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Your “Jokes” About Sexist Harassment

[Content note: sexual & online harassment]

This was originally a Facebook post I made last night. A lot of people asked me to make it public and shareable because they’ve been looking for the words to express the same thing. I decided to repost it here without editing it, since people liked it this way. So apologies in advance for the rawness and lack of polish; it was pretty spontaneous.

Pull up a chair, this is going to be lengthy.

I’ve been having a lot of problems lately with men being really unintentionally insensitive in discussions of harassment against women. Yes, I always have problems with this, but lately especially. I’m not talking about Asshole Sexist Men; I’m talking about good, well-meaning male friends and acquaintances. So I guess this is sort of a vaguebook, and I’m sorry for that, but I don’t feel like having an individual private conversation with every single guy who does this. Moreover, this is not an individual problem. This is a systemic problem. I refuse to accept the burden for it in private.

First of all, a lot of you have been trying to make jokes on my posts about harassment. Before you comment on my status about sexual harassment about how I should create this or that elaborate weapon or do this silly thing to distract the harasser or “just do this!” or whatever, pause and remind yourself that this is not your fun swashbuckling fantasy tale, this is someone’s actual real motherfucking life. A lot of us feel like we’re hunted like animals whenever we’re out in public or at a conference or basically anywhere. Ask yourself, “If I felt like a walking target every day of my life, if I had been a victim of violence and threats of violence multiple times, if I knew that I would be blamed entirely by my family and by the authorities for any violence that I experience, would this silly joke actually cheer me up?” The answer is *generally* no.

Do I find jokes about sexual harassment and other sexist issues funny? Sometimes. You know when they’re at their most funny, though? When they’re made by people who have actually lived this reality. I joke about my own harassment sometimes, and other women joke about their own harassment sometimes, and all of us tell stories to each other to try to support each other and keep our heads high.

Remember: you don’t need to “lighten the mood” or “cheer me up” when I post about experiencing harassment. I don’t want that. First of all, my mood’s *fine*. Second, you probably don’t know me well enough to know how to cheer me up.

If you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything. Or say something like this:

– “I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. *hugs*”
– “Let me know if you’d like some help getting your mind off of it.”
– “It’s ridiculous that you still have to deal with this in 2014; I’m going to go donate to [anti-sexist organization] now.”
– “Thank you for posting about this. It’s important for me to know that this happens.”

Most importantly, your role as a man who cares about women is not necessarily to talk at us. TALK TO OTHER MEN. Call them the fuck out when they catcall women. Call them the fuck out when they make sexist jokes. Call them the fuck out when they talk about fucking their last hook-up and ask them if she’d be okay with having all that info shared with a big group of dudes. Call them the fuck out when they say they’d never date that girl because she fucked them and therefore she’s too easy. Call them the fuck out when they objectify women, not just in sexist ways, but in racist, homophobic, and otherwise oppressive ways. THIS is your job. Your job is not to tell me how to handle being harassed, or to somehow *make* me stop feeling bad about being harassed. That is a job for me, and for close friends and partners that I have trusted to help me with such things.

And here’s another similar thing you should probably stop doing. When I’ve written something great and you like it, and rather than just telling me it’s great and leaving it at that, you decide to go ahead and be like “Too bad the Slymepit’s totally going to accuse you of _______” or “Oh you’ll get the MRAs furious over this.” WHY DO YOU GUYS SAY THIS. WHY. The only way I survive as a writer is by refusing to think about the fact that there are people who actually want me DEAD because I support gender equality. (If you still fucking think this is hyperbolic, I don’t even know what to say.) The only way I survive is by refusing to think about the fact that they make lists about how to rape me and my friends, they make crude sexual photoshops of us, they go on and on and on and on until we all gradually drop out of public online life.

If you want me to keep writing, STOP doing this weird half-gloating half-bemoaning thing about how I’m going to get soooooo much harassment for what I just wrote, fuck those sexist assholes, amirite? If you want me to keep writing, don’t talk to me about the harassment. Talk to the harassers about the harassment. Talk to Twitter and Facebook about the harassment. Talk to journalists about the harassment. Stop talking to me about it. Unless I bring it up myself because I want support.

Guys, the bullying and harassment women writers experience is HORRIFYING. Do you understand that? Do you *actually* understand it, like on the visceral level where your own gut just twists at the thought of it? Do you understand that this isn’t something to throw around all like “Hey great post, shame they’re going to threaten to rape you because of it!”

Maybe you can’t understand it on that level. Maybe it’s impossible to understand something you haven’t experienced on that level. So if you don’t, you’d best be reminding yourself of that every single time you’re about to engage with someone on the topic. Remind yourself that as a man your words carry extra weight. You didn’t ask for them to, but they do. Learn to tread more carefully.

One last thing: if you recognize yourself in what I’ve written, please do not message me with “Now I feel bad” or “Now I’m worried I might have done this.” I’m not here to make you feel better about having (accidentally, well-meaningly) overstepped my boundaries. I am here to set those boundaries. I’m not asking for apologies. I don’t want to discuss this with you in private, or else I would’ve contacted you about it in private. When you make jokes or comments that I find particularly hurtful or unhelpful, I’ll usually tell you right then or there, so there’s no need to worry that I’m keeping anything to myself.

If you’ve read this far, I’m impressed and grateful, so thank you.

~~~

Addendum:

Actually, I think I just answered one of my own questions: namely, why people do the whole “oh maaaaaan you’re gonna get so much harassment over this”

I think some of y’all buy in a little too strongly to the whole “if they hate you then you’re doing something right” thing. For the record, I disagree with this principle. I disagree with it partially because Tea Partiers tell themselves the same thing all the time, but also because it’s not how I measure my success.

Do you think I’m proud of the fact that people have made forum threads just to talk shit about me? I’m not. I don’t view it as a sign that I’m doing something wrong, either, but I definitely don’t take it as proof that I’m doing something right. Those forum threads don’t happen “because I’m right”; they happen because sexism.

So, if you’re hoping to encourage me by being like “OH MAN YOU’VE GOT SO MANY PEOPLE PISSED OFF,” it won’t work. That’s not encouraging. The way I know I’m doing something right is when people send me long private messages about how my writing changed their life (this happens fairly often), or when someone says that they used my article to try to explain something to their boyfriend and he finally got it! Or when people say “I thought I was the only one.” Or when people say, “You know, I was kinda on the fence about this, but you helped me make up my mind.” Or when people say, “That article was so beautiful I cried.”

I’m not trying to brag; people say that stuff to me often enough to really, really mean a lot. So if you WANT to encourage me, say something like that, if it’s true for you. Don’t expect me to LOL with you over how angry people are about what I wrote.

~~~

DISCLAIMER: The Author in no sense intends to imply that All Men are responsible for the aforementioned Conflict(s) or Issue(s) as described in this Text. The Author reiterates that Not All Men commit the Offense(s) detailed in the Text, and that the Text is not intended to apply to or be addressed to All Men. The Author hereby disclaims any binding responsibility for the emotional well-being of such Men who erroneously apply the Entreaty(ies) contained within this Text to their own selves. The Reader hereby agrees to accept all responsibility for any emotional turbulence that arises as a result of the perusal of this Text.

Comments

  1. says

    Hear, hear.

    Though I would add one to your list of correctives for men to take: raise our sons to see harassment as wrong.

  2. Russell Glasser says

    I don’t mind admitting that this issue is difficult and frightening for me to navigate. For the last few years I’ve sat and watched people I consider good friends occasionally get this issue completely wrong, in public, then get blasted for it, and I’ve thought to myself “That could have been me.” Sometimes it is me. I can’t count the number of times I’ve wanted to jump in and say something on a thread, only to remind myself “This is an area where I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’d better hang back and try to understand what’s going on before I open my mouth.”

