Moving on after a scandal in the community.
September 24, 2015 8:34 AM   Subscribe

As I mentioned on the blue, I'm one of the women who was involved with these jerks. My own humiliation and hurt have passed, and now I want to do something productive with my anger. Seeking suggestions.

Good things already happening: large-scale conversations about rape culture in the community, proposals to open women-run businesses in place of the coffee shop, and renewed (and new) friendships with other women involved.

But I still fantasize about sending him an email that's as hurtful as I can imagine. And I really want him to suffer. But that's not like me, and I don't like these feelings. How is a healthy way to proceed? Both in terms of internal processing + external actions.

I'm really interested in using this experience as a positive thing, both for myself and for other women and for the entire community. I'd also like to hear any clever ideas we may not have considered for dealing with the men in question.
posted by witchen to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
One of the reasons you probably want them to suffer is to feel empowered, and a lot of the best stuff fighting rape culture empowers ourselves, other women, and all of the feminists around us. My favorite personal ways of feeling empowered are very physical in my body - weightlifting, exercising.

So I'm wondering if there's something you could do for yourself and others that includes that - a fundraising walk for a women's shelter or rape crisis line or to help the baristas find other work? Or maybe a women-only sprint triathlon that does similar fundraising? Having done a women-only Sprint tri a few times I found it more supportive and fun than the mixed ones I'd done.
posted by ldthomps at 8:47 AM on September 24, 2015 [9 favorites]

I've personally found that writing a letter to the person who hurt me and then not sending it is really cathartic. It's really tempting to have the last word, but I think it's never really as effective as you would hope. Assholes are gonna asshole, and an email is probably not going to make them change. In a way, I think that it just gives them more power.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 8:47 AM on September 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

Is there a way to sue him? Maybe a lawyer could advise.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:56 AM on September 24, 2015 [6 favorites]

It looks like they have already had their comeuppance. I'm concerned for you that you want to take matters even further. There's a sort of ganging up here that I don't think you should help propagate because it's just as bad as what these fellows have done.

One thing I have personally noticed is that whenever I try to pillory another because they have wronged me and others, in the end, I come out looking and feeling worse. There's a point where you are no longer bringing sanitizing light to wrongdoing, and instead you are directly hurting yourself and others.

Put simply, holding a grudge is like taking poison and waiting for the other guy to die.


I hope that helps. I try to remember that anything I dish out will likely come back on me threefold (or so the saying goes) and that usually helps me shift my attitude. What happens to these fellows now is none of your business. They're getting their own dished back at them already.

Also - NO. You should not put anything in your own words to these cornered animals that could be twisted and used against you. Private is never truly private, these men are not trustworthy. Do not interact with them further.

But mostly try to understand where the point is that you are no longer championing a cause, and instead hurting yourself and others. Since it is not your intention to add suffering to the world because you are a good human, let this be your guide.
posted by jbenben at 8:57 AM on September 24, 2015 [11 favorites]

If you are thinking of joining a lawsuit, definitely do not put anything further into writing either publicly or privately.

"Don't write anything you wouldn't want a judge to read" is a good rule of thumb.

A lawsuit isn't a bad idea!
posted by jbenben at 9:00 AM on September 24, 2015 [7 favorites]

Write the email. Don't put anyone in the To: field, though. When you've written out all of your rage and bile and really told those fuckwads off, print it out, then delete it (make sure it's gone from your Drafts folder too). Take the printout and burn it. Watch your anger burn. Smell the smoke. Let the ashes and your rage fly away. Take a deep breath.

Tomorrow will be better. The day after that, better still.

