Tuesday, 25 June 2013

We're not on the same page. I'm not sure we're even reading the same book.

This past week or so I've been taking the organizers of I'd Tap That to task over their decision to ban someone who reported another attendee was abusive, and to continue to allow the alleged abuser to attend parties. That, specifically, was the beginning of my issue with them, but it's grown since because I've gotten information from others, anonymously and publicly, that there have been a lot of issues with these events and the organizers' responses to concerns.

The problem is, I'm assuming that the organizers are working from an anti-oppressive, feminist framework and that their priority is above the business of making money by hosting a different flavour of party than is regularly offered in Toronto. Clearly, that's where I'm wrong.

I've been boggled by the organizers' inability to recognize that requiring one provide a police report in order to ban someone who is reported to have been engaging in abusive behaviour, including physical and/or sexual violence, puts an undue burden on the victim. The crux of my argument is that if the organization wants to be sensitive to the institutional oppressions that would prevent many of their attendees from reporting such crimes to the police, then their stance of requiring police involvement doesn't match that. Therein lies the whole problem.

I'd Tap That is not organizing their events with the intention of making them safe, accessible, and non-oppressive. Rather, they're offering a "sex-positive" space that operates slightly outside of the norm, with minor tweaks to give an illusion of safety, but that upholds a lot of the status quo.

Which explains not only their exasperation with being publicly taken to task over this issue, but their attitudes that they're being unfairly attacked and set upon. Well, of course it's going to seem unfair if the issues presented to them aren't ones they consider important or worthy of making changes. Naturally, if they aren't committed to combating sexual violence specifically, they won't be concerned with the victim-blaming and gas lighting tone of their posts and won't see any need to apologize specifically for that.

They have made some very PR-friendly statements about setting up a community advisory board, updating their training for their safety staff, and updating their complaints process. That all sounds great. Without a core value of approaching their business from an anti-oppressive, intersectional position, then these changes won't actually make any tangible differences to the culture of their parties.

Why am I being so nit-picky? What do I want from them? What on earth could they possibly do to satisfy my impossible standards since I'm such an uppity jerk?

I've been nit-picky because I was operating under the assumption they were feminist activists, and I expect other feminist activists to call me out in the same way if I'm being problematic.

I would love for them to operate their business under an anti-oppressive, intersectional framework. They allude that they are on their Mission Statement page, and I find that to be rather misleading. I'd prefer they not only amend their wording to be more honest that this is just a business to them and that most complaints or criticisms won't be acted on, but also to state more clearly that they are unwilling to ban people from events without a police report (right now it says they can't).

What can they possibly do to make me happy? At the very least, an acknowledgment that the tone of their posts has been to disbelieve survivors and to therefore make the atmosphere of their parties hostile to survivors of sexual violence. Many people aside from me have pointed this out, and they have not deigned to address it directly. But then, that's making another big assumption that they care about or want to make survivors feel welcome at their events.

In short, probably nothing. There is a huge ideological divide here that neither of us is willing to compromise on. The organizers have made statements on their personal walls that show they don't think these are serious issues and that they're feeling unfairly persecuted. I'm still offended that they're misusing the terminology of social justice to deflect criticism without internalizing any of the serious criticisms that have been put forth.

Long story short, don't worry, I'd Tap That. I'm taking this part of your Mission Statement quite seriously:
If our rules and values are not strict enough for you to feel comfortable, we also ask that you refrain from attending. 

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for this. I also assumed it was a space welcoming of my queer femme survivor identity and there's no way in hell I'm going there now, after the community stories that have come out.

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  2. Thank you for taking this on. I am sorry for your friend and to all the IDTT victims. I have never been to an I'd Tap That event because well they scared me and I see now my fear was well founded. The term sex positive is used over and again and it seems to have become synonymous with automatic consent for some people…not right!

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  3. This whole thing has been greatly upsetting for me. I've been going to Crush events for quite a while and been having fun despite the mediocre DJ. I've been recently exploring my gender fluidity and I was REALLY hoping to go dancing at their Pride party expressing myself in an entirely new way. But with their response to what has happened I can't comfortably give them my money any longer. Now where am I going to be dancing in my dress?

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  4. I love their DJ's music... I just hate when they got on the mic and yell at people to remove clothing and keeps the continued calling of attendees bitches.

    Super feminist.

    I'm really frustrated at how hard it is to find sex positive spaces that actually match with my sex positive values.

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