Prior to being falsely accused, I didn’t believe in false accusations. I couldn’t believe that anyone would tell a lie so insulting to victims. I still do believe that the vast majority of accusations are true, but I always reserve judgement because I know how it feels to be vilified in a blog post.
I applaud the author for sharing her experiences. This post is eloquent and courageous. Having said that, a blog post is not the right place to seek justice. In fact, the information here may interfere with a trial. I encourage her to delete this post and initiate a criminal trial in order to hold the perpetrator accountable.
It's pretty clear to me that the author is not interested in seeking justice and is more interested in letting people know what the heck happened to her. She's not obligated to press charges, no matter how much you think she should. It is absolutely not your call.
> I volunteered to take a police polygraph test, hired a lawyer and initiated a libel suit.
Unless the woman involved was lying about having two supportive eyewitnesses (and those guys are lying about BEING eyewitnesses on their blogs) this is woefully beside the point. I'm sorry for what happened to you but I wonder why you brought it up.
For those playing along at home, Justine raised this issue almost two weeks ago, but the deluge of people saying "I need more details before I believe you" forced her to actually post this. She didn't even want to be this explicit about it, but the community made her.
She refers to this at the end of the post:
> I’m extremely upset I had to write this post. That it wasn’t simply enough to finally, after 10 months have the courage to say Joe O’Brien sexually assaulted me. But if this is what has to happen this is what happens.
i was recently seriously harassed and more-or-less sexually assaulted by an acquaintance's wife at a wedding in a swimming pool. as a man, i doubt that any police department would take me seriously if i wanted to press charges. this does not mean that i am going to take to the internet and post my account of it. nobody wins by doing this.
this trend of women posting their account of a sexual assault online is alarming because of what hawkharris describes: it could be false and then is plastered all over the net, irrevocably damaging the reputation of the accused.
Here is something I find curious: you are one of many commenters here literally ignoring the fact that Justine has witnesses to what happened and bringing up the hypothetical, irrelevant possibility that such an accusation could be made falsely. What gives?
Their stories also don't corroborate: "Fast forward to (from what I remember), around 1am. "; "It was slightly before midnight..."
I think it is good that there are witnesses but it is not as simple as saying that because there are, Justine's version of events is correct. We don't know exactly what they saw and heard, how much of their versions are based on actual events or the aftermath or their relationships with the involved. That is why it is still important to maintain innocence of the accused until proven guilty.
"Here is something I find curious: you are one of many commenters here...bringing up the hypothetical, irrelevant possibility that such an accusation could be made falsely"
It certainly isn't irrelevant to the accused. His reputation and in fact his entire life is at stake. A few blog posts do not constitute proof.
 - http://blog.matt-darby.com/essays/i-am-the-other-developer
 - http://theotherzach.com/writes/2013/10/9/events
Given the amount of alcohol consumed I expect that the more detailed an account one demanded of Justine or some of the others, the less accurate it would be. That doesn't lead to some kind of Rashomon outcome where we'll never know the nature of what happened. That 1am / midnight shit... really?
I guess what i am trying to say is that they are drawing conclusions of what they saw, not just stating the facts of what they saw.
"...this isn't a criminal trial"
This is my point, we have no right to judge his guilt or innocence without a proper investigation and a trial based on this investigation.
"That 1am / midnight shit... really?"
I think it just shows that witnesses aren't necessarily a reliable form of evidence.
My point is that presumed innocence until proven otherwise is important. These kind of blog posts can help create awareness and allow us to discuss such situations but with regards to the actual event, we should refrain from judgment, as difficult as that is, because anything could have happened or not happened. Trial by social media is not okay.
We have no real standing to judge, no need to judge, but I have the right to do whatever I want, thank you. :)
> because anything could have happened or not happened
This is a little silly if read literally. I think you can tease out a couple of things that very certainly happened by reading the three available accounts.
> Trial by social media is not okay.
So much could be said about that topic. It's fairly horrifying in some instances. On the other hand, if this was cathartic or necessary for this woman, good for her.
I won't comment on how much benefit of the doubt he deserves, but whether he defends himself on the internet or not should be totally irrelevant to that decision. 99.9% of us are by-standers who have no right to demand any justifications from any participants.
Instead of saying she shouldn't post because "it could be false," how about you recognize that she knows whether it's true or not? For God's sake, the fact that some people are liars does not mean that truth-tellers should keep their mouths shut.
I for one am pretty certain that there are elements of truthiness and untruthiness in the original posting. I'd expect similar elements of truthiness and untruthiness in a rebuttal by the counter-party as well. Both were drinking and both will be advocates of their recollection of what happened. Such is the nature of points of view and interpretation of past events
He's not saying that. He's lamenting the fact that in the mind of those like him that have been abused, the idea of posting stuff to a blog rather than going through official channels to get results is disturbing.
If anything, he's saying "truth-tellers" shouldn't have to resort to feelings as if blogs are their only realistic option. That if that does become the accepted venue, everyone suffers.
In this case, yes, sounds very clear. But there are cases where it's not clear. The waters get so muddy that there are rapists that don't even know they've raped anyone. And lack of clarity only serves to compound the other problems.
Basically I'm trying to say that it's not as simple as truth vs. lies in many cases.
If you want to say what she did is problematic then you have to argue that she is lying. Plain and simple. Do you do that?
It is obviously not an option to demand of victims to shut up about what happened to them. But that is in essence what you are demanding. Sure, if what she is telling is not the truth it’s quite obvious and kind of self-evident that she shouldn’t have posted it but if she is indeed a victim you would apparently tell her exactly the same. That seems quite insane to me.
Can we stop having these black or white discussions?
After more then half a year, there is no such thing as the truth. Even if the whole thing was on tape we cannot piece together what was going on in their heads at the time.
It seems that every time some case of harassment hits the news people partaking in the discussion are either branded as blaming the victim or branded as destroying someone's life by defaming the accused. Can't we find some middle ground?
As dissatisfying as it may be, by the very nature of the topic there will never be the one truth to the story, but at least as many views as people were there during the event. We need to find a way to accept this ambiguity lest we will never stop shouting at each other.
For unrelated reasons - namely that I don't believe naming and shaming is a working justice system and that it diverts from the underlying social issues - I would prefer to leave names out of such blog entries.
But the reason for my post is that I found the quoted passage to be one of the many oversimplifications that crop up again and again in these discussions.
[Edit: Rewording and fixing stupid grammar mistakes]
"For unrelated reasons [...] I would prefer to leave names out of such blog entries"
First of all, I did not say anything about shutting up in that sentence. Second, even if you interpret "leaving out names" as "shutting up" I wrote "prefer" and not "must" or "have to".
Publishing the truth is always fair and appropriate.
Publishing your recollection of an incident is always fair
In any case, I don't think vigilante justice by blog post is an appropriate solution.
They take it into their own hands to administer justice. You become concerned that employers, friends and family members will see the accusation if they search for your name.
So, if you're angry at someone, you can achieve a form of vigilante justice by publishing negative information about them and sharing it with many people - even if your account appears to be factual and not sensational.
You'll see people attempting to take justice into their own hands if you look at the comments below the author's post.
Yet, equivocating "harass you in comments, emails, and sometimes phone calls" with being sexually assaulted is... yeah.
Note that Joe has specifically said that he's radio silence on this issue. No apologies, no rebuttal, no his side of the story.
Except if the person being harassed is female, in which case of course they're equivalent and you're a rape apologist if you disagree.
You mean like what happens to women when they talk about sexism in our industry? You mean like what people are doing to Justine right now?
Yes, that would be bad.
And I have to say that seems perfectly reasonable to me, as public accusations outside the justice system are something I really disapprove of.
To explain: the media cannot report on an accusation until the accused is convicted, as I understand it, though I'm not British and not familiar with the very probable nuances that exist.
Let's introduce Bob (not his real name). Bob is a mid-level engineering manager. Single, handsome, mid-30s. Bob is a friend of mine from school and I've known him for 17 years. At work, he has a handful of direct reports, all developers. One of these reports is Ashley (not her real name). The entire time Ashley has reported to Bob, she never made any display of personal affectation, never so much as having a cigarette with Bob on a break.
Early this year, Ashley and Bob represented the company at a conference. Bob was having a drink at the hotel bar when Ashley materialized and asked to join him. Bob agreed, and they were alone in a dark corner of the bar for more than a couple hours. Bob tells me that the conversation was light, cheerful, and fun. At the end of the evening, Bob walked Ashley back to her room, said good night, and went back to his room. That's what Bob told me happened. I pressed him; "are you being truthful with me?" He indicated that he was, and I believe him because I've known him for the better part of my adult life. If he needed to maintain a lie publicly, he would have confided it to me. He has no reason to lie to me and I can safely say that he never has.
Ashley isn't the best employee and knew it. Bob was, in fact, preparing to hit Ashley with negative performance, which would have prevented transfer and a bunch of whole other terrible things. It just so happens that this conference was two weeks before her annual review, which is salient because Ashley attempted to blackmail Bob. She showed him a Tumblr draft that claimed that Bob had attempted to rape her when he walked her back to her hotel room, in enough detail to sell the story. The implication was clear: be good to me on my review or I publish this.
Bob confided this to me because he had no fucking idea of what to do. He had no proof either way, and as the alleged victim would be a report, things would look bad if he attempted to terminate her. And then, if he did, she'd potentially revise the draft to make it look like Bob fired her to cover up his alleged misdeeds. This happened in the last six months, and I am legally prohibited from knowing how it resolved. Bob cannot tell me, but he still has his job and a career, so the shoe hasn't dropped yet.
Clearly, Ashley is quite aware that when stories like this are published on Hacker News or other media, a sweeping majority of the audience will immediately interpret what is presented as hard fact. In this case, there are two witnesses, but in others there have not been. Bob's ordeal gave me a thought exercise and made me think of all the times I've been alone with people at conferences: if someone wrote this exact post and substituted all the details for me, instead, what recourse would I have as the accused? The answer is none. Even walking away with the lesson of "don't be alone with someone" doesn't really help, because by the time witnesses step forward to defend you and say a blog post is completely fabricated, it's already bounced off the moon and come back.
And yes, I realize sociopaths like Ashley are rare. But given how demonstrably effective blogging like this is, do you really think they will remain rare in the long-term?
The only solution to this is to be suspicious of everything you read that is one-sided. Be suspicious of my anecdote, even; I could be making it up, for all you know. The thought underlying it, that the Internet's talent for rushing to conclusions on one side of a story is extremely dangerous (Sunil Tripathi, anyone?), is the important part of the story that I want to convey. Imagine if this blog post appeared on the Internet with your name and a conference you've been to substituted in. As Twain said, how long would it take you to get your boots on? Would you ever recover from that kind of damage?
We can't foster this environment in our industry, and I'm saddened that it just continues to get worse. It's going to get worse because time after time after time, the Internet makes clear that understanding both sides of a story is a historical artifact, and events of the future will be determined by who blogs about them first. Scary shit. Imagine sharing a name with the accused, even! My mom just got denied an apartment because a woman of a different race shares her name and has a felony conviction. And that's a government system, not a social network.
A pile of folks have made clear, too, especially some well-known names in the industry that are already all over this thread, that if you express the opinion that I just did you are enabling rapists to completely gut our industry, blaming and/or silencing victims, and so forth. I made the mistake once of sharing this opinion in another high-visibility disclosure similar to this one, the thrust of which was "let's not blog about someone's guilt or innocence on any topic until they've been convicted of something regardless of gender or offense," and I was directly accused of being a rape apologist because of the context. The only reason I'm even sharing this opinion is because I'm on a throwaway, but my identity is fairly deducible if you follow my history. Another commenter was right: there is really no talking about this. It really chills me on the industry, to be entirely honest, and I've had exiting the industry on my mind since the PyCon incident involving dongles.
Rape is, at present, more of a problem to our society than false rape accusations.
Perhaps that will change in the future. I hope it does.
Rape is, at present, more of a problem to our society than
false rape accusations.
It's a very difficult topic to study.
Which still wouldn't be worth worrying about, especially compared to all the actual rape that is happening, except there's a lot of pressure from certain groups to shun any man who's accused of rape regardless of the merits of the accusation. There's a very vocal school of thought that says if you employ or are friends with one of those men you're a rape apologist.
Though in this case it does sound very much like she was raped and can prove it.
So, knowing that and knowing how difficult of a topic false accusations are to study and how little we know about the bad side of human beings, I would hope that anybody who is reasonable would read "rape is a bigger deal than false accusations of rape" and say whoa, nelly, partner, do you know something that the rest of us don't or are you acting on your gut feeling? Or are rape victims just the team you happen to root for in the "victims I need to give a shit about" World Series?
The fact that you don't think it's bold reinforces my entire point about concluding things too soon. And I'm intentionally discussing this on a deliberate action that demonstrates that false accusations are easier than ever, given the Internet's (a) reach, (b) accessibility, and (c) slow erosion of doubt in most folks, who make up their minds rather readily on the first thing they see.
Rape is endemic in our society.
If you are comparing them 1:1, we can have a discussion, but I am speaking in aggregate.
Look, it's your prerogative to dismiss victims of false accusation. It's even your prerogative to condescendingly dismiss me from the discussion as you are doing here. It's my prerogative to care about the things you don't, and by dismissing a problem due to frequency, you are no better than the people that dismiss rape in the industry. Can you really not see that?
I already made clear that I do not want to argue about this. I'm simply uninterested in your opinion on false accusation victimhood because based on how dismissive you are of it, you haven't been paying attention and you haven't had it hit close to home. I've been in a similar situation that resulted in my life being threatened at a conference. I know how victims of rape feel, having to sit on HN and keep reminding people that rape really is a problem and shouldn't be dismissed, because here I am debating false accusation victimhood with some random on HN.
In particular, I lamented that I was aware of this incident at all and pivoted into my larger point.
> False accusations create victims.
This is almost certainly not a false accusation since Justine has multiple eyewitnesses, two of whom have confirmed her story on their blogs.
Why are you bringing up the problem of false accusations?
edit: I really am interested in your answer, more so now that you responded but failed to answer. Rereading the post I think you're referring to didn't really help.
Imagine sharing a name with the accused, even! My mom just
got denied an apartment because a woman of a different
race shares her name and has a felony conviction. And
that's a government system, not a social network.
I was like "WTF?" because I don't know the guy who tweeted it and while perusing his followers list I realized what happened. He has a friend who is also named Andrew J de Andrade, but uses a different handle, @ajayyd, which is totally odd because there are probably only a half dozen or so Andrew de Andrade's in the world.
There are some really nasty people out there.
I found two other perspectives on the story:
I'm particularly heartened by Zach's account. The police can prosecute assaults, absolutely, but they can't stop them before they happen. The community can. By setting clearer expectations of behaviour, recognising potentially dangerous situations and taking steps to ameliorate the risk, and by being willing to step in before anything goes off the rails, the community can stop this from happening again.
