Kyle Payne: how not to support women, part deux

// 3 August 2008

Remember Kyle Payne, the self proclaimed male feminist, anti-pornography and anti-violence activist who admitted to exposing and filming a female student without her consent? Well he’s now released a statement in which he piles up excuse after excuse for his behaviour, essentially refuses to accept responsibility for his actions, and claims to be the victim of a “smear campaign”, despite fully admitting to what he did:

While caring for the female student, I felt a sudden impulse to expose her breast. Not knowing how to deal with this feeling at the time – and to put it more clearly, not knowing how to make sense of such an urge, given my personal values and my politics – I acted upon it. With a digital camera I kept with me regularly, I briefly photographed and took a few seconds of video of the woman’s breast. She did not consent to this act, nor did she have any knowledge of it at the time. This event ended as quickly as it began, leaving me in a state of disbelief at what I had done.

Oh, and he also has the cheek to expect that he will one day be “welcomed back into a community of feminists”.

Dream on, sugar. There’s no excuse for what you did, you don’t deserve women’s trust and you can certainly give up any pretensions to the labels of feminist or women’s rights activist. Accept you did a shitty abusive thing, move on, and don’t come back.

We need supporters of your ilk like a pro-lifer in the GP’s chair.

H/t Renegade Evolution.

Comments From You

Anne Onne // Posted 3 August 2008 at 5:17 pm

Why exactly would he think he would be trusted by feminists again? What remorse has he shown for his actions? What acknowledgement has he shown that what he did was wrong, vile and a very good reason for us feminists and women to view him with contempt and mistrust?

What smear campaign? Is there anything written here or elsewhere that he has not admitted to himself? Sorry, it’s not a smear campaign if it’s fact. It’s not a smear campaign if people are reporting your actions, word for word as you described them, in a community you betrayed by those actions.

We often say there is no feminist club, and that one cannot be kicked out by other people. Which I still believe true. But I also believe actions speak far louder than words. And I believe that a person’s actions, when their cooperation is most needed as an ally, are what shows whether they really are an ally or not.

This young woman needed him to be an ally. She needed someone who, when she was unconsious, would not give in to whatever sordid ideas flashed through his mind. She needed someone who wouldn’t choose to expose and take pictures of her body, without her consent, as she lay unsonscious. She needed a feminist, someone who believes women have a right to their own body.

What did she get? Some sleazebag, who despite saying he thinks women deserve privacy and bodily autonomy, took the first opportunity he could to take pictures of the body of an unconsious woman in his care.

And what remorse has he shown? None. Just the defense that he felt like doing it, so he did. Wake up, dude, it’s the same excuse rapists use. And you know what feminists think of rapists and other sex offenders. Yeah, and now you’re in THAT club. And I guess we’re all lucky that THAT particular impulse didn’t cross your mind when you were with this woman, since you clearly have NO desire to control yourself.

Nobody can be an ally if they can’t accept full responsibility for assaulting an unconsious person. And you know what? We kind of expect that someone calling themselves a feminist would already know that doing that would be a really indescribably shitty thing to do. You can’t defend your actions in abusing an unconscious female student under your care and insist you’re a feminist at the same time, because feminists don’t sexually abuse people. Feminists don’t excuse their behaviour by saing they felt like it. Being a feminist and being a sexual predator are mutually exclusive, and by deciding to become the latter, you’ve given up any right to calling yourself the former.

I’d rather no allies than allies like you. We need someone to watch our backs, not someone to stab us when we need them the most.

Debs // Posted 3 August 2008 at 6:39 pm

Someone has just reminded me that the original charge against Kyle was sexual assault, as the video evidence showed him allegedly raping the woman, but thanks to plea bargaining, the charge was lessened to him just exposing her breast, which is bad enough anyway. So, what we have here is a man who worked as a rape survivor advocate, more than likely purely for the chance to get a vulnerable woman on her own and act on his “urges”. And you can bet that if he hadn’t been caught, he would still be doing that…and then we have his latest post stating that he hopes one day to be a rape survivor advocate again.

Does anybody else feel sick yet?

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 3 August 2008 at 7:05 pm

Excuses, excuses excuses. Or else, denial, denial denial denial. The claim ‘something came over me’ is one regularly used by those males who commit violence against women in whatever form. Another more extreme excuse is the one wherein a man charged with murdering his female partner claims ‘I did it because I lost control or she provoked me.’ Same old story – males are never, ever, responsible for any action or violence committed against women. Will this man get away with it – well he has already misused the legal system so I have no doubt somewhere some individuals will claim ‘poor man, the woman obviously provoked him and look at what those nasty feminists are doing now. Just shows you can’t trust any women.’

