She Was Harassed By A Games Reporter. Now She's Speaking Out.

She Was Harassed By A Games Reporter. Now She's Speaking Out.

Alice Mercier isn't the real name of the games industry veteran that reporter Josh Mattingly harassed on Facebook. She isn't willing to give her real name, at least not publicly; she's afraid of the professional repercussions. This is a theme that will come up again and again over the course of our interview, and every subsequent conversation: weighing the toll of harassment against the cost of confronting it.

Last week, an abridged screencap of Mercier and Mattingly's Facebook conversation made its way around social media and then gaming news sites. It's shocking and uncomfortable to read: a stark illustration of the kind of treatment of women in the games industry that gets glossed over or discussed in general terms, but rarely gets exposed in so raw and ugly a form.

Mattingly asks Mercier -- her name and face blurred out -- for a lead on a project in development at another studio. They make some polite small talk. And then, suddenly, he starts offering to kiss her vagina. She tries to steer the conversation back on track and ignores his sexual comments; he escalates them.

She Was Harassed By A Games Reporter. Now She's Speaking Out.

Eventually, she signs off without a goodbye; several hours later, he sends an offer for oral sex so graphic that it's blurred out of the initial thread that circulates.

Mercier is a friend of a friend, which is how we have come to be in touch, and why she ultimately agreed to talk to me. So far, she's existed as a figment: a blurred-out name and portrait in a Facebook thread. Mattingly has said his piece in a blog post in which he apologized publicly for what he said. Mercier's words, thus far, have been limited to the original exchange on Facebook, to those careful attempts she made on the night of January 18 to deflect Mattingly's increasingly explicit advances.

***

When we finally talk, I'm struck immediately by how much Mercier feels obliged to qualify. Without asking, I learn how she dresses for work and professional events; how she acts in professional contexts; the image she strives to project; her boundaries for friends and friendly acquaintances and colleagues. She also tells me, unprompted the exact scope of her previous contact with and relationship to Josh Mattingly leading up to the conversation where he told her repeatedly and explicitly what he'd like to do to her vagina. She's seen the comments on Mattingly's apology post, and she's acutely aware that, in the court of public opinion, it's she, not necessarily Mattingly, who is on trial.

"I know there were people saying that I was leading him on, or that I should have shut it down," Mercier tells me. Anonymity has let her follow the conversation around the Facebook thread as it unfolds. Few of her peers know whom they're discussing.

Mercier: "It gets difficult, because you're in shock, and your brain isn't really thinking, 'I am going to tell this guy that this is not appropriate.' It's more of 'I'm just going to ignore this and hope that it gets dropped.'"

"Even right now, my mind is still blown over it," Mercier says, then pauses. "I've had people in this industry say things to me, but I don't know what it is -- that one in particular just really threw me off."

She goes on: "It gets difficult, because you're in shock, and your brain isn't really thinking, 'I am going to tell this guy that this is not appropriate.' It's more of 'I'm just going to ignore this and hope that it gets dropped.' Because, you know, there was the original intent to his conversation, which was trying to get information about another studio and their game -- which I legitimately know nothing about -- so it was more of, 'ok, well, I don't want to be rude. I don't want to potentially burn a bridge here, because what if there's a future where I need that press contact, or a professional relationship, and the industry is so small?"

When I point out the irony -- that, of the two participants in the conversation, Mercier was the one worried that her behaviour might burn a professional bridge -- she laughs ruefully.

***

To say that most of the women I know in the video game industry have a harassment story isn't really accurate: most have more than one.

"As a woman in game development, I have only so much political capital to spend before I get dismissed as a chick, [as] crazy, hysterical, shrill, stupid, not a real woman, not a real gamer," one developer tells me. After six years in the industry, she says, "I've been soaking in it so long, I mistrust my own internal calibration."

Like Mercier -- like every woman quoted in this article -- she asks that she not be publicly identified.

Mercier herself has worked in the game industry for the better part of a decade. In that time, she's learned to police her own behaviour scrupulously, to navigate a potential minefield of sexual comments and predatory behaviour and keep quiet for fear of being labelled a problem.

At a gaming convention, one professional acquaintance cornered her into an extended and increasingly sexual hug. "I'd be thinking, 'please let me go,' but then there were a bunch of people around me, and the people that were around were people I'd be interested in working with, who worked for companies I'd love to work for," she tells me. She remembers what she told herself: "Try not to make a scene, because you don't want to be 'that girl,' and you don't want to ruin the overall mood."

