joreth: (Bad Computer!)
Just so you know, when a person goes out of their way to avoid publishing identifying information about themselves on the internet, like their real name or current location, it is incredibly creepy to then publicly message them on social media with that information (it can be creepy to privately message them with that info too, but there is some nuance there that I don't feel like addressing right now; just to be safe, assume it's creepy in private too). Even if you know them or met them in person. Even if you aren't being "threatening" when you do it. Even if you think you're being friendly about it. ESPECIALLY if you think you're being friendly about it. Then you're both creepy and oblivious.


When you publish personal and/or identifying information about someone who has deliberately not published that information (and worse, not told YOU that information), you are:

1) stalking
2) being invasive
3) dismissing, disrespecting, or disregarding personal boundaries
4) some combination of the above
5) all of the above

Even if that isn't your intent. Your intent to be creepy is irrelevant when deciding if you are, in fact, being creepy. The person who gets to decide if you're being creepy is the one who is creeped out by you. Period. I don't care if it's "not fair", only the person whose boundaries you just stomped on gets to decide how hurt they feel over it. Just like the person who is offended by a racist, sexist, homophobic, or other -ism slur is the one who gets to decide if it was racist, sexist, homophobic, or other -ist, not you (and not your token "friend" who thought it was funny, either).

If you step on my toe, your intent to harm me does not matter and you do not get to dictate whether my toe should feel hurt or not. Don't keep standing on my foot defending your right to stand on my foot and complaining about the tone of my yelling. GET THE FUCK OFF MY FOOT.

And don't post identifying information about people online. It's, at best, rude, and at worst, putting someone in danger. If you're not a reporter doing an expose on some dangerous criminal or underground organization, or with law enforcement (and don't get me started on the tangles of THAT hornet's nest), you probably don't know when it's in the public's best interest to know something, so just don't.
joreth: (Super Tech)
*sigh* Having a profile on a dating site STILL does not obligate a woman to give you the time of day. There are lots of reasons why she may have a profile and still not want to meet you, talk to you, or even be open to dating anyone at the moment.

1) Being single and having a full and exciting life that may leave little time for dating does not mean she can't still be open to the idea if someone exceptional comes along, so she may be busy with life right now, but she's still allowed to look even though it may look like she doesn't have "enough" time, according to your definition of "enough". The "right" person will fit into her busy schedule because of shared interests and mutual compromise and she is under no obligation to sit around playing the lonely spinster while she waits for you to magically arrive and add excitement to her life. YOU have to be exciting enough for her to justify making space for you in her life. Her complex life is what makes her exciting enough for you, that's why you contacted her.

2) It may be an old profile from when she was looking and she's holding onto it. It's not your business to decide when it's appropriate to let go of a profile.

3) She may be looking for different things, like friends or activity partners, and not a romantic partner, or she may even be looking just for sex and her busy life isn't an issue for a once-in-a-while booty call.

4) Lots of women (and other people too) prefer to take their time and get to know people online for a while before giving out contact info, real names, or meeting in person. Sometimes it's safer. Sometimes she's an introvert who relates better in text. Sometimes, a busy schedule and a request to send emails first is a test to see how pushy the guy is, and if he pushes too soon for a RL meetup, she'll know to drop him because either he's an entitled asshole who doesn't respect boundaries or they just want different kinds of relationships.

5) She goes through busy and not-so-busy stages and it's not worth her time to take down the profile and put it back up every time her life changes, especially if she put a lot of effort into her profile or she will lose her username by deleting it. Besides, if someone exceptional came along, she may be willing to go out of her way to change life to accommodate.

6) It could be you. Just because a woman is available, it doesn't mean that she's available TO YOU, and maybe her "busy schedule" is a hurdle she isn't willing to overcome because you don't do it for her.

This is written from the perspective of a man complaining about a woman's profile only because this is the direction of the complaints that I see most often, not because it never happens with any other combination of genders.

Look, I've written plenty advising women to please respond to the men who contact them even if it's a rejection because I want to reward the courage it takes to approach someone and because I think it sucks that we have this double standard where men have to put in all the effort and women get inundated with crappy first-contact letters.  Both sides suck.  When I'm talking *to* women, I want to encourage that they do their share of the contributing to change society.

But when women are complaining about the bad experiences they're having online, DON'T MAKE THIS ALL ABOUT TEH MENZ.  That is not the time to tell women that they should ignore their own discomfort in order to make men feel better.  That is not the time to bring up how much it sucks to be a man as if it were a competition of which gender has it worse online (trust me, it's not the male gender as a whole, even if I agree that some parts of their experience suck).  That is the time to LISTEN to the women and to do whatever is in your power to help change things.  Because I guarantee that if women as a whole felt safe online and safe to be sexual beings, the double standard that makes it hard for men in online dating would go away as a result.

If we want women to do the approaching, the first-contact outreach, to respond to first-contact letters, and to be clear about their intentions, we have to make it safe for them to do so.  If someone doesn't feel safe in expressing themselves, they will avoid doing it or they will do it in passive-aggressive or indirect ways that may seem confusing or contradictory.  
joreth: (being wise)

I'm working on a collaborative project with my ex-sweetie involving breaking up. Tell me your breakup stories and preferences? Good breakups, bad breakups, and why were they good or bad? Did you do the breaking up or did they? How often do you do the breaking up vs. get broken up with? What do you wish you had done differently? What do you wish your ex had done differently? How was overlapping social circles handled?

I don't need to hear any details of the relationship or why the breakups happened or even who was involved other than what the connection between the players was, but the breakup actions and what followed the breakup are relevant. It doesn't even have to be limited to romantic breakups.

No names at all will be used without permission in my project and even most anecdotes will be lumped together to illustrate types and trends rather than specific examples.

Responses can be posted here, privately messaged to me, or even told to me in person if we know each other IRL.

joreth: (Bad Computer!)

  • An image of null
    May 5, 2013 – 6:56am
    look beautiful
    Report this

    37% Enemy55% Friend75% MatchMessage from alex_121

  • Just now!
    read profile

joreth: (Self-Portrait)

  • An image of null
    May 11, 2013 – 1:06am
    Report this

    58% Enemy31% Friend10% MatchMessage from a_gentleman

  • Just now!
    Read the profile.

Seriously, what makes anyone think this approach works?  Just, "hi".  It's not as offensive as some of the others, but probably about as effective.  Could he possibly have put any less effort into contacting me?  If he made any less effort, he's just be a drive-by - y'know, where you just look at the profile and move on.  After all the work I put into my profile, to explain the important aspects of who I am, to help us both not waste our time by weeding out those clearly incompatible, this is the amount of effort he extends to me?  Hi.

I've already put forth more effort into him, specifically, than he bothered to put into me, what with this rant and all.  I bet he gets complaints a lot from his exes that he doesn't show them his feelings or that the relationships feel one-sided.

And, because this is essentially the exact same thing, I'm pasting it here rather than making another entry for it:

  • An image of null
    May 10, 2013 – 2:46pm
    Sent from the OkCupid apphelloSent from the OkCupid app
    Report this

    0% Enemy0% Friend10% MatchMessage from danj101

  • Just now!
    Read the profile.

joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)

  • An image of null
    May 30, 2013 – 10:12am

    I wish I could take you to TN to live with me and live happy ever after. Your so kool love the costumes.
    Report this

    53% Enemy45% Friend25% MatchMessage from UrbanPhotos

  • Just now!
    It didn't occur to you that a total stranger telling a woman on the internet that he wants to steal her away to some other state would be creepy?

joreth: (Bad Computer!)

  • An image of null
    Jun 14, 2013 – 7:38am
    Hi wanna mess around with a married guy?
    Report this

    Message from Bucs-fan010

  • Delete

    Sorry, Bucs-fan010 no longer has an account.

Hi, wanna fuck off?
joreth: (Bad Computer!)

  • An image of null
    Jun 26, 2013 – 11:18am
    Sent from the OkCupid appDamn girl, let me hit that. LolSent from the OkCupid app
    Report this

    22% Enemy67% Friend63% MatchMessage from MusicTeachJames

  • Just now!
    Speak to me like that in person and it is I who will be doing the hitting. Now fuck off.

joreth: (Bad Computer!)

  • An image of null
    Jun 26, 2013 – 6:46pm
    Great profile and great photos. I run an international logistics firm; travel a great deal. While travelling I am very involved in the cuckold lifestyle as a Bull. I'm fun, safe and fit. completely straight, but will appreciate your power over your cuck and allow him to eat my cum of of or out of you.
    I began with this hobby while in college, there was no Viagra back then. I would frequent a few very selective swinger parties where husbands and wives would invite me to fuck wifey while the husband would watch. I enjoyed it and the hobby grew.
    I'm sure we could work out a special trip where I could get you off while your little husband was restrained, denied and forced to watch.
    Please contact me. I look forward to serving you,
    Nathan White
    Report this

    33% Enemy49% Friend83% MatchMessage from Goodfriendnate

  • Just now!
    Read the profile.

  • Just now!
    And never send another offensive form letter like that to anyone ever again.

Let's be clear here.  It's not the cuckold fetish that bothers me.  It's the fact that he DIDN'T FUCKING READ THE PROFILE, sent a form letter, and thought that a FIRST CONTACT email was an appropriate place to sexually proposition someone.
joreth: (Bad Computer!)

  • An image of null
    Jul 15, 2013 – 6:07am
    i would like to try u sweetheart what do u think
    Report this

    49% Enemy57% Friend46% MatchMessage from rohanforluv

  • Just now!
    I think you're a fucktard who needs to have a hot poker shoved up his ass. Now fuck off.

joreth: (Bad Computer!)

  • An image of null
    Sep 3, 2013 – 4:21pm
    I'd like to be friends. But, then again . . . FUCK OFF.
    Report this

    28% Enemy67% Friend92% MatchMessage from cpilate32

  • Just now!
    Moron. When you approach someone, you're the one who has to fuck off.


joreth: (Bad Computer!)

  • An image of null
    Sep 4, 2013 – 10:16am
    Hey, how you doing?
    Report this

    48% Enemy9% Friend43% MatchMessage from Davidt123

  • Just now!
    I'd be doing better if you'd read the profile before contacting women.

joreth: (::headdesk::)
In which I ramble nearly incoherently about entitlement and agency and autonomy and other buzzwords )
So, in case it hasn't occurred to you yet, the tl;dr version is this: communities and groups of like-minded people are not a convenient location in which we have rounded up a bevy of people for your attention or perusal. Even those groups for which the purpose *is* whatever you're looking for (i.e. a dating site), the group members are not there for you specifically. Do not treat such groups and communities as your personal pool to fish from, stocked with said fish for your pleasure. Being part of a "singles" group, or a submissive group, or a childfree group, or a poly group, or a kink group, or a whatever group, does not mean that the group exists for you to use as a collection site like a temp employment agency. Being part of one of those groups does not mean that the members are there for you. Even being sexually available does not mean that they are sexually available to you.

And for fuck's sake, stop posting personals ads on the internet unless you're specifically signed up for a personals ads service! Just have a fucking conversation with people, and through those conversations, you will eventually find people who are compatible enough with you to consider the sort of relationship you're looking for (or even a whole new kind of relationship you hadn't considered before, but you'd never have known that you'd be open to it if you hadn't just fucking talked to people first).


Jul. 8th, 2013 10:21 pm
joreth: (::headdesk::) - My new favorite online game.

Guys, if you do 2 of these in one email, I'm posting it all over the internet and you're getting a blog entry from me where women everywhere will mock you for your cluelessness/douchebaggery.

Another game option: try to find one of my online skeezballs or feminist rants that doesn't have something on this Bingo card!

joreth: (Bad Computer!)

Seriously, people, you have GOT to let people get out of discussions (i.e. arguments) when they become too emotional to be productive. Even better, let them get out before they become too emotional if either of you can see the warning signs. If they're not the type to recognize that they've lost too much control to be effective, then you may have to request that they take a break for them.

There's this weird fetishization of "communication". I put that in quotes because, in this context, it's not used in the sense that I usually use that word. To me, communication is an exchange of ideas, or, if not an exchange in two directions, at least the ideas flow in one direction and are actually received. To me, communication does not include one person talking to oneself, two people shouting at each other and not listening or "hearing" each other, or anyone shouting at what amounts to a brick wall. Nor does it include someone spouting gibberish or obscenities with no real content (as I have been known to do).

No, to me, communicating means that the ideas shared are actually shared, implying that there is someone on the receiving end actually getting the signal. So when it is no longer possible to share those ideas - when someone is no longer either transmitting clearly or receiving clearly and/or there is no attempt to discuss or debate in good faith, then there is no more communication happening. Insisting that the two sides remain locked in combat with each other past that point is not advocating communication.

I'm all for communication. Hell, I give workshops and private unofficial "counseling" sessions exploring alternate ways of communicating to improve relationships. But I do not agree with this "communicating" that means "talking at each other regardless of how each participant feels during the discussion and insisting that the talking continue indefinitely while accusing any attempt to end the talking as being censorship, silencing tactics, or blocking communication". Bonus points if you can accuse the person trying to end the talking of being a hypocrite for claiming to advocate communication but not wanting to talk about this *right now*, for insisting that the other person "teach" you why what you did was so wrong *right now*, or for using their own emotional state as a weapon against them, discrediting them and their position simply for their inability to keep their cool.

I get it, it's frustrating to be trying to express yourself and have the other person just end the discussion, without letting you get in the last word or to "be heard". But keeping that other person there is not the way to accomplish that goal. However, neither is ending a discussion at this point "censorship", "silencing", or a position against communication. In many cases, ending a discussion before it becomes contentious and tabling it for better circumstances is one method for salvaging the communication.

Often, when a person has reached the point that they are no longer able to communicate effectively (hang on here, I'm going to get complex), they have reached the point that they are no longer able to communicate effectively. Whoa, mind blown, right? This means that they may not be able to explain why they're so angry, or to patiently and calmly explain that they need some time apart to compose themselves and come back to the discussion later. They are angry, upset, hurt, emotional. So their request for time off may similarly be angry, upset, hurt, or emotional. At this point, stopping whatever is hurting them is the primary objective. It is not reasonable to expect them to be compassionate, respectful, articulate, or willing to teach you all about their emotional responses in a tone that panders to your own issues.

If someone needs to stop, just fucking stop. Recognize that they are upset and let it the-fuck go. Sometime later, you can ask them to explain what happened and how you can work with them to avoid a repeat performance. Sometime later you can explain that their reaction to stress is hurtful to you and you want to find a compromise between their need for space and your desire not to be hurt by their need for space. Sometime later you can address if this seems to be a pattern and what that means.

Get your head out of your ass and let go of your own inflated sense of self-importance and look at what's happening. Supposedly, you're the rational one here, right? I mean, you're not the one throwing the temper tantrum and storming off in a huff, so that must mean you're the rational one, yes? Someone is hurting and someone is acting out in their pain. And if you're not actually causing it, you're at least in the position to be perceived as having caused it, or contributed to it. So take a fucking step back and let the other person breathe. Give them the space necessary to calm down and come back around in a more rational frame of mind. Perpetuating the cycle will not achieve communication, no matter how much longer you manage to bully them into continuing the talking (or shouting).

Some things that can increase the odds of reaching this non-productive state are:

  • Starting the argument late at night or keeping someone up past their natural (or necessary) bedtime to talk about distressing subjects.

  • Starting the discussion or argument before they have to leave for another obligation, such as work, where they have to either choose to be late or end the discussion before you're ready to end it (and whatever consequences you might apply for doing so).

  • Starting the discussion when hungry or not breaking for food when they become hungry.

  • Starting or continuing the argument/discussion in front of other people where they might become embarrassed on top of whatever other emotional reaction they have to the topic, or where they might not feel free to express their thoughts as necessary.

  • Having the argument in a place where they feel trapped, like a moving vehicle or at work where they can't leave or out someplace where you are sharing transportation and they can't easily leave.

  • Threatening them with dire consequences if they don't want to have the argument/discussion at the time of your choosing, such as breaking up, destroying property, withholding favors, restricting access to other people, pets, or things, etc.

  • Using a medium to communicate that they feel discomfort using or they have difficulty expressing themselves clearly using, like insisting on email when they express themselves better verbally.

I'm sure there are more, but I see these play out over and over again. In fact, I have personally been subjected to each of these on more than one occasion, even after I have clearly expressed my opinions on the subject. I once had someone start an intense discussion with me after I explicitly said I didn't want to talk about it because I had to go to bed soon and I had to wake up early, looking "fresh" and rested. I had a partner who repeatedly picked fights with me at work no matter how often I told him to leave the personal shit for home and I actually had to request to be scheduled on different gigs even after we broke up. My second fiance would molest me while I was sleeping and then threaten to break my possessions if I got pissed at him and tried to go sleep on the couch (wish I had known he would do this before I agreed to marry him!). My mother once kept pushing me on the subject of my Catholic Confirmation ceremony when I was in the car and I couldn't escape her screaming at me when I finally told her I was atheist so I couldn't go through the ceremony and would she please drop the subject?  I once had a partner insist on having a very difficult conversation through email after I had made it clear on several occasions that I felt more comfortable expressing myself verbally because I felt that we both misunderstood intent when we communicated with each other through text.

I could go on but the point is that these are terrible things to do to someone. I've never read the book Emotional Blackmail, but I'd be willing to bet money that at least some of these tactics are mentioned in it somewhere, or in some book about emotional abuse. Keeping people from sleeping & eating properly while bombarding them with a particular message is a standard "brainwashing"* technique even.  The reason why I have such an explosive temper is because I'm sick of people doing these things to me and I'm sick of then being blamed for the demise of the discussion when they've done it and I'm really sick of not even being allowed to do what is necessary to get back under control, so people can then continue to blame me for not "communicating".

I recognize that I have lost control and I'm taking responsibility for that by altering my circumstances such that I can regain control and become productive again. So let me do that and don't belittle me for it. Let me gain some perspective and some composure. Let anyone who who has lost control gain some perspective and some composure, especially if they clearly communicate that they need it (even if you don't like the tone they use when they express their desire). If they don't know themselves well enough to request it on their own, then you suggest to them that a break might be necessary. You might actually gain their respect and speed along their composure if you can acknowledge their efforts to get back on track, rather than faulting them for not subjecting themselves to your power trip.

*I put "brainwashing" in quotes because I'm aware of some of the controversy on the effectiveness of brainwashing & brainwashing reversal and I don't want to get into a debate about it.  The point is that this is a technique people use when they are deliberately trying to indoctrinate someone against their will or to subvert their better judgement.  Using these techniques during a discussion or argument where each person is supposed to retain their own agency is inconsiderate at best, unethical and cruel at worst.

joreth: (::headdesk::)
A woman got an email from a guy on a dating website. It was a classic piece of shit - overly-flirtatious, too complimentary, obviously didn't read the profile because there was nothing specific, and creepy in an over-sharing, too-familiar-too-soon way. Naturally, she posted the email online.

Another woman saw the post and recognized it as the exact same one she received from the same guy. Now we all know that guy is writing form letters and we're all mocking him for being insincere and inconsiderate.

Guys, take note: when you send a form letter (and believe me, we can tell it's a form letter) and when you ignore the profile, not only do you come across as creepy, but you get made fun of by the women you're hoping to attract. It's in your best interest to learn how to be sincere and considerate in your first-contact emails.

When you do something rude (like these kinds of first-contact emails), the girls are not the bad guys for mocking you. That's the consequence that you get for being rude first. We are under no obligation to be nice to people who disrespect us first.

You Owe Me

May. 6th, 2013 01:10 am
joreth: (Bad Computer!)

I appreciate all the ways that technology has made our lives easier, safer, all-around-better.  But there are some social trends that have resulted from some technologies that I'm really not a fan of.  The cell phone is my main bugaboo.

I've never liked cell phones.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I find them terribly convenient.  Being able to call my boss when I'm stuck in traffic to say I'm running late has been awesome.  Sending a text to find someone at a theme park when we otherwise would have wandered around for hours and *still* may never have found each other - wonderful.  Getting a short message in the middle of the day from my sweetie to say he's thinking of me can often make my day.  I still don't like cell phones.

The problem I have with cell phones is the immediacy of them and what that does to the people around me.  Because everything and everyone is available right now and right here, I find I have a strong dislike of cell phones, primarily because of what they represent.

First is getting people to stay present with me.  Thanks to smartphones, everyone around me is constantly tweeting and facebooking and googling all the time.  It was bad enough when the phone could ring at any time.  Then it got worse when text messages started getting sent all the time and no one could resist checking their text messages and immediately responding.  But now with smartphones, it seems as though I can't have a one-on-one conversation with someone without them being distracted by the internet.  I don't mean the occasional looking up a fact in question during a conversation - I actually kind of like that.  I mean sitting across the table from someone, looking them in the eye, talking to them, and having the conversation interrupted because a text, then a tweet, then a Facebook update, then another tweet, then a slew of texts, then a need to post a picture RIGHT NOW about the food on the table, all happen and the conversation is lost.  Nobody is really present anymore.  I miss that contact.  I miss that kind of contact so much that I find myself becoming very resentful of my partners' phones.  I try to cover it by always carrying a book with me, so that I can at least have something of my own to do when they are no longer being present with me.  But it irritates me all the same.  If I had wanted to read, I would have stayed home and read.  The book is just to keep me from staring off into space when my companion finds something else more interesting than me.

The other thing is the expectation that comes with all this availability.  When I was in high school (the last time average people weren't easily reached, before even pagers became popular), people had to call the house.  If you weren't home, they left a message on your answering machine, and then they waited for you to call them back.  Leaving multiple messages in a short span of time was considered very rude.  Then I convinced my mom to let me have a pager.  I wanted one so my boyfriend could send me numeric messages while I was at school, but I convinced my mom by telling her she could reach *me* when I was out with my friends.  So she would page me in the middle of the night to find out where I was.  And then she would page me again.  And again.  And again.  I had to explain to her that she needed to give me a minimum of 30 minutes to answer a page because I could be on the road.  30 minutes was the average time to get anywhere in my hometown.  If my mom didn't give me time to arrive at my destination, then I would have to pull over and try to find a payphone.  Since she was paging me late at night, that meant being a teenage girl getting out of the car at some gas station in the middle of the night - the exact kind of situation my mother was worried about that finally convinced her that me having a pager was a good idea in the first place.

This is the sort of thing I see now, only it's not restricted to worried calls from my mother.  If I don't answer an email fast enough, if I don't respond to a Facebook post fast enough, if I don't answer a tweet, if I don't respond to a text in an amount of time that the other person thinks is "appropriate", people get really testy about that.  Never mind that I could be hanging from a steel beam holding something very heavy over other people's heads.  Never mind that I could actually be out of the house and my computer is still at home and still logged on.  Never mind that I could be having one of those intimate conversations where I'm trying to give someone my undivided attention.  Never mind that I could be sleeping, or showering, or fucking, or pooping.  I have to respond RIGHT NOW.

I'm waiting for some repairs to happen in my bathroom.  It will take my shower offline for 3 days, so I've requested that the repairman schedule the repairs so that I can make alternative accommodations for this.  Last week, the repairman showed up at my house first thing in the morning.  I was still sleeping, having had a late night and still having company.  So I didn't answer the door (I didn't know it was the repairman at the time).  About an hour later, while I was occupied, there was another knock at the door.  20 minutes after that, I got a phone call that I let go to voicemail from the building manager telling me they wanted to schedule the repairs.  5 minutes after that, my dad texted me, asking if I was OK.  Since it was my dad, I texted back that I was fine, and he said that the landlord had called the emergency number to find out where I was.  Then I got in the shower.  Then there was another knock at the door while I was in the shower (the shower window, by the way, is on the same wall as the door and since the window was open, anyone at my door could tell I was in the shower).  Then my dad texted again that the landlord called back!

A mere 2 hours after the first knock, when I was awake and dressed and ready to deal with business matters, I finally called the landlord and chewed her out for coming by a total of 4 times, calling 3 times, and calling my dad twice, all without previously scheduling the repairs as requested.  This is what I'm talking about.  People expect other people to be available all the time, even without making any arrangements for it.  I have an OKC inbox filled with first-contact emails and a second, follow-up email of guys pissed off or hurt that I haven't responded to them.  No "I'm sure you're probably busy", no "is everything OK?" - it's all "fine, I can take a hint, the least you could do is tell me that you're not interested and not just ignore me!"  Entitlement.

You are not entitled to my response.  You are not entitled to my availability.  Also, there is nothing about me that is passive-aggressive and even a cursory look at my profile would tell those guys that if I wasn't interested, I wouldn't just *ignore* him.  Plus, if I was ignoring him, whining about it isn't likely to end well regardless.

The latest incident was an ex-mistake of mine.  I call him my stalker, and it's a long and convoluted story how a stalker is also an ex.  The "short" story is that we've known each other since we were 12 and he decided the moment I walked in the classroom door that I would be the girl he married.  He spent the next decade putting himself in the friendzone, i.e. a friend with ulterior motives.  He was my friend for the purpose of getting close to me in the hopes that I would one day realize that he was my soulmate.  I didn't know this at the time.  This is the antithesis of being a nice guy, although every single guy who does this calls himself a Nice Guy for doing it.  He tried every juvenile trick in the book to get me to date him.  Eventually, in college, I did date him, and very quickly learned what a bad idea that was.  After we broke up, he put himself back in the friendzone.  I genuinely prefer to be friends, or at least friendly, with my exes if we broke up simply because we were incompatible & not because he did something unforgivable, so I didn't see a problem with him trying to be friends with me ... at the time.  That took me another 6 years to learn.

By that point, I had discovered polyamory and had moved across the country, so my interaction with him was limited to phone calls.  We'd have very pleasant multi-hour-long conversations, until he'd point out how well we were getting along and wasn't that enough proof that we were destined to be together?  We'd have an argument, and I mean an ARGUMENT complete with shouting where he tried to convince me that we were two halves of the same whole, that I was doing this poly thing only because I was still searching for Mr. Right and I should stop searching because he was right there and I would yell back that I was not interested, that I loved my then-boyfriends, that I was not happy being monogamous, and that our dating was a mistake I never wanted to repeat.

This is more backstory than necessary (and yet only a fraction of the story), but the point is that I spent the majority of my life being hounded by this guy to marry him (complete with him sabotaging the condoms in the hopes that I'd get pregnant, as I learned later) and yelling at him that I didn't want to be with him.  I had finally had enough.  In a phone conversation while I was at my then-boyfriend's house (so I have a witness to it), my stalker started in again on being soulmates and I told him that I was never going to have that argument again.  I told him that I was not going to contact him ever again, and he could not contact me unless he could refrain from starting that argument, and if he ever DID bring it up again, I was going to change my number so he couldn't ever call me again.

About 6 years has passed and I have not contacted him.  He has sent me 2 emails and friended me on Facebook (but not actually contacted me there).  The first email was an essay he wrote for his creative writing class where he described our 2-decade relationship from his perspective.  I've written about that before and how shocked I was to learn that someone who had known me for years & claimed to love me could know me so little (he still believed that my poly relationships were casual sex and that I only did poly because I was "promiscuous" and wanted to have lots of sex with lots of guys ... how he could miss my regular months-long spans of no sex drive is beyond me, but I digress).  His second email was to tell me that his brother had been convicted of murdering his own wife & child, and how my stalker felt his life was falling apart.  That's another long story I won't go into here, but let's just say I wasn't the least bit surprised to hear the news.  For both emails, I did not respond, since he explicitly said "you don't have to respond, I just need someone to listen".  He then promptly emailed me back after both to whine about getting "the hint" from my silence.  Both of those I responded in the same way, to remind him of our last conversation and that he said I didn't have to respond.

