edit oyster, I thought about this discussion more over the course of the last several days. I don't know if these thoughts will necessarily resolve our cross-points, but I think they are valid thoughts that might also lend clarity to our discussion here. If it seems like I'm picking up an aged discussion to needle you more about it, that's not my intent and feel free to disregard entirely.
The opinions I've expressed here are really driven primarily by the one incident I describe through a couple comments in this thread, and I will assert that, in this specific scenario, at least as far as the idea was presented on a public forum by one impassioned individual (who was also the one bullying local business owners via open "call outs" social media, phone calls demanding an employee be fired, and basically trying to blow shit up without giving anyone a real chance to have a discussion before the outrage) really was driven first and foremost by the idea of creating and maintaining a digital list of names to be shared via a private group to other women in my local community only. (I will pause to note this person also happens to live about 2k miles from my local community and has for years now. I really feel strongly about this person's intent wrt their involvement in the described drama; I do not believe this person's primary concern was in learning the truth, or in protecting others, or in acting constructively in any way.) So when I speak here, all of my opinions are really being driven by one very recent, vivid, dramatic real life event where I do believe there were bona fide foul players masking themselves as concerned, woke victims, allies, or community members.
In short: the intent of the proposed group which got me so mad truly was to simply establish a list of names of accused persons, with nary even a mention of being a support group or sharing knowledge or helping others heal or grow or feel heard.
However, when you speak about these same ideas here, I feel you're speaking much more generally and broadly, about the potential of support groups in general. I feel like, in all honesty, you are speaking about actual support groups while I am railing against would-be 'support groups' that, from their founding, would really be more like cesspools of negative energy easily prone to manipulation and abuse.
I do agree a support group such as the kind I initially described (reading books like Why Does He Do That? and such), or like I believe you envision, could be great places for victims to share stories and gain support, as well as advice. I do agree if a bunch of women began gathering on a weekly basis to share, in part, their stories of being abused, that yes, naturally, names would percolate in the group. It would be unavoidable, and I agree that it would ruin the group intent and probably dynamic if some Authoritarian Annie got it into her head to shush victims when they name-dropped or chastised them. I am in total agreement with you there.
However I disagree these discussions would de facto create lists of names of predators. I took a while to ground this idea and why I feel this way. I thought a lot about AA meetings, their code of anonymity outside the meetings, and how that structure of support group works.
My boring, probably-too-practical conclusion relies on some precepts:
- any social group which meets as a public forum open to all in search of a certain kind of support is likely to be full of individuals who only casually know each other, if at all, outside the realm of the group - it's not very likely a group of 20, united across one vector, all of whom chose to opt in to the group, will all move within one or even two or three tight social circles, out of which all local abusers operate;
- attendance at these sort of groups tends to be fluid; unless all members retell their stories of abuse at every meeting, (and for some of us, to name all our names we would have to tell many stories just on our lonesome), OR unless someone is truly keeping a literal recorded master list and sharing it at every meeting, it's highly unlikely that even most group members will be present to hear all stories, not to mention remember the names of the abusers mentioned in those stories (as if I were in a support group to listen to other women, the details of their stories would matter more to me than committing to memory the names of the villains) - and not to mention as well that while of course it's common to refer to people, villains or friends, by their real names when telling real stories of real events, it's not common to trot out full names and it's even less common for listeners to remember full names -- let's call this the "john factor," as in, "yeah, his name was john, i remember, but how many johns do you personally know?"
- i would think, similar to AA, these groups would benefit from an amount of guaranteed secrecy/privacy and/or anonymity; while I am not saying they should be locked down to "what is said in the meeting doesn't leave the meeting," I am certainly saying that, while warning others about the men named in the meetings might be admirable, I would fervently hope no one was repeating intimate stories of awful violence other women suffered to the general public (or to their friends of friends) without the original victim's knowledge and consent; (and i suspect victims would prefer their stories not get tossed about as cautionary tales like that)
- not to mention the whole "if you are seeking legal action against a person, it's exceeding inadvisable to talk about your legal case publicly/openly to others before it has gone to court," -- while yes it is reasonable and probably good for trauma victims to discuss what happened, if they are pursuing any action in a court of law with a decent lawyer I am sure the advice will be, "if you must talk about it, please change names and some identifying details to protect your own self/case, as well as prevent threats of being sued for slander."
I do agree with you in that some extent, I'm sure lists of names of men would organically arise from these groups. But I think they would be short and partial lists handed down orally to trusted members who had become engrained in the group dynamic as a whole.
And yes I still think those situations are rife for the potential of abuse by bad actors seeking to smear or "get revenge" or who are just plain crazy narcissists, etc. You would have to build and maintain a very good group with a lot of trust to avoid that risk.