"That girl" is the bogeyman, a cautionary tale to keep the ladies in line. "That girl" is the woman who is iced out for speaking up and ruining everyone's fun. I hear about her from almost every woman I interview.

***

Are Mercier and Mattingly friends, as he's claimed? They've met in person twice, she says, both times at professional events. Mercier works in a public-facing position at a developer; her job involves cultivating and maintaining friendly relationships with members of the press -- people like Mattingly, who was founder and CEO of the indie gaming website IndieStatik. (According to a January 22 statement by IndieStatik, Mattingly has at least temporarily stepped down from that position in light of his actions toward Mercier.) They'd stayed in loose touch, followed each other on Twitter, had talked about getting together for a group board game night that never materialised.

Then, on a Saturday night earlier this month, he sent her a friend request on Facebook. "I accepted," says Mercier, "and within a minute, he sent that message. I thought it was going to be 'Hey, thanks for adding me, how've you been doing?' Instead, it was 'Hey, what's up, do you know this studio? I will get down with your lady bits.' "

***

Video games are a prestige industry: a job market where supply is so much greater than demand that the primary currency of the industry is getting to work in the industry. Games professionals are notoriously overworked and underpaid relative to their qualifications, and labour issues are rampant.

According to a 2013 survey by Game Developer Magazine, women make up around a fifth of that workforce; they're paid an average of about 25% less than their male counterparts. At professional events, they are frequently assumed to be clerical staff or day labour. Online and at work, they face a gauntlet of harassment from fans and professional peers.

Anonymous game developer: "The code of silence is real, and it's very dangerous."

In an industry as fiercely competitive as video games, professional reputation and contacts are everything. Employment is uncertain and often project-linked. Massive layoffs are common, and the ratio of qualified up-and-comers to jobs is enormous.

In a machine where every part is backed up with endless potential replacements, no one wants to be a squeaky wheel.

"The code of silence is real, and it's very dangerous," writes one independent game designer. She's talking about Mattingly and Mercier, but also her own experiences with members of the press. "Why would a woman want to talk about abuse and harassment in an environment where her harassers are staff on game websites and her peers are jockeying for the same job as her? That's one powerful dynamic to contend with."

Sometimes, the danger of confrontation is more concrete: a group of women tell me about a team leader at a major company who they say serially and aggressively harassed the women he supervised, singling them out and isolating them from colleagues before he allegedly began to make sexual advances. They say that, when they confronted him or rejected his advances, as all ultimately did, he began to systematically undermine their careers, cutting them off from opportunities, leaving them out of critical e-mail threads, or simply ignoring them entirely.

"It still makes me sick to think of how many young women left the industry, an industry gasping for more female contributors, because of this one guy," one of the women he allegedly harassed tells me. Frightened for their jobs, she and several colleagues finally compared stories and collectively went to HR. They say that their harasser was fired but that he got an equivalent job -- again, in a managerial position -- at another company. The women who reported him, meanwhile, tell me they were banned from discussing the case.

***

There are things you learn, when you're a woman in the game industry, that do not appear in training manuals or HR handbooks: how to grit your teeth and keep your head down and keep moving; how not to be a buzzkill or a squeaky wheel; how to deflect without confronting. You learn the same lessons that women learn everywhere, reformatted for a professional context: that it is your responsibility to anticipate and absorb a continual stream of microaggressions and outright abuse. Harassment is so common and so thoroughly normalized that learning to dodge and absorb it becomes as routine as carrying an umbrella.

"I have had to go through it so much that I start feeling that it's never going to change, and you shouldn't expect it to change, so if you kind of roll with it and just don't make waves, maybe it'll make things easier for you," Mercier tells me. She recalls a professional event, to which she brought a friend and now-former colleague who was interested in moving into the field of one of the party's organisers. As they were saying goodbye, he tried to convince Mercier's friend to come to his hotel room then and there for a "private interview."

"I profusely apologized afterwards," Mercier says. "I felt responsible, that I had brought her to this. I was the reason they had crossed paths. I told her, 'I am so sorry that this happened.'" She'd never seen the host do something like that before. But, she thought, she should have anticipated it all the same. After all: she knew what kind of things happened at industry parties.

"I can't do that anymore," Mercier says. "I just can't."

That's why she assented when the friend she'd vented to asked for permission to post the conversation publicly (with names and photos blurred, and identifying details removed) -- and why she agreed to this interview. "I felt it was important that I begin standing up for myself and let this incident be known," Mercier says -- even if she can't do it under her own name.

