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dos & don'ts to combat sexism
August 6, 2014 12:30 PM   Subscribe

Robot Hugs: a comic on harassment
Leigh Alexander: But what can be done? to combat online sexism
The silence of our friends is so much more painful than the noise of our enemies, and when our bosses, important figures in our field, or colleagues do not come out to condemn sexism or acts of abuse against us it can be very lonesome — we get the message that sexism is our own problem, an inconvenient issue that no one wants to get their hands dirty with.

When men condemn sexism the response is universally approving — good man, brave man. When women talk about sexism, we get death threats. Men should use this advantage to the fullest: The essays guys often write about how sexism is wrong or how they came to understand their own sexism may set examples for other men, and that’s not unimportant, but it’s basically just patting their own backs if those men are not also signal-boosting and supporting the work of women colleagues, hiring women, and bringing attention to the accomplishments of the women in their field.
Kat Stoeffel: It Shouldn’t Take Having a Daughter for Men to Care About Feminism
"No act of personal writing makes my skin crawl like when a father sits down to describe what having a daughter has taught him about the female experience. It’s nothing against dads. I love mine, and I also welcome feminist awakenings whenever and however they occur. But often the writer-dad’s newfound sensitivity is overshadowed by his prior obliviousness: He was apparently unable to empathize with women before one sprung from his loins. Did he take nothing from his other encounters with half of humanity? Not even from his mother?"

Harris O'Malley (Dr. NerdLove): Men really need to stop calling women crazy
"Men are logical; women are emotional. Emotion is the antithesis of logic. When women are too emotional, we say they are being irrational. Crazy. Wrong. Women hear it all the time from men. “You’re overreacting,” we tell them. “Don’t worry about it so much, you’re over-thinking it.” “Don’t be so sensitive.” “Don’t be crazy.” It’s a form of gaslighting — telling women that their feelings are just wrong, that they don’t have the right to feel the way that they do... [W]hat we’re really saying is: “She was upset, and I didn’t want her to be.”"

Jay Aaminah Khan (jaythenerdkid):
*Ten ways to be a better male feminist
*Ten things male feminists need to stop saying -
1. “I’m really attracted to strong women.”
2. “Consent is so sexy.”
3. “Real women have curves!”
4. “Intelligence is way sexier than looks anyway.”
5. “Men experience that kind of oppression too!”
6. “Personally, I think all women are sexy.”
7. “Don’t you think more people would listen to you if you weren’t so emotional?”
8. “But I haven’t done any of those things!”
9. “I haven’t witnessed any of what you’re describing.”
10. “But I just want to help! Why are you picking on me?”
posted by flex (117 comments total) 78 users marked this as a favorite

 
DON'T: Tweet at women asking them "what should be done". When someone is venting about systemic injustice, commandeering their attention with the question, "but what solutions would you recommend" is akin to walking up to a person who is on fire and asking them to bring you a bucket of water so that you can "help."
A thousand times this. The worst is when they get really aggro about it, as though you have no right to complain unless you can solve all sexism problems forever right now.

One time I came down pretty hard on a tech conference for an all-male speaker lineup, and they asked me to take it to email so I could help them fix their process. I was feeling nice that day, so I assumed good faith and wrote a very polite, comprehensive overview of how other conferences have increased the number of woman speakers and the unique issues that women face with public speaking.

The reply I got back was nothing short of a treatise on why they were In The Right All Along, with things like "but we wanted only the best for our conference and the best just happen to be men" and "we asked a whole TWO women and they both said no, so what more can we do." I learned a lesson that day, that pretending to be interested in positive change is an all-too-common defensive technique for people who are really just fine with the status quo.
posted by annekate at 12:48 PM on August 6 [33 favorites]


To be honest, as a man, my understanding of what "harassment" is had to be dialed way, way down. I had thought harassment was relatively big and relatively uncommon and like this comic points out, I almost never see that happen. Sexual harassment would be the kind of thing that results in court cases with nasty fines for employers, for example. Or is the kind of thing that gets people thrown out of bars.