Yesterday, after I had publicly posted on my timeline that I was unplugging for a while to go be productive, he sent me a message on Facebook.  Naturally, I didn't respond, as I had walked away from my computer.  He sent me 2 more passive-aggressive messages about getting "the hint" from my not responding.  I got the messages this morning and sent him yet another reminder that I wasn't interested in speaking to him, however my "silence" was because I was not at my computer and that I didn't owe him a response according to his time table.  It's a funny little quirk I have, not prioritizing responses to guys who treat me as an object, who put me on a pedestal and ignore my own wishes for my life, and who think that arguing with me about dating is a good strategy for winning me over.

So, I am increasingly disturbed by the sense of entitlement people seem to have over other people's time.  Maybe people always felt that entitled and the cell phones are merely a new tool to facilitate that entitlement, and I shouldn't blame the cell phone or turn it into a symbol of that entitlement.  All I know is that people seem to demand other people's attention, and other people's responses, and any irritation at being so demanded is met with a counter accusation that it's somehow the other person's fault for not being available and the other person is an asshole for having a problem with the demand.  It feels as though nothing can wait for more convenient times, everything has to be done now and if you don't want to do it now or, Zeus forbid, you're busy with something else, well then you're a jerk.  If you don't want to answer your phone because you're at work, or otherwise occupied with someone else, you're a dick.  If you want your partner to actually finish the conversation, or the date, before surfing Facebook, you're selfish.  If you dare to walk away from the computer while it's still logged on to email or social networking sites, you're inconsiderate.  And if you have the nerve to actually tell people that you have other things to do and can't respond right away, then somehow you are the self-centered prick who thinks the world revolves around you.

So if I don't respond to something you've said to me, or emailed me, or posted to me, or texted me, or called me, it's because I'm fucking busy with other things to do.  I'll get to you when I get to you, as I expect you would for me.  If what I'm contacting you about is urgent, I'll make sure you know it's urgent.  Otherwise, if you don't answer me back, I'll assume that sitting with your phone in your hands waiting for my message was not at the top of your priority list and something else was, something like eating, or sleeping, or any of the dozens of people in your life who are closer to you than I am, or work, or pets, or an emergency, or it was a pretty day outside so you just left the damn phone in your pocket for a while, and NOT that you're sending me some coded signal that you don't like me.  Whatever, respond when you have the time and if you feel like it.  You don't owe your time to me, but I'll appreciate whatever time of yours you're willing and able to share with me.

joreth: (Bad Computer!)
There's this other thing that people are doing lately. Maybe they've always done this, I don't know, but my memories tell me that, "in the good ol' days", when someone said "I'm getting angry, drop the subject", people used to actually drop the subject if they genuinely didn't want to make the other person angry because they cared that someone was not happy and that they were contributing to that unhappiness. When someone said "this is upsetting me, stop doing it", people either used to care that they were upsetting someone and would stop doing it, or they were trying to upset someone, so would keep doing it.

But lately, when I've said "don't push me on that" or "drop the sujbect" or "I'm getting pissed off so stop", the reaction I'm getting is not "sorry, I didn't want to actually make you angry, I just wanted to converse on this subject, I'll let it go now". No, what I'm getting is "ooh, I'm so scared! Joreth might get angry! What are you going to do about it, huh? Yell at me on the internet?" (This is a quote, by the way, and a very close paraphrase of multiple responses).

For some reason that I can't quite fathom, when I say "this is a triggering subject so leave me alone", what people are hearing is "I AM THE ALL POWERFUL VENGEFUL INTERNET CENSOR. YOU MUST CEASE WRITING ABOUT THIS SUBJECT OR YOU WILL FEAR MY WRATH!"

Listen up assholes, I'm not threatening you with dire punishment for daring to have a difference of opinion. I'm warning you that I am feeling emotional, or about to get emotionally upset, and this conversation will cease to be productive. I'm alerting you to the fact that what you are saying or doing is hurtful to me and I want you to stop hurting me. I'm sorry that being hurt results in my inability to ask you politely to stop hurting me, with an appropriate amount of compassion for your feelings about being asked to stop hurting me [/sarcasm], but I am trying to get you to stop hurting me, not threatening you that I'm about to do something bad to you (although yelling at you might be considered doing "something bad", it's a reaction, not a punitive action, and not a particularly dire one in the grand scheme of things).

I do not have a big enough ego to say that being mad at someone on the internet is this horrible thing for the other person. I don't think that I am important enough for it to matter to most people that I am mad at them.  I am assuming, obviously incorrectly, that you are a decent person who doesn't actually intend to cause me pain or emotional upset, and that notifying you of my impending or current upset is something you might appreciate so that you will have the opportunity to stop doing whatever it is that is upsetting me so that we can continue or improve our relationship (even if it's just online acquaintances).

But, apparently, you do not wish to be notified when you are doing something hurtful so that you can stop hurting me. Apparently, you are enjoying causing me pain, and the challenge to do so after being threatened with consequences only ups the ante.

What the fuck is wrong with you people that when you are told "I'm getting upset, stop doing that", your first thought is not "I didn't want to hurt someone, perhaps I should table this until she's not so upset or in another forum that is more conducive to discussing this subject", but is instead you think "ooh, I'm so scared, c'mon, whatcha gonna do about it?" I'm not warning you not to poke the bear because the bear will tear you to pieces. I'm telling you that I'm hurting and it's because of something that you're doing, and I'm hoping that you are a decent and compassionate person who doesn't want to deliberately hurt me. Clearly, I was wrong.
joreth: (Bad Computer!)
There's this thing that otherwise reasonable, intelligent people do that just really pisses me off. I've started calling it Missing The Point Pedantry. This is when someone who is a generally intelligent person with a reasonable amount of social skills decides to argue some pedantic, specific little detail that someone, who is also fairly intelligent with social skills, said in a conversation or online post that completely misses the point of what was being said. It requires the pedant to overlook context, any knowledge of the person speaking and/or their past track record or tendencies regarding either the subject or their conversation/speaking/writing style, and any social conventions involved in speaking/writing.

So, for example: let's take Devon. Devon is a college graduate with an interest in the hard sciences but a vast experience with the arts and pop culture. Devon can use "totes" and "adorbs" in conversation and not sound like my dad sounded in the '80s when he tried to say "that's totally radical dude!" in an effort to connect with "the kids these days". Devon is well-read in popular fiction, the classics, and non-fiction in some specialty areas of interest. Devon is sex-positive and active in alternative communities like the Ren Faire and the local indie club scene. In other words, Devon is a well-rounded person with general knowledge, some specific expertise, and social skills like current slang and local/cultural body language.

Now let's take Quinn. Other than the specific areas of specialty that Quinn focuses on or hobbies and interests that Quinn has, Quinn is basically the same as Devon - well-read, intelligent, average size social group, etc. Maybe Quinn is a sci-fi geek instead of a Renny or maybe Quinn listens to goth instead of industrial music, but otherwise, they are fairly well-matched people. They also know each other through overlapping social circles and have had direct interactions with each other, but maybe they don't know each other quite well enough to call each other "friend" in the can-call-each-other-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-to-rescue sense. They probably show up at some of the same parties if they're in the same area and they are probably friends on Facebook or something.

So Devon and Quinn are at a party one night and Devon is speaking with some people on a subject that most of the people mostly agree on. Maybe it's the conflict in the Middle East, maybe it's about immigration, maybe it's about pc vs. mac, maybe it's on the inherent privilege that blondes face in this country at the expense of redheads. Whatever, Devon is reasonably certain that most of the people have similar, if not identical, views on the subject and that there are probably people at the party who disagree, but that's not who Devon is talking to right now, although Devon is aware that those people could probably overhear the conversation. Quinn is at the party and generally agrees on the subject, but has different personal experiences of the subject so might have a slightly different perspective, although they both agree on the important points.

Devon starts relating a story about a study on the subject that suggests some really interesting and suggestive trends among, oh, I dunno, blondes. It turns out that when you prime blondes by having them read pro-blonde jokes, they have a tendency to become more hostile towards non-blondes. They answer questions about crime committed by redheads with harsher penalties than blondes, and they want harsher penalties than the blondes who weren't primed for it. The study, and a series of related studies, show some shocking revelations about the privilege of blondes in our country that lend weight to the redhead accusation that hair-colorism is not yet over, it just moved to a more subtle form. Blondes aren't burning redheads at the stake for being witches anymore, but they still aren't given exactly the same treatement as blondes in society, and the redheads aren't just being "overly sensitive" about "seeing hair-colorism everywhere".

Since Devon is not a research scientist, was not personally involved in this study, and is speaking at a party and not a science forum, Devon is playing a little loose with the language. Devon sums up the study instead of quotes it, uses anecdote as illustration to connect with the audience, speaks in the common vernacular and not necessarily precise, scientific language, sometimes uses humor to relieve the tension, sometimes gets a little angry at the injustice of it all and the anger seeps into the tone every so often. But Devon is speaking to peers, who understand the same common vernacular, who are swayed by anecdotal illustrations and have not spent their life-long careers training themselves to recognize personal bias (although some do it as a hobby, they all still understand that they're all at a party and not being hired to review this study), who are also there to just converse with people they like and if they happen to learn an interesting new tip, even better.

As Devon finishes with an anecdote that supports the study's conclusion, in an effort to better connect the audience to the dry data and to illustrate the point and maybe to connect the study to something that was said previously that is related but not necessarily the exact same thing, Quinn jumps in with "well, I'm blonde and I like anti-redhead jokes, but *I* certainly have no problem with redheads! Therefore you can't say that blondes are anti-redhead. If I were to follow your logic where you used a personal anecdote to support hair-colorism, then my experience as a blonde who had a hair-colorist redhead father should lead me to make sweeping generalizations that all redheads were anti-blonde!"

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call Missing The Point.

Of course we shouldn't take our personal experiences and use them to make sweeping generalizations. That's not what Devon did. Devon used a personal anecdote to illustrate a trend that a scientific study suggested. The point of using anecdotes in this context is to make the subject matter relatable to the general audience. People use analogies, similes, hyperbole, alliteration, allusion, and other literary tools to create an emotional response in the audience. That's what people do. The scientific and the skeptics communities are both terrible about not utilizing these tools, and it's one of the reasons why we have a culture of anti-intellectualism. The religious and the woo crowds are experts at these tools and they use them liberally to sway the public away from science, away from reason, away from critical thinking. Science, critical thinking, and reason are hard for humans, in general (don't anyone fucking dare comment about how easy it is for you, personally - that's exactly what I'm talking about). But tell people there's a quantum flux theory that totally explains why hospitals fill up on nights with a full moon because your sister once had a dream about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at exactly the same time you were making one, therefore water that remembers the medicine you filtered out of it but not the poop totally cured your autism, and they'll think you're making absolute sense.

When an individual makes a claim, such as "women are just naturally more nurturing than men" and backs it up with a story about how "every single" woman they know is better with children than "every single" man they know, and has been that way since birth, therefore they can make the claim that women in general, or all women, are naturally more nurturing than men - that's a logical fallacy. The counter to that is a combination of actual science research that says otherwise as well as any examples that do not fit the claim. If the claim is that "all people of X group", then only 1 counter example is sufficient to falsify the claim. If the claim is "generally people of X group", then anyone whose personal experience is that most people of that group do *not* is sufficient to falsify the claim - especially when either case is backed up with scientific data.

In other words, if you say "all dogs have 4 legs", then all I have to do is produce 1 dog without 4 legs and the claim is bunk. If you say "dogs are generally mean and vicious animals", then all I have to do is say that I've worked with thousands of animals in an animal shelter and the vast majority of dogs I've worked with were lovable and sweet, and that the only mean and vicious dogs I encountered were raised by asshole owners who trained them specifically to be mean and vicious to counter the claim that meanness is a species-wide trend.

But when the scientific evidence suggests a particular trend, and a person shares an anecdote to illustrate what the trend is, or to help the audience connect or relate to the conclusion, or to say "I can believe that because this thing that supports the conclusion happened to me", that is not a logical fallacy. That's called being a part of a social species that uses complex language filled with nuance and social context to share ideas with each other.

Most of the time, this Missing The Point Pedantry takes the form of a strawman argument. I have an ex who did this constantly. He once got interested in dating someone that I felt would be problematic because she was opposed to polyamory. I was concerned that she would do typical cowboy or cuckoo things to break us up or drive me away so that she could have him all to herself. I was concerned because she exhibited such behaviour in the past. His reaction was to scoff at me and tell me that he was anti-marriage, so I shouldn't worry because it's not like he was going to run off to Vegas and marry her, he just wanted to fuck her.

Well, no shit Sherlock, I didn't think he was going to run off to Vegas and marry her and that's not at all what I was concerned about. It doesn't take something as drastic as a vehemently anti-marriage man completely 180-ing on his lifelong, somewhat pathological, anger at the institution of marriage to make me concerned about how a new partner is going to affect my existing relationship. Things like refusing to be in the same room with me even at parties forcing him to routinely "choose" between us, calling in the middle of our date night for her weekly emotional "crisis" to have a 2-hour long argument about whether or not he should come home *again* to take care of her, showing up at my house at exactly midnight because "my night" with him is now *technically* the next day, which isn't my night, so he has to come home with her right now, spinning private stories in a negative way to mutual friends to gradually turn those mutual friends away from me and onto "her side" - these are the kinds of things that I'm afraid of. These, by the way, are all things that have actually happened to me and not hyperbole, exaggeration, or strawmen or pulled out of my ass. I don't need to be worried that she's going to kidnap my boyfriend at gunpoint, force him to marry her, and never see me again to be concerned that my life is about to be unpleasantly disrupted by someone with a history of being disruptive.

So sometimes the pedantry is used to pick on a specific detail or pull a loose form of speech to focus on at the expense of all the rest of what was said - the context, the cultural influences, the history of the speaker, and even the non-spoken implications revealed by the language used - to pick out that detail and blow it up to exaggerated proportions so that the original speaker would have to backtrack or renege the point in order to not be associated with the caricature now presented.

But sometimes it's another logical fallacy, and I don't particularly want to attempt to cover every possible fallacy that someone could make in these circumstances. The point is I really hate Missing The Point Pedantry because I have to explain, in great detail and at great length, why this is a misdirection in order to get back on track, which, in effect, is exactly what I'm trying to avoid - being misdirected. Instead of discussing the topic, we get sidetracked onto this other niggling little detail. There's no good way to handle this problem that I am aware of. If you don't address it, a falsehood or a fallacy goes unchallenged, and all that results from that. If you do address it directly, you get off the main topic and start arguing something that wasn't your point in the first place. If you address the fact that it's missing the point, you still get off the main topic and start arguing something else that wasn't your main point, only now you're arguing about arguing.

The people I know are intelligent, reasonable people, for the most part, and, contrary to the mainstream perception of intelligent people, are not actually all socially maladapted misfits like Sheldon Cooper. They are people who understand humor, sarcasm, double entendre, can tell when someone shouts "fine, whatever!" and storms out of a room that she's probably not actually fine and is likely pissed off, can identify "I'd love to but..." as a polite rejection even if the word "no" was never spoken, and a whole host of other social interactions. But, for some reason, all of those interaction skills go right out the window when they seize on a detail that might not be an absolutely, literal, 100% in all cases down to the fractal level, perfect phrase or example.

When most people say "I'm going down to Miami for the weekend", most other people understand that "down" is a cultural slang term that means "south-ish from this point", not that the speaker is literally moving in a downward direction into the planet and pretty much no one tries to correct the speaker. Even when someone says "I'm going down to New York for the weekend", and we all know that "down" means "south-ish" but the speaker will be traveling "north-ish" or "east-ish", most of the time people still don't try to correct the speaker because we grasped, from the context, what the important point was - that the speaker is going somewhere for the weekend. But when Missing The Point Pedantry happens, suddenly I'm faced with, for example, anti-sexist men who want to argue that "she didn't say the word no so it's not rape" or "but men have bad stuff that happens too" or "what's wrong with wanting to protect my primary relationship?" or "if she just knew self-defense, she wouldn't be a target" or "I agree that religion is actively harmful, but do you have to be so aggressive about it?" or "you know that aspirin comes from willow trees, right, so don't do the opposite and assume everything that's natural is harmful" or a million other wacky things that completely miss the point.

No, I haven't actually counted out one million examples. That's a figure of speech and is intended to convey "a lot" in a way that impresses the reader with "really a lot". And that's exactly what I'm talking about - Missing The Point Pedantry. Everyone knows that "a million other things" doesn't literally mean exactly one million other things, and "everyone knows" doesn't literally mean that every person on the entire planet that has ever or will ever live understands that figure of speech. And you, who is doing this, also understand that, in most contexts except for whatever it is about this one that prompted you to point this out. I'm not speaking to Rain Man here, or Sheldon, I'm not speaking to or about anyone who has any kind of actual neurological condition or complication that makes them actually have trouble with abstract thought. I'm talking to and about people who, in most cases, get this, but couldn't refrain from "not getting it" now. I know you're not stupid and I know you're not an asshole, but for fuck's sake, stop acting like it and, by implication, stop acting like I'm stupid by ignoring all the context around whatever detail you picked out to focus on.
joreth: (Purple Mobius)
"Our relationship is over! Us in the original couple are in a totally closed triad with no outside partners for a reason and we explained that to our Third when we met her and she agreed back then but now it's over because she wants someone besides us! Why can't she understand that we have a system that works for us?"

Because, honey, that system DOESN'T work for you. If it worked for you, the triad wouldn't have broken up over it. Oh, you mean that it worked for the primary couple! This is a great example of couples privilege - writing up rules that only work for the original couple, and as long as the original two people like it and stay together, that's all that counts as "works for us".

This is the problem I have with Unicorn Hunters (which, I shouldn't have to repeat but obviously I do, does not mean all individual people who think they might like being part of a triad someday) - they're not interested in what works for everyone and they're not interested in accommodating their partner as if she were a full human being with her own needs and desires. They're interested in what she can do for them, and in not having their lives interrupted in any meaningful way while they're getting what they want from her without regard to what "works" for her.

Although, I have to say that it doesn't sound like it's working out for the original couple either, since the two of you haven't managed to make your dream triad work, but that's a whole other argument.

Also, this isn't a straw man. This is a real post I saw in an online poly group.

I ought to make a post or a tag for posts that include things I've said for which people accuse me of straw-manning but are actually real statements, arguments, posts, or claims made by real people. Like the post I saw last week and tweeted about where I said that my hypothetical Unicorn Hunters that I use as examples are never as bad as the real thing because I never thought to prescript the nipple size of the unicorn, for instance. Seriously, the worst of everything I've ever said about Unicorn Hunters, and the reason I'm opposed to them, are both absolutely real examples with no hyperbole and not as bad as some other absolutely real life examples.
joreth: (Bad Computer!)
or The Misuse Of The Argument From Authority Accusation

First, a couple of disclaimers. 1) I'm going to use the word "skeptic" in this post to lump everyone from the skeptics, secular, humanist, and atheist communities into a single label. Those communities are absolutely not interchangable, let's get that straight right up front. Being an atheist doesn't make you a skeptic, as everyone's go-to example, Bill Mahr, can attest. Neither does being a skeptic automatically make you an atheist, as our resident non-atheist skeptic, Pamela Gay, proves. Irrelevant for my point here. I don't feel like listing out all the groups every time I reference them, so I'm going to lump them into one place-holder label, and I chose "skeptic" because I say that word often enough that it comes out easily.

2) I am a skeptic, and damn proud of it. I love the label, I love what I learn from both the community and the process of skepticism. I am in no way considering dumping the label. I'm uncomfortable in skeptic spaces because there are certain problems I encounter, but I want to fix those problems so that I can continue to be part of the skeptics community; I don't want to split off into a whole new group that has the exact same premise as the skeptics community but who refuses to be connected to skepticism because of the bad association.

3) This is not the only problem with the skeptics community. In fact, it's not even one of the top 10 worst. It could be considered a symptom of one of the more major problems, but I don't want to hear "that's it? That's your big problem? Why are you bitching about that when there are real problems with the skeptics community that need to be addressed?" This is an irritation that has real-world implications, and this is my journal where I specifically set it up to bitch about things. So I'm going to bitch about it.

So, on to the problem.

Skeptics, overall, tend to be a fairly well-educated, intelligent group of people. When you have a group of well-educated, intelligent people, the arguments have a tendency to take a particular form. People tend to try to remove all emotional content from the argument and argue everything academically, even when the subject is about emotions, is personal, or is subjective. Many times, they will argue something just for the sake of academically arguing it - it won't even be a subject they're particularly invested in exploring, they just want to argue. If that subject happens to be something that their opponent is invested in, then because the skeptics aren't, they have a tendency to, not only be totally unaware of how damaging it is to academically argue about something the opponent is personally invested in, but to also be completely dismissive of the emotions of their opponent because, hey, it's just an intellectual exercise, no need to get your panties in a twist over it.

Now, as an intellectual exercise with no emotional investment in the outcome other than being right, skeptics will tend to throw accusations at each other, and anyone they're arguing with, like they're in the middle of a Logical Fallacy oral exam in school. Except that these dispassionate skeptics are not actually unemotionally invested in the argument. They are, just not in the topic. They're invested in the idea that they're well-educated, intelligent, and not emotionally involved. So any criticism of this really irritating way of arguing is taken personally and defended with great vehemence and their own set of logical fallacies.

Final disclaimer, I'm not immune to the subject of this rant. But I can still be irritated when I see it happen.

So, the one I'm going to vent about today is the Argument From Authority. There are a handful of logical fallacies that are easier to identify and remember than the others, so every time they come up, skeptics immediately jump to accusing their opponent of using said logical fallacy. The Argument From Authority is one of them.

The Argument From Authority Fallacy is when a claim is deemed to be true simply because the person who made the claim is an authority figure of some sort.

The Misuse of the Argument From Authority Fallacy is when someone is accused of using said fallacy when it's actually a legitimate argument.

So, for example:

  • Quinn: Acupuncture TOTALLY works! You should try it!

  • Devon: Uh, no it doesn't. Here are citations from well-regulated, double-blind, placebo-controlled, large sample population studies from a variety of research facilities that all confirm there is no measurable effect from acupuncture.

  • Quinn: Psshhh! My acupuncturist is a guy I've known for 20 years and he's a karate sensei  so I believe him, not your studies. Science gets things wrong all the time, but THIS guy knows karate! I think he knows what he's doing with acupuncture!

  • Devon: *blinkblink*

You might now want to accuse me of Strawmanning by pulling out a ridiculous argument, but this is, I swear, a conversation I actually had with someone. It was a person I know in real life and had the conversation face-to-face so it's not a troll either. This is actually how it went. In order to keep the peace, I had to end the conversation simply by advising him to make sure that his sensei at least uses brand-new needles and wears gloves because of the recent hepatitis scare among acupuncture patients in Florida. Even the thought of getting a life-threatening illness didn't phase him, because his guy is a guy he "knows", who would never do anything dangerous. Karate. Acupuncture  Nothing dangerous. OK, I'm done.

So this is an example of a legitimate accusation of the Argument From Authority. Quinn believes the claim that acupuncture works because "a guy" said it does, with complete disregard to the mountain of evidence to the contrary.

Here are some examples of legitimate USES of the Argument From Authority:

  • Paula: As a black trans woman, I've experienced sexism, racism, and homophobia in skeptic communities, so I'm less likely to want to attend skeptic events.

  • Paul: That's ridiculous, there's no sexism, racism, or homophobia in skeptic communities! We're a rational group of people, we require evidence to hold beliefs, and there is no evidence supporting the unequal treatment of other genders, other races, or other sexual orientations. Therefore, you couldn't have experienced any of those things because we're just not any of those things.

  • Paula: Look, I'm telling you that I've experienced all of those things. Just because you weren't there or you can't see it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. It does, and I've felt it, and so have a lot of other people. That's why there are so few women, people of color, and people of alternative sexualities at your little events - we get treated poorly and we'd rather just not go.

  • Paul: I don't see you citing any rigorous studies supporting your claim, therefore you're just spouting anecdote, and anecdote does not equal data. You're wrong, it doesn't happen.

  • Paula: I think I get to be the authority on my own personal experiences and you can't tell me that I didn't have them.

  • Paul: That's the Argument From Authority! Your argument is invalid!

  • Jordan: Polyamory is a legitimate relationship style. I love more than one person at a time and polyamory is a valid way to ethically explore those feelings.

  • Sam: You don't love more than one person at a time, you only think you do. Real love doesn't let you love more than one person at a time, so if you think you love multiple people, you don't really love any of them. If you did really love any of them, you couldn't have feelings for the others. QED.

  • Jordan: You can't tell me what I do and don't feel! I know what I feel, and I feel real, true love for each of my partners!

  • Sam: You're just deluding yourself, that's not real love. says love is exclusive, therefore what you feel isn't real love.

  • Jordan: No one gets to overrule what I say about my own feelings. I have feelings that I can feel, I am part of a community you've never even heard of before today, and I have an academic sociology background. I am the final authority on what I feel and anyone who says different is wrong!

  • Sam: Aha! That's the Argument From Authority! Your claim is now invalid - polyamory is not real because you can only support it with logical fallacies!

Before anyone tries another accusation of Strawman, these are also both absolutely real conversations. And both are absolutely misuses of the accusation. There are times when it is completely valid to take an authority figure's word on a subject. It can, and should, be provisionally accepted, but it should still be accepted. When the authority figure is an authority on a subject with actual experience in the subject and not just "I read Wikipedia for hours about it" or took some classes on it, and you're not, you can provisionally accept his word. When the authority figure is telling about her own personal experiences, you can provisionally accept her word. When the authority figure is telling you about their internal feelings, you can accept that they do, indeed, have those feelings (even if you remain dubious regarding the nature of what caused those feelings - i.e. just because one feels attacked, it doesn't mean someone actually attacked them). Especially in the third example, their word automatically trumps everything else.

I have been feeling more and more uncomfortable in skeptic spaces over the last year or two, and the smug and dismissive attitude when it comes to topics the speaker has no experience in that is so prevalent among skeptics keeps me away. I don't even want to bother attempting to educate them, because they're so confident in their own intelligence that they don't think they need education on anything they have already formed an opinion on, even if they formed that opinion without the benefit of any education on the subject or with speaking to anyone relevant to the subject. Even worse is when they claim to have done their own "research" on a topic (it usually means they've Googled it or read Wikipedia) and think they're fairly well-read, but they have no personal connection or experience with the subject and dismiss anyone who is actually living the subject but who hasn't done any formal research on it.

Take Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory - he is constantly lecturing Raj on Indian culture, even though Raj was born and raised in India and Sheldon has never left his own apartment, let alone the country.  But Sheldon has read stuff and is smart therefore Raj's personal experiences don't count.

So misapplying the accusation for the Argument From Authority pisses me off. If you aren't kinky, poly, female, transgendered, non-white, poor, or anything else that is as much "experience" as academic (if not more), and when someone who is talks about their experiences or their feelings or their own community, your ability to recite all the logical fallacies by heart and have an argument without getting "emotional" does not make your opinion as equally valid as theirs. "There is no authority and all opinions are equally valid" is a classic logical fallacy among pseudoscience cranks. Don't fall into the same trap and don't dismiss personal experience when the subject is a subjective one. We're not talking about the chemical makeup of water or the physics of gas planets. Those have yes/no answers - either something does or does not, and we can test it and find an answer that is right and an answer that is wrong (insert appropriate error bars here, for those who are pedantic). But a physicist with credentials and published papers and a university behind him is probably more right about physics than the guy who hasn't left his basement in 5 years spouting Deepak Chopra and Dinesh D'Souza is, because the physicist is an authority on the subject, and we can provisionally accept his word that cold fusion is highly improbable and that we will never develop a free energy machine that sucks electrons from the ionosphere but that could turn into a doomsday weapon with only a small modification to the plans (again, true story).
joreth: (Super Tech)

Read and add your signature, if you want to. It’s easy and fun, and shorter than an iTunes TOS update!

I pledge not to fetishize civility over justice. I recognize that the very notion of “civility” is defined in large part by those in whose benefit the status quo is maintained. I further recognize that the structure of “civility” at least in part has been created with the express purpose of bolstering chronic injustices. As Malvina Reynolds sang, “it isn’t nice to block the doorways, it isn’t nice to go to jail; there are nicer ways to do it, but the nice ways always fail.”

I pledge to remember that civility and compassion are not the same thing. Executive Order 9066, for example, was an emphatically civil document. There was not a mean-spirited or insulting word in the entire document, with the exception of the phrase “alien enemies.” In fact, it specified that a group of people would be provided with food, housing, and transportation. And yet it was one of the most unkind, uncompassionate acts of the US Government in the 20th Century. Civility is a very effective camouflage for hatred.

I pledge to remember that a fetishized civility is a field mark of insulation from suffering. The cries of the wounded on a battleground may be very unpleasant and uncivil indeed. I pledge to nod sympathetically and help bind those wounds rather than chide the wounded for bleeding so indecorously.

I pledge to keep a sense of perspective. Tossing basic civil rights under the bus in order to maintain a jury-rigged superficial peace in a single-issue movement is a bad bargain.

Rather than worry overmuch about civility, I pledge to be as kind as possible. And sometimes the kindest possible contribution to a discussion with someone acting in bad faith and harmfully is to tell them to go fuck themselves sideways.
joreth: (Bad Computer!)
Recently, [ profile] tacit was waiting in the TSA line for a plane trip when someone came up to him and said "I know this isn't any of my business, but what's with the bunny ears?" Before he could answer, the guy in front of him turned around and angrily said, "I'll tell you what's with the bunny ears, he just wants attention! I'd knock them off if I could!"

[ profile] tacit didn't respond to the guy directly, but did tell the original questioner that the ears were a gift from a friend. He wishes now that he had said they were a gift from one of his girlfriends, just to poke the angry asshole.

I told him that he should have said "actually, I had a daughter... she got sick..." [ profile] tacit's eyes got big and filled with a mixture of horror and admiration. He said "you're not right!" and then he and [ profile] datan0de immediately filled in the rest of the story designed to make the asshole feel as badly as possible for jumping to conclusions and becoming angry over what someone else had the audacity to wear in public. This mythical "daughter" would have had a birthday on the day of this fateful plane trip, had she lived. The ears were her last gift to "daddy". He was on his way to visit her grave. And it went downhill from there.

Shelly chimed in with "I think assholes should be made to feel like assholes!"

And that is the crux of my entire online persona. I am the cautionary tale. I am the consequences of your bad behaviour and I will not let you ignore the consequences.

According to Why We Are So Rude Online:

"We're less inhibited online because we don't have to see the reaction of the person we're addressing, says Sherry Turkle, psychologist and Massachusetts Institute of Technology ... Because it's harder to see and focus on what we have in common, we tend to dehumanize each other, she says."

My posts are a reaction, a deliberate attempt to show other people those reactions that they can't see online. When someone is an asshole online, most of the people I know back off. They don't reply to OKC messages, they unfriend, they disengage. I do that too, but before I do, I make a conscious decision to allow that person to see my reaction. That's what all these rants here on LJ are, that's why I post the Online Skeezballs exchanges, that's why I get into flame wars.

I will also eventually back out and disengage when I can't take it anymore. But I won't let their behaviour go unpunished. My goal is for everyone who treats people poorly to see what happens when you treat people poorly. I want there to be consequences for treating people poorly. I want you to be unable to retreat unscathed from treating someone poorly. I want that kind of behaviour to do as much damage to the troll as to the victim, because, apparently, hurting someone is not enough motivation to stop. Perhaps self-preservation will be a start.

These sorts of studies also explain away trolling behaviour by the security provided by anonymity - that people say mean things to each other online that they would never say in person, because they don't have to see how their words affect people.

This is another way in which my behaviour is different from "trolls". Because I will say these things in person. I will tell you what I think. One of two things happens in real life, however. Either my tone gives a clearer indication as to my motivations, intentions, and emotional state and reduces the confusion that so often happens online where people mistake what I'm saying for something "mean"; or I am actually saying something "mean" and I know it will hurt you, but I'm saying it because you need to hear it - exactly the way I do it online.

So, yes, people can hide behind the anonymity of the internet & say and do things that they wouldn't do in person. This is unacceptable. And yes, people say the things they do because they don't have to deal with the reactions of the people they are hurting. This is also unacceptable.

But this is WHY I say mean things on the internet. I am not allowing people to get away with saying something mean without consequences. I am not allowing them to remain ignorant of the reactions they are causing. And I am not doing or saying anything that I wouldn't also say directly to that person's face. I am the person who will tell you that your ass looks fat in that dress because that's a shitty question to ask someone and a terrible way to trap people who care about you, and you should feel the consequences of putting someone in that awful position. And I won't just say that your ass looks fat in that dress, I will TELL you that I'm saying so because I think it's a shitty question to ask someone and a terrible way to trap people who care about you. So that you know.

When I go through TSA, I opt-out of the body scanners on principle, which requires them to give me a pat-down. I insist that the pat-down be held in public, in front of everyone (including anyone who might have a camera on them) where they have to be held accountable, and when they ask about medical conditions, I tell them (honestly) that I have endometriosis and I'm on my period, so I'm bleeding & my breasts & groin are sensitive to the touch. If someone is going to make me uncomfortable, I'm going to make them uncomfortable right back. I have ALWAYS gotten professional pat-downs without any inappropriate touching (other than the fact the pat-down itself is inappropriate), and some were downright ineffective in their effort not to be "inappropriate".  I also pack sex toys in my luggage, which grossed out a customs agent enough that she stopped searching my bag & waved me through.

When people ask me a rude & personal question, I will tell them the answer. That always makes them uncomfortable, and I say "don't ask questions you don't want the answer to". I intend to make them feel as uncomfortable as they made me feel. I will respond, and you will not escape my response.

I am not about "radical honesty" where you have to just "toughen up" and "grow thicker skin". In fact, I'm about the opposite - of developing thinner skin so that you care more about what you're doing to people. I am about making people develop more sophisticated empathy so that they don't do the kinds of things anymore that result in someone telling them off. If someone is telling you off, then you've done something that crossed the line. It's no longer about being "honest", it's about you being a jerk. You've hurt someone. And you need to know that you've hurt someone. And you need to feel bad about it.

Filed under "it's OK to be intolerant about intolerance".
joreth: (personal)

I noticed something interesting about myself today.  Everyone makes snap judgments and assumptions when they first see people.  These are based primarily on stereotypes, either that we pick up from society or that we develop over time with experience.  They are never accurate 100% of the time, but for most people, they seem to serve just well enough to justify holding on to them.  And by "well enough", I mean that most of the time, even our inaccurate assessments don't get us killed, so if it feeds our confirmation bias or affirms the consequent, that seems to be "good enough".  So when I talk about one of my snap judgments, don't think that I'm not aware of the problems with snap judgments.

smileypantsOne of the things I judge people on is their smile in profile pictures.  Profile pictures, especially on dating websites, are usually the pictures we post of ourselves that we think shows us at our best - for whatever definition of "best" is.  Maybe it's when we think we're the most attractive, or maybe we think it illustrates our personality, or maybe it shows us doing something that we are passionate about and we want the viewer to know that we are passionate about it.

So when I see snapshots in a profile picture (in other words, not a professional photography session, but something someone snapped at a party), I have to wonder why they chose that picture.  Is this what they think their "best" looks like?  What does this picture say about them?  There are a lot of things a snapshot picture can say about a person, but right now, I want to focus on the smile.

A person's smile tells me a lot about them.  Again, I recognize that it might not be telling me the truth.  I do not let a 5-second glimpse at a photo dictate how I will think about that person forever and ever and the smile in one, or even a handful of photographs is not the only thing I use to judge people.  But nevertheless, this is what a smile tells me about someone.  

A close-lipped, tight smile, especially one that is turned down at the corners, puckered in at the corners, or has an otherwise "uncomfortable" look to the smile, tends to make me think that he is inhibited, fearful, or has low self-esteem.  A posed picture with a smirk or subdued, quietly dignified kind of smile doesn't do this.  A snapshot where he is aware of the camera, had time to smile, and looks like he "chose" to smile, and consequently chose a smile that says "I'm uncomfortable right now, please hurry up and take the picture" makes me think that he is not very open or secure.  Having a series of pictures where all the smiles are this one only reinforces my presumption.

But a wide, exuberant, showing-teeth smile indicates, to me, a person who is a happy person in general, who was caught in a moment of happiness, and who is not afraid to show us that he is happy.  This is a smile that goes all the way up to the eyes, which are crinkled and squinty.  It tells me that he is more concerned with how he is feeling right now than how he looks, and how he feels is wonderful.  Which makes him look wonderful to me.

An open, exuberant smile shows happiness and confidence to me.  It doesn't mean that he never has self-doubt and never has bad days.  A tight smile indicates a lack of self-confidence, and it's that confidence that is really attractive to me.  I want to fill my monkeysphere with people who embrace life, who are fearless, the Whole-Hearted people that researcher Brene Brown talks about in her TEDTalk about vulnerability.  I don't mind people who are reserved, or quiet, or even shy - social skills and energy requirements are not a part of what I'm talking about right now.  I'm talking about an overarching life philosophy - a worldview that sees the universe as something exciting and wonderful and wishes to experience as much of it as he can.  You can still be introverted or shy or publicly reserved and have this worldview.

My own experience has created a stereotype in my head, which I use to make snap judgments about pictures, that tells me this smile and this worldview are correlated.  The more pictures a person has with either type of smile, the stronger this correlation is.

There are a lot of people out there with advice for how to make your profiles "better", to increase your odds of attracting a partner.  I don't tend to find those very helpful.  Sure, I give netiquette advice too, but my advice is less about how to raise your profile hits and more about how not to be a jackass and insult or piss other people off, and by extension, you will probably find more success if you're not being a jackass online.

But I don't find these "get more hits on your profile" advice columns very helpful because they don't take into account the fact that we all want different things.  Sure, I can start taking pictures of myself in the bathroom mirror or looking up at my cellphone, and I can shorten my profile and not rant about feminism and sexism and polyamory and atheism, and that will probably get me more hits.  But what about the quality of those hits?  I'm not trying to gather emails like I'm collecting stamps, I'm trying to find those specific people who will get along with *me* and to stop wasting my time with all the wrong guys.

The trick is not to just up the numbers - that gets tedious really quickly when it's all the wrong people.  The trick is to attract the *right kind* of person.  Efficiency over quantity.  You don't need a hundred hits to find "The One", especially if all hundred are incompatible.  You just need the right one.  In order to find a partner, you first have to become the kind of person that your Perfect Partner would want.  Then you have to find a way to communicate that you are that person.  And one of the ways we communicate who we are is through the pictures we choose to post of ourselves on our dating profiles.

So, I won't tell you all to go out and change all your profile pictures to better "improve" your online dating success.  If you don't share my values, then you won't want someone like me to be attracted to you.  But *if* you want a partner who appreciates excitement and has enthusiasm for life, one possible way to attract him or her is to show your own enthusiasm in your profile pictures.

I find I have this same presumption for women's pictures, but since I am not interested in dating women, I never really put it together like this.  I knew that I have some friends who I think are beautiful women, but who consistently smile in a close-lipped, tight smile that I think is not as attractive as their candid, exuberant smile.  Their whole faces just light up when they are genuinely happy, and that's far more attractive, IMO, than having the perfect makeup or perfectly sculpted cheekbones or hiding their teeth.  I'm always just a little bit disappointed when I see a beautiful picture of them that has this "I'm not really smiling" smile because of how much more beautiful I think their happy smile makes them.

But today, I got a notice from OKC about some guy who liked my profile.  I get a lot of those, but I haven't actually checked OKC or read my email in about a year or more.  For some reason, today, I decided to see who he was.  I liked what he had to say in his profile, but when I looked at his pictures, I notice that my interest in him dropped (I read the profile before I look at the picture, and sometimes I don't look at the pictures at all).  So I spent some time figuring out why that might be.  It wasn't until his very last picture, when he had that open, exuberant smile, that I figured out why.  In all his other pictures, he just looked uncomfortable, even though he, technically, had a smile.  And I found myself getting turned off by his discomfort.  But his happiness in the last picture rejuvenated my interest.

So, don't go out and change all your profile pictures.  Use the pictures that you think communicate best who you are and show what you want your prospective date to see of you.  Just keep in mind that people who highly value fearlessness, openness, vulnerability, enthusiasm, happiness, and embracing life may be more attracted to people whose pictures convey those same traits.  And one of the ways those traits are conveyed is through an open, genuine, uninhibited, toothy grin.  

I want happy, passionate people who embrace life & aren't afraid to try new things in my monkeysphere and I have begun learning how to relax and be myself in front of a camera so that my pictures reflect that part of my personality too.  I look for people who smile widely in pictures when I'm interested in considering whether or not someone could be a part of my monkeysphere.  

But if your profile picture has duck face, you are automatically disqualified as monkeysphere potential.

Related articles: - Some Thoughts On Courage - Some Thoughts On Choosing Relationships

joreth: (Bad Computer!)
I can't tell you how much I hate the phrase "Don't Be A Dick".  I greatly admire & respect Phil Plait & Wil Wheaton, who have made that the catchphrase of the Nice Guy Skeptical Movement (TM).  I will go so far as to say that I even happen to agree with their point - that people don't tend to change their minds when you're insulting them, so if we want to change someone's mind directly, we shouldn't call them names on the internet when we disagree.

The reason I hate the phrase is because it is subjective.  There is no criteria for what being a "dick" means.  So it gets used every time anyone says anything that anyone else disagrees with.  Sure, we can point to examples where one person is clearly being an asshole, clearly being antagonistic, and not at all interested in dialog and an exchange of viewpoints.  But that's not usually under debate by either side in the DBAD debate.  

To clarify: Don't Be A Dick is not when you complain about someone doing something harmful and you call him out on it, like calling the sexist asshole who fired a movie reviewer for daring to write a movie review about Snow White because it propagated "alpha females and beta males", a sexist asshole.  You're not a dick for calling an asshole an asshole.  Don't Be A Dick is also not when you complain about a person holding a harmful, offensive, or dangerous position or worldview, like the fucktard who thinks children should be killed for disobeying their parents and calling that person a fucktard.  You're not a dick for being appalled by someone's harmful and offensive worldview.  Don't Be A Dick is not when someone says something sexist/racist/bigoted/offensive and you try to tell them that it was sexist/racist/bigoted/offensive and they shouldn't do that - you are not a dick for trying to eliminate racism/sexism/bigotry.

Don't Be A Dick is when you hold some position or make some claim, and you are told, sometimes by someone who actually agrees with you, to adjust your delivery so as to not offend the people who disagree with you without necessarily changing the message.  This is when you say "you're being racist" and someone says "you are correct, but you should say it nicer, without using the "r" word, so that he doesn't get upset and he will be more likely to listen to you".

There are 2 times when I see this catchphrase being used:

1) Nice Guy Skeptics talking philosophically about tactics for converting people to skeptical or atheist viewpoints, but not giving any specific examples or pointing any fingers.

2) When one person says something that another person finds offensive, regardless of how the original message is phrased or the intent of the speaker, simply because the offended person doesn't like what was said, and the original person is told to change how he phrases things without changing the message, as if that would fix the offense.

There is no clear-cut way to determine when one is being a dick or how to avoid being a dick, when these are the 2 instances of use for the phrase.  I admit that I can be an asshole.  There are times when I lose my temper and I have ceased having a productive conversation and have resorted to expressing my anger without using that anger as a tool to motivate others.  One such noteworthy exchange is when I asked, and then demanded, that someone stop tweeting at me & demanding that I engage with him in a religious debate, and after he refused to stop, I spent the next 2 days tweeting nothing but insults at him to get him to block me.  I was not being productive or trying to have a dialog, and there was never any illusion that I was.

But then there are times when I just state something, not even an opinion sometimes but a statement of fact, and I am accused of being an asshole, a dick, "aggressive", mean, bullying, etc.  If I happen to say something, and someone out there on the internet doesn't like the statement, whether it's an opinion or a fact or even when I sympathize with them, I will be accused of being mean and of hurting someone's feelings, or worse, hurting "the community/movement".  Confidence and pragmatism are often confused with arrogance and aggressiveness, especially online.  Someone who seems confident to me will seem arrogant to someone else.  How do we know which one is correct?  Most likely, the answer is both and neither.

Take the most recent post, for example:

Natalie Reed
@Joreth @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer Why are you sharing Justicar's nasty, petty little video and tagging it "shared by Natalie Reed!"?!


Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 I'm not, the automated online make-your-own-newspaper is. It sees what links ppl posts & aggregates them

Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 Please do some research before you get angry & start falsely accusing ppl of things. I have no idea what you're talking about

Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 I didn't watch the video, I didn't choose that particular link. If you posted it, picked it up

Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 But I'll be happy to remove you from the list of respected skeptics & scientists who provide news & links to twitter


VixenVivienValentine ‏@vae_victae
@nataliereed84 does automatic aggregation of links. Since you posted that video it attributed that to you. It's not @Joreth fault.

Joreth ‏@Joreth
@vae_victae I did try to tell @nataliereed84 that, but she seems to prefer to jump to conclusions & get angry at supporters. Shame.


VixenVivienValentine ‏@vae_victae
@Joreth indeed a shame. While I understand your aggressiveness to her, I feel that maybe if you had responded differently it'd be different


Joreth ‏@Joreth
@vae_victae I'm not sure if you read my responses to her, but I was the opposite of aggressive. 

It's hard for me to even see where someone could have interpreted what I said there as "aggressive".  Natalie asked me, angrily, why I was sharing some video and associating her with it.  I told her, immediately and clearly, that I wasn't doing so and I explained about the link aggregate service.  I didn't cuss, call her names, or use emotional language.  I was also limited to 140 characters.

Some of you will remember another post I made a couple of years back about the forums, in which someone made an offensive statement. I and a couple of others pointed out the factual inaccuracy of the statement & the offense in making it, several people responded angrily & emotionally, those on my side again pointed out the inaccuracy (calmly, I thought), and then those on my side were accused of being angry and hurtful, apparently without irony to the original angry and hurtful comments that prompted our responses.  Only after I lost my temper at being insulted, did my posts get deleted, but the original offensive posts never did, nor did the insults that caused me to lose my temper.

Then there are the numerous times when someone just doesn't like me personally, and they will disagree with me no matter what I say, even while I am agreeing with them.  We end up in this "duck season / rabbit season" argument where they say something, I agree, then they argue with me over it.  For instance, someone posted something not too long ago about Unicorn Hunters that was derogatory.  Someone else jumped in with "I see nothing wrong with unicorn hunting, because I do this thing that is totally not unicorn hunting".  So I said something like "it doesn't sound like you are the kind of jerk that the OP is talking about, so don't worry about it".  And they proceeded to defend their right to call themselves Unicorn Hunters and insist that unicorn hunting isn't bad.  I believe my response was something along the lines of "I'm trying to explain to you why you're not an asshole, but if you want to keep insisting you are, I'll stop defending you".

[ profile] tacit gets this all the time too.  The Polyamorous Misanthrope once made a blog post that was, essentially, the exact same kind of post that [ profile] tacit makes.  Or maybe it was even a re-post of his, I don't remember.  One of her followers complimented her on the post, and she responded that it was the same thing that [ profile] tacit always says.  They replied that they can't stand [ profile] tacit.  She posted on [ profile] tacit's page that she doesn't understand why people like her but don't like him, because she says the same thing, and in no less of a blunt, holds-no-punches sort of way.  Same message, same delivery, yet people like her and don't like him.  Sometimes there is no helping this.

This, by the way, is primarily the problem happening in our Congress at the moment.  The Republicans in office are doing their damnedest to disagree with Democrats, even when the Democrats agree with them.  They seem to want to disagree on principle, not because they actually disagree.  Consequently, we have one of the most fucked up Congresses ever in our history, with decisions being made to the detriment of our country, deliberately and intentionally, out of spite.

Then there is when I, fairly regularly, post exchanges where I am accused of having some emotional state that I do not currently have, and I have posted several examples of the differences between a calm difference of opinion ("what you said was incorrect, here is the evidence") and an emotional outburst ("you fucking shithead! I hate you!")

And yet, every time I have a difference of opinion to someone, regardless as to how calm I state my position or how much to the facts I try to stick or even, on occasion, when I try to be conciliatory, I am accused of being the one to have some emotional outburst, some angry reaction, some feeling that I am not feeling.  

So I strongly disagree with the whole "Don't Be A Dick" meme, not because I disagree with the underlying premise, but because I think it is subjective and, ultimately, futile.  If people don't like what you have to say, someone will think you're being a dick no matter how you say it, and having this ambiguous, undefined moving goalpost of "dick" that we're all supposed to follow won't change that.  

I can try to hold myself to a certain standard of exchange, but in the end, we all usually feel justified in the position we take (or if we change our minds, then the willingness to change further confirms our own opinion of ourselves as being Good Guys), and besides that, the phrase "Don't Be A Dick" is a message from one person to another, not a personal standard.  It's not like [ profile] edwardmartiniii's Bue Button project - a reminder to ourselves to hold ourselves to a standard that we, ourselves, set.  Don't Be A Dick an admonition from other people that you are not behaving the way THEY think you ought to behave.

As an aside, even though edwardmartiniii's Blue Button is intended as a personal standard, even that gets used as a weapon with which to bludgeon those with whom people disagree.  In some other disagreement that I had online that I don't even remember the details of, some friend of his told me that I needed a blue button for daring to hold a position that the commenter did not hold - again, people trying to tell others how to behave, and mostly surrounding "tone", not actual behaviour - completely contrary to the spirit of edwardmartiniii's Blue Button, which is about protecting one's community from bullies by making a personal vow to stand up to bullying when one sees it and explicitly not trying to "stop other people from being creepy".  In fact, telling other people that they need to wear a blue button is, again explicitly, against the rules for how this concept is to work.

There is a quote that I can't find, so I can't give you the exact wording or proper attribution.  But it says, essentially, that there is no nice way to tell someone that they wasted their entire lives on a lie.  Which is, essentially, what one is saying when one claims that religion & the god myths are not true.  But it's even less world-shattering than that.  There is no nice way to challenge any belief that a person holds strongly, whether it's something as deep and profound as our purpose in life or as ultimately unimportant as who is the best football team in the NFL (seriously, I watched this argument nearly come to blows last week when a customer at Little Ceasar's asked the cashier who her favorite team was, and he, shall we say, did not agree).  

If the other person has a strong emotional attachment to their position, you can try different tactics to get through to them, but, ultimately, you are telling them that you think they are wrong and they have an attachment to the belief that they are right.  Because some positions are, by their very nature, mutually exclusive - you can't hold one without simultaneously believing the other is false.  If you think the moon is made of green cheese, then, by necessity, you have to think that anyone who thinks it's made of rock is wrong.  Even if you refuse to go so far as to use the words "they are wrong".

And sometimes, with some people and some tactics, it won't be a big deal.  If you think I'm wrong to have been a fan of the 49ers back in my sports days, I won't really care, unless you try to attack me over it.  And then, I'll only care that you're attacking me, not that you like the Steelers (that's still football, right?).

But other times, with other people, and other topics, the tactic won't matter - especially if part of their position is that *you* are A Bad Guy for holding that position in the first place.  Someone, sometime, somewhere, will think you're a Dick, and if we insist on flying the DBAD banner, we will forever be derailing into the Tone Argument, when we should be focusing on the topic under debate.

And I am fucking sick to death of having the motherfucking Tone Argument or having people tell me that I'm feeling things that I'm not feeling, especially when I have gone out of my way not to lose my temper or devolve into yet another flame war.  Your feelings are your own, and just because you have them, it does not mean necessarily that I am the reason you are feeling them.  There is only so far anyone should be expected to go to make *you* feel better about what they're saying.

If you don't like my message, then you don't like my message, but for the love of all that is good in this universe, STOP fucking derailing the argument into whether or not I was properly conciliatory when I said that thing that you didn't like.  Maybe I wasn't being a dick, maybe I wasn't being aggressive or rude or mean or an asshole.  Maybe you just didn't like what I had to say, or maybe you had an emotional reaction to the topic and misunderstood what I was saying, or maybe you don't like me personally and it doesn't matter even when I'm agreeing with you.  And maybe the message is actually something worth being a dick about - maybe the message is something that the messenger ought to be angry about or posting in angry, emotional language.

Just please stop telling people when they should or should not be angry, stop accusing them of being angry (or any other emotion) when they have said that they're not, and stop this bullshit meme about "don't be a dick" - it is a totally subjective standard that cannot possibly be enforced.  Even the honorable Phil Plait & Wil Wheton have gone into "dick" mode when they were sufficiently pushed, and they will defend those times as "but that's different!"  

Yeah, it's different - a different perspective.  When it happened to them, it was either justifiable, or they salvaged their opinions of themselves as Nice Guys by later admitting that they were wrong.  But when it happens to someone else, that someone else is being "a dick".  Just like when you cut someone off in traffic, it's because you're in a hurry, but when that guy does it to you, he's an asshole.  

We are all "dicks" to someone else, and there are times when it doesn't matter how you phrase it, holding the position that you hold makes you the "dick" and there are no collection of pretty words to make the other person see it otherwise.

(if it doesn't start playing at 3:50, skip to that point - that's the only part that's relevant)

joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
I'm archiving this bizarre exchange:

To all skeptics: Natalie Reed has requested to be disassociated from other skeptical people like Richard Dawkins & Michael Shermer. Please respect her wishes to no longer be associated with important skeptics of note.

Shame to see a skeptic who actually cares about trans, women's, & LGBTQ issues go off on a rant w/o understanding the topic. We have so few trans/lgbtq/feminist skeptics doing activist work for the rest of us that it hurts when 1 goes off the rails.

For the record, there is a service called which allows Twitter users to create lists of people (or hashtags or whatever) to follow. Then will comb through the Twitter feeds of those on the list (or the hashtag or whatever) daily or weekly (you set the time), and when someone posts links, will aggregate the posts into a single page, designed to look a bit like a newspaper.

It will then automatically send out a tweet under the creator's Twitter account, announcing the new edition & highlighting a couple of the people whose links are included in the edition.

Natalie Reed posted a link on her feed, which aggregated and included in today's edition of The Skeptic's News, along with half a dozen other people's links, including Michael Shermer & Richard Dawkins.

Without asking what was or how it worked, Natalie demanded to be disassociated from Dawkins & Shermer (she named them specifically, although the only thing they had to do with it was being listed along with her as contributers) and insulted me for associating her with the link that she posted.

Without even looking up who I was to see that I am a trans-friendly, LGBTQ-friendly, feminist, sex-positive skeptic, she just assumed that, because the automated aggregate reposted the link that *she posted* originally, I must therefore be on the same side of whoever was in that link she posted. Which I have not read.

