I keep thinking of this guy. He was home schooled by his dad, who started Stormfront, and his mom, whose ex husband, David Duke, became his godfather. White supremacy was just a simple fact of life. He started the Stormfront for Kids website, and hosted a radio show with his dad. Once he gets to college, he gets exposed to ideas outside his bubble. He spends a lot of time thinking. He eventually disavows racism and tries his best to put his past behind him.
So the question, of course, is how accountable should he be held for the real harm he caused between the ages of 10 and 20?
If we are to accept that rape culture is a thing, then we have to accept that a wide swath of our population has been indoctrinated into it. That is, there are a lot of people who do shitty things because they don’t understand that they’re wrong. It’s what they were raised to believe is normal. “no” being a grey area isn’t something they just decided, it’s something they were taught.
That doesn’t excuse every bad thing that they’ve done, but in both moral and legal views, we make the distinction between accident, negligence, spontaneous outburst, and premeditated malice, based on how cognizant someone was of their actions at the time.
I think that we’re seeing a radical shift with the millennial generation actually being aware, but realistically, we have a lot of older people who didn’t grow up that way.
Everybody thinks of themselves as the good guy, and everybody wants to do the right thing- But when that conflicts with self-preservation, there aren’t a whole lot who will take the hard way. Sure, maybe you know what you did was wrong, but are the consequences for admitting it greater or less than the weight on your conscience?
I think we need to have a serious conversation about how we want to deal with the past if we’re going to move forward- And I think it’s going to involve a lot of compromises that nobody is happy with, because otherwise, we’re incentivizing people to not come forward, to not change the future for the better.
I don’t think I really buy Spurlock’s contrition, especially not without hearing the other sides to the story. Anyway, he’s definitely right that apparently insisting on having sex with a woman who has explicitly said in so many words that she doesn’t want to have sex is very bad style. So what if she apparently didn’t resist violently? Why on earth would she have to do that to have her very basic wish respected?
However, he does have a point, and that is that this problem is fundamentally not about individual men. Maybe a good complement to the #metoo tag would be a #meaculpa to be issued by all men who ever did something, anything, in any way sexually inappropriate towards a woman.
Meaning, and saying this with no desire at all to let anyone off the hook for criminal, bullying and obnoxious behaviour, that this is fundamentally a cultural issue. When I grew up as a teenager in the 80s, the atmosphere among young men in small-town working and lower middle class Denmark (at least the one I knew) was steeped in misogyny, homophobia and physical violence. Or at least, in what would today be considered that.
I remember being in a toilet in a crowded disco and overhearing two guys in their twenties discussing their pickup strategies - one said: “If you go home with her and then she doesn’t want to fuck it’s OK to slap her!”
A friend told me about horrendous sexual harassment in high school, like sitting in a physics class mixed up with people from other classes, and all of a sudden the guy next to her would have opened her pants and tried to start touching her, and girls were usually expected to deal with these things themselves and couldn’t count on support from principals or teachers if they reported such behaviour.
Most of us, of course, survived without committing or suffering such things. My female friend, whom I referred to above, was a “quiet” girl dealing with a tremendous amount of problems in her family and thus felt in a very weak position to assert herself against such abuses, and as there was no support from the school system, that assessment was probably correct. Similarly, what does an atmosphere of constant sexist bragging over sexual conquests and exploits, do to some males who grow up in the midst of all of this and believing it’s normal behaviour? Some of us, of course, are too intelligent and have too much integrity to “succumb” to such a culture, but everybody can’t lift themselves above the mores of the day.
So yes, let’s expose and flog predators like Weinstein, let’s do away with this embarassing culture of sexual coercion that has been permeating our culture, but let’s not let this be about outing individual men and punishing, and then believe we can all go home & everything’s good. If we don’t understand this as a cultural problem for which we all are responsible, everything is not good.
An example for illustration. During World War II, this country (Denmark) was occupied by the Germans. Unlike the Norwegians and the Dutch, our government decided not to fight it out but surrendered and cooperated with the Germans, asking everybody else to do the same. A (very) small resistance movement formed almost immediately, attacking the Germans and sabotaging their supply lines. Also immediately, the business elite went into cahoots with the Germans, making obscene amounts of money by supplying food, cement, weapons etc. for the Nazi war effort.
Now, in 1942 the government was fed up with the resistance movement undermining their collaboration with the Nazis, and the prime minister went on the radio and asked everybody to do their bit and snitch on the resistance if they knew anything at all. And some people, often desperate, from the lower classes, with criminal connections, started snitching - first to the Danish police, later to the Gestapo.
After the war, these underdog snitches were punished severely, many of them were executed. One or two industry fat cats were tokenized and got to spend a year or two in jail, but 99% got off scot free for their treason. And the very same prime minister assumed office after the war, overseeing the prosecution of the people that he personally, on the radio, had asked to snitch.
Now, I’m not saying that these snitches, many of whom inflicted severe damage on the resistance movement, should not have been punished. But I am saying that there was a systemic problem which was not addressed by focusing on individual snitches. And I guess that’s the point I’m trying to make about #metoo as well; punishing the Weinsteins is well and good, but we should not let this be about individual men, because fundamentally it’s the systemic, cultural problem that we really need to address.
I obviously didn’t express myself well at all, as I agree with almost everything the responses to my post have said.
Rapists and all the rest need to stop. Men like myself (non-rapists) need to be out in front as far as making them stop. There has been and remains an unacceptable power imbalance that has resulted in harm for countless women.
This is not a place I am interested in discussing my personal experiences, but I have plenty of reason to feel empathy for victims of sexually inappropriate behavior. I have plenty of experience with predators in my personal and professional lives and it is a damn complicated situation every time.
I really hope we can figure out a way to create accountability for sexual predators while also teaching our young people how not to be one. My focus in raising my boys has been to make damn sure they understand the importance of consent, for themselves and others.
I agree with @rocketpj, and I would make the same case for a female abuser should a mob form after she came forward with limited information. Internet mobs are a bad thing.
If the abuser comes forward on their own and tries to reform it might make life easier for a victim. This is especially true if they are uncomfortable coming forward for fear of damaging their career or other relationships.
If you make it hard for abusers to come forward, you are probably making life harder for a victim somewhere.
Or maybe she won’t come forward because like lots of other people who commit sexual assault, she feels as if she’s done nothing wrong. She did, obviously, but that doesn’t mean SHE thinks she did.
People in power (which are still overwhelmingly men) believe that their position is due them and that their position entitles them to be exempt from responsibility and moral consequences of their actions. They believe that others with less power are literally there for the taking for their edification.
So, talking about sexual assault and calling out people who have abused others is not the problem here. the construction of structures of power which privilege some over others (generally, white, generally male) is the problem. As important as legal processes are in holding abusers accountable, we also have the very deep and serious problem that all too often, those legal structures are deeply implicated in preserving those structures of power which allow people to get away with abusing others. We can’t just expect the institutions that preserve that power to be in a position to dismantle that without a push from outside.
No. Just no. You know fine well that YOU caused you to act this way. You made conscious decisions to do so. Stop trying to pass it off as if you were just some helpless observer to the whole thing, indeed as if you are a victim as well. That’s one of the most pathetic things I’ve heard.
Careful. This is what the right says to excuse black kids getting killed by cops.
Heavens forfend! I am the model of discretion when it comes to avoiding naming names. The important thing is that the mods Fixed the Problem and eliminated the stuff about poor put-upon white men like myself with extreme Prejudice.