sparr: (Default)
Trigger warning: consent, rationality, emotion, subjectivity

I learn the details of another friend's experience of sexual assault approximately once per month. 8-15 times per year for the last 6-8 years.

I’m opening with that because I want it to make an impression, and to sink in. I have come to suspect that this piece of information, or its absence, is highly relevant to others’ accusations that I engage in hyperbole and hypotheticals, chasing edge cases and straw men.

How many victims’ stories do you know, to the level of detail of knowing who assaulted them, what was said before/after, and what happened between them? I anticipate that the average answer to that question among my social circles is 2, the average among people reading this post is around 5, and the average among people responding to this post will be around 10. I can’t even answer with certainty; the dozens have started to blur together over time. I predict the number would be much lower if I asked how many of the accused you’ve heard as much information from.

If you have been drawn into a discussion about consent and community, violations and rules, right and wrong, and it was a single event, or just a few, that got your attention, you’re probably not well equipped to be making decisions and drawing conclusions. As terrible as it sounds to say it, and the impetus for the trigger warning on this post... this applies even if that single event was your own experience. Until you know the common and uncommon threads connecting a dozen rapes in your community, you aren’t qualified to say which causes are most likely, or which solutions most appropriate. You don’t have the perspective to understand which interactions were and were not consensual, or seemed consensual or not to the participants.

When someone accuses me of engaging in hypotheticals on this subject, I am most often making vague statements with the goals of protecting a victim’s identity and/or consolidating the common factors of multiple real events.

When someone accuses me of setting up straw men to argue against on this subject, I am most often referring to a significant number of real people whose views and/or behavior are detrimental to our community and safety.

There are other people who have more perspective than I do. People with more information, more experience, and/or more education on the subject. Trauma counselors. First responders. Educators of those groups. Reformed rapists. Etc. I’m not saying I’m the most qualified person to handle this topic. I’m just saying that on one important axis, I’m probably more qualified than you.

Finally, I am left to speculate on why I have all of this information. It’s obviously not my caring nature or interpersonal appeal or conversational savvy that’s drawing people to tell me these things. I have said it in the past, and I’ll repeat my hypothesis here. I expect that my public engagement on this subject, and my attempt to remain rational and fair, is what convinces so many people to confide in me. I maintain the principle that having more information about a problem makes me more effective at solving it, and I also think that being able to tell their story is good for victims, so I am doubly motivated to keep doing what I’m doing on this front, until someone convinces me that it’s hurting more than it’s helping.
sparr: (cellular automata)
Previous post:

Last month I heard the following rumor about myself from a bay area acquaintance:

"[a friend who runs a camp at a large event] let me know that someone had complained to him that you were insufficiently respectful of sexual consent boundaries [and that's why you aren't welcome to join his camp]"

Read more... )

I still don't have enough information to confidently say what I think has happened. I continue to seek information on all of these fronts. This line of inquiry has spawned numerous side quests, all of which I hope to follow to completion in order to make amends, better myself, help others better themselves, or help others make informed decisions about me. Posting this, and following those leads, means I can never again know if an accusation is new or based on the same thing as this round of rumors or even just based on someone having read this post. I can live with that, if it means doing something good with this information.

(cross posted to Facebook, Livejournal, Google+, Fetlife)
sparr: (cellular automata)

This was my first net-negative experience at a burn or con. The things I learned will have positive value in the future, so eventually I can look back and say this weekend was worth it, but I don't know how long that will take. I've finished burning a lot of bridges and made some new friends. Firefly is still the best regional burn I've been to, despite its flaws, and I'll probably return if they let me.

The Good

I got to spend some part of a couple of days camping with some of the people whose company I enjoy most. This is a welcome reprieve from what has been mostly solitude on the west coast. There were friendly conversations as well as good hugs and cuddles. Due to some things mentioned in sections below, there's a good chance I'll get to spend more time with those people fwen I return to Firefly.

Read more... )
sparr: (cellular automata)
Our society refuses to take organs from a corpse without the person's consent, even when it would save multiple lives. We refuse to take blood or bone marrow from an unwilling donor, even when it would save a life or cure a disease.

However, we are quite willing to subject a woman to months of pain, risk of injury or death, and mental trauma in order to preserve the life of one fetus.

This analogy has been a commonly occurring meme in pro-choice internet discussion communities recently, and it's an amazingly good one. It's so good that my powers of devil's advocacy are failing me. I need someone more creative than me, or a real anti-abortion advocate, to answer this question for me...

Why does a corpse have more right to bodily autonomy than a pregnant woman? Why do we give the dead body more rights than we give the living person?

PS: No arguments here about whether a fetus is alive, please. That's another issue for another thread. For the purpose of this discussion, I will concede that a fetus is a living person.


Oct. 14th, 2011 01:23 am
sparr: (Default)
Consent is important to me. I have multiple people in my life who have been in situations that ended badly, even life changingly, over issues with consent. Like many things, I've put more thought into this subject in a few years than most people will in their whole life. Like many things on that list, talking about this in depth is a social taboo, despite not talking about it leading to very negative outcomes.
Read more... )
I hope this gives you some insight into my thoughts on the matter of consent, both in general and as applies to my current and potential relationships.


sparr: (Default)

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