I had no idea that Rich Sanderson still existed, but gosh, he was turning up on Twitter a lot this week. You may recall Sanderson from about 5 years ago, when his thing was repetitively harassing women and feminists: he called himself
Atheist, skeptic, aka THE KING! Coiner of the term #FTBullies. I guess he still does. That’s his grand claim to immortality, that he coined the hashtag
#FTBullies. That’s kind of…it. It’s rather sad, really. I’m picturing his poor mother getting together with her girlfriends, and they’re all bragging about their childrens’ accomplishments, and all she’s got is that her little Richie has a hashtag that only he uses in his obsessive campaign against Rebecca Watson and PZ Myers, still, and he thinks he’s a KING.
Anyway, his name keeps popping up in this twitter thread, where he’s babbling about the time I was threatened with a rape accusation. Let it go, little Richie. Let it go.
Then this morning I got some email. I suspect it’s from him. It sure sounds like him, and contains his predictable hobby horse.
Don’t “dear” me, you demented wackaloon.
If you are sincere about your support for #MeToo campaign, if you’re sincere in statements like “You screwed yourself while trying to screw others, and no one feels any particular reason to redeem you.” If you really believe that, why have you not even discussed the time an adult woman sexually harassed you by threatening to accuse you of rape?
Hey, you disingenuous goober, the only reason you know about that incident is because I openly discussed it. I wasn’t sexually harassed; a student tried to extort a better grade out of me by threatening to lie. It was handled quickly and appropriately.
If you are sincere, you will name and shame her, or you will at least discuss the issue in relation to this latest movement to end sexual harassment. If you don’t want to or are afraid to, can you explain why that is?
You want me to torment a student who made a mistake 25 years ago? No.
But wait. I can make a contribution to the #MeToo campaign! I can tell everyone how to handle that rare circumstance in which a man is unjustly accused of sexual misbehavior! I have experience! Unfortunately, it’s not very useful experience, because it doesn’t happen very often. But I can tell you exactly how to cope.
So imagine a woman accuses you of improper behavior towards her at work. What do you do?
First and most importantly, be innocent. That means that you must treat all women fairly and not take advantage of your position to take liberties with her, or to belittle her. I know that seems to be surprisingly difficult for way too many men, but it’s a necessary prerequisite for this technique to work. If you aren’t innocent…well, bugger off, you horrible little man. You’re deservedly screwed.
Next, you need to acknowledge that this person is trying to do you harm. What should you do? Get out of that situation. Leave. Don’t try to argue, and for jebus sake, don’t try to dominate and suppress them — that’s playing into their hands and creating a situation they can use as evidence that you’re abusing them.
Report. Go to human resources, your supervisor, anyone with any authority. Describe the situation honestly — if you can’t describe it honestly, you shouldn’t bother following this script. You’re screwed. But if you’re innocent, you should be completely open and transparent and document the event to a third party.
Step back and wait. You’re done. Any further interaction will involve other people looking deeper into the matter (and you’re innocent, remember? So they’re not going to find anything inappropriate, right?) In my case, another faculty member, a woman, was delegated to hear the student’s side of the story. It fell apart immediately, she was contrite, and the situation was over.
It is possible that a determinedly vindictive woman could push it further. But again, you’re innocent — there isn’t any evidence of misbehavior, right? She doesn’t have dick pics on her phone, there aren’t witnesses to you slapping her butt, you didn’t get drunk and proposition her at a party, you aren’t on record with unwarranted punishments or promises? Right? If there are, fuck you, go away, you’re going to get what you deserved. Otherwise, if your behavior has been spotless, back off, be impersonal, get a lawyer, let it be handled by professionals.
Notice that you, a man, have advantages here, and this plan takes advantage of them. Women ought to be able to follow the same plan too, when faced with a nefarious male with bad intentions, but the good deal for you is a) you won’t be automatically disbelieved, b) you won’t be immediately labeled a disruptive influence, and c) you won’t be fired as a shortcut to silencing a complaint. We can get our concerns addressed. In a perfect world, when a Matt Lauer or a Harvey Weinstein importunes a woman, she ought to also be able to immediately walk away, report the situation, and get a third party to look into the matter objectively, and take appropriate action against the guilty party, whoever it may be.
We know that doesn’t happen often enough. It’s grossly unfair. That’s why women are using the “#MeToo” hashtag, to publicize the frequency of this injustice. Because we men have made justice our privilege, and made the world a hell for those who do not recieve what ought to be universal rights. There’s even a song about it now.
You don’t get to use my example of an innocent man who got a swift and fair response as a reason to further trivialize the right of women to also be treated equitably.
You fucking dishonest wanker.
By the way, this twit emailed me using a throw-away email account, “firstname.lastname@example.org”. It’s blocked now, along with all the other accounts he’s used to pester me with in email.