    You are right that the best thing for men to do is talk to other men, but it can be pretty damn hard to do. People come at this issue filled with a whole lot of assumptions, and often you have to work through a layer of contempt and dismissal before you can even start talking through the real heart of the matter. And men do get harassed for taking women’s side. They don’t get harassed nearly as ruthlessly as women do. But one difference is that I know I have the luxury of not talking about it when I don’t want to. All I have to do is skip right over arguments about sexism and misogyny, and most of the time nobody will inject the subject into my life. If I just say what I think about other subjects, I don’t get scorned because of my gender, I rarely get judged on my looks, people don’t assume that I’m dumb because I look good, or I’m bitter because I look bad.

    This is a luxury. This is my privilege. I’m not the target, and although I try to put myself in other people’s shoes regularly, I don’t have the full perspective of being subjected to this stuff all the time. I’m glad that I don’t, but the least I can do is not make it worse for people by saying things that I know aren’t constructive and don’t advance the discussion. The better thing to do is learn what I can on the subject and correct/flame people who refuse to have basic compassion for others.

    TLDR: I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. *hugs*

  3. says

    Miri, you’re awesome, and your friends were right to want to share this well-written and heartfelt post. Thanks for taking their compliments in enough to share it. I hope it makes a difference in some of the people who need to hear it.

  4. says

    You are right that tje best thing to do is to talk to other men, but it can be pretty damn hard to do.

    I get the point you’re trying to make, but do you recognize the absurdity of complaining that it’s ‘hard to do’? If it’s hard for you, who, as you say, won’t be the target of the rage that Miri and the rest of us face, won’t be ignored and dismissed by misogynists because that’s what misogyny means, then how much harder for us?

    You commented on a post about how men can be more supprtive, and raised how hard it is for you as an issue? Forgive me, but could I order you another big frosty pint of MissingThePoint special lager?

    • says

      Hey CaitieCat, I specifically asked Russell to repost this comment on my blog (he’d left it on my Facebook post) because I thought it spoke very well to the challenges of learning to know when and what to say in response to horrible things that you haven’t personally experienced. I didn’t get the sense that Russell was “complaining,” but rather explaining that doing the right thing is hard, and discussing some of the barriers to it.

      This is the sort of thoughtful and honest response that I want to encourage here rather than discourage. You’re welcome not to like the comment, but please don’t suggest that it’s “missing the point” or otherwise out of place.

      • smrnda says

        On the ‘hard to do’ – I think part of it might be that men who are more likely or less likely or unlikely to harass women may be in very different social circles. Part of this is just that people tend to choose friends with similar values and norms for behavior much of the time, and that group norms also shape behavior.

        • Usernames are smart says

          I think part of it might be that men who are more likely or less likely or unlikely to harass women may be in very different social circles.
          — smrnda (#4.1.1)

          Um, guh?

          I think part of it might be that men who are more likely or less likely or unlikely to be racist may be in very different social circles.

          I think part of it might be that men who are more likely or less likely or unlikely to physically abuse their children may be in very different social circles.

          Doesn’t matter to me if someone is in or not in my “social circle”. If I hear someone screaming “NIGGER” or “WETBACK” at someone else, I’m going to call them on it. Wouldn’t you?

          Wrong is wrong, social circle or not.

          • Infophile says

            I think the point here is that if these men aren’t in your social circle, you’re much less likely to come across this type of behavior. Sure, some of it is out in public, but a lot goes on among groups of friends in private conversations, and it’s the latter where this particular problem comes into play. A comment of “dude, not cool” from a friend in a private (or semi-private) conversation has a lot more weight than a comment from a stranger, but those who need most to hear it are less likely to have friends who’d think to say it.

            Of course, friends don’t congregate around the same thing all the time. A group that gets together to watch sports, play D&D, put on theatrical productions, etc. is going to have a diverse group of people, and so one could certainly comment there when they see or hear something inappropriate. It doesn’t cover some of the stuff that only goes on when a man knows he’s with like-minded friends, but it’s certainly a start.

    • Russell Glasser says

      I am not complaining. I am not looking for excuses. I am acknowledging the fact that staring down misogynists is tough, and that is why many men wind up not getting involved, even though they most definitely should. I’m also acknowledging that it’s tougher for you than it is for me.

  5. says

    Crap, missing his name, sorry Russell, I’m on my phone because a guest is sleeping off a long drive on my couch with my laptop trapped near her. Didn’t mean my apology to brusquely ignore your name, so sorry a second time.

  6. johngreg says

    Miri said:

    And here’s another similar thing you should probably stop doing. When I’ve written something great and you like it, and rather than just telling me it’s great and leaving it at that, you decide to go ahead and be like “Too bad the Slymepit’s totally going to accuse you of _______” or “Oh you’ll get the MRAs furious over this.” WHY DO YOU GUYS SAY THIS. WHY.

    Most people who do that sort of thing are usually doing it because they want to express solidarity with you; to let you know, in an oblique “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” sort of a way that they support you, are concerned about what your critics might say, and have your back — so to speak.

    If you have so much difficulty dealing with oblique poorly worded support and friendship, as well as criticism (whether it be extreme, or marginal), perhaps writing for a wide public audience in an open and easily accessible public media is simply not your thing.

    • Russell Glasser says

      I think that if people are trying to help, but inadvertently communicating in a way that makes things worse, then the thing to do is draw attention to that — exactly as Miri has done in this post. It may be understandable that guys think they’re helping when they joke about the MRA backlash, but if it’s not actually helping, then they won’t know that they’d be better off not doing it.

      I don’t understand how this means that Miri should stop writing instead of saying what she thinks of that.

      • johngreg says

        Russel said:

        I think that if people are trying to help, but inadvertently communicating in a way that makes things worse, then the thing to do is draw attention to that — exactly as Miri has done in this post.

        Indeed. I agree with that. However, in my opinion, that does not mean that a writer, any writer, in a public field should expect to be able to insist on how the public who follow their writing must or must not respond to that writing.

        It may be understandable that guys think they’re helping when they joke about the MRA backlash, but if it’s not actually helping, then they won’t know that they’d be better off not doing it.

        True enough, but as I say, a public writer really should not expect to be able to insist on how a public following must or must not respond to that writing. Sure, they can go ahead and suggest it; point out how some things are welcome and some things are not. But to demand it is, well, unrealistic at best.

        I don’t understand how this means that Miri should stop writing instead of saying what she thinks of that.

        I did not say she should stop writing. I said that perhaps public writing, which receives a public response, is not for her. If any writer expects to be able to insist upon how readers respond, a public environment is not exactly a suitable locale.

        Mind you, all that being said, it does bring us back to the argument/debate around how public (or private) a public blog really is. There is some disagreement over that.

    • Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

      This only makes sense if the people attempting to show support don’t care whether what they’re doing is actually helpful. If they do care, they should be glad to receive feedback. You talk about accepting criticism and yet your response to someone offering constructive criticism is to suggest they stop writing.

      • johngreg says

        Seven of Mine said:

        This only makes sense if the people attempting to show support don’t care whether what they’re doing is actually helpful. If they do care, they should be glad to receive feedback.

        Yes, readers should be willing to receive feedback (as should writers). But as I said, I don’t think that the writer should expect to be able to insist on how the reader responds; suggest yes, insist, I don’t think so.

        You talk about accepting criticism and yet your response to someone offering constructive criticism is to suggest they stop writing.

        Again, I did not suggest she stop writing; I did not say that at all. I said that perhaps she is not best suited to a public medium for what she wants to write about and for how she wants readers to respond; perhaps she should find a different type of medium/location for writing.

        • Tessa says

          Yes, readers should be willing to receive feedback (as should writers). But as I said, I don’t think that the writer should expect to be able to insist on how the reader responds; suggest yes, insist, I don’t think so.

          She’s not insisting, or demanding, or mandating. She’s simply saying that she doesn’t find those comments supportive. Or helpful. So if their objective is to actually to show support to her in a way that she will appreciate, then they shouldn’t do that. It’s not something she likes.

          Complements and support are not supposed to be about the person doing the complementing or supporting. It’s about the person receiving it. If the person knows that the subject of their “support” doesn’t like it, then why do it? What purpose does it serve at that point?

