Monday, April 02, 2018

The Monday Morning Quarterback

I am still working on sexual assault and harassment, I am going to take a tangent related to mass shootings for a moment, because it relates.

The far right has been harassing shooting victims and their families for a while, with claims of hoaxes and false flags, and they have certainly been criticizing protesters and activists for a long time, with everything being insincere and funded by George Soros. That's nothing new, but in the wake of youth from the Parkland shooting protesting gun violence, there is starting to be some push back. Laura Ingraham has had to take a vacation after losing sponsors, and Dana Loesch is trying to sound more nurturing. Sure, a lot of people are still throwing around the term "snowflakes" and making the usual arguments about how gun laws could never work, and they are certainly paying more attention to the white kids than the students of color, but it does feel like some kind of progress.

Obviously, there could be a lot to talk about there, but I am not going there right now. The point I want to bring up is the other direction things have been going, with students (because there are many students protesting, not just the Parkland survivors) being encouraged to reach out instead of walking out. The idea is that if they will just be nicer to each other, then there won't be any shootings.

I am not promoting bullying, but I object to the promotion of the myth that bullying is the root cause of school shootings. Of course students should not bully each other; but - especially lately - the way to stop school shootings would have to be for girls never to break up with one boy and date another boy, or to date anyone when there is a boy who likes them, or something like that. It's like the attention that was focused on the wife of the Pulse shooter or the girlfriend of the Las Vegas shooter; women are supposed to know what their men are up to and control them, but a lot of these shootings are about controlling women. I can't find any indication that the women the Santa Barbara shooter felt rejected by had any idea that he was interested in them, but the answers given later are still that women should give these poor guys a chance.

We can draw some pretty convincing lines between how workplace sexual harassment and rape and assault and mass shootings all go together, but again, that's not what I'm trying to get at today.

The point I am trying to make may not even be that valuable, because often the people who criticize what various survivors have done are giving courses of action that were in fact taken, with no indication that they are interested in understanding the facts or empathizing with the people. Nonetheless, there's still one thing I keep remembering.

It was in a women's magazine (probably Woman's Day, but I am not sure) that I read when I was a young teenager. The article was about surviving, I guess, but what I really remember was an anecdote about a woman in an elevator. She was alone, and at one floor a man got in and started to grope her. She slapped him and he beat her, leaving her with a broken arm.

Slapping him had seemed like the right response, probably because of those cartoons and things: "I'm not that kind of girl!" Except if you think about it, in movies those slaps just show that she is feisty; getting out of the situation requires a rescue from a man. So maybe she should have known it wouldn't work, but it's a lot of pressure under the circumstances, and how do you know? Even when it isn't a stranger, how do you know? Because if he was the person you thought he was, he wouldn't be doing this, right?

Maybe sometimes you can leave safely, but then it turns out to not be safe. Maybe sometimes a joke works, but other times he might decide that being funny is consent, or he might know that it's not consent but that's kind of a turn on for him.

I support self-defense training, but if it's your boss licking your ear, or the guy who comes back and shoots after you wouldn't give your phone number, that doesn't help. Even having thought of different scenarios and how to react in them, those have not been the situations that came up for me.

So I want to make two points from this. The first is just shut up about what people should have done. And if it happened to you, and you keep trying to figure out what you should have done differently, try and let it go. You can't change the past, and the other things might not have worked either.

The second point is - knowing how many horrible things can happen, and all the mental calculations that are going on to try and guarantee safety that so often end up being futile - that when these things are being discussed the key point is never #notallmen. If your concern is more about being lumped in with the bad guys, rather than the existence and support and freedom of the bad guys, you are not that good a guy. You are not helping. You are, in fact, hurting, even though there are worse things you could do.

No comments: