Kyle Payne’s blog describes him as follows:
Kyle is a social justice educator, writer, and activist. Much of his work is concerned with putting a stop to violence against women. For years Kyle has served as an advocate for survivors of sexual violence and other forms of abuse, in addition to promoting what he calls “a more just and life-affirming culture of sexuality” through activism and education. As a researcher, Kyle has studied the feminist anti-pornography movement and is particularly interested in men’s roles in confronting pornography and the rape culture. In addition to his pro-feminist work, he is involved with anti-racist, free speech, peace, and anti-globalization movements.
Did you get all of that? He’s concerned with putting a stop to violence against women. He is an advocate for survivors of sexual violence. And he’s interested in men’s roles in confronting rape culture. And he apparently works with survivors of sexual assault. But as one of those survivors, he sure as fuck isn’t an advocate for me.
While he was a Resident Adviser, Kyle Payne was arrested and charged with assaulting an unconscious woman. He has now pleaded guilty to attempted burglary and “invasion of privacy” — but according to court documents, his crime very clearly seems to have been a sexual assault.
In documents filed with the court, Payne agrees that “with an intent to arouse my sexual desire, I photographed and filmed Jane Doe and her breast without her consent.” A portion of the plea agreement stating that Payne was of sound mind when the incident took place in early 2007 was stricken from the document, leaving only the portion where Payne agrees that he is currently of sound mind.
At the time of the incident, Payne had been employed by Buena Vista University as a dormitory resident adviser. Police reports indicate that while attending to an intoxicated and unconscious female student, Payne reportedly assaulted and photographed her. The guilty plea entered Monday did not include assault charges. Tips received by police and campus security following the incident led to a 10-month investigation that resulted in Payne’s arrest in February.
Payne is now facing up to 5 years in jail an a maximum fine of $7,500. I won’t be holding my breath for jail time. Though, of course, one would think that such a strong advocate against sexual violence would support a jail sentence for himself and want to do time in the name of justice, right? Right? (Er, okay, maybe not.)
I highly doubt that I would have been Kyle Payne’s biggest fan anyway. There’s a lot of stuff on his blog that I disagree with or just find creepy. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend my days railing against the sexual violence committed by professional athletes and just ignore that which is committed by our “male feminist allies.” We’ve got a lot of good male allies/male feminists. This dude ain’t one of them. This guy is the enemy. And I in no way believe that the fact that he committed sexual violence while campaigning against it is an accident. It sounds to me an awful lot like design. Most likely, Payne was either setting up this anti-rape front so that he could be the guy that women trust — the most effective type of abuser — or did it alleviate his guilt about his sexual violence while not actually having to, you know, stop it.
Perhaps worst of all, Payne has kept on blogging like nothing has happened! He’s updated his blog three times since his plea on July 1st — including this entry, which contains praise for Andrea Dworkin, whose anti-rape work so touched his life. I guess that he still thinks that he’s on our side. He has apparently shut down comments and has failed to address the “situation.” Shocking.
There are hypocrites, and there are hypocrites, and there are hypocrites. Someone who campaigns against abortion after helping his girlfriend obtain one, or who has gay sex after campaigning against gay rights, or who does harmful things in the name of “family values” while visiting prostitutes, well they’re shitty, shameful people. But they’ve got nothing on a person who commits sexual assault while supposedly actively campaigning against it, and then thinks he can continue on like nothing happened. That, my friends, is a person who is not only shitty and shameful, but also dangerous.
There are a lot of women — many of them feminists — who due to past experience have difficulty trusting men. I’m one of them. And I’m not proud of it; in fact, I’ve worked for years to change it and would be much happier if it wasn’t so. I have always been skeptical of men who are rape crisis counselors, if they are going to be working with survivors who are women — if not for lack of trust, than for the comfort of those survivors who were almost certainly assaulted by men. This case certainly does reinforce that feeling.
I do however fully believe that men can be feminists. I’ve met many good ones. In fact, I believe that making men a part of the movement is a necessity. I don’t take Payne’s crime as a mark against all men. But I’d be lying if I said that it probably won’t in any way feed that often subconscious and distrustful voice in the back of my head. I can’t blame other women who feel similarly. And that means Kyle Payne is not only hurting women; he’s also hurting men. You’ll often hear the argument that rape culture hurts us all. Indeed, it’s an argument that I can see someone like Payne making. How true it is.
Belledame has info on how those in the area can attend Payne’s sentencing. Apparently, he has decided to have an open sentencing, and anyone who wants to speak can. In other words: if you can, go! Ren has links to more people who are writing about the case. They include Eleanor Trousers, who has been writing about the story since February, Jeff Fecke who writes about the case at Shakesville from the perspective of a (genuine) feminist ally, Purtek, Buried Alive, and Nine Deuce.
Oh, and Kyle? Please remove my fucking blog from your blogroll. Now.