linden_jay: (Supernatural- This sucks out loud)
[personal profile] linden_jay
A lot of thoughts. And because I don't like cryptic, even when I think everyone knows what I'm talking about, I'm referring to the posts made by [livejournal.com profile] thenyxie, and the resulting, well. Everything, really, that's come from it. Because it's not just wank anymore. There's been wank, and more wank, and People Not Getting It. There's been people sharing their stories, people gaining strength from each other, people being touched, inspired, disillusioned, disappointed. To draw an odd parallel, just like Wincon is no longer just about Supernatural... this isn't just about what it started being about. It's become pan-something. Panfandom, pan a lot of things.

And since I'm gonna keep talking about it, and linking to it, and talking about other things, I'm gonna jump under a cut now, just to be safe.

For the past few days, I've read. And I've read, and I've read, and I've read some more, and if you haven't, and you want to, I'd start here, with the Unfunny Business Report on the whole happening. They break it down pretty well there, and in the comments there are links, screencaps, more links, and everything you need to catch yourself up, and figure out what's going on.

I'm not going to try and summarize what happened, because I don't know that I could. There's no thirty-second version that I can invent. And a lot of people with a lot more knowledge and a lot more eloquence than me have already spoken about the events themselves--what happened then, and what's happening now. So I'm going to talk about other things--the things that have come out of all of this.

First of all, I want to throw some support behind some people. There are people out there who are sharing their stories, and speaking so honestly that it hurts to read. I can't imagine how it must feel to write it. I won't guess, because how could I? It'll feel different for every person who chooses to stand up and say "this is what happened to me. This is my story." But what I feel is universal is the courage I'm seeing in the people who are choosing to speak about what they've experienced, and my respect for them, across the board.

People who choose to come forward and talk about their experiences do not owe us that knowledge. We are not entitled to it, regardless of what it teaches us, and what we can learn from it. And the fact that they are choosing to step forward and share their stories anyway... it's powerful. It's moving. And like I said--with the part where there is deep and intense respect.

I want to echo the words of some very smart people who I've seen out there talking. Those of you who are sharing your stories, those of you who are giving us access to parts of your lives that we have no right to ask you to tell us about--thank you. I believe you. This is the lesson that if I didn't know already, you've all seared it into my mind. I believe you. And for the rest of my life, I will remember this. That if someone comes to me, someone talks to me, someone chooses to trust me, that I will do them, and you, the respect of believing them.

I can't remember ever trotting out that whole "oh, but people make false reports" line. I can't remember not doing it either. But either way, it's not something that'll come from me now. Not ever. I'd make the risk of believing someone a thousand thousand times over, rather than make one person feel the way so many of you have been made to feel when you've dared to speak up, only to hear doubt and disbelief and outright denial.

~

Branching off from the initial issue of what happened at Wincon and everything after was the discussion of what it is that women (or people in general) are "supposed to do" when they're in a situation that is uncomfortable, dangerous, threatening, frightening. Wrong. And again, a lot of people have discussed this with a lot more insight and eloquence than I have at 2:02am, after chasing after twins all day. A lot of people have been in situations that had far more serious consequences then anything I've faced. And they've handled it differently, because we're all people, and we're all individuals, and we all handle things as individuals.

And yet there are some things that are common to a lot of people. Reactions that are more common than others. And that's part of the point, isn't it? That we come from different backgrounds, different socialization, different upbringings, and yet there are these things, these behaviours, these instincts, these learned patterns, that in not all, but in many cases, have commonalities. (And wow, Jay. Nice sentence. Leave some commas for the rest of humanity, why don't you?) Right. Moving on, and getting tangential. Don't worry, it'll make sense. I think.

Several years ago, I wrote a post in reaction to someone's statement on domestic violence--the "why don't they just leave?" thing that comes up so very often when domestic violence is being discussed. That post is here, and it talks about a situation I dealt with in college with a male classmate--a situation that is not even on the same map as what most of the people who are sharing their stories are talking about.

