‘The cost of an open liberal society is that we have serial criminals. Murderers and worse. If we had a stricter society people would be less likely to display aberrant behaviour.’
Thats a quote from the red dragon group, the bunch of profilers who left to create a consultancy team. Why? Because in a society that is accepting we tend to overlook the strange and odd, some of which are signifiers of something worse because we want a society that is open and accepting. Which is the right thing.
However do we have to pay that cost? Or rather this is a serious intro into should we tolerate some of the worst behaviours in or communities and social groups?
I’d argue no.
To be clear i’m a white middle aged man, sure my sexuality is pretty fluid, but if you look at me you will make certain assumptions, unless i talk about my mental health or sexuality you are not going to judge me or sexualise me. Yes i have been on the receiving end of homophobia and two serious sexual assaults, but generally my life is peachy. You are not going to patronise me because of a characteristic or decide i cannot do something. You are not going to tell me to go home, you are unlikely to grab me. I’m lucky. I hate the word privilege, mainly because it makes me think of reward cards, but i have better odds in life due to genetics. To argue against that would be stupid. So to be clear everything going in is from a white male, sure i have been a victim of some of the things here, but still it’s not everyday.
Also i am not perfect, i have been a prick in my life, I have around the age of thirteen been very sad someone hasnt wanted to date me and felt it has been a right to be in a relationship. Yeah okay i was thirteen, but i think that speaks very clearly to the mindset that feels that entitlement. Hell i thought i was supportive of women till my friend Harriet sat me down and really explained feminism to me and entrenched sexist ideas. I was such a white knighting twat. I still am, but i try not to be.
And the last thing? Over the last year i have discovered my communication between what i trying to say and what i am saying is don’t always match up. Just saying in case someone feels what i’m saying is squanky.
So what am i wanting to get to?
The idea that we actually ignore socially unacceptable behaviour.
Now i was going to talk about this in the lrp scene, but realistically it’s not just there. We seem to be ahead of the game because we are bothering to tackle and discuss this.
So in my time i have seen racist crew espousing right wing beliefs, was one of the reasons i have taken a break from a system. I have seen women talked about along the lines of who you should sleep with depending on how skanky you are over the period of an event, i have seen generally liberal people defending casual sexism, i have heard more stories about sexual harassment than i ever wanted to, domestic violence, people being told by white middle class people what they should and shouldn’t be offended about, child exploitation and sexual assault. And we can both put names to those can’t we? Some are open secrets, some are even sick running jokes. Yeah, that’s a problem isn’t it?
And i’m part of the problem.
Because i dont always call people on it. Sure i have policey, like many small lrps of running a ban list of people i will not have at an event I have control over, sure i grunt the right noises, make sure policies are in place, take reporting seriously etc. But i dont always call people on stuff.
Why? Well sometimes it’s hard. How to you say ‘actually that’s unacceptable?’ when you are the only person in the room? How to you deal with ‘it’s okay he’s alright’ or ‘well we just keep an eye on it, we know but what can you do?’ I mean it’s uncomfortable, it’s difficult, i don’t want someone judging me because i’m spoiling their fun or pointing out that sexual predation is not okay….
Oh wait, i feel uncomfortable, i might be socially ostracised, people might not listen to me or give weight to what i’m saying? Shit poor me. I mean it’s not like anyone suffers from this day to day.
It’s an uncomfortable feeling being culpable. Because i am. Because if i know something bad is happening and i ignore it there is culpability. If i enable, if i support, if i laugh along im culpable.
I don’t get to stand behind the defence of ‘well im liberal generally’, i don’t get to say ‘well it’s just him and he’s generally a good guy’ and if i say nothing i have to take some of the responsibility.
So in education we take child protection seriously. If a child is in danger and we ignore it we are culpable, we have a duty of care. In fact im training as a designated child protection lead, and most of the horror stories end up where someone wasn’t believed, something wasn’t reported, someone didn’t act.
Fundamentally my silence makes me culpable and i need to speak out. To be clear not everyone can. Sometimes personal circumstance means you cant, sometime we are limited by what we can effectively do or deal with
So here is the other uncomfortable truth. People don’t say things because they are used to being ignored. Yeah there is a system that uses ‘don’t say anything, it will be bad for the hobby.’