-- on to your other point --
It is possible to do both - wear armor, and feel feelings, and have impassioned discussions about how you shouldn't have to wear armor, if this world were a better world. I get that. I agree people shouldn't have to wear armor - but to me that statement is so moot to my life it is not worth discussion. I suspect we agree in this: when people wear armor habitually, it becomes easier and easier to look at those who don't, and witness those people making decisions, choosing to trust, etc, and getting hurt or taken advantage of as a result -- and scoffing at them for wanting to believe that people are better than what we (the armored ones) have personally experienced. And even sometimes blaming those optimistic, bright other people for being victimized when they chose to trust/believe people are good - because while our armor would prevent us from making those same trusting choices, it would also prevent us from becoming victims in similar circumstances. And that is both terribly sad and wrong.
As a pretty strict personal rule, I do not hang out with men one-on-one. With certain conditions (is it dark outside? does he want to go to his house? is it after hanging at the bar? etc) the rule becomes even stricter. I don't feel safe. I do not think it is a good idea, and I do not do it.
I live with my sister and she does all the time. It kind of amazes me. Sometimes it makes me think I should trust men more. I should try. Then I shake my head and am like "Nah. Absolutely not, lol." While it amazes me that she would make these choices, if at any time she was taken advantage of or coerced or violently forced to do anything, at all, by a man who she was hanging out alone with -- that would still never be her fault. It would be a tragedy, and she would in no way deserve it.
Sometimes, though, do I have a shadow of the thought, you're asking for it, when she tells me about her adventures? Yes. I do. I bite it back because it is terrible.
I think you and I would agree that it is the wearing of armor which makes that thought come so easily, so uncomfortably quick. Yes, there are problems with wearing armor. It becomes easier to blame others...but if you truly blame others for becoming victims...that is because you have not yet come to terms with having been a victim yourself. That is because inside, somewhere, you are still busy blaming you. I am sure armor can be a way to hide this blame and even self-loathing for some people, as much as it can be a comforting protection.
If a magic fairy came along and guaranteed me 100% that I could safely hang out with any man, whatever man I wanted, one-on-one for the next 5 years, and I would never be threatened, fearful or victimized, I still wouldn't do it.
This is way too long anyway, but one more thing I want to tack on in closing:
to me, discussing why something is unfair, or unjust, or "shouldn't be happening" in a "decent society" is not a discussion of solutions. And it is those discussions which I feel tend to be the luxury of people who are not living the experiences which they are hand-wringing over.
gated community, ghetto, both people should want to solve the problem of violence within their community, and they should both discuss solutions and actively work towards them. rich white person saying "it's your fault you don't protect yourself" isn't a solution, it's a judgment, and it's a removed judgment. but, rich white person or victimized ghetto dweller -- either of them can say "violence like this shouldn't be happening" and that's not a solution either. and discussions about what's broadly wrong with our entire society or w/e that spring from comments about should or just or fair are not solutions either, they are distractions that removed rich gated community dwellers would prefer to spend their time visibly discussing with all their friends so they can feel better for caring about Issues without taking any action to solve them at all, but maybe get a pat on the back from all their friends for being so vocally woke. it is those sorts of discussions about theoreticals and shoulds and hand-wringing I was trying to call out in this discussion.
I shouldn't have to feel unsafe hanging out with dudes 1:1, but I do, and once I hit that conclusion I feel the rest makes a very uninteresting discussion. Because it won't change no matter how much or how many times I have to justify what I feel to other people who want to argue with me that I'm being sexist or paranoid or untrusting for doing so. People who want to exhaust me; people who are making the argument just because they want to feel Right on the Internet, because intellectually they disagree with the technicalities and impact of my decision -- while I, if I indulge keyboarders with no expense to the discussion for themselves but rabble-rousing and some nice flares of adrenaline as they see their orange-reds light up -- I have to relive, rehash, and re-defend myself (which means first, re-doubting myself again, and again, and again), grinding my emotional gears into my emotional trauma which will continue to be trauma and provide me pain without end for as long as I grind into it. that is why discussing my past trauma is not worth it to me. also bc as i said, at this point, it's mostly very boring: i have done my share of telling, to friends, to bad actors, to therapists. i don't have any questions left. i don't have any handwringing.
i think they call this acceptance.
i think sharing with others is a vital part of processing trauma. however i also think my trauma has done been processed. lots and lots. it is more helpful, at this point, to listen to stories other people are compelled to share because they are still seeking or processing or hurting or something -- way more helpful for both me and others if I sit back and listen - than it is to speak about my own experience.
--- anyway whew wonder how many pages this is --
thought about sending in a PM, fuck that imma be brave and post this shit
if a single one of you tries to argue with me about hanging out with dudes one on one, we can bypass the reply, you can send me your address, and i will come for you in person. and is this comment necessary, even on a nice place like hubski? the answer, from my own experience, even if i limit that experience to 'actually happened on hubski' vs. obviously happens everywhere else on the internet -- is undoubtedly, 100%, absolutely - YES.
ps ok i admit there are some few rare exceptions to the no 1:1 rule but we are talking like 95% of the time here so just allow me to state it as a rule. if i hang out with you as a dude 1:1, a) you're in that 5%, b) 75% chance a transaction involving marijuana of some sort is involved, c) 90% chance i've known you for a year minimum, d) 50% chance at least one of us considers the other more neutered than a gender