          It’s similar to when someone expresses distaste with certain compliments. It’s immediately turned around “I was just paying a compliment, why not just take it,” or “I was just being nice,” or whatever many forms the backlash takes. If they actually cared, they’d accept it wasn’t wanted.

          • johngreg says

            Tessa, for the most part we are in agreement. However, the following sounds pretty much like insisting, demanding, mandating, to me:

            If you want me to keep writing, STOP doing this weird half-gloating half-bemoaning thing about how I’m going to get soooooo much harassment for what I just wrote, fuck those sexist assholes, amirite? If you want me to keep writing, don’t talk to me about the harassment. Talk to the harassers about the harassment. Talk to Twitter and Facebook about the harassment. Talk to journalists about the harassment. Stop talking to me about it. Unless I bring it up myself because I want support.

            Well, whatever; it’s Miri’s call.

            Complements and support are not supposed to be about the person doing the complementing or supporting.

            They are not supposed to be, but I think they more often than not are, in the sense that places like these types of blogs are a magnet for people who want to belong to the in-group, and one of the best ways to belong is to vigourously support the host. In which case, a fundamental part of that support is indeed about the supporter and not the supportee. But I guess that’s a discussion for another time, as it is not realy germane to this post.

          • Tessa says

            johngreg

            If she’d started that thing you quoted with the “STOP”, then sure that’d be demanding, but she started it with “If you want me to keep writing.”

            It sets a condition… It’d be the same as “If you want to help, don’t…” It’s up to the reader to decide on their motivation.

            They are not supposed to be, but I think they more often than not are, in the sense that places like these types of blogs are a magnet for people who want to belong to the in-group, and one of the best ways to belong is to vigorously support the host. In which case, a fundamental part of that support is indeed about the supporter and not the supportee. But I guess that’s a discussion for another time, as it is not really germane to this post.

            Wow. That was awesome. I have to applaud that. Way to discredit the readerbase, and their reasons for coming to “places like these types of blogs.” Are they here because they believe what’s being said and actually care? Nah, they just want to belong. They don’t actually support the blogger, they just want the easy way to belong… by feigned vigorous support.

            It actually puts your other posts into perspective. Of course that would mean Miri shouldn’t express distaste with types of “support” she doesn’t like. The goal is to keep the people reading in the in group, not express her beliefs. And if someone who was happily in the in group finds out their disingenuous method of support wasn’t helpful, or to Miri’s liking, they might leave because their support is sooo unappreciated.

            Thank you for shining that light into how you see “these types of blogs.” it’s been noted.

          • says

            Are they here because they believe what’s being said and actually care? Nah, they just want to belong. They don’t actually support the blogger, they just want the easy way to belong… by feigned vigorous support.

            I think johngreg just accidentally gave me an immense compliment, which is that even when people don’t agree with/don’t give the slightest fuck about what I write, they like me so much that they feign support just to belong in a group with me. They read these two-thousand-word posts several times a week and respond to them approvingly just so I like them back! Wow!

        • Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

          Again, I did not suggest she stop writing; I did not say that at all. I said that perhaps she is not best suited to a public medium for what she wants to write about and for how she wants readers to respond; perhaps she should find a different type of medium/location for writing.

          So, you were just saying she shouldn’t write where other people can see. Apart from being fantastically patronizing and condescending, that’s not a very meaningful distinction.

          Besides which, Miri’s Facebook and Miri’s blog are Miri’s spaces. She absolutely can dictate how people are allowed to respond to her in those spaces. People can think whatever they want in the privacy of their own skulls but they don’t have the right to interact with another person in a way that person doesn’t like.

          • johngreg says

            Seven said:

            So, you were just saying she shouldn’t write where other people can see. Apart from being fantastically patronizing and condescending, that’s not a very meaningful distinction.

            Well, no, not really. It’s more or less the difference between what can be called a suppositional statement and a proscriptive or declarative statement, by which I mean I am not making any demands or recommendations or must-do advisements regarding what Miri should/must do or should/must not do; I am making suppositions on what she may or may not be more comfortable, or more effective at doing. It is not a demand, or request, or advice, or forceful suggestion that she should do X; it is a supposition that perhaps she would be more effective, and less personally disturbed and/or harrassed and/or irritated, if she did Y. Do you see the difference? Or are you going to play the mind reading my intent game

        • Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

          It is not a demand, or request, or advice, or forceful suggestion that she should do X; it is a supposition that perhaps she would be more effective, and less personally disturbed and/or harrassed and/or irritated, if she did Y. Do you see the difference? Or are you going to play the mind reading my intent game

          It’s not a request or advice it’s just [a bunch of other words that mean the same thing]. Got it.

          • johngreg says

            The simple and readily apparent fact that you are not overburdened with a rich and colourful capacity for understanding the nuance, complexity, and subtlety of the English language is not my responsibility to rectify.

            Carry on, young valiant warrior; carry on.

    • says

      If you have so much difficulty dealing with oblique poorly worded support and friendship, as well as criticism (whether it be extreme, or marginal), perhaps writing for a wide public audience in an open and easily accessible public media is simply not your thing.

      Did you miss the part where I specifically said this was originally a Facebook post? My Facebook is private.

      I explained exactly why comments like these are damaging, no matter their intent. I even acknowledged numerous times in the post that the people who do all the things I’m talking about are well-meaning. I explained in the addendum that this specific type of comment is probably meant to be encouraging, but isn’t actually, for reasons I also explained.

      Further, I did not ask for your advice on where and how and in which venues I should write. This entire comment is extremely patronizing. I do, actually, get to set boundaries about what sorts of discussions I want to host in my own space, whether it’s public or private. And what you’re doing now is not something I accept. Future comments in this vein will be deleted, and you’ll be banned.

      • johngreg says

        Miri said:

        Did you miss the part where I specifically said this was originally a Facebook post? My Facebook is private.

        I sort of missed it, because I am not a Facebook user and am pretty unfamiliar with it; I thought it, Facebook, was just another sort of Twitter thing, and was therefore public, also, because the post is here, which is a public space — with limits — I thought you intended it for a wider public audience.

        I agree that you control your own blog; however, I am curious, do you think blogs like this, which are, at least intitially, fully open to the public and therefore invite/allow a public readership, are therefore also a public space?

        • says

          also, because the post is here, which is a public space — with limits — I thought you intended it for a wider public audience.

          I specified exactly why I made this post:

          This was originally a Facebook post I made last night. A lot of people asked me to make it public and shareable because they’ve been looking for the words to express the same thing.

          The “make it public and shareable” should’ve been a tip-off, too. In other words, I made this post because people wanted to be able to share it on their own walls to explain what they were looking for from their male friends.

          do you think blogs like this, which are, at least intitially, fully open to the public and therefore invite/allow a public readership, are therefore also a public space?

          Of course this blog is public. That’s right up there in the quote about making this post public. But “public” has nothing to do with what sorts of behaviors are tolerated. If I go to a public park and lay out in the sun reading a book, it’s reasonable that people will be able to see me lying there and reading a book. But if someone approaches me and starts taking creepy photos of me, and I ask them to stop, then the ethical thing for them to do is to stop, even though I am currently existing in public.

          Likewise, if I’m sitting in a public transit vehicle, people can see me and try to start conversations with me. If I turn away or ask to be left alone, the ethical thing to do is to leave me alone, even though I am currently existing in public.

          More broadly, public spaces are governed by both social norms and by actual written laws. This blog is governed by both social norms and actual rules that I’ve created to make the discussion here productive. Most blogs have comment policies; this is not in any way inconsistent with the fact that the blogs are public.

        • Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

          Oh bullshit, I’m a conscientious objector to Facebook and I understood the plain English in the opening paragraph just fine.