How you can say that to a victim i don’t know. Or my favourite ‘Our system doesn’t have that problem’ with the golden reply of ‘Yes it does, just no one says anything because they don’t know how.’ Everytime we say ‘oh this is just political correctness’ or ‘Oh it’s just him’ we are forcing someone who may be a victim of a serious sexual assault, bullying, homophobia or racism to feel that cannot say anything. That they are isolated and have no one to speak to. Everytime we give permission or normalise shitty behaviour we are driving this more and more underground.
Hell even this blog is a problem. If i was a woman writing this, it would often be seen as feminist rubbish. How fucked up is that? That as a white male i can talk about women’s and minority issues with greater acceptance?
The third strand to this is broken steps. We dont fix the step and just step over it. We ignore that behaviour, we work around that problem person. We make sure X isn’t left alone with them, we jokingly say ‘oh well he’s just old fashioned’ when the N word gets chucked around.’ That’s an issue. Why?
Well that known problem rocks up to somewhere they are not known they then become a danger. People will actively avoid a system because of fear, intimidation or just wanting to avoid more of the lifelong abuse they may have suffered. When we work round the Racist/Sexual predator/homophobe/sexist etc we are really saying ‘That person should be worked round as the people they harm are less important.’
Yeah so this is pretty heavy stuff, but it came from a conversation at the weekend where we discussed some experiences of victims of this shit and how frustrated they were at how they had to put up with this. That their lives were being impacted by people who frankly should be burning in dumpster fires.
So what should we do? I think we should be able to discuss this without fear, we should make sure there are policies in place, we shouldn’t make excuses, people like me should try to do better, we shouldn’t make excuses for stupid stuff and we should challenge this stuff firmly while maintaining the dignity of our position (and by that i mean i have a awful temper and am prone to acting like a raging hot head. I should not do that.), we should be confident to say ‘actually i don’t want your money, please leave my site’, we should not expose people to frankly predatory people and we need to give victims support rather than being angry for them.
On that last one, if im angry because something has happened to someone, that’s my anger. By expressing it i’m making it about me, not what the victim needs or wants. Sure my first reaction might be unreasoning violence, but that’s my problem, not a solution and can make victims feel that coming forwards is more difficult. Again this comes from me failing and learning rather than me giving white male advice, this comes from me being told i was being a wanker more interested in my own sense of justice than what a victims needs and wants are. I am far from perfect.
Of course this is just words, unless we back it up with action its meaningless. It’s just another blog post saying ‘hey look at me i understand bad things happen and they shouldn’t i will be over here feeling smug.’ And i don’t feel smug, i just feel ashamed. I feel ashamed i haven’t said things when i could of, I am ashamed my anger and self righteousness was more important than a victims needs, I am ashamed that i don’t speak out all the time and i am ashamed that i tolerate broken steps so i don’t rock the boat. We all know who the dangerous people in our community are and yet i haven’t challenged it, their next victim is my fault as i said nothing. No number of blog posts or ‘hey you are one of the good folk’ makes that go away, those times where i could of acted are on me, always. All i can do is do better. So I will give people deposits back and tell them they are not welcome at my games, I will call out stuff in front of me and i won’t be involved in systems that don’t have systems of reporting, i won’t accept that x is ‘just a bit handsie and that’s okay’ and fuck me are open secrets of sexual predators no longer okay anymore because when five people can say x did this to me it is not silly hysterics, its a pattern of sexual harassment and assault and is a danger to others. I will try harder, i will fail, i will end up looking stupid, but embarrassment and learning is small price in comparison to people who feel intimidated and fearful everyday.
And if this is all just me being a libtard cuck, its okay you can ignore me, you can still go and masturbate to sexy black drow in your second ed d and d source books that you hide from your parents under your bed. You can tell yourself that you were right to do the things you have done, that your acts are fine, that people are overreacting.
Dont worry, your name never comes up in hushed tones. Your racism is never discussed, your sexism isn’t a point talked about by game runners, no one ever says we hope you don’t come because of your history of domestic violence and certainly we won’t be dragging your sexually preaditorial behaviour into light. You will be fine, but you might want to change your behaviour just in case.