However harassment can also be lower level, almost like background radiation and pervasive to the point of happening almost continuously. I'm sure it's maddening in the aggregate but it's also very hard to spot. It's a very different thing, I almost think it would benefit from a different vocabulary. So, and to recap, from major/infrequent to minor/constant.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:56 PM on August 6 [4 favorites]


I honest to god can't comprehend how you can get to zero female speakers at any event. At some point some positions are still boys clubs inside companies (IT is probably the worst for this followed by Sales Engineering) but when I look over the developer and hardware engineering parts of the floor I see more women as a percentage. The executive team though? Token woman, legal. Where being a bulldog as a woman isn't a god damn perception liability.
posted by Talez at 12:58 PM on August 6


I can assure you, many women on the Internet face constant major abuse.
posted by kmz at 12:59 PM on August 6 [5 favorites]


It's a very different thing, I almost think it would benefit from a different vocabulary.

But "like a sexist mosquito constantly buzzing around your ear but also small chance it might be one of those dangerous malaria mosquitoes and kill you-ment" has so many syllables!
posted by phunniemee at 1:01 PM on August 6 [15 favorites]


It's a very different thing, I almost think it would benefit from a different vocabulary.

I think this is a common misperception that people have. Sexual harassment happens all the time, and often in major ways, but there's not a culture of people actually being held accountable. There are some high-profile cases, but so many more cases where the exact same behavior happens and no one does anything about it. On the other hand, there are a lot of movies and TV shows that depict these things as super obvious, egregious and soundly handled by a community. The reality is that enforcement is incredibly spotty.
posted by ohisee at 1:03 PM on August 6 [11 favorites]


The silence of our friends is so much more painful than the noise of our enemies, and when our bosses, important figures in our field, or colleagues do not come out to condemn sexism or acts of abuse against us it can be very lonesome — we get the message that sexism is our own problem, an inconvenient issue that no one wants to get their hands dirty with.

Speaking up about this sort of thing or engaging with the topic at all is to risk being caught up in a no-true-Scotsman argument which nobody can win, because there are a *lot* of people out there on Twitter, Tumblr, and sometimes Metafilter who are only looking to score more-self-righteous-than-thou points.

There's a significant chance of being publicly pilloried for trying to construct a positive dialogue but inflecting one word incorrectly, and very little possibility of significant recognition for simply having said the right thing.

That doesn't mean it's not important to do, just an observation that right now the ROI for engaging with the topic at all is extremely risky/decidedly poor for men, no matter how well-intentioned they might be. To be perfectly honest, I'm terrified of how people will react to my pointing this out.
posted by Ryvar at 1:04 PM on August 6 [16 favorites]


DON'T: Tweet at women asking them "what should be done".

I honestly don't understand this. Which link is it from?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:05 PM on August 6


very little possibility of significant recognition for simply having said the right thing.

Why would we need significant recognition for something so simple?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:05 PM on August 6 [18 favorites]


I honestly don't understand this. Which link is it from?

The second link above the fold. "But what can be done?"
posted by annekate at 1:06 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Why would we need significant recognition for something so simple?
posted by the man of twists and turns


We shouldn't. It should be a low-risk/low-gain proposition that is enormously important and positive in aggregate. As the situation currently stands, though, it's extremely high-risk/low-gain.
posted by Ryvar at 1:09 PM on August 6


On the Robot Hugs comic:

One response they suggest using when a woman mentions she was harrassed is "man, that sounds like it was really creepy, are you okay?"

I got exactly that response from one of my guy friends after telling him about a scary incident that happened to me, and I can attest that at least, in my instance, this was indeed the right thing to say.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:13 PM on August 6 [30 favorites]


Gaaaah, that "Feminist Father" shirt (seen in the "it shouldn't take having a daughter" link). It's nice that the guy acknowledges that it's "her body, her rules," but if you have to read that on a woman's father's polo shirt, it kinda undermines her authority.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:17 PM on August 6 [3 favorites]


DON'T: Tweet at women asking them "what should be done".

