In light of recent journalistic failures, I deemed it necessary to have “the talk” with twitter about the safety and privacy of survivors. Below is a slightly modified version of the talk I had with twitter earlier today. [TW: Mention of rape]
I woke up this morning with a headache and a thought. While I waited for the aspirin to kick in, I decided to share that thought with the world.
Yes, there are technically “two sides to every story”. That doesn’t mean that both sides are equally important. This faux-neutrality, “let’s listen to both sides and weigh them against each other” mess has got to go.
You aren’t better than someone else if you’re willing to sit down and listen to a rapist defend himself. You aren’t smarter than someone else because you let a racist explain why they did a racist thing and tell you why it wasn’t racist. You aren’t more intelligent than anyone else because you let a misogynist explain why their misogyny is ok and “part of nature”. You aren’t neutral if you let a transmisogynist explain why their transmisogyny is totally ok. What you are is an asshole. Not only an asshole, but an oppressive asshole. An oppressive asshole that’s trying so hard to look good. You’ve swallowed the lie that in order to draw “proper” conclusions you have to listen to and give equal weight to “both sides”.
Here’s the thing, you can never give both of those sides “equal” weight or value. It’s just not possible. Our society is set up to give the “benefit of the doubt”. People are automatically gonna place more weight on the abuser/oppressor’s side. People are trained to believe that maybe the rapist didn’t do it. People are trained to believe that maybe he didn’t “mean it”. People are trained to believe that maybe PoC are “overreacting” and maybe she did deserve it. If you give oppressors/abusers a platform to “explain themselves”, you’re saying you don’t believe the victim & no one else should either.
No, that may not be your “intent” but that’s exactly what you’re doing. Intent is not magical. Intent does not wash away hurt, pain, inequality, and oppression. This is a lesson that every individual needs to learn and it’s a lesson that (most importantly) journalists and writers need to learn.
This whole “both sides”, faux-neutrality bullshit is deeply ingrained in our media. We think it’s a good thing when in reality it’s not. At least with Fox News, they loudly pick a side. You know where they stand on any given issue. Most other news media has gotten damn good at giving oppressors/abusers a platform through the mask of “neutrality”. The sad part is, most people eat that bullshit up because the network itself claims to be “progressive” or “liberal”.
The same goes for most of your liberal/progressive faves on twitter/tumblr/any other blog or website. These folks aren’t good people just because they claim to be liberal. Some of these so called “liberals” on twitter are some of the worst damn people to walk the Earth. LOOK at their tweets. Actually sit down and examine the the things they say. These people are telling you who they are, they’re telling you what side they’re on. You just have to listen.
A lot of y’all so-called faves are defending people like Woody Allen by talking about we need “both sides”. NO! There is no “neutrality” in a situation like that. Fuck what you heard and what you think, there is no “neutrality”. You’re either with the victim or the abuser. If you’re claiming to be “neutral”, that’s just a “nice” way to say you’re with the abuser. Like I said before, society is set up to automatically believe an abuser. We’ll give an abuser the “benefit of the doubt” before we even listen to a victim. That is an issue and until that shit right there is solved, there is no such thing as “neutrality”. There is only the victim’s side, the oppressor’s side, and the people too damn scared to openly say they’re with the oppressor.
You don’t like what I’ve just said? Sit down and examine why. Really look at your reasons for why you don’t like what I’ve said. Examine why you automatically jump to “neutrality” in cases of racism, sexism, ableism, or transphobia. Really look at why you want to be “neutral” when stories of rape and abuse come to light. You shouldn’t like the answers you come up with. If you do, that’s a problem.