Survivors of sexual harassment/violence do full LABOUR and pay full COST of surviving.
This is evil and unethical, esp in a society/legal system which actively enables abusers to thrive.
How do we end that?
But first. Context.
The idea of cost is what @bintiM and @WanjikuClara, among several others, have been saying for YEARS.
Every time abusers are allowed to continue climbing career ladders, rung by rung, it is always on the backs of those who survived (AND those who did not survive) their violence.
There comes a critical point when stories about abusers break out of the whisper network and become public.
Since patriarchy is designed to protect itself, and due to the private context of most abuse, it gets called "allegation" even when the person it happened to says it.
A sexual abuse narrative from a survivor diffuses pain outwards. It's inconvenient and difficult.
It's been far easier for us to attack survivors who come forward, than face any challenge to our beliefs about the abusers, especially when we consider the abusers "useful" to us.
When we choose this usefulness to us - their talent brings me joy. They make great songs, are an incredible actor, produce wonderful films - that is what abusers count on, consistently.
That we'll choose their "usefulness" over the survivors' comparative statuses as non-entities.
Choosing the usefulness of abusers is a script the patriarchy is deeply committed to.
In Kenyan courts of law, the sole defence of countless rapists and abusers continues to be "I am the sole breadwinner of my family. If I am put in jail, nobody will take care of them."
Another thing about abusers: they are careful to knit themselves into ecosystems and networks of folk who stand to lose deeply if ever the abuse is outed.
Most abusers roll squad deep, whether squad knows or not.
That way it's very messy and complex to seperate them from it.
So this is one of the biggest issues when abuse mushrooms in the context of a film's production.
Films are collectively owned things. Their success and failure is collective.
That's why it is so bad when ONE person is an abuser. See Harv*y Weinst*in. Bi*l C*sby. K*vin Sp*cey.
This is 1 of those times when multiple terrible things are all true at the same time:
1. It is easier to see this clearer from outside the eye of the storm. For sure.
Also: survivors are never outside that storm.
Every time their abuser succeeds in life, they are returned to it.
2. We can decide our bar for engaging with sexual abuse "allegations" is legal: Did survivor report to the police or press charges.
Also: What a question from post-colonial Africans who are WELL acquainted with police brutality, and the grey zones that masquerade as due process.
3. The work can be stunning. Wonderful. Everyone can have poured their everything into it. Remember House of Cards. All this is true.
Also: the abuser has also poured themselves in, to hide. The abuser stakes their survival and future abuses on the same work's success 💔.
Survivors are saying, "This same person who pre-packages joy to give you as a song, as a film? Pre-packaged violence and abuse to give me."
Very often, others too. Abusers are rarely one-hit wonders.
We've done moral gymnastics to justify our disbeliefs of their stories.
It's hard for us to believe that people who make beautiful things that bring joy can be abusers.
Yet they are.
And so here we are. Survivors, people who've found themselves juxtaposed with the abuse, however unwillingly, and the work's audiences. All wondering what comes next.
Audiences are lobbying and drawing lines already. @bintiM and @WanjikuClara have been elaborating on this: the value system that work featuring abusers is irredeemable.
More: some DJs and radio stations no longer play Rob*rt Kel*y, for instance. Others have benched H*rry Po*ter.
Standing with survivors must be tangible. Complete refusal to engage with abusers' work is exactly that. It's what an Audience Boycott is.
It says: you are first an abuser before you're an artist, and so the same way you decide to abuse, we decide your art will mean nothing here.
You can see clearly how that actively refuses survivors to carry the full load, or pay the full cost of surviving sexual harm, abuse and violence. It shares this cost. Tangibly.
This becomes more complex for people whose livelihoods and career trajectories are tied up in work featuring the abuser.
All possible options are terribly costly. And it is terribly unfair to have to enact any.
Also: no one, no one, has paid as high a price as the survivor(s).
Survivors did not choose to have to chart a path through violence done to them.
But we get to choose who we stand with and what we stand for. And how we MUST help bear these costs that are too, too high.
Some choose to kill the work featuring the abuser entirely.
Some choose to unite away from the abuser and surgically cut the abuser out of the work, however they can.
Some ice the abuser by refusing to work with them or any of their supporters in future.
One of the things the #MeToo movement has shown us is that silence is a cloudy space. Abuse thrives in it.
Conversely, support for survivors doesn't last long in silence. You can't build any structures around it. Silent support can never inform policy or institutional values.
