TW for sexual abuse: My thoughts on the sexual abuse allegations in esports (especially StarCraft 2)
By aiomon 0 Comments
I wrote this for /r/starcraft, because I want people, especially younger people in the scene to see it. Not really a super nuanced take, but I figure if someone sees it here too, good.
"Hey guys. Like many others here, I have been reading both the allegations of sexual assault and the comments from our community. I have some thoughts and I would like to share them with you all. I ask anyone reading this, please, do not go on the defensive immediately. I am not trying to tell you you’re a shitty person by defending Rapid. I most certainly would have in the past and HAVE in response to similar situations. I just want to explain why I feel this is not an appropriate response right now. These are my experiences, and obviously they aren’t universal.
For many years I struggled to accept many things including racism, sexism, and sexual abuse. When you hear a phrase like “rape culture” or “systemic racism” or something like that, you are being told you are part of the problem. As someone who would never consciously perpetrate a racist act, or sexual abuse, I felt this unfair. Why am I being targeted by something I would NOT DO. I think when this is your reaction, it becomes very easy to thing “man, this stuff isn’t real, or is massively exaggerated”, because surely if you wouldn’t do this stuff it makes no sense that people like you are contributing to the issue. And I get it. I still find it really hard to think of things that I do that contribute to systemic racism, even though I now believe in its existence. I also think that the way these things are brought up makes them harder to accept for many people, especially young men. Instead of feeling concern, or worry when you hear about them, you are trained to feel shame, which evolves to anger, which evolves to denial. This was true for me at least. I felt so ashamed that I told I was contributing to sexism. When there was a dissonance between my actions and what I was told was occuring, I felt angry someone would assume I was contributing to this issue, then thought it must just not be real. I don’t really blame anyone for feeling this way, because I think it’s super common to do so. I wonder if many people here might identify with some of these points, because for myself and many of my friends I think they hold true. The dissonance between your actions and what you are told, and the context that you live in can make it hard to accept these things.
I’ve seen a few arguments here about why we should maintain Rapid’s/Avilo innocence or whatever, and while I am by no means an expert about sexual abuse, rape culture etc. I want to share some thoughts (even if they might not be the most nuanced).
Something I saw a few times was the idea that it took these victim years to come forward and share the information or that she was a grown adult and should be able to remove herself from what appears to be an obviously toxic relationship, both of which discredit the allegations. I am a medical student and have now witnessed many abusive relationships. If a woman or man comes in to a doctor out of an abusive relationship, whether it be physical, sexual, emotional, financial that has been going on for years, can you imagine if the doctor said "Man, clearly this person has been manipulating you for years, why didn’t you tell me earlier?!” or “You’re an adult, why didn’t you just leave?”. This is so obviously wrong in a medical context, so much so that I’m sure most people reading this would be totally shocked if they saw or heard of something like that happening. Why is it any different here? You may have heard the phrase victim blaming, and this is a perfect example of what that is. There are countless reasons abused people do not come forward. They might fear it will not be received well. They might be scared for their safety, or the safety of those around them. They might not be in a mental state to understand the abuse being perpetrated to them in that moment. A power dynamic, such as the one between a relatively successful streamer in Avilo and his victim, can really supress someone’s ability to come forward with the truth - If he was a bit more likeable, people would certainly be jumping to defend him, making it even more challenging for the victim. Don’t blame victims for the circumstances in which they are divulging this information. It is often really hard for them to do, and I think when you start to bring up concerns about the timing etc., it really helps push people into silence – why share such a story when you will be condemned for doing so?
Something I also see a lot is the idea that these allegations are brought forward for money. Honestly, this is an argument I think could be reasonable for super famous people, where there is a lot to gain… But I also think that someone rich enough for this be to be a factor has the money to have legal support such that these claims are very, very unlikely to materialize. So why are we discussing it here? Like do we really believe that Rapid, a StarCraft commentator that has done like 10 days of GSL a year ago, is rich enough for financial compensation to matter? Do we really believe that it is more likely that this woman brought this forward for money, than Rapid saying a bunch of creepy stuff to her? Probably not. I can almost guarantee that Rapid isn’t bathing in money (is anyone in StarCraft esports??).
I think the idea that such claims are brought forward to ruin someone’s reputation makes more sense. In the age of “cancel culture” this stuff actually does happen. But if you objectively examine the reasons for why she might do this, does it really make sense? Like the victim clearly knows that she will face hate, disbelief, efforts to discredit her etc. All for the cost of destroying a D tier StarCraft commentator career? Hardly seems worth it to me. And on the off chance that this was some effort to destroy his career because of a personal quabble, there seem to be many more lies or avenues that would be more effective at doing this than just saying Rapid talked about his penis a bunch. And I know there is better “evidence” in the Avilo accusations, but I do find it interesting to think about what if there had not been. Like if the evidence against Rapid and Avilo were the same, I believe that people would have been willing to take Avilo down, while we still would have seen defenders of Rapid. The way you perceive people, and what you believe them to be massively impacts how willing you are to hear allegations against them.
The last thing I keep seeing here is the idea of “innocence until proven guilty”. I’m certainly no lawyer, so I don’t know if I have a nuanced take here, but I have a few small thoughts. One, individual testimonies ARE considered evidence in a criminal court. He said, she said type stuff is evidence, and a jury does make convictions based on such statements and who the believe to be more credible. But at the end of the day, I am not a lawyer, and you most likely aren’t either. So why is the bar we’ve set here the binary guilty or innocent? If you follow csgo, there was some allegations against a commentator (HenryG) there this week. While I do not think myself, or anyone else, knows enough to say he was innocent or guilty either way, whatever conspired was enough to make me think something went wrong there. He did something shitty. Something I would not be comfortable happening to me, my friends, my family, my colleagues, or anyone else for that matter. And so why isn’t that enough? I believe the victims here, and even if it doesn’t constitute a crime or whatever who gives a fuck? I don’t want to associate myself with these people, and I don’t want esports orgs or tournaments to associate with them. And to people saying “Let law enforcement deal with it”… How’s that been working the last few weeks eh?
Thanks for reading guys. Please try to be open to learning, hearing all sides of stories, and supporting people who experience abuse and other shitty situations."