I think this might be long enough at the moment, that I don’t feel like I’m capitalizing on any one event.
Sexual scandals are titillating. Especially Christian sex scandals.
We like Christian scandals because we like the idea of the pure, wholesome Christian face falling. We like the idea of being able to identify sexual abuse by a group – it’s done by the Catholic church, by the fundy Protestants, by big organizations – it’s a cycle that is separate from us, away from us. It makes it easier to talk about – look at those people over there, away from us, who got caught doing something wrong. And so blogs fill up with posts, especially ex-fundy and ex-Christian blogs, about every sex scandal.
I don’t care.
I don’t care about anyone’s opinion on any number of high profile sexual abuse or rape scandals. I don’t care, not even toward those that make a thousand posts talking about how they support the victim. Can you imagine having thousands of posts about you? Can you imagine having your traumatic moments talked about by every random stranger with a blog, can you imagine faceless, nameless people that can do nothing for you saying, “But I support you” given as their permission to consume your experiences? Would you want the whole world peering at very personal pain, even if it was just to say, “Wow, that’s really bad”?
I only care as far as knowing that during every scandal, I have to stay away from every blog I read, because every person who survived Christian culture, but isn’t a survivor of sexual abuse will be blogging about it, tens of blog posts about it, because it’s easy to talk about. It’s easy to say, “this is a thing that affects me because Christianity affects me” without every thinking about the survivor.
But they don’t actually have to deal with ethe nightmares, or the trauma, or the outcome of moillions of people voicing their opinions about your experiences. I have had to stop reading a number of blogs because I don’t trust their opinions about sexual abuse – even if they’re feminist opinions, even if they’re supposedly standing for the side of survivors – because I don’t want to it.
Here’s what I care about: it’s easy to say, “I support the victims of this high profile scandal.” But I’m looking for what’s going to happen when someone’s favorite pastor is accused. Or their friendly neighbor, or best friend? What about the victim is “wearing too much makeup” or has “short skirts.” What about when the victim isn’t as pure as the driven snow, the pinnacle of sweetness? Those are the situations that matter more. Those are the situations when the individuals that are supposedly the most supportive of survivors find their excuses.
Blogging about sex scandals does jack-all for the victims of them. In fact, it contributes to the problem. How many survivors fall silent when they realize that if they voice what happened to them, everyone will have an opinion about it? How many survivors want to keep silent because of the sheer numbers of people willing to examine their wounds, even if it’s to say, “I support you”?
If my experiences were suddenly public profile, that would kill my blog. I would pull it down, I wouldn’t talk anymore about what happened to me, because suddenly there would be swaths of people deciding to analyze what I went through, deciding that this makes good fodder for pulling in readership, deciding to analyze my experiences without regard for understanding I’m a person. Survivors have already had their personhood denied – we don’t need it from others claiming to support us. And that’s what it does – no one writing about sexual scandals is thinking, “Is this what the victims would want? Are my words actually helping them? Is this actually supporting them in any real way?”
And we all understand this for our own life. In other circumstances, how many would want their trauma put in the public spotlight? Would you feel supported if countless numbers on the internet were helping to perpetuate the public profile of your personal experiences?
So I don’t care. Write about sexual abuse as a societal-wide problem. Write about it as an issue – but don’t use real survivors issues to somehow make your point. Write about it when it won’t garner you attention it, write about it when it won’t make your readership feel comfortable that sexual abuse exists apart from them – belonging to that other, weird group. Write about it knowing that a non-survivor’s voice will always be trusted more than mine – after all, to many, I’m just the fucked up angry, bitter survivor who isn’t thinking about things rationally and clear-headed. Write about it with the understanding that we survivors are writing about it too – we grow up, we become adults, we have a voice and our voice should hold more weight than a non-survivor. Understand that we’re out here, we’re talking, and we don’t actually need you to speak for us.
I’m tired of sexual scandals. Actually support survivors. Support us for real. Don’t use us because we’re an interesting writing topic. Don’t use us because you think that Christian culture gives you a better insight to sexual abuse, by virtue of Christian culture.