I am angry. I can feel it in my face. I talked to a friend today about a woman he knows who was raped by a well-known activist. He is being sued along with his friend in a defamation suit by the rapist/environmental/animal rights activist. The response to this women, primarily from other women, has been for her to be quiet, heal and get over it. She has not been quiet, she is wanting to warn women, and there have been others, but none that have been willing to step forward. She is not brave, she is actually responding appropriately, but has been met with all kinds of bullshit. She has been told by women from the community she is a part of that she needs to think of peace and how she creates her own reality. These people are new agers, “The Secret”followers, misinterpreters of buddhism and Eckhart Tolle teachings, and tolerance of bad behavior as progressive politics assholes.
I was an apologist for the bad and criminal behaviour of the man who raised me and the woman. I have been an apologist for a charismatic leader. Someone who burns bridges, who emotionally manipulates most of the men and women who work with him. My anger about what has happened with this women, is about the almost universal response of other women, to shut her down and tell her to get over it. We claim intelligence, healing, progressive ideas, and we let men get away with violence. We act like we have no voice. We get angry at women for speaking up. They are disturbing the false peace we are creating. They are tearing down our inspiring activist, our charismatic leader. We protect our men. Why? I know why I have done it, and I know it’s wrong. The greatest crimes in the world are committed by us, the false peacekeepers. I want to shake these people who think their lifestyle will save them. That enough Ekhart Tolle and ecstatic dance will save them from the fact that they isolated and alienated a friend, a rape victim, in favour of an arrogant, dangerous, activist, leader. All of the prayers made by Catholic Priests did not save them from facing the horror of the abuses they silently let happen. It is the cowards shield, words and worship of people that aren’t your friends, people you don’t have to answer to. Activists, like Religious figures are seen as morally upright. My experience of many activists has been that many of them don’t really like people. They have little faith in human beings, and more in their own dogma, and the words of dead white guys.
There is behaviour that should not be given any measure of tolerance. I do believe restorative justice is a valuable way of dealing with crimes. It can only work if the people that are leading the sessions have created a safe environment, and have no relationship to the perpetrator. It can not work if the perpetrators are steeped in denial. The people around them, their apologists, women particularly; we need to find our courage to defend those who have been harmed. Even after the billions of acts of violence against women. We cannot let it desensitize us or let us continue to become complacent, or to just get over it. War counts on our desensitization and our complacency. We need to claim our bodies as valuable places, places that will get bruised through life, and knowing that it is natural. Abuse and torture isn’t. The appropriate response when that happens, is to defend and speak up for the person who has been harmed or violated. Muntader al Zaidi spoke up for millions of people when he threw his shoes the other day. In this case, the guy had it coming.