***

Mercier is in her early 30s. She has been gaming since before grade school; she can't remember a time before she wanted to make video games. "It's a medium I seek solace in during tough times, [one] that has provided me with a lot of joy and treasured memories, and one that -- despite the unfortunate negatives -- I'm immensely proud to be a part of," she writes in an e-mail. She won't talk about her current job; she's concerned that any details in connection with it could be used to identify her, or follow her back to the office.

Mercier: "I felt it was important that I begin standing up for myself and let this incident be known."

This is as much as she'll tell me: "There are really amazing people in this industry that do not behave in this manner -- of either gender, any orientation. But it's not an isolated incident. It still happens, and it happens frequently enough that it is an issue."

After almost 10 years, Mercier is tired. "I've even been thinking about getting out of the industry as a whole, which would just be absolutely crushing for me, because it's something I've wanted to be a part of my entire life, but I just -- It's worn me down a little thin."

***

Mattingly's recent apology was long and apparently sincere. He cited a brother's suicide and subsequent struggles with depression and substance abuse. He broke down where he screwed up and described what he would do to fix it.

What he hasn't done, so far, is contact Mercier directly. She hasn't heard from him since he capped off a graphic description of the oral sex he wanted to perform on her with a blithe "hope you have a great Sunday!"

Mercier mentions this offhand in the same e-mail she sends to let me know that she's sent my editor the identity confirmation he requested -- and to confirm, once again, that when this goes live, it won't include her real name.

Rachel Edidin is a writer, editor, and publishing consultant. She hangs her digital hat atracheledidin.com; with frequent forays to Wired.com, where she covers arts and pop culture; and Twitter, where she has opinions about superheroes as @RaeBeta.

Picture: via Shutterstock

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Comments

    After almost 10 years, Mercier is tired. “I’ve even been thinking about getting out of the industry as a whole, which would just be absolutely crushing for me, because it’s something I’ve wanted to be a part of my entire life, but I just — It’s worn me down a little thin.”

    Is this not a problem in every industry?

      Nope. Sexism is still very real, sure - and there are other industries that have this problem. But of the magnitude it is in the video game industry (and the tech industry as a whole)? No, absolutely not.

      It's certainly been my experience in the industries I've worked in, with the exception of childcare.

      Yep hence I bailed on IT at 36 and am becoming a Maths/English teacher, the career I've always wanted. Burnout is inevitable.

        Huh, I'm in the middle of a career change myself. I came really close to going for a teaching degree, try my hand at English teaching. But I decided social working was more interesting. All the best with the new direction mate. You scared?

          Nah I'm suited to it. I worked in IT in a private school for a few years and the teachers loved me, even ended up unofficially teaching IT (the actual teacher had me 'help' him lol). My few weeks in a highschool so far have had me suiting the classroom (6'3" and solid so the kids dont play up much so far...)

            So you already have some experience and confidence in that environment. Awesome. Sounds like you'll do fine.

    Why do I get the feeling that a lot of guys will still blame her for the whole incident?

      There will be some, but there are always some idiots who try to turn everything into a 'gender war'. This is just the story of an asshole, who deserved to be named and shamed.

        The article turns it into a gender war. Yeah, the dude was an ass about it, I agree with that.

      I'm not gonna blame her. But if you can't even help yourself, who can help you? It's unfortunate that she has to choose between her career and feeling safe from sexual deviants - no one should have to make such a choice. But such a decision (and worse) has to be made daily by plenty of people. If you know exactly what it's like, it hasn't changed for ten years, and you still wanna stay? That's your choice and you can voice your distaste about it, but ultimately your career means more to you if you decide to stay.

      Life is unfair and will force you to choose between things all the time. Things happen, sexual predators exist, wars and atomic bombs and people die.

        Just because bad things exist in the world doesn't mean people should just accept them and move on. War, sexism, racism - any of that crap.

        'It just happens.'

        Wrong answer.

          I never said we should accept them. I said we should accept they do and can happen. Things won't change just because an article was written. People need to be realistic and realise we are all human scum.

            We used to live in a world where women didn't have the right to vote. We used to live in a world where you could smack a flight attendant on the ass without consequence.

            We don't live in that world anymore.

            Why? Because bit by bit, inch by inch, people did something about it and spoke up about it.

        I can't help but read "It's her fault for not choosing to abandon her career" in what you've written there.

        That first sentence... "I'm not gonna blame her. But..."

