Earlier this week notorious “ex-gay” organization Exodus International’s Alan Chambers made a quality apology, and yesterday Kickstarter did the same. Two major apologies that both avoided the “I’m sorry you were offended” squirrely apologies cliches. Kickstarter fucked up, and then they did a great job of fessing up. They owned their wrongness, apologized, explained what they will do differently going forward, and then donated $25,000 to RAINN.
For those of you who haven’t heard about the Kickstarter kerfuffle, it involved a campaign to publish a “seduction guide” which was (in my opinion) basically a guide on how to become a rapist, or at the very least encourages men to ignore women’s clearly stated boundaries. The author disagrees, and I think that his disagreement is either a deliberate load of hooey, or shows a basic lack of understanding of consent culture. Here are some choice pieces of the text:
Even when a girl rejects your advances, she KNOWS that you desire her. That’s hot. It arouses her physically and psychologically….
From now on you must ASSUME that she is attracted to you and wants to be ravished….
Physically pick her up and sit her on your lap. Don’t ask for permission. Be dominant. Force her to rebuff your advances….
If at any point a girl wants you to stop, she will let you know. If she says “STOP,” or “GET AWAY FROM ME,” or shoves you away, you know she is not interested. It happens. Stop escalating immediately and say this line:
“No problem. I don’t want you to do anything you aren’t comfortable with.”
Memorize that line. It is your go-to when faced with resistance. Say it genuinely, without presumption. All master seducers are also masters at making women feel comfortable. You’ll be no different. If a woman isn’t comfortable, take a break and try again later.
All that matters is that you continue to try to escalate physically until she makes it genuinely clear that it’s not happening. Source (Bolding is part of the original text.)
This isn’t seduction, this is boundary crossing. Knowing a man desires me is not always (or even usually) arousing; it’s neutral if done well, sweet and a little sexy if done VERY well, and scary and threatening if done badly. “Try again later” is the wrong fucking message. “GET AWAY FROM ME” does not mean “I’m unsure”, it means “GET AWAY FROM ME”. “STOP” does not mean, “I want you to try again” it means “STOP.” Shoving you away does not mean “make me feel comfortable and then I’ll say yes” it means “you have made me feel UNCOMFORTABLE, IT’S NOT HAPPENING.” The recommendations in this guide are built on a coercive, antagonistic model of seduction which is antithetical to honest, safe, loving relationships.
And to their credit, Kickstarter listened to objections, looked at the situation, realized they were in the wrong and apologized. Yes, they probably did so partly to mollify their audience and make the hooplah die down, but they also stood up against violence against women and gave a sizable chunk of cash to an organization that does important sexual assault prevention and survivor support work. Here are my favorite bits of the Kickstarter apology post:
We were wrong….
Let us be 100% clear: Content promoting or glorifying violence against women or anyone else has always been prohibited from Kickstarter. If a project page contains hateful or abusive material we don’t approve it in the first place. If we had seen this material when the project was submitted to Kickstarter (we didn’t), it never would have been approved. Kickstarter is committed to a culture of respect….
(T)oday Kickstarter will donate $25,000 to an anti-sexual violence organization called RAINN. It’s an excellent organization that combats exactly the sort of problems our inaction may have encouraged.We take our role as Kickstarter’s stewards very seriously. Kickstarter is one of the friendliest, most supportive places on the web and we’re committed to keeping it that way. We’re sorry for getting this so wrong.