How to Do Better When You Fuck Up

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” 
– James Joyce

Another week in the sex blogging world, and another company that purports to be ethical has behaved horribly.

I’m not going to name them here, because that isn’t the point of this post. I’ve removed all their links from my site and won’t be supporting them again unless I see real and meaningful change.

This post isn’t really about them. This post is about the fact that this shit keeps happening. Whether it’s ostensibly sex-positive companies or their owners tweeting misogyny, or kink websites perpetuating transphobia, or big-name educators turning out to be serial abusers, it feels never-ending.

I believe that very few people are inherently evil or incapable of redemption. In fact, I believe that for most of us, our mistakes are how we learn, grow, and become better people.

God knows I’ve made plenty of mistakes – big ones and small ones. I’ve fucked up and I’ve hurt people and I’ve caused harm. I challenge you to find me a single person who hasn’t.

But when you fuck up badly? Accountability is needed. You need to apologise meaningfully, make amends, and do the work to ensure you never repeat the same harm again.

With the enormous caveat that I am not an expert, here are a few things I’ve learned about doing better when you fuck up and get called on it.

Don’t double down

If you’ve been called out for shitty behaviour, it is very unlikely that doubling down and attempting to justify it is going to go over well. Unfortunately, doubling down often comes across as invalidating (“you’re misinterpreting what I said”) or straight-up gaslighting (“that didn’t happen the way you say it did.”)

Many people, when called out, will lash out at the people telling them they fucked up. Some will even act as though denouncing harmful behaviour is an act of abuse in itself. Seriously: do not do this.

If your behaviour was a result of baggage or unresolved trauma, that might be relevant context, but it can only ever be a reason – not an excuse.

Don’t expect a half-assed apology to fix everything

There’s a recurring pattern with the people and companies who fuck up in these ways: if they apologise at all, it’s only after multiple very public call-outs.

If you fuck up and get called on it, apologising is a good thing to do. But don’t expect it to fix everything immediately. People aren’t obligated to forgive you. They might eventually, or they might not. That’s their decision to make.

And if you’re not actually sorry you did it but just sorry you got caught and called out? Don’t even bother. Because we’ve seen this before and we can always tell.

Accept the consequences

It’s hard to be truly accountable without accepting the consequences of your actions. Sometimes, people won’t want to be friends or share space with you any more. Some might choose not to buy from your company any longer. You might lose sponsorship deals, speaking gigs, income opportunities.

All of these are likely to be proportional and appropriate responses to the harm you have caused. You’re not being silenced or cancelled or having your life ruined. You’re experiencing consequences for your fuck up. Owning and accepting them is actually part of the process of healing.

Work to ensure you don’t repeat the mistake

Apologising and making amends is useless if you just repeat the same harm again and again. So take the necessary steps you ensure you don’t. This might mean educating yourself, getting therapy or other professional support, or seeking help from your friends and loved ones (NOT including the person you harmed) to hold you accountable.

The best apology, after all, is changed behaviour.

Quote Quest badge, for a post about making amends when you fuck up

I wrote this post as part of Quote Quest, a fun blogging meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the logo to see what everyone else is writing this week! Oh, and if you enjoy my work, please consider buying me a coffee.

Dear Kinkly, I’m Out [An Open Letter]

Yesterday morning, I posted on Twitter a screenshot of the email I sent to Kinkly asking them to remove my blog from their site and not include me on their “Top 100 Sex Blogging Superheroes” list again.

But I had more to say, so I thought I’d write an open letter.

Dear Kinkly,

This isn’t what I wanted to be writing today. I don’t enjoy using my blog in this way. All things considered, I’d much rather be writing hot smut or dildo reviews or literally fucking anything else.

However, I am in a privileged position in this situation. I am a cisgender person who is not directly harmed by transphobia. Therefore, I feel it is my responsibility to use my platform to make what difference I can.

Many people in the sex blogging community were dismayed to see what your “Top 100 Sex Blogging Superheroes” list, released last week, awarded prizes to bloggers who have perpetuated transphobic behaviour this year. I must stress here that we’re not talking about someone making a mistake in good faith. We’re talking about people who expressed support for a violently transphobic piece of writing. People who misgendered others deliberately. People who doubled down and attacked when asked to do better and stop hurting trans and non-binary people.

As a community, we gave you the benefit of the doubt when you published your list. We understand you can’t go through every single bit of social media interaction someone has ever had. That’s why the problem was brought to your attention calmly and politely.

We very much hoped that you would choose to do better. It wouldn’t even have been particularly difficult! All you needed to do was say “we’re really sorry, we didn’t know,” remove the bigoted people from your list, and make more of an effort to uplift marginalised voices in the future.