Now, in my opinion, forming a conclusion without having all the facts and being dismissive of one's supporters actually makes her *more* in a class with Richard Dawkins, but as someone who thinks skepticism requires research & understanding the subject material before getting into arguments about it, I am more than happy to remove her from my personal list of "skeptics of note", as this reaction is not very skeptical at all.

But, as per her request, I am announcing to my friends & followers that she does not wish to be associated with me or the other skeptics included in the aggregate, so please respect her wishes and no longer associate her with other skeptics.

Here are the actual Tweets that prompted this:

The Skeptic's Daily News is out! ► top stories today via @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer @nataliereed84 #skepticism

Natalie Reed
@Joreth @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer Why are you sharing Justicar's nasty, petty little video and tagging it "shared by Natalie Reed!"?!

Natalie Reed ‏@nataliereed84
@Joreth @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer I have no idea who you are, but if you ARE sympathetic to that "camp" of "skeptics", please leave...

Natalie Reed ‏@nataliereed84
@Joreth @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer out of anything you do now or in the future. Thanks.

Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 I'm not, the automated online make-your-own-newspaper is. It sees what links ppl posts & aggregates them

Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 Please do some research before you get angry & start falsely accusing ppl of things. I have no idea what you're talking about

Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 I didn't watch the video, I didn't choose that particular link. If you posted it, picked it up

Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 But I'll be happy to remove you from the list of respected skeptics & scientists who provide news & links to twitter

Joreth ‏@Joreth
To all #skeptics: @nataliereed84 has requested to be disassociated from other #skeptical people like @RichardDawkins &@michaelshermer.

Natalie Reed ‏@nataliereed84
@Joreth @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer No, mainly from you. But thanks for indicating what kind of "skeptic" you are.

Natalie Reed ‏@nataliereed84
@Joreth @RichardDawkins @michaelshermer (not that I'm much of a fan of Shermer or Dawkins either)

Joreth ‏@Joreth
Please respect @nataliereed84's wishes to no longer be associated with important #skeptics of note. #skepticism #skeptic

Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 that is exactly what I'm talking about. You don't know me & didn't bother to research what happened before getting pissed off

Joreth ‏@Joreth
@nataliereed84 Look up, look at what it does & how links get added before you start trolling about it

VixenVivienValentine ‏@vae_victae
@nataliereed84 does automatic aggregation of links. Since you posted that video it attributed that to you. It's not @Joreth fault.

Joreth ‏@Joreth
@vae_victae I did try to tell @nataliereed84 that, but she seems to prefer to jump to conclusions & get angry at supporters. Shame.

Joreth ‏@Joreth
@vae_victae Oh, I guess @nataliereed84 blocked me, so she won't see my responses anymore. Again, it's a shame.

VixenVivienValentine ‏@vae_victae
@Joreth indeed a shame. While I understand your aggressiveness to her, I feel that maybe if you had responded differently it'd be different

Joreth ‏@Joreth
Shame to see a #skeptic who actually cares about trans, women's, & LGBTQ issues go off on a rant w/o understanding the topic@nataliereed84

Joreth ‏@Joreth
We have so few trans/lgbtq/feminist #skeptics doing activist work for the rest of us that it hurts when 1 goes off the rails @nataliereed84

Joreth ‏@Joreth
@vae_victae I'm not sure if you read my responses to her, but I was the opposite of aggressive. I am also tired of these misunderstandings

Natalie Reed · Friends with George Hrab and 1 other

Look, you decided to use this auto-link aggregating software to make a "newspaper". Therefore you're responsible for the outcome.

This ranty reaction trying to discredit me, making ridiculous claims about me "asking to be disocciated from all skeptics" (though frankly, at this point, I wouldn't really mind) is unbelievably petty and childish. That's not what happened and you know it. I asked that IF you were one of the people sympathetic to Vacula and such that I would no longer be included in whatever YOU do. That much was explicit.

I didn't like having a nasty, trollish video of me posted to a site with my name appearing as though supportive. YOU are responsible for the content that appears on YOUR site, regardless of how it got there. Sorry, but "it was my software's fault!" doesn't change that. It's not an excuse.

A mature, responsible, reasonable reaction would have been to remove the video from your site and remove me from your aggregating software.

THIS response is anything but.

Joreth InnKeeper
I can repost the tweet where you asked me to do so if you would like.

Joreth InnKeeper
Also, I can't remove the video, it's not my site, however I *did* remove you from the aggregation, as you requested. That's what I tried to explain to you, but you don't seem to want to hear that.

Natalie Reed · Friends with George Hrab and 1 other
And that's not your site? Really? You have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with it? Which is why you were promoting it, and why you've had this enormously emotional childish outburst?

Joreth InnKeeper
No, it's not my site. I will ask you only one more time to actually research the topic. I have no connection to, I do not know its owners, I have no say in its algorithms, or its programming. It is as much my site as Twitter is. I am not "promoting" it, I am using it the same way you and I are both using Facebook and Twitter. I cannot help that it chose that particular link that you posted and I cannot remove it. All I can do is provide the list of people to aggregate, and your name has been removed.

Joreth InnKeeper
As for "enormously emotional childish outburst", I'd like to introduce you to the kettle. Out of the two of us, I am not the one using emotional language and running off at the mouth about things I don't understand. I added you to a list of respected skeptics because I thought the things you posted should be shared with a wider audience. You have done nothing but behave emotionally, accusatory, and angrily about it and I have complied with your request without calling you names or getting upset myself.

Natalie Reed · Friends with George Hrab and 1 other
If you have no say in it, how the hell were you "happy to remove me from the list... who provide new..."?

And again, why were you the one promoting it? If not you, who DID set up Skeptic Daily News, and who chooses which feeds do or don't get put there? What is your exact involvement?

Also, look again my tweets: IF you're part of THAT CAMP OF SKEPTICS (ie. Justicar etc.) please leave me out of anything YOU do now or in the future. THANKS.

Natalie Reed · Friends with George Hrab and 1 other
It's completely disingenuous for you to act like you're being totally calm and friendly and nice here. You know you aren't. At least do me the courtesy of assuming I'm not THAT easily manipulated.

Natalie Reed · Friends with George Hrab and 1 other
I have to go, though. Fortunately, I've got some stuff I have to do. Bye.

(though I have to admit, it's things like this that make me feel like yeah, I really DON'T want anything to do with any self-professed or skeptics or atheists)

Joreth InnKeeper
Seriously, please stop talking about things you don't understand. I'll try to explain this slowly, to get through your emotional outburst.

I have no say in how the service is provided, just in the same way that you have no say in how Facebook offers its services. However, just like how you can use Facebook, according to how the creators of Facebook allows you to, I used in the way that they allow me to, without actually being associated with it. I do not own stock in it, I am not employed by them, I receive no kickbacks or payments or incentives. I am not associated with anymore than you are associated with Facebook. Unless you are "promoting" Facebook every time you use it, I cannot be accused of "promoting" simply for using the service.

However, they offer a service the way that Facebook offers a service. That service allows me to create lists of people for it to aggregate, but I do not choose *what* aggregates. Since I can create the list, I also have the power to remove people from that list. That is the extent of my association and "power" over You have more control over the content that shows up on your Facebook feed than I do on

ALL I DO IS PROVIDE THE LIST OF PEOPLE. That's it. I cannot tell it which of your posts to re-post and I cannot tell it which posts to not repost. I can't even single out which people on that list get chosen for any specific edition. I can tell it which people to follow or which hashtags to follow and IT decides which posts to post.

YOU posted that video. reposted it and I had no say in what it chose, other than to list you as someone to pull from, but not which of your posts to choose. If you don't want people to re-post what you post, you might want to consider not posting things.

Natalie Reed · Friends with George Hrab and 1 other
(also, regarding the comparison to twitter and facebook: you're responsible for your twitter and facebook feeds too. You can't absolve yourself from posting something damaging or libelous on a social networking site by saying "I don't own the site ITSELF". You're still responsible.

Joreth InnKeeper
And, no, actually, I am not responsible for the content of my twitter or facebook feed when that content is a re-post of someone else. Just like you, I often post things I am offended by, to complain about them and express my outrage. If we were held responsible for that content, then you would have to accept responsibility for the content in this video you are so outraged about now (which I still haven't seen), since you posted it on your feed. According to your logic, that now makes you responsible for its content.

Joreth InnKeeper
Also, I'm sure you have run into trolls on the internet who claim to know what you are thinking and feeling and completely dismiss you when you say they are wrong. At least do me the courtesy of NOT assuming that you know what I think or feel and stop accusing me of having feelings or associations that I do not have.

Again, if you had bothered to do any research, it would be clear to you that I am, indeed, not upset or having an emotional outburst, as there are plenty of examples of me doing so on the internet. And anyone who has ever seen me have one could not possibly confuse this exchange with one of my emotional outbursts.
joreth: (::headdesk::)
I'd started out writing an Online Skeezballs post, and it turned into a rant about bullies.  I had planned to keep updating it as the bully added more stuff, but it's really not written to accommodate additions well, so I'm starting a new post about it.  Here is the exchange:

I originally made a tweet complaining about poly people going to poly events, and then saying "I was hoping to meet someone, but everyone there was already partnered". I don't want to debate this tweet here, this is part of a larger issue that the 140 character limitation of Twitter necessarily truncates & requires incomplete, generalized, and/or soundbitey statements and is not the point of what happened next.

So I made that tweet and @isayshizzz responded "sounds like you've never heard of polyfi"

So I said "sounds like you've never heard of Twitter, where things have to be summarized in 140 characters"

So they said "I hear you're fat, old, ugly and hide behind the internet"

To which I said "wow, you're an ass"

And they said "not as much as you, claiming to be an ally for poly people but you do more harm#cunt"

At which point, I blocked them. But then others came to my defense (much more politely than even I was here), and here is what @isayshizzz to that: "are u all fucking the old hag or what? This is why she's a cunt, she gets others to be cunty for her. Eat my asshole"

Now, if you go to their twitter feed, every single response having to do with me has been deleted, which is why I'm actually missing a bunch of them, including insinuations that this person, whom I've never met, "knows" me and thinks my "behaviour" (but not my tweets) is "harmful" to the poly community. So I've started retweeting their tweets when I see them, now that I know they will conveniently delete them after they've had a chance to piss off whomever they're attacking.

Thurs, Sept. 20

There is a journalist on Twitter looking for poly people to interview. @Modernpoly recommends contacting me because of the Poly Media Association. @isayshizzz says: "Don't contact @Joreth, she'll only send you losers. Don't listen to @modernpoly she's bipolar"

Sun., Oct. 14

"Please explain to me why so many polyamorous people are fat and old? Never going to a meet up again #gross #traumatized" link

"@OpenXiminez @Joreth @Datan0de bet ur all fat and old #amirite" link

"The polyamory show on showtime is deceiving, there are no good looking young people in poly, aside from my lovers. Were they actors??? WTF" link

"@Datan0de @OpenXiminez @Joreth shallowness makes the world go round fattie" link
joreth: (anger)
Bullying is a largely invisible phenomenon.  Oh, sure, most people know it happens, but it's usually viewed as isolated cases, or just something that everyone has to go through, kind of like a rite of passage.  But it's not relegated to a few "you stink, give me your lunch money" on the playground.  It's a deep, cultural, systemic problem.  It affects every area of our culture and ignoring the "minor" stuff only gives the real, harmful bullies a place to bully with impunity.  It's the reason why feminism is still alive and necessary.  It's why women are still minorities in many professions in spite of the fact that they are just as capable in those professions (when given the proper experience & support) as men are.  It's why women are so absent* from the gaming & geek communities.  It's why we're in the 21st century and still even debating whether or not gay people should be allowed to marry.  It's why eating disorders are still distressingly common.  It's why religious thugs can get away with raping boys & girls in their care.  I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that we have these problems because we allowed them to exist.

The latest strategy of feminists is to get people to speak up about the abuse they see online & not let it go unpunished.  Women are asking men to speak up, not for their protection, but in their defense & support.  When the elevator debacle happened with Rebecca Watson, pretty much every single sex-positive, "equalist" (i.e. feminist, whether we knew it or not) guy I knew was just shocked by the torrential downpour of shit that Rebecca got just for daring to say "this kind of behaviour makes women uncomfortable.  Guys, don't do that".  Because, for the most part, "guys" don't see it.

I've had my Online Skeezballs tag forever.  I originally started posting the worst of the emails I receive online because people just didn't know.  If I complained about someone being an asshole, the response was unanimously "just block him", "just ignore him, he'll go away", and "stop worrying about it, this is some faceless stranger on the internet that you'll never meet. It isn't that big of a deal unless you let it get to you".

And yeah, an isolated incident may just be "not a big deal" and something I should not hold onto, just let go of, just ignore the bully and he'll go away.  But these aren't isolated incidents.  These are symptoms of a much larger problem - that we live in a society that excuses and ignores this kind of behaviour; in which women are afraid to wear the wrong thing or go to the wrong places or do the wrong things because if they do, then they will have brought their rape upon themselves; that gives bullies positions of power and refuses to take it away when they abuse it.

When I tell one of my horror stories, I often get "seriously? Someone did/said that?" and "you must be exaggerating/misunderstanding" and "well *I* never see anything like that".  So I post this shit so that you can see.  When people wonder why I'm "always so angry", I post why.  Imagine growing up your whole live and being bombarded with messages like that.  Imagine never having a place that is safe from these kinds of attacks.  Imagine being told from birth that you are in danger, that the danger is your own fault for being born and for making "wrong" choices, and that there is nothing anyone can do about it, you just have to suck it up and take it and eventually the bully will get bored and go away.

So I post so that people can see.  This is a PROBLEM, people.  And I encourage others to post.  And I encourage people to respond.  We need to make our society hostile towards bullies of all stripes, from the "eww, you stink!" grade school kids to the rapists and thugs who harm, maim, and kill and get away with it.

I'm not particularly strong, I'm not gifted with any sort of real fighting skills, I don't have any political leverage or friends in high places, and I don't have any money to contribute to campaigns.  So I do what I can.  I post.  I raise awareness.  And I argue and persuade.  

My call to action is to ask everyone to start posting their bullying experiences in whatever manner is safe to do so.  You don't have to engage if you don't feel safe, you can post under a pseudonym,  you can create an account just for that, separate from your regular profiles, whatever.  Post about the shit you get and let others know.  Post about it, talk about it, make sure that everyone knows that this happens all the time to a lot of different people.  Publicly shame people for poor behaviour.  

The next step is for those who have the luxury and safety to do so, confront those bullies and bullying behaviour when you can.  If you're a guy & you see or hear a guy making a sexist joke or making some girl uncomfortable, let him know that you don't approve, that he does not have the support of the guys around him (hint: condescention & derision works better than the white-knight "I am here to SAVE THE DAMSEL!" approach - tell the other guy that he's a loser rather than saying "the lady isn't interested", or better yet, say this stuff).  If you're online & you see someone getting verbally attacked, jump in and defend them.  Re-post the posts you see about this stuff so that the people around you can no longer hide their heads in the sand and say "it's no big deal" or "well *I've* never seen anything like that happen!"

Here's my latest online skeezball encounter.  I will continue to update the post as more tweets are made.  I originally made a tweet complaining about poly people going to poly events, and then saying "I was hoping to meet someone, but everyone there was already partnered".  I don't want to debate this tweet here, this is part of a larger issue that the 140 character limitation of Twitter necessarily truncates & requires incomplete, generalized, and/or soundbitey statements and is not the point of what happened next.

So I made that tweet and @isayshizzz responded "sounds like you've never heard of polyfi"

So I said "sounds like you've never heard of Twitter, where things have to be summarized in 140 characters"

So they said "I hear you're fat, old, ugly and hide behind the internet"

To which I said "wow, you're an ass"

And they said "not as much as you, claiming to be an ally for poly people but you do more harm"

At which point, I blocked them.  But then others came to my defense (much more politely than even I was here), and here is what @isayshizzz to that: "are u all fucking the old hag or what? This is why she's a cunt, she gets others to be cunty for her. Eat my asshole"

Now, if you go to their twitter feed, every single response having to do with me has been deleted, which is why I'm actually missing a bunch of them, including insinuations that this person, whom I've never met, "knows" me and thinks my "behaviour" (but not my tweets) is "harmful" to the poly community.  So I've started retweeting their tweets when I see them, now that I know they will conveniently delete them after they've had a chance to piss off whomever they're attacking.

This is what the crux of the Rebecca Watson problem was - someone makes a suggestion, maybe politely worded, maybe not, that people be a little nicer, a little more considerate, pay attention to other people, or pay attention to their own issues/actions/thoughts/whatever, and someone else responds with "OMG YOU FUCKING CUNT!"  

This is the problem.  The silencing of social justice, the implicit permission to respond to demands for social justice with violent hatred and anger, and the general acceptance of such from those around them.  If you're not doing anything at all, then you're part of the problem.  Ignoring it, pretending it doesn't exist, thinking or saying that it's not a big deal, all that is what gives these people the freedom to behave this way.  And that license for bullying is a fertile ground for creating & hiding abusers, rapists, people who commit hate crimes, racists who tie black men to their trucks & drag them on the ground until they die, homophobes & transphobes who kick the shit out of gays & trans people, and even those lone nutjobs who shoot up gyms and movie theaters.

Silence is the enabler.  Break the silence.

*When I say "absent from these communities", I don't mean they are literally not there.  I mean they are underrepresented, either because their active numbers are actually low or because they are overlooked or because, in the case of online communities, many are just hiding behind male or gender neutral pseudonyms in an effort to avoid the shit they get when the bullies find out that they're there.
joreth: (feminism)
So I had a conversation with a friend a little while ago.  He's one of the Good Guys.  He doesn't need to be explained why a woman can say "guys, that made me uncomfortable ... don't do that" and the response to send her death & rape threats is a bad thing, why it wasn't her that "started it", how it was the MRAs (Men's Rights Activists - different from people who actually believe in equal rights for everyone, including men - those are feminists) who actually blew things out of proportion & escalated the event from a footnote in a video to a community-dividing schism.

But here's where the problem is (and it's not with him, he's just a symptom).  See, he and I had lost touch for a few years because he moved for work and has recently moved back.  So he missed my whole "feminist conversion".  So we've been talking a lot about feminist issues since we got back in touch, and how I feel resentful at being dragged into the fray and why I finally now identify as a feminist.  He wanted to know why I bother to identify as a feminist now if I didn't want to in the first place.  I explained that I always was a feminst, if you just looked at the definition, or maybe made a checklist, and compared it to my actual thoughts, opinions, and feelings.

The problem was that I was misinformed about what feminism meant and how bad the problem still was.

This is exactly what my problem was.  I fell for the Straw Feminist bullshit.  I'm a Latina female who has always been some religious minority (not always the same minority, though).  My life should have been filled with struggle and hardship.  It wasn't.  Now, don't get me wrong, I had bad shit in my life.  But when it came to obvious gender issues, my biggest problem growing up was that my parents once admitted that insisting on a curfew even after age 18 was because I was their daughter, and if they had a son, he would have had different rules.  Although they never did have a son, so that was never tested.  My next biggest problem was that my dad wouldn't let me use his power tools.  So I bought my own and now my set is more awesome than his.

I grew up with fairly conservative parents, but in a liberal bubble.  In spite of being lower-middle class, I still went to one of the best private schools in the state, where they taught us age-appropriate, evidence-based sex ed, self-defense, and to excel in sports, academics, and politics.  I was awarded jobs easily based on my skills and experiences.  I was praised for being smart, even by the boys.  I was encouraged to play sports (just not football or wrestling) and I was told to put marriage and children on hold until I completed college and started a career, and THEN I was expected to keep my career after marriage & kids, the way my mother did.

In my liberal bubble, just as in the Straw Feminist tropes in media that the video talks about, I lived in a world where feminism was no longer needed.  Those brave women and their male allies had done their job.  We had achieved equality and, in some cases, we had gone just a little bit too far and now it was time to back off the throttle a bit and even correct some of the "overcorrections" we had made.

I did not need to identify as a feminist because I was an egalitarian.  I believed in equalty for all based on merit, skill, and interest.  I still do.  So I may have always been a feminist, but it was not one of my identity lables.  I am a lot of things, but not all of those things are important to my identity and my sense of self, so not all of those things make it to my list of identity labels.  I was born in the US, can only barely speak a few words of Spanish, and went to a predominantly white private school.  I tell people that I'm Latina when it is relevant to do so, but I don't identify as a Latina.  It is not part of my identity makeup, it's just a fact about me that happens to be true.  The "feminist" label was like that for me too - even if I hadn't misunderstood what it really meant, in my liberal bubble, the gender war had been won, so it was not important enough to my identity to attach the label "feminist".

But then I joined the skeptics and atheists communities.  And THEY made me a feminist.  Because I saw that we had not won the gender wars.  We were not "equal".  The place where I should have been the most safe, protected by reason and evidence, is the place where I was most threatened.  Oh, we have absolutely made progress!  We have wrested certain rights that have given women unprecedented power in our society.

But we're not done yet.

And this is what brings me to the story with my friend.  He is like me.  He strongly believes in equality for all, and if I present him with any sort of hypothetical situation, even if he thinks that we have currently solved that problem, he firmly, and without prodding, comes down on the side of feminism without knowing it's a feminist principle.  But because of this whole Straw Feminism problem, we had a conversation a while ago that went like this:

I was showing him some of my favorite geeky music videos (Felicia Day anyone?) and he asked "so, since you obviously like all this geeky and gamer shit, maybe I can ask you ... where are all the gamer girls?"  I said "what do you mean?  There are TONS of gamer girls!  Go to any gaming con & there are gamer girls all over the place!"  He said that when he actually plays his online multi-player games, the women are in the minority.  I told him that developer statistics of their user bases actually suggests that it's pretty close to 50/50.  He said he'd never seen that split.

I said "that's because the women are using male gaming names & not using their mics to avoid getting shit on by guys during the game."  He said none of the people he ever gamed with ever gave women a hard time.  So I sent him to Anita Sarkeesian's Wikipedia page, where he learned all about the rape threats & death threats and misogyny in gaming culture.

He had never seen it.  Probably because many of the women on his games were using guy names, so the one or two misogynists who were also on his game couldn't abuse them, and all the guys he chooses to socialize with are similar Good Guys like himself.  So I started telling him stories.  Stories of what women go through online.  Stories of men who Get It who have tried to post their own analogies so that the men who don't Get It could understand.  The schism in the skeptics communities.  I told him how we're finally seeing some response from game developers to begin talks about how to solve the problem instead of a couple of twenty-something male programmers who had a good idea & started their own company from it saying "well, he didn't abuse the TOS when he called you a fucking cunt & threatening to rape your skull is just game trash talk that doesn't mean anything".

When I reminded him that, just because he had never heard of it, that didn't mean it wasn't happening, but whether anybody knows of any given person's previous rape or assult experiences was directly proportional to how close those two people, he knew that.  I mean, I didn't have to explain it to him, he got it.  He totally grasped the fact that he didn't know how many of the women he knew had any sort of sexual assualt in their history.  And yet, because he was largely unaware of how many women he knew had some sort of sexual assault, he was largely unaware of how big the problem is.

So that's what I'm doing now.  This is why I have always posted my Online Skeezballs tag.  This is why I have always gone off on assholes on the internet.  This is why I rant about Couple's Privilege in the poly community.  People do not know.  People don't know how often this shit happens.  People do not know how much this hurts.  People do not know that what they or others are doing HURTS PEOPLE.  Every time I tell one of my whacked-out stories, someone, often a like-minded close friend, says "seriously?  That really happened?" or "do people really do that?"  Yes.  I am far too literal to resort to hyperbole very often, and when I do, it's pretty fucking obvious, like saying "a gazillion".  I also write this shit down right away because I'm terrified of misremembering or forgeting something and I cross-check with others to make sure my memories are as accurate as memories can be.  This shit happens and this shit hurts.  And people don't know.

And the reason they don't know is because we have been told, for generations, that nobody cares.  If we talk about anything from the status quo that bothers us, no one will do anything about it, except maybe try to make it our own fault.  At best, we'll be ignored.  At worst, we'll be attacked even more for speaking out.  Somehow, we'll be made to be the bad guy in all this.  So we just don't talk about it.  The first rule of Rape Culture is that we don't talk about Rape Culture.

When I first brought up the idea of Only Yes Means Yes, the single biggest criticism I got was that women never give a straight answer, so if guys waited around for a clear and unambiguous yes, then they'd never get laid.  Now, let's ignore the glaring fallacies and falsehoods in that statement and just assume, for the moment, that it's literally true - that women do not give straight answers. Women do not say yes, and women do not say no.

Did it ever occur to these guys why women don't give straight answers?  I'll break the Women's Code and explain why, just like I have always done for my guy friends when they get confounded by the mysterious species that is Women.  The reason why those women who don't give straight answers, don't give straight answers is because they are punished when they do.  A woman who says yes is a slut, but a women who says no is raped.

Of course not every single women who says no is raped every single time she says no.  But people do not take rejection gracefully, and it tends to make those of us who are smaller, or who have no fighting skills, or who have been told our entire lives that the responsibility for avoiding rape is our own, it tends to make us a little gun shy about rejecting people.  And if our personality is naturally to be quiet, shy, unassuming, or particularly sensitive to disapproval or hurting someone else's feelings, it's going to make us even more afraid to reject someone.  Most people do not give flat-out nos, not just women.  It is considered rude in our society to do so.  We do the "I'd love to, but..." and give some excuse that says that we are unable to, not that we don't want to.  But when it comes to women rejecting amorous advances, it isn't just the threat of being percieved as "rude".  It's the threat of bodily harm that often makes us afraid to say no.

Before you click on that last link, let me give you a trigger warning.  It's about a woman who had two children with an abusive man.  And when she turned down his marriage proposal, he killed her and both the children.  AFTER she reported him to the police.  AFTER she got a restraining order against him.  He killed her and the children.  For a rejection.

I've posted some of my own scary encounters.  There was the time a drunk guy hit on me and my two friends at a casino lounge and ignored every single rejection we gave him until all three of us pulled out our knives.  Then there was the guy who tried to "help" me put Fix-A-Flat in my car tire & also did not back off until I flashed my switchblade.  There's the uncountable number of dates I've been on, including just "hanging out with friends" where a "no" only got me Octopus Arms.

So when women are told, repeatedly, that our disinterest, our discomfort, even our fear, is irrelevant and unimportant, the only thing we have left to do is leave.  Or hide.

So if you want more women in your community, if you are a straight guy who wants to find a nice girl to date who shares some of your interests like gaming, or atheism, or rock climbing, or whatever, and you're looking around wondering where all the girls are, it is YOUR FAULT you can't find them.  If you are not actively contributing to the hostile environment (and if you're reading my journal, I'm going to assume that you're not, because those guys hate reading the kinds of stuff I write about), then you're probably not helping it either.  

And it's not because you're a bad guy.  It's probably because you didn't know.  Which is not your fault, but any time you have ever told a woman "oh, he's just an asshole, ignore him and he'll go away" or "I worry about you being safe, so here is a list of things that you should do to keep yourself safe" or even just didn't say anything when another guy made a derogatory comment (probably because it was kind of funny or probably because it wasn't funny but it was a joke and therefore not worth getting into a sexism argument over), then you contributed to the problem.  I know, you don't want to hear that you're part of the problem.  I certainly don't like hearing that I was part of the problem, and to this day I try to rationalize why, when *I* did it, I wasn't contributing to the problem ... when *I* did it, I had a Very Good Reason for it, and it didn't count when I did it.  You probably meant well.  Your motivation was probably because you thought you were actually helping and you wanted to help because you care.  I know, I get it.  But that's not actually how to help.

