September 8, 2013 by kittynh
So, we all know there is a lot of talk about sexual harassment and rape in the skeptic community.
I’m not going to comment on it, except to say that the recent charges against a prominent skeptic have generated a lot of emotions and commentary.
One emotion, from more than one friend, has been that of GUILT. Why didn’t I stop what I saw happening? Why did I let her go with him, why did I not knock on that door, why didn’t I say “This person is drunk!”, why did I just mind my own business?
The guilt is that somehow, you, as a sober person or a person more in control, let your friend be abused. You aided and abetted a rape.
After the fact, people have been comparing notes, “Did you see this? Why didn’t we do that? How drunk was he/she?” The question arises, did fear of causing a scene or socially awkward moment, make us turn away when someone needed our help?
I think we’ve all had stories, at skeptic events and after skeptic events such as bars and private parties, where we have wondered “Should I have stepped in?” There is a real social stigma, and also few clear social rules.
Many women and men accept, “I made a bad decision while drunk.”but many of their friends think “I made a bad decision by not stepping up to help.” We also believe though that grown ups should be allowed to make mistakes, and certainly sleeping with someone while drunk is not that dangerous? Adults can learn for themselves, right?
I remember reading once about Winston Churchill’s father, the politician Lord Randolph Churchill, who believed he contracted the venereal disease that contributed to his death, from a drunken bedding of a woman he unwise enough to sleep with. He destroyed his career and life from what he believed was a simple moment of bad decision making. He claimed didn’t even remember anything about it except waking up the next morning with a horror of what had happened.
What in society has taught us we were “dumb”, not “taken advantage of”, when we are drunk and have stupid sex. What has taught us to not really step in, when it’s obvious someone is in a bad situation? Is this some puritanical left over that people that drink too much get what they deserve? We had to learn to step in when people get drunk and tried to drive home. This was not always the case, now designated driver and bartenders holding keys is normal. When I first began drinking at age 18 (that’s how long ago it was, it was legal then) if you were too drunk you were simply kicked out of a bar. No one worried about how you would get home. So, do we need to rethink our social responsibility toward stepping in when we see someone could potentially be in trouble?
So, this is not about rape. No one is to blame for rape but the rapist. This is about so many of us that have no clue when to step in. When is “I’m fine” not good enough a reason for us to step back. I’ve heard the pain of women that blame themselves, and of men saying “boy that should never have happened”. Anyway, I asked Sophie and she’s come up with some great starting suggestions for me to consider!
Sophie has some good insight here. I thank Sophie for her suggestions. Rape isn’t a problem just between two people. It’s a problem of society. Please enjoy Sophie’s blog post, that at least tries to get the conversation started.
- Defining Rape (wearawhitefeather.wordpress.com)
- Do you know a survivor? (notinmynamesouthafrica.wordpress.com)
- 400 rally for resignation of judge in Billings rape case (missoulian.com)