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The Paradox of the Name and Shame Campaign

There is a Name and Shame Campaign presently taking place on social media. I love it. But I also hate it.

I love it because it has given survivors of sexual abuse – harassment, and rape the confidence to name names without fear of Judgement or retaliation, to some extent. I love it because it gives survivors a power they might feel had been taken away from them when they thought keeping quiet was better than pursuing justice or telling their truth in a world where the lines between consent and force are way too blurry to tell them apart.

I love it because it accords all of us the opportunity to put a face to the perpetrators of such violent acts. I love it because it creates an environment where people can have this sort of conversation, with the ripple effect being, inadvertently weeding out future potential rapists as a friend so candidly put it. Or it could be weeding out rapists that have been getting away with it so far because they think buying a girl beer or gifts somehow gives them unlimited access to her body.

I hate it because it thrives on ‘guilty before proven innocent’ with the world acting as jury. It instantly shames without question or reservation. The focus is solely to provide survivors of such violent acts a platform to anonymously name their perpetrators without fear of judgement. Anyone that appears to defend or question the truth behind the claims is instantly judged as a rapist sympathizer. There is absolutely no question of innocence for the accused. In fact, no one is supposed to even mention such a possibility lest they force the survivors back into their shells.

I have religiously followed Mariska Hargitay’s character Olivia Benson in Law and order Special Victims Unit chase her cases through all 20 seasons, so much so I can fluently and confidently mirandize perpetrators in my sleep. So many times I’ve heard the Olivia reassure survivors with the phrase “I believe you”. I can gather from the times she’s said this that one of the things survivors grapple with mostly is being believed by those they confide in. I have personally witnessed this with survivors of gender based violence. Most of the time their desire to be believed supersedes their desire to pursue justice. Doubting their claims is like victimizing them all over again. And this is where the Name and Shame campaign becomes complicated. In serving one side the right to be heard without judgement, it is robbing the other side of that same right.

It is a fact that more women than men encounter sexual abuse. It is also a fact that many women and men do not report this abuse for fear of not being believed or lack of evidence, and sometimes even shame. It is also a fact that sometimes innocent people get accused by malicious people seeking to damage their reputation or gain an advantage over them. But how can we know if someone is lying or not, or innocent or guilty? This is a conversation that seemingly well-meaning humans do not want to have because it is morally acceptable to believe a survivor in this day and age than to question them, even if there is a possibility they might be lying or that whatever case they think was rape does not actually constitute as such.

Fortunately, or unfortunately (because you can never really be sure with me), I enjoy having such conversations. I believe it is possible to safeguard the dignity of supposed survivors of rape and at the same time accord the accused à right to be heard or defended (even if they might not deserve it) until they’re proven guilty. I understand this is impossible in cases where the statutes of limitation are long due, or where the survivor does not wish to pursue legal justice but just wants to be heard and believed. The bottom line is, whether you like it or not, if you accuse someone of breaking the law or acting unjustly towards you, especially if you do so publicly, you must prove they are guilty. Simply writing down someone’s name is not sufficient enough.

The Name and Shame campaign is demanding that we show support to survivors of sexual violence by believing at face value that whoever has been named is truly guilty. The only reason I support this campaign is because it has allowed so many women to finally speak their truth. That in itself is empowering. But there’s a BUT.

There is an assumption that when people ask questions, then they don’t believe the survivor. Which shouldn’t be the case. Innocent men have been hang before for crimes they did not commit. Some men have lost custody of their children because an embittered ex accused them of molesting their own children. Some women that gave in to their urges and regretted it later have ended up telling their friends that they were raped due to fear of being labelled ‘easy’. Good men have lost their families and jobs because someone they refused to give in to got back at them by crying rape. And let’s not forget, women have been raped by people they thought were ‘safe’, people holding prestigious positions of influence, and no one believed them because ‘there’s no way in hell that man could ever do something like this.’ So yes, the possibility of injustice taking place is possible for both the survivor and the accused.

Granted, there is a manner in which certain people ask questions or come out in defense of those accused that automatically discredits and disrespects supposed survivors. Making them feel like they asked for it, or that they deserved what happened to them. I have seen comments like, why come out now? What took so long? If you were really raped you should have reported when it happened, you want to cry rape after enjoying free drinks and gifts? and so on and so forth. There is an assumption here that reporting rape is supposed to be so easy. Well it’s not. Most survivors blame themselves for falling ‘victim’ when they shouldn’t. Because they’re already blaming themselves for something that isn’t their fault, they don’t want other people confirming their worst fears. Unfortunately, other people always do. Rape isn’t about being provoked by external stimuli. It’s about one’s inability to control themselves (their actions) regardless of perceived stimuli.

Imagine a fine looking vixen seducing you on the dance floor, grinding her body against you in ways that defy gravity. She willingly gets into your car, in fact, she’s the one leading the way and unzipping your trousers faster than the speed of light. You’re all bothered and hot, burning for some release. Her pants come flying off by her own doing and just as you’re about to brace yourself for landing, she pushes you away. There’s a B-word for the kind of pain a man experiences when something like this happens. Is it fair? Hell no it ain’t! But guess what, the moment she/he says no or stop, it’s game over. Anything that happens after that fact is….RAPE. Even if the woman’s sexual resume is thicker than Jezebel’s, if she said no, it’s over.