        Do you see it?

    This whole story just makes me feel so sad inside. It really does. What a shite state of affairs...

    No one cares, that guy should get fired / disowned. End of story?

    Why this is so public and not filed under misconduct is beyond me.

    good article. I must admit I was one of the ones that thought this maybe just a conversation between friends but I see I was wrong. Good for her for speaking out even if she does have to hide her identity to do so. The more that do, the more this issue will be spoken about I think its quite common amongst many industries, not just gaming, but gaming is a high profile industry and therefore its is in the spotlight more often.

      If it was a conversation between friends, I don't see how that would make what was said any more acceptable.

    Good feature. Like any feature, it should be both respected and scrutinized. I feel like it's going to be either one or the other. Whilst i feel for this woman, the article itself is full of emotional manipulation and almost every point is capped off with a defensive comment. ( "...just like all women.") It's almost written from a perspective that people don't see what's wrong with what this guy did which obviously isn't true if i were to generalize slightly. Is it right to manipulate these things if your cause is just? That anecdotes can be taken as hard evidence? That insecurity is admissible? I seriously feel like that kind of writing can do more harm to your cause than good. It feels like the ends justifying the means and i'm just not into that.

    Condemn this guy and his behaviour but how much do we drag someone who is depressed and full of problems through the fire? He did something wrong but his demonization does nothing but pander to those who are already against this type of behaviour. How does that help others from acting the same way? It might be a natural reaction to search for some kind of vengeance but in most cases where one person has wronged another (theft, assault, violent behaviour come to mind), we are frequently asked to think about solutions, not simply react to the situation. Capital punishment has proven to be ineffective at curbing violence with empathy and rehabilitation considered more effective. I'm not sure why a similarly level head isn't required here at some point. I mean, personally, i can not fathom why someone would say anything of that sort to a woman. Maybe actually understanding the reality of that could be proven to be a little more helpful than loads of articles condemning the same type of behaviour. WE know it's bad, we should be showing THEM just why it's bad.

    This woman has been subject to some disgusting and damaging behaviour, don't forget that but don't try to fight the battle from her side. Make people understand.

    Last edited 29/01/14 1:28 pm

      I disagree. If this was any other industry he'd have no job and the possibility of civil action or criminal charges. Having some articles written about him is getting off really easy.

      There's no benefit in stacking insurmountable pressure on the aggressor. I followed several Twitter conversations when this first happened and there was a developer from Brisbane who actually advocated permanently alienating Josh from the industry and never forgiving him. That's a terrible stance to take: it reinforces the battle lines and makes people on both sides dig in instead of seeking a peaceful solution, and it slams the door of opportunity in the face of every person who's done the wrong thing like this in the past but genuinely wants to improve themselves and make amends.

      The response to this kind of thing needs to be proportionate, and it's exactly why dragging it before the angry mob that is the internet is one of the worst ways to resolve it. As someone on Kotaku US posted in the original article, if Josh now commits suicide in two weeks because he's been under a constant barrage of hateful responses and every path has been closed to him, is Kotaku going to write an article on the effects of bullying, or will it silently remain complicit in helping whipping up the pitchfork mob in the first place?

      What Josh did was wrong, there's no question. But he's human, and humans make mistakes. Humans in highly stressful situations are even more likely to make mistakes. Treating him like a rapist is not a proportionate response. Ostracising him in the industry forever with no chance of reconciliation is not a proportionate response. Burning him at the stake in front of a crowd of bloodthirsty anonymous internet personas is not a proportionate response.

      He did the wrong thing. He acknowledged it, he apologised, he identified contributing factors that led to his mistake and he's taken steps to address them. What possible benefit could continuing to lambast him be now? It won't help him, it won't help the victim, it won't help others. It'll just make things worse for the cause as a whole, and it'll completely undermine the entire moral high ground the mob claimed to have in the first place.

      The witch hunt needs to stop, before it drives him to make another mistake like self-harm, and before it convinces others who have made mistakes that they can't change their ways because the idiots in the mob won't let them. And people need to think a lot harder before they pick up a pitchfork and join in on the next one.

      Last edited 29/01/14 1:51 pm

        It makes me happy to hear folks talk like this. If we had more of this kind of attitude across the board, these movements might actually achieve something rather than endlessly chasing and occasionally biting at their own tails.