And have a fire extinguisher at hand, just in case.
posted by Etrigan at 9:02 AM on September 24, 2015 [13 favorites]

I spend a lot of time having conversations with my mirror wherein I am telling off the men who assaulted me or the people in my life I'm having trouble with. It is profoundly therapeutic to pretend that the mirror really is each of those people because then I can fight them off knowing I'm still somehow in a safe environment. I'm also someone who needs a script to feel like I can take a problem on, so the rehearsing aspect of the whole process really helps me feel prepared. YMMV.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:18 AM on September 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Firstly, I am terribly sorry to know that this happened to you. Public shame is a very difficult emotion to deal with, and the desire for some sort of retaliation is perfectly understandable.

One suggestion might be to read about the psychology of the motivation for (and extraction of) revenge to see if, in fact, it helps people. A quick scan of some summary articles suggests that revenge doesn't feel as good as we imagine it will and there could be additional costs that one might have to bear as a result:

Complicated Psychology of Revenge

Revenge and the People Who Seek It

10 Steps to Letting Go of Resentment

Another suggestion is spend some time thinking about the public's reaction to these guys and how it is affecting their lives. NOT to get yourself to feel sorry for them (by any means) but, perhaps, to get some schadenfreude out of it. :) YOU aren't the one coming out bad out of all of this, those asshats are the real targets of the public shaming.

And thirdly, it could be useful to read this book. You are by no means alone, and it might help you to read about other people's private situations exploding into the public domain.
posted by Halo in reverse at 9:51 AM on September 24, 2015 [7 favorites]

Something similar happened to a friend of mine. She started a private facebook group for herself and other survivors. Word got out and it became a popular group. It was a place where they could help each other heal, support each other, and build community in a safe(r) space. They even held regular meetings and cooked together. It was so powerful because so many people she didn't know who had similar experiences came forward. Some of these people are still her close friends 3 years later.
posted by Femiluv at 9:55 AM on September 24, 2015 [8 favorites]

This is kind of an off the wall suggestion, but perhaps look into kickboxing or krav maga? When I was going through a rough time in my life, being able to deal with my upset/aggression in a healthy physical way was SUPER helpful.
posted by Tamanna at 2:38 PM on September 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

Write the email. Good advice.

Better still, write it, as in use a pen. The physical act of forming the words manually can be more cathartic than using the keyboard (though thumping the keys can have its own satisfaction). This is important to you, so work on your letter as the full expression of all your feelings about this hurt. Draft, redraft, and redraft again until you are satisfied with it. Then read it out loud, maybe to a friend, or just yourself. When you have done this once, twice, maybe more, and you feel you have worked out as much of your anger as you feel possible, then have a burning ceremony.

Either way - NEVER send it.
posted by GeeEmm at 3:43 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also - don't write text you dont want to show up in court in a webmail system or Google docs. You have no idea if anything is actually deleted in those servers (see: facebook) and they autosave aggressively.
posted by benzenedream at 4:34 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Check your memail. They'd been doing this long before opening Waking Life.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 5:06 PM on September 24, 2015

Team up with other women who were objectified by these clowns and develop a talk geared to a high school audience, using your experience to shine a light on PUA culture and its negative impacts on emotional development and intimacy, while also warning about the dangers of posting inappropriate things online. Encourage the concept of men and women connecting with each other as friends and equals. Forgive and transform.
posted by Scram at 10:06 PM on September 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

I understand your need to hurt them, and I'm sure you're already clear with yourself that it's not something you would attempt. But I just want to emphasize that it's very, very likely that nothing you say to these people can possibly hurt them. Most people who would engage in this behavior in the first place don't have feelings. I don't know these people, but I am incredibly suspect about their apologies and mea culpas. It's entirely likely that those are just another part of the game. I think any attempt on your part to hurt them is at least as likely to be mocked and laughed at as it would be to have its intended effect.

I would agree with the general consensus here to band together as a community *in real life* and do something positive *as a group.* Having the support of the community and people around you seems like it would be tremendously helpful, and would also send a clear message to these people about their behavior.

And if it's at all helpful, there are plenty of men who find this kind of thing abhorrent.
posted by cnc at 11:53 AM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

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