Sometimes I feel like the world has become too politically correct that there’s no place for logic anymore. It has become so hard to have honest conversations with people without fear of being labeled as anti-something. For someone who’s a women’s right’s advocate, I’m not expected to ask people not to jump into publicly convicting the men that have been accused in this campaign without evidence. Doing so apparently means that I am siding with the perpetrators. I feel like there’s something we always forget to tell survivors about openly confronting their demons; that it is a road paved with hurdles but it’s also a journey worth taking. We give them the illusion that it’ll become alright as long as they tell someone. But it is not always that easy.

We live in an imperfect world where sometimes justice does not equal morality. It would be nice if we didn’t have to ask survivors of sexual violence to relive their torment just so we can lay the facts straight and prove innocence or guilt but we ain’t riding unicorns here. If you’re going to ask people to shame someone they know, then you should be ready to answer some questions without assuming that they’re discrediting you…because unfortunately, the road that leads to catching perpetrators is the same road survivors use to tell their stories. It is one hell of a bumpy ride, but one that should be taken if any healing or justice is to take place.

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10 thoughts on “The Paradox of the Name and Shame Campaign

  1. John Ismail says:

    Which bares a more dreary result: if the allegations are false or if the allegations are true?

    It’s easier for the accused to build a life after a false allegation is debunked, than it is for a victim, after a true allegation is affirmed.

    I sympathize with those who are falsely accused but I sympathize more with genuine victims.

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    • I get what you mean but I also think you’re taking things a little too lightly by making such comparisons. It’s not always easy to recover a tainted reputation. People take years to build one and they can easily lose it in the blink of an eye. Some people have ended up committing suicide simply because they couldn’t stand the reality of being associated to such grivious crimes.

      Naturally I sympathize with actual victims. Always. Unfortunately, women making false claims are making it harder to believe real victims. The idea is to be cautious when dealing with such cases. It’s criminal and inhumane to sexually violate someone, just as it is to falsely accuse someone. The docu mini series When they See Us is à great example of what could happen when people are falsely accused and convicted.

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    • By the way, a conviction of rape does not in any way make the life of the survivor easier. They don’t heal simply because someone is behind bars. The arrest might help them feel a little secure but the emotional scars don’t just disappear just because justice has been served.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Nice read. I have personally been been in the shoes of the gentleman with the vixen you just narrated, and I got so mad. All I said was fine am leaving, I got to the door after looking for my clothes like a needle in hay stack and she said, “I wanted you to fight for it and not leave” I said BS, come lock your door after me. She walked over and knelt down, unzipped my fly and sang through my mic. I wasn’t about to be named and shamed, so I said if this is going to happen, you are going to do the insertion, lol.

    So imagine this, she says no, and am there remembering her words, “I want you to fight for it not leave” what do I do then, do I fight and satisfy her fetish or do I leave? Is her no a call for “be manly and remove the fact that I too wanted this”? Because society somehow says women cant love or want sex, their duty is to tend to homely things. This concept has a long history that stretches back to the victorian years’ “virteous woman” where women who were judged to be nymphomaniacs were seen to be abnormal and institutionalized! The nerve! (Of them, and society, lol). So believe it or not, there’s no blue print for some of the sexual scenarios that we go through.

    But hey, such are the dilemas of sex. Another scenario, an old flame asked me to visit her the last long weekend. I obliged. We jumped into bed together, she turned the other way and said goodnight. I cuddled up behind her, member already prodding her, she squirmed and pushed her behind hard into me. I could smell her moistness, as they always say “munda wakale…” but you know what happened? She just got up, picked a pillow and said goodnight again and walked out of the room with a pair of jeans. Again, I thought…you never know with women, so I followed her, she had locked herself in the other room. I slept. Following night, same issue only that I just said let me just sleep and leave first thing tomorrow because this sexual tension is disempowering me. Woke up while she slept and left, with a bye note and some money for groceries. Three hours later, “you should have taken me, I was h***y as f**k, you know how I like it when you giv it to me in my sleep or with my hands pinned over my head”. I wont make a comment over this one, but yeah, what happens with the next woman after this? How do I take her “I wanna sleep” (speaking of sleeping, she says I want to sleep, you don’t want to force her, so you sleep only to be awakened by the warmth of her lust and thrusts atop of you. What do we call that?)

    So in both scenarios, I would have qualified for a name and shame candidate depending on how they recalled the facts and how we relate now. Just a guess. Cautionary note as I wrap up, I didn’t post to justify ‘rape’. There are as many rapists out there as there are confusing women who will leave you wondering, “what does she mean, should I or shouldn’t?” We can never know for certain, because theres supposedly a thin line between being drugged by a stranger or familiar person, or being overpowered or pointed at with an object that could harm you or being threatened and forcefully caused to have sex; and being willfully in bed stak naked with someone stroking your member and saying, “no sex for you honey” then they get atop of you and sleep. Very thin line I hear.

