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Doing What's Right (No Matter the Cost)

“Most men fear getting laughed at or humiliated by a romantic prospect while most women fear rape and death.” ~ Gavin de Becker

It’s an interesting thing, watching a community where everyone seems to be free thinkers, then realizing after something tragic happens that it’s no different than any other community. People blame the victim. People freeze up. People won’t talk because the person in power may know someone they know.  People won’t stand up to defend the person who deserves our support. They. Do. Nothing.

Even those who speak up, do so anonymously out of fear.

I am embarrassed for Portland’s tech community.

“Rape is a culturally fostered means of suppressing women. Legally we say we deplore it, but mythically we romanticize and perpetuate it, and privately we excuse and overlook it.” ~ Victoria Billings

I am embarrassed that our supposedly liberal, independent-thinking, intelligent community swept the story of a tech leader raping a woman on the night before his wedding, multiple times, under the rug. A case where there was DNA evidence, where she had the bravery to put her story out there to raise money to afford an attorney for a civil suit because the police wouldn’t prosecute. A case that the rapist settled out of court.

And we all know settling out of court for millions is not the voice of an innocent man. It’s the voice of a very wealthy slimeball who thinks he can buy his way out of hell.

“People out there must be told about the self-loathing that follows rape.” ~ Tori Amos

You’re damn right I’m going to bring this up in my career column of my blog. There is no separation between work and personal life when it comes to doing the right thing in the industry I worked in for so many years.

Before the rape case was brought to my attention, I figured hey, this person and his best friend who testified in his defense weren’t people I was doing business with directly. After I learned about this, I made a conscious decision that I’d never, EVER, affiliate myself again with a company either were part of, and extricated myself from business proposals that would conflict with my ethical integrity.

For me, I have no choice but to speak out against the wrongs that occurred, against the tremendous poison our community immerses itself in when women are victimized over and over – not only by their attackers but by the public who go to either extreme – slandering the victim or refusing to call out the perpetrator, signifying acceptance with their silence.

“It is little wonder that rape is one of the least-reported crimes. Perhaps it is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused and, in reality, it is she who must prove her good reputation, her mental soundness, and her impeccable propriety.” ~ Freda Adler

Anyone who defends a known rapist is supporting the degradation and abuse of women.  Yes, that’s what I said. And I don't do business with them.

Did I mention there are accusations in the past against the rapist?

When I shared my sentiments on social media that my business would run free of the contamination of people whose actions show an obvious lack of ethics, one person in the community had the nerve to try to hurl insults at me because she – yes, SHE – was the rapist’s defender’s friend. She made the mistaken attempt to chastise me by saying that because I’m self-employed, that I somehow have choices on who to work with that other folks don’t. The irony in that being twofold of course – not just because as a solopreneur in my particular field that none of my business is guaranteed beyond each contract, and my professional life revolves around bizdev to get my bills paid, but because we all have a choice.

As a business owner, I would rather make less than be associated with people who support those who abuse women.  Period. Some may de-prioritize what they don’t like about their employers because they think there’s nowhere else out there to work, or they love other parts of the job, but ultimately they are making a choice to work for that employer, to cast their vote for an organization that may or may not share their own values. We all ultimately are accountable to ourselves at the end of the day.

Several people have contacted me privately to commend me on my decision, my cajones, my bravery, to speak up about this. Yet they still associate with the perpetrator, or the perpetrator's defenders. When I found out someone who had testified in the rapist's defense was the CEO at a company who'd approached me to recruit? I turned them down. The "Burning Man Brigade" he belonged to - how I referred to the group of spoiled, self-absorbed rich kids that included this rapist piece of sh*t - was not one that I would EVER do business with. I'd rather stab my eyes out with a butter knife than compromise my morals by working with these types.

Why are many of those supporters of mine not doing the same? Why are we not sisters and brothers in the defense of victims rather than their rich attackers?

Speaking up is the least I can do.  While some women might choose to blame the victim (it’s not just men who do that) because they refuse to believe that someone they know and trust might do such a horrendous thing, that’s something I find nauseating to say the least. I know this first hand – I was molested by a family member and the pity party went to defend the person who allowed this to happen, who supported the attacker for years after, who didn’t do shit to show a spine and defend the one who actually deserved defending.  And I’ve seen so SO many women living in fear, thinking that it’s just life that we are in a world where we get blamed for the crimes that others perpetrate against us, that it’s just life that we are in a world where men with enough money and power can walk all over those with less.

Where is men’s roar?, Jeremy Meltzer asks (click to watch his amazingly spot-on TED Talk) Hell, where is women’s roar?

Speak up. Support RAINN. Teach your sons and daughters that women are not objects and that men – just like women – must be held accountable. Maybe there will be assholes who will try to sabotage you and gossip about you but knowing YOU spoke up, YOU spoke publicly no matter how much the risk was that someone might try to burn you to the ground for calling them out?  You become the great one. You become the hero and not the bystander who gives their silent acquiescence.

“For thousands of years men have chosen to be violent against women. These choices have been largely excused, commodified and normalised. Men are rarely challenged or held accountable. Even with our purported liberalism and sophistication, we still insinuate a woman’s inherent responsibility for the abusive choices of men.” ~ Jeremy Meltzer

Please, have the cojones to not live life quietly. Do not go gentle into that good night.

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