Instead, you chose to double down. The comments you posted on Twitter earlier this week cannot even really be described as a “non apology.” They weren’t even that. They amounted to “welp, not our problem.”

You could have chosen to own your mistake and support the most marginalised members of our community. Instead, you told us loudly and clearly that you don’t give a damn.

In a situation of injustice, you tried to remain neutral. In doing so, you sided with the oppressor.

I’m done, Kinkly. I’m out. I’ve already told you to remove my content from your platform and unless I see meaningful and substantive change, I will not consider supporting you again in any way – writing for you, sharing your content, engaging with you on social media, or allowing you to use any of my content on your site.

We spoke up, and you chose to ignore us. We asked you to do better, and instead you chose to turn away and continue to give bigotry a platform. At a certain point, all we can do is vote with our digital feet.

So that’s it. I’m out. I hope you will seriously consider the repercussions of your actions and the very real harm they have caused to trans and non-binary people, who are already marginalised in the rest of the world and deserve to find a safe space in our community. I hope you will reevaluate your approach to how you do your “Superheroes” list, should you continue to run it in the future. And I hope you’ll make some real, meaningful steps towards making amends. Might I suggest a genuine apology, removing the bigoted bloggers from your platform, and perhaps making a donation to a charity that supports trans people as a starting point?

I hope you’ll choose to do better, but I’m not holding my breath.

Amy

Want to cosign the letter? Just comment below to do so!

I Will Never Stop Speaking Out Against Injustice

Well, it has been a week, hasn’t it? At the time of writing, we’re less than 48 hours from the 2020 US Presidential election being called in favour of Joe Biden. The Orange Fascist who currently sits in the White House, unsurprisingly, is not conceding quietly. My home country, the UK, is back in our second four-week lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19. And in the last two hours, I have witnessed some of the most shocking and violent transphobia on social media directed at my friends and members of my community. It’s a lot, and this is just the top of the iceberg. So let’s talk speaking out against injustice.

TW: I’m going to be talking about difficult subjects including anti-LGBTQ violence, sexism, transphobia, racism, police brutality, and the rise of the far right. Please take care of yourselves.

I am very aware that there are people who wish that people like me would shut up. They’ll call us SJWs, snowflakes, the loony left, and so on and so on. The thing you have to remember is this: they really, really want us to shut up. You know why? Because we terrify them.

Bigots and oppressors hang on to the status quo because it serves them. They either don’t care about the people they’re standing on to get to the position they’re in, or they’ve trained themselves not to see it. They hate us because we make them see it. We force them to confront it. People who benefit from injustice will do anything they can to hold onto the power and privilege it gives them.

All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing, as the famous quote goes.

That’s why it is vital that now, more than ever, we continue to speak up.

Joe Biden’s victory is a huge win for human rights and anti-fascism, but Trump’s defeat doesn’t mean the battle is won. There is still so much work to do, not just in America but all over the world. LGBTQ+ rights are still under attack in so many places. Institutional racism and the police brutality it enables continue to run rampant. Abortion rights are coming under fire. Here in the UK, our own brand of far-right nationalists are still gaining traction. And so on and so on and fucking so on.

We must keep going. Keep fighting. Keep speaking up and speaking out, raising our collective voices to say we will not tolerate this. Because one person might not be able to change anything on their own. But together? Together, we can change the fucking world.

I feel an obligation to speak out against injustice when I see it. And I don’t think this makes me a special or amazing or extraordinary person. I’m not, and I don’t want cookies or accolades or thanks. Frankly, it boggles my mind every single day that anyone can see the violence and oppression and bigotry going on in the world, and not want to do something to stop it. Such an astonishing lack of empathy or care for one’s fellow humans is just something I cannot grasp.

No matter how many people yell at me on social media, call me names, threaten me, launch hate campaigns against me. It’s happened before and I expect it’ll happen again. I can’t truthfully say it doesn’t matter and it doesn’t hurt, because it does matter and it does hurt. But to shut up and let them win? That would be like cutting out my soul.

I’m afraid I don’t know who to attribute these words to, as I’ve seen them floating around on social media for years (if you know who the originator is, please tell me so I can credit them!) But I think this sums it up beautifully:

Meme about snowflakes for a post about speaking out against injustice

Winter is coming. We will not be quiet. We will never stop speaking out against injustice – because enough snowflakes form an avalanche.

I want to leave you with this, from the incredible Grace Petrie:

But if there’s a fire in your heart
It only needs to be a candle
Every fire in the world
Started from one spark
So take the fire in all our hearts
We will be more than they can handle
Take my hand in here tonight
And we will light up all the dark

(Listen)

(Header image by Johnny Silvercloud, licensed through Shutterstock.)