Geek Girls Rule! #411 – How Do You Hold Someone Accountable

Sorry this was delayed, guys. I’ve been getting ready for Big Bad Con this weekend. 

So, when this comes up, inevitably, a group of dudes will then ask, “Well, what do you want us to do?”

It’s not rocket surgery, guys.

Stop hiring harassers, rapists, and abusers.

For every, “But he’s nice to me,” there’s an army of people that person has hurt, mostly consisting of women, trans people and POC. And this also goes for marginalized people who continue to work with people who have abused other marginalized people in the industry.  In many, many cases they don’t actually value your work, they’re using you as a human shield.  “See, I can’t be a racist/sexist/ableist! I’m working with X!”

And I understand the existence of contracts and such, that happens.  When the contract is over you can explain to the person that you will not be renewing and why.  You can tell the people they hurt that you stand with them.

If they apologize TO THE PEOPLE THEY HURT and appear to have actually mended their ways, then fine. We can talk.  But, “Well, I talked to them and they said they didn’t mean it that way,” doesn’t cut it.  A. Not an apology.  B. Not made to the people they actually owe the apology to.

“I’m sorry you were offended,” is also not actually an apology.  It is in no way taking responsibility for what you did, but instead casts the blame on the person you hurt.

An actual, honest to gods apology goes something like this:  “I am sorry that I hurt you, I screwed up.  I will learn from this and do better in the future.”  Let me parse this for you.  The first part confirms that you understand that YOU DID A THING and that it hurt someone.  The second part is a reassurance that you have learned from this misstep, and that you will apply this learning to your future behavior.

You’ll notice the lack of falling on swords, sackcloth and ashes, or flagellation.

Back to accountability, you can also not buy their products.  Or the products of people who give them a pass.  You can tell people honestly why.  Do not dictate to people that they must follow your lead.  But a gently worded, “Yeah, that game sounds fun, but I don’t buy that person’s products as they and their followers have harassed people I know and care about off this continent.”

Accountability requires consequences.  Without consequences from being called out publicly all the way to hitting them in the pocketbook, most people will not bother to change.  And for some people the social approbation of their peers is not enough impetus on its own.

Even if they only surface change the behavior, psychology has in fact proven that if you change the behavior, you can change the underlying thoughts that lead to the behavior.  It’s the basis of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Google it, I’m not your mother. Also this is a gross simplification of the theory.  But yeah…

Yeah, it sucks to not get that game you’ve been waiting for months for it to drop. But you know what sucks more?  Your “allies” not having your back dealing with assholes, abusers, and harassers.

And dudes, we seriously need you to help us out with it.  We need you to take a stand with us.  We need you to call out the bullshit when it happens.  We need you, even if you, yourself, are an exemplar of social justice, to call out the assholes with us and sometimes for us, because as we all know, they will take you far more seriously than they take us.

Criticism coming from peers means far more than it does coming from someone you consider beneath you.  And trust me, these guys do think we’re beneath them.  Many of them would never say that outright, but it comes through when they tell stories about being abused by feminists and SJWs, that what they think being asked to treat the rest of us like people really is abuse.


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