The short version is that I was slapped, and called a bitch by a scene partner in my acting class. The short version is that I didn't tell anyone. That I couldn't. That even with no stakes, no reason to believe that he could or would get more violent with me, or that it could turn sexual or sexually violent, no link with him to my personal life, my family, my friends, my job... I still couldn't tell anyone. Still couldn't talk about it. Not until he hit me again, in front of witnesses, and I was able to tell him to stop. When I did, even though he'd just hit me in front of witnesses this time? He laughed at me. Right in my face, and he hit me again. And only then was anyone else able to break out of being completely stunned and frozen, was I able to actually find the words to tell him to cut it out, to act out, to actually physically strike out and tell him to leave me alone.

A slap to the face, two punches to the arm. No stakes. I don't even know his last name anymore. Nothing like what anyone's talking about... and that's the point, isn't it? Even in this minor circumstance that happened to me, it is not that easy to speak up, or to get yourself out of a situation that makes you uncomfortable. It is never that easy. Ever. And the things that people will endure for the sake of not making a situation worse, or because they don't think that they're "allowed" to say that they're uncomfortable? It can go a hell of a lot farther. I don't have to tell anyone that. We've all read about it, story after story after story. So if it's this hard when it's minor, how dare anyone say that someone should have "just" done whatever it is that people are "supposed to" just do, when a situation is untenable? How dare they.

Because this is still the short version. The longer version is that the previous spring, in an acting class, we were given a guerrilla theatre assignment. Guerrilla theatre, if you don't know, is basically doing improv in public. Going out into the world, and starting a scene where the people around you don't know what's going on. Done well, it can be amazing. Done badly, it can be awful. And it can be embarrassment squick central, for the people who are unwittingly involved, and the people in the scene.

And I was the youngest person in the class, and everyone thought I was rather an idiot because I was eighteen and engaged (still married, twelve years later), and I desperately wanted to prove myself. So when my group said that they wanted us to go into one of the campus bar with me dressed like a whore, led on a leash by my pimp, then escorted out of the bar by a woman after she gave him money. I didn't want to. I wasn't comfortable. Hell, I wasn't even old enough to go in the damn bar, and this is Canada! But I went along with it.

And I didn't say stop when the "pimp" pulled me onto his lap and wrapped his arms around me and held me in place. I didn't get up when he was nuzzling at my neck, or I could feel his hard on pressing against my ass. And I didn't pull away when the woman who came and "bought" me kissed me on the lips before she led me out of the bar. It was just acting. It was all in fun. It was a good scene. Wasn't it? They thought so. I didn't. But I didn't say so. I didn't think I could.

And I didn't think I could say anything six months later when the guy who played the pimp in that scene, my scene partner again, slapped me across the face and called me a bitch.

I'm an educated, liberated, Canadian. My dad taught me to throw a punch, if anyone ever "messed" with me (his words). My cousin told me how to watch out for people who might hurt me, and what I should do if they did. My mother told me to protect myself, to be careful, and to never be afraid to say 'no', or to say when I wasn't comfortable with a situation. And in those moments, I still couldn't. Even though it was "just a scene", even though it was low stakes, in the grand scheme of the world.

So when someone is in a situation where they fear violence, sexual or otherwise, when they think that there is a very real chance that their choices are going to be taken away even further, where they think that it might get worse, where they are dealing with diminished capacity due to having had alcohol... and people actually think that they are the ones who've done something wrong, or that they should have done more? Stakes like that, a situation like that, and we're still hearing people say that they didn't do enough to make sure that it was clear that they were Not Okay with what was going on? How dare people say that. How dare they.

~

And then there are the people who restore my faith in humanity. And I'm not being hyperbolic here either--this really does make me feel like in all the howling wilderness and Not Getting It and cruelty I've seen out there, that there really is hope for all of us. We--people, humans, all of us--make mistakes. We kneejerk. We screw up. And although it would be lovely if we all thought first and hit the send button after we thought a second time... it doesn't happen all the time. Not nearly enough, not even close.