I honestly don't understand this. Which link is it from?


Because "Well how would YOU fix it then" is often used as a challenge, and it's a classic way to shift responsibility, from the person with responsibility over a fucked up situation to the person who's pointing out that a situation is fucked up.
posted by entropone at 1:17 PM on August 6 [12 favorites]


However harassment can also be lower level, almost like background radiation and pervasive to the point of happening almost continuously. I'm sure it's maddening in the aggregate but it's also very hard to spot. It's a very different thing, I almost think it would benefit from a different vocabulary.

I appreciate you commenting. I try hard to educate men who often seem oblivious. This is a thing I have worked on for a number of years in various places. But I will suggest that if men simply "aren't seeing it" then part of what is going on is that they aren't really thinking too much about it because they think it doesn't really impact them. This isn't really true. There are ways in which it negatively impacts men who are not actively harassing women. Sometimes when an opening presents itself, I try to talk to men about the ways in which such things cost them as individuals and sometimes that causes men to change how they behave.

As the situation currently stands, though, it's extremely high-risk/low-gain.

From what I gather, where the English bible says "The meek shall inherit the earth" the French version is "The nonchalant shall inherit the earth." I will suggest that it is possible to take a stand on such things in a less confrontational manner and this will make it lower risk, higher gain, for both the individual making the statements (you or whomever) and people generally.
posted by Michele in California at 1:17 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


2bucksplus: To be honest, as a man, my understanding of what "harassment" is had to be dialed way, way down.

That is true for men, because there is so much "casual" harassment that doesn't get discussed or called out. As pointed out in the comic, it's everywhere, and there are things that are even less visible: invading personal space (lavaball and other methods), crossing the line from the gaze of a suitor to the stare of a stalker, and generally the ability for men to make women feel uncomfortable in subtle ways that are hard to call out.

Don't try to find a new word, elevate all that shit to what it is: sexual harassment. Realize that it's all a bunch of shitty power plays, often carried out without even a conscious thought of intimidating women.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:24 PM on August 6 [10 favorites]


It's nice that the guy acknowledges that it's "her body, her rules," but if you have to read that on a woman's father's polo shirt, it kinda undermines her authority.

If you're not listening to the woman and are looking to her father instead, then his shirt isn't the one undermining her authority.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:25 PM on August 6 [8 favorites]


As the situation currently stands, though, it's extremely high-risk/low-gain.

Did you read the Robot Hugs comic? There are four panels there with suggestions for ways to respond to sexism you witness that all seem (to me, as a woman, so to be completely honest I have zero experiential authority on what it would be like to say these as a man) very low-risk to me. (Starts with the panel where blue hair is pointing at the number 3.)

-"Seriously?"
-"Come on, man, don't be that guy."
-"No I don't, what could you possibly mean?"
-"No I wouldn't have, most men wouldn't have. That's not cool."

And personally I think that standing up for women is high-gain in and of itself, but that's just me.
posted by phunniemee at 1:25 PM on August 6 [13 favorites]


"As the situation currently stands, though, it's extremely high-risk/low-gain."

Just look at the Kat Stoeffel pullquote. "Oh, you had an epiphany? You make me sick! You should have had one sooner."

No-true-Scotsman, indeed.
posted by The Blue Olly at 1:26 PM on August 6 [3 favorites]


Gaaaah, that "Feminist Father" shirt (seen in the "it shouldn't take having a daughter" link). It's nice that the guy acknowledges that it's "her body, her rules," but if you have to read that on a woman's father's polo shirt, it kinda undermines her authority.

I don't read it that way. I've known dudes who thought that they should go to my dad to ask HIM about things they wanted to happen with ME. Because that's how their society rolls. Had they even tried, my dad would have looked at them like they'd grown an extra couple of heads.
And I think that THAT is what that T-shirt is about. A "don't ask ME, and boy-howdy had you damn well better ask HER" because looking to Dad IS still very very much a thing.
posted by tabubilgirl at 1:27 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


When it's not a thing anymore, we can re-consider, but till then, I'm for it.
posted by tabubilgirl at 1:29 PM on August 6


It's a very different thing, I almost think it would benefit from a different vocabulary.

