There are a number of things I wanted to write about this week. There are a number of new things that have happened that weren’t on my original list, and I wish I could be writing about them, too. Instead, I’m writing about Kyle Payne. Why? Because Kyle Payne wants me to be writing about Kyle Payne, essentially. And because if I don’t write about this, I will likely continue to feel unable to write about anything at all for several weeks, continue to avoid the internet, continue to only skim my RSS reader because any mention of Kyle Payne just makes my skin crawl right off my body.
So, without further ado, addressing young Mr. Payne:
I know, somehow, that all this increased attention is actually satisfying to you. I know it feeds into your self-image as a persecuted martyr, the victim of a “smear campaign” perpetrated by a pro-pornography blogger. I know that there is not one brain cell in your entire narcissistic skull that is devoted to anything that is not you, what these nebulous “events” say about you, what people think of you, how your reputation and your friendships have been affected. I know that your main goal is assuring all of us, not least yourself, that your deep down in your soul, you are a True Feminist Spirit, a Good Person, and that the most important question on your mind is how, how, HOW such a thing could have happened to such a man as you.
But despite all that, I can’t let it go. You win this round, it will, in fact, be about you.
I can’t imagine it would ever occur to you how it would feel for any of us to get that email you sent, to see the name of a confessed sex offender in the sent line. I’ll be perfectly honest and admit that it fucking freaked me out, and I spent some time assuring myself that no, my real name isn’t actually on this blog, being again thankful that I remain a tiny, tiny fish in this big enormous virtual pond, and therefore not likely worth more of your time than that form letter took, but I did have to take that time. Because the fact that you sent that nice personal email and wrote that oh-so-revealing post says to me that you’re one crazy fuck, and I do have to step back and think rationally about just how fucking crazy you might be.
And then, because I deserve to know – we, as a collective, deserve to know, and I, personally, as one of many recipients of that email, deserve to hear what you have to say for yourself. I deserve to read your description of what that woman looked like, the vulnerable position that she was in, the urges that you felt, the actions that you took in violating her and the confusion that you felt at the time. It has to have occurred to you just how many rape survivors you sent that email to. It has to have occurred to you that many of us were raped by people we trusted, after we had been drinking, by people with some degree of authority over us. It has to have occurred to you that this story is all too familiar.
The thing about “making amends” is first that you have to have actually changed in order for it to matter, at least enough for you to recognize when your so-called amends are causing harm. One of the first questions male “allies” to feminism ask – and here I mean real allies, which you can tell because I identify them as the ones who ask – is what they can do as men to help women. To help women deal with male violence, with pressure and double-standards and past traumas and current fears, to help end “rape culture” and the ubiquity of sexual violence. In your case, there’s a really simple answer to this question: stop violating women.
You say you were unprepared to deal with these feelings because of your personal feminist politics. I consider myself a pacifist – I still get the urge to punch people in the face every so often, but somehow I’ve managed to avoid getting myself arrested for assault and having my pacifist hypocrisy laid out for all the internet to see. I also have a pretty solid grasp on the fact that pacifist or no, my desire to punch somebody in the face generally comes when I’m feeling pissed off because they’re not doing what I would want them to and I want some way to assert my power/control/dominance over the situation. Make of that what you will.
You’re telling me that I “deserve” to listen to what you have to say, that I “deserve” to think about the impact that has had on you, that I “deserve” to see your name in my email box, and you know what, no. I don’t. I deserve to live my life not having to think about what goes on in the minds of narcissistic predators – I’ve damn well spent enough of my time thinking about that, and I’d really like to be free of it from here on in.
I hope you deal with the abuse in your past. No one deserves to have that shit in their head. I hope you get free from it, so that you can stop using it to tie up others. For what it’s worth, I genuinely hope, from the bottom of my heart, that you recover from what you dealt with, and that you come to a place of peace and comfort with who you are, what has happened to you, and how you can truly amend what you’ve done. But I have absolutely no desire to hear about it, not at destination point and not at any point on the journey along the way.
I think I speak for many when I say that if you were to disappear and remove yourself from all of our blog-lives, that is the only possible favour you could ever do for us.