  7. hereandreal says

    Thank you SO much for writing and sharing this post. I have a few friends on Facebook who consistently, pretty much without fail, comment on anything I post dealing with sexism, harassment, rape culture, sexual assault, etc. in exactly the ways you’ve described. For example, one guy responds to nearly everything I write by saying whatever I’ve posted is just more evidence of why all women should own and carry firearms for self-defense. He frequently “jokes” about how that would bring “real justice” to perpetrators, in what I believe is a well-intended yet extremely misguided attempt to show his specialized brand of badass support. I also find that some men don’t make jokes in response to my posts, but seem to feel the need to comment defensively, in a way sort of akin to “Not All Men,” but more often just by stating (for “the record,” I suppose?) that they aren’t like or don’t do whatever is discussed in my post. Dude – I’m not accusing you of anything (and if I am pointing to a more general problem, maaaaybe it’s worth actually thinking about it), and I’m not handing out medals for refraining from certain overtly sexist behavior.
    Several initially (or potentially) valuable conversations about sexism have been derailed by these kinds of comments and other poorly contemplated shows of support, but I’ve been struggling with how/whether to address this on a more general level as opposed to post-by-post. Your post gives me the perfect opportunity to introduce these ideas to my own Facebook friends; I’m psyched and very grateful to be able to read and share such well-written, direct, and substantively on-point writing. I only recently found (and subscribed to) this blog, and I’m so glad that I did! Thank you again!

    • ButchKitties says

      He frequently “jokes” about how that would bring “real justice” to perpetrators, in what I believe is a well-intended yet extremely misguided attempt to show his specialized brand of badass support.

      Ugh. I would really, really love it if people would knock this off. (TW) The knowledge that it was extremely unlikely that my attacker would even be tried, let alone convicted, had me very worried that my gun-toting father would attempt to take matters in his own hands. The fear that my father would to go prison for murder instead of my rapist for rape played a huge role in my decision to not report it. So this type of talk isn’t just unsupportive, it’s actually triggering for me.

      • hereandreal says

        Hi ButchKitties. (I love your username.)

        I really appreciate your sharing in reply to my comment, and I want to say that, while it wasn’t my intent to bring up triggering content without warning, I did, and I apologize for it. I will definitely be more mindful of potential triggers in the future. [I think you were referring to the type of talk about which I wrote in my comment (please correct me if that’s wrong), but I did still write about that without a content note or warning, which is what I’m apologizing for.] I feel like a lot of what we are talking about here are situations in which well-meaning contributors’ intent does not match the actual effect of their actions or speech, and the effect deserves immensely more consideration than the intent because of the damage it does.

        I emphasize well-meaning, because comments made with anything other than supportive intentions are an entirely different (and all too frequently occurring) matter. Often, a person’s real intentions are only made clear once they are confronted with a response like the one in this post. If I say “I think you are trying to be supportive, but what you’ve said is actually hurtful and doesn’t address the problem,” and you go on to argue with me about it, then my belief that you want to be supportive doesn’t have a whole lot to stand on.

        • ButchKitties says

          hereandreal,

          It’s definitely the people who make the “real justice” comments who are triggering for me, not your comment itself. I hope I didn’t make you feel like you did something wrong. Your comment was actually extremely helpful for me. It articulated a type of derailing that I encounter very frequently when I try to talk about this subject with people (usually men, but not always) who do not have a history of sexual assault.

          I think TWs for anything you mentioned are implied by the subject of the blog post. I got to ruminating on events while typing up my reply which left me feeling extra cautious, and since I was bringing my specific past into it, I felt like I was straying a little bit from the original blog post topic, hence my added TW.

          Your sensitivity to the subject and to people’s feelings is really, really appreciated, but for me at least you don’t have anything to apologize for. You were replying entirely within the topic of the original blog post, so nothing you wrote hit any unexpected subjects or came was a shock. You just clarified an all too common experience of mine, and for that I thank you.

    • chrisdevries says

      Regarding the “real justice” crowd, I noticed the same thing in the public outcry against the frequent gang rapes that take place in India, with thousands of people calling for the rapists to be executed. The Indian government even capitulated to the mob, making rape a capital crime. But these people are all missing the point. Many studies have been conducted that show that the death penalty does not act as a deterrent. So instead of demanding that their society reflect upon its rampant misogyny and work to become an equal place where women aren’t objectified, harassed, sexually assaulted, and punished for having ruined their family’s “honour” when they are assaulted (or when, FSM forbid, they wear revealing clothing or engage in consensual sexual relations out of wedlock or with an unsuitable mate), people are demanding that perpetrators (who are themselves products of a culture that treats women as property) are put to death, which solves nothing and ensures that women in India will continue to suffer.

      But I kind of understand why this particular outcry occurred: traditionally, rape is a crime against a women’s father (if unmarried) or her husband, so of course men are going to be calling for blood when their property has been prematurely deflowered and therefore made worthless. Their goal is not to end the suffering of women and create a society in which they have the same agency and rights as men; it is to prevent property damage. Sickening, but true.

  8. Onamission5 says

    Reading over johngreg’s commentary, a question keeps popping into my head:

    Why do some people who claim to want to help, who claim to understand what an issue is all about, have such a problem with women– or any marginalized people– setting the terms by which their purported allies can ally themselves?

    • johngreg says

      Onamission5 said:

      Why do some people who claim to want to help, who claim to understand what an issue is all about, have such a problem with women– or any marginalized people– setting the terms by which their purported allies can ally themselves?

      I imagine there may be several reasons, intertwined and otherwise. There is also the complication or convolution of what actually is meant by “… such a problem with women– or any marginalized people….”, and how, when, and where that concept is defined and characterized.

      I mean, does “problem with” mean some slight disagreement or dissent with certain forms of set terms, or does it mean outright rejection; does it mean the inclusion of additional or different or expanding concepts? What does it mean?

      Or is it just an oblique slur and rejection of any form of dissent or disagreement altogether?

      As to the general question, one possible reason, or small set of reasons, could be that the terms set — and I am speaking generally here; not referring specifically to Miri — are sometimes deeply unrealistic, impractical, and even contradictory, often limiting any real potential for meaningful support.

      For example, over at the new Atheism Plus blog, Grimalkin and some of the other folks involved have, through their policy of open inclusion, set various terms and requirements that have actually resulted in the exclusion of so many potential supporters that the stated goal of creating and developing some kind of non-profit organization seems, to all intents and purposes, to be quite dead in the water: moribund before its time.

      • says

        Perhaps this is true in some cases. In this case, my original Facebook post got about a hundred likes, and 3 or 4 people who had previously been doing the things that bother me specifically thanked me for setting my boundaries and said that they would avoid doing those things in the future. No harm done. People who want me to feel good and keep writing things are generally happy to avoid doing little things that bug me a lot and that they had no particularly compelling reason to do. People who don’t want to make that small effort generally pass out of my life for various reasons and I don’t particularly miss them. And the people who make a huge fuss over how “sensitive” and “unfair” I’m being are people who I have no interest in interacting with.

        • johngreg says

          Miri said:

          Perhaps this is true in some cases.

          Yes, bound to be, I would think. There are so many people, with so many ideologies, philosophies, demands, requests, wants, likes, dislikes, etc., on the ‘net (and round the world in general) that inevitably, someone, somewhere is going to be unrealistic and set terms themselves, so to speak, right into an unescapable blind corner.

          • says

            Your entire set of comments here seems to be a series of supposed “concerns”: that my boundaries might be unrealistic and difficult for people to respect, that I don’t understand the difference between public and private, that I cannot “handle” writing publicly (LOL, I’ve been doing it for a decade, so I think I’m fine there), that some people will alienate some other people, that Atheism+ will not succeed in its goals because its rules are too strict (because I’m sure you care so much about the success of Atheism+).

            You have a lot of concerns. Your concerns are noted. They are also misplaced. There are plenty of non-hypothetical things going on right now that are actually harming actual people and actual projects, so if you really need to be concerned about something, I’d suggest one of those things. For instance, if you’re concerned that I cannot handle writing publicly, you might want to speak out against the people threatening me with rape and death. Just a thought.

            But my sense is that you’re not really very concerned about me or about people like me, so I’d suggest not pretending that you are.

          • johngreg says

            Miri said:

            Your entire set of comments here seems to be a series of supposed “concerns”….