And, thanks to Justine, maybe they will.
This is just one of those bad things that happens in life that one has to move on from. While I agree in helping others, people need to help themselves. Everything you wrote about the community needs to be done by the individual, too. Also, one must not let their life go entirely off the rails in the face of an adverse event.
You wrote this under a throwaway account, so I think you understand my point before I make it, but I'll say it anyway.
A situation like this doesn't call for debates or intellectual analysis. Winning debate points when the subject is sexual assault doesn't move the topic forward, it just makes you look insensitive and begs a flame war to begin.
I wrote a top-level comment stating this point already on this thread, but it's very important this is understood. It's not your place to judge what another human being's tragedy is. I'm not trying to white-knight you, it's just something that really needs to sink in. You cannot minimize another individual's experiences just because some distant collective suffers more according to a standard of utilitarian rigor.
If you want to help, don't debate the point. This subject is too close to heart for that to do anything but alienate people. Empathize and show support instead. Send Justine a kind email if you find that agreeable.
This is just one of those bad things that happens in life that one has to move on from. While I agree in helping others, people need to help themselves. Everything you wrote about the community needs to be done by the individual, too. Also, one must not let their life go entirely off the rails in the face of an adverse event.
I don't know your personal history, but looking back on the most painful experience in your life, would you say this in regards to yourself? No human exists as an island. What you are saying is tantamount to blaming someone for being inert when they're depressed, instead of treating it is something that is out of their control to begin with.
This is just one side to a situation that I have no first person knowledge of.
Even taking everything she wrote at face value, I think she has made decisions that will make her own recovery more difficult than necessary.
Bad things happen to everyone. Often much worse than this. It is the nature of life, and underscores just how little we all really control. What we do control is how we handle ourselves in the face this adversity.
Language is always important. It is crystallized thought, and bad language creates bad thinking.
I would wholeheartedly agree with you, except that with the way attention is focused on the web and on the news in general I feel like there is no other time this topic is debated except after such personal tragedy. So when is the time for intellectual analysis?
The Italian government has volunteered to hold a state funeral for those who died, and has asked its fellow EU members for support. In response, the European Commission allocated 30 million Euro towards helping refugees.
I hope we can also help those who unjustly suffer in our community, and find our own ways to make things better.
We outnumber the bastards out there. We just need to learn to step up and stop evil when we see it. That's the leson I take from Zach's account.
If we can be just as quick in doing that as others are in posting judgemental comments on board then a lot of horrible experiences will be averted.
How horrible the effect evil has on people is what I learned from Justine's account. The stakes couldn't be higher.
The ultimate result is this: Endless angry comments. Everyone feels rage. All parties mentioned by name (and some unlucky enough to have the same name) wake up to inboxes full of hate mail. Careers are harmed, sometimes permanently.
If you had never read this story, how would the world be different? You would feel slightly happier, and you would have likely spent your time doing something more pleasant. In other words: not different at all outside your own mind.
Unless, of course, you actually did something to help. Even a token gesture would be better than posting an angry comment. Send an email with some nice words in it. Heck, maybe even do something in the real world to help. And instead of jumping on the rage train and telling everyone how angry you are, tell everyone what you did to try to make things better.
1. To be fair, the same is true for almost all online communities.
Edit: It's been an hour since I wrote this comment. So far, nobody has followed my suggestion and said how they've helped this situation. I guess I'll be the first. I sent a short email to Justine. Hopefully her day is a little better because of it.
It's a mess, yes, but change does happen.
There are many people who are very skilled at talking about tough issues like this one who simply need to be given an opportunity to address the community. I for one hope the Ruby community steps up and changes, for the better, because of this one.
As I recall it, by the end of everything, the jokesters had been asked to leave the conference and subsequently lost their jobs, and the community blowback after that resulted in the originally offended person also losing her job because the controversy would have made it basically impossible for her to act as a developer community liason.
There were no winners, but PyCon apparently does now make procedures for handling sexual harassment, etc. much more clear in conference materials.
edit: though clearly my recollection was flawed in some ways - among other things, only 2 lost jobs and I was incorrect about them being asked to leave the conference.
I can in no way speak for anyone's employer, but it's worth noting that only one of the individuals lost their job.
I currently serve as the co-chair for the PyCon Program Committee, and as a director of the Python Software Foundation.
Thanks for what you do for Python.
Rather than worrying about the effects of shaming people publicly, conferences are basically putting up "no glass in pool area" and announcing their triumph at conquering this problem.
Not talking about it allows it to continue unimpeded.
Most people are not angry at the person shining the light on evil, just a tiny and vocal minority.
We have some ideas for new moderation features that we hope will make comment threads more civil. I don't know if they would have helped in this case though.
The one thing that did work here is the flamewar detector. This story dropped off the frontpage extra fast, after which the only people seeing this discussion were people who sought it out.
(Civility isn't even the main problem here - so many of people's comments were superficially civil but callous and misinformed. HN needs empathy, compassion, willingness to listen. It's not impossible to shift culture - Metafilter has improved a lot, but doing that required human effort from its leaders and not just software.)
MetaFilter has several full-time moderators who, because they feel they need to be doing something, are stifling discussion and deleting a lot of threads. Many long-time, valuable members have left the site because of staff decisions.
Meanwhile, a group of noisy, low-value users are mostly allowed to bully others, mock people different than them and even write death threats from time to time.
MetaFilter prides itself on being a place that knows all about Consent™ etc. and maybe that is worth everything else, but it's not a place where people can get together and have a civil discussion.
The best antidote to fight darkness is to bring it out into the light. Thank you, Justine, for your ongoing courage to speak out. I cannot say I understand what you're going through, but I'm sure there are (too many) others out there who do. Surround yourself with friends and supporters who will stand with you.
You are not alone.
I fear that the shock of those comments hides what I consider the more important, problematic vilification going on in the comments, which is the argument made by a few sane people that talking about this, rather than keeping it a private matter, is not appropriate, and that Justine should have stayed silent and only gone to the police. This is perhaps more harmful, as it comes from people who aren't obviously deranged or trolling.
And by doing this they achieve what? Tarnishing Joe's already-tarnished reputation? They could have also pretended to be Joe O'Brien directly. Is there a gain from trying to hint at a potential association?
Even if the name similarities are pure coincidence, it's not entirely unlikely that this commenter is in fact Joe O'Brien or someone close to him. Of course it's pure speculation, and perhaps you're right and it's not productive to make such speculation. I didn't have any ill intent.
It's worth mentioning (since the volume of comments doesn't make it obvious) that it appears to be a single commenter doing the vilifying.
It may appear to be that way, but many people have stated various things. If you haven't been following this on Twitter for the last few weeks, it can look different.
It is certainly not just one person.
She certainly has a right to feel violated, and to publish an accurate description of what happened if she so chooses. I just have a feeling that the guy involved is going to take some form of legal action and that he may indeed have a case for libel - however unfair that may be in the eyes of herself or others. It's just a bad situation all around, which is why bosses should avoid such encounters with their employees at all costs.
If you start touching someone like this, it is not their job to stop you. It is your job to be, beyond a shadow of a doubt, positive that the touch is welcomed. If you are a grabby drunk, don't get drunk.
This is common sense. It is also the law.
I cannot even fathom how he could possibly have a case for libel. We have three accounts, largely the same, as to the facts of the matter. Her account must be a lie (substantially, not in details) for libel to even be a possibility.
Nor can I understand the sentiment that his lost job is somehow recompense for the act. It is just a job, not jail time.
It is so terrible that this happened. To heap these sorts of reactions on top of it all is very deeply disappointing.
If that involves specifically asking, then so be it.
I see you've been downvoted to oblivion, which I hope gives you some idea as to how dangerous what you are saying is and how dimly most people are viewing it.
He penetrated her. It sure as hell IS sexual assault!
which is an accessible little zine looking at consent as a complicated and beautiful process, considerably more complicated than just "no means no" /or/ "yes means yes". It is negotiated on on an unequal playing field within already existing power structures, relies on verbal and nonverbal communication, can shift over the course of an evening or a relationship, etc etc
What I was trying to say is that contrary to your original statement not every penetration is sexual assault, nor are (in general) sexual acts without explicit consent.
Why? Because in Western society, consent is more often than not implicit. People very rarely ask "do you want to have sex with me?" or "May I kiss you?". Instead, they rely on body language, suggestive statements or simply the knowledge that they're in a relationship of which sex is an expected part.
Now it is certainly possible that there are societies where this is different and any sexual act must be preceded by explicitly asking for consent. It is possible you live in such a society. That would be very strange to me - which is not a judgement.
However, it seems to me more likely that you live in the (mostly same) Western society I do and we're merely having different interpretations of how "explicit consent" can be given.
For the record, where I got a little upset with your comment was when you said I must have a strange relationship. As it turns out, I'm a very happily married man with two kids. I actually do ask my wife if she's in the mood. Different couples communicate differently I guess.
Is this typical? I've read a fair amount of stories from rape victims, and yet here we are to understand this woman's life has come completely unhinged and ruined for good by something... I don't know, somewhat less dramatic than a rape. If I hadn't read the story of the event itself, I'd have honestly thought it was about a brutal, violent rape.
I realize I probably sound like a jerk, but as I've never had personal involvement with this sort of thing I have no first-hand experience, and after reading this story I suddenly find myself shocked & confused as I think of the other stories I have read in the past. All I can do is ask for input. Please treat this as an honest question.
I was fairly surprised by this data when I first experienced it, too. It's incredibly fascinating how the human mind works.
As well as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_trauma_syndrome
Again, I hate to put it in terms of comparison. There's no competition here. I'm just trying to adjust my understanding to fit.
> than any recounting from a rape victim I can remember.
I don't know you, but consider that you probably don't know a representative sample of rape and/or sexual assault victims, and therefore, your experiences may not reflect overall reality.
Furthermore, humans are incredibly different. To make an almost non-sequitur comparison, I don't particularly feel tattoos hurt a lot. I know some people who scream and cry after ten minutes. Everyone will react to some kind of trauma in a different fashion.
(Also, by some reasonable definitions this is rape; I think the laws in some juristictions may even see it that way.)
my god. So. much. alcohol.
I am not blaming the events on the alcohol, because I get that the root cause of events like these are far deeper. But it sure does seem like the alcohol serves as something of a counterfactual; if the alcohol hadn't been flowing as freely, none of this might have happened. What on earth is the deal with the culture of these conferences? I'm a programmer, and I have friends, and I go out, and I'm not a prude, but I swear, I haven't gotten buzzed for six months and I rarely have more than one drink in an outing. With this kind of picture painted, I feel like I'd be a complete alien at a Ruby conference, and it feels like a disincentive to get more involved with that community.
It's not just the conferences. I have visited startups that have beer on tap or in the fridge, and some companies even inject alcohol into the interview process.
Mixing work and alcohol is a bad idea. Period. There's just too much that can go wrong. Sadly, in some industries, and at some companies, and in much of society at large, alcohol consumption is so strongly encouraged and expected that many individuals who would like to opt out feel uneasy about whether they can do so without consequence.
She had opportunity to stop things before it progressed to "down the front of the pants."
Do people not understand what's involved in putting a hand down a girl's front? It's actually not that easy to do... it can't be done "casually" in a public bar without both parties allowing it to happen.
Not to mention "forcibly kissing me with his tongue"... How is that even possible unless the other person opens their mouth and lets your tongue in?
If a girl doesn't want your tongue in her mouth at a public bar, guess what? Your tongue is not going in her mouth! That's how kissing works in case any readers here are rusty on the subject! :-)
Go ahead, downvote. But please don't kid yourself that this girl isn't playing the "victim of alcohol-fueled tech industry sleaze" game.
As a result, I think minorities in the work place have a constant running double, triple, quadruple-checking loop for their behavior. Everything they want to say need to be run by a bunch of checks to make sure it meets the "safe for a male-dominated workplace" test.
As a result you're much slower to react to thing. As a majority member it's much easier to just blurt out your first thought, or to act out your first reaction... since you're the norm, it's reasonable to assume that your first instinct will be acceptable to the group.
But as a minority, you learn to second-guess yourself. Therefore even as someone is forcibly kissing you, you are second guessing what your options really are.
Start asking before you touch in situations where you know you don't have to.
I know it's awkward. But the reason people like Joe think they can put their hands down someone's pants is because we don't have a cultural practice of "ask first". They see you put your arms around that friend of yours who doesn't mind at all, and they think "Ah, cool... so you can just sense if she's cool with it and then go for it".
Of course you're not a scumbag, so you'd never put your hands down someone's pants without asking, but that's the thing... scumbags can't tell the difference. They don't see the difference between you rubbing your friend's back because she's having a bad day--your friend who is happy to have a little contact from you--they don't see the difference between that and them taking a body shot off of their employee without asking. In both cases they just see someone making their best guess at what someone else wants, without asking, and going for it. That's the cultural standard, that's your standard, so that's what they hold themselves to.
Basically, right now we try to draw the line between ask/don't ask as close to the ok/not ok line as we possibly can. But in a world where people make mistakes that means there are lots of "accidents". The only way to prevent those accidents is to move the ask/don't ask line further into "ok" territory.
Sexual assault might seem like an issue between individuals, but as long as we see it that way it will continue happening. If we're serious about changing it, it's something we have to collectively take responsibility for.
If hundreds of times a week these people see the rest of us asking our wives, asking our friends, asking everyone "do you want a backrub?" and "can I kiss you?" and "is this ok?" then their expectations change. They'll start to feel weird not asking. And maybe some of these assaults can turn into near-assaults.
Asking first already works well in some sexual subcultures as well as some professional settings: For example, in some armies, a superior will ask a soldier whether they may touch them before fixing something that's wrong about the way they are wearing their uniform. That's a very professional way of dealing with having to touch somebody who is reporting to you. The hard question is how one can engineer this cultural change in society in general. I would love to see that happening in my lifetime
I can wrap my head around someone thinking a quick kiss in an informal setting without explicit permission could be brushed off, but sticking a hand down the pants of even one's significant other in a public context is way beyond any social norm I'm aware of except perhaps at an orgy.
Alcohol makes one stupid, not cool. I have no idea why it is held in such high esteem in the US tech industry.
An drug-induced culture like that is just hurtful/unhealthy. Regardless of the drug they put into their bodies, I have an internal policy never to mix with druggies.
I am really shocked, that it seems so normal to drink that much booze. Hey, I really like a glas of wine here or there, a glas of good scotch once in a while. But I am not 15 (coming from Germany) anymore. I do not have to be dumb playing cool drinking booze.
So I really hope for the OP, as I really hope for the american tech-conference culture. For the first: I wish her the utmost and very best. For the second: Grow up!
