A Few Reflections on Recent News

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We’re seeing something of an apocalypse in the entertainment industry right now, and I mean that in the best possible sense. Not every apocalypse is bad. When the order of things is rooted to its very core in a belief that some people have to be treated like pieces of meat for the world to work the way it should, then it can’t be rebuilt until it shatters. We are seeing a liberating destruction of a structure that was so bad we couldn’t even talk about it. That’s not just good, it’s necessary. I don’t have much of a role in this, but what weight I can place, I place in supporting the people who are wielding the hammers.

There are people, though, who are uncomfortable with the way the world is changing. I will be honest, here; I think that if you are one of those people, and you drill far enough down into your feelings to strip away the surface layers of motivation from the way you’re thinking about these people coming forward with their stories of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape, you’re going to find that the true reason for this is that you empathize more with powerful men losing their power than with everyone else being victimized. I think that (again, if you are one of those people) you’re going to have to deal with reframing that in your own way, but here are a few thoughts that might help.

  1. This is not a “witch hunt”. This is not a “lynch mob”. When you use those terms, you are quite literally taking powerful symbols of literal oppression by violence of women and minorities and applying them to Harvey Weinstein being criticized for his behavior. When you use them to defend powerful white men from criticism, it carries the implicit message that you feel it just as strongly when white men are told they did a bad thing as you do when black men are hung by the neck until they are dead. You should probably ask yourself why this is.
  2. We do not give these people “credit for apologizing”. First, their apologies have been universally shitty, self-serving, and have attempted to reframe the narrative with the abuser as victim of their inability to treat people like human beings. But second and more importantly, any apology made to get out of trouble is not a sincere one. If they’re really sorry, they shouldn’t need credit for apologizing. They should be apologizing because it’s the right thing to do and they should offer no qualifications. A true apology does not obligate anyone to accept it. If you need to accept a false apology, and to demand others to do so, simply to put a painful situation behind you, you should probably ask yourself why this is.
  3. Believing the victims means believing the victims. Obviously that doesn’t mean turning your brain off, but false accusations are genuinely rare and usually unravel when investigated. The stories that are being reported right now are well-sourced, have corroborating evidence, and the people coming forward sure as hell aren’t enjoying the gauntlet of distrust and hatred they’re getting as their “reward” for speaking up. (And they’re coming in groups.) We should always start with believing the victim’s account, because the harasser always has the most to gain by lying. George Takei is not more deserving of our sympathy than Roy Moore. If you decide to disbelieve accusations based on who’s being accused, you should probably ask yourself why this is.
  4. Yes, this is a kink blog discussing this stuff. This is a kink blog with someone who does condone dehumanization and depersonalization as fetishes saying that you should always treat people like human beings and not your playthings, despite having very lovingly told someone that they were my plaything less than twenty-four hours ago. That is because of the magic of enthusiastic consent. If you want something done to you, and you tell someone that in no uncertain terms, it’s okay if they do it to you. Even if that seems weird to others. But you can’t tell me that Louis CK didn’t pick up on any of the signs, any of the times he did it, that the women he exposed himself to were not into it. (Especially because at least a few of those women said he didn’t wait for permission.) You can’t tell me that a powerful Hollywood producer doesn’t understand that inviting a woman whose livelihood depends on his goodwill into his hotel room and stripping naked for her is unaware that he’s coercing her into the act. And if you’re trying, if you want to invalidate these words with a claim that kinky people don’t have a right to opinions about consent, you should probably ask yourself why this is.
  5. For all those people saying, “Oh, I’m so worried, I don’t know what I might say or do that could get me accused of this stuff…” Good. That’s actually part of the intent. You are supposed to be mindful of how your words and actions might impact other people, and whether you might wind up hurting them if you are callous, unthinking, selfish or cruel. That is a good character trait to have. Does it sometimes result in a little bit of social anxiety? Sure, in a Dunning-Kruger sort of way. The people who think least about how their actions affect others are the ones who will do the most harm, and the people who do best will worry sometimes without cause. But if you’d rather hurt someone than care about their feelings, well…I think you know where I’m going with this, but you should probably ask yourself why this is.

So there you go. Five excuses people use to avoid digging into how they feel, five answers. I’m not saying that if you read this post, then overnight you’re going to become “woke” and start instantly using your empathy to help marginalized people like it’s a super power. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that “woke” is a journey and not a destination. The moment you think you’re done learning how to listen and care about others is the moment you start going backwards. But I hope that if you’re reading this from the perspective of someone who’s genuinely dismayed by the way all these abusers are treated, then maybe this does help you examine yourself. Because that’s how we become better.

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