The best defense we have is knowledge.

Continuing from last post: the main problem as I see it with people like Dan Linford is how many people they hurt, and how long they get away with it before people start talking about their behavior in public settings.

To the extent that women and those-seen-as-women are able to protect themselves from men who don’t respect consent, it’s usually because they were warned beforehand about which men can’t be trusted. This communication tends to take place in back channels.

It may not be realistic to bring the back channels into the sunlight just yet, but we can make the back channels more extensive and comprehensive.

This is where our feminist-sympathizing dudes, who understand the value of consent and women’s autonomy and want to be part of the solution, can help.

If you’re communicating in a private setting with another dude, and he confesses to some violent, predatory, or even just unethical behavior with women, those-seen-as-women, and people whom he sees as potential sex partners? Take screenshots and start passing them around.

Depending on the seriousness of the behavior in question, how long ago it happened, how much remorse he feels about it, and how he’s conducting himself now, it doesn’t necessarily need to make him a pariah. But if we’re interacting with an admitted rapist, we’d like to be aware of that so we can protect ourselves accordingly.

When the communication around the admitted rapist reaches the public discussion level, you can help by signal-boosting women writers when they talk about who has hurt them and their friends. It should not be the case that people tend to hold men as so much more credible than women, but the reality for now is that they do, so you can be part of the solution by reblogging and sharing women’s accounts of who has hurt them and their friends. Speak with us, not over us. Retweet, reblog, link and quote. Believe us, and show up.

Can I trust anyone anymore?

What do we say to the God of Real Life?

“Yeah, let’s have a moment today.”

I haven’t been posting on social justice much outside of occasionally working it into my Game of Thrones analysis. There are reasons for that, mostly having to do with the fact that I am a tall stack of anxieties and neuroses held together by carbs, alcohol and Twitter interactions. Making a long story short, I have to face up to the fact that I am too sensitive to be the activist I once thought I could be.

Which is not to say I’m giving up on being a good intersectional feminist writer. I still care about social justice in the real world. I also need to take care of myself, however, because if I rely on anyone else to take care of me, my needs will go unmet and my mental health will suffer accordingly, and I’m a much better contributor to society when I’m healthy. I’m gradually figuring out how to take care of myself while doing activism for the real world. I’m not there yet.

One of the hazards of Real Life is that people whom I thought were good eggs keep turning out to be awful. This is a hazard of social life from any angle, but when the social circle is built around progressive activism, it’s especially upsetting when a supposedly decent guy turns out to be a predator.

I would like you to take the time to read Heina’s post on the reality of Dan Linford, who was among my Facebook friends up until he deactivated his account.

He has behaved inappropriately in a deliberate way that lent itself to plausible deniability (a classic manipulation tactic), up to and including his confessions of sexual assault, along with the stock-standard patriarchal use of women and people perceived as women for emotional labor.

He uses autism and mental illness to excuse his behavior, but that’s not a reasonable excuse or explanation especially when many of the people caught up in this latest round are autistic and/or mentally ill themselves. Indeed, in my own case, I feel my autism made me more vulnerable to his tactics. Furthermore, his pattern of predatory behavior speaks to a level of manipulation and sophistication rather than to random social blunders or awkwardness. The dots connect into a clear picture. As of this writing, a conservative estimate places about two dozen people as having put forth personal accounts of his predatory behavior, many with eerie similarities.

That’s the beginning. Please follow the link and read the rest.

I am not among the people who were affected by Dan’s predatory behavior; I suppose I never got close enough for him to pull his fuckery on me. It probably helps that other Real Life upheavals have largely driven me away from Facebook in favor of Twitter. Anyway, Dan never did anything inappropriate to me, but he hurt others, and he got away with it for much too long.

What is possibly the most offensive aspect to his story is the part about him using autism and mental illness as distraction tactics. I’ve seen this before in the atheist/skeptical community and I’m sure I’ll see it again and again. Dan may (or may not) have mental illness, but that does not give him the right to disregard boundaries. Dan may (or may not) be autistic, and I’ve seen the “but what if he’s autistic?” derailment used to scold women away from pointing out men’s predatory behavior enough times to suspect Dan saw it as a matter of his own self-interest to be seen as autistic in this context.

Short version: I don’t know whether Dan is actually autistic, but he should NOT be able to use that as an excuse.

