Can Their Be Victims Without Perpetrators?

In the last 24 hours, I’ve read three articles about Aziz Ansari.  The first is the Babe.com article, in which a young woman accused him of sexual assault.  A second article, from The Atlantic, in which another woman discusses the events described in the first, and claims they are not sexual assault.  And finally, a third article from KatyKatiKate.com, in which a third woman explains that events like those described in the first article have happened to her, and while she hadn’t considered them sexual assault, that doesn’t mean they aren’t.  (I’m over simplifying all three, so please go check them out.)

With all three fresh in my head, I started wondering about victimhood.  I don’t mean that in this “I don’t like the word victim,” or “we’ve become a victim culture,” I mean legitimate victims.  In the past four months or so, we’ve had many victims come forward, and naturally, when something’s wrong we look for someone to blame.  Now, in all of the cases that I’ve heard that have popped up in the past few months there have been clear predators, anyone who’s defending Harvey Weinstein, or Kevin Spacey, is part of the problem.  I don’t know if Al Franken was as maliciously intent as those others, but what he did was wrong, and he needed to own up to it, and step down.

With Ansari, maybe he knew what he was doing was wrong, but this is definitely the most ‘grey area’ story that I have read in these past months.  So it got me thinking, assuming Ansari is telling the truth, and he didn’t get that she wasn’t into it, didn’t pick up on her non-verbal cues, is he a perpetrator?  If he’s not, is she still a victim?  I wonder if it’s possible for someone to be a victim without a perpetrator.

Let me run a scenario by you, something that I used to do as a boy, into young adulthood.  I think most would be hard pressed to call me a perpetrator in this scenario, but I’m not sure that doesn’t make others victims.  When I was 13, I was one of the tallest boys in my class, I already had some facial hair, and acne, and I was about 6 feet tall.  I was also the oldest in my class, and so I lumbered over many of the other kids, but especially the girls.  I constantly had crushes on the girls, and would ask them out regularly.  One of my problems was, that I didn’t know how to take a hint.

I would ask, “Do you want to go to the movies on Friday?”

Usually I’d get back, “Um… I can’t I have to… (insert polite excuse here)”

I didn’t get it, so I’d say “how about Saturday?”

Now, I just wanted at that point in my life, to go to the movies, maybe hold hands, or kiss them.  I knew about sex, but really hadn’t connected it with my interaction with girls.  I literally meant no harm.

But as a 33 year-old, I now know, that from a very young age, girls are warned about predators, and told about them, likely by that age they had encountered some to whatever extent, and so a giant kid, who they find creepy and unattractive won’t stop asking them out, is probably terrifying.  I think back, and I have to imagine, I was the physical embodiment of everything a young girl has been warned about.  Despite not having any bad intentions, or really any awareness of myself.

So were those girls victims?  Not of assault, but I think they were of harassment, definitely of intimidation.  How can anyone argue with that?

On the other hand, was I a predator?  I don’t think so.

It’s a level of nuance that I’m not sure this current wave of awareness has.  Obviously, if someone knowingly assaults, or intimidates, or harasses, they should be punished, and corrected, but perhaps there are the unknowing harassers and intimidate-ers, who need to be corrected, and educated, but not necessarily punished.

I think one of the fears that has come out, is that if we don’t listen to a woman, we risk falling back into the same old routine, and so we’ve taken that to mean that we must take her side against the person who made her feel whatever way.  There are cases when that is obviously true, but then there are cases like mine, or maybe Aziz Ansari’s in which you can hear the victim, have empathy, or sympathy, and help them make it as right as possible, and hopefully correct this going forward, but not necessarily have such a black and white stance.

What are your thoughts and opinions on these more nuanced stories?  Are my ideas way off base?  Let me know below in the comments.

Presumption of Guilt

Well, right now it seems like the flood gates may be open when it comes to famous sexual deviants and predators, and of course, it seems much of the reaction has been to use these revelations as fodder for political attacks.  I don’t want to feed that either way, but I do want to talk about something that does seem to be coming up which I think is important.

This weekend (it may have been earlier on both, but I heard about them this weekend) Louis C.K. and George Takei were both accused of different types of harassment or assault, and there has been some talk about the presumption of guilt.  I saw some posts talking about how Takei will be treated easier because he’s been an outspoken opponent of this behavior, and similar with Louis C.K.

Now, let’s get this out of the way, if Takei did what he’s accused of (assault that seems to be an attempted rape) then he’s a monster, and should be treated as such.  Louis on the other hand admitted to what he did.  Now, I tend to grant Takei more leniency than most of the accused right now, because he is outright denying it.  Now, that doesn’t mean that I think he definitely didn’t do it, but it is different than what others who are being accused are saying in their responses.

