The Asheville nonprofit Our Voice today issued a statement that it would not accept any donations from the owners of Waking Life coffee shop in West Asheville.
Owners Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens had announced in their own statement that they would donate proceeds of their business to Our Voice, a nonprofit devoted to helping victims of rape and domestic abuse. That move followed revelations that the two were using a Twitter account, blog posts and a podcast to detail their sexual conquests and misogynistic behavior.
Here’s the Our Voice statement:
We were disturbed and outraged by what was posted by Jared and Jacob regarding women. We will not be taking their money because it is not our place to forgive. Our VOICE is not in a position of absolving them for their misogyny as it perpetuates a culture of danger to all women and girls. Jared’s and Jacob’s actions not only objectified women but also perpetuated rape culture and violence against women.
While Jared and Jacob apologized, Jared’s apology infers that he believes his inability to date well contributed to his actions. How damaged must our society be that he can reason in this manner and it be thought as an apology. It is disturbing to think he can rationalize violence against all women because he struggled with insecurities around dating.
On a positive note, while Jared and Jacob’s actions were deplorable, they inadvertently created an opportunity for our community to come together and dialogue about rape culture. We look forward to Our VOICE being a part of that conversation.
While we will not be accepting Waking Life’s contribution, we will gladly accept support from concerned individuals and businesses to support Our VOICE’s sexual assault and prevention programs. They can donate online at ourvoicenc.org or contribute by mail at 44 Merrimon Avenue, Ste 1, Asheville, NC 28801.
Here’s the Waking Life statement:
To Our Asheville Community:
We know many of you are very angry right now. That anger is justified. There is nothing to balm the wound for now, and we recognize that. We validate and affirm your frustration and disappointment. We’ve issued separate individual apologies, and those stand more than ever.
We’ve said terrible and demeaning things – things that belie unhealthy thought patterns that do not contribute to a stable and equal society. Things our mothers and sisters had to hear. We cannot and will not excuse these things. We grieve for the systematic and ongoing actions we’ve taken. We apologize to the women in our lives and the greater community for the harm we’ve caused, and the potential danger we’ve put them in with our attitudes and beliefs.
We opened Sunday in order to have conversations with some of our regular customers, and to give an opportunity for folks to chat if they wished. A few did just that, and we’re grateful for your thoughts and feelings. We’re humbled by and undeserving of the grace displayed by so many in the face of our actions.
We’re going to close for the next couple days so we can have some room for introspection. We want to allow ourselves to be accountable to our friends, family, employees, clergy, and counselors for our actions, and give ourselves room to be silent and reflect. These attitudes were not grown in a day, and they will not be destroyed in a day. We want to humbly commit to that process. We’re not good people, but we want to be.
We’re going to donate all our business profits through the end of the year to Our Voice. Many of you in the community have great regard for this organization, and their work is of immense importance. We know this is but a step, but it’s something to which we can commit. Our employees who have lost their jobs due to our behavior will be given severance to help as they transition.
With deep regret,
Jared & Jacob