Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sexual Predation

(The photo has nothing to do with the topic, but isn't it pretty?)

August's Grapevine came with today's mail. The cover proclaims "The Joy of Living." On the inside, however, I found an article on "keeping the rooms free of sexual predation: whose responsibility is it?"

I found the article tedious, with all the hypothetical questions and conjecture. And somehow the idea of an AA meeting being a "Safe Haven" has never really made sense to me. Maybe in a perfect world, if there weren't other alcoholics in various stages of recovery, it would be safe. But as it is, with sick people trying to get well, and sorry, but BAD people trying to get good, an AA meeting is not likely to be a safe haven.

Knowing this, and believing this, it amazes me when I still get shocked by bad behavior. I don't expect people with long term sobriety to be well all of the time, but I do expect a bit of self-control from them. When they behave badly and then turn around and manipulate and do an attention seeking self-pity schtick, it is all the more sickening.

As I have said before, I am a person who is trying to live by spiritual principles. I need to do this to stay sober and I need to do this to continue to have any spiritual growth. Part of that is being nice to people even when I would sometimes rather not. When that is misunderstood, it is very hurtful to me. When I have to draw up some rather severe boundaries, it is not something I like to do. But I am not interested in any kind of flirtation with a married man. Not at all, not in any way, shape, or form.

It deeply hurts me to be misunderstood this way. Then to watch the sickening self-pity and attention seeking is almost more than I can stand.

I am a survivor. I keep my head pointed forward. I persevere. I trust God even when it seems like insanity is all around me.

Women in AA are often seen as commodities. It is a shame. It is sad. For all concerned.

But if you are to stay sober, it is best not to get mired in the "injustice" of it all. It is best to just move on. And I don't care to speculate about "what if it happened to this person or that person? They would surely get drunk!" If a person wants to stay sober, they will find a way to do that no matter what. If a person is looking for an excuse to get drunk, any thing will do.

I would just caution all bloggers to be careful, some things are not as they seem.

Post Script 9/7/09:
The blog of a critic of AA is quoting this post and linking to it. That's fine. But the fact that the person attributes me talking about my "selfish program" is more than I can tolerate. I have never believed AA is a selfish program and I have never written or said that it is. It is not.

That's all. I am not going to get into an argument over this. But I feel the need to clarify this gross misrepresentation of what I have written.


Pam said...

Very well said!
The blogging community can be just like "the rooms" - you start thinking that everyone is in there for the same reason. You start thinking of bloggers like a "fellowship" and you don't know if you should warn others or not when one of the "fellows" is sicker than he lets on.

Gin said...

Great post MC. I'm sure it must have been a hard one to write, but it obviously is one that is needed. And yes, the picture is absolutely beautiful!

Mike Golch said...

what a great posting.I always enjoy my visits if I just get myself to comment more.

Mary LA said...

When I first sobered up and came into meetings I was extremly vulnerable, with low self-esteem, poor character judgment and easily flattered. I am grateful to all the strong savvy women who refused to put up with any kind of sexual harassment and confronted predatory men quite openly.

Women like that made meetings a safe haven for newcomers.

Thank you for sharing this.

Mary LA

Lou said...

A friend of mine from blogland (who doesn't write much anymore) is a real Christian. I know her in real life, and she is one of those rare people who lives her faith 24/7, as I think you do MC. I try to do right, but I don't know much about the Bible or theory. My friend started a prayer group, and we meet once a month rotating at our houses. Just that one hour a month has increased my knowledge and spirituality because I'm with people who believe, who walk the talk, who witness for God.
I guess what I'm trying to say is the more you expose yourself to the right people, the more it wears off. And of course the opposite is true also...

cdron97 said...

Thank you for your post, Mary. I just came upon your blog the other day and have hesitated to comment. However, this topic provoked this response.
When new, I felt the rooms were an oasis in a sea of alcohol. A safe harbour in a desert of despair. I realize we did not leave our baggage at the door and become pure just because we were here.
I agree with Mary LA and continue to marvel at the strong women who will not let predators get away with their behavior. The men, too, are watchful of vulnerable newcomers. Thanks again, be well.

Scott W said...

There are frauds everywhere and the rooms are certainly no exception. The internet is still new territory and we develop relationships based on what is presented, but there are those that are so obviously charlatans and I am often surprised at how others follow them like lemmings.

Those who would prey on the weak are sad creatures. Those who do stand up to them are small in number. Those who assume they are AA royalty are the ones that are ripe for being picked off.

Anonymous said...

This has been on my mind recently. There is a lot more thirteenth stepping than I thought there would be in the rooms - I guess one can only take care of oneself and leave the others to their own Higher Powers.


Syd said...

I am guilty of taking people at face value. I don't know what is going on but it brings a bit of fear in me that someone that is blogging is misrepresenting themselves in an effort to manipulate and act out. I am such an optimist that I believe what people write/say until they prove me wrong. This post and Pam's is disturbing because I would like for things to be as they seem, and not have to watch for snakes in the grass at every step.

Gabriella Moonlight said...

A good friend of mine has offered two suggesstions on this topic, 1) the same people who lurked in bars and taverns are the same one's in the rooms. The second is that AA is not a hotbed of sanity... my best thinking in life got me into AA, that is enough for me to remind myself I am human...and I thank you for this post! Great reminders.

dAAve said...

I mirror what Syd said. Usually, a person has to show me how screwed up they are before I can realize it.
At least YOU have a program and know how to react properly.

garden-variety drunk said...

I just received my Grapevine today but haven't had a chance to read that article. I don't find it too surprising that there are sick alcoholics in the rooms since I was quite a sick puppy when I walked through the doors. I do tend to expect more from old timers though

Willa said...

I get the Grapevine too. I really like the new format.

Thanks for the advice, Mary Christine. There was one or two men looking for "more than the 12 Steps" when I came in, but I set them straight.

Ed G. said...

"Anyone can be a Las Vegas showgirl on the Internet..."

I have a story that goes with that which I'll put in an article sometimes but I certainly support us all in creating the fellowship we crave - here (blogland) and in our respective rooms.

Blessings and aloha...

Becca6296 said...

The funny thing about newcomers is even when there is a strong woman who calls them out on it they still do what they are going to do anyway. I believe it is our responsibility to discourage 13th stepping all around. When women are guilty of it we seem to have formed a reverse double standard and I have yet to see one gossip confront the accused face on. THAT I can not tolerate. This has been occurring in the young peoples circles in my locale. I stopped going ot those meetings. When thye want to get well they will do the work and less socializing and sexing.