So I've been quiet for 10 months about naming my abusive ex (Michael Darling/@asifandwhen) on the internet. I had Reasons, I told myself, and told other people. I wanted to give him space to learn, to grow, to go to therapy (as I had begged him to during our entire relationship), to take accountability.
Instead it turns out I was giving him space, as a almost exclusively straight man, to move fully into the queer spaces I introduced him to as my partner, making sure they weren't safe for *me*. I was giving him space to attempt to buddy up to my friends and invade my comfort in that way, after I had explicitly made my boundaries clear. I was taking the full burden of responsibility and keeping quiet for both of us, still, months after the breakup, and I wasn't healing fully because of it.
Just like I did when we dated.
Why not just ignore him, I was asked, when I finally blew up on Twitter? Well, multiple reasons. One, if it was anyone else, I absolutely wouldn't "just ignore it". I would call this shit out, so why was I so reluctant to do it for myself? Oh right, I was afraid to lose friends, to start drama. Well, fuck that. Ignoring it, and him, would continue to make me anxious and give me panic attacks every time I come back to London.
Two, because it hurts me. Because it feels like another way he can continue to inflict pain on me. It hurts because the lack of justice or accountability in our situation is mirrored over and over in the work I do on a larger scale. He's mirrored in Maymay (who stalked an ex-lover and is an online bully yet speaks on social justice activism and runs an abuse report system), or Hugo Schwyzer (who attempted to murder his girlfriend and bragged about having sex with his students, yet has a platform as a male feminist ally). There's a fundamental problem with these male activists, their refusal to critique their own behaviour, and the failure of the community at large to hold them accountable to the ideals they spout. It hurts because it's so cliché & it shouldn't be. I want a better world, but I live in one where people ask why I'm still upset my ex hit me and got away with it.
I'm fundamentally not ok with a community that blows these things off through inaction. I expect better. And let it be on my head that I expect better- I'll take the blame/credit. But silence *is* complacency, from me or the community. I expect space for my anger. Acknowledging that silence is on some level complacency and safety means some very uncomfortable conversations. It means losing friends (though god, do I even *want* those friends who prefer my discomfort and his unchallenged comfort over this stark honesty?).
It also means actually creating a safe space. Not just about assault, but rape, sexism, cissexism, racism, ableism, etc. As someone who *has* privilege to speak up it feels very much like a responsibility to do so in order to pave the way for others to take their own stands and not feel alone.
Doing consent culture taught me as hellish as it was to call out the kink community it desperately needed saying. Still needs saying. And it meant I got a TON of shit, and was pretty unpopular. But now the community is having those discussions. I helped that happen. That's important. More important than being popular or liked. And realizing that makes me feel like I have some strength to stand up and say "enough".
Like, seriously, I'm having an argument on Twitter right now about how I should care about how the term "teh menz" is derogatory and judgey. NOPE. I DON'T CARE. You know why? Cause I live in a damn cissexist bullshit patriarchy. And I'm angry about that. I SHOULD BE ANGRY ABOUT THAT. If you have a problem with that term, I recommend using your frustration to fight the underlying cause- the culture that fucks over everyone not a white, straight, cis, middle class dude.
Meanwhile, I am not going to hold the responsibility and the burden of an abuser's failure to take ownership.
I will not step back, be quiet, and just leave my safe spaces because that's easier for everyone else to deal with. And that's why being angry will always matter. Because these boundaries are not optional, and I will fucking fight for them.
They, and I, will not be ignored.