Caffeine culture suffers no such problems.
But I really feeld the withdrawl symptoms in the afternoon at work, if I do not at least drink two cups of coffee till 2pm.
That is why I try to reduce my caffein-intake gradually.
Pigs are going to be pigs. They don't get to say "but I was drunk" Real men don't have it in them to treat others they way pigs do - alcohol or no.
I just don't blame the substance. Blame the man who thinks of his immediate satisfaction without regard to the cost he inflicts on others.
You'd be surprised.
Of course, "real men" who know they turn into pigs when drinking choose not to drink.
Result: people not knowing their limits.
Public drinking is allowed in Germany, however, funny as it seems it's not a barbaric (ahem) hellhole. Nor you see a lot of people "losing it"
Oh yes you will.
Curiously enough, I've heard some stories about Oktoberfest. Needless to say it's way more popular with tourists than with locals. And the mess (including train stations, hostel vicinities, etc), well, doesn't need explaining.
As men we are expected that if a situation is going somewhere we don't like, to assert that we don't like it. Why isn't the same true for women? "I draw the line at the shot being done by my direct superior, it would be unprofessional." or "Don't touch me anymore please." It isn't even like this was tried, she supposedly assumed that was impossible.
Then laments afterwards for months? I mean... it's asking for babysitting. Everyone else is to change their behaviour so that there isn't the possibility of mentally scarring someone who doesn't assert themselves.
Then for people to claim that police or authority figures don't take sexual assault seriously when every time one of these stories comes up it always ends in the guy being dealt with swiftly and without mercy. Always. In this case he lost his job and apparently that's not even enough. I can only assume the author wants him on a sex offenders registry.
I was a deer in headlights staring into the eyes of the two
male bartenders hoping someone would help me.
I think this is based on incorrect understanding of the real cause of the problem. The problem was not the lack of knowledge about the fact that she was not consenting - it was clearly apparent to everybody else, she did not need to verbalize it. The problem was that he was not able to perceive her obvious signals or did not care about them or was not able to control himself. Therefore we need men who have empathy, respect for other people and self-control. Men like that do not need to ruin intimate moments asking weird questions. Men who are not like that ignore even clear no, verbal or nonverbal. That's the problem - the lack of empathy, respect, self-control. Not getting hammered might be important part of solving that. The rest is more complicated - how can society support personal growth and maturity?
But it also needs to be said, that a technical conference isn't the right place for heavy drinking or "body shots". It's just unprofessional.
I think what we need to change is not only attitudes towards sexual harassment, but also towards professional behavior at conferences. Which means drawing the line much earlier. Nobody should ever feel they need to do heavy drinking or "body shots" in order to be "accepted" into the community or "bond" better. That includes both sexes, I know men who do not like to drink, but do so in order to "bond" with the community.
Disclaimer: I am not explaining or justyfing anyone's behavior here. What was described in the original article was unacceptable by any means. So please don't go off with a knee-jerk reaction to this post, but think about what I really mean.
(1) Expression on her face as she looked at two male bartenders waiting for them to help.
(2) Not reciprocating in the kiss
(3) Mentioning that Joe has a wife and children to which he replied “Don’t’ worry about it we have an agreement”.
The first one would have been completely missed by Joe because he was caressing her back and kissing her forehead. So that one doesn't count as obvious. The second is difficult to say whether it was obvious or not without being party to the kiss. Only Joe and Justine can fairly assess the obviousness of that non-verbal clue. Drunk people tend to kiss pretty poorly, even consenting adults, so I'd say that's a pretty shitty clue as well. Lastly, the third clue is ambiguous because it is not about what she wants or does not want but what he should or should not be doing. With that statement, she in a way put responsibility to continue or not in Joe's hands. If he does in fact have an open relationship with his wife where they can seek out other sexual partners, then to Joe its entirely possible that her sentence could have been misinterpreted as "I'd like to, but you have something good in your life and I don't want you to make a mistake". That sentence was not about her decision but about his.
That all being said, I was definitely inappropriate for Joe to do what he did because of their professional relationship, with him as her superior and her as his subordinate. For that reason, I definitely agree that its a firing-worthy HR violation. However, she is as responsible for unprofessional behavior. In what US country would the following ever be acceptable common workplace conduct:
began to start rubbing my back and kissing my forehead (let
me say this is not uncommon behavior between me and men I
consider close friends. I have a close relationship with a
lot of my former EdgeCase coworkers)
The trouble is that there will always be a wide range in people (it doesn't have to be men) in terms of empathy, respect, and self-control. Even if you succeed in totally changing the culture around empathy, there will still be individuals who are empathetically challenged, just based on physiology.
What I'm suggesting is that we need an "ask first" culture in order to create a buffer. I'm basically advocating a redundancy solution.
Talk about a mood-killer. Please try to imagine it. If your proposal gets traction I will probably never have sex again. It's a good thing I do not live in the US - I am afraid they will need signed contracts for that. I am sorry but I really think we are solving the wrong problem here - this is not going to save the victims but it might ruin something very precious. Am I being over-sensitive?
Please do not pretend that I am saying something terrible that I never said. It is obvious from what I said in this thread that I am all for 'getting consent' - I just do not think that problem of lack of respect for women can be solved by mandating verbal consent instead of non-verbal. I think your latest response is intellectually dishonest because it takes my "because you feel like it" quote out of context in such a way which implies that I would be OK with no consent at all... that is something I would never say.
Based on her account alone, I can say this:
1. She's very emotionally unstable and needs to seek professional help, for her own sake as well as everyone else's
2. She believes she was sexually assaulted, and consequently needs to report this to the police
3. Making a blog post about it was a big mistake if she has any hopes of the legal system punishing the man that sexually assaulted her
Finally, we live in a society where the man is supposed to "take initiative" and be "assertive and confident". You may say that it sucks, and I won't argue against you, but that's just the way it is. So men will do try to do things that women will not always appreciate. Consequently women _need_ to learn how to say "NO". This is really fucking important, for their own sake.
I imagine things would've played out a lot differently if Justine had taken responsibility for herself -- that she was in a bad situation with a man, but a situation that she, being a grown woman, could get out of by loudly saying "NO". Instead she asked the guy about his wife and kids. Instead she stood there passively until a knight in shining armor saved her -- too late.
Women are not children. They need to learn, or be taught, to stand up for themselves. There won't always be someone there to defend them. Dealing with this fact is part of growing up.
... as well as corroboration by two other witnesses.
I don't agree with the comment, but they're both there.
What's the harm? I like whiskey. It's tasty, and makes me more sociable.
Now I get it. I'm not saying that's the main takeaway from this article, but a norm dictating that industry conferences should have an average BAC higher than half of my college parties is never going to help the situation.
Open-Minded Alternative-Understanding Scenario time:
You're a male with your male gay friends at a gay bar. They're taller than you as they are gays of the muscle bear variety. You're the only one who's straight but you want to show them you're one of the gang too. You agree to a body shot or a pole dance to show them "hey look I'm not homophobic, I can roll with you guys I can go along with the joke, I'm comfortable around you". One of the muscle bears (beefy, dominant, taller and stronger than you) starts kissing you, sticks his hands down your pants, grabs & squeezes your testicles and fingers your ass. How would you react?
Did you make a bad decision?
Were you asking for anything?
Was it your fault or the muscle bears fault?
Who went too far?
What were your and others' expectations of the situation?
This scenario is specifically designed to help people understand that while Justine did agree to a body-shot, nothing warranted taking things further. The "look but don't touch" rule applies at all times. Then again body shots are impossible to do without someone sucking juice out of your belly button with their mouth. I'm trying to see this from both parties' points of view. On Joe's end, I think a lot of men are trained by society, dating advice, hormones, movies, films, and even other girlfriends, that a man's purpose is to take what he wants, make the first move, initiate dominance and not ask for permission.
From Justine's point of view.... I understand what you were going for. Trying to earn their admiration... I feel bad for you. A body shot, pole dance, strip tease, doesn't warrant kissing, groping, or fingering, period. But honestly, body shots with co-workers is a bit.........unprofessional. Don't ever put yourself in a submissive position emotionally or physically around drunk men to try to prove yourself to them. Men do not respect submission. How is letting them do body shots off you make you one of them? Do they do body shots off each other?
As a straight person, I can't imagine allowing a drunk 'muscle bear gay' to do a body shot (I had to look 'body shot' up- I'm not American) on me just to show a gay crowd that I can "roll with you guys"(!!). Licking salt off someone's body seems (to me) to have sexual overtones, but this maybe different in US culture. Honest question: Do straight men/women take body shots off one another? (which should happen if this were a non sexual thing).
Seems like a very overstretched scenario, but I'm not sure if this is ok in some cultures (again, not an American, though I've lived in the USA, and so could be missing cultural nuance).
I have no comment on the original event, and I appreciate your attempt to create a scenario straight men would understand. Just saying(fwiw) that your analogy seems to be fairly unrealistic, and may end up conveying (to straight men) that this is a fairly unrealistic scenario in the first place, which would be precisely the opposite of what you intended.
Has any straight person here actually done things like this? (again, just curiosity, not arguing about the rightness of various parties' actions in the reported event).
That said, I totally agree with your (well made) "don't make sexual moves unless you have confirmation that they would be well received" point.
Personally, I wouldn't want to have a sexual relationship with anyone who works with or for me. Yes, I know it is a little bit extreme, but (imo) not worth the hassle if/when things go wrong.
Now that being said, a tech conference with your co-workers is different. That's a professional setting and sexual conduct between superiors and subordinates is unacceptable. However, it seems like there may have been prior signaling by the author that some touching was not only acceptable, but accepted, making it harder to place as harsh a judgement on what happened.
began to start rubbing my back and kissing my forehead (let
me say this is not uncommon behavior between me and men I
consider close friends. I have a close relationship with a
lot of my former EdgeCase coworkers)
"At some point, it was suggested that I do a body shot. I’ve never done one in my life but at the insistence of many people, attendees and bartenders I decided to lay on the bar."
this is an invitation to sexual behavior. "A body shot is a shot of alcohol (such as tequila) that is consumed from a person's body, usually from erogenous zones such as the navel or the breasts."
How possibly did she not fathom that this could result in her being approached with a sexual tone? She even voluntarily lifted her shirt ("Someone who was up for anything." [...] "and lifted my shirt as far as I was comfortable") Could it have been the alcohol which intoxicated her body and disabled her anxiety? Made her forget that she was with other men also under influence of the effects of alcohol and she was one of the few if not only woman offering her body to be licked?
In which off all the possible outcomes did she expect that she would have get the drink removed from her body and be done with it? Have you guys even thought about this?
It is really sad how everything evolved and what kind of person she became due to these actions but please look at the circumstances and how it was her who initiated everything.
Consent to a body shot is not consent to sex afterward.
Get a grip man.
that's some fox news level intellectual dishonesty
I would not want to be a young, attractive female working in this environment.
This is about a small number of pigs that care more about their desire than any thought of consent or mutual interest. Real men, the vast majority, would never consider inflicting this sort of evil on another. Drunk or not. It's not about sex, it's about power and abuse.
Calling this "sexual assault" is just crazy. There was no force, she never told him to stop. This would be thrown out in court without question in any half-way sane country.
The situation described falls within the definition of sexual assault in the United States, at least. I am not a lawyer. Decide for yourself: http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/2907.03
As nice as that sounds, there isn't a shred of truth to it in the real world. Pre-emptively asking a female before making a move will get you shut down every time. You're supposed to read the situation, pick up on signals, and often be a little bit psychic. Show me a female who wants you to explicitly ask permission before every action and I'll show you a liar.
That's not a reason to not do do so.
A process which has no relation whatsoever to that of borrowing a vehicle, I might add.
If you want to go reductio ad absurdum on me, you can twist what I said to imply that I'm suggesting it's fine to go around raping people first and asking questions later, but I trust that a rational reader won't have issues understanding what my actual message was (even if they disagree with it (wrongly)).
I agree, this can hardly be marked as assault. From her account, she barely made an effort to let him know that his advances were unwelcome.
If she doesn't have the ability to stop him and walk away from the situation, which she was perfectly capable of, then maybe she shouldn't be out in the adult world.
I understand that Justine doesn't want to enter in details. But without all informations, it does seem to me that Joe could have just misunderstood Justine behavior.
"- Joe began to start rubbing my back and kissing my forehead (let me say this is not uncommon behavior between me and men I consider close friends."
=> Joe certainly believed that it was unique between Her and Him. He doesn't have the same pov as Justine
"- Joe then put his hands down the back of my pants, yes, I wear a thong and thus he began grabbing my ass."
=> Shouldn't she stop him there ?
"- Joe then started kissing me, forcibly with his tongue. I was not reciprocating."
=> Joe is drunk. He certainly does not remark that.
"- Joe began to put his hand down the front of my pants and finger me."
=> He certainly have gone to far there. But why does he wasn't stopped before and during that operation (not easy) !
"- I told Joe to stop and reminded him he had a wife and children. He said, “Don’t’ worry about it we have an agreement”"
=> That unfortunate, in one side (Justine), it seems to be the smartest thing to say to calm him down, in the other side (Joe), it seems like a girl who know it is wrong but wanted it if he is certain would said.
As for what we have here, it doesn't seem to me that Joe is specially an asshole (but maybe I'm wrong.), but more that this could be the results of peers pressure and mis-communication.
[Again, I don't want to judge here, just to give another pov]
It's however clear that Joe should have think about how his work relation [the fact that he is her boss...] influence that relation.
Maybe this is what the victims of assault don't tell the police. They fear that the case will be drop because of lack of details...
"- Finally Matt Darby approached me and asked if I want to go out for a smoke (I smoke, he does’t smoke, and I knew that he was trying to help) I agreed."
That's a smart move. Bravo Matt.
In another subject, I'm surprised (and sad ?) that HN doesn't give any tips, tools for all the possible victims.
Which more information would you need? There are two other people that corroborate her story, and Joe says he's not saying anything.
And again, I don't say that her story is false. Just that it could have been viewed in an another way from Joe pov.
People seem eager to judge other people. Especially on the internet...
Even in this thread, there seems to be a lot of empathy for the alleged attacker -- whose story we haven't heard -- and far too little for the victim. We know what she says happened, we know it's been corroborated by two witnesses, and we know the resulting trauma it's caused her, so why are so many people feeling sorry him and not her?
I am more in the mitigating circumstances than in a total defense.
"The only defense so far is a bunch of rather ridiculous hearsay by a bunch of internet people who weren't there."
That the whole goal of this post. How can you judge without a defense ?
As a fellow fan of 'good clean fun' but as someone who can also tolerate a pint, I totally see your point and think good clean fun is more appropriate for professionally-aligned events.
