In the past few years of being open and poly, I have found an influx of predatory behavior among men who want to take from me. I have experienced predatory behavior most of my life…I walk down the street and get hollered at by men…get an onslaught of sexual harassment online…harassed at university in a male dominated department…being assaulted at 19 (not raped)…last summer being raped by a Dom who broke my limits…and more recently a manipulative man who lied about who he actually is (for a year and a half)…yet wanted me to fall into line with a false reality so he could have his cake and eat it too. I did not report my assaults (I will get into why), but I did “out” the most recent predator in an effort to raise awareness about his in person and online disconcerting behaviors…
Let me be very clear….
This post is not focusing on what happened to me or to reopen wounds involving my experiences with these men. I am not interested in rehashing a debate of events. I have said all I need to say on the matter and I’ve moved on. I only want to discuss why men like this get away with such behavior from a societal perspective.
Let’s talk about comments and response…
Last summer, a societal example…
I walk down the street and get openly harassed by a man who proceeds to yell out profanities at me of all the sexual things he wants to do to me. People (men and women) walk by and ignore his verbal sexual attacks on me. I stop, turn around, and yell at him “FUCK YOU I DON’T WANT YOUR NASTY ASS!” Only THEN do people stop and give ME a shocked look. The man went from sexual advances to calling me a bitch and threatening me. A couple paused and looked at me like I was nuts. An armed security guard looked up from his phone as I continued to walk to my car.
We have been conditioned to accept that men are going to yell profanities at women. However, when women speak up, we are scrutinized…this is “the norm”.
Most of the comments (in person and online) I receive about predatory behavior I have been a victim of have been in support of me…A solid amount of care and support! I am truly grateful and humbled by those who stand in support and give care. Thank you.
Some observations and thoughts with the various experiences I have had over the past few years…
The support starts out strong/overwhelming and slowly dwindles (with some) as time goes on. I understand some people get tired of discussing the same issues…but what I have found is a few people find it a bit inconvenient that it takes more than a few days to expose a person for being potentially dangerous in an adult oriented community. The bells sound, horns blown, and flags are waved…then when it comes time to ask support, it dies out with some. A few get tired…start calling it names, “drama”, “trouble making”, “shit stirring”, etc… They don’t mean to do so, but this indirectly incites some support for the predator.
Now, I want it clear I’m not blaming these individuals for indirectly giving support. I certainly don’t think they mean to do so…this is what society’s “norm” has come to expect. This is a societal issue, not individual. Yet, change can only come on starting at the individual level.
This topic…It’s uncomfortable. It’s not fun. No one likes it. Let’s stop talking about it because it makes us feel bad. This is the normal response we have to such topics. We can not (nor should we) place blame on people for feeling this way.
Here’s the thing, though…the predator depends on this response.
It is in the predator’s best interest that no one ever talk about this ever again…so the predator gets to continue on hurting others.
Some comments are malicious blaming people for acting when they were under manipulation/preyed upon. The issue with this is that it shifts blame from the predator. People act according to what they know to be true. Blaming the victim for actions incited by a predator/manipulator diverts attention from the issue…a potentially dangerous person is active and working to continue what he enjoys. It rings similarly to the harmful idea, “Why do you stay with him if he hurts you? You should know better than that!” If you are actively being manipulated into thinking others are abusive/damaging/lying, and the person you are with (you truly believe) is none of these things…how else can one possibly react? Reality is distorted intentionally by the predator/abuser.
Blaming the victim enables the predator and relieves him of some responsibility.
What could happen to women if they speak up?
I’ll address this in a form of a list…I will say both men and women engage in this behavior
- Revenge Porn– the predator could release pictures on the internet that damage a woman in regards to employment, family, etc. While this is illegal, it still does damage. Why? Women are still not allowed to be sexual beings, nor are they allowed by society to send pictures to people without being told they should know better than putting their face in such pics.
- Victim Shaming – Being shamed for being sexual or engaging in sexual activities. (going hand in hand with 1 and 3)
- Victim Blaming – No woman wants to be told she deserved what happened to her because she wasn’t smart enough, drank alcohol, dressed too sexy, walked down a dark street, blamed for sending pics to someone they trusted, was alone with a man she thought she trusted…it’s not helpful. It’s incredibly damaging and why I did not report my sexual assaults. I did not want to be drug through the mud and risk being permanently marked with shame.
- Gossip – Coincides with victim blaming. Rather than look at the facts, some prefer to gossip and engage quietly creating a hostile environment for victims of predatory behavior.
- Harassment – Victims can and will be harassed (and/or threatened) by the predators, supporters of the predators, and friends of the predators in order to keep them silent. I have experienced such harassment. It is time consuming (because of legal actions), it can be alarming/worrying, and exhausting having to dodge such behavior daily.
What happens to predators when women speak up?
- Tagged – They become tagged as a potential threat. It is at this time the predator starts to institute actions that he hopes the public will quietly concede on to divert attention from what the victim is saying.
- Temporary fallout – Predator loses clout and reputation, but can rebuild once people stop talking about it…hence it being temporary.
- Sympathy – Some people will question the victim and think she is being overly emotional, misjudged him, got the facts wrong, is a trouble maker, and/or is pushy or a bully for causing such drama. This is such a common behavior towards victims, the predator banks on this reaction hoping the blame shifts to the victim.
- Relationships – His relationships could be damaged, especially if there is a family involved. This is where the predator starts instituting the 5 things women risk when they speak up. He bets on society to protect and help him destroy the victim.
- Nothing – Ultimately this is where it goes. The predator loses a few months or so (depending on how serious the behavior is) of interactions with women and continues on doing what he was doing…all of it being an unfortunate nuisance for him…he can go elsewhere and start over.
It is far easier for women to stay silent than to speak up because our society protects predators…even if unintentional. There is an imbalance.
So, what can we do? We need to resolve these questions…
- How can we continue to talk about this without tiring people or making them feel awful?
- How can we shift society into accepting that women are sexual beings?
- How can we make the environment more hostile for predators?
- How can we empower women to speak up and prevent damage/shaming from happening to them?
- How can we shift from accepting that men will harass women because that is “the norm”?
There is no one, easy answer for any of this…nor is it going to be fixed in a day, month, year…However, the underlying resolutions will only come from open dialogue…communication. Let’s talk about things…open a discussion and work to help everyone find resolutions in a way that allows expression of feelings and ideas based with facts.
I leave you with this quote from Patricia Hill Collins…
“Oppressed groups are frequently placed in the situation of being listened to only if we frame our ideas in the language that is familiar to and comfortable for a dominant group. This requirement often changes the meaning of our ideas and works to elevate the ideas of dominant groups.”
Thank you for reading.