On that note, please read this Facebook post by Radical Neurodivergence, in which she details how “but what if he’s autistic?” is used to prevent women, especially including autistic women, from defending themselves against male violence.

STOP saying “well he’s autistic; he doesn’t know better” to excuse autistic or possibly autistic men for creepy, predatory behavior.

He does know better or he needs a behavioral aide and SOMEONE is failure. Autism and creep are not the same thing. There’s loads of effortlessly non predatory autistic men.

Also, a WHOLE LOT of these men who you are defending with this ableist crap? They are targeting autistic & otherwise neurodivergent women.

You know what happens to us?

We’re told we have to be nice and gentle because he’s autistic and doesn’t understand and don’t be mean to the poor autistic man.

We’re told that we have to send the ‘right’ signals.

Nobody ever looks at a woman who’s complaining about a man who didn’t respect her boundaries, and comes to her aid with, “Well, what if SHE’S autistic?” There’s no allowance made for women to struggle with reading nonverbal cues, or for women to have sub-par social skills, or generally to have been less than perfect in interacting with other people.

I have chronic anxiety and intermittent depression, and I’m expected to regulate myself well enough to avoid lashing out at other people, even when I’m sick. My mental illness isn’t an excuse to hurt people.

I have some neurological quirks that may be familiar to many autists, and I was rather delayed in learning social skills, but I’m still held responsible when my behavior makes other people uncomfortable.

You’re either responsible for your actions or you’re not. If not, why should anyone trust you?

You want to go as THAT for Halloween? Really?

Watchers has a list of ideas and sources for Game of Thrones-related Halloween costumes, which is great!, but there’s just this one thing that’s been bugging me for a while.

(I’m about to ruin y’all’s fun.)

There’s a costume for Cersei’s Walk of Shame.

And this is the part where I go: Really? Are you quite sure you want that to be your Halloween costume? Have you stopped to think about what exactly went on in that scene?

Continue reading

#BlameOneNotAll and then tell me #WheresMyCookie

This bullshit is making the rounds now. Sure, just what we need: a social media campaign to tell us basic decency warrants celebration. Oh, your professor doesn’t behave inappropriately around you? I GUESS HE DESERVES A MEDAL FOR THAT.

Also, those messages are obviously Photoshopped onto the signs the girls are holding up. Makes the whole affair look especially forced and insincere.

What can we learn from what happened to Sansa?

Seriously, though, I still want to talk about that rape scene in Episode 6. I’ll get off my previous attitude of snarking at anyone who objects to the scene, and instead talk about what we can gather from the fact that it happened and the way it was portrayed. Amanda Marcotte says many of the things I’ve already said, and some more. I still think there’s space to criticize the way Game of Thrones handles sexual violence. If some people have just had it up to their eyebrows with seeing women get raped and beaten on TV and don’t want to see any more, then I understand their decision to quit watching Game of Thrones. If you’ve decided not to watch anymore because you’ve had more than enough of this shit, then you’re not the intended audience for this post.

I just want to take a close look at Sansa and ask: what kind of story does this encounter tell us?

(This post has ended up longer than I expected. That’s a thing that tends to happen in my writing. Sorry!)

Continue reading

“You people suck!”

That is what Auleia Hanlon shouted at the courtroom when her now-deceased daughter’s rapist was sentenced to a laughable 30 days in jail.

Chief Deputy County Attorney Rod Souza had asked the judge to order Rambold to serve 20 years in prison, with 10 years suspended.

Souza said Rambold targeted a troubled young girl and violated his position of trust as a teacher by engaging in a sexual relationship with a student.

Rambold pleaded guilty to the single felony charge in April in a case that began in 2008, when school officials and police first learned of the sexual relationship between Rambold and the girl, Cherice Morales.

Rambold was placed on paid leave in April of that year and resigned from his teaching job three months later. He also surrendered his teaching certificate.

In October 2008, prosecutors charged Rambold with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent, alleging that the then-49-year-old man had an ongoing sexual relationship with Morales, who was 14 at the time.

While the case was pending, and a few weeks before her 17th birthday, Morales took her own life.

And, it seems that the prosecution needed her alive, so effectively, her suicide got Rambold out of a lot of prison time. Nice, isn’t it? He was ordered to complete a sex offender treatment program, among other conditions, and if he honored those terms, the charges would be dismissed.

Continue reading

The time has come for a campaign of terror against victim-blamers.

