Recently, a photo of an MMA writer was posted all over facebook, with instructions to help “rid this plague” from our community. The attention-seeker in question writes disturbingly inappropriate stories about female fighters for a content mill, has been known to harass women, and is not someone I’d ever want to spend any time with. And yet I find myself disturbed that so much focus is on an individual rather than his actions, in an industry that’s already rife with inappropriate behavior. While the kid’s writing is despicable and actions are disturbing, scapegoating an individual (or even a group of individuals) will not solve everything.
When you target a single person, no matter how egregious their comments may be, you often fail to address the bigger systemic problems, which are huge. The problem is not always specific individuals, but the type of language and behavior that people ignore. It’s the otherwise cool guy who watched Metamoris and found it fitting to post on Facebook that two female competitors, both black belts, rolled to a “sexy sexy draw” and that men should refrain from wearing sweatpants while they watch. In that example, it’d be nice if reaching the upper echelon of the sport would result in people focusing on one’s athleticism and technique, but no such luck. And yet I’m not willing to make across-the-board character judgements about someone I know to be an otherwise decent person.
Targeting individuals leaves so much room for error. It’s not unheard of to overlook bad behavior from individuals if they’re deemed useful as political pawns in what’s considered a more important cause. It’s a power play we keep dancing around where having rank or friends in the right places allows individuals to get away with what would otherwise be considered unacceptable.
To create cultural change, the focus needs to be on BEHAVIOR rather than individuals. We need to realize that good people say stupid things but can be surprisingly decent in other circumstances, and that bad people can be charismatic and manipulative and win everyone over. We need to realize that the world isn’t black and white, and that pinpointing specific individuals who happen to be most visible is not a substitute for creating a culture of accountability… one where actions are addressed with regularity and people learn from their mistakes.
The only ‘plague’ the community needs to get rid of, as far as I’m concerned, is someone who’s proven himself as such by his actions . Most situations are not so black and white.