            Well, I’ve never said that I am concerned, as such, nor do I, in regards your original post, have concerns, as such, so you are reading into my comments something that is not there; I have only opinions and ideas.

            … that my boundaries might be unrealistic and difficult for people to respect….

            I think they might be, but that most certainly does not take away from your right to post them and to hope that folks will adhere to those boundaries.

            … that I don’t understand the difference between public and private….

            I don’t think I said that, and I did not intend it. If anything, I might have implied that we have different ideas about what is public and what is private.

            … that I cannot “handle” writing publicly (LOL, I’ve been doing it for a decade, so I think I’m fine there)….

            No, not that you cannot handle it, but that it might be an inappropriate or ineffective medium/location, especially as you seem to me to be unwilling to receive criticism and disagreement. In my over 30 years experience as a professional writer, in a wide range of mediums and locations both public and private, I fail to see how any writer — not just you, but any writer, can expect, or even hope to write for the public and not receive a great deal of disagreement, criticism, and so on.

            … that some people will alienate some other people….

            Well, yes, they do. That’s kind of part-and-parcel of reality isn’t it?

            … that Atheism+ will not succeed in its goals because its rules are too strict (because I’m sure you care so much about the success of Atheism+).

            No, I don’t care about Atheism Plus, and I have never pretended otherwise. And yes I think their rules are too narrow — not so much too strict, but too narrow and too exclusionary. And while I might think the goal of creating/developing a resource for marginalized people is a good and honourable one, I think they are going about it in a deeply and profoundly wrong way. But that’s their call; not mine.

            You have a lot of concerns. Your concerns are noted. They are also misplaced.

            I do not have concerns, at least not in regards to this post, and I have not said otherwise; I have opinions and ideas.

            you might want to speak out against the people threatening me with rape and death. Just a thought.

            I am on record on the Pit, and elsewhere, speaking out very strongly against anyone, literaly anyone who posts or emails or otherwise spreads and/or condones death and rape threats — including Pharyngula’s erstwhile dead porcupine (and rusty knife, and fire, etc.) rape- and death-wish threats. I have never, ever, in my entire life supported such things. Never. Also, I have not seen any death or rape threats directed at you on any of the blogs or forums I visit, so there is not much I can do about speaking out directly to anyone who posts such crap.

          • says

            No, not that you cannot handle it, but that it might be an inappropriate or ineffective medium/location, especially as you seem to me to be unwilling to receive criticism and disagreement.

            I’m still not sure how you get from “Please don’t make jokes about sexual harassment on my private Facebook threads where I discuss my experiences with it” to “Please do not criticize me or my writing ever.”

            You have been criticizing me and my writing in this thread, and I seem to be perfectly willing to receive your criticism even though I disagree with it. There is criticism in almost every comment thread on this blog, and the only criticism I delete either contains hate speech or threats, has that nasty creepy tone that a few regulars at this network like to use, or is just useless (“lol u feminits just need to get laid by a real man haha”)

          • says

            Note, for example, my interaction with Miri above – I made a comment she disagreed with. She didn’t ban me or remove/edit my comment, she addressed it. I disagree, but it’s her space, and I respect her very much, so I attempted a (hopefully) polite apology, and dropped it. It’s mystifying to me why that kind of simple, respectful manner of disagreement is so hard. Or why, johngreg, you’re pushing So Very Hard here to make sure we all understand the nuances of your unsolicited career advice to Miri.

            A suggestion. Consider asking the Great and Powerful Oz – er, I mean Google – about what ‘mansplaining’ is, and see if you can suss why your comments on this thread brought the concept to mind.

          • says

            Honestly, even without the apology that would’ve been totally fine. I provided some context that I thought might sway your opinion, apparently it didn’t, and that’s okay. I’m actually not over here having a nervous breakdown because somebody disagreed with me.

          • says

            Sorry, M, didn’t mean to mischaracterize, I knew you weren’t riled about it. Point is, there are examples right here of the not-echo-chamber-like qualities of your blog, so i don’t get why we’re supposed to accept jg’s characterization of you as being too delicate for public writing. It is, in my view, a simple expression of basic misogyny to level that criticism, playing as it does into the old script of women not being able to handle the roughness of political contention.

          • johngreg says

            Miri said:

            You have been criticizing me and my writing in this thread, and I seem to be perfectly willing to receive your criticism even though I disagree with it. There is criticism in almost every comment thread on this blog, and the only criticism I delete either contains hate speech or threats, has that nasty creepy tone that a few regulars at this network like to use, or is just useless (“lol u feminits just need to get laid by a real man haha”).

            OK, fair enough; my exaggeration; mea culpa. I guess it was the following comment that made me think you did not want to receive criticism:

            This entire comment is extremely patronizing. I do, actually, get to set boundaries about what sorts of discussions I want to host in my own space, whether it’s public or private. And what you’re doing now is not something I accept. Future comments in this vein will be deleted, and you’ll be banned.

            CaitieCat, “mansplaining” is a word that feminists, in general, and their allies-of-the-day use to stifle dissent and disagreement. Other than that, it’s just jargon. Also, I never said Miri was too delicate for public writing. If you want to disagree with me, that’s fine, absolutely fine. But stop putting words in my mouth. OK? OK.

          • says

            Right, I named exactly what I wouldn’t accept: a patronizing tone. It’s annoying and doesn’t help the discussion. Plenty of great critiques manage to be kind to their targets and treat them with respect rather than talking down to them as though to a child. For instance, you’re no longer being patronizing, so thank you.

          • says

            Also, I never said Miri was too delicate for public writing.

            What, then, is this?

            If you have so much difficulty dealing with oblique poorly worded support and friendship, as well as criticism (whether it be extreme, or marginal), perhaps writing for a wide public audience in an open and easily accessible public media is simply not your thing.

            One need not say something directly in order to be saying that thing. You can say things indirectly, too. If you say, “I love Justin Beiber,” and I say, “I suppose that not everyone has a well-developed taste for music,” I’ve basically said that you have a poor taste in music, even though I didn’t say it directly. If we play a game of chess and I win and say, “If you have so much difficulty keeping your king alive, perhaps chess is simply not your thing,” then I have basically said that you’re not good at chess. I can hem and haw and claim that I never said you were bad at chess, but if you read the subtext, I did.

            Strongly implying things and then claiming those things were never said is a common argumentative tactic, as well as a form of gaslighting. I like to assume good intent unless I know better, though, so I’ll assume that you really didn’t realize that “If you have so much difficulty dealing with oblique poorly worded support and friendship, as well as criticism (whether it be extreme, or marginal), perhaps writing for a wide public audience in an open and easily accessible public media is simply not your thing” will be read as “Miri [is] too delicate for public writing.” A few people in this thread have read it as the latter, so perhaps you were not as clear as you thought.

          • says

            LOL. Maybe if you can’t take a bit of criticism, you should reconsider writing in public, johngreg. It seems to disagree with your delicate constitution.

            Probably got a case of wandering prostate.

          • Russell Glasser says

            CaitieCat, “mansplaining” is a word that feminists, in general, and their allies-of-the-day use to stifle dissent and disagreement. Other than that, it’s just jargon.

            Let me help you with that. Mansplaining is a description of a particular kind of patronizing behavior used in a sexist context — in particular, the kind the Miri has pointed out you’re engaging in. The fact that someone describes your behavior and said they don’t like it, doesn’t mean that they’ve prevented you from speaking in some way. It does, however, say things about you that you not only don’t acknowledge the behavior, but deny the word means anything that somebody else might do.

            It’s quite a lot like politicians who say racist stuff, and when called out, they protest that the main problem around race is other people talking about racism.

          • johngreg says

            Miri, I would like to respond to your comment — you bring up some interesting concepts about communication and language — but it’s going to take a lot of words. So, with your indulgence, I will make three posts — well, four actually, but the fourth is really responding to CaitieCat and Russell, not you.

