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Carolyn Jewel
Writer of Stories.
Writer of Stories.

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On Max Temkin and the Cowardice of Our Community

TW: sexual assault

By now, you've likely read Max Temkin's post about being accused of rape. If not, and if you have the desire to read about it, you can here:

More importantly, read this well detailed critique here of Max's response here:

As for my (admittedly less detailed and non-critique) response:

Max, that was vile. You tried to contact her? Vile. You're hiding behind what you're doing today to protect you from an accusation about your past? It doesn't work like that. You're talking about what you could do to her now, but choose not to? How is that not a metaphorical threat of rape? You chose the word "gossip?" Gossip is when I IM a friend to talk about how a publisher's game mechanics look trite. This isn't "gossip."

I would like to think the best of you -- not because you're a prince in geekdom, but because I would like to think the best in all people. But there's no way I can when your response is so, well, vile.

Onto the Cowardice

Elizabeth Simins and others have commented that it's ludicrous that we as a community aren't speaking up about this. And they're right -- it's unreasonable. Of course, we all know why the community is quiet: many of us creators believe we have "good reasons" to shut up about it. Most of us in that group are men, and as men we have a magical ability called "If we say nothing, nothing bad happens to us. We can ignore all conversation and feel little or no ill effects from it."

When we use this magical ability (which if it were on a character sheet would be called "Privilege"), we're being cowards, we're being complicit in suffering, and we're making the world a worse place.

Yes, dudes, I know that you have rationales for not saying something. I have the same ones going through my head as I'm writing this:

"I don't want to deal with Internetting While Feminist. I don't have the mental energy for it."

"My friends are friends with Max, and I don't want to shit on them by association. Nor deal with them thinking less of me for speaking up."

"I have a Kickstarter right now, and don't want blowback to affect the campaign."

"I don't want to 'look like a white knight guy.'"

"I'm afraid of physical harm."

"I've been a shitty person in the past. Who am I to throw stones?"

While it's perfectly reasonable to have trepidation about speaking up, it's also bullshit if you think that those reasons aren't cowardly.

I can't just watch people suffer while sitting by and being complicit in their suffering. I shouldn't be an Internet Coward, certainly not if I want a world for my soon-to-be wife and my friends and my nieces and people I don't even know that doesn't involve living in constant fear, offline and online.

The Opposite of Cowardice isn't Bravery, it's Decency

If you believe that someone is wrong, that someone need to be called out, and you do nothing, that is cowardice. Be better than that, and you will help others be better than that as well.

- Ryan
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