The thing is, there are levels of drinking. There's having a few beers in a group to get the laughs rolling (which is still reasonably clean fun and many non-drinkers are OK in this environment).. and then there's the raunchy American style "party" drinking (i.e. doing lots of shots, beer pong, getting drunk as fast as possible). Non-drinkers will not fit into that sort of environment at all.
The drinking in the story here sounds more like the latter and IMHO is rarely appropriate, especially at a professionally-aligned event.
(point being: blame the perpetrator, not the substance)
My answer to him is that alcohol often helps folks loosen up. It's great, and fun, but only when you take it in reasonable moderation.
Most startups are founded by 2-3 men who are usually close friends both professionally and personally. This means that they probably have a history of working together, coding together, eating together and drinking together. Since professionalism in our career is based largely on what you consistently deliver and this is directly and unambiguously observable, indirect proxies for professionalism like dressing in a suit and tie or abstaining from alcohol are not paid lip service. It's this very uncommon, but perfectly rational definition of professionalism that makes our career more accessible to people based on their skills and less dependent on their social class, social skills and social network. Yes, those three things matter, but they matter a lot less in tech than in other industries.
With that in mind, we don't automatically put drinking alcohol while producing our work product in the list of things that are taboo and unprofessional. These norms stick with a company as they add on new employees, including eventually women in the case of startups founded by men.
If you've never been on the founding side of the equation, then its easy to be dismissive of these norms within a company when you join as a latecomer. From the perspective of the founders, there is an element of a faustian bargain in growing your company. On one hand you are succeeding, but on the other hand you end up having to forfeit people for processes and forfeit much of your company culture for a small subset of your cultural norms. It starts feeling less like a family and more like a bunch of people who cooperate for their financial well being. It's perfectly natural for those in tech companies early on to lament the loss of many aspects of fun as a company matures.
Just as the founders doing the recruiting need to be sensitive to the needs and expectations of new recruits, people joining later need to be sensitive to the fact that the founders and early employees are giving up things they hold dear to them to accommodate the needs of later hires.
Why would anyone still believe that in our modern society? Because like the vilification of gay people ('gay' and 'faggot' are still a word used by virtually everyone to put things down as 'unmanly' or generally 'shameworthy') it has has entered the undertow of culture, where it is less apparent, but just as strong.
When someone is raped, we say we understand that her life is shattered, that she will never recover. It's part of a general acceptance that certain events mean someone's life is 'over' (death of a child, significant other) and that they may never recover. This acceptance implies expectation. Stronger women are questioned, seemingly admiringly, but actually judgingly: 'How can you just continue living after this?' with a hidden 'you are supposed to have broken!'.
It's easy to say that being raped should be like breaking a leg: an unfortunate event that can happen during a lifetime in human society with all its strange and from which you can recover after some pain and trouble. The difference is of course that one was inflicted on purpose by someone in your social group, while the other is usually self-inflicted or at least accidental. That this makes a difference is actually part of the same problem: that if you've been bested by another in your social group, you lose status and value. This also has ancient origins and as a result has deep roots in our minds. A chimpanzee with a broken leg doesn't lose status if humans take care of its leg. It only loses status if it loses a fight.
What is the way out of this? Make a conscious effort not to believe these things anymore. Raise your children not to believe these things. Don't participate in them and scold everyone that does them. Teach them it doesn't matter if someone has asserted dominance over them and that their lives are no less valuable as a result of it.
Justine, please seek professional help. Find a therapist that will work on changing the beliefs that have caused you to experience this event so strongly and caused it to have such an influence. There are lots of women on whom a similar experience had a weaker effect. This is not because you are weaker: it is because of what you were taught during your life, because of your beliefs. It is hard to change beliefs. There are many emotions connected to them, which makes you recoil from touching them. A professional therapists will enable this process, after which I hope you will look back and think "why on earth did I believe those things so strongly that a single event could have such a strong influence on my life?!"
I've been assaulted by peers. I've had drugs slipped into my drink. One time, someone put a gun to my head and robbed me.
After these experiences, I had nightmares, phobias, and insecurities. But surprisingly quickly, I recovered. Without social expectations of permanent trauma, the mind seems to be quite resilient. Thank you for making this point so much more eloquently than I could have.
Being victimized by others is not a choice. Abiding in a victim identity is a choice.
That's why so many rape survivors choose that word - because it is more powerful than victim. Perhaps there are even more powerful names - thriver, for example.
Let me tell you that what Justine is feeling is absolutely not some social construct built exclusively on archaic misogyny. I have known more than one gay man who was raped and felt exactly the same way.
You might consider that at least some of the women who appear to deal better with being assaulted are actually just putting on a brave front to avoid being pitied and condescended to.
The terrifying thing about this is that in the area of sexuality the difference between an exciting, enjoyable experience and a terrifying, traumatizing one can be entirely in the mind of one party and not necessarity noticeable to the other party while it's happening. Especially if both are drunk.
And most women fully expect men to be bold and take the initiative while they themselves give vague signals that are easy to misinterpret. And all of this is pretty much expected to happen while everyone involved is drunk because that removes inhibitions and that's what everyone wants.
A recipe for disasters like this, really.
I think a large part of the problem is the social acceptance of alcohol and being drunk. Objectively speaking, getting drunk is similar to getting wasted on other (illegal) drugs. Alcohol is a drug which due to an accident of history is legal. The negative consequences of alcohol consumption are ubiquitous. More people die from alcohol than from all illicit drugs combined. If it is wrong to take drugs, it is wrong to drink alcohol, especially to the point of debilitation.
Being drunk should not be an extenuating circumstance for bad behavior, it should be an aggravating circumstance. When people choose to drink something which makes them less able to behave in a socially acceptable way, they should be prepared to accept the consequences.
Bringing up that men can also be raped and will feel 'the exact same way' is a good point, but I believe a red herring. A central point of my argument is that all people do not feel 'the same way'. It's exactly the fact that some people feel differently that makes clear that the consequences for Justine's life could have been far less if she had had different beliefs. And I bring this up because I believe it can reduce the consequences for future Justines and perhaps is useful to future Justine.
Some children who are abused recover quickly. Others are messed up for many many years.
We agree so far.
But so what? Are you suggesting that she is wrong to feel so distraught? Or that society is doing something to encourage her to feel this distraught?
Because from I read I see a lot of society blaming her for what happened and telling her to get over it.
Because from I read I see a lot of society blaming her for what happened and telling her to get over it.
I agree. I can't believe some of the comments. The top rated post at the moment is from someone who feels sympathy with the abuser and who believes it was the fault of the victim. Who then edited his comment to say that her DUI charges were unforgivable, as if this somehow caused her to be assaulted.
Other commentators are basically saying similar things - she fell apart, what's with that, why can't she jut get over it? Another comment says that the language she used about her assault is ambiguous and can't have been all that bad. Yet others are implying or stating baldly that she did consent to being groped in public by her boss! Frankly, it sickens me to read the comments these fools are making.
I avoided that part of the post, but a DUI is something you bring on yourself and not something I can easily forgive. People driving drunk kill people. You don't get to say, "Yes I could have murdered people but don't you see I was distraught". "Oh, ok, it's fine then"
You guys have to deal with it that she voluntarily lied down on a bar, induced by alcohol with other men around her and OFFERED her body to be licked. In which universe did she saw an expected outcome of not being approached with a sexual tone? They were drinking the entire night and all those geeky guys normally filled with anxiety completely loose up with one of the other sex they have been around with for quite some time and then all of a sudden this woman lies down on a bar, peels her shirt up and pours a drink on her body whilst having a boy friend?
She must have at least expected something, no? She was not raped or "sexually assaulted", she had intimate contact which she knowingly was building up to the entire night and she could have very well contracted her back muscles and got off that bar when she saw her boss approaching. In fact, why did she even get on that bar when she was fully aware of the context? A body shot, really?
No. A body shot is not an invitation for anything. A body shot taken from a girl with a boyfriend is not an invitation for anything. A body shot taken from a girl with a boyfriend, while hanging out in a bar with 'geeky guys' that just 'loosened up' is not an invitation for anything. If you think it is, you have a problem.
To answer your question again: no. Just no. No, no, no, NOOOOOOO!
I was talking about societal expectations earlier. I don't know what subculture you belong to, but it seems one that goes against the grain on this. And we have the law on our side.
As someone's boss, you don't french-kiss someone then-and-there, on the bar, in front of colleagues and peers. That's not just taking chances, that's a display of dominance over both her and the colleagues and peers. It's true ape-like behavior and most people aren't prepared for that anymore, in any context. No matter how drunk they were, most present would still have gone: "WTF is happening here?" when that happened in front of them.
Now bypassing that, accepting that this has happened, then the following is still baffling. She isn't reciprocating. You cannot not notice that and you should back down at that point.
Bypassing that, accepting that he didn't notice or severely misjudged, then you still don't engage in sexual behavior right then-and-there, in the open. There are only few persons in few circumstances that enjoy such public displays of sexual behavior. Most people wouldn't ever, in any state of mind, with any girl, perform this behavior. They wouldn't do it if the girl was naked and asking for it. Let alone if she was clothed and her feelings towards such behavior were entirely unknown.
> she could have easily denied him the opportunity
In your abstraction of what happened and an abstraction of human beings, she could have. In the actual situation, with actual people and all their idiosynchrasies and their history together: no, she couldn't. She didn't. And in the end that still boils down to this: the fact that she didn't resist does not mean she is guilty and he is innocent. He behaved like an asshole, whether she resisted or not. He shouldn't have behaved like that, whether she resisted or not. Most people would never in their right or drunken minds behave like that or wish others to behave like that. He was wrong.
> she could have easily denied him the opportunity when things started getting too close.
That's garbage. She said she froze up "like a deer in the headlights". She sounded terrified, so no - it wasn't easy at all.
He was in a position of power over her which most firms with an HR department are very specific about.
Two words: Rape Culture. Rape culture exists when we continue to question the motives of the victim. The fact that many of you continue to excuse his behavior and question hers, leads me to believe that we're going to see way too many cases of this in our lifetimes. It's no fucking wonder these things continue to happen. The sexual assault apologists in this thread is really disheartening and frankly, appalling.
That's so very, very wrong. Anyone who argues this in court has a bad lawyer, or isn't listening to their good lawyer. Sexual assault can occur even if you don't know you are doing it. It is your responsibility, as the initiator, to know whether consent has been given or not!
Groping someone in a drunken stupor is very likely to get you into a LOT of trouble. The sooner this misconception is cleared up, the better. Both for those poor unfortunates that encounter the one with the misconception, and for the person with the misconception themselves, otherwise they might find themselves in jail!
Please don't tell me that her not ever able to obtain a job is Joe's fault. Look at what she writes and smears on the Internet for the public view. Unless she goes to work at some feminist induced Ruby startup where this is accepted and even stimulated, this trail of shit smearing will haunt the search engine index pages for years.
You just don't get it, do you? If you don't ask for explicit consent, and rely on mixed signals to evaluate consent, if you get I wrong then you are still responsible. That's the personal responsibilty of the one initiating the unwanted sexual advances.
I don't care if she stripped down naked and paraded up and down the bar. This doe s not give any man the right to engage in unwanted sexual activity. Full stop. A court of law would find the same, and in fact there are quite a few surprised men who have found this out, to their cost.
Now. I can't speak to that. As a white male I've never been in a situation like that in my life. And I'd bet a lot of money that you haven't, either. So you know what? We should probably both avoid talking as if we know what it feels like.
You mention "why" a lot in some of your posts. "Why did she not get off that bar?", "Why did she even get on that bar?". Let us be clear about one thing. Justine suffered a sexual assault. Asking victim-centric questions about the assault is blaming the victim. What followed the encounter from her HR department is disgraceful and unnerving, but not surprising considering your attitude toward the whole thing...
Yes. It really is very simple: when you're with someone who has been drinking, or who you are the boss of, or both, you need to get explicit consent for sexual activity.
"Are you okay with this?"
> Shouldn't the victim have responsibilities? Know what is at stake?
"She was wearing a short skirt" wasn't particularly acceptable in the 1980s and, as can be seen from this thread, is not acceptable today.
Why is it so hard to understand that people initiating sexual contact need to be the ones to take responsibility? Especially if they're in a position of power over the other person?
This wasn't just "any contact". Did you read where he jammed his tongue down her throat? Did you read where he groped her ass? Did you read the part about penetrating her with his finger?
Quit trying to frame this as just "any contact" because it wasn't.
The bullet points seem to cover several minutes at least, if not a good half hour or longer. At all times she could have said "please stop now". Did she? Perhaps she did. We don't know, though. At one point she expressed surprise that her boss would do this even though he was married. Was that "please stop, you're married!" Or was it "aren't you married?"
Could be either, from this report... So the ambiguity is enough to give space to all these pointlessly angry debates.
Edit: the following links remove some ambiguity, but not a whole lot: http://theotherzach.com/writes/2013/10/9/events http://blog.matt-darby.com/essays/i-am-the-other-developer
Their is a power imbalance in the employee/employer relationship, and it is almost always skewed to the employer. That's why there are unions, and workplace relations laws.
> Did you read where he groped her ass?
> Did you read the part about penetrating her with his finger?
Quit trying to sensationalize the story.
Are you implying that I blamed the victim? What was that again about reading comprehension?
He didn't exaggerate about him forcibly sticking his tongue down her throat. That's what she wrote. You clearly do have a reading comprehension problem!
Fingering may or may not involve penetration. I can't make it any clearer without being explicit.
Or, maybe I have a reading comprehension problem.
Following the shot:
- Joe began to start rubbing my back and kissing my forehead (let me say this is not uncommon behavior between me and men I consider close friends. I have a close relationship with a lot of my former EdgeCase coworkers)
- Joe then put his hands down the back of my pants, yes, I wear a thong and thus he began grabbing my ass.
- Joe then started kissing me, forcibly with his tongue. I was not reciprocating.
- Joe began to put his hand down the front of my pants and finger me. I was a deer in headlights staring into the eyes of the two male bartenders hoping someone would help me.
Did you miss the part where he penetrated her with his finger in front of everybody?
>Joe began to start rubbing my back and kissing my forehead (let me say this is not uncommon behavior between me and men I consider close friends. I have a close relationship with a lot of my former EdgeCase coworkers)
So this is not uncommon. She was OK at this point. She occasionally let men kiss her forehead. Opinions may vary on the sexual implication at this point (as for her it is a social greeting).
>Joe then put his hands down the back of my pants, yes, I wear a thong and thus he began grabbing my ass.
Here she implies that wearing a thong allows for ass grabbing? I am uncertain whether she is okay with it due the usage of the word "thus". Seeing she had a boyfriend at that point, it should be a red flag but I don't know her standards in relationships. Could be a major red flag but could also be playing around.
>Joe then started kissing me, forcibly with his tongue. I was not reciprocating.