I think rating different kinds of harassment, drawing a line in the sand at some level, and saying "Okay, these things are now considered "major" and "constant" and can safely called harassment, but everything else will now be called [something else]" is only going to make people start saying crap like "Oh, having assholes hit on you at a bar and not take no for an answer? That's not harassment, that's [other term]."
posted by 23skidoo at 1:29 PM on August 6 [13 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not asking you to take a punch for me, but I am asking you to say something if I'm being harrassed. As shown by example in the Robot Hugs comic, there are ways for guys to do that.
posted by Kitteh at 1:30 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Sometimes, just letting someone know by, say, the look you give them that it isn't cool in your eyes can make a difference. And that is much less likely to get meaningful pushback.
posted by Michele in California at 1:32 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


That doesn't mean it's not important to do, just an observation that right now the ROI for engaging with the topic at all is extremely risky/decidedly poor for men, no matter how well-intentioned they might be. To be perfectly honest, I'm terrified of how people will react to my pointing this out.

If a man really does feel as though he needs some kind of recognition or plaudits for forcefully speaking out against sexism, yet cannot handle being informed that his beliefs as expressed aren't as helpful as he believes them to be, I might recommend dialing back his approach or rocking a little Feminism 101 until the urges dissipate. Just because a sentiment is sincerely held or good-hearted does not mean that its expression will (or should) be shielded from criticism, even very harsh criticism.

I really don't think any feminist-identifying dude I've ever spoken to has ever been like, "Don't get me wrong, feminism is great and everything, but I would really just like to be praised for speaking out against sexism, abuse, and harassment, and I would definitely prefer it if I was never forcefully disagreed with about any of it." First, sorry, but it's not gonna happen that way; it's a jungle out there. Second, if your opinions and feelings are so vulnerable and precarious as to be rendered mute because one or more women strongly disagree with the tactics you use to combat sexism as a man, you're simply not going to make a very effective ally.

I'm trying to be very gentle here, and I hope it isn't coming across as a slight, because I do get where you're coming from. But the bottom line is that pretty much anyone who wants to roll up their sleeves and dig into conversations about conditions and cultural norms by which they are neither personally affected nor oppressed really needs build up a reserve of fortitude and ideological wherewithal well before they ever take a single step into the ring.

Also, so much this:
DON'T: Feel like you have to give a response. Sometimes people simply want to be heard and understood, and you do not need to prove you are a good person by offering a pithy reply or insincerely fist-shaking along. One component of sexism is that men tend to inherently expect that what they say is valuable, and that a statement from a woman cannot possibly stand alone without their contributions. It is totally and entirely possible that you might have nothing to add, and you could benefit from the conversations of those who do.
And I've been working on an FPP about a new bystander intervention-based campaign, but I'll just leave a link here instead: You OK, sis?
posted by divined by radio at 1:34 PM on August 6 [22 favorites]


But often the writer-dad’s newfound sensitivity is overshadowed by his prior obliviousness: He was apparently unable to empathize with women before one sprung from his loins. Did he take nothing from his other encounters with half of humanity? Not even from his mother?

AKA Barney Stinson Syndrome.
posted by pie ninja at 1:40 PM on August 6


The comic really underscores nicely that "men can help" does not have to mean "wading right on in to the debate with my social justice guns a-blazin'." I appreciate that some folk have really strong problem solving instincts, but there's an opportunity here to recalibrate your participation into a less fraught and less "risky" approach that could literally be as simple as "really, dude?" or "are you okay?"
posted by annekate at 1:40 PM on August 6 [5 favorites]


