Takeaways From Yesterday’s “Rape Responsibility” Discussion
1. I made the decision to write full-time a little over a year ago. While the transition hasn’t always been smooth, I maintain that it’s the best choice I ever made. The successes we’ve had at VSB collectively and I’ve had personally have been documented, and 2012 is shaping up to be even better.
I’m bringing this up because all of this success has undoubtedlyÂ made my already large head even bigger. I’ve become more secure in my voice and my ability toÂ articulate, amuse, and entertain, but with that came an arrogance that leads to days like yesterday.
I think I can (and should be able to) tackle any topic, so when I was browsing through different websites Monday afternoon, looking for something to write for Tuesday, I came across Zerlina’s article about rape, read the comments, and naturally thought “I think I’ll offer a (slightly)Â dissenting viewpoint.Â I might upset a couple people, but it’ll be no big deal. They (our readership) know and love me already, so the people who do happen to get upset will forget all about it by 3pm Tuesday afternoon.”
I was wrong.
While I think this conversation needs to be had, I’m not well-versed enough with this topic to even take the chance to articulate the types of thoughts I did yesterday. And, even if I was a rape issues maven, this isn’t the type of topic that someone like me — a snarky, sarcastic, (somewhat)Â insensitive, and (too) pragmatic asshole — should attempt to tackle by myself.
Perhaps I may get there eventually, but I’m not there yet, and it took a day like yesterday to drive that point home.
Also, it was a poorly crafted post. The title wasÂ unnecessarilyÂ incendiary and sensationalistic, the premise was drawn from a flawed inference (more on that later), the examples I used to make my point were lazy, insulting, and (very) hurtful, the conclusion was completely tone deaf, and the post-post 11 am edit was anÂ abjectÂ fail.
Plus, as Panama stated in a conversation we had yesterday, because of the nature of VSB — we occasionally get “serious,” but most of our topics are meant to be light-hearted and entertaining. also, we usually touch on one topic one day and keep it moving. — this isn’t really the place for the type of discussion this conversation warranted. Honestly, if yesterday’s post didn’t blow up the way it did, today’s topic would have either been a (super-late) NBA preview or something about first date etiquette.
For instance, a glance at the screen while writing this tells me it’s 2:54 pm. In three hours, I’m meeting a couple people to create another “Sh*t___Says” YouTube video. And, lets just say that people who plan to spend entire evenings filming videos titled “Shit Diva Dudes Say To Bougie Black Girls” probably shouldn’t post potentially explosive pieces about rape two days before this silly-ass video debuts.
As much as I spoke about common sense Tuesday, the decision to post a controversial opinion about women and rape didn’t exhibit very much of it.
I do not apologize for possessing the feeling I was attempting to convey. But, I do apologize for being too arrogant to realize how wrong it was for me to attempt to convey it here yesterday. It’s an issue too touchy, too sensitive, too nuanced, and too volatileÂ for a person without a master understanding of the topic to address on a platform as big as VSB’s.
2. Judging from what GoogleÂ AnalyticsÂ currently says (it’s 3:08 pm now, btw), yesterday’s post will probably generate 10 to 12,000 unique visitors. A year ago, this would have been one of our highest traffic days ever. Today, it’s maybe the 6th or 7th highest day in the last two weeks.
Both Panama and I (and Liz for that matter) have had some difficulties dealing with this increase in readership and reach; some relatively easy to handle (increased server costs, needing to hire interns, etc), and some that’ll take a bit more brainpower to solve.
One of these “difficult” problems is the fact that increased readership means that there’s a greater chance that someone not at all familiar with you will find your link on Facebook or Twitter, and it’s been a struggle trying to straddle the line between “opinionated and editor-less blogger who can say whatever the hell he wants with noÂ repercussions” and “person who may need to be moreÂ cognizantÂ of his words because he’s not just speaking around friends anymore”
With this growth comes an increase in responsibility, and IÂ know I seriously let some people down yesterday. I can’t promise that it won’t happen again. You can’t beÂ successfulÂ at this without taking some chances and (occasionally) upsetting people. But, going forward, I do promise to be moreÂ conscious of the effect my words can have on people.
With all that being said, although I was genuinely surprised with (and hurt by) the reaction in the comments (and on Twitter), I really don’t want anyone to think that today’s piece and yesterday’s mid-morning edit are me back-tracking or trying to elicit any sympathy. Yes, I feel bad that there are some people who’ve never heard of VSB before and are going to use yesterday as their first (and, likely, only) impression of us, but this is what I signed up for when we decided to build this blog, and if I accept the praise, I have to handle the criticism too. I said it, signed my (real) name to it, and whoever doesn’t like it has a right to call me on it.
3. After re-reading Zerlina’s post for the umpteenth time yesterday, I realized that I definitely reached for the inferences I made. Because I followed the discussion about it on Twitter before actually reading it, I read it with an agenda, looking for a few things that weren’t actually there. I know how shitty it feels to have people make conclusions about something you’ve written before actually reading it, and I apologize to Zerlina for doing that to her.
4. You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t actually said anything about yesterday’s content yet, and I don’t plan to. That ship has sailed. I will say though, that as hard as this may be to believe, I actually did appreciate yesterday’s discussion. Perhaps the best part of VSB is the Very Smart readers, followers, and fans we tend to have, and yesterday was one of those days where I could sit back, read, and learn from them.
Among these things I learned was that there is a major disconnect among some very smart people about issues such as consent and rape/crime prevention and the definitions and proper applications of terms like accountability and responsibility. I don’t know if anything was “solved” yesterday (or if they ever will be), but I don’t think I was the only one surprised by how far apart many of us are when these topics are brought up.
I’m sure yesterday cost us some fans andÂ dissuadedÂ people who would have been fans in the future. That’s unfortunate. For those who did come back today, thank you, and lets continue to entertain (andÂ educate) each other. My eyes and ears feel a little more open today, and I hope yours do too.
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)Â