I see, explain. Women already get fact-checked by the public whenever they make an accusation so again, it sounds like fairness even if the results get uncomfortable.

    Why would someone go to another place to access the list? There is social warfare here of course people will be copying these lists and using them. I’m pretty sure this is being assumed. Any site will be assuming that people will make privacy claims because it’s not possible to solve this problem without focusing on something previously private due to lack of effort to collect it.

    Why should they care about the standard you care about? If you are so legal minded you can damn well look at what they are saying and figure out what standard they need. You help them prevent people from gaming the system if you find specific evidence of the system being gamed. You don’t trust them at all do you?

    That’s good enough for now.