        Sexism is a huge problem in our industry, but I often worry that the anti-sexism movement often does a lot to widen the gap. I'm not for a moment suggesting that folks like this Mattingly fellow should be allowed to do the horrible things that they do unchallenged, and am all for calling out a despicable cur as I see them, but on a broader scale, I think to actually start to get the message across, a more measured and considered approach is going to be necessary, rather than the battle lines of us and them that tend to be upheld by both sides.

        It reminds me of that woman who made the racist tweet before going on a plane trip. The Internet mob posted her flight details and were tracking when she landed on the runway. It was disgusting. I hate the Internet mob. In regards to the guy here who said the disgusting stuff, I would think that on top of his apology he should take some classes or therapy or something. Nobody's perfect, but this guy needs some kind of professional help to deal with his depression/behaviour/substance abuse

          I'm pretty sure he stated in his apology that he was seeking help. Also he blamed family tragedy, and booze.

            Yeah I know, I read his apology a while ago. I was just suggesting he needs some external help too.

    It's great to have her side of the story, though I kind of thought she tried to ignore his comments in the hope the conversation would get back on track.

    This raises a few questions though: what the hell is wrong with the guys in these anecdotes? Are they so desperate for female attention that they have to harass innocent women? Or do they feel so threatened by their female co-workers that they have to try to get some form of power over them? What's wrong with just being a decent human being and treating one another with respect? Think with your brain first and your genitals last. It's such a shame that such talented women are harassed to a point where they feel they have to leave the industry and quit doing what they love simply because some morons refuse to control themselves. It's also disgusting that said women feel they have to keep quiet about it for far of being labelled "that girl" and screwing up their entire career.

    No. Sexism is still very real, sure - and there are other industries that have this problem. But of the magnitude it is in the video game industry (and the tech industry as a whole)? No, absolutely not.

    Oh god, this is still being dragged out... he didnt rape her, he propositioned her. Lets get real: propositioning is only acceptable behaviour if both parties then agree to have sex. In this case, it backfired and he came out looking like a tool and she got insulted. But is it really necessary to then plastered this all over the internet? You'd think 2 adults (I use that term loosely) would figure this shit out without the need for third-parties.

    Clearly he didnt get the hint the first time and she should have told him it was unacceptable. But nope. Let's "lol" at his advances and drag this out for as long as it goes on for... man these two are as bad as each other.

    Last edited 29/01/14 2:56 pm

      Yeah but this is vaguely to do with games, and therefore it's an example of how the entire games industry is sexist. Didn't you know?

        There are really amazing people in this industry that do not behave in this manner — of either gender, any orientation.

      Sexual harassment is a crime of which you can be criminally convicted. Proposing something is not.

      Apparently if I get drunk and feel sad, it's a license to be sexually aggressive toward random women. I can claim substance abuse and depression when it backfires. No?

      I really don't know what this guy was expecting. A text message saying "come here you stud" is so unlikely as to ridiculous. If he was an employee, I'd look for an excuse to fire him. If he ran a company I'd sell my stock and take my business elsewhere.

      I don't think it was a proposition, it's straight out harassment. Look at the context of the initial discussion and the fact that they're only connected professionally.
      In the midst of a work related discussion you don't proposition a co-worker or client or whatever with an explicit sexual advance. You never do that, ever.
      Apart from the fact that it's completely inappropriate, it's also impolite in the extreme and demeaning; He's treating her like she's less than human. If he really wanted to proposition her in that situation then there are more intelligent and acceptable ways to do it- ask her out etc, like an actual human being.

      I mostly agree. I don't like either of the two people involved tbh and how each of them handled the whole situation.

      I think proposition is maybe the wrong term to use. He was seriously lacking any tact and came across very scumbally, but she says nothing and that was IMO the wrong thing to do.

        And could easily have blocked him at any point in time.

        She has nothing to answer for here. Who would think to immediately react to that sort of thing? Definitely not everyone, it's just so bizarre and out of nowhere that you naturally just ignore it and act like it didn't happen. I can understand her reaction completely, that was normal, his advance though wasn't.

          Uh, because this is the internet, I would think to act that way as I do in typical internet situations all the time.

