Community, Trust, Responsibility, Consequences
This post may be triggering for some as it contains discussions of rape, sexual assault, and community responses to such.
I promised to write this post last week, but unfortunately preparations for BlogHer took up more spoons than I anticipated. Plus, I’ve been dealing with a lot of intense emotions around the issue and it kept me from posting publicly for a while. But I feel it’s important for several reasons, all of which you will understand by the end of this post. I’m placing the bulk of it under a cut, just in case.
Part the First
First thing (and this is the shortest section of this post, so feel free to scroll past), I want to state unequivocally that I believe Jack, who says that Kynn raped him. I believe this not only because I’ve read both Jack and Alexandra’s version of events, but also because I read Kynn’s version of the events. I’ve seen her post, which has now been removed, and I’ve seen some emails sent to Jack which were shared online.
In the post defending herself, Kynn posted chat transcripts that showed she apologized for what she did and stated that she did them unintentionally. Okay. But then at the close of her post she says she didn’t rape Jack because what she did wasn’t intentional and also Jack and Alexandra must have something against her to bring up these charges now. That makes no sense. No matter how unintentional, she did what she did. And what she did was rape.
Part the Second
Ever since this first came out, there has been much discussion about it and some side-taking, as one would expect in this kind of situation. Apart from that, I find myself further saddened by the impact it’s had on our community, of which Kynn was part. I’m talking about the group of people tied together by our mutual love and appreciation for SF/F genre (i.e. fandom) who also discuss, deconstruct, and fight against bigotry and prejudice, both within our community and in our lives in general.
Kynn has acted as an ally in discussions and activist endeavors. She self-identifies as a feminist. On the face of it, not the kind of person you’d expect to act in the way she did.
Which is why the impact on our community has rubbed people raw. And I am both angry and heartbroken because the net result is that some of us are yanking back on the reigns of our trust for others in the community. I saw at least two people on my Flist talk about the need to unfriend/separate from anyone they knew connected to Kynn no matter what they’ve said in support of Jack or of Kynn because they don’t feel safe staying connected to Kynn-connected folks. I don’t condemn that feeling, I understand that feeling, but it makes me sad to see it.
Community is often built around trust. Definitely activist communities. We come together so we can share and support and bolster and feel less like the voices telling us we’re wrong might be right. When that trust breaks, it hurts.
More than anything else, I want to do what I can to help us all as a group continue to have a strong, trusting community. I want to have a conversation around this because I certainly don’t have the answers.
Part the Third
I’m feeling less sure about including this part of the post because it’s more personal, but it relates to community and who we choose to let in the circle of trust. A lot of this is my feelings, though, and not some grand statement from the President of the Black Mafia, okay?
I’ve known Kynn online for several years, at first through commenting on LiveJournal and other blogs then more via IM/chat. Like I said, Kynn presented herself as an ally and activist and had my back through multiple situations. I always appreciated that. And because of these actions, I ignored some stuff I shouldn’t have.
I ignored the way Kynn sometimes went after people who disagreed with her, sometimes because I felt the people she went after needed going after. There’s a line between not letting up on calling a person on their racist actions/words and unconstructive verbal battery — there were times Kynn crossed that line.
And honestly? I’m not anyone’s mother. There is no presidency of the Black Mafia. There is no fail fandom and I am not the behavior police. I didn’t feel it was my place to tell Kynn how to go about doing what she did, and I am always reluctant to go chiding allies in public because the people who need straightening out would just use it as ammunition (as they’ve done already surrounding this issue). But I will say that I should have followed my instinct to at least express my discomfort with some of Kynn’s actions in private.
On a more personal level, I also often felt that Kynn was very eager to have a closer relationship with me than our acquaintance warranted. Not an intimate relationship, but something that would move toward being BFFs. That kind of closeness has to develop organically — it can’t be forced, even if you share a common belief with a person. Kynn’s efforts to become a close friend always bothered me. That and a few other aspects of our conversations. Still, I pushed my own doubts away on several occasions. I worried about being too judgmental or stuck up or just selfish.
However, given the people speaking up to illuminate aspects of Kynn’s personality and manipulations, I’m now convinced that the doubts that I had were justified after all. I’ve come around to thinking that part of the reason she wanted to be close to me is that I’m part of the “in crowd” in social justice fandom, and that this relationship would allow her greater access to the group and to legitimacy within the group.
I will always continue to fight against being judgmental, selfish and stuck up because it’s always a good thing to check yourself. But I will also listen more to my instincts and not simply accept that any person’s actions are for the good or their friendly overtures are sincere simply because we share a cause or activism.
Part the Fourth
One final admission: for several days I hesitated to say more in public about this situation because I saw more than one blog post or comment chiding the community for “turning on” Kynn. Most, if not all, of these comments came from people outside the community or those hostile to it, anyway. I let those comments get to me when I should have ignored them just like I ignore the other claptrap certain people spew.
The community owes no loyalty to a person who does things that specifically goes against the tenets of that community. And given that both Kynn and Jack have taken the opportunity to tell their sides of the story, individuals in the community have every right to weigh those words against what they know of the individuals and against their own morals. Most of the people I have on my Flist believe Jack. Therefore, it is entirely appropriate for the community to “turn against” someone who we believe raped her partner.
The fact that within our own ranks there hasn’t been a huge split with equal amounts taking sides (as far as I’ve seen) is telling. Things might have been different if Kynn was a person we all inherently trusted and had no doubts about. That’s not the case.
And Now: The Discussion
All right, it’s taken me a really long time to put this together and I need to stop now. I am keeping comments open and public at this time. However, there are ground rules.
If I feel the conversation is going south or if I need to be away from my computer for extended times, I will switch to auto-moderation and screen all comments. First time commenters will have their first comment screened, but after I approve one you should be able to comment with no restrictions. Anonymous comments are allowed, but will be screened.
The thing I want to discuss here is the impact this situation has on communities, on trust metrics and how we, as a group, can tweak those. This is not the place to discuss your theories on rape, what rape is, whether what Kynn did really constitutes rape, or similar topics. If you really want that discussion, have it in your own space.