And I've noticed that on the internet, even more than in person (other people's mileage may vary), that when people take a position or opinion on the internet, by god, they're gonna take that hill and fortify it with the bodies of--no, wait. That's Firefly. But still--it's the same principle. Once a position is made, it's rarely backed down from. People will defend their initial position to the point of insanity and back again. And this time? That's not always proving to be the case.

People are reading. People are learning. People are being educated, and they're hearing what people are saying, and they're allowing for the possibility that they may have been wrong. Not all, but some. Not everyone, but a lot. And seeing people come in and say "you know what? Initially I had one opinion, and now, not so much. Now I've read, now I've listened. Now I've heard what people are trying to say, and now I want to not only change my position, I want to apologize. I want to make things better." That is something that truly does give me hope.

~

I want to thank someone else too. Someones else, actually, although that looks terribly grammatically awful. I'll feel bad about how that reads when I look at it in the light of day tomorrow. But I want to thank the ladies in charge of Wincon. I've never been. Which sort of amuses me, in the sense that I live closer to where Supernatural is shot than anyone else that I know in Supernatural fandom. (I'm sure that there are people who live closer, but this Canadian is the closest I know). I know the places they film, I've taken classes in the buildings, stage managed plays in the auditorium that the Trickster first "died" in, for goodness sakes!

But so far, all the conventions have been a long, long way from home for me, and I haven't been able to afford to make the trip. Plus there's the part where the idea of going to a convention kind of scares the buggering crap out of me. There will be people. Lots of people, people I don't know, and BNFs, and lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

And then there's this thing. This thing where ever since I first got involved in fandom, it's freaked my parents out. Now, granted, they don't know what I do here. They just hear 'internet' and 'chat room' and assume that I'm in rooms with scary, predatory people who are out to kidnap me from the swingset. Despite the fact that I've been married since I was y'know, nineteen, and I'm supposed to be all grown up, it freaks them out, big time, that I have friends online. That they might know personal details about me, that they might be Bad People. That if I met them in person, I might be in danger. That something bad might happen. And I've told them that it's okay. The circles I travel in, that sort of thing doesn't happen. It's not about that.

But then it does happen. This happens, and it jerks that rug of the illusion of a safer place out from underneath. And it makes me wonder if maybe I'm not the convention going type. If it won't be okay for me to say actually, guys, I'm married, and I'm monogamous, and I don't want to watch people have sex. That it won't be okay for me to say that although I'm a physical person who loves hugs, that I am particular about who I give even that kind of access to my body to. And I wonder if it's a good idea.

But I don't have to wonder for long. Because I find out that the people who run this convention, and the majority of people involved in putting it on, and indeed, the majority of people who attend, also take the notion of it being a safe place seriously. That they are not in any way down with these sort of things taking place on their ground. And that when it did happen, when someone was uncomfortable and felt threatened? They believed them. They stood up for them. And they didn't bow to the pressure of people who wanted them named. I respect that. I respect them.

And even though I've never been, never thought I would get to? Damn, but I want to go to Wincon. Now more than ever. Because there are some people who I'd really like to meet, say thank you, and shake their hand. [livejournal.com profile] ethrosdemon and [livejournal.com profile] coiledsoul are up there on the top of what's becoming a very long list.

~

I'm tired. I've read a lot over the past few days, and I feel wrung out by it... and that's just from reading people's accounts, people's stories. Seeing people's pain and frustration and rage and wisdom poured out. I feel older, smarter, and I feel dumber. I feel sadder because of the things I've read. I feel hope because of the things I've read. And because of that hope, I want to end positive here. Thank you. Thank you for the people who have shared their stories. Thank you for the people who've stood up and said that things that are not okay are NOT okay. Thank you for the people who step up to back up the people who aren't in a place yet to be able to be the one who stands up. Thank you.

Just thank you.
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linden_jay

February 2012

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