3C. Support and Intervention

Support

There are many ways you can offer support to others. However you offer support, there are some key things you should remember:
  • Follow LARA:
    • Listen to others and what they have to say.
    • Affirm that everyone is beautiful, no matter how they identify.
    • Respond when discrimination takes place
    • Add to the discussions and contributions of the community.
  • Work with people, not for people. If you are an ally for a group of people you don't necessarily identify in yourself, you need to realise that ultimately the work of dismantling oppression must be done by those who do identify as such. Offer your support to them rather than trying to speak and act on behalf of them.
  • Accommodate everyone. There will be a vast number of different people who have different identities gathering together in a group or an ally system. That's how intersectionality works. It is important to acknowledge intersectionality and make sure everyone feels welcomed in the support system or activist movement.
  • Be aware of images and content. Pay attention to the messages portrayed in various media, advertisements, song lyrics, art, and more. Identify key elements of oppression in these works, and challenge them. Also do not let these oppressing messages influence your way of thinking and behaviour. Stay strong and learn to filter these messages.

Intervention

When oppression or discrimination occurs, it is important to intervene respectfully on it in order to promote a safe environment and to help others learn. Remember, not everyone is familiar with gender identities, systems of oppression, and so on. I am going to cover three main ways you can intervene on such matters.
  • Distract: Though not an ideal intervention method unless necessary (say, to stop drama), you can distract others by changing the topic to something else. For instance, if people are spouting hate speech about transsexuals, you can distract the conversation by initiating discussion on how the media portrays women (just make sure it's relevant for the section of the website it's in).
  • Delegate: Should you find yourself unable to intervene or help out, but acknowledge what is happening needs to be addressed, you can delegate your energy. This means getting other people to help you (such as staff), finding resources or people you can refer the problematic users to for education on the topic, and so on.
  • Direct: This means calling out and challenging the oppression or discrimination directly. Name the problem, claim/confront the problem, and then resolve the problem. This is usually in the form of issuing educational accountability statements or disciplinary actions on our website.

"What can I do to help you?"

One of the important aspects about intervention is that we all have limits and will not know how to help everyone all the time. For example, you might have a user come to you expressing they feel unsafe because of another user, even though that user has not yet done anything wrong in LoveyCube. Or, you might have a user bringing an issue regarding something you have not enough knowledge of to help. Sometimes, staff procedures and guides will not have the answers for you, especially in situations like this (mainly because these situations are unique, and it is impossible to document what to do). It is then you need to be able to take off your staff hat for a moment, put down these staff guides, and put on your empathy hat.

If you do not know how to help a user, ask a user how you can help them. Don't just say you don't know how to help them, or that you cannot help them. Ask what you can do for them. This shows that you have genuine interest in ensuring they feel safe, accepted, and cared for in this community. It also helps open up the windows for you to see what the user is asking of you, and how you can help. If the user doesn't know either, then you can turn to staff and see if any staff have suggestions. In worst case scenario, if no staff knows, Lovinity or a trained adviser will figure out an end-all solution for you, only declaring the "we can't help" answer if we legitimately cannot do anything for the user.

Mistakes

We all make mistakes. Even staff make mistakes. We're human, and therefore unfortunately prone to making mistakes. But how we approach and handle our mistakes can mean the difference between people respecting you and people hating you. It can also mean the difference between others feeling respected or others feeling hated. Therefore, it is important you follow these tips when you find yourself making a mistake or being confronted for a mistake:
  • Be open to correction and change. Do not try to defend yourself, deflect confrontation, nor explain how you were not at fault. Be open to the possibility that you made a mistake, whether or not you actually did. Consider the feedback and responses you receive from others (but please discuss them with other staff as well so we can all improve together). Remember, there is always room for improvement.
  • Avoid making excuses. Excuses only show others that you are not truly listening nor being open and willing to change and learn from your mistakes. Own the mistake, apologise, and change yourself and what you do to better serve others.
  • Show up, not off. Be present in the conversations to own your mistakes, apologise, and be open to correction. Do not present yourself in conversations to show off your mistake, justify it, make excuses, explain why you were not at fault, and so on.

