Monsters in plain sight

Art by Sean Eidder

Last month, a dear friend was revealed to be a sexual predator.

As confession after confession arose in my feeds, from women I respected and cared about, my shock quickly turned to paralysis. I liked their statuses to show my support, but what I really wanted to do was apologize. In his behalf? For what he’s done? For being friends with him? I found myself Googling how to deal with a friend who’s a sexual predator, but found the answers few and unsatisfactory. Knowing the sad and dark parts of his history, do I stop being friends with him? Do I even know who this person really is?

How do you deal with your place in all of this, processing the vulnerability you’re constantly exposed to? How do you begin shouldering the responsibility?

It’s easy to marvel at the car crash of dovetailing careers in Hollywood and here at home. But it’s harder to put personal relationships under scrutiny. | Art by Sean Eidder

It’s easy to marvel at the car crash of dovetailing careers in Hollywood and here at home. But it’s harder to put personal relationships under scrutiny. What scared me the most was realizing the vulnerability that I share with all women and some men — that the worst predators can always be in our midst. How stupid and naïve I was to ignore the signs, because I’ve been familiarized to that kind of behavior. But there were signs. As is the case with Louis C.K., there was truth to the disgusting jokes.

What unlocked my paralysis was the realization that, amidst all this, I was still protecting myself from the discomfort of reality. But I’ve learned that the first necessary step is confronting ourselves and our weaknesses. The next step became clear to me — I haven’t even asked to hear from the women that this guy harassed and abused.

Hearing the answers was difficult. Realizing that a monster and your friend coexist in one person was hard. You can’t help but still care about this person who is also — who chose to be — a sexual predator. “Where will they go?” you ask. “What will happen to them?”

 

The burden to find out is not on you. You should not shoulder the consequences of their actions. They should have asked themselves these questions before they decided to harass and abuse another person.

 

The burden to find out is not on you. You should not shoulder the consequences of their actions. They should have asked themselves these questions before they decided to harass and abuse another person. They caused pain, trauma, if not knowingly (if this is even possible, *ehem* Sud), then willingly. It should be treated as such — a decision that they made. It is up to us to assess the gravity of that decision — or those decisions — for ourselves.

It is necessary to reckon with the wreckage the closer someone is to the predator. The direct connection enables confrontation. We cannot justify their actions, nor protect them with our silence. We must wade through the discomfort, because our bias should always be for the victims. We should always believe them, and protect them, and support them.

 

It is difficult, and the circumstances are varied, but it does not change our role and responsibility.

 

It is difficult, and the circumstances are varied, but it does not change our role and responsibility. The guilt, confusion, discomfort have to be transformed into action — to reaching out to the victims, and even to the confrontation of these abusive men in our midst.

The point is to hold these men accountable. They have to face their actions. Our asking is not easy, nor is the evaluation of the answers. But either we say yes to shedding light, or yes to keeping darkness.

Tags:
#gender #self

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