tim: "System Status: Degraded" (degraded)
[personal profile] tim
"There’s a theme here: that silence and secrecy are the paramount values, and open discussion is to be avoided. It’s a basic function of institutions, but often of informal social networks as well, to protect the body from reputational damage. That’s what colleges do with rape: they use nondisclosure agreements so that whatever the result, nobody can talk about it. When I was in college and there was an accusation of a sexual assault on a woman I sort of knew, I got the account from her, and she said it happened and I believed her, so I told anyone who would listen about the perp. So the administration told me I’d be punished if I didn’t shut up. That’s how it happens. Not talking about it is rule #1."

-- Thomas MacAulay Millar, There’s A War On Part 3: A Fungus Among Us (TW for descriptions of rape and of personal and cultural abuse)

This makes me realize that when I was at Portland State and I ended up getting kicked out because I requested to not have to work with the guy I witnessed making a "joke" about raping another student, I didn't just get kicked out because the faculty didn't like having their authority questioned. It was also that if I had been granted that exemption (an exemption that was, of course, granted to every other graduate student -- nobody had to work with someone they didn't want to work with), I would have also talked about *why* that was. Especially if there were new students who were women, or who were non-heterosexual, or who were gender non-conforming, I would have told them that this guy was a creep, that he was still in the program, and that it's best to avoid him. And that would have undermined their confidence in the ability of the department and the university to create a safe working environment. So rather than addressing the problem and making the environment safer, the answer was to kick me out so I couldn't tell.

(It was Thomas Dubuisson, I have it on good authority that he's not sorry, and I hope he never works in a position where he'll have power over anybody.)

I am still assuming that universities, churches, and other social institutions have a purpose other than to shelter the abuse of vulnerable people... but I'm also still having a hard time seeing what it is, on a practical level. And I think the passage above points out how secrecy and silencing aren't to protect the victim's privacy, because the victim doesn't usually get asked for their say in the matter. No... it's to protect the institution so that the institution can keep on hosting abuse.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-01 07:19 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] bf
This reminds me of the corporate culture of three companies where I worked in the sense that if someone is well-established in a business or even a long-term employee, I cannot say anything to complain about inappropriate behavior without that complaint affecting me negatively. I have to refrain from complaining about anyone in any official way, when I am new at a company. I even feel that I must go so far as to avoid any informal complaint whatsoever. I must use an attitude of diplomacy, which means shutting the hell up, apparently. W

I'm worried b/c I've already inadvertently gained a reputation with a supervisor as an "opinionated woman," which is a description I resent, if only because it calls attention to the juxtaposition of woman and "opinionated." The comment is almost like saying, "opinionated for a woman." But I digress -- I acknowledge that silence is sadly the rule of thumb I must live by, whilst perhaps taking care of my need to be heard elsewhere (and quietly planning an escape).

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-03 06:39 pm (UTC)
tiferet: cute girl in pink dress captioned "not all bad girls wear black" (Default)
From: [personal profile] tiferet
Amazing! What a coincidence!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-03 06:43 pm (UTC)
tiferet: cute girl in pink dress captioned "not all bad girls wear black" (Default)
From: [personal profile] tiferet
Pretty much all of the shit I have had to take at my current job has come from my questioning something (non-sexually, thank G-d) inappropriate that was said to me by my current big boss, and questioning his ethical decisions on a few other things.

And I also get a lot of crap for being a woman who is visibly femme AND visibly assertive. My father actively did his best to make me the worst socialised femme ever by kyriarchical standards (seriously, my natural inclination as a child was to be somewhat pacifist and not to fight with people and to forgive easily, but Dad wouldn't tolerate that in any of his kids.)


So. Yeah. And I'm doing much the same.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-01 02:47 pm (UTC)
miang: Edward, Infinite Undiscovery: Fallen in deep, slow, silent sleep: the once and future king. (edward - kolton)
From: [personal profile] miang
What's interesting to me (and by "interesting" I mean "DIAF") is that while no one seems to care about protecting the victim's privacy, the institution is heavily invested in protecting the abuser's privacy. And while I don't think you'll ever get an institution to admit that, as you say, "it's to protect the institution so that the institution can keep on hosting abuse," they will readily admit and happily endorse the notion that the abuser deserves privacy and reputation protection, with no consideration whatsoever that the latter statement leads directly to the former. Fascinating, really.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-03 06:50 pm (UTC)
tiferet: cute girl in pink dress captioned "not all bad girls wear black" (Default)
From: [personal profile] tiferet
People really hate to be told that someone they admire and want to be like is abusive or otherwise unethical. They will go to great lengths to avoid hearing this news and set up all kinds of structures to avoid it. Particularly in the case of sports figures (like that Penn State case) and religious leaders but professors and doctors and political figures count too.

It's like nobody ever considers that maybe their admiration is based on a front because you can't possibly know someone well unless you actually know them. You know.

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