The Power of Responsibility

20120811-104934.jpg“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Indeed. But it’s the other way around, too:

With great responsibility comes great power.

As adults, we take responsibility for our actions. Or, at least, that’s what we’re supposed to do. As mentioned countless times on these pages, one of the hallmarks of a psychopath/narcissist is to not take responsibility. Ever.

And that’s so sad, really. For it is in owning up to our actions and words, taking responsibility, especially when we fuck up, that truly gives us power. That truly makes us trustworthy. That truly shows integrity, not to mention maturity.

I’ve quoted from the Yes Means Yes blog before, and I wish I could just copy and paste the entire thing here for you to read. Thomas is seriously my hero. This excerpt is taken from “There’s a War On, Part 7: There’s a Crack in Everything, That’s How the Light Gets In.” And, yes, there is a war, and, yes, I’m joining the front ranks. (Emphasis mine)

The only way we can really change what goes on is to change the culture, to eliminate the dynamics that allow the abusers to blend in and make their conduct look normal. We need to create environments where the abusers stick out like a sore thumb. It’s not easy to say I fucked up. It’s uncomfortable. It’s easier not to take responsibility. That’s how children deal with it: they blame the dog, their sibling, or pretend they don’t know. Grown ups take responsibility. I just don’t think there’s any serious downside to admitting to mistakes, owning bad judgments. The harm is done; acting grown up about it can only help the healing.

I hear a lot of people who top saying that they’re afraid of the conversation that has started, that they are afraid someone will name them for having done something wrong. I understand that. I don’t like being criticized either. But there’s a huge difference between being criticized for fucking up and blowing a boundary, and being criticized for deliberately blowing a boundary. The first is just ordinary human fallibility, and the second is evil. I do not believe that there’s any reason to think that people are going to be shunned if they fuck up and own it. Shit, all the people I know who have made serious fuck-ups doing BDSM, if they’ve owned up to it, they’re good with the person on the receiving end. (It’s a lot like doctors in malpractice suits: the statistics show that doctors who admit mistakes tend not to get sued, even for serious mistakes, while those who act like assholes and try to shut down the discussion do tend to get sued.) There may be a few exceptions, but as a general proposition, there’s every reason from human experience to believe that saying, “I messed up” is not only the right thing, but the smart thing.

And what we end up with is an environment where people don’t try to sweep the past under the carpet, where a top can say, “yeah, that went really wrong, zie went nonverbal on me and I didn’t realize how deep zie was.” If we can all just say, “yeah, that happened to me once,” we have an environment that the predators can’t really operate in, because when three people say, “yeah, ze did that to me, too …” the game is up. People who admit mistakes and learn from mistakes tend not to repeat them. People who tend to repeat the same mistake … well, usually it’s not a mistake.

And as we create the freedom to air this stuff, we come to the hardest part. We have to start to listen to what the issues are and decide how to treat the people who keep having the issues. Nobody is going to show up with a score sheet or bingo card and make it easy, we’re just going to have to pay attention and think about who is acting in good faith and who isn’t. If we really want to make excuses for our friends, we always can. We can explain away an infinite number of fuck-ups and blowups and badly handled scenes if we’re determined to exonerate. When our friends fuck up, we need to expect them to act consistently with good faith. If they don’t, we need to be willing to change our understanding about their good faith.

If you decide that your friends can’t possibly be abusers, you’re part of the problem. If you decide that anyone who is an abuser can’t possibly be your friend, you’re part of the solution. It is up to you whether you want to listen to the survivors and expect better from tops, or whether you want to pretend that you “don’t do drama.”

