Originally posted on Birdsite by mm_schill Link to Thread: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1276391151432597504.html
I want to talk about something called “performative contrition”. It is a term common in abuse survivor circles, and is a VERY common abuse tactic. It's an abuse tactic that's been on full display in the SFF community the last few days.
So, let's break it down. A THREAD. So, what does performative contrition look like? Simply, it is when a person who is caught being abusive apologizes in a grandiose fashion.
Meaning, very publicly, in front of a lot of people. They use EXTREMELY self-prostrating language. The apology tends to be highly focused on how the bad behavior is effecting the abuser, not how it is effecting the victim. The language is self deprecating, contrite, and seemingly everything you want to hear on paper. Let me be clear about the “performative” aspect of performative contrition.
The apology is NOT for the victim. They aren't apologizing to those they hurt. They are begging the pardon of the audience. It's for them. They aren't asking their victims to forgive them, they are placating the audience. They are trying to placate the people who can collectively hold them accountable, kill their sales, mess with their social standing, etc. They aren't apologizing to the women they hurt. They are asking the men watching to stick by their bro. There is also another insidious aspect of performative contrition: ingratiating, almost harassing apology.
They are so self deprecating, so loud, so in the troughs of their contrition that it is EMBARRASSING to watch. Especially if you experience this in person, not online. They make their apology so relentless, violating your physical and emotional boundaries, that it causes discomfort. In online forms, they constantly are posting, threading how sorry they are. They explode your DMs, feeds and online walls with relentless messages to forgive. They reply to EVERYTHING with relentless self deprecation, and promises to do better.
This is not about being forgiven. This harassing, over the top, relentless apology is meant to PUNISH YOU.
Embarrass you. Make you sorry for forcing them in that position. And the biggest aspect of the performative contrition is placating and deflecting. The goal is about not being held accountable.
That's why today we saw a certain dude-bro meltdown, talk vaguely of having receipts against his victims, then vacate the territory. He rage-quit. It was, “well, I said the sorry, then I wasn't relieved of all accountability like last time!” The goal of the over contrite, public apology is to placate. It didn't work. That's not how things are *supposed* to work to the abuser.
Paint by numbers. They said the “sorry”, now you say the “it's all good, bro”. Another aspect is to make the victim feel gaslit/isolated. You feel pressure to forgive. There is public pressure to just let them off. In fact, they are SO SORRY in everyone's eyes, you feel like everyone will think you're the bad one if you don't let them off the hook. That's purposeful.
Every aspect of it is about undressing, gaslighting, recentering the abuser as the victim, and minimizing the wrong doing. I previously said that it is horrible how followers are lining up to forgive the abusers in their mentions, when the apology wasn't theirs to forgive. But, in a very real way the apology was for the followers, not the victims. It is a performance to avoid fallout. In the end, a true apology is focused on making the victims whole again.
I don't want to talk about “when do these men get to come back?” I want to talk about “how are we as a community going to make these victims whole?” Because things aren't okay again once these men can operate in our spaces again. That's just returning to status quo.
Things are okay, finally, once the harmed parties recieve restitution for what was taken from them. And, my years in abuse survivor advocacy has taught me a truth:
It HAS to be the community that makes these victims whole again.
The abuser is incapable. The abuser is too broken, and the recovery statistics for predators is dismal (ask our colleague, Andrew Vachss ). Waiting for the abuser to fix this is a losing game.
This is a community issue. The community has to repair it. And, that very much may mean never inviting these men back into our spaces. If the community wants to make these spaces safe for everyone, well, the shortest distance is a straight line, my friends.
Remove the people making it unsafe. TL;DR
-Public, ingratiating apologies aren't for the victim, they are a performance for the audience, a manipulation to avoid consequences.
-this is a community problem. The community is responsible to make spaces safe.
-These men can yeet themselves into the fucking sun! FYI: when I said go ask Andrew Vachss, I meant that sincerely. He's a treasure. Go ask him about the pathology of predators, he's a mutha-flippin' expert. Go read his articles, his tweets, his blog. The community might be less apt to write predators redemption arcs if they did.