Anyone who has been following current events, even just a little, already knows that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is currently facing several accusations of sexual assault. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was the first to make an accusation, and she testified yesterday before Senate Judiciary Committee, stating that Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were both in high school during the summer of 1982.
Survivors of sexual assault have watched as people have accused Dr. Ford lying and of partaking in a partisan “witch hunt” and “lynch mob” designed to drag out the confirmation process until after the mid-term elections. Many have been re-traumatized as they have seen their own experiences of not being believed — of being accused of lying about their experiences — writ large across the world’s stage.
And in the derbyverse, we have watched as some men have shows their true colors.
On September 26, Infinity Roller Derby official Nick Castrillon (derby name Snatch A Ho) posted a series of FB responses suggesting that he, too, drank too much and assaulted women. When called out by a woman on Facebook, he responded that she wouldn’t have to worry about being sexually assaulted, implying that she wasn’t attractive enough to be raped.
Within hours, Infinity Roller Derby removed him from the league.
Yesterday, official Desmon Bryant, of Inland Empire Derby Divas posted his reaction to a social media post that had been circulating. The text of the original post reads:
Don’t try to be clever today.
Don’t try to make light of what’s happening.
Don’t offer what you think is a comforting hug.
Don’t ask, now, what we think about what’s happening.
Don’t ask if we believe her.
Don’t question if it’s happened to us.
Access your humanity and decency and just pay effing attention.
Google your questions.
Reflect on yourself, on your life, on your behaviors, habits, words.
Reflect on how you can do better.
Reflect on your sexism, your bias, your misogyny.
Reflect on your privilege, your power, your entitlement.
Take a step back for just. one. day. I promise you, you’re all still in charge, in control, in power.
But right in this moment. Just, step back.
Or I swear to God, I will push you.
His reaction was:
Roller derby, we need to do better. Clearly, we are not immune from the toxic attitudes we are seeing all over television and all over social media. While leagues like Infinity Roller Derby should be lauded by taking decisive action in an effort remove people with these attitudes from these spaces, there is more we can all do. A fellow roller derby official posted a status on social media that eloquently states what must be done is is reprinted below:
Friends, I am super glad that folks are signalboosting the recent comments of a derby referee in California who yesterday posted a slew of sexist, horrifying comments on a thread (that thread is circulating; if you haven’t seen it, find it). I’m glad the league he most often worked with tossed him and made a public statement about doing so. I hope their their next step will be to remove him from their website. (Edit: they have done so.) I also hope other leagues in the area won’t staff him, because, holy moly, people who support rape culture sure as hell shouldn’t be officials — or be allowed to participate in derby at all.
But just because this is happening today in CA doesn’t mean it’s not also an issue in New England. It wasn’t all that long ago that a known rapist was officiating games, with leagues defending and staffing him. There’s still an official who’s known for flashing his testicles in the locker room at games. He still gets staffed. A official who left my former league was accepted to transfer to not one but two! other! leagues! after being removed after years of concerns about him. There’s still someone active in many roles in derby, who made derby toxic and traumatic for many people in the region through her harassment, abuse, and bullying, and yet is still active in New England in a variety of roles.
And this is just officiating. Imagine what else is happening.
Here’s what else I want you to do:
Someone in your league has a terrible derby name — this official chose “Snatch-a-Ho” for his. Shut it down. Leagues, do you have regulations about names? Maybe you should. Skaters, officials — you have derby names from a by-gone era? CHANGE THEM. Clever nicknames to get around your gross, sexist derby name aren’t enough, btw.
You’re not able to get officials to work your games? ASK WHY. Maybe it’s not that you are in a geographically isolated region. Maybe it’s because you’re still staffing the dude who gets off on flashing his testicles in the locker room.
Stop staffing jerks. The rules do not require you to have 7 on-skates officials. Sometimes it’s better to run a game short.
Listen. When your officials relay information about this stuff, really listen. Ask us before you book games with leagues. It’s a horrifying experience to show up to work a game and discover that the person who bullied, harassed, and stalked you to the point where you left a league to get away from them because leadership wasn’t helping is bench managing the opposing team. I’d rather work less than deal with that. Even if it’s a home game. Even if it’s the best home game of the year.
Vote with your damn feet. If a league is maintaining an environment that is sexist, racist, generally gross, bad to officials, toxic, etc. etc. DON’T WORK THEIR GAMES. Even if it’s last minute. Even if they’re short staffed. Even if a team you feel connected to is playing against them. If folks aren’t actively working to make derby a safer space, and are instead being complacent about these issues, why would you help support this league with your time, your labor, and your expertise?
Someone asked me last year if I’d retired from derby since they didn’t see me working so many games any more.
No, I said. I just stopped working for leagues that support rapists.
We need to do better.
As always, if you have an experience to share or just want someone to listen to you, we are here for you. We see you. We support you. We believe you. Please take care of each other during this difficult time.