Let me give an example, Kevin Spacey, tried two separate tactics, he first said he didn’t remember that type of behavior, and second threw out the fact that he was gay as a distraction.  What Takei did was say “I did not do that.”  Did he do that? I don’t know, but he knows whether or not he did, as does Spacey, and he denied outright.  This has been an issue in many of these denials is people saying “I don’t remember,” and there are situations in which you may not remember, but clearly intentional sexual assault (in Spacey’s case laying on top of a minor on a bed) isn’t something you forget, unless of course you do those type of abhorrent things so often that you don’t remember that specific time.

So, until there is an abundance of accusations, or more evidence, I will give Takei the benefit of the doubt.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t believe him, just that I don’t think he deserves everyone’s immediate scorn.  I don’t however believe that disliking any of them violates the idea of “innocent until proven guilty” because I am not a court of law, so that doesn’t apply to me, until I am asked to serve on a jury.

The reason I bring up Louis C.K. at all, isn’t to make excuses, but more to comment on how bizarre his situation is.  I’m literally not aware of any celebrity/politician or anything admitting fault in something like this as directly as he does, and many have said “well, there was a story in the New York Times, and it seems pretty undeniable,” and to that I say, if there is anything that I’ve learned in my life about celebrity scandals, it is that everything is deniable.  We have a country where many people believe OJ didn’t do it, even after he tried to publish a book so blatant that it was originally a Chris Rock sketch.

I don’t think admission of guilt absolves him in any way of it, but it really is so strange to me that he did.  Perhaps it speaks to his lack of malice in his actions, and they were just selfish and not intentionally predatory, but still I’m so surprised.

Ultimately what I’m trying to say, is that across all of these accusations, one thing that I think can be as telling, or at least informs my own opinion as much as any other factor, is the response of the accused.  Even in non-celebrity cases I think this is true.  Whenever I’ve heard about a rape or other sexual crime case, in which the victim is purposely made to appear immoral, or any of the other rape defense plays that we’re all familiar with, it actually makes me presume the accused’s guilt more than just a regular, concrete denial.

I Can’t Believe This STILL Has to Be Said!

This is kind of a follow up to my #metoo post, but less personal.  I had mentioned in that post, that it was really sad seeing how many women were posting #metoo, but after I posted that, I saw the video of Jennifer Lawrence talking about her experiences (I saw a video on a different site so the comments I’m about to talk about might be different than the ones with this video).

I watched the video, and immediately felt sadness and compassion for her, and any other women with similar stories.  Like an idiot however, I then scrolled down and saw the comments.  Many of the comments were about how she wasn’t forced at gunpoint, and that she sold her soul, and a bunch of other disgusting bullshit that I fully disagree with.

There was one comment that caught my attention, this man, said something along the lines of “she can’t complain about this and also tell us she should be able to show her breasts in public,” (I tried to find the exact quote again, but there are hundred of comments, and I’m having no luck).

Here is what we need to start thinking, we’re in a society that does a lot of “slut-shaming,” and it needs to stop.  Jennifer Lawrence can have the opinion/desire and fight for, the right to go topless in public.  She can also have the opinion/desire and fight for the right to not HAVE to go topless to get a job.  These are not conflicting ideas.  Having the right to do something, is not the same as then having the requirement to do something.

I thoroughly enjoy pizza, but if I went to a job interview (of any pay scale, since that was such a point of contention with the dimwits on the comments section) and they then told me the job was contingent on eating an entire pizza, or regularly having pizza, and I don’t like that, it doesn’t mean I forfeit my right to ever have pizza.  Maybe that interview’s pizza was greasy and disgusting!

We have a real problem with this concept in this country (perhaps around the world).  If a woman wants to have sex with multiple men, she must want to have sex with all men.  Right?  That’s the message that we see in rape trials when they discredit victims for being “sluts.”  It’s disgusting.

One of the troubling elements about this particular issue, is that it’s not just guys who are being total assholes about it.  There were as many women calling her a prostitute, and other variations on the same nasty theme.  It’s going to be a tough problem to fix, but women too need to stop slut-shaming.  Look how many women were writing #metoo, and yet there were so many judging Jennifer Lawrence.

One of the big issues on the board, as far as women posters, was that they had been the victims of ‘real rape.’  This speaks a lot to the whole idea of slut shaming.  For some reason, we’re obsessed with degree in our society.  If you weren’t treated as poorly as me, you’re fucking lucky.  That’s the mentality we all seem to have.  In addition, when it comes to woman on woman slut-shaming, there is this idea of ‘if she shows more skin than me, she’s a slut,’ or ‘if she has had sex with more people than me she’s a slut,’ whereas the opposite is often true to ‘if she’s had sex with fewer people than me, she’s a prude.’