The CEO, Lovinity, strictly does not tolerate staff who try to make excuses for their mistakes or refuse to own up to them, and staff who do this may be asked to participate in an intervention with Lovinity. Ultimately, staff who continue to exhibit this kind of behaviour will be dismissed from their positions.

If you are being accused of a mistake that you truly and honestly do not feel you're at fault, do NOT respond to the accusers until after you turn to staff, especially Lovinity, for guidance.

Impact > Intent

Remember, impact over intent. Here on LoveyCube, discipline and how others are held accountable is no different between someone who intentionally made the mistake and someone who unintentionally made the mistake. Discipline and accountability is based off of the impact it has had in the community, not the intent of the user in violation. The reason for this is because even if the mistake is unintentional, it still causes harm, users are still responsible for it, and they are also responsible for learning and growing from that mistake. Intentional or unintentional, they're expected to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Lovinity does not tolerate giving users more lenient discipline or "free passes" for unintentional violations. All users are expected to be held responsible for their actions regardless of intent. Staff found to be basing discipline based on intent and not impact will be required to have an intervention with Lovinity and may ultimately lose their position if it continues.

Exercise 1

Conflict Resolution

In this exercise, you will be presented with a few conflict situations. Please send a message to the staff who is training you explaining possible ways you could resolve the conflicts presented in these examples.
  1. A group of 4 users are in a forum topic discussion with a 5th user. The topic deals with a new gender identity that no one has heard of before that the user identifies as. For this example, we'll call that identity bacongender. The 4 other users are harassing the 5th user, insulting them and saying that bacongender is not a real gender. We'll assume that you, too, have no idea what bacongender is. How would you resolve this conflict? What would you do with the 4 harassing users after resolving the conflict to ensure the conflict does not happen again?
  2. A user has made multiple forum topics about Black Lives Matter. In all these topics, another user tries to counter these topics by explaining that All Lives Matter, not just Black Lives. The user who made the topics gets upset because the point of BLM is to dismantle the oppression of Black individuals and show love for Black culture. An intense and unnecessarily dramatic argument breaks out between the two users. How would you handle this conflict?
  3. A few users are in a big debate about LGBT rights. one user is being very discriminatory against the LGBT community, and the other users are trying to challenge the discrimination with no success; the user continues to be hateful against the community. How would you resolve this conflict?
  4. One user approaches you because they feel unsafe. According to this user, the new user who just joined LoveyCube is very homophobic and has attacked this user from other websites for being gay. The new user has not done anything wrong yet on LoveyCube, nor are you able to verify at this time that the user's claims are truthful. How would you resolve this situation?

Exercise 2

Mistake Resolution

In this exercise, you will be presented with a few situations in which a mistake has been made. Please send a message to the staff member training you explaining how you would handle each situation in which you made a mistake.
  1. You made an honest mistake judging someone's statement on the website as discriminatory when, upon research and feedback, you discover it actually was not discriminatory. You had already issued an accountability statement, and the user is appealing it. How would you remedy this situation?
  2. You've been called out by another staff member for acting unprofessional and "heated" on the website when trying to resolve a conflict in the forums. You knew you were heated, but were adament about getting this conflict resolved even if your behaviour was a problem. How would you resolve this situation and ensure the conflict is also taken care of?
  3. Another staff member is acting unprofessional on the website. You call them out for it, but instead of apologising and remedying the issue, they disagree with you, saying they need to be harsh in order for the users to listen to them. How would you handle this situation? What if that staff member causing the issues was the CEO?
  4. You've been falsely accused of being racist on the website because one of the users has a grudge against you and is trying to start something up. However, this user has manipulated some facts together to make it very convincing to others that you were actually racist. How would you handle this situation?