Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Concerns about Kevin Spacey

This isn't so much concern for Kevin Spacey. I mean, if he can turn his life around and start making amends for some of the harm he has caused that would be great and I have nothing against redemption. One could argue that his initial actions don't bode particularly well for redemption, but that gets us to the first set of concerns.

The first concern is how he opportunistically used coming out as a way to deflect the first allegation.

During the #metoo discussion, several men's accounts have involved gay men. That makes sense. There is a lot of socialization involved in women being trained to not be the aggressor. It doesn't mean that women never become predators, but it is more common among men. You can also get sexual assault against men by straight men as a way of dominating and humiliating, and that has its own factors.

All of that aside, for that creepy, not particularly violent even if still aggressive kind of harassment, when it happens to men, a lot of those aggressors will be gay men, and it is not because they are gay. Whom they target might be because they are gay, but that they are targeting anyone is a separate issue. That shouldn't even require explaining, but there has been a lot of homophobic framing of gay people as predators working to convert and corrupt our youth.

Tomorrow will focus on Dustin Hoffman, but an interesting thing about one person's account of his harassment is that she mentioned many other people working on the play, and only one was a problem. She met other predators in other situations, and she ran into at least one person on the set who told her to just deal with it, but with all of those older straight men only one harassed her. Hoffman's actions are not an indictment of straight men, and Spacey's actions should not reflect on other gay men.

To be fair, Spacey also seems to have thrown alcohol and sex addiction into the mix, so perhaps he was just throwing everything at the board. I can understand some desperation, but even if at the first statement we only knew about Anthony Rapp, Spacey knew there were others. Even if he truly can't remember everyone, he knew there were others. This is a time for choosing words carefully. If your words form other people's perceptions, that matters for all of the gay men and alcoholics and sex addicts who nonetheless manage to keep their hands off of young people and people working for them and overall just manage to not be abusive.

Speaking of people who work for you, that leads to the second concern, the apparent cancellation of Spacey's series "House of Cards".

Granted, this appears to take one hunting ground away, but it does it by leaving many others unemployed, including victims.

This may be more complicated based on pre-existing plans to end the series or Spacey's role as an executive producer, but you can't tell me that killing off a character or sending him to jail or having him go missing under mysterious circumstances would not allow for a lot of exciting dramatic opportunities.

Allow me to introduce one more concept that I learned about through Black women (primarily Mariame Kaba): restorative justice.

Restorative justice focuses on repairing the harm done to the victim. It is easy for us to gather our righteous anger and become all about the punishment. No matter how mad we get, the most common result in these cases continues to be the offender remaining pretty wealthy, with some fans still defending, and often an aggrieved sense of irritation. Somehow the system that relies on flexing power continues deferring to power.

If we changed our focus to helping those injured, what could happen then?

It takes listening to know that these problems exist. The #metoo dialogue has been great for that.

Now let's try to heal those problems by more listening.

(I am in no way an expert on restorative justice, but one place you can look for more information is http://restorativejustice.org/#sthash.rhnr30B5.dpbs.)

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