Jul. 13th, 2014

gosling: (flower/snow)
This is what I posted earlier this morning anonymously over in the ongoing discussion [livejournal.com profile] drwex has so graciously hosted.

Upon reflection I am feeling a need to say this publicly. I fear this may lose me the love and respect of people whom I greatly love and respect, and I hope my fears on this prove to be unfounded. I'm not sure if this is courageous or profoundly unwise, but I felt a need to own my words.

Text of my anonymous comment follows:

I am not feeling safe commenting non-anonymously either. I have watched while the words of people I respect greatly (and in some cases love very much) are misheard as something they didn't intend and would never say, and then that misperception is magnified. People with similar goals of safety, in the community and elsewhere, are coming to see each other as enemies instead of the allies I think they could be (and *are* if only they could get past the shouting and the growing polarized rift).

People I love no longer respect each other and see each other as the enemy, and this is intensifying over time.

While as a community, as a set of overlapping communities, we have not done a perfect job of protecting each other from sexual aggression and other egregious manifestations of the patriarchal world that surrounds us, I always felt safe here.

This is the one place where I *haven't* experienced a sense of feeling afraid of even subtle sexual aggression and the one place where I felt confident I would be believed and supported if that ever happened.

This is the place where I have been healing from the sexual trauma I suffered long before I was ever here. This is the place where I was surrounded by friends who understand.

I no longer feel safe at all, not mainly because I worry about sexual aggression (although the lack of listening on both sides now does increase the risk) but because I am watching a community I love, people I love, divide into hostile camps of where everyone assumes the absolute worst of those they now see as the enemy.

This is not a place I wish to be.

And most importantly this is a place where a lot more hidden sexual aggression can happen now, because when people stop listening to each other and there becomes only one "correct" set of perceptions and interpretations it becomes much harder to notice things and speak things that are difficult and hear what someone is really saying. And I think that many people will now be even more reluctant to voice subtle misgivings, because when everyone is either evil or utterly without fault, the bar for noticing someone is being creepy is higher because of a reluctance to label someone evil.

ETA: Several people have asked me for clarity about the last paragraph or parsed it in a way I entirely did not mean. I want to clarify that I am *not* saying people should not speak up when someone makes them uncomfortable but rather that it is critically important that they do (which is *not* to say that it is their responsibility to do so, but our responsibility to create an environment in which they can). And it is even more critically important to create an environment in which people are heard and believed. A conversation we need to be having now is about how to do that.

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