Okay red flag all raised. She was getting kissed. Not liking it. He already had her hands on her lower section. Why did she not get off that bar? Why did she even get on that bar? Why was she still on the bar when he groped her ass? How can he possibly know her limit when she DOES allow ass grabbing and forehead kissing but DOES NOT allow full-frontal kissing?
>Joe began to put his hand down the front of my pants and finger me. I was a deer in headlights staring into the eyes of the two male bartenders hoping someone would help me.
She can come up with all sorts of analogies and somehow expects people to help her out. She is not okay with the current situation. Why does she not stand up already?
>I told Joe to stop and reminded him he had a wife and children. He said, “Don’t’ worry about it we have an agreement”
Can't you think about that before you offer your belly button to him? That you have a relationship yourself as well? You can talk but not stand up? Was he actually pushing you down?
I am not sure which part I missed. Or she. Or he. Or all of us. But I can see (read: read) what she did, expected and lived through and how it could have been easily avoided every major and minor step which can only make me say that it was her fault. Note that this has nothing to do with how she handled her experience and what it made of her, but rather how being raped or not and who's fault it is.
If she had some pushed him away and got off the bar, I can pretty much guarantee you we'd be seeing comments just like yours about how she was freaking out over nothing.
You are misreading this. It doesn't mean it makes acceptable ass grabbing. It was there to make the point that my putting his hand down her pants in that manner, he was touching skin. A thong does not offer an extra layer of protection.
Die in a fucking fire, you victim blaming moronic waste of fucking skin. Or at the very least get the fuck out of my fucking industry so you stop giving those of us with a penis and a clue a bad name.
>Just because she consented to the shot part does NOT mean she was offering anything else
"A body shot is a shot of alcohol (such as tequila) that is consumed from a person's body, usually from erogenous zones such as the navel or the breasts." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_play#Alcohol)
"An erogenous zone (from Greek ἔρως eros "love" and English -genous "producing" from Greek -γενής -genes "born") is an area of the human body that has heightened sensitivity, the stimulation of which may result in the production of sexual fantasies, sexual arousal and orgasm." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erogenous_zone)
Please take note of the part involving "sexual fantasies, sexual arousal and orgasm". She peeled her shirt up in a submissive position on a bar with lots of alcohol involved. Which part are you missing?
Before you cry out straw-man, don't. Nowhere on wikipedia does it say body shots guarantee consent to groping and fingering. The fact it occurred on her navel doesn't mean 'yes'.
By all accounts she was at least tipsy, if not outright drunk. Further, Joe was her boss at the time (i.e. position of authority). The responsibility was squarely on his shoulders to be 110% positive that his advances were welcomed. Whether he was unable to do that because he was too drunk, too excited, or didn't care does not matter. He failed in that responsibility and it is nobody's fault but his own.
At any point she could have screamed, said "No" or simply stand up. Being tipsy doesn't paralyze your muscles. You can still speak and resist. If was she actively resisting anyone would have gotten between her and him much earlier and the police report would be in her favor immediately.
It is not until she feels penetrating contact, she begs him to think about his wife. In no instance before that (ass grabbing, facial kissing, tongue-to-tongue contact) she even pointed out possible resistance. How is it not her responsibility to not climb on that bar when her boss is around? To not lift her shirt in front of her boss?
We aren't talking about brushing up against someone at the bar. Her fucking boss took the body shot as an invitation to sexually assault her. What's so fucking difficult to understand about that?
You do it in your post with, "why didn't she remove herself from the situation". Neither one of you question Joe's behavior...just Justine's. If you can't see that as victim blaming, then I'm not sure what else to say.
There is a built-in time limit to prevent rapid replies when threads get deep.
You can either wait a few minutes, or work out how to get the reply box.
Which brings me to my final observation: at any point in time women seem to be able to give, not give but also revoke consent. For the latter: even after actions by both parties have taken place.
If you do not have explicit consent, and you misunderstand the signals given by the woman, no matter what the perceived provocation: it is your responsibility as to what happens. Your failure to understand you've stepped over the line into the realms of sexual assault has nothing to do with the woman.
If a man gets it wrong, he cannot say that it is the fault of the woman. The woman may have given out some mixed signals, but it was the man who initiated the contact, and it was the man's responsibility and duty to ensure that the woman was ok with what is happening.
> I cannot explain to men how hard it is being a woman trying to play it cool in an industry of men. I want everyone to think I’m cool and relaxed so I try and just play by their rules. Regardless I got on the bar and lifted my shirt as far as I was comfortable.
You cite Wikipedia like it was a boolean logic kind of situation where just taking part means an invitation to anything a drunk brain can come up with.
Being drunk is not an excuse.
a dude who likes women
>I want everyone to think I’m cool and relaxed so I try and just play by their rules.
followed by "Regardless" says a lot about her sense of responsibility and ability to see what exactly she was doing, implying and portraying by lying down on that bar. Or was it the alcohol? Because certainly nobody lifted her on that bar, right? Nobody pushed her down when her boss groped her? Nobody held her mouth open when her boss sticked his tongue in? Nobody told her "your boss has all right to touch you, Justine. Stay flat, your boyfriend will never know"?
Lying down on bar - doing body shot != permission to sexually assault.
So you believe that if you do a body shot of off someone, you then have permission to sexually assault them? Wow..
I see this in movies all the time. Now you guys are telling me its sexual assault.
A couple is different than a married CEO and his employees. I don't feel you're arguing in good faith, so I'll leave it at that.
You couldn't possibly be using Wikipedia as a justification for sexual assault, could you?
I'm in no way defending him or his actions, but it's understandable how an intoxicated guy (therefore less able to read subtle body language signals) could think an act of foreplay like licking alcohol from her body was a way of consenting to further sexual advances.
But when you kiss someone, and they fail to reciprocate, and certainly when someone tells you to stop, you've clearly crossed a line. In my mind, there's absolutely no room for grey area in this from the point she said "stop".
> But when you kiss someone, and they fail to reciprocate...
It's likely that he didn't notice her not reciprocating the kiss. He might also have though she was just a bit shy or simply a bad kisser.
> In my mind, there's absolutely no room for grey area in this from the point she said "stop".
Agreed, no doubt about it. However, this is what she wrote:
"I told Joe to stop and reminded him he had a wife and children. He said, “Don’t’ worry about it we have an agreement”"
There's a massive difference between "Stop, I don't want this" and "Stop, we shouldn't do this because you have a wife and kids". It seems to me like Joe though she meant it the second way.
This whole story seems like a tragic case of serious miscommunication between two intoxicated people, not a vile act of evil.
Ignoring that she was clearly uncomfortable with everything about the situation, even if she were merely uncomfortable with making out with a married man this would be more than enough reason for her to say stop and expect him to not continue.
The fundamental problem with this kind of equivocation, though, is that in a scary as fuck situation people do what they can to get out and sometimes they can't figure out the right thing to do in the split second between someone kissing them and shoving their finger in their genitals.
The problem with not getting explicit consent is that the other party may not be comfortable with your advances. If you misinterpret the signals, well, I'm sorry - that's your issue, not the other parties. If you mix up the signals as you haven't communicated sufficiently with the other party, then I'm afraid you are still responsible for your actions.
Personally, I've never been bold enough to be so forthright to a woman. Now I'm married, I'm glad I never was! This sort of situation seems to me to be an absolute minefield and you are highly at risk of getting it wrong!
I honestly feel no sympathy for this Joe fellow. He should never have placed himself in this situation, and he should never have attempted the things he did until he had the chance to properly know whether he got consent or not. You are NOT going to find that out clearly at a rowdy bar surrounded by colleagues and party-goers.
Yeah. That's sick.
This part a lot of people can agree with, myself included. The rest, not so much. I understand and I share the sense that pearjuice's opinion is aggravating, but this reaction is not acceptable and, worse, it sabotages your (valid) point.
By the way, if you really want to hate someone, go search the comments of the article for "Peter Habicht".
I had two points there - the first was that pearjuice was plain wrong. The second was that pearjuice's attitude does not belong in civilised society and that anybody holding such an attitude should be defenestrated with extreme prejudice.
I respect your opinion that my chosen means of attempting to make the second point were suboptimal, but I am happy to stand by my words with the possible exception of 'moronic', which might have been better replaced by 'abhorrent'.
I am civilised. I think that your attitude (suggesting that someone whose opinion differs from yours should be killed by throwing them out of a window) is far less suitable to civilised society than pearjuice's, who is arguing a contentious and sensitive point, and may be wrong, but is at least willing to do so without calling people names or threatening to harm them physically.
Your behaviour, however, is completely unacceptable. What's your excuse for it? Do you also beat up things and people around you physically when you get upset, or does your violence remain verbal only?
Additionally, "they hadn't said no" is not a justification for putting your hand inside somebody's trousers.
Trying to paint an obvious failure of basic consent as ambiguous is, to my mind, at the very least "maybe she was asking for it", which I find no less unpleasant.
As such, I think perhaps our definitions of "civilised" differ.
I agree with you completely on that point. People like pearjuice do not belong in our civilised society. Seeing pearjuice victim blame is disgusting, and he should be taught a lesson in humility and empathy.
I suggest we make him sew a yellow pear on his clothes, and send him to a empathy training camp.
> However, the response of Justine matches ancient societal expectations: if a woman has been violated, she loses all value.
"The response of Justine matches" (be more pretentious) the response of someone who has experienced extreme violation of trust by a close friend who was also an authority figure. If you like, invent a hypothetical scenario that involves public humiliation and violation of trust and all the rest and no sexuality whatsoever and a person might be equally traumatized.
It's interesting that you recommended she see a therapist. As with all the well intentioned advice she's getting as a result of posting this, it's certainly a possibility that has occurred to her and has been recommended by those close to her.
Eventually one exclusive view gets upvoted to the top, and the thread is forgotten and life goes on, then another thread happens and maybe the same view dominates or maybe a different one does. How unenlightening. It's why I never take a position in these threads except maybe to offer pretentious meta-analysis, like I'm doing right now.
First, you're having an intellectually legitimate debate that's probably revealing some good counter points and offering valid, alternative perspectives on the broader issue.
Second, you're continuing a cold argument devoid of any (productive) empathy in lieu of passionate, scientific rigor.
This is not what this post needs. Let it go, guys. Neither of you is going to convince anyone meaningfully. The issue is polarizing enough as it is. This is a situation that calls for empathy and support, and the interchange of ideas that won't put other people off of listening to each other in an open way.
I don't mean to be self-righteous, but this is a community somewhat known for entering into page-length tangential debates -- that would be detrimental to the subject at hand.
... and HN is the place for that to happen! ;)
edit: I don't care about cynicalkane's comment enough to puzzle out what he means. No offense to cynicalkane intended. :)
You don't wonder why such an event would have one effect on one person, another effect on another person and whether perhaps things could be changed so Justine suffers less? I suggest that this strongly depends on what the person believes and that this can be changed, so her life changes for the better.
I suggest a therapist because I have firsthand experience with needing help to change my beliefs about the world.
And what I find borderline offensive is that you completely ignore the fact that the company pretty much swept the whole incident under the rug.
This in my opinion has had a much more immediate effect on the victim's sense of self worth than any deeper cultural issue.
Basically she was given to believe that what happened to her wasn't that big a deal, and since she clearly experienced it very differently, indirectly she was told she didn't have much value.
I find it borderline offensive that you find it borderline offensive that the GP missed out on the point you wanted to make while making other valid points. Respectfully, of course.
Do you think the public acknowledgement is more important than the firing? Is the problem that they were only 80% behind her instead of 100%? Is it something else? I really want to understand your position.
They appear to have provided support to her.
She could go to the police and file a report. It's traumatic, and unlikely to have any effect.
But it is not possible for the firm to say "We sacked Bob because he sexually assaulted one of our staff".
Why not? The event in question happened in a public setting, while her boss was acting in something of an official capacity (it was a work related event). To me, that demands a public acknowledgement and treatment of what happened.
Innocent until proven guilty is a firm principle.
Accusing someone of a sex crime will have very serious consequences for that person.
She has said that she doesn't want to involve legal processes. When the company publicly says that he assaulted her they force the legal processes to start - either he sues for defamation or police get involved.
'Swept under the rug', to me, sounds like doing close to 0%.
I will say, though, that I really don't like assigning percentages because I think they fit the situation poorly.
In my opinion, the company should have done two discreet things: fire the guy and address why he was fired (see my comment to other responder for why they should address the firing). Assigning percentages to these to represent their respective importance is not very useful; they are both past the threshold of Very Important. Therefore, they should both get done.
I'm putting much weight on it because of two reasons. The first is that the only way Justine is going to be happy again is by dealing with what happened in a different way. The current way obviously isn't working: she's being selfdestructive. The only way I've seen work is having people change their assumptions and beliefs, generally taking up beliefs not shared by 'society'. I'm strongly channeling Nietzsche here: society has a vested interest in making the individual feel weak, powerless, insignificant and it is ruthless and cruel in the ways in which it achieves it. The second is that I believe preventing these things from happening is hard and that they will keep happening for a long time to come, no matter how hard we try. The 'prevent this' angle is covered well by many others, but the 'prevent these things from having such a strong impact' isn't. I believe it is a damn waste that so many people are made to believe they are weak, worthless, insignificant, guilty, for whatever reason, due to whatever history. I believe Justine is a prime example of what is wrong on this front. One incident had enough power to completely change who she feels she is, how she should behave, what she represents. This one incident has taken over everything. Why can it have this power? Because we allow it to have this power. And we are responsible for taking that power away!
Different brains respond to severe emotional trauma in different ways.
I urge you to spend some time with smart people with PTSD. Collect some data and evolve your beliefs.
The problem is that what is considered "sexually assaulting people" is relative to one's culture, education, religion, etc.
In ancient China just the bare foot of a girl was the most intimate thing you could imagine, something a husband will never get from his wife. In Tang dynasty apparently showing breasts was considered normal.
Right now in France saying "my dear" (ma chérie) when addressing to a colleague is a bit borderline but "you look pretty today" is ok (while not 100% innocent). Maybe it is the opposite in the US?
There is also this story (is it true?) of African students coming to France in the 70ties and raping girls who accepted to come to their room: in their original culture a girl who accept to go the room of a boy already accepted to make love, and the "no! please, no!" thing is a gameplay.
Not to talk about how things are in Japan...
I am not sure the current most common definition of the limit between laughing together and "sexual assault" in the USA is the best one and should be used as a worldwide norm. I would bet against it actually.
This is why we have laws. And the assault didn't happen 'worldwide,' it happened in the USA. So the definition is not really ambiguous.
Edit: what I mean is that using the self esteem, sense of honor, education, all these old things might prove more efficient than laws, and maybe especially in problems related to disrespect of women.
Edit: What did you hope to accomplish in your response?
