From The Depths band member accountability.
Here is an example of a band who is dealing with a member’s accountability in a way that is supportive of the survivors and the community at large.
Or read the band’s statement below the cut.
Recently, you may have heard about Geoff, who has played drums in our band. Geoff will not be coming on tour with us in Europe. We want to clear up any confusion about the issue and explain our choices.
Geoff had sex with several people without telling them he had herpes. This is unacceptable behavior. When one of the people he did this to called him out for it, we got in touch with them to ask how they wanted us to handle the situation. Through those discussions, we helped create an accountability process for Geoff. The conclusion was that they were comfortable with us going to Europe, as long as we informed the people we would be staying with about Geoff’s actions. Geoff also committed to not having any sexual interactions on the tour, and to continuing to participate in discussions about his behavior. We sent out a letter about the situation to promoters booking our shows and to those we might stay with.
Geoff has been talking with friends, partners, ex-partners, and other people to let everyone know what happened and what he is doing to change his behavior. He has publicly taken responsibility for his mistakes and says he wants to do better. Because of this, we were willing to continue playing with Geoff, as long as it didn’t violate the wishes of those he hurt.
Meanwhile, George from the band Fall of Efrafra made a public statement asking people not to book or support our band because of what Geoff did. George never contacted us or the people Geoff hurt—he was only speaking for his own opinions, as a person who had heard about the situation.
We feel it is irresponsible for George (or anyone else not directly affected by Geoff’s behavior) to tell people how to handle this situation. Solidarity with those Geoff hurt means respecting and prioritizing their wishes. By trying to determine what should happen himself—without knowing their wishes—George took power into his own hands rather than returning it to those who had been hurt.
After George’s statement went out, Geoff decided not to go on tour. We support him in this decision. Trying to learn from his mistakes and answer to the needs of those he hurt is already a lot of work. It is unrealistic to think Geoff could do these things responsibly while also addressing the public statements put out by people like George.
Below is a statement that we were working on before Geoff decided not to go on tour. It is still useful to share because it offers important context about how we are approaching this.
We apologize for not making a public statement earlier. The people Geoff hurt had not asked for us to, and it was a higher priority for us to communicate with them and focus on Geoff’s accountability process. Unfortunately, although it takes a long time to put together a responsible public statement, it takes very little time for a rumor to travel the internet. As a community, we have to be careful that “public relations” and posturing do not take priority over mature responses to these issues.
Please get in touch if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
[From our earlier statement:]
Why would you continue to be in Geoff’s life after he fucked up?
Geoff fucked up in a particularly big, public way: hurting several people across the country and waiting to deal with his mistakes until he was publicly called out, rather than taking the initiative to address the situation with each person on his own.
This is unacceptable.
We believe that open dialogue about sexual health history and concerns about sexual health are an important part of consenting sexual interactions. People have such different ideas of what constitutes acceptable risk, what constitutes safer sex, and what aspects of one’s sexual health history are relevant to share, that it is unacceptable to make assumptions about what is okay for someone else.
Everyone fucks up—and not everyone gets called out when they do—but we are disappointed that Geoff waited until he was called out to deal with this, rather than opening dialogue about this beforehand. However, we don’t simply believe in exiling people from our lives when they make mistakes. Practically, that just pushes people, with all of their problematic behaviors, into other people’s communities and lives. We believe in “fighting where we stand”; we believe it is the responsibility of the friends of the person who fucked up to hold them accountable and work through their hurtful behaviors with them.
Geoff’s reaction to being called out informs how we interact with him now. Geoff is taking on the project of being responsive to the needs of those he hurt. He has been open to hearing about how he fucked up, and he seems genuinely invested in changing his hurtful behaviors.
As his bandmates and friends, we’re committed to making sure that Geoff continues to act according to the wishes of those he hurt and that he continues to learn from this until he can develop a healthier relationship to sex and sexual health. We’re also taking time to reflect on what opportunities we might have missed to address related issues with Geoff in the past. We welcome perspective and feedback from Geoff’s friends and acquaintances—especially those directly affected by his relationships to women and sexuality.
How do you know you are making the right choices about Geoff’s accountability process?
We don’t believe that there are choices for Geoff’s accountability process that are “objectively” the right ones. We feel uncertain about the choices we are making, but the important thing is that we feel good about the process we used to make those choices and about the dynamics between the members of this band and the people Geoff hurt. Responding to the needs of the people Geoff hurt is our top priority.
We are working on models for real accountability, and we hope that people can look at how we are doing things, rather than simply the end product of our choices.
What is our vision of restorative justice?
We would like to see our communities develop a nuanced approach to working with people on their accountability processes. It doesn’t make sense for every person who is publicly called out for fucking up in any way to go through the same steps. Every situation is different—whether someone is called out publicly or privately.
We aspire to a culture where being accountable is a normal part of life, where we can continue with our lives while we deal with our shit—not prioritizing one over the other, but understanding them as interdependent on each other—without being made out to be monsters or heroes. Neither of those extremes is a useful way to make someone feel, and neither of them creates a culture in which people are likely to call each other out or be open to being called out.
When some people tell the world how to respond to a person’s harmful behavior without consulting the people who were directly hurt by that behavior, they discourage other people from calling out those who hurt them. If people know they won’t be able to control the consequences of calling someone out, they may be hesitant to do it.