There’s something powerful about staying with different internet friends for short periods of time throughout this trip, it feels like I am borrowing and then returning several people’s lives, which helps me realize the pros and cons of mine.
WOMEN BY CHLOE CALDWELL IS EASILY ONE OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR
"Sometimes I wonder what it is I could tell you about her from my job here to be done. I am looking for a short cut—something I could say that would effortlessly untangle the ball of yarn I am trying to untangle here on these pages. But that would be asking too much from you. It wasn’t you who loved her, or thought you loved her. I wonder what I could write that would help you to understand that it is profoundly easy to fall in love with an olive-skinned woman that touches you just so, and who has a tattoo of a quote from Orlando trailing down her back. Show me your tattoo again, I’d say in bed. She’d pull up the bottom of her shirt, and I’d trace my fingers over the cursive words by Virginia Woolf that read: Love, the poet said, is a woman’s whole existence.”
Last night, my husband was messaged by a person who told him to unfriend someone because they were a “predator.”
Scott posted the screenshot on Facebook because he thought it was ridiculous and invasive and it pissed him off.
The person then posted in Alt Lit Gossip, saying that Scott and anyone who commented on the post was a rape sympathizer. (The post was removed.)
Scott got angry. A lot of other people got angry, too. A lot of these people — my husband included — were victims of sexual abuse and/or rape themselves.
One poet told Scott him that he was “shaming the victim” by posting this (funny, considering “the victim” was never mentioned). They later blocked Scott (and me too, which seemed odd considering I hadn’t said anything and had also gone out of my way to help this poet in the past in a couple different ways, but whatever) and Tweeted this:
Other tweets by other people followed:
Feel like it should be unnecessary to point this out, but apparently it’s not…
1. You are “shaming the victim” of a past sexual assault/rape by bullying them because they are not responding the way you want them to.
2. Yes, what you are doing is indeed bullying.
3. “Friendship” on Facebook is hardly support. Personally, I know maybe 30% of my Facebook friends. The rest could be murderers, for all I know. They mean nothing to me. Facebook friendship is meaningless. I’m sorry you grew up so attached to the internet that you cannot distinguish this?
Just curious… What would Scott have to do to earn Dianna Dragonetti’s fascist little crew’s support? He already wrote a novel detailing his rape and the behaviors that resulted from it. I thought all you had to do was write an essay or Tumblr post? Maybe a novel is too long and hard to read? Maybe Gawker needs to write an article about him? Maybe it only counts if the rapist is Facebook friends with people that you are Facebook friends with. Maybe Scott needs to say that he no longer identifies as a man.
A couple days ago I, completely confused by everything that was going on on the internet, decided to email Sophia Katz’s original essay to a couple of my IRL friends who have nothing to do with alt lit.
I asked them: What do you think of this?
They told me things like:
It was hard to get through. It reminded me of when I was 18 and (their own experience of coerced sexual assault).
It made my heart hurt for her.
It made me glad I’ve never been so down and out financially that I was in a situation like this.
Then I asked: Is this rape?
One friend said, yes, it was. Another said she wasn’t sure. We talked about why and why not.
Then we discussed why it was bad to discuss what the author could have done differently (“She’s probably already thought about it enough as is.” “It isn’t fair to do this because you never know how you might act in a situation like this— you may surprise yourself with how complicit you may be because your body and mind can shut down. “) We talked about why it was good to discuss what the author could have done differently (“It could give someone who finds themselves in a similar situation the tools to respond in a way that brings them to less harm.”) Then we talked about how terrible it was that ALL of us had something similar happen to us. At how sad it was that this scenario was commonplace. At how badly young people and older people needed to have a serious conversation about consent.
Our opinions varied some, but as a whole we were coming from the same place. It was refreshing, and it made me feel a whole lot less confused about how this whole thing got started in the first place.
But it made me a lot sadder to think about what this had spun into. People telling people how to feel. People bullying people online. People sticking up for one victim at the expense of another. People who want essentially the same thing attacking each other, telling people that they’re terrible, that they’re misogynists, bad feminists, rape sympathizers. Dozens of men — many of them my friends — being accused of being sexual predators or rapists, with the accusations oftentimes being based on little or nothing. Dozens of other men afraid that they would be accused of something, simply for having sex or making out or having e-flirtations with a female writer in the community. People delighting in the fall of other people, seemingly happy to exploit their status of victim in order to help out their “personal brand.”
I don’t know what the solution is, all I know is this isn’t it.
About a month ago, Sophia Katz told me she was raped by a former friend and roommate of mine when she visited New York this past May. Yesterday, she published a piece chronicling the sexual abuse she experienced that week, using a pseudonym for her rapist. I shared the piece on multiple platforms and commended her bravery. I said, “This is very important, everyone should read this.” I said “We need to protect and support rape victims, defend young girls in the indie lit community against predatorial, privileged men.” Other people liked the post, shared it, added more supportive comments. But by the end of the day, there was no further discussion about it. No one asked who he is, even though he is an editor within a community we all participate in.
And then I realized, I hadn’t either.
I had felt afraid of ‘starting that war’ against him. I realized that maybe people were afraid to ask who he was because they already knew. Maybe he was someone they considered a friend. Maybe identifying him as a rapist made them uncomfortable and sad. Maybe they didn’t believe it.
I lived with this person for a year. I listened to the way he spoke about his exgirlfriend after she broke up with him. I listened when he told me he “didn’t see the point of hanging out with any of his female friends” because at the end of the day he doesn’t get to fuck them. I pulled my piece from his magazine that he had solicited me for because I no longer wanted to support the career of a casual misogynist.
We shouldn’t be afraid to discuss this publicly when Sophia has been brave enough to call out her abuser in a community where he has immense support and friendship. Stephen Tully Dierks should not be shielded because he is or was our friend. We should hold our friends as accountable as we hold everyone else, if not more.
my brother had already outlived his life expectancy by three years
today i only had one good feeling
it was when i was on all fours
naked from the waist up
and he ate
his hummus and potato salad
and apple slices
off my back
sir, permission to sing?
to sing, sir.
yes go ahead, sing.
so i sang
goodbye yellow brick road
i sang for him
while he ate
off my back
and we laughed a lot
he put apple slices
in my mouth
i noticed how dirty
the carpet was
this was the only good feeling
when he left me
i thought again
about being the
of a disabled adult
and wanted so much
to be a coffee table instead
Kendra Grant Malone
every community has good people and bad people. sometimes the bad people exploit you. sometimes they abuse you. sometimes they have sex with you against your will. this is always called rape. this is always a time to support the victim.
sophia has been very brave to write this piece. i lived with this man for a year and never expected the extent of his evilness. i’ve become less and less surprised by the frequent stories i’ve heard surrounding him, and it is always heartbreaking and vile. it is important that the indie lit scene recognizes those that are taking advantage of the very young women in it.