Over the past three days, I have had an overwhelming amount of response to my post detailing my interactions with two men at ISTE. The sheer number of women who have gone through something similar, especially at ISTE, and still feel unable to confess their stories to another person was enough to make me cry. There was an incredible amount of “Thank you for writing about this, you’re so brave” type comments, which I do truly appreciate.
There has also been an unsettling reaction.
Naturally, I’ve encountered a swell of trolls. People have hunted down my personal contact information and tried to hijack my twitter and email. It’s disturbing to me that the reaction some had to my speaking up about an issue is having strangers on the internet try to forcibly silence me. I’ve had plenty of people tell me that I was asking for it because I was under the influence and trusting of people I don’t know terribly well. These types of responses are endemic to rape culture.
What’s disappointing to me is that people, for the most part, have been focusing on the individuals behind the stories and not the larger issue at hand. Although I vaguely understand the curiosity and interest in staying away from the people who did this, I do not support the witch-hunt for naming them or attempts to sully their names and careers based on one incident. I’m also incredibly disgusted that the focus has been on the individual who legally did nothing wrong, yet I saw no mentions of the man who clearly violated me.
I hold no ill-will towards either of these men. I honestly and wholeheartedly believe that neither of the men were intending to be malicious. I think both were unaware of the objectifying connotations of their actions. Apologies have been made and I believe them to be sincere. Targeting these men is simply uncalled for; it disrespects the people involved in the incidents and disregards the point of the post and my message. It was never my intention to hurt, discredit, or demonize these men. We are all human. We all make mistakes. I make mistakes. That’s part of why empathy is so crucial, especially in situations like these.
I’m here to apologize for any misconceptions about the events and people who took part in them. Details of the first night have come to my attention that have illuminated their motivations and reception of my actions that I was not aware of at the time. I in no way intended to misrepresent the incident. The truth is that the only people who know full details of these events are myself and the men from the incidents. As I said in the post, there are many details of the first night I simply don’t remember. What I do know is that there is a line between being persistent and being harassing. Even if there had been discussion about moving the relationship into something non-platonic, I still felt that the line for harassment had ultimately been crossed, especially because the asking proceeded through the next morning and after multiple refusals.
Both men’s actions were aggressive and symptomatic of larger systemic issues of sexism and rape culture. This topic has been too often avoided (because it is simply too intimidating for women to confess), ignored, and silenced. My sole objective was to bring attention to the fact that educational technology is a sector that still suffers from these issues, despite being comprised primarily of women. Between the harassing messages, witch-hunting, and lack of action towards updating conference policies in a manner that would create a protocol for reporting similar events, it is clear that we have failed as a community to make significant progress on this issue. I sincerely hope that we can reframe the discussion in a more empathetic, constructive dialogue in the EdTech community. That’s the only way we can collectively heal, do what we can to eliminate sexism, and move forward so that we can work collaboratively on the meaningful problems we set out to solve.