    #NoToRape
    #IfYouAintSureJustSleep
    #BetterCalledHalfAMan
    #WhoCouldntReadAWoman

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha you’re very visual in your telling, I could literally play out those scenes before me. I’ve had similar conversations with my male friends and I totally get your frustrations. It’s true that sometimes we women make the lines blurry ourselves. It’s selfish and unfair and we have to be called out on it especially now that rape is the bone of contention. If ever you had a fight with that woman that told you to fight for it instead of just walking away, she can just as easily accusé you of rape today! And she would be right to say you forced yourself in her, but no one would know she enjoys that kind of force and was asking for it to be used on her because it turns her on. No one will believe you if you told them this. And yet it happens!

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      • Anonymous says:

        Lol, I figured I’d take you with me in my shoes and let you see what I went through, lol. Its good you followed. Rape is indeed a paradox too. No wonder our fantasy president Tayali was in the web a coupke of years back. If you think I was explicit, his narration is worse, lol.
        But anyway, thats why I put it out to say, “So in both scenarios, I would have qualified for a name and shame candidate depending on how they recalled the facts and how we relate now. Just a guess.” You have confirmed it, lol, I would be a name and shame candidate.
        Its somehow easier for women to call out men on anything, hard for men to do the same, easy to be ridiculed and nearly impossible to be believed. So my stance these days, I have refused to be disempowered by confusing women because I value my prowess, lol, and I know what an worth. Not getting down with someone because of confusion is something that I just brush aside, if someone dares say “why didn’t you take me”, I’d rather say I wasn’t in the mood than be a distant memory of “I dont think I wanted to have sex that day, he forced me.” Which is all too common.

        By the way, pending question, “speaking of sleeping, she says I want to sleep, you don’t want to force her, so you sleep only to be awakened by the warmth of her lust and thrusts atop of you. What do we call that?”

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        • You ask such hard questions mahn. 😂

          Thing is, whether we like it or not, consent in relationships/flings is a tricky thing. Because sometimes you might be feeling something and you want to pursue action only for that person to not be in the mood. Usually, they’re not firm when they say they’re not in the mood so we push forward with touching and kissing and soon enough you get them in the mood. I’ve personally told someone who was busy working on his computer ‘I’ll put you in the mood’, and that I did. Yet I do recall their unwillingness in the beginning. The gray area here is that because there’s an already established fact of consent (willingness to want to have sex with you now and in future because of attraction, love, or whatever else exists between the 2 of you), there’s an assumption that we have license to seduce and get our way with this person, so much so that the both of you end up enjoying yourselves. Imagine a world where the only time couples get to have sex is when they have a sit down to discuss whether they’re both in the mood? Oy, I’m already turned off by that. I think the best thing to do for people in relationships (people that aren’t strangers pe se), is, if you’re truly not in the mood, emphatically state your position and walk away. If you stay and allow the person to continue touching you, chances are, you will get turned on and you can’t claim rape afterwards just coz you initially didn’t want. It’s a whole different story when your partner literally forces themselves on you when you’re clearly not ready or in the mood. Force is easy to feel on women, not so much for men because men are known to have érections even when they don’t wish to pursue intercourse. So yeah, the jury is still out on this one! Still, I would say, if you’re not in the mood, state empatically and walk away. If they chase you down and insist, then that there is definitely rape.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Lol, hard questions kwisa? Thanks for the response, nailed it. True, sex should not be about “read Ts and Cs attached and my policy on sex aligned with the United Nations standards and view additional attachment for schedule of when I want some”. That coukd surely be a turn off. I was about to ask an additional question but I will elt you rest, lol. Am running off now, until mext time.

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  3. Speak24 says:

    Well said. It is a complicated situation. But true healing from the physiological scars that being sexually molested leaves comes from many sources. Naming and shaming is just one way that some victims may feel they get back their power and self worth as suggested in the article. The major flaw of the approach is its eye for an eye and one sided view of the rights of protagonists in the narratives of abuse. In fact, the owner of the blog may be putting themselves in a position where they can be successfully sued criminal libel for publishing names of “villains” without respecting their right to a fair hearing. Rather than naming and shaming victims of abuse should be given all the protection, both legal and otherwise, to find peace and healing. And society should apologise for failing to protect them and ensure they find justice. Take practical steps such as offering free counselling at public healthcare institutions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right. True healing can indeed come from many places. Unfortunately, most survivors of such never find that kind of healing. They simply ‘learn to live with it’ which is truly unjust because sometimes it interferes with their way of life and the decisions they make, and in most cases they’re not even aware of it. I feel like this campaign will only serve the to revictimize survivors due to the nature of the approach. Because now the focus has shifted from the survivors to the alleged perpetrators and because they have accused in such an unjust manner, now they’re coming off as ‘the victims’. So where does that place actual survivors? Smh.

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