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Friday, October 4th, 2013 00:28

It's interesting1 how the second a woman starts talking about being raped, or assaulted, or harassed, she gets put into a kind of Epistemological Twilight Zone, innit?

Here's what I mean.

When someone tells you about something they've seen or done, we usually extend them a measure of credit and take what they have said at face value. We grant that their statements about their own firsthand experience are good-faith expressions of the truth as they have observed it. This is called "not being an asshole".

The alternative is to treat this person's experiences as expressions of opinion; assertions; mere façades that may or may not objectively exist -- and this being despite our likely lack of any concrete evidence that would put these statements into doubt.

Let's see how this plays out in conversation.

You: "Hey, I had this really tasty beer the other day..."

Buddy: "WHOA WHOA WHOA. Let's not go JUMPING TO ANY CONCLUSIONS about the SUPPOSED TASTINESS of this SUPPOSED BEER that you SUPPOSEDLY DRANK."

Y: "But I just..."

B: "HEY NOW, I want to be sure we get the BARMAN'S SIDE OF THE STORY before I go making any DECISIONS here. FOR ALL I KNOW, YOU might have gone to the bar and ordered A COKE. In FACT, YOU might not have BEEN at the bar AT ALL."

Or maybe we should try an example with more consequence:

Buddy: "Hey, you look like shit. What's up?"

You: "My fucking house just got broken into. Can I crash at your place tonight?"

B: "Well...can I see a police report or something?"

Y: "What?"

B: "Like, how can I be sure your house was broken into? I've gotta at least see, you know, some broken glass or something."

Y: *rageface*

B: "Why are you getting all offended? Don't you know that sometimes people lie about having their houses broken into? INSURANCE FRAUD IS A THING YOU KNOW."

So when you, dear dudes, start complaining about how you don't understand why people are getting pissed off at you, why "reserving judgement" and "not jumping to conclusions" is being unsupportive, think about this.

Think about everybody around you, including people you trusted and held dear, suddenly treating your words like they're nebulous half-truths.

Think about wondering when the fuck you fell into some kind of improbability field, wherein all the things that that you know damn well to have happened have somehow become maybe-true, maybe-false Schrödinger Facts.

Think about being treated as though everything you say is suspect -- that you are all but outright being called a liar -- while you're describing what actually fucking happened to you: namely, one of the most emotionally destructive and devastating experiences of your life.


1 And by "interesting" I mean "completely fucked up". Because it is. back^

Friday, October 4th, 2013 07:03 (UTC)
YES SO MUCH THIS.

And apropos of absolutely nothing in this post, I have been thinking of you & the family several times whilst here at the Happiest Place On Earth™, so if you've been feeling the magic from a distance, that's why.
Friday, October 18th, 2013 04:57 (UTC)
Really like the second example, and the first one had me cracking up.

Isn't it a kind of gaslighting? Like.. if we're all so uncomfortable with admitting there's a problem and if we just start pretending someone is nuts maybe... we won't have to be so uncomfortable (with the fact that society sucks).