Here’s an idea, and I hope it’s not too radical: Let people be themselves.  Are they hurting someone? Then stop them.  Otherwise who the fuck cares.

We’re in a society right now that is a little torn, between the archaic belief systems of the past, and struggle for true free thought and action.  I realized how bad it was a few years ago when I saw a religious person, upset with him or herself because he/she was having sex before marriage, while in a long-time relationship.  “That’s not what the bible says…”  Oh for fuck’s sake, who is getting hurt having sex in a long term committed relationship (among consenting adults, and let’s not start talking about fucking turtles, or lamps or whatever weird example doesn’t equate at all)?  In fact who’s getting hurt in brief sexual encounters between consenting adults?

No one, but we have this set of ideals that just doesn’t make sense anymore, and it allows for predators to prey.  Society is in such disarray because of a stigma based in a time that doesn’t exist anymore, but the fucking stigma still does.

Let people be, and try to understand that you can have sexual desires, and act upon it, without having to just accept any sexual advance you receive.  If you don’t think that, stay online harassing people who are actually trying to live their lives.

#metoo

I have had a few times in my life had discussions about rape and its prevalence in the world.  One of the things that I always used to say was “I know like 4 people that I know were raped, imagine how many people whom I know were raped that I’m not aware of.”  Because I was aware that most rape goes unreported, and I’m sure in lots of cases it goes relatively unremarked upon.

Yesterday, I started seeing “Me too” on people’s Facebook posts.  Now, I’m aware that there is a large variety of sexually predatory actions that take place, such as sexual harassment, assault, and rape, and others.  I don’t always know the specific distinctions, and I don’t want to talk about the differences, what I want to talk about is the scale to which we’re seeing these “me too”s.

I’m torn, because honestly, I wish there were none.  I wish I was hearing about it about as a movement, but that all of the women I know were honestly able to not write anything (not that victimizing women I don’t know isn’t bad, but hopefully you understand what I mean).  It has been gut wrenching for me every time I’ve seen one.  Too see that all of these women have had this feeling of insecurity or danger, of disgust and invasion.

I’m disgusted, and I’m sorry to all of you that it happened to.  I really do wish this movement had no momentum, because I wish it was a problem that wasn’t clearly systemic.

I want to share two things personally with you on this topic.

The first thing, is #metoo.  When I was in eight grade (14 years old), a young man who was bullying me, would grab my butt and my genitals through my pants, and whisper in my ear “do you like that faggot?”  I only remember it happening a couple of times, although the bullying lasted longer.

Now, personally, this young man was younger than me, but was physically stronger, more aggressive, and more popular, and so I felt I had no power to stop it.  I’m 33, so this was 19 years ago, and I’m not sure that I am over it, but I don’t feel any anger towards him.  I’ve spoken to a therapist, and family, and something that I’ve come to the conclusion of, was that he was likely having some kind of similar issue, and didn’t know how to process it.

Now, I’m lucky, my father found out that my bullies were ‘pants-ing’ me, and immediately went to my school and made it clear that it was over, and over night, it was better.

 

Now the second thing that I want to talk about.  Is that without meaning to, I am sure that I have contributed to this problem.  When I was younger (12-26) I was desperately trying to find love.  I had crushes on girls, and I was usually pretty clear about that.  From about 12-14, I would ask girls out, and I was unable to understand that when they would say things like “Um… I have plans that night” or whatever polite excuse they had, that they were trying to be nice and let me down easy.  I thought they genuinely had those plans, and that if I were able to find a date more accommodating for them, that they would be willing to go out with me.  The truth is, they didn’t like me.

At this point in my life, I was significantly bigger than the other kids my age, and I had acne, and I’m sure that there was a degree of me looking like a big oaf, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was intimidating to the girls I was asking out, especially when I kept asking.  At that point in my life, it wasn’t sexual, I wanted to hold hands, maybe kiss, the idea of having sex with them had really never entered my brain, but if you’re a young woman already becoming aware of the dangers of the world, 12-14 year-old me had to be setting off all the alarms.  Even if they knew I was pretty innocent intention-wise, I probably looked like Lenny from Of Mice and Men to them.  So for that I’m sorry.

 

Thank you to all the women who are coming forward to show us that this is such a real problem.  I hope that we as a society can make this better, I hope that this can become ‘fringe’ issue that some of us would like to believe it currently is.