            Part 1. Miri said:

            One need not say something directly in order to be saying that thing. You can say things indirectly, too. If you say, “I love Justin Beiber,” and I say, “I suppose that not everyone has a well-developed taste for music,” I’ve basically said that you have a poor taste in music, even though I didn’t say it directly.

            Ah. Well, yes, you’re, right sort of … but no, not exactly. Context and intent are all-important; not magic, but all-important. What I mean is that what you said, “One need not say something directly in order to be saying that thing”, can be true, but it clearly brings us into the dark and murky waters of context, intent, and the accurate or inaccurate assumptions made therein.

            For example, if you say, “I love Justin Beiber,” and I say, “I suppose that not everyone has a well-developed taste for music,” I might, but only might have intended the tacit implication that you have a poor taste in music; however, I might instead have been speaking plainly with only the specific sense of the words provinding meaning and without any intended implication or tacit judgement/content. The only way to actually know that; the only to accurately determine that, is if one, or to be really accurate more than one of the following is known and has history:

            – The immediate surrounding context; specifically the immediate preceding sentence(s) and/or specific topic.
            – My experience with and knowledge of your general outlook or opinions on music.
            – Your experience with and knowledge of my general outlook or opinions on music .
            – The overall and general theme of the ongoing conversation.

            Without at least one of those (and maybe some more I haven’t thought of) directly pointing to the tacit implication, there is no way, beyond groundless assumption, to know whether or not that implication exists and is not just a figment of the recipient’s imagination.

          • johngreg says

            Part 2. Miri said:

            If we play a game of chess and I win and say, “If you have so much difficulty keeping your king alive, perhaps chess is simply not your thing,” then I have basically said that you’re not good at chess. I can hem and haw and claim that I never said you were bad at chess, but if you read the subtext, I did.

            That is very much dependant on several things:

            – The joint knowledge and experience of the two chess players.
            – The “relationship” between the two chess players, both in the immediate context, and past history.
            – The general past history, both jointly, and singularly regarding history of chess playing and associated conversational style.
            – The general personalty of the chess players.

            For me to claim with certainty that you have unequivocally stated, tacitly, that chess is not my thing can only be so if one or more than one of the preceding is known. Otherwise, it is groundlesss surmise based in confirmation bias and supposition because it might be the case that in fact chess is my thing, but I nonetheless, for reasons unknown, do indeed have trouble keeping myking alive.

            All the tacit implications you note could be true, but without some of the additional pointers that I’ve outlined, making such assumptions is only that: groundless assumption coloured mostly by personal confirmation bias.

          • johngreg says

            Part 3. Miri said:

            “If you have so much difficulty dealing with oblique poorly worded support and friendship, as well as criticism (whether it be extreme, or marginal), perhaps writing for a wide public audience in an open and easily accessible public media is simply not your thing” will be read as “Miri [is] too delicate for public writing.” A few people in this thread have read it as the latter, so perhaps you were not as clear as you thought.

            Perhaps I was not as clear as I intended or thought. Yes. Quite true.

            Language can be challenging, especially when the speaker (in this case me) is burdened by an assumed (in this case, assumed by you and your readership) negative reputation garnered by a not necessarily accurate group association assumption of misdemeanour before-the-fact, in that, being a Pit person, most bloggers and commenters on FTB, for example, automatically assume, often incorrectly, that I hold certain ideas, philosophies, ideologies, and so on in common with all other Pit people; an assumption that is further coloured by the inaccurate assumption of uniform behaviour and mind-set of all Pit people. So, what happens is that my comment is tainted before it is spoken regardless of what I may really intend to say.

            For example, Miri, when you said:

            And here’s another similar thing you should probably stop doing. When I’ve written something great and you like it, and rather than just telling me it’s great and leaving it at that, you decide to go ahead and be like “Too bad the Slymepit’s totally going to accuse you of _______” or “Oh you’ll get the MRAs furious over this.” WHY DO YOU GUYS SAY THIS. WHY. The only way I survive as a writer is by refusing to think about the fact that there are people who actually want me DEAD because I support gender equality. (If you still fucking think this is hyperbolic, I don’t even know what to say.) The only way I survive is by refusing to think about the fact that they make lists about how to rape me and my friends, they make crude sexual photoshops of us, they go on and on and on and on until we all gradually drop out of public online life.

            you associated Pit people with the online trolls and asshats who actually make death and rape threats, and no one, NO ONE, at the Pit engages in that kind of behaviour. So, automatically, I am associated with with such people and then assumed to be debating in bad faith if not outright dishonesty.

            Anyway, what I mean with all that endless bafflegab is: With what I said (as quoted from you above) my intent was not to say Miri is “too delicate” to be a public writer; rather, my intent was to say while Miri is not too delicate to be a public writer, perhaps she would find a more appreciative audience, and an audience that fit more closely to an ideology, or philosphy, or set of ideas and ways of online behaviour that would be more in line with what Miri prefers to engage.

            Is that perhaps a little clearer?

          • johngreg says

            As for Russell and CaitieCat, I wish ya’ll would stop womansplaining by participating in a kind of patronizing behavior used in a sexist context — in particular, the kind that I am pointing out that you’re engaging in wherein you are describing my behavior and saying you don’t like it, which doesn’t mean I am trying to prevent you from speaking in some way, but it is saying things about you that you not only don’t acknowledge, but deny that the word means anything that might apply to you. It’s kind of like when feminists say sexist or misandric things and then say it’s all patriarchy’s fault that they said those things.

            If you get my drift.

          • Tessa says

            johngreg

            Can you please provide some context in which the response “I suppose that not everyone has a well-developed taste for music,” following “I love Justin Beiber,” is not a way of saying “you have bad taste in music” indirectly? Keep in mind that irony wouldn’t work because even if you meant it ironically, it would still equate ” I suppose that not everyone has a well-developed taste in music” with “you have bad taste.” Both would just be in an ironic manner.

            On a side note. It might be best for you if from now on you speak directly. It seems everybody is constantly misunderstanding you, and obviously you feel that any indirect statement eliminates all certainty in a conversation, so it’d be best if you don’t even try. That’s just my opinion though.

          • johngreg says

            Tessa said:

            Can you please provide some context in which the response “I suppose that not everyone has a well-developed taste for music,” following “I love Justin Beiber,” is not a way of saying “you have bad taste in music” indirectly?

            You know, I’m pondering that one myself this morning. I’m going to think on it a bit more, but I think Miri might indeed have been mostly right on that one to begin with, and I might withdraw my claim on it.

            I do, however, still think I’m right about the chess bit, and about my original statement regarding Miri and public writing (my intent with that statement). I’ll get back to this a bit later today when I’ve thought it through some more.

            It might be best for you if from now on you speak directly.

            Well, I try; I just don’t always succeed. I’m one of those writers who starts out overly verbose and then always needs to edit, edit, edit what I write. But in an online blog or forum type of environment I usually feeling pressed for time and immediacy — whether or not I really am — so I tend to overlook the finer points of editing for accuracy and concision. But at least I’m not Steersman!

          • jefrir says

            johngreg, how on Earth do you manage to communicate with other human beings if you do not ever make reasonable assumptions based on the connotations of their words? Doesn’t it make communication rather difficult?
            Of course, I doubt it does, because I don’t think you actually do this. I’m sure that in daily life you are quite happy to accept the obvious implied meaning, without insisting on knowing huge amounts about the person speaking. It’s only when you’re being called out on the clear implications of your comments that it suddenly becomes so hard to tell what you mean.

            you associated Pit people with the online trolls and asshats who actually make death and rape threats, and no one, NO ONE, at the Pit engages in that kind of behaviour.

            Yeah, right.

          • johngreg says

            So, Tessa said:

            Can you please provide some context in which the response “I suppose that not everyone has a well-developed taste for music,” following “I love Justin Beiber,” is not a way of saying “you have bad taste in music” indirectly?

