Asking to be Assaulted?

Sometimes people say things that make me feel sorry for them. A few years ago I might have called them an idiot or something more Revere-like. Today I can only shake my head and feel pity. Here’s an example from the NerdChic blog.

Mood music:

Noirin Shirley writes in her blog,, that she was sexually assaulted during a conference late last week. She names the guy who allegedly did it to her, and goes on to explain a lot of things that has netted her post 150-plus comments.

Here’s an excerpt:

At some point, it was too late and too loud to reasonably continue. Everyone cleared out (Nick, you are a *god*, for spending the extra five minutes to clear the carnage, so that I could wake up in a room that showed no signs of what had happened the night before!), and we headed to the Irish pub next door that has become our local.

Some food, a few more beers. Squeezing everyone up so I could sit next to someone I wanted to talk to. Laughing at the events of the week, and the night.

And then I went to the loo, and as I was about to go in, Florian Leibert, who had been speaking in the Hadoop track, called me over, and asked if he could talk to me.

I’m on the board of Apache. I’m responsible for our conferences. I work on community development and mentoring. If you’re at an Apache event and you want help, information, encouragement, answers, I will always do my best to provide. So this wasn’t an unusual request, and it wasn’t one I expected to end the way it did.

He brought me in to the snug, and sat up on a stool. He grabbed me, pulled me in to him, and kissed me. I tried to push him off, and told him I wasn’t interested (I may have been less eloquent, but I don’t think I was less clear). He responded by jamming his hand into my underwear and fumbling.

Now, if this did happen, it sounds horrible. But since it’s currently her word against his and everyone has a right to be deemed innocent until proven guilty, the fact that she mentions the guy by name is unfortunate. The place to name names is with the authorities, not the blog-reading public. That’s my opinion, anyway.

On to the comments:

A lot of people have dissed this woman for her own bad behavior that night, for dressing in a supposedly provocative way, putting herself in a situation for this to happen, etc.

Let’s look at the comment from “LOL@you” —

“Get over it, some jerk groped you and now your whole life is ruined? You’re an attention whore who got the wrong sort of attention, that’s how it is sometimes. Calling this guy out is fine if you want but recognize that you’re clearly an idiot. There is “what’s right” and what is smart, as an adult you ought to know the difference by now you big baby. Keep waiting for the law to intervene and clear away all the jerks and pervs and you’ll live a long, sad life only to learn in the end that the cops, lawyers and politicians you think give a shit are the biggest pervs/jerks out there and will only help you to help their career. Just stop being such a drama queen/attention whore and you’ll be fine … “bicycle shorts under my skirt” …LOL. Do you realize what a social misfit you are?”

Whoever you are, LOL@you, I feel sorry for you because you lack the stones to say who you are. When you call someone a whore and say she deserved it for how she dressed, at least show yourself. Failure to do so makes you a coward.

I don’t care how Noirin was dressed. You simply don’t touch another person without their permission, man or woman. If this guy really did what Noirin claims, he deserves to be held accountable — in a court of law, should she choose to press charges.

To suggest she was asking for it is a clear indication that your understanding of right and wrong is severely underdeveloped.

That’s how I feel about her claim and some of the responses. Now that I got that out of the way, I have a bigger point to weigh in on.

Some of those who commented called her a baby for bringing up something like this. My view is that she could have done it more tastefully, mentioning all the details but not naming the guy, but if she was traumatized, she should be able to express herself.

If you don’t like that she did it in her blog, you don’t have to read it.

I can’t claim to be better than her when it comes to naming names. I’ve done it before, with disastrous results.

When my friend Sean Marley died, I mentioned in a newspaper column less than a week later that it was a suicide. I went into too much detail about how he did it. The price is that most of his family won’t talk to me today.

In that case, I could have handled the telling of the tale better.

I could have let a certain period of time pass before naming him and the nature of his death like I did, for all to see.

I’ve mentioned him a lot in this blog, and by now everyone knows he took his life. But the dust was left to settle for several years in between. I write about him now to honor his memory. 

In fact, in the last few years I decided there was a stigma around depression and addiction and that I had to try and break it.

In doing so, I’ve told you things about myself that some have deemed risky. I’ve been asked if I worry about losing my job for acknowledging my struggles.

Acknowledging that you were sexually assaulted is risky, too. If you in fact were assaulted and you refuse to be quiet about it, you are taking a risk. But it’s a courageous risk, which is hopefully done with class.

Since she chose to name names, I hope she is telling the truth. If she is, I commend her, despite some of the sloppiness in the process.

If all this is a lie, then I can only feel sorry for her, too.


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