Sometimes I'm not so savvy or eloquent and sometimes I see things differently than others; in metaphors and patterns, in the simple terms of a child. I'm high-functioning autistic and it means my brain has certain physiological differences that often contribute to unique cognitive functioning. Occasional simpleton.
So I went to a convention a few weeks back. It wasn't as much fun as I'd thought it would be. It was a lot of money, I was very sick, I spent most of my time acting as crew for my wife's show, and then there was an Incident.
My wife and I returned to our room after filming and it was loud before we opened the door. When we did, it was so hot in there, stifling with an overwhelming odor of stale sweat, alcohol, and too many people. I turned the AC on. Everyone was loud and happily drunk and there were people everywhere. It'd been a hard day and the sudden crowd made me feel shaky and nervous and I retreated into silence. When I'm silent and still, with a child's wide eyes, that's how you can tell I'm not alright.
There was a woman there who I knew. We'd met last year, in passing, and once online, when I PM'ed her the link to the RDA FAQ on IRC. I knew all about her though, because everyone was talking about how she broke up with her boyfriend, and he didn't come to the convention, and how she was really upset. She was barefoot and very drunk, came over to me and hugged me and said how much she liked me and all. Everyone laughed because 'lesbian' things are funny. Well, not to real lesbians. I guess fake 'lesbian' things are funny? This woman was very flirtatious with me and my wife. I felt uncomfortable.
For a moment, things slowed and the color washed out; I call these moments, 'movie times' because suddenly it feels like I'm an outside observer to the events around me. It's just the conscious perception of cognitive dissonance though, so don't worry. I felt like everyone was laughing at this woman, because the rumor was that she loves to drink and gets 'crazy' when she's drunk, like she's an object with a function, like a wind-up toy or a jack-in-the-box, instead of a real living person with a real mind. A woman there I didn't know told me that she and the other woman kissed on camera. All the guys laughed and wooted again. The drunk woman stood up and almost fell over, helped back to her seat by a friend of mine.
This was not a good place to be. Things were wrong here. I asked my wife if I could talk to her out in the hall and she thought I was upset with her. I said we should do something, say something, everything felt wrong and horrible and I didn't want to go back into our room. We decided to hang out next door with some friends of ours and that was fine for a bit. I still had that feeling like you do when you were a kid and that one friend suggested doing something really bad and you just felt like maybe you should tell an adult. I was the adult but I was sitting on my friend's bed wringing my hands like a 5 year-old.
I needed my phone charger so I went back into the room and our one roommate was very upset and asked if he could come hang with us. I brought him back to the other room and he was shaking with rage and upset-ness as he told us that the crowd had talked the drunk woman into kissing other people and taking her top off, live on the stream. He was angry with himself for not saying anything and when I heard that, my stomach dropped because I hadn't said anything either.
My wife was having none of this and tweeted about it, which is when I saw that my site was tweeting in a very vulgar way to get views for the stream. Above and beyond promising this woman topless again at 30 views, the tweets also described 'hot lesbian action', which as a for-reals lesbian, made my soul sink; being a lesbian is not 24-7 sex fetishized for a straight male audience, it's just being. Perhaps my wife and I should record ourselves making dinner or driving somewhere and sell it as 'lesbian action.'
Afterwards, well, you all know what happened. Thing is, people involved kept apologizing to me for 'offending' me, as if I was the woman everyone was manipulating like an object, as if I was the one being treated like a child or an animal, in a room full of hazy drunken revelry. I feel sick when I remember the short time I was in that room and I wish I had the cognitive eloquence to explain it to the extent that I felt it.
Everyone talks about rape culture as if it's some invention by evil feminists looking down from their vaginal moon base, but it exists. There's no rules or meeting place, or wiki, but it's there. It's there in all the guys who tried to apologize to me because there was disrespect (at least, if not more) to a woman and hey, *I'm* a woman too.
It's there in those who defend the man who groped this drunk woman without her consent, when they attacked my wife and other female producers because they're feminists, and hey, it's all those UGLY (feminists are always ugly, natch) femi-nazi's who just hate men because they secretly want ALL THE MEN (sluts!) and they're trying to outlaw a man's right to have FUN! It's there in the fact that the men who were there who DID conduct themselves with grace and compassion, such as ensuring the drunk woman got back to her room and got her friend there to help, are shouted down by their fellows.
It's there in that when I walked into that room and the drunk girl hugged me, for that moment I ceased to be myself and became an object too. Hot lesbian action, y'all! It's there in all the people who will howl for months about feminist conspiracies and who's responsible, rather than admit that a woman was taken advantage of, manipulated into doing something in front of the Internet, and groped without her consent, they'll just howl that it's all those damn women, being offended.
Other producers have discussed rape culture and didn't make a mess of it, as this essay is rapidly becomming, so you should probably read what they have to say. Warning: it's very intelligent. One of them said, this is the first thing I've said on the matter and it will be the last. That goes for me as well, even though I'm just a simpleton.