The first step is to call this shit out when you see it or hear it.  Tell guys that the joke wasn't funny, even if it kinda was, or that even though it was funny, it was still wrong.  Tell guys to stop insulting each other by using female or feminine insults (seriously, it shouldn't be an insult to "throw like a girl").  Point out that phrases like "that's so gay" and other gay jokes & insults is actually harmful to both men and women because of how it places feminine attributes as something that is negative and should be avoided.  When a woman complains about something bad that happened to her, don't tell her how to fix it.  Tell her that you're listening.  Tell her that you're here for her.  Ask her what she would like to do about it and if there is something you can do to help.  Offer to be her support if she wants to make any sort of official complaints and share with her resources where she will not be made a victim a second time for daring to complain.

And the second step is to start saying this shit unprompted.  Don't wait for someone to be an asshole in public before confronting him.  Start blogging or making Facebook posts about events you read or people you know.  An excellent tactic is to link to stories and other people's blog posts that are condemning some sexist action or assault, especially if you can get it trending on Tumblr or Reddit.  Don't link to assholes, crazies, and other fuckups - link to the people complaining about them.  That way, Google picks up the complaints and puts them at the top of searches and the assholes trying to defend themselves get buried under the fold or on second & third search pages.  You don't even have to write a blog post or confront one of these jerks yourself, just help make the problem more visible.  If you're at a party where it's socially acceptable to get a little political or talk about serious news items, bring this shit up and make it clear which side you're on.  "Dude, I read this HORRIBLE story the other day!  Can you believe this fucktard did this thing to this woman?!"

This is not about perteckting the wimmenfolk.  This is about showing your support and fighting for what is right.  I dated a 2nd degree blackbelt karate instructor.  If he were to get into an altercation while we were out together, he would have been totally capable of taking care of things himself.  He was bigger than me, stronger than me, and knew how to fight, which I didn't.  But I still would have helped.  I would have called 911 while he was too busy kicking the other guy's ass.  I would have kept the other guy's girlfriend from jumping in.  I would have cleared stuff out of his way if it looked like he might back up and trip.  Whatever, I would have helped, not because he "needed" my help, but because it would have been the right thing to do.  He and I were a team, we were on the same side, and I supported him.

That's what we need from everyone else, and I'm not just looking at the men here.  We really do need the guys to start speaking up, because the people who most need to hear these messages just don't give a shit about the women who are saying it.  If a guy hates women, it doesn't matter how loud us women are, he doesn't care and he won't listen.  That's what makes him a Bad Guy in the first place.

But women, if it is at all safe for you to do so, we also have to speak up.  I know that there are penalties for speaking up, I know that so often no one will do anything about it anyway so why bother?  Think of my friend above.  The Good Guy.  He's on our side, but he, like I, was just unaware.  It is not your fault that anything bad happens to you and you don't speak up.  But it could do some long-term good if you do.  Most women do not want to be "that bitch", they don't want to be the party downer, they don't want others thinking that all they do is complain about politics or feminism - they don't want to be that Straw Feminist.  BELIEVE me, I get it.

But I promise, if we all band together, the more of us who speak up, the easier it will be for us to speak up.  Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow.  But it will get better if we all pitch in to the best of our ability.
joreth: (polyamory)
I just finished listening to Poly Weekly's recent episode on advice for opening up a couple. I particularly enjoyed it because it was advice aimed at a couple from the point of view of the potential new "third" coming into the relationship. There are lots of advice floating around there telling couples how to open their relationship, like talking to each other and establishing The Rules before doing anything. But there is not much being said from this perspective.

Actually, there are quite a few sources telling couples what it feels like from the prospective Third, including me. But these sources consistently get shut down as couples defend their methods of "protecting [their] relationship". Now, it seems to me that if a group of people (and for these purposes, we'll include 2 people under the heading "group") want to attract another person or group of people, it would be in their best interest to actually heed the advice of said incoming person or group.

We see this in the skeptics and atheist communities too. And we see it in the larger poly community, not just first-time couples looking for unicorns. We have groups here of predominently white, educated, middle- & upper-class men (and women in the poly community) looking for more diversity. But instead of reaching out to the classes of people they wish to attract and asking them what they want from a community, what would convince them to try us out, and how we can improve their experiences with us, my communities of atheists, skeptics, and polys, continue to close ranks with locked arms, telling these other classes that they just need to deal with the communities as-is because that's how we like it, and then putting our own heads together to brainstorm ideas without input from the ones these ideas will most impact.

Back to the poly couples, they do the same thing. These two people (and sometimes it's a poly group about to open up for more) put their heads together and start discussing rules and regulations and future stuff without any input at all from the one person these rules will impact the most. And they defend it by saying that they don't want anyone who doesn't like these rules anyway and it's no different from pre-weeding out potential candidates based on other conflicting things like "I don't date guys who beat up kittens".

And then the poly couples and the atheist & skeptic organizers sit around and whine and moan about how hard it is to find people to join them and how mean everyone is being towards them and their policies.

[ profile] tacit and I have also faced this phenonemon before, where we suggest that certain methods have better success rates than others (as well as being more humane and considerate and compassionate), and couples who can't find their unicorns belligerently defend the need for rules by calling them "training wheels" - things you do when you don't yet have compassion and empathy and consideration and relationship and communication skills in order to start being poly first and learn the "advanced" techniques as you go. And yes, I have been accused by people for being "enlightened" and "advanced" - this is not me tooting my own horn, these are the things other people have said about me and the reasons people give for not following my advice.  Frankly, I started out as poly with these same skills and have improved over time, so I have a hard time thinking of them as "advanced" or "enlightened" - as far as I'm concerned, being considerate towards those in your chosen family and thinking about what I bring to the table instead of how he will adequately fulfill my own needs are basic skills, not advanced.  But I digress.

It seems to me that if one wishes to be successful at something, and that something is attracting new people, one ought to be following the advice given by the people one wishes to attract and those who are successful at attracting them, not telling those one wishes to attract how wrong their advice is for how to attract them.  I'm pretty sure that I know better than anyone else what will attract me to that person or group, so if you want me in your group, you ought to listen to what I say will get me there.

So I liked this episode, and although I still don't agree with every single little itty bitty thing [ profile] cunningminx said, I very much appreciated having someone with as big of a voice as she has saying these things in no uncertain terms and without bending over backwards to accommodate and pander to the couples, who already have an unequal distribution of power in the community, living in a heteronormative, couple-centric society to begin with.
joreth: (anger)
I am really fucking irritated at people who say "relax, it's not a big deal" when someone complains about something* that bothers them. Either:

1) It is a fucking big deal or they wouldn't have complained, and you just dismissed their concerns as unimportant.


2) Of course it's not a big deal, that's why they just bitched about it instead of calling the cops. So let them bitch about it because it's a little deal, but it's still a deal.


3) Yeah, maybe this one particular instance isn't a big deal, but a pound of feathers still weighs as much as a pound of rocks and a lot of little deals add up to a big deal over time, or maybe by itself it's not a big deal but it's a symptom of a really big deal like racism or sexism or slut-shaming or persecution, in which case, you're a big jackass for dismissing them.

So the next time someone complains about something that you think isn't a "big deal" and your solution to them is to just not go to that forum or hit the delete key or don't talk to someone or to avoid that bar or any other option that involves ignoring the problem, take your own damn advice and shut the fuck up and let the complainer complain. Maybe what he or she has to say is important and you're just too obtuse to get it, but the more voices we have being raised against whatever the complaint is, the less of a problem it will become. Or maybe it's not important and if you ignore it, it'll go away (can we say Streisand Effect?).

*It shouldn't need to be said, but that, of course, means that it needs to be said:  This is a generalization, and there are times when an individual person knows another individual person and knows the specifics of the individual event in question along with the individual reactions necessary for dealing with that other individual person that can all lead to a specific circumstance in which it is appropriate to tell someone to relax, that it's not a big deal.  Me telling my mother, for example, that she should practice her computer skills by starting up Excel, creating a fake document, and clicking on buttons to see what they do, and don't worry if she deletes the file because it's a fake one meant for that purpose so it's not a big deal ... that's an example of when it's OK to say something like that.  But when a woman complains about a rape joke or a larger person complains about the leg and seat room on an airplane or a poor person complains about the rich getting tax breaks, or any decent person complaining about anti-gay legislation - don't tell that person "it's not a big deal".

**This is a repeat of several other posts, including this one.  Apparently it bears repeating.
joreth: (::headdesk::)
I am an atheist and a skeptic and I'm damn proud of it. The majority of my personal heroes are atheist and/or skeptical activists. All of my closest friends are atheists and/or skeptics (whether they use the labels or not) and I can't even consider dating anyone unless he is, not only an atheist AND a skeptic, but understands what those labels mean, understands that he *is* them, and embraces the labels and everything that goes with them.

But I do not like the atheist or skeptic communities.

There, I said it. And I'll say it again. I do not like the atheist or skeptic communities.

I like the poly-atheist communities, where people are poly who also happen to be atheists and skeptics. And I like the feminist-skeptic communities, where people are feminist who also happen to be atheists and skeptics. Notice these are communities that are something else that happens to be made up of only atheist and skeptical members from that other community, rather than having atheism or skepticism be the primary tie.  But I do not like the atheist and skeptic communities, even though there are polys and feminists there, because there are ALSO misogynists and mono-apologists.  (The reverse is also somewhat true, in that I get irritated at generic poly communities because of the pagans & alt-med apologists, not to mention the crazy conspiracy nuts (I refuse to use the word "theory" next to "conspiracy" because there's nothing scientific about their conspiracy stories) but that's a rant for another day).

Mono-apologist.  That's a word I just made up, and I don't think it's the right word, but I don't have a word for what I'm about to bitch about, so I'm gonna use that one for now.

The problem with atheists & skeptics is that they're smart. And the problem with smart people is that they often are arrogant. And the problem with arrogant smart people is that they often think they know what's up when they clearly don't.

Now, I don't have a problem with smart people, and I don't even have a problem with arrogantly smart people (one might say that I am one of them). I have a problem when they fall victim to the Dunning-Kreuger effect and don't know what they don't know, but because they're arrogant about being smart, they barrel on through the topic anyway as if being smart gives them license to run their mouth off about something they don't understand.  

And what they tend to run their mouths off about without understanding the subjects happen to be topics that are very near and dear to my heart - polyamory & feminism.

Which brings me to the mono-apologists.

These are people who have internalized that whole caveman hunter-gatherer bullshit alternate history from the same people who brought us such revisionist-history gems as "this nation was founded on Christianity". The mono-apologists who are atheists & skeptics managed to figure out that "we are a Christian Nation" is bullshit and completely made up out of whole cloth, yet fall right into lock-step with the "men are big hunters who eat, fuck, & kill but women are nurturer-gatherers who care and love and grow and support". And from this they slide right down into "jealousy is inevitable, polyamory can't work, people are possessions and no man will want to share and no woman will be willing to share her provider with another woman" yadda yadda.

We've got sexism, misogyny, gender binary assumptions, heteronormative assumptions, and a myopic view of how relationships work (or should work, or always have worked and therefore can't work any other way).

And when a poly person tries to point out that, as a matter of fact, tens of thousands of people have been practicing polyamory successfully for roughly 2 generations now, and that all their "theory" that was based on religiously patriarchal hierarchical structures that do not translate to the modern, Westernized, feminist-based egalitarian relationship structures that have nothing to do with property or control of women's vaginas ... when a poly person tries to point that out, the mono-apologist steamrolls right over them as if nothing was said.

Sometimes, they might pull out "studies" that support their position, but just like the wooagers who use pseudoscience instead of real science, they cherry pick their studies to reference bad studies or studies done under non-analogous societies, & ignore the evidence that is the 30+ year experiment currently running that contradicts all those studies.

And there is nothing that you can say to change their minds.

They absolutely will not back down from the position that all men want lots of sex with no commitment, that women want monogamous relationships, that it is in a man's best interest to spread his seed around but a woman's best interest to secure a faithful provider, that jealousy is inevitable & insurmountable, that people are inherently unable to "share" their possessions partners, that it's not "real love" and polys eventually grow tired of it when they're ready to settle down or when they run out of patience for putting up with always coming in second, that it's harmful to the children, that poly relationships are never long-term, that people who do it are either coerced in some way or have self-esteem problems to be willing to put up with it, and that all the problems they have in monogamous relationships are exactly the same as in poly ones only multipled (i.e. not liking your mother-in-law and now you have 2 or nagging wives x 3 or instead of 1 disgusting, beer-guzzling husband who ignores you on Monday Night Football you have several).

[ profile] tacit, among others, has said before that people tend to project their own selves onto the world around them.  If they're insecure, then everyone must be insecure.  If they objectify women, then everyone must objectify women.  If they're afraid of commitment, then everyone must be afraid of commitment.  If they get jealous, then everyone must get jealous.  If they can't love more than one person, then no one can love more than one person.  Sometimes you can substitute the word "everyone" with whatever that person's gender is and it'll be more accurate, but the point is still the same - they believe that whatever kind of experience or feelings they have about the world around them must be universal (and by extension, therefore immutable).

There is just so much that is deeply, fundamentally flawed, that it's just like arguing with any other wooager - in order to correct the flaws in their understanding, you have to go all the way back to their childhood and undo everything they've learned in their entire lives just to get them to catch up to today. Remember, I'm not talking about people who are interested in poly and have some mono de-programming to do. I'm talking about people who fit into the status quo and who want to stay there, who are totally oblivious to the entire subculture of polyamory that is large enough for its own conferences (multiple) and to have schisms and sub-sub cultures of its own. These people aren't just wrong, their fractally wrong.

Add that to the exact same problem they have with feminism and women, and I just don't like the atheist or skeptic communities. Even though I am an atheist and a skeptic and even though all of my closest friends and intentional family members are, and even though most of my personal heroes are. I just don't want to spend time in those communities either online or in person because it's just so fucking tiring having to explain this stuff again and again to people who really ought to know better.

I don't want to have to explain, again, why it's rude to "compliment" me in a professional setting on my appearance instead of my contributions to the profession (or worse, to do both at the same time a la "wow, smart AND pretty - the geek's unicorn!"). I don't want to have to explain, again, that I'm not a slut for having 3 boyfriends. I don't want to explain, again, that polyamory is not a cult and that it does, indeed, have longevity potential. I don't want to have to explain, again, that polyamory isn't a phase, a sign of low self-esteem, something I was talked into, or that my relationships won't last.  I don't want to explain, again, that just because I'm wearing something sexy, it doesn't mean I want you to hit on me. I don't want to have to explain, again, how just because guys also have problems just for being guys, we still need to talk about the problems women have for being women and throwing in "but we're persecuted too!" is inappropriate and derailing. And I don't want to have to explain, again, that being polyamorous doesn't mean I have "room for one more boyfriend" - especially when that "one more" is some guy I just met at the hotel conference bar who is just grateful that I'm a female who isn't religious and who is thin.

Seriously, guys, ya'll are fucked up sometimes.
joreth: (anger)
So there's this dickhead who saw a graphic I made to sell on one of my t-shirt sites online and thought "hey, that's a pretty cool graphic, I bet I can sell stuff with it online too!"  He took the graphic, then did stuff like "splining" and spent a whole ton of hours on it to end up with a graphic that looks EXACTLY LIKE MINE.  Then he did more stuff and spent more hours on it to end up with a second graphic that looks EXACTLY LIKE MINE but rainbow colored.  Then he slapped it on a bunch of items from Zazzle and started trying to sell it.

According to the storefront, this is what he does: "This store represents the wild creations which flew by and I happened to reach out and catch a bit of. Hopefully I will be able to catch more as time goes by."

The tricky part is that the image is made of elements that you can't copyright.  For example, I can't copyright the teardrop shape.  But I can copyright or trademark a specific teardrop that is stylistically unique and recognizable.  Then, if you open a store and want to sell something with a teardrop on it, you can make your own teardrop that looks different from mine but still looks like a teardrop and you're not in violation of copyright.

But this guy's version doesn't look any different from mine, except it's a different color.  It is obviously, clearly, and recognizably my graphic.  For the original image that is the same color, he didn't even bother to remove that grey-ish background that's actually a black t-shirt material from my own store's thumbnail before putting it on a couple dozen items like keychains and greeting cards and aprons.  Seriously, if you look at his keychain, it's a round keychain with a grey-black square and my graphic in the middle, just like the close-up image of my t-shirts.

So, I sent a cease & desist letter.  He responded, defending his right to use my graphics because of how much he "changed" in the picture.  I reported the violation to the Zazzle complaint department, and he removed a few of the products, but not all of them, still insisting that making it rainbow colored is enough of a change to justify using my graphic.

So now I need a lawyer.  I have all the correspondence, plus the original Photoshop elements of the graphic under contention, and I need to know what to do from here.  Any recommendations for lawyers, or any lawyers out there willing to give legal advice?
joreth: (Bad Computer!)

COEXIST (letters made out of religious symbols); hate the sin, love the sinner; everyone's entitled to their own opinion; you're being intolerant by disapproving of intolerance; turn the other cheek; agree to disagree; can't we all just get along?


When expected to cover every single viewpoint & perspective in existence, this is just naive.  Now, I'm not talking about being just a little bit country while you're just a little bit rock and roll.  There are a ton of opinions that can coexist peacefully among neighbors.  The reason is because those sorts of opinions don't have anything to do with the neighbors.  You liking sushi doesn't say anything about me and me not liking sushi.  So we can just "agree to disagree" on the relative merits of raw fish as dinner vs. bait.

But there are some beliefs, some opinions, some viewpoints that can not be reconciled.  If your religion says that I must be killed and you have the authority & right to kill me, that viewpoint simply cannot coexist alongside my own belief that I should live.  One of us has to be wrong and one of us must be thwarted in our desired outcome.

And then there are the kinds of beliefs that expose a person's character.  If you like the color yellow, that doesn't say very much about who you are, so I can disagree with your admiration for yellow without having any particular opinion on who you are as a person.  But if you think all niggers should be hung from the nearest tree, well, that tells me quite a lot about your character and you can bet that I have a pretty damn strong opinion on who you are as a person.  And it's not a nice opinion either.

Some people seem to think that two people can have a difference of opinion about something, and it doesn't reflect on who they are as people, what their character is like.  We can just disagree about something, but basically, we're all still "good people".  Bullshit. It completely depends on what that something we disagree about is.  And, depending on what that something we disagree about is, I think it is entirely appropriate for someone to come away from a disagreement actually not liking the other person as a direct result of the opinion the other person holds.

I think that women are human and should be treated as such.  If John thinks that women are clearly inferior to men and should be treated as broodmares and sex toys, we have a disagreement.  But if you think that someone like me, who holds equality as one of her top most fundamental human values, can have a "disagreement" with someone like John and still walk away thinking he's a pretty OK guy except for that thing we disagree on, you're out of your tiny mind.

My belief in equality is a fundamental part of my character, and John's belief that he is superior to me because he has some extra tissue dangling between his legs says something about the fundamentals of his character.  It is entirely appropriate to dislike each other when we have revealed fundamental parts of our characters through a disagreement on a "difference of opinion" when those opinions are mutually exclusive.

If you want to talk about being ethical and compassionate, and in the same discussion dismiss any responsibility you have for actually being compassionate to someone or considering how your actions are harming that person, that tells me something very unflattering about your character and I'm not going to like you.  And I don't think I should be required to like you when I think your character is awful.

We can disagree on a lot of things that don't say very much about our characters, and we can like people who disagree with us on certain things.  And those "certain things" are not going to be the same thing for everyone.  I know people who have married people of different religious faiths, which always baffles me considering what their faiths say about so many important elements about themselves and how they see the world around them.  And I've seen people hate each other over a disagreement over ice cream.  

And, of course, there are gradations - it's not an either-we-disagree-on-something-trivial-and-I-still-like-you OR we-disagree-on-something-fundamental-and-extreme-therefore-it's-Thunderdome!  I have plenty of coworkers who I think are pretty awful people and yet, because they haven't tried to kill me, or impregnate me, or get me fired, I can work on the same gig with them (some of them, I do have to work out of earshot, though).  I have several friends who I think are decent enough friends, but I'd never date them because of some value or opinion they hold that makes me not respect them just enough to be incompatible as dating partners, but not so much that I can't be friends.  It's not a black and white issue.

But to think that revealing a difference of opinion doesn't reflect the character of the people doing the revealing, and that revelation doesn't, or shouldn't, affect how we feel towards each other as people, is naive.  If you reveal to me something about your character that goes against anything I've worked to change in society, or against my values for how people should treat each other, I'm not going to like you, or I'm not going to respect you (which usually leads to not liking you, but sometimes it just drops down how much I like you).  And I shouldn't have to like you if I think you hold a belief or perform actions that I think are dangerous, harmful, or evil.  

No, if your religious belief says that I must be killed, that is fundamentally incompatible with my own beliefs and we cannot coexist peacefully.  If your opinions are that it's OK to treat a certain class of person as a second class citizen, that is fundamentally incompatible with my own beliefs that we are all equal and I can dislike you over it.  If you defend selfish, harmful behaviour, I feel perfectly justified in disliking you.  If you just like impressionist art and I like photorealism, we can agree to disagree and still get along just fine.

There's this weird stigma against being "judgmental", as if simply having a judgment makes you a bad person.  Everyone makes judgments all the time, it's how we navigate the world.  We judge this car to be safe to ride in, that person to be safe to walk next to down the street, this person to be a good friend, and that person to be a friend as long as you don't tell him anything too private.  When people say they don't want to be "judgmental", therefore they are going to accept someone even after learning something negative about that person, they ARE being judgmental - they have judged that this person is acceptable and they have also judged everyone else who doesn't agree to be a "bad person" under the label "judgmental".

People make judgments.  It's how we make decisions.  This is worthy, that is not worthy.  And, frankly, some people are not worthy.  It doesn't make you a bad person to have decided that someone is not worthy, not all by itself.  The details of the case are important.  And deciding that a person is worthy when they shouldn't be not only doesn't make you a good person automatically, it could make you a bad person by association, depending on that other person.  Lots of people hate the Pope who supported Hitler, for example.  The Pope didn't want any trouble, so he kissed Hitler's ass and excused Hitler's actions.  It's fairly a universal opinion that this Pope was just as evil Hitler himself to have excused him.  Much like the priests hiding rapists among the priesthood examples that came up in my last LJ post.  To quote Tim Minchin: "if you cover for another motherfucking kiddie fucker, fuck you, you're no better than the motherfucking rapist."

Making judgments, by itself, does not, inherently, make you a bad person.  It makes you a person.  What kinds of judgments you make are what determine if others see you as bad or not, and refusing to "be judgmental" can actually make you seem like a bad guy depending on what you are excusing.  And some people deserve to be judged, and found unworthy.
joreth: (anger)
I know this will be a shocking revelation to you all, but there's something about the internet that I feel it's time to reveal to the world.

On the internet, you can't hear vocal inflection, see facial expressions, or intuit body language.

I know, it's big news.  If you're not already sitting down, you might want to now.

This means that, in the absence of words that describe one's emotional state, it's not actually very easy to determine someone's emotional state. Without someone saying "I'm really angry with you right now", the likelihood of you guessing correctly that someone is angry is, if precedence is any predictor, abysmal.

There are certain types of speaking styles that, in text and without the benefit of knowing the person or getting those other clues, often mislead people into thinking that the writer is feeling a particular emotion when they aren't.

For example, if I write a response to someone online in as dry a manner as possible, citing sources, not using personal references like "I" or even "you", and if I rapid-fire off responses because I happen to be online at the moment with nothing else pressing & it's a topic that I have responses or sources at hand, I am often accused of being angry or upset when nothing could be further from the truth. Maybe it's a topic I'm passionate about, or maybe it's a topic that I just happen to know something about, but I most likely am not feeling any particular emotion when I write that way.

When I'm angry, you'll read a lot more ad hominem attacks, a lot more cussing, and a lot more capital letters.

Unfortunately, while that may be a generally accepted convention for conveying anger, it is also not a universal convention. I have seen far too many people who always type in all caps, and, even more annoying, people who capitalize every word. At work, my coworkers and I use cuss words in place of pauses for breath, for punctuation, in place of "um", and, well fuck, sometimes as the spaces between words. Hell, sometimes we'll add spaces in the middle of words, just so we can put a swear word in there! Also at work, insulting someone is how you show you like them. The nicer we are to each other, the less likely it is that we like the person.

The reason I bring all this up is because there is a bad habit of people online to get into discussions with others, to misinterpret the tone somehow of the other person, and to then tell the other person what she ought to be feeling right now. Usually, it comes in the form of "just calm down, it's not a big deal."

Well, sometimes it is a big fucking deal and the person has a right to be upset about it. Other times, whether it's a big deal or not, the person is not actually upset. But I can almost guarantee that, in those cases, telling the person to calm down is a very good way to make them upset.

For some people, and I'll go out on a limb and say it's probably common among women, being told to calm down has a lot of repercussions to it that the person telling them to calm down doesn't understand. For some people, being told to calm down feels dismissive. It's like telling the person that what she feels isn't important or is out of place. Maybe it is out of place, but that's usually not the best time to point it out. For some people, telling them to calm down is a way to disempower them, to disarm them, to take control of the discussion and derail it. Whether the person doing the derailing intends to or not, being told to calm down can have that effect anyway. And, even worse, the fact that the person doing the derailing isn't intending to be, or even aware that he's dismissive or disarming is only a symptom of that exact problem (read the parable of the dog & lizard, for example).

Depending on the context, it is often used to cast a disparaging shadow over the other person by painting them as hysterical or emotional, which is immediately conflated with "wrong", or at the very least, not in a position to be debating her point. If someone is judged as being emotional when the listener thinks she shouldn't be emotional, that is often enough justification to dismiss or ignore her point. "At least until you calm down", maybe they'll say sometimes.

I have news for you. Being angry, upset, or "emotional" does not automatically mean that someone is wrong. In fact, it just might be a signal that what they have to say is really, really important*.

Anger, frustration, outrage - expressing these things have a purpose. How and when they're expressed can be a topic of discussion, and I'm not particularly interested in debating the minutia of exactly when exactly which response is appropriate and not. All I'm saying is that telling someone to "calm down" is like roller skating through a minefield and you're better off not doing it. Sometimes those emotions are appropriate and need to be expressed, and sometimes those emotions aren't there at all and you're totally off-base for suggesting that someone is feeling them.

If you want to ask someone if they're feeling something, well, OK, that could lead you towards a resolution by knowing for certain what they are feeling and why. If you know the individual personally and have certain cues to work from and you know this is the right tactic with them in this situation, that's also different. And I don't mean that you have met the person a few times, I mean that you know them and have some sort of established pattern of handling them when they get excited.

Just please, stop telling people online to "calm down" when they have not actually expressed their emotional state. If they have not said "I feel ..." or they have not used an emotional word like "angry", "resentful", "sad", then they have not expressed their emotional state. One of the fastest ways to piss me off when I'm not already pissed off is to tell me not to be angry or to tell me what my emotional state is, either, when I have not said so or in direct contradiction to what I have said. And I know I'm not alone.

I think you'll probably see a decrease in flame wars if everyone removed "calm down" from their internet vocabularies. Especially if they remove all the phrases that mean the same thing but use much more condescending words like "don't get your panties in a twist" or "stop being hysterical" or "geez, who put the burr under your saddle?" or "take a chill pill". And most especially if those sorts of commands aren't followed or preceded by statements lumping the allegedly-angry person into some category or another where being "hysterical" or "irrational" was assumed to be a standard trait (i.e. "just like a woman to get all pissy and not have a rational conversation!" or "that's why I won't vote for a woman politician - they let their emotions run things" - yes, that's a real quote, directed at me ... by another woman).  We won't eradicate the flame war, of course, but I think a lot of online arguments could have avoided escalation if the participants weren't so busy telling each other how the other feels and how they ought to feel.

