Jul. 10th, 2014

focalintent: (photography)
(expanded from a post on secret, some things shouldn't just be said anonymously[1])

I know I'm nowhere near the first to say this, and I hope to be far from the last - but I would rather wrongly uninvite someone from my parties than provide a welcoming space for abusers, or even give the appearance of being a welcoming space for abusers.

When I see people have conversations on this, I find myself more and more looking into the undertone of the conversation. Do they appear to be coming from a space of "how can I make my space/party/event/home/workplace/environment a safe environment?" or are they coming from a space of "how can I minimize the boat rocking," or worse, "how can I avoid hurting anyone's feelings[2]?"

It's bullshit that there's a default script and instinct in many situations to try to pick apart the story or actions of someone who's been abused by someone else. It's bullshit that there's such a strong push back when this gets pointed out. This is part of what rape culture looks like, and it is a social conditioning that permeates so much of our society.

I am certainly no saint on this front. My brain always, always wants to leap to the "best possible interpretation," assuming best motives, hoping for misinterpretation, etc... etc... However, this is the unobstructed, HOV on-ramp to gas lighting, and is something that, to this day, I still have to push back pretty hard against[4]. It is unclear to me how much of this is an innate attempt to find the best in people/situations, and how much of it is a social conditioning (see rape culture) that simultaneously manages to blame and disbelieve targets of abuse.

The conversations going around today are on the far edge of my social circles, but they're still connected, and while the incident in question did not happen directly in the circles I swim in, I fear it's more of a "not this time" than a "doesn't happen here"[5]. Which, in some ways, makes it feel a bit more important for me to raise this conversation in the circles which I am in more directly - because we should be actively working on being better about dealing with this, about the spaces we provide, about the people we choose to protect and shelter and endorse. All the time. Not just when a situation blows up in people's faces.

[1] though part of why I posted this there as well is because I suspect there are circles that secret reaches that need to have these conversations that my normal social media channels don't.

[2] because, you know, the feelings of an abuser are of more concern than their victims[3]

[3] The incidences of false reports is so stupidly low, that if you are going to prioritize protecting against false reports over the much wider scope of people who have been victims of abuse, well, you're telling me quite a bit about yourself. Things that you might want to sit back and examine a bit more.

[4] starting with keeping my mouth shut, stepping back and looking at things further, listening, listening, listening, and defaulting to a place of believing, or at least not skeptically trying to pick holes in, when I hear about something a person has done. And I apologize for the times that I still trip up on this.

[5] even as I feel that there are subsets of our greater social circles and climates that are trying to push back on this. There's still a ways to go, sadly.

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July 2014

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