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Surviving Survivor

Recently, a sexual predator has been on survivor and has exemplified all of the typical behaviors that take place to silence victims, both systematically and through gaslighting. The women, on separate alliances in the game, start confiding in each other about the ways in which this person makes them feel completely uncomfortable. So much awareness comes out of the conversation, that one even breaks down in tears in a confessional in awe that they had not been making this us- that others were also seeing it. The producer interrupts, asking if there is something he can do, and her tears shut off immediately: the way they always do when society asks victims to be responsible for someone’s future. The woman acts like every woman, checks herself, her assumptions, and decides that it wasn’t “enough” to “make a big deal”. The end of the episode leads to open discussions from all sides that want access to a voice.

The women who decided that they had to take it upon themselves to remove this person from among them are now being vilified because it seems wrong to do it “in the name of the game”. This is not the first time in history that women have had no recourse but to take matters into their own hands and act in the types of ways social psychology has led us to ostracize members of the community that make us unsafe. It will not be the last. But I will be damned if I stand by and read page after page of it being used against them. NEWSFLASH: women are the last resort. Women who stand up for each other, who agree that they are uncomfortable, and certainly women who are on national television choosing to eliminate a threat that has much more to do with their livelihoods than winning a million dollars.

To have allowed the amount of air time that was allowed to a predator, who so skillfully used gaslighting techniques to make bonded women doubt themselves and their realities, and to allow companies like People Magazine online to then quote his profuse apologies, like they are anything other than an attempt to save face and reframe the perception of the observers, is truly atrocious. Especially, looking 4 episodes in the future and seeing that the producers were so aware of their behavior that they finally put an end to it.

What is more, when this person is finally removed from the show (hopefully through not a drop of sweat from another woman’s brow), the statement the show issues is that they cannot comment at this time because of privacy. I ask you, who’s privacy are we protecting?

I am tired of living in a world where a victim carries the burden of outing their attacker and of proving what happened. All because the places that should be outing them are too worried about their “privacy” and their future. What about my future? What about all of the other slides of hands and apologies? Has it not been enough of choosing what side of the road to walk on, what drink to drink out of, what guy cannot be trusted alone with me? At what point do we protect women as a society? When can I tell my daughters that their friends will naturally know their body is not up for literal grabs?

My deepest hope is that someone out there, making the decisions, realizes how much time has already been given to this person to manipulate conversations and pray on the very oppressive tactics of the system we live in to make women question themselves and be that much less likely to demand justice and change. I personally hope to never see them again, not to answer one question at the Survivor reunion, not to ask social media for support, not to “work with” one more woman who could become a victim, not to distort the impressions of any more people-in-the-making who already doubt women.

Janet, Joe you were right not to let this go, and you are deeply important for your roles in reclaiming the control that was taken through assault. The game should have never looked past this. Jamal speaks like the men that need to show up for this country, because the things that were said, specifically about women not owing you to let you know you have made them uncomfortable, are the very tip of the iceberg on what has to change so we can really be there for each other and raise better people. His words are infinitely eloquent, aware and compassionate. I wish that any discussion would have included dozens of quote from him, and not from the predator. Alas, we are here yet again, with media attention wrapped around the wrong idea. The world needed an extra 4 to 7 minutes of him telling men to sit. fucking. down.

I urge you to keep this person off of the public eye, and to warn others by speaking of his behaviors honestly.

Shame to the reporters and influencers calling the other women “heifers”. The world would be a better place if you spent your time supporting women, or staying off the keyboard.

#peoplemagazine #abc #survivor @mrduckbears33 @stevehelling

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