            Yes, you and Miri are right. It would probably be an indirect way of saying “you have bad taste in music”. But, depending on the relationship/history between the speakers, it could just as easily be a way of saying “you do not have a very well developed taste for music”, which is not necessarily the same thing as bad taste. If an undeveloped taste in something means bad, we are all in trouble. It is the difference between a value judgement (bad) and a basic observation about experience (undeveloped).

            Nonetheless, for the most part, and especially given the context, Miri’s right on the Beiber/music phrase thingy.

      • Onamission5 says

        I think it’s a lot simpler than that, actually. I think it is much more the case that people who are used to being deferred to on nothing more than the basis of their privilege have an emotional block when it comes to marginalized folks actually taking control of or setting boundaries on anything, even when the boundaries they are setting have to do with their own marginalization. So, those potential allies get indignant and lash out in some way, trying to regain the upper hand, because they cannot or will not conceive of a situation in which they do not get to set the terms by which everyone else behaves.

  9. mcarson says

    Thank you. I’m 56 and am jumping into feminism after a 30 year absence. I kept up w/ my age cohort, but we all operated on shared info ending about 1985. I assumed things were better for younger women, and am horrified to see what is going on. Sorry I was MIA for so long, I just didn’t know.

  10. horatius says

    Thanks for posting.

    Here’s what I learned from this blogpost and the comments it generated.

    When it comes to sexism on the internet, it’s not enough to just be a good guy who believes in the cause. I should also keep my inner johngreg from making an ass of myself.

    This helps.

    • =8)-DX says

      When it comes to sexism on the internet, it’s not enough to just be a good guy who believes in the cause. I should also keep my inner johngreg from making an ass of myself.

      Yes. I also battle my inner johngreg daily. There’s a certain lightly patronising tone that a person can slip into, that one should assume will be taken as an insult or misunderstood. It is so easy to mainsplain when all that is needed to prevent it are a few simple questions to find out how much the other person knows about the subject of conversation.

      Asking genuine questions and listening instead of just pontificating from one’s keyboard pulpit both help keep the inner johngregs at bay.

    • johngreg says

      LOL. Careful you two. In this neighourhood, you don’t really want to admit to even the possibility of having even so much as a potential inner johngreg. Some of these firey commenters might excommunicate you for apostasy and probable heresy and send you to the pharyngulag.

      Just a friendly word to the wise. :)

        • johngreg says

          It was fully intended to be humorous, somewhat gently self-deprecating, and to lighten the plethora of anti-johngreg moods.

          Honestly, Miri, I am somewhat taken aback that you do not see that. Surely you don’t think it was intended as some kind of attack or affront? Surely?

          • johngreg says

            Hmm. Well, it was not that I was surprised or taken aback that ya’ll have a different sense of humour — because that is plainly obvious, and I’ve spent enough time here and on other FTB blogs to know that that is the case — but I was taken aback that even if you did not find it funny, you also did not see that I was trying to be light-hearted about the anti-johngreg sentiment expressed by several folks here, and was pointing self-deprecating “johngreg is evil” insinuations at myself.

            Granted, you might not find that funny, but I thought you would be aware that that was my intent.

            I’m sorry you didn’t.

  11. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    How tiresome this johngreg character is being. “I’m not suggesting, demanding, requesting, giving advice, expressing concern, etc. etc., I’m just telling you that I have these opinions and ideas completely apropos of nothing at all and totally not because I think they’re anything you should think about or act on in any way. Because reasons.”

      • johngreg says

        I am?!?

        Hmm. Coulda fooled me. Miri’s let me blather on quite a bit. We are even having something of a conversation. Slightly contentious; slightly tendentious; but a conversation just the same.

  12. says

    Sent here by bspenser @ LGM. Sigh. I don´t really need another blog on my favorites list, but that´s the way it goes. Keep up the good work.

  13. Pete Mack says

    Well done article. And the disclaimer gave me a good belly-laugh. Full props to you!

  14. Tessa says

    From article:

    Actually, I think I just answered one of my own questions: namely, why people do the whole “oh maaaaaan you’re gonna get so much harassment over this”

    I think some of y’all buy in a little too strongly to the whole “if they hate you then you’re doing something right” thing. For the record, I disagree with this principle. I disagree with it partially because Tea Partiers tell themselves the same thing all the time, but also because it’s not how I measure my success.

    Do you think I’m proud of the fact that people have made forum threads just to talk shit about me? I’m not. I don’t view it as a sign that I’m doing something wrong, either, but I definitely don’t take it as proof that I’m doing something right. Those forum threads don’t happen “because I’m right”; they happen because sexism.

    Thanks for this post, I’m glad I’m not the only one who dislikes statements like “oh maaaaaan you’re gonna get so much harassment over this” as encouragement.

    It feels like they’re making the attention the goal. “You’ve achieved your goal of pissing off these people!” No… That attention is why there is a problem in the first place. It’s basically saying you have the same motivation as trolls who do just want attention.

    OK, I know it’s a bit less charitable than your addendum, but so much harassment comes with accusations of just seeking attention in both public and private lives, congratulating someone on receiving it just rubs me the wrong way.

  15. nichole weberring says

    Miri, thank you for an excellent bit of writing. I thank you as well for the deft way you’ve handled johngreg’s glib and oily mansplainin.

    Keep up your good work. bspencer’s right.

  16. throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

    I don’t comment often here but I wanted to thank you for your speaking out about mental health issues, specifically your coping with depression. It made me feel not so alone and ashamed when I saw that I wasn’t alone and I’d done nothing wrong personally to be ashamed of. So yeah, big thanks for that.

    As for my progress, my medication helped me to get over the initial hurdle. Now I’m finally out of my depressed stupor wondering how the hell I let myself miss out on so much. But there is still more to look forward to! I’m actually running 5k’s now and enjoying being outside!

    *fist-bump of solidarity*

  17. A Hermit says

    One thing I’ve learned lately (from reading blogs like this one) is that often the best support I can give is to let the person know I support them and them just get the hell out of their way.

    Keep up the good work Miri. You are making a difference.

  18. says

    Wow! Thank you, Miri!

    First off, I’m very happy the issue your writing being shareable came up in the previous comments – in that you don’t appear to mind – as now I know I can repost your wonderful article in my own blog.

    Before we go any further, I want to offer advance apologies for such a long comment reply. I had no plans to make it nearly this big, but once I got rolling on the draft I couldn’t seem to stop. Also, near the end I didn’t stick completely on topic, but do feel it’s related and is an extension of my initial thoughts and response. I do hope you’ll approve it. :-)

    You have perfectly expressed many of the points and ideas I tried repeatedly to explain to a friend on Facebook just the other day. He took exception to the wording of an article I reposted that was written by a male feminist. He too, is a good man that means well, but simply could not understand or agree that misogny is so much part of the everyday fabric of life.

    The article’s author has published a book on the issue and does seminars with men to help them see the misogny they exhibit in daily life, unwittingly or not, and tries to help them understand that fundamental changes are needed in the way men as a whole, but especially straight men, think, communicate and express themselves if we as a species, are ever going to stop the war on women.

    I thought the article was brilliant and was shocked that this particular friend saw it as a kind of uncalled for guilt trip/attack on his gender. Rather than see it as informative and educational, he saw it as spreading misandry. And depite a follow-up discussion with me and another woman (a relative of mine) who joined the discussion, I still don’t think he understands where we, as women, are coming from.

    Like I said, he’s a great guy, but…his main arguement was that all men aren’t assholes who demean, hurt, belittle or assault women. No matter what route we tried, his end reply was “right, it’s all men’s fault, we’re scum. Got it.” (Not 100% verbatim, but very close to it.)

    We are still friends (I think), but I ended the conversation by sharing some of my own experiences that demonstrate why misogny was and continues to be a major issue for me personally. Not the least of which was sexual assault and worse, my constant fears about the wefare of our (my husband and I) own grown daughters (fosters to be precise) and several nieces, all of them in their 20s now.

    So far as I can tell, things are no better now than when I was their age. In some ways, I think it’s much worse.