20120811-105421.jpgAll I’ve ever wanted is to be acknowledged, to be seen, for him to admit he treated me abusively and deeply, deeply hurt me, and that he was sorry. For him to show a shred of compassion and humanity to me. I believe he didn’t plan to rape me. I’ve said so before. Something clicked in him and he didn’t stop. I froze up in shock at first and then tried to stop him. He either didn’t notice because in his anger he wasn’t present with me, as he usually was, or he just didn’t care because he believed I deserved the punishment and had to be put back in my place, or he just was in an aggressive and angry dissociative state. The second assault was definitely a sadistic power trip as I cried all the way through and afterward. He got off on it, and that behavior was new to that last week. I had never seen that before; he was a different personality completely that last week. Callous and cruel. Dismissive and dehumanizing. Exploitative and abusive.

All I’ve ever wanted was some accountability, respect, and an apology, not only for the sexual assault, but for the cruel treatment on every level. Think how much pain would’ve been avoided had he just been kind, just acted like a human being, just taken responsibility for his part and sincerely apologized. Took the time to let the relationship evolve and fade with love instead of being cruel and demeaning and condescending and abusive. What a difference a few weeks and some kindness would’ve made.

All I’ve ever wanted was some kindness.

So, the wise and responsible thing to say (now publicly and privately) would be that boundaries were crossed in anger without first obtaining further consent; that the subsequent behavior was cruel and uncalled for; that it seemed easier just to run away and not deal with it, which was cowardly and cruel; that intimacy was falsely created, as there was never any intention of a committed, loving, invested relationship, and that’s a deeply horrific thing to do, especially under the pretense of love; acknowledgment of the profound damage done to another human being, body, mind, and soul; and a sincere apology coupled with the willingness to sacrifice something to help the survivor feel heard, loved, and safe again, like, for example, Burning Man. After all, she’s sacrificed so much, including 6 months of her life, her community, her home, and her state.

Not much, really, considering.

And, in doing so, the communities would offer even more love and support. And, more importantly, respect. It would be a huge stride forward in sex-positivity and responsibility. It would be a huge stride forward for creating a safe place for survivors to speak and be heard and be believed.

But…Oh, That’s Right

I saw this on Facebook the other day, and it’s so very true.

Apologizing: does not always mean you are wrong and the other person is right. It just means you value your relationship more than your ego.

Of course, nothing is more important than a narcissist’s ego. Even now, melodramatic protestations of innocence don’t speak to what happened, as I have done time and again on this blog, to the communities, and to friends. Rather the narcissist hides behind bravado, indignation, and reputation. In short: ego.

Never taking responsibility. Never apologizing. Always my fault, my responsibility.
Always. Always. Always.

So, look at yourself. Right now. Do you want to perpetuate rape and rape culture? No?
Look at who you’re questioning and who you’re supporting. Just look.
What questions are you asking?

Are you saying, “She must be crazy! I know so-and-so, and he’d never do that.”
Are you saying, “How absurd she’s falsely accusing him! How dare she!”
Are you saying, “There are always two sides to a story, and it was probably just a miscommunication, at worst. I’m sure he didn’t mean to.”
Are you saying, “She’s just vindictive and can’t let go.”
Are you saying, “How dare she accuse one of my friends of non-consensually crossing boundaries, especially using The R Word.”
Are you saying, “If we talk about this it will become a Witch Hunt.” (poor metaphor, btw)
Are you saying, “If we talk about this people will falsely accuse people of rape willy-nilly.” (What a Nightmare Scenario!)

If you are saying these things, you are perpetuating rape and rape culture.

Just. like. people. do. to. every. single. survivor. that dares to speak out.

Way to fall into stereotypes, people. Wow. Seriously.

If someone says, “I was sexually assaulted,” the first question should be, “why was a person continuing with sexual activity when zir partner did not want to?” (Meet the Predators)

That is the question. That is the only question, and if the man accused owns up and takes responsibility and speaks to it, then, yes, maybe a misunderstanding. Maybe a mistake. Maybe a really fucking huge fuck-up that’s unforgivable, but it’s something to at least take responsibility.

