The view from the owl nest; a blog about weird life, semi-liberty, and the pursuit of what should be happiness.
I'm a male sexual assault survivor. My abuser was an older family member when I was nine. As an adult, women have done things to me that qualify as sexual assault. However, I didn't experience things that happened when I was older as traumatic.We need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. As a society, we're moving from a paradigm of "she was asking for it," to one of "I believe you." But "I believe you" is shorthand. It means that sexual assault survivors won't be subjected to extra scrutiny compared to other crimes. When someone is robbed, you don't ask them what they were wearing and you believe them, for the most part. But you do fact check the claims of an alleged victim of a mugging. And if a person is implicated, the perpetrator has a chance to make their case. Not victim blaming, in cases of sexual assault, doesn't mean you should disengage your brain.Coming forward with an allegation of sexual assault is hard to do, and I respect people who can do it. But coming forward doesn't immediately elevate them to a place of moral purity. They are who they are, complete with all of their flaws, biases and potentially incomplete memories. Public conversations about stuff like this are garbage. Because entire issues are reduced to talking points - "I believe you," in this case. And that doesn't capture what we're trying to get at, which is a system that takes allegations seriously but also gives the accused a fair hearing. In the case of Wyck, apparently there may have been a third person in the room when one of the assaults was supposed to have happened. If that's so, a person of good faith should listen to them, too, in addition to the accuser. In the case of another accusation, someone was on the phone with him as Wyck was sleeping on the couch. A reasonable person might then ask what happened before or after the phone call, and they should.Ideally, complaints are independent of one another, which in this case they are not. It doesn't disprove anything but it's a factor in trying to understand what happened. Because humans are dumb animals and our opinions, even our memories, change and intensify when we talk to other people.But look, accusers and accused both have a lot on the line, and we need to be honest about that. We've moralized listening to accusers as an absolute: regardless of the details, more support is good and any questions are victim-blaming. Tough cases and situations that fall into gray areas aren't allowed in the discussion because fuck you, the narrative above all!I think everyone reading this would agree, in a general sense, that verifying accusations is necessary in at least some cases. Which cases? Would you be willing to question an account in public if you thought it was the right thing to do, when you'd take shit for it? Thought not. Rape is different from other crimes in that it's hard to prove. It's not just rape culture that makes prosecuting it hard. You could say the sex was consensual but I say it wasn't. Then it's my word against yours; there may be no way of independently knowing. If I steal your car, it's easy to prove because I'm arrested driving it in New Mexico high on meth. A lot more concrete, you'd agree.Maybe calling out predators has helped the public conversation, overall, because systems aren't in place to get justice any other way. But it's not sustainable. Callout culture is a dumpster fire system that relies on optics, identity and emotions with no standards. A just system is going to be messy, unexciting, piss everyone involved off and probably not support any sexy public narrative in a useful way. Calling out accusers is the beginning of this conversation, not the end.
Mitchell Poulouin passed away September 2021, fyi