The incinerator hasn’t even cooled off from cremating Rehtaeh Parsons’s body, and now we hear of yet another girl who has committed suicide because some boys raped her, took pictures, and the Internet joined in treating her like shit.

Eight days after allegedly being sexually battered while passed out at a party, and then humiliated by online photos of the assault, 15-year-old Audrie Pott posted on Facebook that her life was ruined, “worst day ever,” and hanged herself.

[…]

“The family has been trying to understand why their loving daughter would have taken her life at such a young age and to make sure that those responsible would be held accountable,” said family attorney Robert Allard.

“After an extensive investigation that we have conducted on behalf of the family, there is no doubt in our minds that the victim, then only 15 years old, was savagely assaulted by her fellow high school students while she lay on a bed completely unconscious.”

Allard said students used cell phones to share photos of the attack, and that the images went viral.

You know what the onslaught of stories like this makes me feel?

Glee.

Vicious, maniacal, bloodthirsty glee, in looking forward to a fresh round of supposedly well-meaning Netizens talking about what the girl should have done differently, and how of course no one should be raped, but this wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t gone to the party, or had so much to drink, or associated with those boys, or, or, or…

I am so looking forward to tearing all those people apart.

By the time this one cools off—and I’m sure there’ll be plenty more teen suicides following rape and online humiliation in the meantime—my teeth will be so sharp.

Bring on the victim-blaming, muthafuckas! You will all be my chew toys!

 

Breaking news: Men can also refuse to consent.

I am very sorry to hear about this case of sexual assault in Toronto:

Over the weekend a young man came forward to the police to file a report of a sexual assault that occurred early on March 31. The 19 year old told police that he had been out and upon leaving a club in Toronto’s Entertainment District he was offered a ride from four women. Instead of dropping him off, the four women took him to a parking lot and each sexually assaulted him. The police are looking for four white women between 30 and 36 around 5’4″ and between 190 and 200lbs who were out in a Honda SUV on the night of March 30.

And I am utterly unsurprised to see that social media is chock-full of people behaving like utter shitbags to this poor kid.

It’s not often that we hear about a case of a guy being raped by a woman (or several women), and with attitudes like these, is it any wonder that male rape victims are generally not interested in reporting their assaults? A male victim of female assailants can expect to be told that there’s no such thing as female-on-male rape (because men are always open to sex, donchaknow), that he’s probably gay and therefore should be ashamed (because it would be okay for those women to force themselves on a straight guy?), that the important thing is not that he didn’t consent but that the women were fat (because it would be impossible for him not to consent if the women were skinny?), that he’s reporting the rape to cover up that he cheated on his partner (because women can never be aggressors and men can never be victims), and that he should be embarrassed about this happening to him and should not bother anyone with his complaints.

In case you’re confused about the mechanics of female-on-male rape: it is possible for a guy to get an erection and ejaculate in response to non-consensual stimulation. It happens all the time. That he got it up doesn’t mean he wanted it.

We Are All Sluts

While reading the victim-blaming reactions to the Steubenville case (I won’t link to anything here; if you want to read something that’ll make you throw up in your mouth, Google it), one thing stood out to me. It’s the sort of thing that should have been obvious before, after living for over 30 years in a culture of persistent double standards of sexuality. But it’s even clearer after looking at long lists of screencaps of horrible people typing disgusting things about a 16-year-old girl who was treated like a piece of meat.

The definition of “acting like a slut” can be anything and everything. It could be sleeping with multiple partners, or flirting, or suggestive dancing, or wearing revealing clothes, or just showing up at a party where teenage boys are in attendance. If you are on the receiving end of sexual assault by someone popular, then whatever you were doing at the time will be characterized as “acting like a slut.” Once the label of “slut” is applied, you are no longer worthy of protection under the law. Other people are allowed—nay, required—to do horrible things to you, and you were expected to know that before you acted like a slut. Once you are identified as a slut, you are playing foul if you report the assault to the police. If your assailants are prosecuted and convicted, then you are a slut who ruined their lives by doing whatever you were doing when they decided to treat you like the slut you clearly are.

It can’t be rape because you were acting like a slut, and you must have been acting like a slut because those guys wouldn’t dare lay a hand on any girl unless she forced their hands by acting slutty. We know they’re good guys because they’ve never hurt anyone who didn’t have it coming.