From Hadassah Grace @ Tumblr: ” Is anyone else following the TAM/Rebecca Watson and DJ Grothe clusterfuck?”

I’m simply quoting somebody else’s blog. It is a brilliant blog, so I asked permission to reblog it here, and she said yes.


If you aren’t but you’d like to be, here’s Rebecca Watson’s blog about the whole thing.

[TRIGGER WARNING: rape, rape apology, rape culture, sexual abuse]

The whole situation strikes me as so bizarre. I mean, try replacing ‘sexual abuse’ with any other violent crime, and see how surreal it becomes:

A lot of people are talking about how they had their arms broken at TAM. TAM implemented a ‘No Arm Breaking’ policy, but some people are still saying they are having their arms broken, and TAM seems reluctant to take further action. Now other people are saying that they’re worried if they go to TAM, their arms will be broken, but DJ Grothe has made a statement saying that anyone who says they had their arm broken was actually just lying, or confused, and that all this talk of breaking arms is what’s making people feel unsafe, not the actual arm breaking. So, if anyone comes to TAM and gets their arm broken, they should just keep quiet, in case people start thinking TAM is a convention where you might end up with a broken arm.

I think it’s an excellent example of how internalised sexism, particularly around victim blaming and the denial of privilege, can exist even in so-called “intellectual” circles. I also think it’s a really poignant example of individuals being ignored or abused for the sake of the “greater good”. In this case, DJ Grothe’s argument seems to be that even though there is clearly a problem with sexual abuse at these events, he feels it’s better not to talk about it because it harms the wider Atheist community.

To me, this argument seems ridiculous, because the victims of the abuse are the wider atheist community. To deny a woman’s experiences of abuse sends a message to other women that if they are abused their experiences will be ignored or trivialised in the name of the “greater good”.

This is particularly disappointing when it comes from a community which often shouts loudly about the abuses of the Christian church, particularly the cover-ups of abuse by the Catholic church, as an example of why Christianity is a bad thing.

I already know a few friends in America (not all of them women) who were going to go this year, but have decided not to because of the way this has been handled.

Now, I will admit, I happen to have a bit of a soft spot for Rebecca Watson. I think she’s a brilliant writer, I love how honest and blunt she is, and a couple of years ago she visited New Zealand and stayed with a friend of mine who brought her to one of my burlesque performances, and she said I had a great voice and complimented my sparkly g-string. So, yes, I tend to end up siding with her on divisive issues. And if someone is being denied their experience of abuse, or told to shut up about it, I will almost always side with them, because I know what it’s like to be told that sort of thing.

Going through sexual abuse, and then being told it didn’t actually happen, that I’m just making it up, or I’m confused, or I regretted having sex and said it was rape instead, is an awful, sickening, gut-wrenching feeling. It kicks me when I’m down. It makes me feel worthless, and wretched. It makes me never want to open up or trust anyone ever again, because I know they will always hurt or disappoint me. It makes me feel there is a terrible divide between me and all the people in the world who have never experienced abuse, and no matter how hard I try to explain it, they will always be wondering what I did to deserve it, or if I’m really telling the truth. Even now, after more than ten years, it still happens, and it still feels just as bad.

So, yes, you are quite welcome to call me biased. I will admit I am unable to speak about the topic of rape, or victim blaming, or victim silencing without emotion. Sometimes without anger. But speaking about sexism isn’t divisive. Speaking about rape, even if you speak about it with anger, is not divisive. Even admitting that most victims of rape and sexual abuse are female, and that most rapists are male is not divisive. Sexism is divisive. Rape is divisive. Victim blaming is divisive. Telling a victim to keep quiet about their experiences in case they make others afraid is divisive.

If your problem is with those who are speaking out about their experiences of abuse and oppression, and not with those who are abusing and oppressing, you need to back the fuck up and reconsider your world view.

I’d just like to requote that final sentence one more time:

If your problem is with those who are speaking out about their experiences of abuse and oppression, and not with those who are abusing and oppressing, you need to back the fuck up and reconsider your world view.

Think about that, please. It is very important.

About Nathan Hevenstone

I'm an SJW, Socialist, Jewish Agnostic Atheist, Foodie, and Guitarist. Hi!
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