Monday, April 10, 2017

Watch Out for the Missing Stair

Go read the link (yes, it's a blog that's about BDSM and sex parties and suchlike, but that's not relevant to the point, I just want the term "missing stair" in your vocab).
Then, consider that you might well have a friend who's a missing stair. You might be inclined to discount what other people say about them, because you *trust* your friends (as well you should!). You might be inclined to find excuses when people bring up issues. "He's not like that anymore." "You're jealous/bitter/etc." "He would never do that." "You're being racist."
Well, sure. I mean, sometimes people get falsely accused. Sometimes people repeat a story that's not *quite* true so often they believe it. Sometimes there's just such a monumental misunderstanding that two otherwise reasonable people wind up hating each other for something that's no one's fault.
But it's in these shadows that the missing stair exists. It's that kind of doubt and goodwill that allows other people to break their metaphorical ankles. And the guys that are the missing stairs, they're smart. They know not to alienate everyone. They know to choose their battles, to avoid saying things in public or in print (or, now, online) that will prove people accusing them of harassment (or whatever) right.
This is why it's so important to listen to people when they say "he sexually harassed me" (or whatever). I'm not saying you should uncritically believe everything you hear. I'm saying you should listen. Very, very rarely do people accuse others for no reason, and if you hear multiple people saying the same thing, it's probably worth your attention, especially if by, say, hiring someone as a developer, you're potentially putting others at risk of the same treatment.
This is hard. I know it is. It sucks when someone you trust gets accused of doing something shitty, something that, if a friend said happened to her, you'd believe her and have her back and be ready to go after the fucker who did it (or at least, like, never hire him). But if your commitments really are to making the hobby and the industry a better place, then you have to be willing to examine your own biases.