Everyone saying the film/creative industry's silence is loud: they're right, and I say this as an industry stakeholder in multiple capacities.
Figuring out institutional stands in these matters is a longer term task for many. It's the only way to truly share survivor burden.
Abusers count on us to decide that the apparent value of their labour is more than the cost of the harm that they do to others.
In the creative sector we traffick in aesthetics/emotions/esteem. Other sectors peddle healing (healthcare), teaching (education), worship (religion).
I want to say one last thing. It's about grief.
One reason that survivors are so abandoned is that their grief for themselves, their lives and what was taken from them by abusers is forced to be private by stigma.
But audiences get to grieve losses of famous abusers in public.
We will really lament what we may not watch, read or see any more, because that is far easier than facing what an evil place the world has been to so many, and how some people have really had to look that evil in the face.
Survivors don't have that luxury.
If we begin to really look at the real interruptions that the real violence has caused real people in real time;
or the real ways we have really ignored real places we can really step in;
we will have to accept that we are part of the world that enabled abuse and abusers.
We'll have to accept how few rapes/harassments are actually reported because burdens of proof favour the powerful.
We'll have to face the dysfunctional power dynamics and norms enabling harm to women, young people, those living in poverty, with disability, and/or as minorities.
We'll have to ask how it is that in this wild society we live in, it is actually much easier for an abuser to sue someone re. "allegations" than it is for survivors of any abuse to speak their truth and expect care and support.
We have to ask all those questions when we sit long enough in this thing. We may love the abuser. We hate the story the survivor is telling. And we just want to run away from it all.
And so it's easier to project on the art, or on the output, because the people are too complex.
Yes, it is far easier to ignore and keep quiet about.
But we cannot unknow what we know, whether via the whisper network or because of a survivor who blew the thing open. I'll NEVER forget the tidal wave Koome's thread unleashed, not even on Twitter, but on Whatsapp.
The survivors have to be the center of this thing.
It is not the art or the outputs, it is not the opinions or the politics, it is not the scandal or the personal ignorance.
It is finding ways that harm done can be mitigated by whatever means we have and can organise together.
The question is not how we feel about tidal waves of terrible information that can change how we work and consume.
The question is how we share the survivors' costs and labours of surviving sexual abuse, and how we do this at the systemic level in a world that protects abusers.
While at this point we must ask this because the stories of the harm from a performer/filmmaker and a music producer have been that tidal wave, and we must hold space for this, the actual issue transcends the arts and pours out into the whole of life.
Abuse is ubiquitous.
I'll stop there for now.
PS. The curtain is rising and the light is coming in.
We're going to have to face many more similar truths. Abuse is ubiquitous.
And the church is an excellent case study to show that it is not enough that survivors speak up. It only counts when we believe them and support them.
PPS. Believing survivors in a world that wants to lie away abuse, and whose systems are designed to lie away abuse, is DIFFICULT work.
Also: survivors don't owe us grace, well told stories, or polite tones. Expecting to be charmed into believing is exactly how abuse continues.
PPPS. I deeply empathise with those who are broken, broken, about Kenyan creative work that has been irreversibly poisoned for them by the presence of abusers.
We don't have too much. The wins are terribly few as it is.
Then having to deal with this too.
It's the facken worst.
But also: that anger gets to be about how evil the world is, in general. It gets to be pointed externally.
Survivors on the other hand have to negotiate with how they had to see all that first hand: that those who have done them deep wrongs get to live as though nothing happened.
An abuser invades your life and body but when society worries about a future or a sustained income it's always that of the abuser.
They're not really angry at the abuser for abusing.
They're angry at survivors for telling them.
We saw it with the rugby players, the gospel artist.
P4S. These conversations we have here echo back into the whisper network in ways we have no idea about. Every public stance against abuse/abusers makes all survivors, not just of one abuser, but many others, dare to hope that someone may believe, care for and support them too ✊🏾.
P5S. The thing about sexual matters is how they bring out the "ai those things are private" reaction in us all.
Abusers count on that socialisation in the design of their abuse: that folks will be too ashamed by too many overlapping controversial issues/politics to report them.
P6S. The piece linked below is deep insight in differentiating harm and abuse.
That's very important, esp with the stories of a continued pattern of harm without remorse.
AND they're growing in power/influence which will make abusing others far easier.
