On a consent violation, Reid Mihalko and Accountability - including our own accountability
Recently, an article came out in the Daily Beast in which Kelly Shibari shared a consent violation that had been perpetrated by sex educator Reid Mihalko. Reid was also interviewed about the violation.Learning that Reid caused Kelly harm was extremely disappointing.
It was not at all ok.
And not at all shocking.
People are people. People are human. People fuck up.
Reid’s comments in the article itself were horrible. He diminished the violation. He victim blamed. He mansplained. Then, he published an apology to Kelly, publicly, without her consent. He panicked. And he caused more harm. Not only to Kelly, but to the community at large. Some community members responded to his apology by tripping all over themselves to praise him for “taking responsibility”. Which deepened the wound. When you step on someone and hurt their foot, you don’t get a cookie for saying you’re sorry and attempting to not step on them again. The same is extra true with consent violations.
The good news is, with the support of an accountability pod (see below), Reid is getting it together. It appears that he is listening. He has made changes with input from the community. People who are seeking to praise him for acting like a responsible person are being shut down. He is actively seeking more information about other times he has crossed boundaries or violated consent. Additional people are coming forward. He has agreed to not teach sex ed workshops for now as he goes through a process of learning and therapy. I am hopeful that we’ll see amazing growth and healing as the outcome.
I am incredibly grateful to Kelly Shibari for making the difficult decision to go public with the hurt Reid caused her. Without her bravery, this opportunity for accountability, change, and healing wouldn’t be happening. Both Reid, and our sex education community, owe her a great debt.
Reid has taught at Sugar on multiple occasions. If, through his presence at Sugar, he harmed you or someone you care about, I am deeply, deeply sorry. As the owner of Sugar I try my hardest to ensure that the educators and staff we have at the store are safe for each other, our customers, and the community at large. I have canceled educators in the past when consent violations came to my attention. I have turned down others who have asked to to teach at the store.
Creating a space in Sugar that is as safe as possible is a core part of our mission. While we are not responsible for Reid’s choices, inviting him to teach at the store implies that we believed him to be safe.
In this case, my judgement was wrong.
If you were harmed by my choosing to endorse Reid, I invite you to speak with me, either personally or through an intermediary, and I offer the opportunity to enter into a process of Transformative Justice (see below).
I also promise to do better by all of you in the future.
If you have experienced a consent or boundary violation with Reid, you may anonymously report it here:
If you prefer, you may email Alex@AlexSMorgan.com
If you would like to report a consent or boundary violation that happened in relationship to Sugar, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
What is Transformative Justice? It can look a number of different ways. At it’s core, “Transformative Justice seeks to provide people who experience violence with immediate safety and long-term healing and reparations while holding people who commit violence accountable within and by their communities.”
Change, healing and accountability are centered. Punishment is not. The goal is to provide healing for those harmed, provide a way for those who have harmed to not continue their behavior and, long term, to build a world where these kinds of behaviors do not occur. It is centered in recognizing the humanity of all involved and comes from a place of hope for transformation. Of course, there are people who do not want to change or refuse to acknowledge the harm they have caused. In those cases, it may be necessary to include sanctions in order to keep people safe.
A basic way that transformative justice has been playing out is through the use of pods. A pod is a group of folks that someone is familiar with who are able to provide them with support. In the case of someone who has been harmed, these people may be there to listen, to help find resources, to discuss what kinds of reparations may help. In the case of someone who caused harm, the pod works from an accountability framework. They help to develop a plan to prevent the harmful behavior in the future. They continue to check in with the person on a daily basis and ensure that the person is following their accountability plan. The members of the accountability pod will check in with the survivor’s pod to discuss reparations and actions that would support the survivor.
It’s not a quick process. Growth takes time. Healing takes time.
It’s a resource intense process, especially for the person who caused harm and their accountability pod.
It is a process that seeks to truly transform.
What does accountability look like? The folks at Generation Five have a great model:
Accountability at a minimum requires:
• Acknowledging the harm done even if it is unintended
• Acknowledging its negative impact on individuals and the community;
• Making appropriate reparations for this harm to individuals and the community;
• Transforming attitudes and behaviors to prevent further violence and contribute toward liberation;
• Engaging bystanders to hold individuals accountable, and toward shifting community institutions and conditions that perpetuate and allow violence; and
• Building movements that can shift social conditions to prevent further harm and promote liberation, including holding the State accountable for the violence it perpetrates and condones.
Generation Five, Toward Transformative Justice, June 2007
Additional resources around Transformative Justice can be found at:
 Generation Five, Toward Transformative Justice, June 2007