That summer, my housemate and I had our joint birthday party as we usually do -- this time with bouncy house (because I was turning 30) and a semi-public house concert.
Aforementioned rapist showed up, and friends of mine felt uncomfortable. In case anyone ever doubts that I am confrontation-avoidant, I refer you to the fact that I actively chose to not approach my housemate about it.
A few weeks ago, aforementioned rapist showed up at a major community party and there has since been a lot of conversation about making community spaces safe spaces.
I've read a bunch of posts and some comment threads thereon, and this is the one that struck me:
Merv was banned after years of creepy and unacceptable behavior, culminating when I found out that he'd raped an ex of mine.That got me thinking seriously, and from a somewhat different perspective, about my silence last year. I emailed the friends who had raised concerns to apologize for not speaking up, and Housemate and I had a brief conversation about last year (she affirmed that if she had known he was a rapist, she would have made him leave, and that she would want to know that sort of information about anyone who was at our house).
This was a complete shock to me and I've been sort of dealing with it all morning. Here's the short story: Merv and I struck up a bus-friendship once upon a time, but it became so unavoidably creepy and bad that I wound up actually BUYING A CAR so I wouldn't have to take the bus to work anymore. But you know what? I never told anyone that before today. And you know why? Because I kept seeing him at large social gatherings, so I thought, it must be me, I must be oversensitive and making it up. So I didn't "come forward" or "give specifics". I quietly assumed I was crazy, because that's what good girls do.
A few weeks ago, Molly asked, "What would you do if you were brave?" and while I would rephrase it as bravER, I've been thinking about it a lot. If I were braver, I would speak up more, pushback against microaggressions, be more openly who I am (or who I want to be)... And I'm starting to try to dig into why I don't do this more -- what I'm scared of. Because I'm aware of my discomfort and also of how I have so much privilege and I'm not actually risking all that much ... so what is it that I'm scared of losing? what is it that I feel I'm risking? ... because those feelings are clearly very real, but I can't effectively do much about them if I don't know what they are.
And in recent days before conversations started really blowing about this local event, there's been Rick Remender's Captain America #22, which I wouldn't have thought of as connected, except tonight I read this post "Comics and the Language of Consent" about normalizing behavior -- which relates back to moominmolly's comment.
And tonight I rewatched the Kings pilot episode ("Goliath") and David says he's not a hero, that everyone has misunderstood that pivotal moment, says "Everyone thinks I'm brave, but I'm not;" and his brother says, "Be brave now." I can't change the choices I've made in the past (though I can certainly apologize for them), but I can strive to make better choices in the future.
I've RTed a lot of stuff from RoseFox tonight, and one of the things they raised (which a friend of mine also raised in a locked post) was the issue of who we're protecting, which in a broad sense is really a core issue here and elsewhere -- who (or what) are we protecting with the choices we make?