If the man accused goes into knee jerk defense, throws up gorilla dust, turns on the crocodile tears, and refuses to take any responsibility whatsoever. Then, well…

For those who do believe and support me, and there are many, albeit not publicly, I can’t ever express how much that means to me. You truly have no idea how just a few simple words “I believe you” helps get me through the next day. Please don’t hesitate to comment on this blog or email me.

Thank you for listening. Thank you for hearing. Thank you for not perpetuating rape culture.

From Meet the Predators:

If we refuse to listen, he can continue to pretend that the rapist is some guy in the parking lot late at night, when it’s actually him, in our friends’ bedrooms half an hour after last call. If we let that happen, we’re part of the problem.

The rapists can’t be your friends, and if you are loyal to them even when faced with the evidence of what they do, you are complicit.

Want to stop rape and sexual assault in our communities?

Change the culture. To rape again and again, these men need silence. They need to know that the right combination of factors — alcohol and sex shame, mostly — will keep their victims quiet. Otherwise, they would be identified earlier and have a harder time finding victims. The women in your life need to be able to talk frankly about sexual assault. They need to be able to tell you, and they need to know that they can tell you, and not be stonewalled, denied, blamed or judged. (Meet the Predators)

Speak out with me. Believe survivors, even when they accuse “the nice guy.” Ask the right questions. Don’t stand for rape and don’t be the person who makes it more difficult for a survivor to speak and have a safe environment. And don’t let the Austin Poly Rapist become this guy.

By taking responsibility, that won’t happen. Societal transparency makes everyone safer, the survivors and the accused. Be human. Be an adult. Be accountable for your actions. Take responsibility. And show some humanity and compassion for the survivor.

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~ by omgrey on August 12, 2012.

18 Responses to “The Power of Responsibility”

  1. [...] As I said in my post yesterday, look at this person who is accused of rape. [...]

  2. [...] The Power of Responsibility [...]

  3. [...] THEM: do they take responsibility FOR ANYTHING? Have they done everything they can to make amends/apologize/treat the survivor with care and [...]

  4. [...] the aftermath of being sexually, psychologically, and spiritually violated. Still, as I stated in The Power of Responsibility, how one responds to a rape accusation is very important, indeed. This is, of course, not valid in [...]

  5. “I made a boo-boo”, childish though it may sound to you, means you did something or you caused something to happen, often something that nobody wanted to happen. For most of you that is not very hard. However, it is hard to take responsibility when you get to the big, “it happened to me” stuff like illness, divorce or losing a job because the company is downsizing. For those kinds of things you don’t like the idea of taking responsibility.

    • Even for smaller things, some people don’t like taking responsibility. Or, rather, refuse to take responsibility. That’s where self-awareness, integrity, and maturity come in, especially with the big stuff.

  6. [...] Even better, their “What can you do?” section talks about things each and ever person, especially men, can do to stop rape. #1 is take responsibility. [...]

  7. [...] Taking responsibility for your actions and to the relationship, no matter how casual or serious, no matter how short-lived or how long-lived, is sex-positive. [...]

  8. [...] is where personal responsibility and integrity come into [...]

  9. [...] Original Blog Post [...]

  10. I believe you.

    • Thank you.

      • It happened to me too, actually I am in the thick of it right now in another dance community…

      • I am so sorry to hear that. I hope with all my heart it goes better for you than it did for me.

      • Thank you so much. Unfortunately, not the case. I am subscribing to your FB site. Would love to chat more in private email. So grateful to find your posts out here, for your courage. My heart to you too and much gratitude!

      • Not surprising, I’m afraid. Horrific, but not surprising. I truly cannot understand why people insist on protecting rapists. I’m right here. Please do email. It’s linked from my “About Me” page.

        My heart to you. xo

  11. [...] The Power of Responsibility [...]

  12. […] who has integrity.  If the accused does this in front of his community, he will see the true power of responsibility and be more respected than ever. The victim will feel heard and validated and believed, which will […]

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