P7S. This 👇🏾 remains vital to know.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Dr. Njoki Ngumi 🇰🇪

Dr. Njoki Ngumi 🇰🇪 Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @njokingumi

21 Sep
This exchange is FASCINATING.
People value how desirability capital is distributed because it IS powerful. Nobody distributes it thoughtlessly.
People also allocate desirability intentionally in public because people knowing what you think is sexy is POLITICAL AF.
I remember someone's mom going 200 kilometers out of her way to tell me the one she wanted her child to date had nicer hair and was prettier than me, with acid and sugar in her tone 🤣 I was young but that didn't escape me at ALL. It didn't hurt. I just thought she was a weirdo
Partnered people KNOW what they are doing when they use public fora to allocate beauty capital directly within their partner's social circles.
Nothing can convince me the bf here did this innocently or cluelessly. The girlfriend was supposed to feel insecure, and clearly she did.
Read 15 tweets
11 Feb
The discussion going on here is a formative moment re. feminist politics. I'm listening, re-learning, reflecting.
The intersecting of violences means that there is more than one victim.
This is because oppression is a terrible, unending infinity. It will eat everyone if it can.
Also, when multiple oppressed parties interact, the way power plays out will always be FAR more complex and layered.
An example. Current Oscars discourse for instance frames the fight for Best Director as being exclusively non-white men versus white women.
2 questions arise.
1. Which group of people has been winning the oscars, pretty much undisputed all this time? Why is that? (We BEEN knowing this answer.)
2. Who is ENTIRELY erased by the framing of this as "non-white men versus white women"? ie, who has even less power and so doesn't even feature?
Read 35 tweets
26 Jan
Normalise calling "pro life" people "pro birth".
After people are born, pro birth folk ignore:
- parent welfare/fam support, esp to (single) mothers
- ensuring social security, access to decent work or public goods like health/education
How is that "pro life"? It is a lie.
I don't agree IN ANY WAY with forcing someone who doesn't want to be pregnant to both carry to term and be a mother fully against their will.
I do have great respect for people who do the real work with among those that need it to deeply engage with life in full. Holistically.
I will never agree with the coercive methods a lot of people use to convince women these Nereah things.
Even my friends if they disclose pregnancy to me (never assume or "guess") if it is not evident how they feel about it I always ask "how do we feel?"
Read 15 tweets
24 Sep 19
Hello Samira. I hope you are well. You direct this enquiry to #StrictlySilk organisers: I am honoured and privileged to be one of them, let me address some of the matters and themes your tweet has brought up. As it is multiple thoughts it will be a bit of a thread.
For clarity, I imaged your tweet because the reference is important, in the event that the tweet I am responding to gets deleted and nobody has context into what the response was to or for.
That being understood, let us proceed.
First of all, since inception #StrictlySilk has ALWAYS been unapologetically irreversibly and joyfully queer, non binary and trans affirming. 🥳
That means anyone who identifies as any of those things, and is a woman or gender non conforming, is ALWAYS welcome with open arms. ❤️
Read 29 tweets
23 Jul 19
@G1244sue @DavidWanjiru Suzanne you ask important questions. Nobody is trying to use the word "privilege" to negate individual life experiences that are terrible and tragic, or to say that nothing bad ever happens to Kikuyus because they have "Kikuyu privilege" - that's not true at all. /1
@G1244sue @DavidWanjiru Families struggle to avail opportunities, education is a struggle, the trajectory to crime especially for poor young men with few prospects is a well known one. Class privilege is a whole entity. Those who say Kenya has 2 tribes, the elites and the rest, refer to that. /2
@G1244sue @DavidWanjiru We're all clear about the ways class privilege affects us, and even Nairobi's physical infrastructure points to that. Who can go where, how they are treated. Some people don't ever even think about some things that are daily issues to others. That is a little more tangible. /3
Read 25 tweets
24 Feb 19
The sooner we accept how fundamentally transactional most heterosexual erotic interactions are by default (purely due to the power differential between men and women) the faster we'll have honest conversations about our own relationships and fair regulation of sex work.
It's not a relationship of equals, for one, because patriarchy. But at the same time, someone has what someone wants, and vice versa, and that is how demand and supply work. We can try insert culture, religion, scandal and silence into the thing, but these are facts.
It's very apples and oranges for someone to come to the comments with inanities like "but she can't buy self respect"
- as if capitalism is designed to help anyone respect themselves or others
- as if she herself did not clearly say the life she wants for dignity
Read 24 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!