Edit 2: Also, perhaps instead you could educate us what it is we could learn by hanging out with smart people with PTSD. Since not all of us have the opportunity to meet people in that situation, maybe you could share a bit about the experience and what you learned.
> Either your definition of sexual assault is much different that standard usage, or you hang out with deplorable people.
I was demonstrating that he was wrong.
Take a look at the list of factors that influence whether you will develop PTSD . Take the 1st factor: why does being female increase the chance of developing PTSD? Because of physical differences in the brain? Surely, but certainly also because of the different beliefs females grow up to hold. What it means to be female is not just a question of physiology (according to some, physiology doesn't even enter into it). One way in which people with PTSD are counselled, is by changing the way they perceive themselves, which includes what it means to be 'female'. Take the 4th factor: having other mental health problems. Why does a person have those in the first place? Again, there are undoubtedly genetic factors, but at least an equal amount is due to 'nurture', which can be addressed by further nurture.
Reducing the number of people who commit sexual assault is the only way to get rid of the problem at all. However, I don't have high hopes for that in the short run, because you're appealing to empathic and rational thought, while sexual assault happens in circumstances in which those kinds of thought are put on the backburner by the perpetrator (because of alcohol or simply because he's a opath). I'm a pragmatist: I agree people shouldn't be sexually assaulted, but given that people are* being sexually assaulted and will keep being sexually assaulted for decades to come, I think we should also focus on helping victims in better ways. And the best help for them is to have a set of beliefs that cause you not to be devastated by such an event in the first place.
I admit all my knowledge of PTSD is third hand. I hope it stays that way. Nevertheless, I don't think I'm disqualified from making statements about things with which I do have first hand experience, such as changing your beliefs contrary to societal expectations, to increase your happiness in life.
What data concerning 'smart people with PTSD' do you believe I am missing?
If someone breaks your leg, but you don't go to a doctor and complain about the extreme pain it causes you, am I then blaming you for the broken leg if I tell you that you I think you could suffer less by having it set and cast?
Psychological research does suggest that self-talk and future expectation has an enormous influence on experienced outcomes.
In other words, it is extremely unhelpful for a person who experienced an adverse event to anticipate trauma and my life will never be the same and suffering.
Trauma may happen. It may not. Time will tell.
I think you should probably delete this post, I can see it doing more harm than anything.
The fact you think "virtually everyone" does that certainly says a lot about you and the type of people you spend time with.
Justine is brave for coming forward and we should encourage everyone in a similar situation to do the same and support them when they do.
The deeper cultural problem here is that your comment has been voted to the top.
I'm not addressing the perpetrator at all, because he's obviously guilty of a crime. That doesn't change anything about the fact that we can mitigate the results of the crime.
The solution isn't to make society believe that it's not a big deal, and that people are expected to make a timely recovery. I feel like this would lead to even more victim blaming and even more self hatred for those who don't meet the societal expectations of quick recovery. The proper message isn't "you should get over it quickly", but instead "you CAN get your life back"... and unless I'm mistaken, I believe this is what people helping those with rape try to teach the victims to believe.
If you're seeing blaming in it, please do explain why since I'm as confused as the OP was.
I would add 2 things - according to his (now removed, but still available in wayback machine) blog http://web.archive.org/web/20130923014010/http://objo.com/ Joe O'Brian wrote that he was looking for professional help with mental issues or such in June 2013 (substance abuse? a rehab?). So, now the internet is lynching a sick person who already realized a problem and was seeking help? How nice. While the other side blames her drinking problems on the society and "male industry" (how childish).
Second, having dealt with drunk men myself (no drugs or guns involved, just alcohol - like in the story). A slap in the face usually works very well to help him keep his hands to himself. If it still doesn't work, a good smash in the face and moving away works even better. Unless, a lady gets so plastered that she can't move or use her brain, or she's a damsel in distress type. Then her life was ruined long before somebody put a hand into her pants.
It not okay to tell rape survivors that they are weak or wrong for having experienced their assault, their great betrayal in public as a negative and traumatic event. Instead, we need to blame rapists, over and over again, and dismantle rape myths, and offer survivors the support they ask for, not the support you decide they need.
Imagine you are in a building that has suddenly started to shake violently - and in slow motion you realize that this is your first earthquake, you are in a place without good building codes, and this area is capable of intensely destructive earthquakes - you may panic, feel a huge wave of paralyzing confusion, feel your brain flood with adrenaline, forget all your rational thoughts and fall down in shock as shattered glass falls on you and hurts you. Then a friend (who was in a stronger part of the building and didn't panic) finds you and helps you out of the shaking building. Later a person asks - why didn't you just duck under the table? Only idiots get hurt in earthquakes.
Here is also an article that addresses the long list of problems with "why didn't she punch him": http://adainitiative.org/2013/08/why-dont-you-just-hit-him-t...
You know why the world isn't like that? Because of beliefs and expectations.
You are judging this situation in the abstract and in hindsight. That is pointless and leads to callous conclusions that do not do justice to the complexity of these situations. It lacks empathy and respect for the complexity of the situation and differences between people. Try to imagine the scene, the days leading up to it, put yourself in the shoes of a woman, imagine the beliefs she has about how she should behave, how others will behave, about what is expected of her. The situation becomes complex, muddy: so many variables to consider! As someone else said: put yourself in a gay bar, with a score of gay colleagues, including your boss, and this happens to you. What if you worked in a larger company? What if the company was in bad weather and perhaps people need to be let go? So many variables!
She was in shock.
> Saying "no" isn't enough to claim she resisted.
Why does it matter if she resisted? Is it not rape if you don't resist?
It's not rape if the other person has no way of telling that you want them to stop.
A number of people's lives have been forever changed by the recently surfaced actions and instead of focusing on the "what ifs" and the hypothetical situations we focus on fixing the underlying problems within our community.
What is not easy to understand is how people don't understand this. :\
The fact that you committed this sentence to HN boggles my mind.
Yes it is. In fact, not saying "yes" is enough.
No, it's not.
This article has a reasonably helpful explanation of consent and "yes" and "no": http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2013/03/enthusiastic-consent/
It really a lot like victim blaming.
And the article explains that the burden isn't unilaterally on men - that men also benefit from partners who care about consent:
> Consent is not just about what you aren’t willing to do, it’s about being willing to talk, to communicate openly and without reservation with your partner about how they feel and how you feel. It can be intimidating, especially for guys, to take ownership of their feelings about sex, especially if they don’t want to have it. Many men feel that they have to have sex, even when they’re not comfortable with it, because they’re men and that’s what men do so they have to suck it up. There will be times that men will feel pressured, even coerced, just as women do.
Actually yes, yes it is enough you sick, perverted fuck. "No means no" isn't just a slogan, and it isn't "No, along with some physical resistance means no".
I will stand up, all 445 pounds of me, to anyone who thinks this matter should just go away. We need to talk about this, and minds need to be changed so that our community will improve.
Two things strike me though:
Shots off of Justine's stomach. The best response I have heard from a girl in a mixed group when asked to do it was "I will do it if you do it first." It turns it from another girl doing shots on the bar to a weird group activity which is silly, not sexual. Obviously a straight up no would suffice, who cares what a drunk person says?
The second thing was how it went down. During a recent stag do a random girl walked over to one of our group and kissed him randomly without warning or anything. The guy pushed her away, recoiled in horror and said with a look of despair "she - put - her - tongue - in - my - mouth!?"
We laughed but seriously, we knew it wasn't consensual, if she went back in we would have pulled her away.
I feel this is the correct response to being jumped on. This or a loud no.
Not reciprocating, then questioning whether the wife would mind is not a no. Standing there awkwardly waiting for it to be over does not convey stop and it doesn't give friends an opportunity to come to the rescue.
Without a no the lack of participation can suggest hesitation. Asking about the wife perhaps reinforces this. "Oh so thats why you are slow getting into it. Don't worry about her." From the outside the lack of no and look of awkwardness could suggest this isn't something you do very often. Not that you want it to stop.
Justine is not at fault in the slightest. Joe forced himself on her. That said I wonder how differently things would have been if she straight up said no or even pushed him away.
It would be great for everyone to be able to bypass that shocked paralysis and immediately push away their attackers, but it's not realistic.
Two things about your "culture":
1. Why does your culture seek to prescribe sexuality in such a seemingly overbearing way?
2. Has your culture not yet moved beyond slut-shaming, which is irrational and harmful for all parties involved?
For me it is rather another example how a woman can destroy a man's life at a whim with a rape accusation.
A blog post isn't going to get justice, but the courts might.
Internet mob justice isn't justice.
So now it's internet mob behaviour if she posts her side of the story?
You don't even know if the assault happened and you are judging this man without a trial. You are a a goddamn imbecile. There were two witnesses, that's pretty clear cut.
His blog post has nothing to do with the alleged assault and you produce that as evidence of his guilt? I'm glad you're not running the legal system.
Posting a factual account of events is not an "internet mob."
Especially if there were two witness bar staff!
Furthermore, I didn't say 'crimes,' I said sexual assault. Again, I am not being abstract: if you talk to anyone who works with sexual assault victims, you know how futile that course of action is.
Let's not forget that lawyers cost money, for example.
Character assassination without trial is better? The courts exist for a reason and there were two witnesses.
Do you have any citations for the futility of reporting a crime with two witnesses?
That's just two.
"The victim of a rape or sexual assault possesses a rare commodity, the knowledge of the crime (Allen, 2007). In most rape and sexual assault cases there is little physical evidence to prove that there was an assault or to differentiate the assault from consensual sexual activity. Consequently, in any rape case, the outcome of the trial is highly dependent on the testimony of the victim. Therefore, victims rely heavily on their own credibility in the eyes of the public. In reporting a rape, victims are opening themselves up to society’s judgment and public scrutiny of their stories."
It doesn't even consider the possibility that there might be corraborating witnesses because there generally aren't. Also, the main point of the paper - that women don't report they were raped because of the social consequences of doing so - applies even more to writing a blog post about it than it does to reporting it to the police anyway.
This is the reality. I don't hold too much optimism that the police would somehow solve this problem considering the damage done and the lack of any support to go back to.
Two witnesses is pretty clear cut. It's called 'corroboration', you should look it up and learn something perhaps!
I don't see how somebody could tell it was unwanted from a third person perspective.
Thank god one of them gave her a chance to escape. Thank god there was one person not like you there.
It should be expected not that victims live up to another's definition of responsibility, but that people be responsible enough not to create victims.
Google is more powerful than you may think. This is not an empty gesture.
Neither was the assault.
I think police attitudes toward this stuff are probably one of the biggest stumbling blocks on the path to eradicating it. Think of how much progress could be made if reports were taken seriously and actually investigated with the levels of effort they put into investigating murder or drug trafficking.
Repeat: don't read the comments.
Fuckin' people. Ugh.
"I am leaving comments on exactly because of that. Although they hurt me, they are a prime example why victims don't speak up."
I cannot believe the courage of this woman.
If you were the accused and the story was contrived, you would not have much recourse.
Please stop perpetuating this poisonous meme.
She did say she felt suicidal at one point, so that's enough to lay off and put this down to just how far a messy night can go! We'll never know if another catalyst could have triggered suicidal thoughts if the event had never happened, but if I had to bet, I think she was heading somewhere dark before that night.
"At first it was a hug, or an arm around the shoulders; friendly, drunken comraderie that they both were engaged in. Friends.
Joe started to get a little more familiar and was running his hand down her back and patting at her butt (she was seated). I noticed, and I watched. It was getting creepy, but Justine didn't move, or slap him. She was laughing, I figured it was nothing huge.
This continued for a few moments, then Justine got up on the bar, laid down in front of him, and the bartender poured a shot into her navel area. Joe slurped it up, then kissed her up the stomach until he got to, and chomped down, on her shirt-covered left breast. I was standing two feet away. I don't know who's idea this was.
Justine sat down, and Joe picked up the pace. He was really rubbing on her, and it got to the point where I felt uncomfortable for both of them. This lasted for about two minutes. His hands were admittedly all over her.
I was talking with Zach and Mike Eaton, who had just come over to us, and I said "I'll be right back" and walked over to diffuse the situation."
There was plenty of time for her to make up any excuse to leave the situation.
But we are not the jury here, as fun as it may be. We should not try to ruin someone's life in such a fickle forum.
Furthermore, I have been friends with Joe for years, and don't know Justine.
What he did was not malicious. He is not an abuser or predator. He did a dumb thing.
This story isn't about a rapist or someone who preys on women. It's about a drunk man who thought he was going to score. A man who was becoming increasingly physical with a woman who he was attracted to, and who invited him to do a body shot after he had grabbed her ass. For those who don't know what body shots are, that's when a girl lays down on the bar, lifts her shirt, and holds a lime in her mouth. The bartender pours tequila in her navel, and another party drinks it from her stomach, and then, using his mouth takes the lime she is holding in her mouth, which amounts to a kiss. It's unquestionably sexual. Here is a picture: http://pubcrawlba.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/body-s...
"Body shots" are not a normal thing Americans do at conferences. I say that not to judge, but to provide context. I've been to a lot of industry parties, with a lot of alcohol, and a lot of very drunk (or high) "party animals", and haven't seen this done. I think most people would associate it with those "Girls Gone Wild" ads that used to run. For the record, it's not normal or appropriate to exchange backrubs and forehead kisses with male coworkers either. I'm a bit shocked that she said such behavior with her coworkers was common. The reason this matters is that this is certain to confuse people about their relationship with you.
So this man, a drunk, sexual being, who was not holding someone against their will or being violent, kept testing his boundaries and not receiving any indication that he had crossed a line. In fact, it's perfectly reasonable to interpret that after sexually touching her, and she invited him to lick her body and take a lime from her lips, that she was very much into this. In fact, a reasonable person could make this interpretation while completely sober. Then, she never says she doesn't want the behavior, but instead she says he has a wife and kids. "Well, if that's the only thing stopping us, I have great news...I have permission from my wife!" he says.
This isn't placing blame. Don't reply telling me about victim blaming. It's a bad miscommunication. He needed to be less drunk, she needed to be more clear. Both of them made very poor decisions. The fact that she did body shots for complicated reasons while masking discomfort to fit in is not his problem. She wanted to look like she was into it, as she said, and she was successful in giving him this impression. He has no way of knowing this, and no way of knowing that the party girl laying on the bar secretly doesn't want him to partake. Regardless, this is stupid, juvenile behavior on his part, which he would not have done sober. He likely knows this and is deeply ashamed.
I know many commenters here are probably less experienced when it comes to "hooking up" casually. To you, this all sounds straightforward. The vast majority of the sexually active population does not work in this straightforward way that you think - male and female. No man has ever touched the rear of any female by first asking bluntly, "Is it alright if I touch your butt?". No woman has ever told a man, "I would now like you to touch my butt." Yet, there is a non-negligible part of the population who likes to touch and be touched, and it isn't assault.