      I don't think you can say she is as bad as him - I think this is the problem women have when they report these things - Blame is proportioned to them just being there (like road accidents)
      As she said - she was in shock at his comments - and inappropriate behaviour should be exactly that - she should have told him it was unacceptable. if he didn't know it was unacceptable, then he has had a very strange upbringing (and why these things have to keep coming up)
      media should be discussing social problems and prejudice, and as men, we should care how other men act - because they could be targeting our sisters, daughters, mothers, girlfriends

        Exactly! People apportioning blame are completely wrong here. It's like saying stab victims deserve some of the blame if they didn't defend themselves.
        Those people are actively part of the problem, part of the reason this sort of thing happens and why people don't report it.
        If it's up to the women to call the guys out or block them each time then what people are saying is that it's 100% OK for men to treat women like scum at any time and the girls should just "man up", quit complaining and deal with it themselves.

        I don't know about anyone else but I don't want to live in a world like that. It makes me feel like punching faces.

      Yeah I thought you would get down voted for that. What I want to know that if she was so brave to speak out, why the hell didn't she say something at the time? It wasn't physical, he wasn't on top of her, it was online chat for chrissakes. How hard is it to TYPE "he buddy - too far and you need to stop talking to me now"?? Both of them need to perhaps put the keyboard down and go and interact with real people to learn how to be a human being.

    I hate your headline, it reeks of Sydney Morning Herald and for that you should be fired.

    So she didn’t want to tell him it was inappropriate because that could burn a bridge, but instead she makes the conversation public? Sorry, but I still don’t get this. The whole thing is weird as hell. I still don’t think we’re getting the full story.

      She didn't make it public. It was on a public wall and a third-party witnessed it and screencapped it then publicized it as stated in an earlier article: http://kotaku.com/reporter-apologizes-for-crude-sexual-comments-to-female-1505393796

        Read it again. It was a facebook message thread. 'Mercier' then shared it with Laralyn McWilliams (i.e chose to make it public) who went and shared it on her twitter.

        It was stated and based on the images, pretty clear that these were private messages. Thanks for the downvote btw.

        Last edited 30/01/14 12:16 pm

      In addition to the comments below, both identities were blurred out - it was due to some internet detective work that Mattingly was outed. I'm sure in time "Alice" will be as well, people don't seem to let things lie.

        I just checked the original twitter link and Mattingly was not blurred out at all.

        FYI, this is the original twitter post with the link to the conversation:
        https://twitter.com/Laralyn/status/425387324881395712

        Last edited 30/01/14 9:58 am

      She describes that her not wanting to burn bridges was a decision made in the heat of the moment while she was in shock over his advances.

        So when the heat of the moment is over, why would you not THEN tell him what he said was inappropriate.

          Why? I don't know, I'm not a mind reader, she didn't say.

    Ugh, why do I always read the comments?

    As a sidenote: Has "Like. My penis. For your vagina" ever worked for anyone, ever? EVER? I don't think you genuinely say that to a woman (y'know, out of context) and expect her to be like "great idea, your place or mine?" You say that to make someone uncomfortable.

    I like the white knights downvoting every comment that isn't agreeing with their point of view.

      I don't think you know what a white knight is.
      i.e. this is a real issue people are discussing that affects people in the real world (particularly the ones it happened to!), it's not about "well meaning" idiots rushing to the defence of some false ideal because they want to "protect" a woman from the cruel world, as is the situation with all those "sexism in video game art" articles.

      Last edited 30/01/14 4:02 am

        That's exactly what someone white knighting would say.

        Last edited 30/01/14 6:18 am

        So here I am, making a post questioning whether we have been given the entire story based on the information provided and lo and behold, you downvote me. So please expand on this.

    I seem to forget that offering to kiss someone's genitals is a perfectly acceptable way to try and engage them professionally.

    To all those "but she didn't refuse" arguers, just remember that we wouldn't even be having this conversation if he hadn't propositioned her in the first place.

    This isn't a complex issue to grasp, people.

      Root causes aren't necessarily as simple to identify as you suggest. But that aside, there's nothing wrong with discussing ways victims can protect themselves. Bad things happen in life, we don't live in an ideal world and pretending that we do isn't going to help anyone. If a Nigerian scam runs, we advise people how to avoid getting tricked by it. If there's violent conflict in a foreign country, we issue travel advisories warning people to avoid those countries where possible. If an area is getting an inordinate amount of muggings, we advise people in the area to take extra care to secure their belongings and guide them on how to react if they do get mugged.

      Discussing ways to protect ourselves and de-escalate a situation is in no way, shape or form 'victim blaming', it's simply common sense in how we go about minimising danger in a dangerous world. Yeah, he 'should have' known that his conduct was inappropriate, but obviously he didn't think that at the time. Yes, the world should be a safer place but it's not right now, and until it is we're always going to need to find ways to protect ourselves from danger.

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