I got a Question lately:
I’m X, I’m organizing XXX. We recently received a report for the first time about abuse (inside/outside) our party. That is why we are asking various organizers about their policies. Someone told me that you were very helpful to them.
Do you have any tips or information that we can use now that we are drafting our policy?
And I hope that others will benefit if I repeat that answer here:
Ooh, that is a broad question… Let me see.
What I always recommend is to think about the difference between
- “victimization” (being a victim without profit and being someone who also takes responsibility) and
- “victimism” (being a victim with profits, who also does not want to take much responsibility -maybe except for the blaming).
And also distinguish between:
- “bastards” (any active asshole-MFX-) and
- “jerks” (people who transgress boundaries out of sheer stupidity and/or lack of knowledge).
What I always recommend is to hear both sides of the argument before you start the ‘judging’-process. And while judging (and you will, you’re human) please remember that you are not a judge, there is no court, and no ‘final Truth’. You are judging from the perspective of being an organiser with clients: your guests. Your responsibility lies towards your guests and within the atmosphere of your party.
In that light, you might want to promote a conversation between the proposed ‘victim’ and the proposed ‘culprit’. To massage back as much as possible the responsibility to the persons involved. Sometimes it helps in these situations to look a look at situations through the lens of the good ol’ Drama Triangle (NL tekst in: West-Coaching.nl)
Furthermore, bringing in an independent third party with a certain ‘weight’ can often make a big difference to smooth the conversations (plural… because this takes several rounds… If you are not prepared to invest that: don’t even start!).
It can help a lot to think about “the Rulez” of your party in advance (the fewer rules, the better!). Keep them positively formulated (please don’t come with a list of don’ts!)
Think about the wording of them, the things that you think are part of your party or not (and think about who bears the responsibility of the enforcement of those things).
For instance: as far as my own project is concerned, a lot is possible and allowed at TheMeantime, but I thought about this for quite a while. What is the core and how do I tell it (every time!) to all the ladies and all the queers and all the gentlemen guests. Personally, this is exactly the reason why I try to give every new guest a tour of the premises and a talk about the rules too.
If you are genuinely willing to solve the problem from all sides and you do ask for understanding for the interests of your party.. and especially if you follow this with: “how can WE help with solving that?” (to both sides)… This often makes it clear quite quickly who wants to be responsible and who does not…
Oh and beware of life-long “punishments” too!
It feels great to say to a believed ‘perpetrator’ “you’ll never get in it again, asshole!” but with that, you put yourself in an impossible position (as in: “not easy to defend if anger arises when you take sides somewhere”). Bastards might have gone into therapy, people might have grown. Jerks might have educated themselves and grown into their roles in less than a year.
Hope to have helped. And if you’re having trouble, let’s see what I can do as a person with a bit of overweight 😉