What happened here was all kinds of inappropriate, but it wasn't malicious. It's extremely inappropriate to vilify this man given the nature of the offense. And it's certainly not his fault that she became an alcoholic and got a DUI. That sounds like a cop-out to me. He's now been publicly named and shamed, which will be permanently on the internet and searchable for the rest of his life, because one night he had drunk wandering hands on a female who he thought was inviting the attention.
Edit: Whoa, wait just a minute here. We glossed over something fairly significant.
"In recent months this year I’ve been arrested, charged with a DUI, involved in second intervention classes..."
She got a DUI.
She just threw that in there, non-chalantly.
She operated a vehicle while intoxicated. Most who get a DUI don't get caught their first time, so she may have even developed a habit of it. Still, with the benefit of the doubt, even doing this once is very serious. There is a high risk that you can maim or kill innocent people while driving drunk.
Why is this not a huge controversy, and why is anyone forgiving her? Because we all make mistakes, she was drunk, she's taken steps to get help with her problem, and so on?
But here we are going to crucify someone who got too drunk and put his hands down her pants.
Consent to one thing (whatever that may be) does not imply consent to another thing. If you fail to make sure consent exists you always run the risk of doing something non-consensual. If that’s a risk you want to take, well, then do it. If you believe in your infallible abilities to read body language go for it. But don’t complain when others call you out for sexual assault or rape. (This doesn’t even begin to address the power imbalance of the relationship.)
You should re-think the tons of empathy you seem to have for this guy, based on some imaginary life-destroying effects of this blogpost, all the while you seem to have exactly zero empathy for her.
Think about that.
Do you always ask your partner if you can kiss or have sex with them?
If you do the stuff described in the blog post you might be sorry, it might have been a mistake you made while you were drunk and you might have had no intentions of committing sexual assault or being in any way malicious but you still committed sexual assault. Having good intentions (which the parent comment was also only speculating about) doesn’t change that, really.
Maybe he is a victim of his brain making stupid decisions? I don’t know. That’s how I sometimes feel when I make mistakes.
He is only a victim if she is falsely accusing him. Are you making that case?
While I agree with you that this is less common than communicating through body language, it sounds like a great exaggeration to say "No man" or "No woman".
Let's be very clear here - if you have anyone who you are managing, then you need to take care not to get drunk and horny around them, you must certainly never initiate a sexual relationship of any sort with them unless you first take steps to ensure that any power imbalance is removed (this is almost impossible), and you should take care never to allow alcohol to impair your judgement whilst at work-related events.
Frankly, I can't believe I even have to say this. This should be obvious, and if not then it should be made clear to anyone in management that there are certain boundaries you must not cross. There is a very valid reason why managers are normally somewhat aloof from their staff - it is wise to remember the maxim that it is often lonely at the top.
The fact that the boss was drunk is a mitigating factor, not a grab-your-subordinates-ass-free card. I'm willing to assume he isn't a predator but a regular Joe who got drunk and made a mistake, but that doesn't absolve him of guilt.
lawnchair_larry says, "So this man, a drunk, sexual being, who was not holding someone against their will or being violent, kept testing his boundaries and not receiving any indication that he had crossed a line." The mere fact that Justine was a subordinate was already a line Joe crossed.
I would also argue that this subordinate relationship was akin to "holding someone against their will".
This stuff happens.
Personally I'm going to call Sergey and Amanda "Probably not a great idea", rather than your implied suggestion of "Sergey is guilty of sexual assault and is holding her against her will". But we can agree to disagree.
By the by, I don't recall that Brin shoved his hand down her pants at a conference and penetrated her with his fingers in a drunken stupor.
Perhaps you didn't read that bit about removing the power imbalance first? The issue is that while you give us an example it's really an outlier, and not the same at all.
Reading the comments here, have brought up one of the major issues I've always had with the technical community -- its inability to empathize.
And worse, when it comes to sexual harassment and assault, it's almost as if there's a disincentive to empathize with the victim, resulting in straight-up, outlandish comments that are on par with those of extreme, right-wing talk radio hosts.
The line about what is or isn't normal things that Americans do at conferences is just bullshit. You put 500 people with a shared interest in the same room, you'd be surprised at what quickly becomes "normal" or justified. It's actually called herd mentality.
At this age and point in your life, with all the media coverage and information surrounding you about sexual assault, and to use your Girls Gone Wild example: the girls who have claimed, and successfully proven in a court of law that they were exploited by GGW; how can you use the excuse that he didn't know he crossed a line?
Has he been participating in a self-imposed media blackout for the last 10 years? Has he never thought of the day he might have to discuss the issue of sexual predators with his three daughters, and how they potentially come in all shapes and sizes?
And to top it off, you're shocked that she said the touching was common behavior for coworkers. What does that tell you?
That she was really trusting and naive, or there's a culture of predatory behavior in her workplace, or BOTH.
As a manager, you yourself have an obligation to not make unwanted advances across the personal boundaries of your subordinates, and ensure to the best of your ability, that your subordinates are also safe from unwanted advances within the company. There is absolutely no question about that.
In fact, if you do indeed choose to start a relationship with a subordinate, you absolutely need an a CLEAR line of communication that establishes that, yes, your subordinate does indeed want to engage in relations with you, and understands it has no bearing in your career/position or their career/position.
This even extrapolates to hooking up casually -- you need a clear signal that both parties are okay with this. Sometimes, it's reciprocated, non-verbal communication, and yes, other times it can be a BLUNT question that is purposely meant to remove any ambiguity from the situation, and end in one of two clear results: yes or no.
You cannot assert that no man has ever asked first. You can only assert that you've never asked first.
And then you've flip-flopped on your own logic regarding vilification.
You give him the benefit of a doubt of making a mistake influenced by alcohol, that "is stupid, juvenile behavior on his part, which he would not have done sober."
But later you reverse your position regarding her DUI, and insinuate that this may not be her first time, and she may have even developed a habit of driving under the influence.
What if this isn't Joe O'Brien's first time? What if he developed a habit of it? What if that's the reason he's checked himself into a 6-week mental health program as you stated in other comments? Do you check yourself into a mental health facility, after a single "juvenile" mistake?
EDIT: What if this occurred with such frequency, that he did indeed have an "agreement" in place with his wife, as he so creepily stated?
I disagree with most of your other conclusions and you've mischaracterized most of what I said.
Have heart :-)
Justine got her ass grabbed and still do body-shot !?
Joe is an ass, def. but part of it is Justine's fault too.
It's possible that just maybe, this is a decent man who made a bad decision, like all of us have done in different ways. Fortunately for us, our mistakes were not aired on the internet. There is a chance that he is not a cruel, evil being that the internet should burn like a salem witch, but that he's human like you and I.
If you think you're better than him, read this again in ten years. Eventually, real life will happen, and you'll do something regrettable.
That is bizarre, almost disturbing behaviour. I am not going to comment on the case at all but for me several details from this article cast a very strange light on the whole scene, and that one just takes the cake.
I was not there, but taking the post at face value, it was right for Joe to be dismissed. His behaviour was inappropriate and unprofessional. The company's whitewashing was also regrettable. But I have difficulty dismissing the notion that the rather extreme reaction from Justine is indicative of some underlying issues she might have. I concur with the top-voted comment that she may benefit from therapy.
What Joe did was wrong, yes. But there is no line that connects that dot with Justine's boyfriend tying his fucking ankles together while sleeping on a couch. That is something else entirely, and I stand by what I said.
How can some people be so reflective and seem to understand their problems really well, yet still be completely paralyzed and unable to do anything about them?
Hang around people doing drugs (large amounts of alcohol) and bad things are guaranteed to happen sooner or later.
She has been drinking and driving. This is not just peer pressure, this is unforgivable.
Your level of unconditional forgiveness becomes an excuse that I cannot accept.
Furthermore, psychological trauma is a thing.
Look, I can sympathize with her because of what she's been through, but that doesn't earn her exoneration or excuses for her "bad decisions".
But I believe if you hang out with people who drink a lot, often, sooner or later you are going to regret being associated with them.
This may just be because textual communication is hard. Letting you know in case that's not what you mean.
Her final plea for "no touching" is beyond reasonable, it shouldn't even have to be said or explained.
Just like it should not have to be explained, if people drink a lot, sooner or later those people are going to do insanely stupid, irreversible things, like drive drunk.
I go and drink one drink and then switch to soda. But don't pretend that it's only some subset of the US tech industry.
And you already proved the exception by suggesting you can just drink soda and no-one thinks any less of you.
I drink now. Possibly too much.
In all seriousness, there were SO MANY bad decisions in the original story. They just happen to all belong to Joe. I have no doubt he'd have made different choices while sober. But it's not the fault of the "alcohol culture" or "tech", it's Joe's.
"Poppin' bottles" isn't just a catchphrase.
I don't even like being drunk.
Also, don't be so snarky for the sake of being snarky. Productive snark is okay.
To be 'triggered' by trigger warnings is certainly a constructed prejudice against empathy.
And I somehow can't shake off the feeling that all it does is promote the victim mentality in the the author and the audience.
Also good job white knighting your pants off in this thread.
So it's not so much that it doesn't accomplish re-introducing trauma, but that it has other negative effects? I am legitimately curious.
> Also good job white knighting your pants off in this thread.
/me rolls his eyes
At multiple points while reading this thread, I've come across your/their username again and said to myself, Jesus, take a break, let other people speak. I really rolled my eyes when you brought up the woman whose feelings you hurt on Twitter and subsequent witch hunt, as well. Trust me, the "witch hunt" you experienced after that suffocates in comparison to what Joe has in store.
To your credit, you are at least the most civil and coherent of the three. As a victim of false accusation, it was really swell to be dismissed out of hand by sneak.
Tell me, are you refreshing this thread constantly?
How do my comments prevent anyone else's speech?
Everybody has an opinion. By spending hours of your time shooting down every opinion that differs from your own, you are working toward an environment where yours is the lone voice. Silencing dissent, basically.
As I said though, your actions are the most tame of the three I mentioned. In these threads, people who disagree with the "burn him!" mentality end up aflame themselves; victim blamer! rape apologist! silence the victim! asshole! It's all part of the same push against disagreement on this unique, taboo topic.
In order to secure an arrest, the police need to be satisfied a crime has occurred (multiple witnesses are usually a good way to ascertain, for which there are at least two). For a conviction, a jury needs to be satisfied. The best way to do this? With evidence and witnesses.
Even with two witnesses to this case who have come out publicly, no doubt the bartenders can be found too (location, time, staff time sheets). It's highly likely there is CCTV footage too, particularly on the bar itself.
Is this genuine? I say that because I was not there, did not witness it, and do not know any of the people involved; including their judgement under drugs (alcohol) and their truthfulness. If this is genuine, why not use the full force of the law to bring a criminal to justice?
The author is happy to broadcast their account of this alleged assault to the public, so I don't think they'd have an issue reporting it to the authorities with the help of a charity. Statute of limitations is a few years on this so there is still time.
If you've nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. This cuts both ways in a court of law, and the claims of an accuser are seldom taken at face value without reliable independent witness. It is innocent until proven guilty, so that the facts of the case can be used to ascertain guilt.
If the author really cares about justice, about women in IT, about sending a message, then they will do the right thing and prosecute. Unless of course the author is lying (wouldn't be the first time it has happened in a sexual assault case)...
The author is not ashamed to very publicly make these (as yet) unsubstantiated claims. I assume talking to an abuse charity in private, who help with a police prosecution, causes less shame.
The only reason I can think why someone would not go to the police is because independent witnesses (see earlier references to CCTV, the likely sober bartenders over drinking buddies) would not back up a claim.
This was a crowded bar, surrounded by many people. I can only surmise that the reason they have not sought a prosecution is because they are lying/misleading, and they know they will be caught out.
Having let the furore subside a little, and after reading some more of the numerous comments and articles, "lying/misleading" is the wrong choice of words.
Although I do not buy that the accusers DUI and destructive behaviour are solely caused by this incident, I do not think the author is malicious in their intent.
Extremely sexualised behaviour led to the alleged assaulter going too far. He lost his job as a result, but this was not a criminal offence: HR didn't file a police report, and neither did the alleged victim. No-one else did either.
Embarrassing? Yes. Uncomfortable? Yes. Criminal? No.
That's a bizarre definition of a criminal offence.
Many people do not contact law enforcement after sexual assault. This is for a variety of reasons including shame, stigma, embarrassment, fear of the forensic procedures, fear of the criminal justice and trial procedures, etc etc.
The closest law to not reporting a crime is Misprison of Felony (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/4), although that would require management/HR knew a crime had been committed, and then concealed it. It would be suicide for EdgeCase/Neo to know a sexual assault had occurred and not report the alleged assaulter. It would be socially limiting for the immediate sober witnesses too (the bar staff, any CCTV of the area in question), and those whose judgement was impaired by alcohol.
No-one commenting was there, so this is all conjecture. If a crime was committed and no-one reported it, now is the time to do so. The full force of the law needs to be applied. I do not buy that someone willing to talk about this publicly online would not want to go through reporting this because of shame. If a crime has been committed, and they have the evidence, why not press charges?
We can just decide that the story as described is a terrible thing to happen. We decide that if we see something similar happening, we will try our best to prevent it.
I want to remind the more intellectually-inclined of this community that this does not need to be analyzed and defragmented. Let the story stand on its own and hold its own weight.
Basically, what I am saying is this - if you have a point that would be really good in a debate, but won't win you any points at a party, don't make it here, and don't make it right now. In a situation like this, it's more important for the community to be supportive or not say anything at all, than to descend into a maelstrom of arguments about who's judgement is clouded by bias or who's sexist/insensitive and "doesn't get it."
We don't need to win debates at the cost of empathy right now. We need to show support in positive, affirming ways.
I'm a fucking professional, not a frat boy. I like to socially drink as much as the next person but a fucking professional convention is not the place for it. CodeMash is responsible for this incident; they created a situation where a woman, overwhelming minority in this type of place I'm sure, was compelled to engage in this person to the point where it escalated to this level. It's fucking sickening.
I for one vow not to attend another convention where drinking is part of the event. We are fucking professionals, people. Stop trying to prove how hip you are.
Where's your ire and indignation for the bartenders, hotel staff, and the firm where they both worked? Codemash, its organizers and sponsors aren't even on the radar for "people not actually the assailant yet are somehow responsible for the assailant's behavior."
A lot of this happens because of an inter-relation of other beliefs. For example, some people do not intervene because they believe that she must deserve it.
Another factor is that stepping forward means risking yourself. People err on the side of caution. Maybe they don't have the full story...
I also wonder what I would have done...
The second thing I'd like to say is an anecdote from some time ago when I went to VMWare's vSohere conference in Sydney. I drink alcohol, but only ever in moderation ad I never get drunk. The reason for this is that in my teenage years I got drunk once - once! - and soe terrible things happened. I swore never to get drunk again.
