I am writing this at the request of someone I care very deeply about. Unfortunately, it's impossible to write it in a way that's meaningful without identifying him, so I'm just going to come out and say it: this is about Jack. Or rather, it's about Caoimhe, known around the internet gaming and social justice and lulz-trolling circles as kynn/keeva, but it involves him as deeply as something possibly can. This has been hanging over me for more than a month, and now that I'm writing this I'm realizing how much the act of swallowing these words has dammed the river that usually flows from my fingers. I'm not even talking about my writing. It's slowed my blogging, it's made almost non-existent my community participation. You can't bite back your words and then be surprised when they grow shy.
This post is about... some things... that happened at WisCon and shortly after. Having spent time in close quarters with her, and witnessed her behavior online and offline, I have all kinds of speculation in my mind about how this fits into her broader pattern of behavior but I'm going to try to focus on facts. Some of the details are kind of hazy, because I wasn't there or didn't realize their significance until later, and I really don't want to leave this open for a some tiny inconsistency to be seized upon as proving the whole thing is false like life is an Encylopedia Brown story or something, or even accuse anyone of something they didn't do, so I'm going to try to keep a narrow focus.
The facts: she raped someone I love.
Jack was slow to use that word, but those in survivor circles know that there is often a certain amount of processing that must be done and even denial that must be overcome.
There are all sorts of reasons for Jack to be hesitant about coming forward. Jack and Caoimhe were in a relationship at the time. Jack is a trans man, and as male survivors tend to be rendered invisible, making himself visible as one seems feminizing. Also, it was a pattern in her abuse of him that she did things that called attention to those parts of his body identified as female, like touching his breasts and nipples in the public parts of WisCon. I wasn't present for that. I was inside the party room for the Fairyland party while they were in the line outside to get in. I heard about it later, though. I'd heard him tell her more than once not to do it, I'd heard him say in these words exactly, "You never have consent to touch my breasts in public. That's never okay."
Her response to things like that were variations of "But you like it when we're alone!" and "But we're together, aren't we? Don't you like me?" and just plain, "Well, I forgot." or "I didn't hear."
I was present in our shared hotel room when Jack, feeling trapped and panicky from her attention, told her that he felt like he was being crushed and asked her to please get off of him. She treated it like a game, shifting her arm and moving this way and that, like, "Am I crushing you now?" I heard him, in the tiniest and most feeble and scared and childlike voice I have ever heard anyone use, plead for her to stop.
This is how she treats boundaries, as a game. As a thing to be tested. How far can I go? How much can I get away with? Later on even in private, the more she touched him the less he liked it and the less he liked it the more she did it. The abuse wasn't always sexual. When she found out that something from Doctor Who freaked Jack out, she used it every chance she got, again past the point where he was pleading with her. It was funny to her.
I was asleep on the floor when she pushed past the last boundary. It woke me up, and I was disturbed by what I heard, but I pushed it away. Our relationship... mine and Jack's... is negotiated D/s, and we do all sorts of things that if "vanilla" people heard or saw might cause pause, to say the least. In fact, Caoimhe herself had acted something between frightened and disdainful of my submission. So I told myself I didn't know what was going on between them, even though I'd heard the pleading earlier and had known that wasn't part of a negotiated dynamic.
I kind of hate myself for that.
We went on from that point... well, if this were a trial the defense (and possibly the prosecution and the judge, knowing our society... the newspapers would definitely note that some people are asking, though who these people are if they're not the papers themselves wouldn't be made clear) would be asking why we all kept staying in the same hotel room if he didn't like it, why Jack let Caoimhe accompany us back to Hagerstown and stay in his apartment, why he continued to be in her presence and occasionally allow consensual sexual contact while enduring the continued non-consensual contact and boundary pushing. The answers to that are complicated, as they always are, and they would probably sound inadequate, as they often do, and... they're irrelevant. Even if they had ended up living together for the rest of their lives, if every day he said "Don't do that. Stop." and every day she did it, it still wouldn't be okay.
(Their relationship had a safeword, but of course the presence of a safeword in a relationship doesn't make consent universal in its absence.)
Jack has chosen to break his silence because he's gone from feeling only victimized to feeling angry. Right now Caoimhe is putting out a roleplaying game product and she's using a feminist angle to sell it. Seeing this re-traumatized Jack, and then made him feel angry. Is he calling for a boycott? No. He just wants people to know, so it doesn't happen again.
Even with Jack's blessing, I'm leery of posting this because... well, because Caoimhe is a vicious person. She is possibly the most vicious person I know. She often acts like she has nothing better to do than find someone online and sling drama and flames at them. Anybody who has anything in their life that isn't internet drama who engages with her is going to lose, because she puts that much of herself into tearing people down.
This is why she's so active on Twitter and LJ social justice circles. She's learned who the acceptable targets for people on "her side" (Note: the skepticism in the quotes is of her loyalty/adherence to a cause, not her gender) are and she goes after them with all the viciousness of a... well, I'm going to skip the figurative language and say all the viciousness of a very vicious person with nothing better to do than find someone on the ground and kick them until she hears cracking. She doesn't care about progressive principles. She just learned them like she'd learn the rules of a game, then figure out how to exploit them to win.
I hate to say that. I hate to say someone goes around the internet looking for excuses to be offended because that's the kind of thing that's said of anyone who speaks up instead of silently enduring the status quo, but in her case it's true. When she was staying with us, the only conversations I remember her being really engaged about... the only time she really wanted to talk to any of us but Jack... was when the "fake lesbian" blogger stories were breaking and then it wasn't outrage in her voice but glee, glee that someone got caught, glee that she'd found a target, someone was being put in the pillory and she could safely pelt them with zero consequences. She doesn't care about progressive principles at all, that I can tell.
And maybe everybody thinks she's a righteous social justice warrior, but I think... I hope... that there are enough people in the circles she moves in and touches who've sensed that there's something not right about her and didn't want to say anything because it would sound like they were derailing, or policing someone's identity, or... well, because they were afraid of her, and they knew if they spoke against her she'd use words like "derailing" and "policing identity" as weapons of war to tear them down.
I could go on about things, but I feel like the more details I put out the more likely she is to find something to latch onto and dispute, some weak spot to attack, because that's what she does. But if you were at WisCon 35 and you witnessed the scene outside the Fairyland party, that's who it was and that's what it was about. I have no intention of making war with her. I have no interest in doing so. If you're friends with her and you don't believe Jack's account, I'm not going to try to convince you. I'm not going to follow her around holding a scarlet letter over her. Make up your own mind. But if you choose to believe that Jack is a liar, or confused, or that it's a gray area, or that what I'm describing isn't rape-rape... well, you go on believing that. We're not interested in arguing it with you.
As I said up page: Jack thinks people should know, but he didn't know what to say or how to say it.
If I can do nothing else, I can use words.
Note: Comment screening is turned on like whoa.
Edit: The original version of this post had more about comment screening than "Comment screening is turned on like whoa.", where I had stated that I would only unscreen comments I thought were healthy/helpful... I trimmed that out before stating and... after receiving some wonderful comments and unscreening them, realized that nothing had been said about doing this and maybe people were saying things thinking it was in confidence. So my apologies if that was the case. I've re-screened the comments. Supportive comments will be unscreened if the commenter requests/give permission. I'm relaying them to Jack either way.
This entry automatically cross-posted from http://alexandraerin.dreamwidth.org/2767