Renee // Posted 3 August 2008 at 10:02 pm

Since writing my own response to this post late last night the one thing that I cannot stop thinking about is how many women did he do this to? This may just be the first time he was caught but what if she is not his first victim? His position as a rape counselor means that he had access to so many vulnerable women. I how many let down their guard down around and were re victimized again?

belledame222 // Posted 4 August 2008 at 3:36 am

“And I guess we’re all lucky that THAT particular impulse didn’t cross your mind when you were with this woman”

That we know of. Thing is, though, the original charges included “assault;” those were dropped as part of the guilty plea-bargain. See.

Harpymarx // Posted 4 August 2008 at 4:00 pm

But men like Kyle Payne won’t take responsibility instead they blame everyone else in trying to excuse their crappy sexist behaviour.

He made a political choice and he needs to face up to that. But he won’t.

Leigh // Posted 5 August 2008 at 9:55 am


You know, if you have a strange urge to do something inappropriate you generally just sit tight and wait for it to pass. Call a colleague to take over from you while you get a glass of water, perhaps. Put your camera safely away in your bag so you are not tempted to use it. That sort of thing.

These excuses of his are transparent. He acted out his impulse simply because he was in a position where he thought he wouldn’t get caught. He abused his power and his access to another human being. That’s something anyone can do, and we all take it upon ourselves to STOP ourselves.

Anyway, thanks Kyle for making it harder for males everywhere to call themselves feminists.

Kath // Posted 5 August 2008 at 9:58 am

There is no excuse for Payne’s behaviour. Laura’s statement “We need supporters of your ilk like a pro-lifer in the GP’s chair” is spot on. But do you really think people can’t change? I would accept any former pro-lifer into the feminist movement and if Payne truly regrets his behaviour and doesn’t do it again I would accept him back also (after he serves an appropriate sentence). I really see no hope for feminism or indeed for humanity if we don’t accept the possibility that people can change for the better.

Leigh // Posted 5 August 2008 at 12:09 pm

Kath- I’m not sure if Payne is going to change though. He places emphasis on how he has been smeared and punished, doesn’t show particular remorse to his victim and makes a very public show of explaining himself. All those things are really quite narcissistic, making me suspicious of what he really wants to do.

Can a reformed rapist ever be welcomed back into a feminist community? Probably not- and living with that as a consequence is part of being reformed. Payne seems to realise that what he did was a breach of trust but still expects to be welcomed back.

Kath // Posted 5 August 2008 at 12:48 pm

Leigh – I’m not sure he will change either but I do believe people can and I would never want to give up on someone entirely.

Personally I would wish to see a reformed rapist become a part of the feminist community. I appreciate that is a view that will not be shared by everyone and I would probably not argue for the inclusion of such a person on any given feminist platform if others were opposed. However it would remain my personal opinion.

Anna // Posted 5 August 2008 at 1:16 pm

Disgusted beyond words at what this thing has done – and what he is still doing. I wouldn’t ever want to see him near a woman again, much less in a feminist community, pretending to be an ally.

Anne Onne // Posted 5 August 2008 at 5:29 pm

I don’t believe he’ll change. Hey, there’s always a slight chance, but it doesn’t look good. This man doesn’t seem to realise why what he did was so wrong. He blames anything but himself for his actions.

I agree with Leigh. When you have a ‘sudden impulse’ that you do not know how to ‘deal with’, you generally do nothing. That’s the safe thing to do. Get yourself away from whatever is contributing to this impulse, and think about it in the cold light, away from distractions.

Certainly not act on a questionable impulse, especially if, as a sepf-professed feminist, you should know this impulse is wrong. Trying to pretend that acting on a questionable (in his eyes) and inexcuseable (in every feminist’s eyes) impulse is just something that happens to you, not something you choose to do shows a clear lack of remorse. His body did not take out the camera, or expose the woman of its own accord. He chose to do this. Chose very badly, but it was his choice, and he shows no recognition that this was an active choice, or remorse that what he did affects this woman seriously.

And if he doesn’t show any remorse, I don’t have moch hope that he will change, because he clearly sees very little wrong with what he did, to the point he thinks feminists will be falling over themselves to welcome him back, despite being a sexual predator.

