So, yesterday I got an email actually from Kyle Payne telling me that he would be putting up a statement on his blog today regarding “recent events in [his] life.” It’s funny how for someone who claims he wants to hold himself “accountable” for his own actions, he repeatedly uses that word: “events.” I think that if we’re going to go with euphemisms here — and I’m absolutely no fan of euphemisms — “my actions” would be a much more accurate one than “recent events in my life.” See, events happen around you and to you. You are the one who sexually assaulted a woman and then pleaded guilty to secretly filming and photographing a woman’s breasts, Kyle. That didn’t happen to you — but it did happen to the woman who was assaulted. (BTW: I know that Kyle did not plead guilty to assault. Gotta love the plea bargains. But in my view, “secretly filming and photographing a woman’s breasts” is indeed sexual assault — particularly since he has admitted to exposing the woman himself.)
I also got an email on the same day from Lynda Waddington, the journalist from the Iowa Independent who has been instrumental in publicly exposing Payne and investigating his case. She wrote to inform me of the latest development — that a motion has been filed to postpone sentencing. This is so Kyle can continue undergoing his therapy, the results of which they are apparently going to present in court and undoubtedly use as reasoning to ask for lighter sentencing, and also to gather letters of support — coming from god only knows where.
So I get these two emails literally within two hours of each other. And inquisitive mind that I am, I had to ask myself: hmm, could these two things possibly be at all related to one another? I know, ridiculous thought.
So, Kyle’s letter, which has just gone up. I’m unsurprised to say that it angered me — in the interest of fairness, there are honestly few things he might have said that wouldn’t have angered me. But here’s a list of some of the things that pissed me off:
- The word “assault” does not appear once in the entire long letter. The word “abuse” appears several times, but only in relation to himself. The act he committed against the woman, in his eyes, was to “disrespect and truly dehumanize” another person. Yes, Kyle, you did that. Yes, you did commit “hurtful actions.” But you also sexually assaulted a woman, by your own admission to exposing and photographing the woman’s body. From your extensive research and advocacy, I know that you know that.
- He seems to admit that the reason that he went into rape crisis counseling had nothing to do with women and everything to do with himself without actually straight out admitting it. The fact that he said it doesn’t anger me, though the truth of it certainly does.
- He claims, over and over again, that he wants to be held responsible for his actions. But he is apparently collecting letters of support so that his sentence might be lessened.
- He claims to want to listen to all of us lovely feminists regarding what we have to say on the matter. And yet he has deleted every single comment on his blog that discusses this topic. He also calls our rightful exposing of him for the safety of other women “a smear campaign.”
- He says that he will halt “any involvement with research, activism, or advocacy related to pornography or sexual violence” but only until his therapy resolves his mental health issues. As I do with any sexual assault survivor, I do wish Kyle recovery from what he suffered. But no. No no no. There is no temporary postponement in sexual assault advocacy and activism after you’ve sexually assaulted a woman while doing such advocacy and activism. You’re done.
- He claims in the end to “still wholeheartedly identify with feminism.”
It’s hard to say which point angers me the most. It’s a toss up between 1, 5, and 6. Kyle opens up an “invitation” for criticism and concern to anyone who would like to email him [contact details edited out because I think actually contacting him is that bad of an idea]. I will not be contacting him. I have no interest in doing so. But if I were to put myself through that, here is what I would say to Kyle:
You keep asking for forgiveness. Forgiveness is not mine to give. That right belongs to the woman who you assaulted. And it belongs to the women who you counseled after their own sexual assaults. Thankfully, you have been ordered to not contact the woman you assaulted. And most likely, you will never hear from the women who you “counseled” ever again. So if they do choose to forgive you for whatever reason, it will be in the privacy of their own hearts. Tough shit for you. Live with it.
Give up any dreams of reentering anti-rape advocacy and activism. Now. The fact that you think you might have the right to go back once you have resolved your own issues speaks volumes about your narcissism. You don’t have that right. Once you reentered that advocacy, were you planning on letting every woman you work with on these issues know of your history with committing sexual assault? If yes, you’re severely risking triggering, hurting and offending them. If no, you’re violating them with your dishonesty and falsely letting them believe that you can be trusted with this work. I hope that your supposed efforts towards reformation are successful. But this is one place where you will never be rightfully welcomed back. And I don’t believe for a second that you are sorry, either to the woman you assaulted or to the other women whose trust you betrayed, until you recognize this.
Lastly, stop identifying with feminism. Just stop. Of all of your crimes, this certainly ranks among the least severe. But you are not a feminist. You are the farthest fucking thing from an ally I’ve ever seen. Again with the male entitlement. You claim to want to work for your welcoming back into the feminist community and yet still call yourself a male ally and still think that after sexually assaulting a woman you can “identify with feminism.” That’s not working. It is your privilege showing in manifestly repulsive ways. Stop this charade, and stop making it all about you. It’s insulting not only towards feminists as a group but to every individual woman who you have victimized throughout the course of your assault, lies and emotional violations. Just. Fucking. Stop.
Last week, Eleanor Trousers posted an update on Kyle Payne’ sentencing. Though the sentencing may no longer take place on 8/11, it’s still important for those of you who can to attend and show your physical support for the prosecution whenever it is held. Eleanor also notes how anyone can share their (polite, of course) thoughts with the judge in the case. Go ahead — write a letter! I’ll be working on one myself.