So at the end of the first conference night, when the Hoodoo Gurus were playing, I was discussing business and shooting he breeze with clients and VMware partners, with a lass of champagne in one hand. Silly me, but I didn't pay much attention to th servers, who kept topping up my champagne glass.
I went home drunk, without even being aware of it. I had a hang over the next day. I don't feel it was my fault in the case. VMware has a responsibilty to ensure that conference attendees don't get drunk on the conference floor.
Frankly, conferences and alcohol don't mix. It should be stopped fully if conference organisers can't serve alcohol responsibly.
I don't like drunks or being drunk, but you totally lost me here. You're just making stuff up.
You clearly have a legitimate case, are you taking legal action against VMWare and everyone who could have seen your glass being topped up?
I've no idea why you have such an aggressive tone, but it was uncalled for.
I'm concerned for you, and think that taking legal action against VMWare and the venue would send out a powerful message that glasses should not be topped up. Or, if it's not a civil matter, did you consider reporting it to the police?
As for the aggression - your sarcastic comment about my organs being harvested (???) came off as attacking me.
Probably best to leave it there, although I would encourage you to consider taking legal action, it really might stop this kind of thing from happening again.
Either he's unbelievably insincere, and a bit of a prick; or he's deadly seriously and a bit of a fool. He hasn't really given himself much middle ground there.
I suppose humour applied through ridicule of another is always funniest when you aren't the recipient.
There are laws regarding the responsible service of alcohol. That's why every bartender has done the RSA. The problem you describe effects a minority of the population.
The fact that the person that served you couldn't discern that you were intoxicated isn't only their fault. You have a personal responsibility to limit your own consumption. Just as a person that's drunk and decides to drive home is responsible for the decision to take that action.
No one is forcing you to do anything. Bartenders do due diligence as is required by law for them to do.
You are right. Employers should babysit their employees at all times.
It must have been clear that I was intoxicated, but the staff kept topping up my glass. I realise now what happened, and if I hadn't been distracted with all my interactions with those around me I would have refused the topups. But the law in NSW, Australia is very clear - this is strictly not allowed.
Before you go down some odd Libertarian path to say that we have a nanny state (or some such bullshit), the Australian Government realised some time ago that Australians drink far too heavily. We are world champions in abusive drinking. It it said that the Australian contingent of Oktoberfest is specifically kept away from all the other countries festivities because we are far too wild, and we get abusive and spoil everyone else's fun. Sad, but unfortunately true.
The Australian Medical Association agrees. In a 2009 information paper, they state that,
Many Australians drink alcohol at harmful levels. There are short-term risks of harm (associated with high levels of drinking on a single occasion) and long-term risks (associated with consistent high level consumption over a lengthy period of time.) In 2007, the majority of Australians (60.8%) over 14 years of age drank alcohol at levels that involved a low risk of harm. However, almost one in ten Australians over 14 years of age in 2007 drank at levels considered risky or high risk to health (ie, 7 or more standard drinks on any one day for males and 5 or more standard drinks on any one day for females). 
It's a serious issue in Australia, and the amount of societal harm alcohol causes us far outweighs just about every other social issue in the country. Hence the laws about responsible service of alcohol.
I was once hitting on a girl I had complicated relationship with (close friends/was my love interest/was her rebound). I was way too physically insistent (although definitely not to the point described by OP) and she slapped me. It brought me so much clarity instantly. It kicked me out of the haze of arousal (no alcohol was involved at all) for long enough to notice what the f*ck I am just doing. It communicated her point of view to me in an instant. Far better than any words we exchanged could.
I am (and always was) a man who absolutely abhors sexual assaults (even more than other kinds of assaults). I always wanted to avoid forcing anyone to do anything. Yet, slap in the face was perfect for me to prevent me from causing the person I loved and was incredibly attracted to, further discomfort.
None of the above should be read as any kind of victim blaming. I'm not saying "she should have just slapped him". I'm firmly behind the idea that there's never a reason to advice any victim of any incident after the fact and that in case of assault, motivation of the attacker is not a thing that should ever be considered. It's totally unimportant that he was aroused, pissed off, drunk, jolly, grieving whatever. If you apply any sort of physical means against unwilling person that's the only thing that counts.
Other thing is that I think much of the damage was done by the fact that the offender hasn't been confronted with the victim. He should be put in position of powerlessness for her to see. Keeping the whole thing PC and under radar resulted in her never being able to close the case for herself.
My standard way of dealing with shit is to repress it. If I get angry, sad, etc. the first thing I do is squash the emotion (anger is generally the biggest problem but the easiest to squish). If circumstances may cause that negative emotion to reoccur, I take reasonable action to prevent it from doing so whenever possible (It's hard to bring your grandma back to life unfortunately), but only after going smoosh and possibly sleeping on it. Some people say you should vent your emotions, but if I do that I just feel worse.
Here (finally) is the question: Do the scary consequences of repressed memories that keep popping up in movies and TV actually exist? If something horrifyingly traumatic happens to me and I just repress it and move on, am I setting myself up for trouble down the road? I ask this because there's no doubting a bad thing happened to Justine but, were I in her shoes, I'd have repressed that shit right then and there. I wouldn't have done nothing, but squish would be my definite step #1.
I don't really think a queue is the right mental model. If you suffer trauma and choose not to feel, but indeed have memory, you must continue to be just as committed to choosing not to feel for as long as you remember. Failing that, you will eventually have emotions about the trauma at some point. I don't think people are very good at keeping those types of defenses in place for years upon years.
You have to deal with your shit.
I really wish I could help this person (assuming the story is accurate, since some HN posters have pointed out that there are conflicting versions) but the only thing I can think of saying to her is to keep it within the circle of persons who are actually concerned by the whole incident, and seek reparations through legal channels. Nothing good comes out of involving a bunch of internet followers. I'd rather a formal investigation was made instead of witnessing a bunch of armchair detectives harass O'Brien without knowing all of the facts. One of my friends has had to deal with false accusations of a similar nature coming from his deranged ex, so I'd like to know beyond reasonable doubt what happened before thirsting for vengeance.
You had to read Twitter to see the deluge of requests from Rubyists wanting gory details.
Making it public helps keep others safe by allowing them to know to be very careful around someone while he is drinking.
Oh my. This is assault. She was forced to do something she didn't want to. The exact definition of assault. Which community is this? Are you part of this community? Why are we not exposing this community. Steve, please help us expose this vile and malicious community which forces people. Today it's blogs. Tomorrow who know what it is.
The blog post states that she reported it to HR. Over here, if something like this came to their knowledge, they would be required to forward this to the proper authorities.
She can recount the whole incident and has at least two witnesses that confirm her story (more might show up during a police investigation). No authority (at least in this part of the world) would refuse to investigate this case and bring it in front of a court. Is this different in the US?
Since this entered public debate i feel the need to leave my own remarks.
- Unfortunately, since we are fallable human beings, awkward situations will always happen. It’s mostly about how we behave during these and how we confront these afterwards that makes the ‘story’.
- The chance for such awkward situations rises even more so when intoxicated, which everyone seems to have been, by their own chosing, and when reflecting on such situations one should always be aware of the fact that they might not have been in that situation or avoided some of it, had they been in full control of themselves (and even influence others).
- There are multiple ways to deal with such an incident, both to resolve the awkwardness between the parties invloved as well as with any personal trauma.
- Drinking those troubles away must not have helped your own mental condition and you should seek some kind of outside help & support. Putting this in the public space, i hope you are prepared to deal with this for a while longer and not only on your own terms.
Don’t pull the ‘in a mens field’ argument as to why you agreed to do body shots. It was a conference, they were colleagues, you were drunk, it was a bad idea. Could group dynamics have been playing a role there? It would surprise me if not. It was a bad suggestion by him, and it was a bad decision by you to do it. Even if things didn’t spin out of control from then on, i think anyone that’s had a few drinks too many or witnessed someone who had, on a company / wedding / other semi-official party has done things that they would later have to digest in one way or another. Be it because they were just plain embarassing, or because they lead to inappropriate actions with potential consequences. This could be smashing in a window, violence, emotional outbursts, just plain old puking embarassment.. or, well, sexual things, for the sake of my point let’s assume the choice here is random. We’ve all been there at least once, or witnessed it with others at least once in our lives.
So who’s to blame? All of you are, to some extent. This was not a case of planned, deliberate, sexual assault. It was a gathering of intoxicated people that spun out of control and produced a consequencial situation. In the key-turning points leading up to it both of you made bad decisions. In the disarming-phase both of you made bad decisions. And in the resolutions and consequences both of you made bad decisions.
Key turning points leading up to the event, where BOTH of you could have made better decisions?
- stopped drinking earlier
- remained more distanced & in control, perhaps parting with the group to ‘freshen up’
- neither suggest not participate in body shots
- not touch & not tolerate touching, BEFORE it got too weird
- realize the own error (Joe), standing up for yourself immediately (You)
Please note how each involved could have changed the outcome here. There is no single person at complete fault here, up to the point where you should have clearly said NO and he should have clearly accepted that and apologized.
Of course it is obvious that it is wrong to start touching in the first place.
Joe shouldn’t have started with the inappropriate touching. He shouldn’t have done that.
As ‘the guy with the company credit card’ he should have been more responsible in getting everyone drunk, including himself. Apparently even he lost control of his proper judgement and he will have to deal with the consequences in a – i dare say – similarly difficult way. He has a family, they too will probably read this. Add to this that ‘men are usually at fault’.
In your report i do not see any mention of you telling him a NO because of YOUR concern for yourself. You should have done that.
Inappropriate things happen when drinking. Don’t get me wrong, i’m not defending Joe here but i want to be bluntly realistic. Wether we like it or not, and wether anyone wants to name this sexist or not, the fact remains that we reproduce by pairing male and female, involving a not-so-hard-to-understand set of triggers, acts leading up to conception.
Drinking lowers the threshold of control over inappropriateness. And drinking out of someones navel is a bodily undertaking involving visual, physical stimuli and smell, which transports very powerful hormonal agents. Compare this to sitting across desks in a semi-sterile restaurant setting, it’s inarguably A LOT FURTHER into our pairing process.
This makes the potential for such an incident not only incredibly obvious but also forseeable. Both of you should have known better. Despite all the gender discussions, equal rights movements, sexist-calling and so forth, we won’t refute biology just by force of will and most of our society is based on certain ‘agreements’ to keep basic primate instincts under control. Wishful thinking won’t change that, neither will blaming men (or women if you will, although there is a clear bias here in current times). I’m not saying that inappropriate actions are OK, neither am i promoting that sexual assault should be tolerated, what i’m saying is that under these circumstances the former will continue to happen (and this is only such a big issue as we let it become and make of it) and we have to deal with it, while the second, the assault, is not really applicable here if you ask me.
The way this whole situation has played out is only one of many possible and i would assume, also based on how public this has become by now, this is easily one of the worse cases of dealing with it.
I will leave you with two hints.
The first is, you should stand up for yourself more. In a healthy way. You worried about his wife, your job, while you should have acted in yor own best interest. With enough self confidence i can easily envision turning this into much less of an incident than it has – both for yourself and for Joe.
The second is, that you should confront yourself and then others earlier. Drinking during the conference, the time after it, letting it rot your own mental state, that of your relationship and ultimately your desire for ‘justice’ regarding Joes exit seems an unhealthy way to work out issues, no matter what kind.
Welcome to Berlin. People get drunk here too, and people undergo the mating circus here as well. I hope you will recover from your trauma soon. And i hope you can accept your own role in this as well as distinguish and define Joes mistakes. I also hope he will manage the same things and will be more respectful and responsible in the future. Maybe the two of you can one day have the conversation over this that you should have had the next morning.
This is what I call naïve. People will believe anything and everything in blogs.
Possibly because it was all wrong... Not that it excuses nor explains the assault, a drunkard could possibly assault anyone for any reason, but colleagues are not family nor friends...
> I will not be commenting more publicly. If you know me, I'm happy to talk in person. Thank you.
1. Why do work collegues party with each other? Isn't work for work and non-work for non-work? Why mix the two? That's asking for shit, throwing professionality out the window. At my recent places of employ I have religously avoided any private contact with my collegues.
This gives me an air of professionality and a sense of trust = "Icecreampain will treat me fairly because he is not best friends with the boss or married to the CEO".
2. Body shots, in my world, are reserved to college students who are going to party and fuck all night, and ... yeah, that's about it. I can't see 40 och 60 year olds doing body shots because it's the in thing to do at a bar.
3. Writing about such an experience, a drunken stupor at a bar, and accusing people of this and that smacks of, as others have said, the behaviour that that false Adria Richards character displayed at Pycon. She accused people of sexism while previously having written sexist and racist articles herself, then trying to get social media on her side by photographing a couple of real developers - just to get herself a few more minutes of fame.
I can't condone exposing other people's privacy like this and, thanks to people like the hypocrite Adria Richards, I'm always suspect of any cries of "assault" or "rape". Too many people have cried wolf for me to automatically believe one person's account of a situation. And the witnesses? I'm suspectful of their allegiances: see point 1.
If a crime was committed it's up to the courts system to decide, not her or her blog followers. Even if the courts dismiss the case, at least her police report will contribute to statistics.
So why not report it to the police (preferrably the day after)?
Sadly, it's really clear from this post that this poor young woman has other issues in her life. And those issues will probably not be improved with the way she's chosen to handle this unfortunate event.
We have a rule of law in our country (the UK), the same as you do in yours. This smells like a lynching.
I think generally it's important to believe the victim, but also believe that the accused is innocent until proven otherwise, in a court of law, by a jury of their peers. Our criminal justice systems cannot work unless this is true.
Everyone is so insistent that victims be believed that they forget about 'innocent until proven guilty'.
Innocent until proven guilty is a legal standard not a requirement that everybody in society adheres to in their own personal judgement.
If the courts think you are guilty of a crime, they can send you to jail. If I think you are guilty of a crime, I can't send you to jail. The difference in practical results is why there's a difference in the evidential standards used.
Professionals can enjoy a party and not have shit happen.
> This gives me an air of professionality
Do you understand the distinction of having an air of professionalism and actually being professional?
And that's fine. If you can't handle a party without asking for shit, it's good that you know the limits of yourself and your coworkers. However, don't presume that others lack these same abilities.
I was assuming that being professional also gives out that air. It's been a while (20 years) since I've used English as my primary language so my grasp of some concepts has loosened somewhat.
Also: being Swedish I'm from a country that knows to get proper drunk at parties, and a whole bunch of stupid shit happens at office parties. Shit that could easily be avoided by not being there to start off with...
It says a lot about society that in order for anyone to criticize a woman, one must first seek absolution by criticizing the man first, and harsher, than the woman.