Theoretically, I think it possible for a man who has raped to realise why it was so wrong, change, and be a feminist. It would take a lot of work on his part to earn the trust of a group of feminists (then again, we all need to work to gain trust as allies of any sort), and I would like to hope that we can have this sort of rehabilitation in society. It would mean real progress, with the number of these offenders going down, and more people understanding women are people. But in this case, he clearly doesn’t seem all that bothered to try and earn back trust, admit he did really wrong things, and work to be the feminist he claims he is. Maybe one day he will be, but until then, it’s up to him to prove he’s not a menace.

belledame222 // Posted 5 August 2008 at 7:36 pm

Put it this way: I believe that anything is possible, but, how’s that go? “extraodinary claims require extraordinary evidence?” Something like that. Sure, he -could- genuinely change at some point; I am not holding my breath until he does. I do not expect him to; and I do not see the slightest evidence of any such change in this latest apologia. Bluntly, his reformation is Not My Problem, and I think that people are right never to trust him again, particularly in any kind of spokesperson/leadership capacity. I think he needs to go away, and…go away, basically. What else happens with his repentance is between him and his conscience and victims and whoever else he encounters on the journey; this door is closed. I do think that should be true, yes.

belledame222 // Posted 5 August 2008 at 7:44 pm

“I would accept any former pro-lifer into the feminist movement and if Payne truly regrets his behaviour and doesn’t do it again I would accept him back also (after he serves an appropriate sentence)…”

See, no; one of these things is not like the other. Payne is more than an “anti-feminist;” he’s a predator, he committed a crime, he’s breached basic community trust, never even mind politics. It’s not just a question of, he said some awful things but changed his viewpoint.

The equivalent here would be more like, someone had been a staunch pro-choice activist, albeit already coming off as dodgy/creepy to some people in his rhetoric and methods and the fact that he was a guy taking center stage and speaking over the voices of actual women (even pro-life women talking about their own experiences, yes); and then it turned out he’d actively prevented his partner from getting an abortion for some inexplicable reason, thrown a rock through the window of an abortion clinic…something of that sort. And when finally caught a year later, then and only then makes a long and mostly self-referential appeal to his past good deeds without really taking the feelings of the affected women into question much at all.

Sure, someone like that could have a -life- like any reformed criminal; but do they belong in the same movement they once were in? Why is it our job to forgive and “welcome” people like this? No. We’re not consigning him to Eternal Damnation; we’re saying he breached trust in a way that simply isn’t rectifiable, he needs to deal with it, that IS part of the rehab. Full stop. And no, we don’t “need” voices like his either.

Kath // Posted 6 August 2008 at 2:10 pm

Anne, your last paragraph describes very well what I wanted to say.

“Theoretically, I think it possible for a man who has raped to realise why it was so wrong, change, and be a feminist. It would take a lot of work on his part to earn the trust of a group of feminists (then again, we all need to work to gain trust as allies of any sort), and I would like to hope that we can have this sort of rehabilitation in society. It would mean real progress, with the number of these offenders going down, and more people understanding women are people.”

And I agree with you that it is up to Payne to prove that he is not a menace. I wouldn’t dream of suggesting otherwise.

Leigh // Posted 6 August 2008 at 3:29 pm

Kath- A reformed rapist should become a feminist- put a part of the feminist community is something different. He or she could stand on the sidelines and donate money to feminist charities, write letters to their MP and live their lives constantly becoming a better and better feminist. But entering a safespace for people who would have been their victims is absolutely not something they can ever expect.

Kath // Posted 6 August 2008 at 4:50 pm

Leigh – agreed. It just depends how one defines “feminist community” I suppose (probably best not to try).

Darren Johnson // Posted 11 August 2008 at 3:15 am

I ecourage everyone to call write or email the judge in this case and ask him to sentence Kyle Payne to prison. I would also ask all to call the Buena Vista County Attorney he is the one who aggreed to the plea bargin. He is also the the one that will be arguing for the state as to what punishiment he thinks Payne should get. The ball is in the County Attorneys Court as to what will happen to Kyle Payne. He was elected to do the will of the people. I believe the majority would say Kyle Payne needs to go to prison for the heinous crime he committed. Please call, write or email: Dave Patton

County Attorney

606 Geneseo Street

Storm Lake, Iowa 50588

(712) 732-1933

(712) 732-2009 FAX

Mr. Patton needs to know the nation is watching.


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