Trigger warning for rape
Finally! We did it. We found every creep in the world. We called each and every creep out, their creepiness is known, they can creep in secret no more.
I’ve been thinking about this recently, for several reasons I’m conscious of and probably lots I’m not (thanks brain, you input synthesizer, you), but there are two things I read at different points in the last year and I read and ruminated on one, and then I read and ruminated on the other, and then I remembered the first one again in the context of the second and now I keep thinking about what we plan to do once we find every creep in the world.
Here’s the first thing I read:
You should read this, everyone should read this. As usual women of color have been doing the work and trying to find the answers to questions that I as a white woman am just now starting to struggle with. Any feminism that privileges white voices is bullshit, and this document is a great example of the kind of work that I feel mainstream white feminism is missing (I’m missing) and feeling the lack for it. There’s a lot more to be said, but just go read it first.
And then here’s the second thing:
This article is about Circles UK, a group that, well...the title kind of summarizes it, but go read the thing.
Now, if I was reading this instead of writing this I’d be worrying the author had got turned around and was mounting yet another campaign to recenter a discussion of feminism back on men. And fuck maybe I am - it doesn’t feel like I am, but generally when I fuck up it doesn’t feel like I’m fucking up until someone lets me know afterward, so.
But I do want to point out that this isn’t just an issue of men tromping into perfect lady spaces and ruining things with some sort of ingrained “ickiness”, nor is it about evil viperous women stealthily invading “pure” feminist spaces or about whatever version of Inherently Bad Person vs Inherently Good Person you can spin up. I don’t think it is about that.
But honestly, genuinely: if you found every creep, where would you *put* them?
I think it’s about harm done. Because when I say things like, “I won’t be your training wheels to learn how to be a decent human being,” I mean that, I mean the feeling behind that. That is why I want codes of conduct, that is why I am okay with certain folks (cis gentlemen, I usually mean you) being a little uncomfortable in small ways that coincidentally tend to make other folks (ladies, trans folks, gender neutral lovelies) more comfortable. But also...I’ve already been someone’s ----------------- ...I don’t even know what to write there. I was raped by someone and I’m also fairly certain when looking back that he didn’t understand he was raping me, even though I was petrified and tried to get away. That event is done and there is no undoing it.
If there was a safe way to talk to him about what happened, a safe way to know I could try to let him know what he did--
I’d rather be the training wheels, I’d rather try than not try.
I don’t think everyone has to but right now trying doesn’t even feel like a safe option for me. I want that to be an option. I want a community that is not itself a toxic shitpile that I can trust enough to get my back when exercising that option.
Where are we going to put all these creeps when we find them? Will we ever talk to them again?
I think there is something to why they are so angry. I think their anger isn’t an alien thing. I think they are angry because they are hurt just like I am angry because I am hurt and I think someone needs to have the patience and the love to ask what is hurting and what they are afraid of. I am not volunteering. I don’t think I’m volunteering. But I don’t think a person stops being a person, not ever. I didn’t stop being a person when I was raped and he didn’t stop being a person when he raped me, and people deserve to have their humanity acknowledged and respected.
After we call them out, what are we supposed to do with all of the creeps? Visit them in cages?
There are a couple of phrases I read a lot these days. When I first read them I was struck by how well the community works with these guidelines, and how these guidelines run 180 degrees to the way a lot of “community” work I’ve seen out in the wild recently:
- Our common welfare should come first
- Principles before personalities
What’s our common welfare? I don’t even have an answer, but I want one. I want to know where our welfares overlap, I want to know where we look out for each other, I want to know when I can trust that we’re both putting our community first.
“Principles before personalities” has become the ultimate bullshit sniff-test for me. When I talk to people, or when people want to talk to me, I wonder if it’s because we have common principles, or if they perceive that we’re “supposed to get along”. I don’t care about the latter, and I don’t care for people who care about the latter.
For me, my purpose in life is not to make people disposable or participate in the disposing of others. I want to keep getting better, with all that that phrase means (and some of it means that I’ll never be perfect, and some of it means that I’m far from perfect right now as I write this). I don’t know how much energy I have in me to try and actively educate people beyond myself, but I do see in myself the need for more education and growth, I am not done yet, I still need to learn and grow as a person for as long as I’m alive. I’ve been thinking about community, about how to design communities to outlast an individual and about how to design for self-repair.
We’re going to keep finding creeps. That’s a thing that’s going to keep happening.