Neither guilty nor helpless
The shame is absolutely not on anyone who has supported his work; it’s completely, 100%, on him. That doesn’t mean we are helpless. We have taken action to listen, support, de-platform, and prevent this from happening again.
Neither guilty nor helpless
There are a lot of things to be said about 2018. Perhaps not all bad, but easy-breezy it was not. Even though stepping into 2019 might feel like sinking a tad deeper into quicksand, my usual rage is gonna come with an uplifting twist. For instance, sometimes you need to clean up a mess, but the trash takes itself out.
In December, Prosper Bonhomme brought Dr. Bone’s extremely toxic behaviour to our attention. I’m not going into details of their experience, and the experiences of others who sensed a sexually problematic attitude from him before. Reasons being: One; he had already left G&R in November. Two; Prosper Bonhomme already expressed themselves exceptionally well, there is nothing to add. Three; I want to focus on G&R as a platform, and on me as an editor.
We sincerely regret having been a platform for him, and having been a factor in the scope of his influence. Many dear comrades have done the same in their platforms, and Bon themselves has appreciated his work in the past. To all of you who have worked with him, or supported his work: this is not your fault, we are not guilty. The shame is absolutely not on you, or on us, it’s completely, 100%, on him.
That doesn’t mean we are helpless. We have taken action to listen, support, de-platform, and prevent.
“We've removed all of his writing from the site, removed his book from distribution, and he will not in any way benefit (financially or otherwise) from Gods&Radicals or our platform. If he ever tries to resurface, this article can be used as a record that others can reference." (Rhyd Wildermuth)
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to ensure a completely safe space. The world is too contaminated, there will always be a chance our best efforts won’t be enough. Especially when we are confronted with toxic people’s elaborate efforts to deceive, manipulate and hide. Still, we always strive to be better. In painful moments like these, we have the opportunity to strengthen our bonds, to process complex feelings, and to dig deeper into our work.
As an editor, I make thorough decisions with limited resources. Most of the people I work with I haven’t met in person, which has its pros and cons. We have contributors from all over the world, who have a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds. This enriches our content and strengthens a global network of incredible, talented people. But virtually, it's nearly impossible to know with certainty how all of our contributors behave in their daily, personal lives.
As I take on the position of full site editor in 2019, I guarantee to dedicate all the time necessary to not only ensure the integrity of the work we publish, but also to be critical of online personas in relationship to real-life ones.
There were some articles I've rejected based on my assessment of not only the writing, but also of the impression I got from the writer’s views of women. Some of the red flags I’ve picked up include: overt masculinity, gender binarism, extreme arrogance, graphic sexualizations, objectification of women, dismissal of feminism, insensitive metaphors, cringe-worthy jokes, and so on.
Although in this case I didn’t miss the alcoholism flag, I missed how it could be representative of a deeper issue between stardom, and inappropriate and deceitful sexual conduct with readers. This will not happen again.
I don’t need compliments, I need respect
As someone who was hired by Rhyd (and the board), and made many decisions on what articles would be published at the Gods and Radicals website for the past year, I can say with confidence that what Dr. Bones said to Bon about them needing his validation was a lie.
First of all, Rhyd published my writings, and eventually hired me completely based on my own merits. There was no ‘more influential man’ vouching for me (we knew no one in common). That’s just not how he operates, and it’s not how I operate.
Unfortunately, it's incredibly common for influential men to use compliments to shrink a woman’s self-esteem to fit in the palm of their hand. First they make you feel good, then unnecessary criticism makes you feel worse, so you become dependent on their praise to regain your footing. It seems harmless, but it’s not, because it coerces us into thinking that we need them to have our work validated, or to regain our dignity.
Compliments become toxic when they are used to exert power.
Cat-calling is a type of toxic compliment, that becomes progressively more destructive when we start thinking we need them to feel sexy, or they make us fear for our safety. “Compliments” also happen a lot in professional settings, but we don’t always see their toxicity. It’s as if we depended on cat-callers to ensure a salary, so we learn to not only accept, but also seek out validation from more influential men in our fields.
What’s the difference between being complimented and being respected? One is an expression of approval, and the other of admiration. This is a monumental difference. Approval implies validation from an authority figure; it means power. Admiration implies high esteem from a supporter; it means empowerment.
I will always be thankful to Gods and Radicals for being a space where I’ve felt respected and empowered. Our writers and readers deserve that as well, and will be treated as such. There will be no space for anything less than that.
Editor, writer, anarcha-feminist witch, based in Salvador, Brazil.