Also, trying to say "calm down" as a joke or just to lighten things up a bit even if you actually agree with the person, not only tends to have the same effect, but if the mood needs to be lightened, the the person you're telling to calm down probably is really angry and probably thinks he has a damn good reason to be angry, and we're right back to "dismissive" again.

So don't fucking tell me to calm down. Either I'm angry for a reason and I believe I'm justified in feeling angry, or I'm not angry at all and you just pissed me off for trying to tell me that you know what I'm feeling when I haven't told you how I'm feeling. I'll calm the fuck down when I want to calm down. How about you try not being a condescending asshole instead? What? I got that wrong? You're not trying to be condescending? Well, imagine that - tone and intentions didn't come through clearly in pure text. Huh, I wonder how that happened?

*When I say "important", it doesn't mean that what they are upset about is necessarily the truth.  One can be upset about something that did not actually happen, if one's perception is off in some way.  Just because you feel hurt, it doesn't mean that someone hurt you.  But feeling that emotion can be used as a red flag to show where something is wrong.  Maybe the other person really did not hurt you & it's all in your head.  That just means that we now know where to start working on the problem - it's not with the other person, it's with you.  There *is* a problem, it's real, it just might not be the problem we thought it was.
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
I've been there before, but tonight I was reminded of - an incredible timesuck of a website that is basically my online skeezballs tag but that allows submissions & snarky responses from the editors.  3 of my submissions have been included.

I saw this particular entry with no response, and a response immediately popped into my head.  Since it's not a blog that allows comments, I'm just going to write it here.  Because I can.

His email: what would u say if i slapped ur ass and told u u have the asshole of a seven year old?

My hypothetical response:  I'd say "hello 911?  I'd like to report an assault and battery, and also a confession of a pedophile.  Where is he?  He's lying at my feet.  Oh, I suppose you might also want to send an ambulance.  I don't want you to send an ambulance, but I guess you have to do your job.  Please let the responding officer know that I have disabled the perpetrator for him."

Just A Tip

Jan. 11th, 2012 09:13 pm
joreth: (::headdesk::)
I'm a big fan of sarcasm. It's one of my most favorite forms of humor. I've had entire conversations that were nothing but sarcasm from start to finish. One of my most favorite ways to mock idiots and losers is to sarcastically and/or ironically make statements that are favorable to their position. This can be in any subject - creationism, homophobia, sex-negativity, woo, politics, whatever. If I think a position is stupid, I will probably, at some point or another, make a sarcastic or ironic statement for comedic value proclaiming the benefits of that position. I like to think it's obvious from the absurdity of the statement that I was being sarcastic or ironic, but being on the listening side of sarcasm, I completely get that not everyone can always tell sarcasm from genuine statements.

In text, it's even harder. Online, where people do not use their real names, where I may not have had any interactions with them before (or have but don't recognize their username), and where it seems as though the internet is actually powered solely by stupidity, it's almost impossible to NOT mistake sarcasm. And on Twitter or Facebook, where the response text is severely limited in size, you're just asking to be misunderstood.

Once, [ profile] tacit, [ profile] emanix and I were in the car together, and we somehow managed to circle around a faux-argument and, using sarcasm, reach the conclusion that [ profile] tacit must be gay. I don't remember the exact line, but it involved the worst of the misunderstandings of homosexuality, polyamory, kink, and rape, all wrapped up in one snarky line. We found it funny precisely because it was the opposite of everything we all stood for. Some of [ profile] tacit's Twitter followers found it offensive because they couldn't hear the sarcasm when he tweeted the punchline without the context. He thought it was sufficiently absurd enough that no one would possibly be able to mistake it for anything other than sarcasm. Except anyone who doesn't know him and his sense of humor, of course.

So here is a circumstance when you absolutely should not use sarcasm as a response UNLESS you have a clear sarcasm-indicator, such as ending your post with /sarcasm or the more blatant "that was sarcasm, for those who couldn't tell". And even then, you probably shouldn't do it. For the record, "derp" and the percontation point "؟" are not universally understood (as much as I try to promote it), so, although you can use those as indicators, I recommend including an explanation of what "derp" and "؟" mean somewhere in the comment. Yes, explaining the joke makes it less funny. It also makes it less offensive, and therefore worth it.
When someone is ranting about a particular topic, such as sexism, racism, bigotry in general, or other emotional hot-button topics, don't respond with sarcasm that could possibly be misconstrued as genuine.

Even worse are those jokes that may not easily be classified as sarcastic. It's supposed to be a joke. But if the person ranting has her ire up, now is not the time to be poking fun at the topic she is particularly emotional about right now.
For example:
  • when I say "don't compliment me on my appearance, this seriously bugs me", don't follow that up with "hey baby, ur hot!" as a joke. Not only is it not funny, I'm probably going to get more pissed off at that moment than if you said that out of the blue because I just finished saying how much I don't like that. Kind of like when Rebecca Watson had just finished speaking for 8 FUCKING HOURS about how she hates getting hit on at skeptic conventions, only to be asked back to some guy's room for coffee within minutes of her latest tirade and announcement that she was tired and wanted to go to sleep.

    Bad fucking timing. Don't do it. Don't defend it, don't excuse it, just don't fucking do it.

  • Also, when I rant about how our society views the worth of females almost exclusively on their appearance and/or sexuality after posting a link to a female politician that I support, don't respond with "I like her, plus she's hot!" and expect me to find that funny. It's totally out of place and I'm already hypersensitive because I just finished ranting about that very subject.

  • Also, when I respond to a post that is bigoted and uninformed about a type of sexuality (in this case, kink), don't then post a joke saying that HIV is a magic trick that turns fruits into vegetables. IT'S NOT FUCKING FUNNY. It's not funny at any time, but it's especially in poor taste when one is trying to raise awareness about stereotypes and bigotry. Also, being gay doesn't give you a free pass from making fucked-up gay jokes. Just like being female doesn't give you a free pass from being sexist or misogynistic and being black doesn't give you a free pass to be racist. Just sayin'.
So, the bottom line here is that there is a time and a place for sarcasm and jokes in bad taste. I like screwball comedies, so yeah, I really do think there is a time and a place for them and I'm not just saying so the way uptight mothers say so when they really mean that "time and place" is "never in polite society, and you will live in polite society all the time forever!"

But when a person is upset, is ranting, is particularly emotional over a particular topic, or feels really really strongly about something, that is NOT the time or the place for your bad-taste joke. It may be the time and place for your sarcasm, if the intent of the sarcasm is actually to create a sense of solidarity by showing your agreement with the subject (sarcasm & irony are often used to point out the absurdity of a position, so using sarcasm can be a form of agreement in some contexts), but you have to be clear that you are, in fact, being sarcastic. When a person is in that emotional state, and when the place is online, it is not always easy to identify sarcasm and irony, especially if you are not already well-known to the readers of your comment, so your statement may actually just piss someone off more.

Also, there is nothing wrong with having an emotional reaction to a topic, per se. Having an emotional reaction does not mean that the person is not ALSO being logical or rational. Do not dismiss someone's point just because he or she is being emotional. Making a joke at a time like that is, in fact, being dismissive. For many of these topics, being upset or angry is the appropriate response. If you can look at bigotry, hatred, discrimination, and the pain and suffering of others without getting upset over it, there's something seriously wrong with you, not the person being emotional. Yes, there are appropriate uses and times for emotional reactions and inappropriate ones, but that's a subject for another post. The point here is that being emotional does not automatically and by default mean that someone is wrong and/or needs to be calmed down, especially if your method of diffusing things is with a bad-taste joke or hard-to-identify sarcasm. Sometimes, anger and emotional upset is exactly what is needed and the joke is out of place.
joreth: (anger)
I'm going to rant. I mean really rant. If you hold the opposing viewpoint, I don't want to hear it because this is not a place for a reasoned discussion or rational exchange of ideas. This is me being angry and blowing off steam because it's not physically possible for me to slap sense into people, and I would get arrested if I tried, so I need to vent by pouring all my anger into my words and out of my head in order to get on with the rest of my day. I'm going to rant about veto power.

I've heard all the excuses, all the justifications, all the defenses of veto in poly relationships, so I don't need to hear them again because I guarantee that nothing you can come up with will be something I haven't heard already. And every time I hear another excuse, it doesn't make me more sympathetic or win me over to your side, it only makes me even angrier at the fucking audacity of some people. You don't have to read my rant any more than I have to listen to your excuses, but I am going to rant.  You can go bitch about how mean I am elsewhere and justify your behaviour to people who are as equally deluded as you.

Put on your flame-retardant suits & enter at your own risk )
joreth: (polyamory)
I hereby disallow anyone to accuse me of strawman or hyperbole when I speak of Those Couples, the Percivalians, the Unicorn Hunters, for using phrases like "interviewing for the job position of Third".

I will not reveal any identifying or personal information, but I *did* receive several emails and participated in a forum where the phrase "interviewed for our household", in quotes, was used. Also used were phrases like "looking for someone seeking a position..." and "meets our criteria".

This is not a single instance. This is multiple communications, in black-and-white text, where their own words included "interview", "position", "criteria", and other job-like language, all within a week of each other.

I can't imagine why they are having such trouble finding partners!؟ What person wouldn't feel honored to have been selected out of the masses for having the appropriate skills necessary to perform the duties required of them؟

If you can't tell that was sarcasm, even without the percontation points, and you don't see how creepy and fucked up that is, then you're part of the problem and I lack the ability to sufficiently explain to people without empathy why empathy is important and why lack of empathy is problematic.
joreth: (::headdesk::)
Is it just me, or do straight men seem inordinately concerned with what other men think of them? Of course, this is not an every-man sort of thing (nothing is). But it seems as though, every time I get into gender-based arguments with straight men, the ones I'm arguing with seem to get their motivation for being "a real man" from other men. It seems to me that, if a man is heterosexual, it would be in his better interest to take his cues on being "a real man" from the women he hopes to impress.

Take the argument I got into with a coworker, who opened up with "Hey Joreth, you're a girl, tell me, is a theme park a good date?" That very quickly devolved into him explicitly admitting that he infantalizes women for the purposes of making male strangers of a certain ethnic type who just happen to be passing him on the street nod approvingly at his behaviour, in complete disregard to the preferences of the woman he is currently infantalizing. No, I'm not making that up or exaggerating. I asked him outright "dude, you don't see how treating a woman like a child is offensive?" and he said "no [full stop]", with no other explanation or trying to hedge or make it not sound so bad. Not "that's not what I meant!" or "you're taking it the wrong way". No, he said that he saw nothing wrong with treating a woman like a child and that the reason he did so was so when "a Latin dude walks down the street and sees me, he'll nod and be all 'that's right'." ::headdesk:: I wish I was making that up, or at least building a straw man.

Then there are all the arguments about Only Yes Means Yes, where, without exception, the objections to OYMY are: "If we waited for a woman to say yes, we'd die virgins" and "No only means 'not yet' and it's up to us to keep trying until it becomes a yes." Again, I'm not exaggerating or paraphrasing or taking it out of context. Not only are those direct quotes, but they are almost verbatim quotes from every single online argument I've ever had about OYMY. These particular men are completely unconcerned with how they appear to women or what the specific woman they are with thinks of them. From a purely strategic, cold point of view, it just doesn't even make sense to ignore the preferences of someone you are trying to get something from. That sounds like a much longer wait for sex than hearing a verbal "yes".  "Hey baby, I want something from you that you will resist giving me, and my method is to ignore what you want out of the deal entirely and concentrate only on what I'm getting."  That doesn't sound like utter fail to you people?  That doesn't sound suspiciously like rape?

And, of course, there are all the objections to male dancing. "Real men don't dance, men play football." "Dancing is for sissies." "That's a girl move, not a guy move!" "C'mon, my buddies'll make fun of me!" Seriously? As one young male dancer said during the human-interest story on this season's Dancing With The Stars, "you're in a sweaty locker room filled with other dudes; I'm in a ballroom surrounded by cute girls and my hands all over hot women." That is also as near a direct quote as I can remember. For most sports, the genders are separated, and for contact sports, we get a bunch of self-proclaimed straight guys (because they have to proclaim heterosexuality, since being gay is, well, gay, or something.) all wearing very little clothing, touching each other, sometimes with full contact, body-slamming each other, and showing off their muscles. But in dancing, you get men who have to develop strength, agility, timing, and rhythm, also with very little clothing, but with female-bodied partners rubbing up against them, putting their legs around them, holding onto them, and an audience of women oohing and ahing and drooling over hot male bodies.

Plus, I've had sex with football players, and I've had sex with men from the "girlie" sports like gymnastics and cheerleading and dancing. Guys, if you want to impress the ladies with your bedroom skills, you won't do it by bodyslamming 200 pound men. You'll do it by developing the core muscles & flexibility necessary to move with fluidity and musicality that dancers need. If I was given a choice between a football player and a dancer as a sexual partner (and that was my only choice and criteria, and I had to choose one), I'd take the dancer every fucking time.

So, straight men who do this, go on ahead and do what you think you need to do in order to impress your buddies. I'm sure you and your buddies will have good times together. Meanwhile, I and all the other women will be over here with the handful of men who are doing what needs to be done in order to impress women - namely being confident in themselves, doing things because they like it instead of because it's expected of them, treating us like humans, treating us like individuals, learning our specific preferences, listening to us, not telling us that we are wrong when we make statements about what we think or feel, engaging in the kinds of activities that we like to engage in and where we feel welcome, and generally being all-around decent people. And they won't be doing it for the purpose of "impressing" us, they'll be doing it because it's the right thing to do - because they know that human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and women are merely other human beings that they just happen to find attractive.

Of course that last paragraph can be extended to all genders and orientations by changing pronouns. I'm ranting at a specific type of straight men right now, so I used the appropriate pronouns for that audience.

Apparently I should also point out that this is not intended to be a dig at sports or people who like sports such as football.  I used to play football, and basketball, and many other competitive sports - both contact and non-contact.  I understand what a person might get out of playing sports.  My point is ONLY about people choosing or avoiding to do certain things in disregard to the people participating and BECAUSE OF APPROVAL FROM NON-INTERESTED PARTIES.  Treating a woman he is interested in romancing like a child BECAUSE SOME GUY WILL APPROVE; playing football, not because it's fun, but because HIS GUY FRIENDS WILL APPROVE; avoiding dancing, not because he's not interested or can't do it, but because HIS GUY FRIENDS WILL DISAPPROVE; ignoring a woman's stated preferences for sexual relations because of his erroneous idea of gender roles, which is more important TO HIS BUDDIES than to the woman he is disregarding.  

Basically, this entire rant is about people who ignore the preferences of individuals with whom they wish to engage in some kind of mutual relationship, and the football thing was an example within this context, not a commentary on football or people who play football.
joreth: (::headdesk::)
from alaink1:

like your profile. new to the area and hoping to meet some new people. if u see my email hopefully u will see that i think your beautiful,

From Me:
You clearly did not read the profile.

from alaink1:

i sent u a cut and paste message because thats all u meritt. so fuck off. i think its funny so fuck off. your a lame bitch and have been kicked out of better whore houses so fuck off. so fuck off. i feel sorry for anyman that has to put up with a confused dyke so fuck off. try a woman so fuck off. fuck off, lololololol therres your clue to a joke so fuck off
Report this
0% Enemy1% Friend70% Match Message from alaink1

From me:
what a douche. No wonder you have to use cut and paste messages, you have no imagination of your own.

That's quality right here. THIS is what women have to put up with on a daily basis. His original message, for all that it's a form letter, is pretty polite. We have no way of knowing that rejecting a man who presents politely will react in such a violet and aggressive manner. In person, that's a terrifying thought. I never wish to have to draw my knife on another person for refusing my rejection again, but I carry it because I had to once, so I may have to once more.

Also, if you follow the link to his profile, you'll notice that he's not some punk kid - he's a 42 year old man who should know better.  But I wouldn't be able to tell that from his behaviour or his atrocious spelling and grammar.

I understand that it feels bad to know that women are automatically defensive around you men when you have done nothing to merit that defensiveness. But please understand that it's the fault of assholes like this that are responsible. He did nothing to merit my defenses either, at first. If you were bombarded daily, online and in person, by people giving you unwanted attention, and by refusing rejections, and when those people are always bigger and stronger than you, you would understand just how frightening the world can be.

It is safer for me to assume that you will harm me and be wrong, than it is for me to assume that you are just as nice as you seem at first and then be wrong about that.

THIS is the reason why women stay away from certain places, like gaming communities and atheist communities, and it will take the assistance of the genuinely nice guys to stand up to these fucktards - not to "protect the wimmenfolk", but to exact a social penalty on such bad behaviour and simultaneously distinguishing between the "good guys" and the "bad guys", so that we can more easily tell who really deserves our defenses and who doesn't.

This, by the way, violates the TOS under the Conduct Clause. Please make liberal use of the Report button when someone approaches you and harasses you in this manner. Maybe we can kick out most of the assholes and make places like OKC safer for women - that way the nice guys can actually find us.
joreth: (Super Tech)
There's a big deal happening in the skeptics community because Rebecca Watson was propositioned in an elevator at a conference, told the story publicly, and concluded with "don't do that guys". The entire community exploded in opposite directions, with clueless men saying "what's the big deal? Just tell the guy no" and women and men who "get it" trying to explain why this was so bad.

The biggest complaint is that poor, privileged men got their feelings hurt by a woman saying "don't proposition a woman at 4 AM in an elevator where she can't escape" because, they think, it must have implied that men can't ever speak to or look at a woman anywhere, at any time, ever, because all men are always a threat to all women. Always.

And that is not what the women are saying at all. It's not that all men are automatically a threat. It's that we have been told BY MEN from the day we are born that someday, some man is going to come along and rape us. Not only is he going to try to assault us, but it will be our own fault. Because of what we wear, what we say, or where we are, some man is going to be so overcome with lust at something that WE DID, that he will assault us, and that it is our own responsibility to avoid this attack by choosing our clothing, our behaviour, our words, our locations to prevent some guy from losing control of himself.

No, it's not that every man is a threat. It's that SOME man is a threat, but we have no way of knowing WHICH man he is until it's too late. And that the reason why he is a threat is because of something that we did to bring it upon ourselves, and that we live in a society that will scrutinize our every move and our every thought to see if it can find exactly what we did to bring it upon ourselves, so that the poor man can be absolved of his responsibility for assaulting us (just ask any woman who ever pressed rape charges how carefully her own background and behaviour was dragged into the harsh light of the courtroom so the defense attorney could find some shred of "she was asking for it" to get his client off the hook).

We are told these very things about ourselves and about men being threatening ... by men. By our fathers, by our police officers, by our clergy, and it is reinforced by every one of those skeevy men out there who responds to our rejections, no matter how polite or careful or blame-shifting we try to make them, with accusations of "slut", "bitch", "dyke", or with pressure to change our minds. First, we're told that men are a threat to us, then we're told that it's our own responsibility to police our own boundaries and make sure that all men know what they can't get away with, and THEN, when we dutifully buck up the courage to reject someone (no one likes to feel rejected so many of us don't like to do the rejecting because we don't want to hurt someone's feelings), we are penalized for it by the man's behaviour. We're called names, we're shouted at, we're gossiped about, or we're ignored by those who have been told that "no" is just another word for "maybe".

We are told that "good girls" don't say "yes", so some men are convinced that we are only saying "no" because we're not supposed to say "yes". Other men believe the "no", but don't believe that it is a permanent state. In other words, if they just keep asking, eventually it'll change into a "yes". So even if we DO manage to reject someone, we're still not off the hook. We still have to vigilantly maintain those boundaries, like a fort with an enemy at the gate, probing for weaknesses, just one little chink in the fence where he can weasel his way in.

I don't like to think of men in these terms; I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt. But this is what I have been told, and this is what many women have been told about men ... by men. Who hasn't heard the line about a father telling his daughter that "boys only want one thing", backing that up with "because I was a boy once and that's how I thought". Rather than an entire nation of fathers trying to change their sons' views on how to treat women now that they have wives & daughters that they don't want assaulted (we'll just overlook, for now, that these fathers didn't care about assaulting someone ELSE'S wives or daughters), these fathers are, instead, trying to lock up their daughters to "protect" them from all those predatory boys and men, apparently just sitting at the front door, panting and drooling, waiting for the daughters to take a step out the front door so they can pounce. Women are penalized by being treated as prisoners for the crimes of all these men that we're led to believe are just waiting for us. We're locked up indoors, under clothing, and behind demure expressions all to prevent some man from assulting us. And in some countries, this isn't even hyperbole.

Young women are given earlier curfews, or made to give the information for where they expect to be and what time they expect to be home, or scrutinized by their mothers to ensure that their clothing doesn't send the "wrong impression" when young men are not often given the same treatment. We are subjected to this treatment because our parents believe that we are at greater risk for assault than our male counterparts, in spite of the fact that men are quite often the victims of violent crime such as robbery and beatings. Even though, statistically, men are more likely to be the assaulter in all violent crimes, other men are not told to fear going into a steambath, naked with other men, on the off-chance that one of those men will try to rape him (unless he's a conservative fundie, who DO seem to think that just because another man is gay, being naked in the same room with him is naturally going to lead to being raped by the gay man), beat him for thinking he's gay, or steal his wallet that he left in the locker room. Women, however, are told that we cannot go into certain areas with men, such as a steambath or a locker room, because one of those men will try to rape us, beat us, or steal our purse.

And I'll even concede that this does happen more often to women than men. I have no statistics at my fingertips and I don't feel like looking it up, so if someone wants to insist that women are assulted by men more often than men are assaulted by men, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, for the sake of discussion. I don't believe this is the case, but I'm not willing to argue this point right now. The main point is that our society's solution to this problem is not to change the society to make this unacceptable, nor is it to tighten up security in these areas to allow women the freedom to move about the country as they choose. The solution is not to frown and shake our fingers at men and call them "naughty boys". No, the solution is to make the WOMEN curtail their activities, their clothing, their behaviour, their speech, whatever they have to do to prevent the rare man who might be hiding amongst all the "nice guys" just waiting for his chance to beat us, rape us, kill us, while men are not given the same effort at telling them not to go certain places or dress in certain ways to avoid an assault. So women have to treat everyone as a threat in order to protect ourselves from the actual threats.

Let me tell you a few stories of some of your oh-so-non-threatening bretheren:

1) I and two of my female coworkers went out to the Hard Rock Casino one night after work to hang out - just us ladies. None of us are shrinking violets and we're pretty well able to take care of ourselves, being all butch and manual-laborey, but we're also fairly easy on the eyes, if I do say so myself, and still subjected to the same social programming as everyone else. So we were hanging out at the casino lounge, having our first drinks (mine was non-alcoholic) when an obviously drunk man came over to our table. I don't recall the exact words he used at this point, but I do recall that he had trouble pronouncing them and that they were supposed to be complimentary. At any rate, he expressed admiration for our appearances and then proceeded to indicate interest in sexual relations.

Well, I was much younger then, and still trying to be polite, and I fell into the same old trap that most women do, of giving an excuse for my rejection that clearly says "no" without saying "because you're a douchebag". Most women use lines like "I have a boyfriend" or "I have to get up early" or some other line that says "I can't" rather than "I won't", to try and soften the rejection. I and one of the other girls told him that we were all lesbians and in a committed slave-relationship with the third girl. She was our Mistress and she did not share us and we absolutely could not do anything without her permission, which she would not give. So A) we were the wrong orientation, B) we were in an exclusive relationship, and C) it was the type of relationship that makes straight, vanilla, drunk fratboys at bars uncomfortable.

He looked confused and wandered off, only to return a few minutes later and press the issue. We continued to insist that we were not interested in men at all and we were "taken", to which he responded by trying to talk us out of both, including the "you just haven't met a Real Man yet" trope. Finally, he leaned over to me and tried to kiss me. Right there in the lounge. I ducked and slid off my chair and ran to the girl who was posing as the "Mistress", where I sat at her feet while she put her hand possessively on my head and glared at the jerk.

His eyes opened wide and he slurred "oh, you mean, like, THAT kind of relationship?" I looked up at him and frowned, saying "yes, I am not interested because you are not what I want" or something similar. He stumbled off with a dazed expression on his face.

I wish I could say that was the end of it.

He came back AGAIN and this time tried to kiss the other "slave" girl. She jumped back and this time all three of us pulled out our knives. At the "snick" of my switchblade, he looked up, put his hands in front of himself, and backed up. We decided we'd had enough and left. We never made it to a second drink.

2) I know a bunch of guys through work or school, and this story is told as though it is a specific encounter, but the truth is that I've had this exact same situation on multiple occasions with multiple people. I decided not to write down each one individually because they really are so similiar that I would end up cutting and pasting all but the age and location.

Hanging out with male friends often involves watching movies. When we are poor, or young especially, watching movies usually happens in someone's bedroom, usually due to sharing living spaces like dorm rooms or apartments with roommates, or even as teenagers living at home with parents. There are some circumstances in our society where mixed-gendered socializing just happens in private rooms like bedrooms and there's nothing inherently or automatically sexual about it. When I was 12, my Nintendo was hooked up in my bedroom because my dad hated competing with me for the TV in the living room. My next door neighbor was male. There was nowhere else for us to play video games but in someone's room. That's just how it was.

So, hanging out with a male friend, watching a movie or playing games, or sometimes just talking, occasionally ended up with him aggressively hitting on me in a bedroom. This almost always happened out of the blue, not as the result of some sexy talk or flirting. It was more like I would say something, then he would say something, and I would look at him because he was talking, then he would launch himself at me. If this was the first time this particular guy did that, I would be startled, and probably freeze for a moment, allowing him to get a kiss in, but then he would press his advantage and try to fondle my breasts. At that point, I would knock his hand away and back up, and we'd probably go back to watching movies or playing games.

If a guy had tried this once, he would almost always try it again. By the second time, though, I would not freeze when he came at me. I would dodge him and tell him "no". For the guy who was willing to try it after having been rejected previously, this type of guy would not fall back at the rejection, but he would continue to lean in for a kiss and reach for a breast. If I managed to block his hand from my breast, he would then grab for my crotch. If I succeeded in blocking him there, he'd go again for the breast. By the time I managed to disintangle myself from Mr. Octopus, he would attempt to keep me from leaving by promising to stop if I would just stay and finish whatever activity got me there in the first place, like the movie or video game. Sometimes he did stop. For that visit.

When I was younger, this was just how things were. So I did not know to not visit that "friend" again. I did know enough to insist that he not treat me that way, to say that I wouldn't come over if he was going to behave this way. He would always say he promised not to, and maybe he would keep that promise the next time, but there was always another encounter with these guys until I learned to cut off friendships with guys who behaved this way.

I'd like to say this was all exclusively in my teens, when boys were clueless and dumb or that I lived in a particularly fucked up neighborhood. But my most recent encounter like this happened 3 years ago. I was 31 years old. I believe he is a couple of years older than me. He is still not an unusual occurance.

3) Back in California, where the public transportation system is actually worth taking, I used to wear a silver band on my ring finger of my left hand. That was because I could hardly ever make it through a bus ride without some guy sitting down next to me, trapping me against the window, and asking for my phone number to "hook up".