    I am a big fan of the internet for it’s ability to let people meet, exchange stories & ideas, and discussion important issues like you do, Miri, here on your blog. But I’m saddened that it also opens an easy way for anyone to hurt someone else. In fact emboldens many to say things they would probably never dare to voice out loud in their little corner of the world.

    I’m horrified that it essentially opens the gates wide for sicko sadists to hurl vile, disgusting and in many cases I’m sure, very real threats of violence as as been thrown at you and other women brave enough to *publicly* write about all the things us Westerners are supposed to have evolved beyond…like misogny, inequality, the exploitation, abuse and violence in the ongoing war against women… The war that “doesn’t really exist” according to so many right wing men – and shockingly so many right wing *women* too! – and the MRAs. Just like the other wars that “doesn’t really exist,” like the war on the LGBT Community, or the against the poor…

    Because these things only happen in developing & poor nations like India, Pakistan or Somalia, or in theocracies like Iran or Saudi Arabia, but never in free, democratic, relatively wealthy Western societies, right?

    Do we, as women, the LGBT and the poor have it better than our counterparts in those other places? Absolutely we do!

    But are places like Canada, the US or the UK, for example, pockets of Utopia where everyone is truely equal? Where everyone is given their basic, fundamental human, legal, and constitutional rights, which are stringently guarded and respected by state powers – *completely regardless of their* race, gender, religion, sexual identity, socio-ecnomic status and lineage? Where everyone, equally across the board, has the same right to quality medical care, the same access to quality higher education? Or the same opportunities to succeed a career – in any profression, not just the ones they want to pursue? To succeed in *life?* No.

    Emphatically NO! Any a adult who believes otherwise is either very naive, or too safely ensconced in their ivory tower to noticr, or too downtrodden to care, or is willfully ignorant, or is flat-out lying.

    Do keep writing and posting, Miri. Your work always contains valuable content and you express yourself beautifully!

    And, I am truly sorry about what you have been through and continue to face. You have my full support and sincere best wishes even if you don’t approve my ridiculously long comment reply. Am now sending you a big cyber hug! :-)

  19. Golgafrinchan Captain says

    Thank you for this post. I don’t understand how so many people can interpret “even if it’s not your intent, behaviour X is having the following negative impact” as “I’m trying to take away your freedom to engage in behaviour X.” People have a lot of freedom to be hurtful but, just because they have the right, doesn’t mean it’s not hurtful. I feel that posts like this are directed at people who are unintentionally causing pain (or are silent bystanders when others are causing pain) and actually care to improve their actions. Anyone who doesn’t care is free to continue not caring.

    I know of multiple cases when, through ignorance, I behaved in a way that hurt people or enabled others to do so. While is was never my intent to be hurtful, the result was much the same. These instances were mostly way back in my pubescent years but I’m almost definitely still doing it to some extent that I haven’t figured out (or has not yet been brought to my attention). The thing is, I want to change this to the best of my ability and I really appreciate posts like this. There was no “you are all assholes, f-u, f-u, f-u!” Instead, it was, “you may be trying to help, but you aren’t. Please do this instead.” I really don’t know what more one could ask for.

    Thanks again.

  20. Ignacio Pizarro says

    I confess it is the first time I read your blog, and I am impressed by how extremely well aimed this topic is. Straight to the point, and right on target.

    I work in a predominantly male profession in which, however, sexist comments are not allowed at all in the workplace. Any remark in that respect will be noted, called out, and properly acted upon… or that’s at least how it should be.

    Reality is that private conversations among men still are what they have always been. Professional conversations are perfectly correct, polite and respectful, but then you get to the locker room, or the bar… and some people show their true colors. It is a minority where I work, but it sure isn’t pretty when you stumble upon it.

    I used to just stay way from those conversations, but I realized over time that it was a cowardly posture. If their comments bothered me, I should call them out and speak my mind. Lately, I have made a point of doing exactly what you suggest in your post. When someone starts the usual “man talk”, I call out the sexism and I call out the person being sexist.

    I admit I started doing it because I felt it was the right thing to do, and because their comments bothered me, not because I thought it would make any difference. It turns out I was wrong. It is an extremely effective tool!

    Men have a certain feeling of “herd belonging”, which makes those comments acceptable since no one says anything against them. People feel protected by a group that doesn’t disagree… but each man as an individual can be shamed and made to realize how inappropriate his words are. It’s a matter of calling HIM out. Not the “herd”, but the individual.

    When my work mates make sexist remarks, it is very easy to simply say “I’d like to hear you say that to your wife”, “Does that woman know you talk like this about her?” or “You know how wrong that is, or else you would have the guts to say it to her face”. You can also say “That is disgusting”, but that doesn’t seem to shame them like the thought of being exposed does.

    It may or may not stop that kind of behavior in the long run… but I have seen it stops it instantly in that conversation. The “herd” no longer protects the individual when one person calls him out. The person no longer feels safe in his sexist behavior when he is made personally responsible for it. Even more if he is forced to think of being exposed or confronting the woman he is talking about.

    So, from my limited but direct experience with this… It works. It is difficult at first, and may cost a man some of his “manly status” (you are not agreeing with the herd, after all) but it is SO satisfying! When people start talking of women as if they were things… I don’t have to listen to it and feel revolted. I can now stop it…. and, man, it feels good!

    Thank you for sharing this. I am glad to see real, useful advice, shared with everyone.

    In two words: It works.

    Thank you

    • throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

      These situations fill me with trepidation. Some of it is not wanting to rock the boat. As a new employee and temporary I am at the risk of being thrown under the bus for anything or nothing at all. But at the end of the day I’m the one who has to live with my actions. If I don’t stand up for what is right, no matter what the consequences may be for myself, then my commitment to my ideals is arguably lacking. So yeah, I’ll be trying this out if there are obvious office jerks when I start tomorrow.

  21. Forrest Phelps says

    After reading the contribution of johngreg in this post, I must ask:

    Isn’t there some sort of “law” for when someone uses mea culpa? Something like the “Lewis Law”? They always seem to be such asshats, don’t they?

  22. =8)-DX says

    Thanks for this post. It’s amazing how much I’ve learnt by shutting up and listening.

    Although these discussions aren’t easy (as Russel pointed out), I find that oftentimes just calling things by their correct names is much better than going into deep discussions of feminism and feminist theory. Many people start to rethink their behaviour and modify it if you say “oh, please don’t sexually harass my friend this time”, or “another racist joke, how funny” or “it would be rape if you did that”, “those are sexist remarks”, etc… this isn’t that difficult to do and can be helpful.

    Thanks again for the great post. Shutting up now.

  23. Jefe says

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts. They have provided me with much to think about, and ways to improve my own responses. I’m glad you were willing to make these thoughts public as they will at least help me sort out responses to these events in my day-to-day life. – an ally.

  24. says

    Thanks for sharing. Over the last couple of years I have been enlightened to the insensitivity to outright terror that women can experience. I had rarely noticed how imposing my 6’4″ body can be, and I’m now more sensitive to how my presence can make strangers feel.

  25. Kirbmarc says

    So, to sum it up: Miri’s writing should be always be praised. and praise is all she wants. No jokes, no feeble attempts to offer support, ad of course no criticism whatsoever (especially not from men: criticism from men is mansplaining, and mansplaining is always wrong).

    It’s a great idea. It makes Miri right and happy, and shames anyone who disagrees with her or even dares not to follow her rules. Brilliant.

    I think I’ve fallen in “love” with you, Miri. Would you be my Dark Mistress? I even wrote a poem for you:

    My Mistress Miri is by no way insane
    She just keeps inside all of her pain;
    Although to be fair her arguments are plain;
    If facts be lies, plenty of lies grew in her head.
    I have read prose fantastic, from Dems and Reps,
    But no such prose find I in her blogs;
    And some Onion articles are more factually right
    Than the crap that my mistress often posts.
    I love the laugh at her, and well I know
    That random spam is more rationally sound;
    I grant all SJWs do kind of blow;
    My mistress, must be said, won’t break new ground:
    And yet, by heaven, I think my “love” is true
    And this poem was indeed, long overdue.

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