Respectful behaviour amongst each other, including respect of personal boundaries, ought to be the standard, but offline as well as online there may be situations where people are discriminated against in word or deed. Sexism, racism, homo- and trans-antagonism, ableism and all other forms of discrimination are never okay, even if they happen unintentionally.
For all those who don’t know what “Awareness” means in this context or who only have a vague idea, we would like to give a short introduction to our work:
Awareness work is to get people to be mindful of themselves and others – particularly those who, by their appearance or deeds, deviate from the prevailing norms of a social group. Through this effort, the danger of violating personal boundaries (up to and including violence) shall be minimized.
An important part of Awareness is to acknowledge that only the affected person can determine whether their personal boundaries were violated. This is because the mainstream society usually decides who is blamed and who is discriminated against. To oppose this is to give those a voice who normally just get ignored.
For us this means that we support the affected in processing the situations they experienced. Also, if asked to, we communicate with the people from whom the discriminating or transgressing behaviour originated. Our goal in doing this is the aforementioned Awareness: to create understanding and recognition of how and why some behaviour transgressed someone else’s boundaries, even if it happened entirely by accident. This is not done in a moralising way – we act against the behaviour, not the person. It is explicitly not about guilt or judging someone as a “perpetrator” but about responsibility for future behaviour.
So far, this is the established concept of Awareness, in its complete form at https://help.ccc.de/awareness/index.en.html.
First, many of the situation possibly causing irritations, remain. Humans communicate with each other, so discrimination can occur or boundaries can be broken. Online events take place in a known environment. That is great for having a safe® haven, but also prevent getting help on-site. For us, this means only being able to provide online help, via chat, voice or/and video.
It is alright if you can’t or don’t want to talk about something. Every reaction, whether grief, anger, desperation, speechlessness, … is okay. Whether we should go talk to someone who violated your boundaries is always your decision – we will never force that on you.