As I explained to a friend recently, who had never been propositioned for a purely sexual relationship (she thinks - I think she just didn't recognize the propositions), this is not the same thing as getting involved in a conversation with a person where you talk about yourselves or some topic of interest, and he asks for a communication method to continue to the conversation. When a man sees a girl he thinks is attractive and just wants a physical relationship with her, he won't bother to get to know her at all. He will begin his approach with "damn baby, you're lookin' fine! Can I getcha number?"

Yes, seriously.  Often this is yelled from passing cars to women walking on the sidewalk, or from random strangers in a mall.  Yes, both occasions happened to me.   Yes, more than once.  Yes, that was a quote, not a paraphrase.

I'm sure there are some men out there who just don't know about these assholes, and who genuinely see a woman they find attractive whom they want to get to know on a personal level. And these clueless men will ask her for a date or her phone number right off the bat with the intention of actually starting a dialog at a later time or in some other place. But the problem is that, from the woman's perspective, these men are nearly indistinguishable from the "your dress would look AWESOME crumpled on my floor in the morning!" types.

If you are genuinely interested in getting to know the woman as a person, there is no need to postpone that discussion for a later phone call or dinner date. Get to know her NOW. At least ask her name and ascertain just one topic that you might have in common to make it worth both of your whiles to bother with a phone conversation or a coffee date. Because without that, without having something in common to discuss, the both of you are completely interchangeable with any other human since there is nothing about either of you to distinguish each other from anyone else. You are both, literally, nothing more, at that moment, than a body. And THAT'S why this approach is so creepy - it is not flattering in the slightest to most women to be considered as nothing more than a convenient body, no matter how complimentary you think you've phrased it.

4) I'm a huggy person, but like many men, I can't tell when a hug will be well received, when it's appropriate, or when it will be mistaken for a sexual proposition when I don't intend it as such. So I don't hug unless someone offers to hug me first. But I am generally welcoming of hugs.

Many men take the permission to hug as permission to see what else they can get. First, this kind of man will offer a hug goodbye. Since I've accepted, the next time he sees me, he'll offer a hug hello. Gradually, that hug will become tighter and more intimate - a full body hug instead of a shoulder embrace. Then, he'll brush cheeks as he hugs. Soon, he'll start kissing the air by my ear when he brushes my cheek while he hugs me with the entire body touching. Eventually, that air-kiss will turn into a kiss high up on the cheek along with that full body hug. And after a while, I will have to make a concerted effort to turn my head sideways as the kiss migrates further away from my ear and closer to my mouth, to the point where I'm standing in the classic Viennese Waltz pose, bending backwards and tilting my head towards the ground, gazing somewhere just behind my left shoulder, just to make sure he doesn't try to merge with my body right there in public or suck my soul out from my mouth.

And it's always a gradual thing, as the man becomes more and more friendly and I grow genuinely fond feelings towards him, it becomes simultaneously more complicated and difficult to avoid this kind of pressure. When it's a stranger, it's easy to back off and not allow him to invade my personal space. But when it's someone I consider a friend, or at least a friendly acquaintance whom I have fond feelings for, it becomes more difficult to defend my personal space, for two reasons. First, because personal space *does* diminish correspondingly with how close two people become emotionally, and second because now there is a friendship that I might not want to damage in spite of the discomfort of having my personal space be invaded. The more assertive I am, the more potentially damaging it could be to a friendship that I might value, yet the less assertive I am, the more likely it is that someone I am emotionally close to might mistake my friendship and lack of assertion for permission. It can be a difficult conundrum that many of us do not want to have to choose between asserting our boundaries and losing friends, but sometimes, that is the case.

And some may even say that if your friendship is so damaged by one party asserting her boundaries, then it's not a friendship worth keeping. I know I've certainly suggested similar to friends who really feel pressured by people who should not be pressuring them. But the reality is that life and relationships are messy and complicated, and our culture's indoctrination on how Men And Women Should Behave sets up a totally impossible set of contradictory instructions that sometimes, really earnest but clueless people just get tripped up over. Many of the men I know honestly do not want to be sexist and honestly value women, but because of their position of privilege, they have a hard time actually seeing why a casual statement they made is sexist when a woman gets offended by it. Likewise, a given man could earnestly wish to be respectful of women, particularly women he values as friends, but just not realize or understand that something he is doing is comming across as pressure or threatening because *he is not in a position to be on the receiving end of that behaviour* and so can't see it that way.

I'm not excusing them, don't get me wrong. I'm saying that *wanting* to be non-threatening is not the same thing as *being* non-threatening, and when you mix in contradictory social instructions with personal insecurities, rejecting the physical advances of a person I actually like otherwise is a veritable social and emotional minefield - his advances may be undesired, and maybe even a symptom of a very big problem, but I might still find value in our friendship & in him as a person and not want to damage it irreparably while I am forced to police my boundaries.

5) I used to go to nightclubs more frequently, but especially back in CA where they don't allow smoking in clubs. One night, I was sitting at a table, having a drink & and rest in between dances, when a guy sidled up to me and started hitting on me. I could tell right away that he wasn't my type, only I'd be hard pressed at this late date to remember the details of why. But the bottom line is that he indicated an interest in me and I turned him down. He actually said "what are you, lesbian?" as if he could only comprehend a woman not wanting him if she only wanted women.

I've heard rumors about me from men in my social circles or other coworkers who speculated about my sexual orientation, and these rumors always stemmed from men who I've rejected. I've been called a bitch and a dyke for turning someone down. The funniest ones are when I'm called a slut, since, if I WAS a slut, I wouldn't have just rejected the asshole who just called me one. Pointing that out to a guy in a bar got him laughed at by the other men nearby, so that was a bit satisfying.

But there is a penalty for rejecting someone. Most of the time, the penalty is just feeling bad for hurting someone else's feelings. But occasionally, rejecting someone's advances results in some damned uncomfortable public scenes, and every so often it results in much more than uncomfortable PRIVATE scenes - the kinds that make us fear for our safety.

6) Again, when I was much younger and much more willing to avoid confrontation by giving an excuse instead of a flat-out rejection, my sister and I would occasionally go to nightclubs together, along with a friend or two of hers. On her 21st birthday, she and I and her best friend went out, and she told me that she did not want to be bothered by men that night - this was a Girl's Night Out where she could just dance and drink and forget about things for an evening. She asked me if I would pose as her possessive girlfriend if any guy tried to hit on her, and I agreed because I was young and didn't realize that "sorry, I'm a lesbian" is usually heard as "hey baby, hot bi babe action over here!"

So the three of us got on the dance floor and started dancing. Almost immediately, some big guy came up behind my sister and started dancing suggestively with her - we called it "freaking" when I was a teenager, where it's basically vertical spooning frottage on the dance floor. My sister kept moving away, and he kept moving closer. She started moving towards me & dancing suggestively with me, giving me The Look to indicate she wanted me to intervene. So I moved in between them and said "sorry, she's mine".

As you can guess, that didn't dissuade him. Instead, it seemed to turn him on, as he kept trying to dance between us and saying things implying threesomes. Eventually I had to stop, put a hand on his chest, and say "I told you that she's mine and I don't share, now back off." He got huffy and demanded to know what my problem was. I said my problem was that he didn't know when to keep his hands off someone else's property. By this time, the bartender, who was a friend of my sister's and the reason we were at that particular club in the first place, sent a bouncer over to pull the guy away, who was getting all puffed up and blustery about me cockblocking him. If the bouncer hadn't intervened, this very well could have turned into a physical altercation with a man who refused to accept a rejection, if his assertive body language is any indication.

7) As I mentioned earlier, many women use some kind of excuse that implies that we CAN'T accept someone's advances, rather than we WON'T. I dunno, I guess we think it makes the rejection easier to accept, like it doesn't hurt someone's feelings as much. One of my exes used to be a bouncer in a strip club, and he told me how the dancers were constantly propositioned for more than just lap dances. He says that the overwhelmingly favorite response was to tell the customer that she had a boyfriend. Apparently, it allowed the fantasy that she COULD be more continue to exist while still being clear that she WON'T be more than a dancer. But, almost as common as the boyfriend-response, was the customer's response of "you don't have to tell him!" The private reaction (never to the customer's face!) to that was, as my ex used to say, "well holy shit, I don't? Why didn't I think of that? When I think of all the customers I COULD have gone home with, if only I had realized that I didn't have to tell my boyfriend, I just feel stupid now!" That line should be read dripping with sarcasm for full effect.

There has been a lot of talk about going beyond "no means no" to "yes means yes" and about women being more assertive in their rejections. But a few research papers suggest that, even if a woman doesn't use the actual word "no", a rejection is still clearly understood by men in general, which means that men who use the excuse that she didn't say "no" really mean that they chose to ignore it. The conclusions in these papers make sense to me. If you take any social situation other than propositioning a woman for sex, most people have no problem understanding a rejection even when it doesn't use the word "no". When you ask someone to hang out sometime, or to go to a movie, or to have coffee, if you remove the heteronormative dating associations and say "my wife and I would love it if you came for dinner" or "a bunch of us are going to this movie, wanna come?", if the person you're asking says "I'd love to, but...", pretty much all of us recognize that as a rejection.

Sometimes, if the rejection sounds too much like a real conflict, as in the giver really does want to go but can't, and the excuse given is one we can solve, we don't just let the rejection lie, we offer a solution. For instance, if you ask a friend to see a movie, and he says he's broke and can't afford it, well, you might offer to pay for him if you have the spare cash & you really want to see the movie with your friend. But whether we try to offer a suggestion or not, the phrase "I'd love to, but..." is clearly understood by all of us that the person you are talking to is, in fact, telling you "no".

Now, there genuinely are times when a person can't tell that it's a no. For example, I have an ex who once asked a girl out on a few dates. One one date in particular, they were sitting on the couch, and he asked outright for a kiss because he couldn't tell from her body language what she wanted. She kissed him, but he said she didn't seem too into it. So he asked her if this relationship was going anywhere or not. Instead of saying "no", or even giving him a "it's not you, it's me ... I'm too busy with work for a boyfriend right now, and my cat needs my attention, and I have to wash my hair every weekend for the next 20 years", she said "well, it's all about the chase, isn't it?" Yes, that was her answer.

How was he supposed to take that? Was that a hedge, a rejection without saying "no"? Or was that her way of saying she wanted to play the coy-maiden-gets-chased-by-assertive-man game? Cuz, y'know, sometimes that's fun. So he said "no, actually, it's not about the chase. If I'm chasing a woman, it means she's running away from me. So which is it, are you interested or not?" I don't think she ever gave him a clear answer, but he took that ambiguity AS an answer (good for him) and stopped asking her out on dates.

So don't think I'm giving all women a free pass here when it comes to earnest-but-clueless men who really want to do the right thing. I'm not. I DO think we all ought to be more clear and explicit about our boundaries - I've written tons on that very subject. And I am a big supporter of the "yes means yes" campaign, which has at its heart the philosophy that only a clear and unambiguous "yes" should ever be taken as a "yes" and that everything else is a "no". It's meant to subvert the idea that men are not responsible for assaulting women if, for some reason, she hasn't uttered that single syllable, because there is a social penalty for saying that word, or maybe she's drunk or high or unconscious. It's ALWAYS a "no" if she CAN'T say "no".

But generally speaking, we have a fairly well-understood social convention of expressing rejection in a myriad of ways that do not use the word "no", and, generally speaking, we all pretty much accept these rejections in all cases, except when it comes to men propositioning women for sex. Only in this one area do people claim to not understand that they were given a rejection and it falls on the person offering the rejection to defend themselves from an actual assault rather than the person being rejected to ask for clarification or, at the very least, fall back on the safest possible interpretation and just assume she said "no" hidden in her "I'd love to, but..." somewhere.

8) Most of my strong opinions come from experiences where I made some bad choices.  I'm not sitting in my ivory tower armchair quarterbacking other people's relationships.  I learned the hard way how some of these things work.  I made many of the same mistakes I try to tell other people they shouldn't do.  I've gotten into the very messes I try to prevent others from getting into.  I stand here with my strong opinions and my strong will because there was a time that I did not, and I paid heavy prices for it.

I met a guy while working backstage, so you'd think that it wouldn't be a surprise to him that I was a tomboy, right?  You'd be wrong - hence my online profiles & dozens of blog posts reminding everyone just now not-girlie I am.  I met a guy and we seemed to have everything in common.  We were in the same industry, we liked the same movies, we wanted the same things from relationships, we had similar religious backgrounds - we seemed perfect for each other.  Except he wasn't honest with me about who he was or what he wanted.  He didn't actually want a girl who was better at fixing things than he was.  He didn't want a relationship with an equal partner, he wanted traditional gender roles.  He didn't like an inquisitive, curious, skeptical girlfriend, he wanted one who accepted what she was told on face value.  And he most certainly did not want a partner who viewed her own body as autonomous, he wanted a partner who took "what's mine is yours and what's yours is mine"  literally.

After we moved in together, the stress of managing a household, going to school full time and still working to pay the bills but still being the "housewife" and making sure he got fed and the dishes got done and the trash got out, all eventually piled up and my sex drive dropped.  I was just too damn tired to be interested in sex.  I was only getting about 4-6 hours of sleep every night as it was, and I didn't want to sacrifice any of that time for sex.

After the first few nights of saying "not tonight honey, I have to wake up early tomorrow", he started pressuring me.  He'd whine and try to talk me into it.  Let me just say that there's nothing more of a turn-off than a guy begging for sex when I'm not in the mood to begin with.  After about a week of nightly arguments in bed, he started waiting for me to fall asleep and then started touching me when he thought I was unconscious.  When I turned on him & yelled at him to leave me the fuck alone, he said he was only trying to arouse me, that he wouldn't ever do anything against my will or when I couldn't give consent.  We'd get into a big fight about it that would end with me telling him not to touch me until I said he could, and he'd finally leave me alone to sleep.  That night.

The next night would be the same thing.  When I reminded him that I had told him not to touch me, he would say that he hadn't touched me all day, so therefore he held up his end of the bargain, and now it was my turn to provide sex.  Naturally, I said that was not what we agreed on, and it sparked another argument, cutting into my valuable and rare sleep time.  This argument would end the same way, only to have a repeat the next night.

Some nights I gave in just because my experience had taught me that he could argue for longer than he could have sex, so if I wanted sleep, it would be faster to give in than to tell him "no". Of course, he then got pissed at me for not being into it, which would sometimes spark another round of arguing, as if picking a fight with me would fix the lack of interest in sex or the inability to get aroused. I have no idea how many nights this went on, but it was the same thing every night for weeks.  

I was a wreck.  I was exhausted, I couldn't concentrate in school, I was depressed, and I started making excuses to be away from the apartment.  So he started making rules to prevent me from going anywhere without him.  Naturally, I  ignored those rules, but that only caused more arguments at home.  One night, I finally got out of bed with the intention of sleeping in the living room.  He told me that if I did that, he would damage my property in his anger at being rejected.  It was then that I finally understood that I was in an abusive relationship without ever having been hit.  Between the nightly unwanted gropings, the begging for sex, the threats to my property, and the refusal to allow me to have friends or go anywhere without him, I was well and truly trapped in an abusive relationship.

I spent that night sleeping in the adjoining bathroom, because I could not sleep next to him and I could still keep an eye on my property.  That was the first of several such nights.  But I started looking for a way out.  It was hard to leave.  I couldn't afford to live on my own because I was only working part time while attending school.  I was afraid to move back in with my parents because it would injure my pride.  I moved in with him against my parents' wishes and they continually disapproved of him, so I had spent my whole relationship with him defending my choice to be with him.  It made it very difficult for someone as proud as me to come back to my parents and say that I was wrong, can I  please have my old room back?

Fortunately, our roommate decided to move out because he couldn't stand our nightly fights.  Without him, we did not make enough money to keep the apartment, according to our lease agreement, so we got evicted.  I could move back in with my parents under the excuse that we had to move out but couldn't find anywhere else to live in the short time we had to vacate.  My parents said that I could come back home, but I would not get my old room back - my sister took it because it was bigger, &  I would have her old room - and absolutely he could NOT move in their house with me.  I accepted those terms and managed to escape by blaming my parents and the departing roommate.  We couldn't move in with his parents because his parents hated me as much as my parents hated him, and I somehow managed to not find any other apartments that would have us before our move-out deadline approached.

That solved the nightly sexual assault problem, but I still had to figure out how to break up with him.  Once I was away from him, all my property was safe, and I had a place to sleep without him in it, I found my bravery and I broke up with him on my birthday.  It was my gift to myself.  But that relationship taught me that even people I trusted, people I had known for years, could still sexually assault me, and that it would be seen as my own fault because agreeing to prior sexual activity is often seen as an agreement of future sexual activity.  Many people still believe that sex is an automatic part of the marriage contract.  He and I were engaged to be married, therefore I "owed" him sex, and he couldn't assault me because he had every right to expect that he could request sex of me.  I dare anyone to go what I went through and come out of that maintaining that position.

So no, not all men are a threat to all women. But all women are under a constant state of threat because that threatening man could be any one of you and we won't know who he is until it's too late. We are under that constant state of threat because some men really do behave in threatening ways, and because we are constantly reminded BY OTHER MEN that this could happen to us someday. We are also told that the only solution to these kinds of threats is to monitor OURSELVES to make sure we do not do something that might provoke an attack.

To those guys who are totally non-threatening in all cases, all the time, with every woman and in every situation, I do understand that it sucks to be thought of as a threat by women when you have done nothing to deserve that assumption - really, I do. But please forgive me if I'm just a little less concerned with your dilemma when the worst that happens to you is that women cross the street to avoid you, when the worst that could happen to me is that I get killed, beaten, and raped - and if I'm lucky, it'll happen in that order.

If you want to see the automatic fear removed from women's eyes simply because of your gender, you'll join in the chorus of female voices demanding that the rape culture be ended. Because a woman making that demand is often dismissed as a shrill, man-hating shrew by those very men who most need to change. But other men who disapprove of rape culture offer a much higher social penalty for those men than women whom we have already established those men don't respect. I suspect that I would like to see the day when I do not have to automatically suspect someone of potential threat just for his genitals even more than you would like to see the day when you are not automatically suspsected by someone of potential threat just for your genitals, so your public support of ending rape culture would be very much appreciated by all except those few who stand to benefit from it.


Anyone who wants to dismiss the use of the phrase "rape culture" would do well to follow Rebecca Watson and see what kind of shitstorm her mild request has started.  Keep in mind that she never called the elevator guy a rapist, never compared her situation with the horrors of Muslim women or any other third world society, never said anything about "all men".  She only said this was annoying, so "guys don't do that". 

For this, she is being accused of being a man-hating bitch, an attention-seeking whore, and she has been flooded with rape and murder threats.  She has posted a few screen captures in her various online feeds.  Guys who think that my experiences above are rare have never tried being a female on the internet.  

Rebecca didn't even post one of my angry rants.  She just said, "guys, don't do that".  That's it.  It IS annoying to have spent all day talking about how many women don't like to get hit on at atheist conventions, to have just left a group of people, telling them how tired you are, to have someone in that group who heard you say how tired you are and how you want to go up to bed now detach himself from the group, follow you into an elevator, where you are alone in a foreign country at 4 AM, and then ask you to come back to his room.  Frankly, I think she handled it with much more aplomb than I would have.

But the reaction to her using this situation as an example was so much more severe than either the original offense or her response to it.  A "rape culture" is one where its members, male or female, think it is perfectly acceptable to trap a woman alone and proposition her.  A "rape culture" is one where it's members, male or female, think it is perfectly acceptable to respond to her offense by threatening to rape her at the next convention.  A "rape culture" is one where its members, male or female, think a line like "I'm totally going to cop a feel on @RebeccaWatson at the next con" is humorous and an acceptable joke.  A "rape culture" is one where its members, male or female, feel justified in sending messages that say "I want to drug you and fuck you" to ANYONE, but especially to a woman who has just made it clear that this is offensive behaviour.

I get that men can be in abusive relationships too.  I've written plenty about that.  There's no excuse for abuse, no matter what gender to what gender.  But there are very few men out there who have to put up with the sheer volume of "just words" that Richard Dawkins seems to think are so harmless.  If I could make these men experience what it's like to be a woman, not for a day or a week, but a lifetime of harassment, I guarantee that they would not find "just words" to be such a minor crime, or that "rape culture" is such an offensive phrase.  Rape culture harms everyone, not just women, and it's not just men who commit the crimes and offenses.  All reasonable, thinking women understand that.  It's only a certain group of men who are reading sexism into the word "rape" who think that the phrase applies only to men as perpetrators and all women as victims.  Rape, abuse, molestation, fear, these apply to everyone and they should apply to no one.
joreth: (anger)
From Senator Marco Rubio
to Mrs. D.
date Thu, May 5, 2011 at 6:09 PM
subject Responding to your message
Dear Mrs. D,

Thank you for taking the time to write to me about federal funding for Planned Parenthood. I understand this is an important issue and I appreciate hearing your thoughts.

Floridians are concerned about the severity of our country's unsustainable $14 trillion debt, and as your elected representative, I have made a commitment to reduce government spending. With a projected deficit of $1.65 trillion for this year alone, every piece of the federal budget needs to be a part of the conversation of how to cut spending and lower the national deficit. We must withdraw our spending commitments to Planned Parenthood, as well as other organizations, in order to develop a long-term budget solution that will seriously address the economic problems facing Florida and our nation.

Again, thank you for contacting me about this matter. I look forward to any views or input you wish to share in the future
joreth: (Super Tech)
Tell Congress to Vote "No" on HR 3. Don't attack women's health and threaten women's lives.  Please send a letter (pre-written, edit, or write your own) to Congress using this form to contact your representatives, even if you don't know who they are:

----- Original Message -----
From: Representative Daniel Webster
Sent: 05/04/11 03:22 PM
Subject: Responding to your message

May 4, 2011

Dear Joreth,

Thank you for sharing your opinion regarding the sanctity of life and specifically your thoughts about H.R. 3.

The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, H.R. 3, was introduced by Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ-7), on January 20, 2011. The purpose of this bill is to ensure that American tax revenues are not used to provide abortion services. This legislation has been referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and the Committee on Ways and Means for further consideration.

The right to life is one of three unalienable rights, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, which are promised to all individuals in the Declaration of Independence. I believe these rights extend to unborn children as well, and that the right to life is our first given right. I firmly believe and stated last fall, that I would oppose any use of tax dollars to promote or perform abortions or to support organizations that promote or perform abortions. While we may disagree on this very personal issue, I am sure that there are many other issues on which we will agree.

Again, I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me. I am honored to serve the people of Florida's 8th Congressional District as your representative in the United States Congress.

Your Servant,

Daniel Webster
Member of Congress

Then not only have you lost my vote, I will be actively campaigning against you in all future voting issues to ensure others do not vote for you or your positions.

You most certainly do not "serve" me or any other woman.

joreth: (Bad Computer!)
Bluegenes doesn't think you're worth the effort! He actually said so - in public! Sounds like a GREAT catch, doesn't he?

Seriously. My most recent journal post was some simple advice for how to write a first contact email. The bottom line was to READ THE PROFILE and then write a unique email that referenced things from the profile to show that you read it. That's it. Nothing more fancy than that. In fact, I had a much longer list of things NOT to do.

Then this jackass came along and said that reading a profile & commenting on things you had in common was too much work.

Yes, he said too much work. That's not a paraphrase, you can see it if you read the comments in the post just below this one in my journal.

So, basically, you are not worth the effort of getting to know. All that time you put into writing your profile to make sure it reflected you accurately but positively, to highlight your areas of interest, to weed out people who are obviously incompatible, none of that was worth ANYTHING. You do not matter, you are not important. You are just a body with tits that Bluegenes feels entitled to. He expects you to put forth all the effort when he can't even be bothered to take a few minutes to read the profile to see if you're even available or interested in the same things he is.

I bet his partners feel all sorts of important and special. Or, wait, I got that mixed up. Neglected, ignored, and UNimportant. Sorry, that's what I meant.

(Now see, if he had read my profile, he would have known this is how I would respond and he could have avoided this whole thing by just walking away. The whole POINT of online dating is the profile. Otherwise, go pick up someone in a bar - it's just as random as hitting on women based on their pictures without reading the profile.)

cross-posted at
joreth: (Bad Computer!)
Based on the flood of First Contact emails I get on OKCupid and other dating sites, and based on the numerous responses from other women to my public responses of these First Contact emails, I'm going to assume that there are hoards of men out there who have absolutely no idea how to approach a woman on an online dating site.  So I've developed this handy little guide to help you all out.

First of all, let me preface this with a disclaimer that should be obvious, but, according to my inbox, is not:  WE ARE NOT ALL THE SAME PERSON.  How we each prefer to be treated, what we want, and what we like is all very individual, and you ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT make an assumption that, because we all have similar plumbing,  you can treat us the same way.

With that said, however, there is a "safer" approach - a way to contact a woman that has the fewest pitfalls, least number of opportunities to stick your foot in your mouth, and is least offensive to the most number of women.  After you have gotten to know her on an individual level, you can tailor your approach to her individual likes and dislikes.  For instance, if she likes to be complimented, you can do so AFTER you have discovered that she does, in fact, like to be complimented.  But not before.

So, with that, the Safe Guideline* To First Contact Emails:

Dear [username],

I came across your profile, and, after reading it, I noticed that we have ____ in common. How long have you been interested in ____? What got you interested in ___? I got into ____ by _____.

I also see that you are opposed to ____. Can you tell me why? I have never heard of that before.

It looks like you enjoy ____. That's great! If you like ____, then you might enjoy ____, have you heard of it/them/him/her?

You indicate on your profile that you would like to learn more about ____. I happen to know a bit about ____. It's _____. Can I answer any questions about it for you?

You seem like a ____, ____, _____ person and I would like talk more with you, if you are interested. I hope to hear from you when you get a chance.

[name or user name]

Whatever you do, do not do the following:

1) Do not skip reading her profile.
2) Do not compliment her on her looks. At all.
3) Do not skip reading her profile.
4) Do not insult her.
5) Do not attempt "backhanded compliments" like in those pickup artist handbooks.
6) Do not give her advice about how to make her profile better.
7) Do not skip reading her profile.
8) Do not offer any sexual activity.
9) Do not send her pictures of your cock.
10) Do not presume to know how she feels if she hasn't outright said how she feels.
11) Do not skip reading her profile.
12) Do not waste your time contacting her if you do not like what she has to say in her profile. If you don't like her, move on.
13) Do not send her the same letter you've sent anyone else.
14) Do not send her a letter that says "I like movies", "I like music", or "I like hanging out". Tell her WHICH movies, music, or what you do when you hang out.
15) Do not skip reading her profile.
16) Do not write a letter that has only 1 or 2 sentences in it.
17) Do not use "netspeak" like "ur" - this is email, not SMS.
18) Do not request a phone call or in-person meetup until you have RECEIVED at least 3 positive responses from her.
19) Do not skip reading her profile.
20) Do not get pissy if she doesn't respond back, or if she responds with a rejection. You are not entitled to her acceptance. Just be glad you dodged that bullet and move on.

*This letter is a guideline, not a form. Do not copy it word for word. That's too close to violating #13. READ her profile and adapt the suggestions to fit what she actually says in the profile. If she already explains why she is interested in  ____ then you don't need to ask her why she is interested in  _____.

Cross-posted at
joreth: (Super Tech)
 Oh, wait, that's every day.

I know this isn't every guy, and I know it's not just guys, and I know this happens no matter which privileged/unprivileged group we talk about not just the genders.  But goddamn it if I don't get sick of this!

PZ Myers of [ profile] pharyngula has tried on several occasions to address "the woman problem".  That's where women are underrepresented at skeptic events, so he asks the women in his blog what might get us to attend more events if we're not already attending.  Every time, he asks the men to butt out.  Every time, he tells the men that if they want to include a group of people, they should listen to what that group of people actually has to say and that responses defending whatever it is that group of people doesn't like is exactly why that group of people don't like it in the first place.  And every time, some men just can't help themselves - they jump in to presume to speak for women, and to tell the women to lighten up or to get over something or to defend whatever it is that the women in question don't like.

In other words, if you actively WANT women to attend an event, then you should ask the women what it'll take to get them to attend.  You should NOT then ask non-women to come up with ideas to attract women and you should NOT respond to "I don't want to attend an event where guys are hitting on me all the time" with "oh, lighten up, it's a compliment!".

So, when a woman who works in a women's abuse shelter posts a horrific story about an 11-year old girl who got raped ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION, and for whom 18 FUCKING MEN have so far been arrested for complicity in the rape, a 6'5", 220 lb, white, tattooed, male, martial artist who has never had to live in fear of his life simply for having a certain set of genitals has no fucking business swaggering into the thread to tell us women that the solution to the rape problem is to just learn martial arts, and to insert that if the girl hadn't been in that place at that time, then she wouldn't have been raped.

He then had the audacity to suggest that he was not blaming the victim, just pointing out a fact, and proclaim that he is for female empowerment because he has daughters himself and plans to teach them martial arts when they get older.

Seriously, though, think I'm exaggerating or taking it out of context? ) 

I don't know if ya'll can see this if you're not on FB or not the OP's friend, but here's the link of the original thread, in case anyone wants to chime in where he can read it:
joreth: (::headdesk::)
fuck off
Report this

18% Enemy 83% Friend 75% Match Message from jacksonparadise

loser. What the fuck do you people get out of messaging someone whom you don't even like and who already told you not to bother? Why do you spend even a second of time thinking about me, clicking the Message button, and sending that email? Am I so important to you that you can't resist spending time out of your day to respond?

fucking moron.

 hey wow i did not know you were too big a deal to be silly with...all the best!
  Can't you take a fucking hint, or are you mentally retarded? Or maybe your obsession with me is so strong that even being insulted directly and publicly can't make you go away?
I say, right in the first goddamn paragraph with all those fuck-offs that you thought were so funny to "make a joke" about, not to message me just to make a joke about my profile or to send me a blank message with no content. Let's add illiterate and ignorant to mentally retarded. 
8) If you think it's cute to say any of these things as a joke, it's not. First, I can't always tell when it's a joke because there is no tone or facial expression to help me out. Second, that joke wore out its very mild amusement when every single one of my friends immediately messaged me with it after posting it. They got a free pass because they're my friends and I know they don't mean it. You do not. So ... FUCK OFF 
10) If all you can say is "Hi, how are you" or you don't say anything interesting in your email or to indicate who you are or why you contacted me to give me a reason to want to respond ... FUCK OFF 
11) If you think my profile is too harsh or too long and you feel the need to advise me on how to make it "better" so I can attract more guys ... FUCK OFF 
Anyone who doesn't fuck off and should will find their entire correspondence, including username, published in my journal here, my livejournal, and on my website. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Insanity, craziness or madness is a spectrum of behaviors characterized by certain abnormal mental or behavioral patterns. Insanity may manifest as violations of societal norms, including becoming a danger to themselves and others, though not all such acts are considered insanity. In modern usage insanity is most commonly encountered as an informal unscientific term denoting mental instability, or in the narrow legal context of the insanity defense. In the medical profession the term is now avoided in favor of diagnoses of specific mental illness such as schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.[1] When discussing mental illness in general terms, "psychopathology" is considered a preferred descriptor.[2]

In English, the word "sane" derives from the Latin adjective sanus meaning "healthy". The phrase "mens sana in corpore sano" is often translated to mean a "healthy mind in a healthy body". From this perspective, insanity can be considered as poor health of the mind, not necessarily of the brain as an organ (although that can affect mental health), but rather refers to defective function of mental processes such as reasoning. A Latin phrase for "sane" is "compos mentis" (lit. "of composed mind"), and a euphemistic term for insanity is "non compos mentis". In law, mens rea means having had criminal intent, or a guilty mind, when the act (actus reus) was committed.

  Just keep going, it's only more fodder for my blog, complete with your username and picture.
Besides, it's flattering to know how important I am to you that you can't resist continuing the correspondence. Always nice to see how a total stranger can't get enough and has to keep coming back for more, even if he is an ignorant, illiterate, retard.

Or, maybe you're into abuse and humiliation? There's a whole group of people who like that. It's not my kink, but whatever, it takes little effort on my part to continue to call you names, if that's what gets you off.
Oh, and thanks, but I didn't really need a dictionary definition for what's wrong with you. I have a pretty good idea of that already.

You Creep!

Nov. 30th, 2010 04:15 am
joreth: (anger)
I've had several run-ins with events in the last year or so that charge different entry fees for single men, than for women or couples. I have a MAJOR problem with this, for a couple of reasons. 1) It's sexist. Mirriam Webster defines sexism as: 1: prejudice or discrimination based on sex; 2: behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex. Differing price structures based on sex fits this definition exactly. It discriminates against men by penalizing them and rewarding women. The reason for the penalty is based on a stereotype that men are more likely to be "creepy" than women, and only men who are not "creepy" will be willing to pay the extra money. Which brings us to my reason number 2) It's bullshit.

I've heard this shit before, that men are creepy, and we have to keep the creepy men away so that the hot women will want to come and play. Sorry, but that attitude is awfully creepy all by itself. First of all, not all men are creepy and a lot of women are. Anyone who thinks otherwise is obviously not another woman who has been stalked by one of those predatory women who think that being a woman gives them a license to act all creepy themselves, because it's somehow not creepy when the person behaving that way has a vagina.

Seriously, have you people ever been to a male revue? That's what we call strip joints for women where the dancers are men - don't ask me why, probably something bullshit like women are more "classy" and would only go to something called a "revue" or some other shit like that. Anyway, the women there are loud and obnoxious. They take liberties with the male dancers by grabbing them and trying to remove their clothing (most male revues keep their dancers in g-strings) or putting their hands inside the mens' thongs. They shout obscenities and make wolf-whistles. They laugh raucously to their friends and graphically speak of what they would like to make the dancers do for the womens' pleasure. In short, the way these women act would get them thrown out of a regular strip club within seconds of entering. This behaviour simply would not be tolerated at a club with female dancers. Male patrons of strip clubs are FAR more respectful of the rules and the women who work there, and I'm including the objectification of strippers in the comparison. And no, the male dancers don't like it. Male sex workers in general have much less power, and options, than women in the sex industry. They also don't have beefy bouncers to come and throw out female patrons who are getting fresh.

Some people seem to have the mistaken idea that the way to deal with discrimination or poor behaviour is to behave just as poorly right back, and not even in a "see how much this sucks? How do you like it?" sort of making-a-point way. If a man ever treated these women the way these women treat their dancers, these women would throw back and clock him one (and then expect him not to defend himself because you should never hit a "lady", even when she's beating the shit out of him).

But, back to the point, men are not the only "creepy" people out there, and when women are creepy, they sure have the men beat in the creep factor. And to be a single female who is either bisexual, or sets off people's gaydar, let me tell you that being approached by one of these women is damned uncomfortable! These women don't know how to take "no" for an answer. They think all they have to do is keep flattering you and you'll come around. They think that because they're women, they automatically know what you need and how to please you. And they don't get how fucking creepy it is to have some strange woman pimp out her husband to you by trying to get you into a threesome because she/they have somehow decided that a woman doing the pimping is less creepy than the man doing the pimping. Look lady, I don't care what set of genitals you have, hitting on me in order to talk me into fucking your man while you watch (or fucking you so your husband can jack off) is fucking creepy. And continuing to do it when I've indicated my lack of interest is just rude. If a guy could get rejected or thrown out for doing it, then you shouldn't be doing it either.

It's also bullshit because charging extra money doesn't keep the creeps out, even if they *are* all guys. Let's see, you want to put on an event but you don't want guys who disrespect women and make them feel uncomfortable, so your method of achieving this is to charge them extra money? Have you been paying any attention at all to American hetero dating? Those men who have the biggest sense of entitlement about sexuality, particularly women's sexuality, those men who think women *owe* them sex, are the same men who think they can land a chick by waving around their wallet. These are the guys who think all women are impressed by big spenders, and being a big spender tells everyone that they are an Alpha Male who deserves all the pussy in the room. These are, by the way, the same guys who are often opposed to polyamory on the grounds that all the Alpha Males will get all the hot chicks, leaving only the dregs (lesser-desired women) left over for the Beta Males to fight over ... or they're the guys who are in favor of polyamory, if by polyamory you mean men having a harem of bisexual women but no other competing penises (OPP - the One Penis Policy).

Charging single men extra for an event that features sex with other guests? You might as well put up a neon sign that says "Poser Alpha Males With Entitlement Complex Welcome Here". You have just tailored your event for exactly the kind of person who thinks he is god's gift to women and who will prove it by coughing up the extra dough. Creepy men and willingness to spend money are not mutually exclusive. And in my experience, they quite often go together.  You people really ought to hear what these types of guys say about girls when those girls aren't within earshot, as I do by working alongside these types of men. Trust me, giving a guy a chance to flaunt his money is NOT a good filter to keep out creeps. And creeps will go to great lengths, including living beyond their means, to "prove" their worth by flashing the cash. That's partly what makes them creeps.

And finally, "creepy" is all a matter of perspective. Who gets to be the judge on who is "creepy"? What if your version of "creepy" happens to be something that I, as the female who you, as the event producer, are trying to attract, happens to find exciting and alluring? What if I'm just overly sensitive and looking for creeps, thereby guaranteeing I'll find one somewhere, even if it's all in my head?

I was once at a party where there was casual nudity. There was a clothing-optional swimming pool and a sex-positive, nudist-friendly guest list. One girl I knew was hanging out at the party topless, among many other girls at the party. She started talking to a guy who was at the party. They were not strangers, as this was just a party and not a public event, so they had overlapping social circles and knew each other. Anyway, this girl started to feel creeped out and decided that she was just not comfortable with him staring at her breasts, and began to avoid him.

Well, this guy had absolutely no idea what she was talking about, when he found out about it later. He had no memory of singling her breasts out of the sea of breasts in that living room. In fact, he doesn't actually find her all that attractive. He has a rather narrow "type" for women, and you could argue that being shallow makes one creepy, but that isn't the point in this case even if it were true. He only finds a very specific range of physical attributes attractive, and this woman did not fit into that narrow range. So he didn't think he would have been staring at her breasts even without his realization simply because he doesn't find her breasts worth staring at.

So, was she mistaken? Should he be banned from parties because a girl once found him "creepy"? Or should he just be charged a fee to "prove" that he isn't creepy?

I keep hearing that charging single men extra money is an effective method of keeping the creepy guys out. Bullshit. I want evidence, and not anecdotes. I suspect there are several reasons why some people insist on defending this method.

A) It's always been done this way, and if it didn't work, people would stop, therefore it must work. Bullshit. Lots of things have "always been this way" and turn out to actually be ineffective.

B) Confirmation Bias - We have a really bad habit of only seeing what we want to see. It is common in the medical profession that nurses and other hospital staff really do believe that hospitals are busier on nights with a full moon, yet statistical data analysis of number of patients and type of cases show ABSOLUTELY NO difference between full moon nights and any other night.

C) Protecting The Satus Quo - those exact same creepy guys I mentioned above who are likely to be attracted to this sort of pricing structure have a very good reason for wanting to keep things the way they are: it keeps the competition down. When the culture encourages a rivalry-based social structure, keeping the numbers of rivals low increases the chances of success. In a culture that discourages male bisexuality or homosexuality, having too many men means having too much competition and not enough resources (women) to go around. So the straight men have a vested interest in keeping the male population low. Creepy!

D) But women make less money than men, so we should charge different rates! Yes, I actually heard this once as a defense. Bullshit. If financial concerns were the real reason, then charging on a sliding scale based on financial status, or even a fucking student discount with college ID, is a much more fair and effective strategy. If, as the claim goes, women make significantly less than men, then just by coincidence, more women will happen to qualify for the need-based discount than men, and that would be fair. But, although we still have lots of room for improvement, this is no longer the 1950s, or even the 1970s. The wage gap is closing, and in some very specific circumstances, has even reversed.

If we're talking a nightclub with a $10 cover charge, claiming that women make less than men and so deserve a discount is bullshit because this is far too small of a fee to make that much of a difference (besides, the women will most likely end up with guys buying drinks for them anyway). A weekend retreat with fees in the triple digits or more? That's something to be reasonably concerned about the financial status of the attendees. And plenty of events give need-based discounts and "scholarships" to attendees for just this reason.

E) Only men who are committed to The Lifestyle will be willing to pay the extra money. Bullshit. I've already gone into the main reason why being willing to spend money has nothing to do with being "committed to The Lifestyle" or, even if one is committed, does not prevent one from being "creepy". In fact, there's not even anything preventing a "creepy guy" from getting a wife (or a partner for the evening) that will give him the couples discount so he won't even *have* to pay the extra fee to prove his "commitment". Paying extra doesn't prove someone is more committed to The Lifestyle, it proves that they A) have disposable income and B) think they can buy some snatch.

Meanwhile, men who refuse these sorts of events are not necessarily refusing because they are not "committed to the lifestyle". Often, the reason is that either the cost of this event is not in the budget, or they are conscientious objectors to discriminatory practices and refuse to attend on ethical grounds. Coincidentally, these are exactly the sorts of men you should WANT at the event, since they are respectful, egalitarian, and make conscious and deliberate decisions, particularly those involving ethics. I happen to be able to name a handful of men just off the top of my head, who have actually refused to attend an event on just these grounds. Your event is poorer for the loss of such quality men.

F) We need an equal distribution of men to women or we need more women than men.  That's awfully heteronormative, but if you are hosting a sexual event for heterosexual people, I can see why this might be an issue.  I happen to feel that people who are bothered by mixed orientation groups are creepy because of their homophobia (which happens to be reason #3 why I have a problem with sexist pricing structure), but that's my personal perspective (I address perspective further down) and also why I just don't go to those sorts of events.  But I still don't think that higher cover charges is the answer.  You need to ask yourself, why is there a gender discrepancy?  Is it really because of the creeps?  Again, I address that further down.  Is it instead because this activity just isn't as popular with one gender as it is with the other(s)?  Well, offering an incentive to the population you're trying to attract seems to be the solution here.  This can include "ladies drink free" or "free t-shirt for ladies" or some activity that is specifically aimed at the population you're trying to attract like a contest or entertainment that your target demographic seems to like.  I still think this is sexist, but I'm willing to concede this point and I think offering incentives to attract an under-represented demographic is much less offensive than penalizing an entire gender with higher fees on the basis that some of their number might deserve it.

So, if charging a higher fee isn't the method for keeping "creepy guys" out of an event, what is? Well, there are a couple of points here. First of all, if the event producers create an atmosphere that is unattractive to the sorts of people they wish to keep out, they will find that the majority of Those Types won't want to come anyway. The Woodshed, here in Orlando, is a great example of a sexually charged location that charges everyone the same price and manages to keep out the "creeps". How? I suspect it's the friendly, family-style atmosphere that does it. I know it sounds a little weird to be calling a kink club a "family-style" venue, but it's true. The people there feel like family. The owner is warm and welcoming and everyone knows everyone else. If you're new, the staff will give you a tour, and they'll keep checking back with you throughout the night to make sure you're doing OK and to answer any questions. Because everyone knows everyone else, and everyone fosters a sense of community, if you don't play nice, word gets around and you won't be able to find anyone to play with at all. And that keeps the creeps at bay.

Frolicon is another example of a sexually charged event that does not have a discriminatory price structure and keeps the creeps to a minimum. It's more like Dragon*Con for sex and kink, than a regular dungeon with a regular clientele. But it still feels warm, inviting, and like "family". People watch out for each other there, and there is a lot of respect for all the attendees. And, much moreso than the Woodshed, this is explicitly a venue you can attend with the expectation of finding someone *at the event* to have sex with *at the event*. And yet, there is no price discrimination to encourage gender-balancing, and no event-sponsored expectation or encouragement that all their attendees be "fit" or "attractive" (yet another beef I have with events that use sexist pricing, but that's a correlation, not a result of or reason for sexist pricing).

There are plenty of events that manage to host sexy fun times for attendees with a minimum of creepitude without the need for sexist pricing, so I call bullshit on anyone who says it's necessary. And yet, I think any attempt to eliminate the creeps entirely is doomed to fail. First of all, as I mentioned above, who gets to decide who is being a creep and who isn't? It's all about perspective. I told the story above about the girl who thought the guy was being creepy and the guy had no idea what she was talking about since he didn't actually do what she thought he did.  There are women who prefer, nay, expect, men to treat them like "princesses" and open doors and bring flowers and stuff.  That's the worst possible approach to deal with me.  Some women really like to be complimented on their appearance.  If you take that approach with me, especially if you're a stranger, I'm gonna think you're a creep.  Some girls really like a take-charge kinda guy, and others think that's domineering and offensive.  Some girls prefer to be the one in charge, but other girls think guys who like the more submissive role are weak and creepy.  There's a reason why guys complain that they can never figure women out ... because WE'RE NOT ALL THE SAME PERSON and what approach works for some, won't work for others.  There is no magic formula to avoid being creepy every single time, without exception.  The best you can do is go in with the best of intentions, treat people like individuals, and try to get to know someone before acting on any assumptions you may have made about them.

But second, these are events where you can show up, expect to meet someone there for the first time, and fuck them there, that night. This is not a situation that is designed for enabling long-term relationships built on mutual trust, common interests, and shared values. I'm not saying that it *can't* happen, but when you're looking for a relationship like that, usually a handful of conversations have to happen where you discuss philosophy, life goals, history, favorite movies, and whether you're a dog or a cat person. When the bulk of your conversation is "you're hot, wanna fuck?" you can't really expect to find people who are looking for a soulmate at this particular event.  If that does happen, it's coincidence, not event design.

People at these kinds of events are here to have sex (or play, or beat someone, or be ordered around, you get the idea). It is not unreasonable to expect to be sized up and evaluated on superficial criteria when a person's goal is to find a sex partner in a limited amount of time. This is exactly *why* I don't go to swinger parties and the like, in spite of my strong voyeurism - I'm not interested in fucking people I just met. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, or with people who are into that, I'm saying that *I'm* not interested in it. I don't go to libraries looking for someone to waltz with me, I don't go to the movies looking for a quiet place to read my book, and I don't go to swinger parties expecting to engage in political debate or philosophical discussion. I don't go to nightclubs that have a reputation for being "the place to go" if you want to get laid that night either. I tend to go to goth clubs or ballroom dance clubs because there is very little expectation of me going home with anyone I've danced with that night.

But trying to keep out people who attend an event (the purpose of which is to get the attendees laid) who are running through the guest list to find someone to have sex with, is sort of defeating the purpose. He (or she) may give one of the attendees the "creepy vibe", but he may be exactly what some other attendee is looking for. If you just want to make sure people are behaving respectfully, then define "respectfully" and post the rules. "No" always means "no". In fact, assume *everything* means "no" unless it's a clear and unambiguous "yes". No touching unless invited. No sitting on the furniture without some sort of fabric between your ass and the upholstery. No talking in the quiet room. No peeing in the hot tub. Things like that. And if someone has a specific complaint about a specific guest, come to the moderators and let them handle it. Repeated infractions will result in expulsion from the event, and possibly banning from future events. Plenty of events make it work without discrimination or faulty assumptions.

Really, I think clear posting and enforcing of the rules, and developing an atmosphere that encourages the type of guests you want and discourages the type of guests you don't, are much more effective ways to keep out "the creeps". I also think it's important to understand that "creep" is a matter of perspective, and the whole purpose for the event is likely the kind of thing that you really ought to expect certain behaviours that might be "creepy" under other circumstances. "Hey baby, you're hot, wanna fuck?" is creepy from the guy following you down the grocery store aisle, but it should be expected if you go to a sex-with-strangers party. Asking to be one's sex partner, and asking on the basis that one likes the way you look, is to be expected, but so is backing off when you say "no". Charging single men a higher price won't keep out the guys who don't understand "no", but throwing them out and refusing them entrance in the future will.
joreth: (boxed in)
 Before I got a Twitter account, I couldn't see ANY use for it at all.  I have a website, I have a LiveJournal, I have messenger services, I have several social networking profiles, including MySpace, OKCupid, Fetlife, DancePartner, and a few dozen Yahoo! and Google group subscriptions.  I couldn't see what Twitter did that anything else on the web couldn't also do, plus it had that damn 140 character limitation.

Now that I have a Twitter account, I *still* think it could end tomorrow and my life wouldn't be significantly negatively affected by it.  I might even discover more free time for other internet time-sucks, like updating my frickin' website.

There are some benefits from Twitter that I have discovered, but, for the most part, the biggest benefits I get from Twitter are benefits I also get from LJ.  I can follow a bunch of people who say things I care to read, and I can post things that I want to share without feeling like I am imposing on people the way I do with email.  People have to intentionally follow me, which means that they make conscious decisions to read what I write, and they have to make a double effort to click on links that I share, so I don't feel like I'm annoying people the way I get annoyed when I'm sent glurge or email forwards.  If you don't want to read what I post, you don't have to follow me.  If you want to read what I write but don't like my rapid-fire tweet style, you can follow me online but not on  your phone.  You have options & it's all your choice.

The things I get out of Twitter are introductions to links, mostly, and a general sort of check-in with those I care about.  I get that from LJ too, or at least I got it more often before everyone discovered Twitter.  But LJ and Twitter are where I read interesting news articles, am told about exciting products or see funny/cool YouTube videos.  It's where my friends can keep me updated on how they're doing when we don't always have time to give a phone call or email to every single person we know.

But the drawback to Twitter is still that damn 140 character limitation.  People, myself included, continue to try to use Twitter as an actual discourse medium, when it's really only good to share links or witticisms with people who already agree with you.  It is not a good place to engage in a discussion with an exchange of ideas.  By necessity, all messages are either so brief as to be difficult to defend, or take up multiple entries that followers find difficult/annoying to follow.  We have to paraphrase and simplify and take short cuts in order to make our points.  Soundbites are great for conversation starters or to make a larger concept memorable, but they do not usually stand alone for complex concepts - particularly the ones I tend to use, like polyamory or science or atheism.

Twitter is also rife with misunderstanding - even moreso that the internet in general, precisely because of its brevity.  I have gotten into numerous debates with people who were not necessarily on opposing sides, it's just that one misunderstood what the other was saying & it took lots of tweets to reach the point where the problem was realized.  And, in some cases, even pointing out where the miscommunication happened did not stop the argument, as the nature of soundbite tweets tended to make people *sound* rude or feel attacked even when they weren't being rude or attacked.  So reconciliation was difficult, if possible at all.

Because of the inherent difficulty with engaging in an in-depth discussion, in which ideas are exchanged and explanations can be given, I find I am increasingly less likely to allow people with significantly different viewpoints to follow me on Twitter.  Here, in LJ, someone can disagree with me, and I have the space to explain myself better or they have enough space to explain what the disagreement is about.  I also have a modicum of control and can keep blatantly abusive comments from existing in my own space.  In Twitter, I can't stop anyone from tweeting what they want about me, and adding @Joreth to the tweet means it will show up in my Replies section to annoy and pester me even if I don't follow that person myself.  I also can't avoid seeing tweets from people who use certain hastags that I might be interested in following.  If I look up #polyamory to see what the poly community is talking about, I'll also get the fucktard who tweets "#polyamory is just an excuse to cheat", which makes me angry.

It becomes exhausting, reading all the @Joreth replies from people who are abusive or just plain wrong.  Most anti-vaxxers don't come into my journal to accuse me of being a shill for Big Pharma.  On Twitter, if I want to see what other pro-vaxxers are saying & I look up the hashtag "#vaccine", I'll get anyone who wants to use that tag, including the anti-vaxxers.  If I respond (yes, I know I can avoid that - sometimes it's difficult, and sometimes the conversation starts harmless enough and then devolves), then I dread looking at my @Joreth reply inbox because someone I'm sick of talking to might be in there among all the welcomed tweets from my friends.

So I find myself blocking people with significantly different viewpoints to my own.  I hate the thought of potentially insulating myself from contrary opinions, but I get that shit at work, and through newspaper articles and other blogs that I read, and from my family who sends me emails.  And the occasional well-reasoned or legitimately curious but dissenting opinion here.  Contrary to my public persona, I don't actually like getting into flame wars.  I just really hate to let inaccuracies slide by uncontested and I'm not afraid to speak up, so that tends to lead me into flame wars (that and my gutter speech - I like accuracy but I also like casual speech, cussing, and sarcasm, none of which help me avoid flame wars).  But I don't actually like confrontation at all.  So these short tweets, with their inability to thoroughly discuss the topic at hand, their necessarily incomplete and inaccurate statements due to brevity, their high degree of short and hot tempers because of the brevity, their frequent misunderstandings, these short tweets tend to make me impatient with people who regularly disagree with me and I am much more likely to block them.

I have a follower in particular who never tweets a word to me that isn't a contradiction of something I tweeted earlier.  And it's not just a difference of opinion, he's often demonstrably wrong or his tweets are incomplete or naive, only sometimes due to the length restriction.  I once asked him why he even bothers to follow me since he never tweets an agreement of any sort, he only tweets disagreements.  He said because agreements are boring and only disagreements were interesting conversation.

I've had quite interesting conversations that were not disagreements.  Sometimes they're agreements, and sometimes it's merely one person imparting information to another, and sometimes it's just social interaction like flirting or joking.  [ profile] datan0de and I frequently engage in "disagreement" that is actually a form of flirting for us.  The people I care about most and whose opinions I value most do not agree with me about everything.  Getting people to validate my opinions is not my goal for conversation.  But nothing but disagreement is also boring.  It's tedious, it's stressful, and disagreement for the sake of disagreement is unproductive and uninteresting.  I once dated a guy who enjoyed the intellectual challenge of disagreement (not debate) so much that he would often take a side he did not hold and pursue it to its ridiculous extreme just to keep the argument going.  He is a former partner for a multitude of reasons, this being chief among them.  When [ profile] tacit and I disagree on something, even both of us having a penchant for sarcasm and dismissive statements doesn't prevent us from having a thorough discussion with an exchange of ideas.  I am just as likely to come around to his way of thinking as I am to maintain my position when I disagree with him, depending upon the topic & the support for our respective sides.  So it's not just that I want to be right and that I insist on converting everyone who disagrees with me.  I mean, I do want to be right, but being able to "win" an argument or surround myself with yes-men are not the criteria for who gets to be a part of my life or social circle.

Twitter is not a good medium for an exchange of ideas.  It's a medium for an exchange of funny YouTube links and in-group soundbites and discovering new blogs on the recommendation of friends and flirting, and even the occasional "this is what I'm doing right this moment that only people who care about me in general would give a shit about".  I feel as though I'm able to remain connected better with long-distance friends and metamours whom I have not maintained as close ties with prior to Twitter.  I think this is a Good Thing, although something that could be accomplished via other means (i.e. LiveJournal, and I suppose Facebook, if I didn't already have LJ and Twitter).  But people who just want to argue with me, or who have significantly opposing viewpoints who hope to change my mind via 140 characters (particularly those who I have debunked or ridiculed already in LJ) can just go fuck off.  I make much more liberal use of the "block" button in Twitter than here, or anywhere else (other than my personal email or IM clients).


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