If you want some good vocabulary to call out harassing and sexist behavior by peers, I've had really good luck just saying "Oh, gross." It doesn't require a dialogue, it doesn't pull up the "offensive" banner, it's pretty easy to toss off in the moment, it doesn't turn a situation from professional or social to academic, but the disapproval is still strong and obvious. Plus, it takes the callout from "I am defending women!" to "I personally find that kind of behavior disgusting." I'm not saying it's never fraught, but it's the best thing I've found so far.
posted by KathrynT at 1:42 PM on August 6 [40 favorites]


People who think it's maybe too risky to say something to another dude about how sexual harassment isn't cool, please remember this feeling the next time you get the "she should just..." urge when you read about or hear from a woman who has been harassed. Most of us are pretty familiar with the risk/reward calculus of response.
posted by rtha at 1:43 PM on August 6 [60 favorites]


These articles are almost a synthesis of the 3 most valuable lessons I've learned from working with almost all men:

1) The best way to respond to charges of being "too sensitive." The word "sensitive" itself has connotations of being emotional, so being told you're being "too sensitive" is code for both "I don't see the problem" and "you're being emotional about it." (Someday, I'll fight the good fight that it's okay when you're treating me like shit that I have an emotional reaction to that! But for now...) I respond with words that imply logic and intellect, and my favorite is awareness. "No, I'm not being sensitive. I'm recognizing a problem here, and I'm raising awareness of it." or "I see that you don't understand the situation, and that's fine. Here's an opportunity for us to learn from it and become more aware in the future." (only not sound so stiff about it)

2) Some guys simply don't give a shit. They may not be worth the time at that moment. But it's surprising what one can do in a long term professional relationship. There's a lot of teachable moments, and sometimes all that's really needed is to raise their awareness. Be aware of the individual; the best way to respond to individual men (and women!) is to figure out, if you can, the best way each individual can be reached. (One thing that works surprisingly well for calling out behaviors is to point it out in others to the person you're trying to reach. By not accusing them directly, or putting them in a spot that makes them defensive, you can sometimes get the message across.) You're not going to change the entire company/culture/world all at once. This is a lesson I've had to learn again and again.

3) The best thing I can do in situations with overt to discrete sexism is to look for the male allies in the room. Look for the guy who looks uncomfortable with the dirty joke. Look for the man who attempts to intercede halfheartedly at a series of comments. Make eye contact. Take them aside later. Do something that connects with them. Find them all. Because they're the ones who can take it to the locker room or the boy's night out poker games. Because women need allies when there might not be any women in the room to speak up, no matter the reason. Because push back against patriarchy and misogyny benefits men, too....and part of that benefit is an increase in willingness to speak up for women and not fall prey to ye ol' fitting in with preconceived notions of how guys should act.
posted by barchan at 1:45 PM on August 6 [18 favorites]


Sometimes, just letting someone know by, say, the look you give them that it isn't cool in your eyes can make a difference. And that is much less likely to get meaningful pushback.

The most effective ways of "calling out" this type of behavior with men are often the most subtle. I don't actually agree with the Robot Hugs cartoon about that section of what men can do, because it's true that obviously calling out your friends will just make them defensive.

Bystander intervention programs are great for offering a range of tactics to change the subject and divert behavior, but it's really hard to give a blanket strategy since it's so specific to the particular social group. What works with high school jocks, is not what works with 20-something comic book nerds or middle aged dads. Each one has it's own language, and it's own subtle way of telling people that the general culture does not support that shit anymore, so if you want to be accepted into the group, you need to stop talking/acting that way.
posted by ohisee at 1:47 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


The last link in particular gives me the impression that there is literally nothing a man can actively do to help women gain equality outside of being docile and do whatever the consensus amongst feminist women is. There is bad faith from the start with the first claim: "I'm really attracted to strong women... who says all women have to be 'strong' (whatever that even means)?" No one. If a man finds strong women to be attractive, that's fine. And if you don't know what that means, then what is even your complaint? Ask the man who says that and he might tell you. I don't know what it means but I also don't care to castigate him for it.

I have a hard time taking anyone seriously when they have so many assumptions and agendas that make it virtually impossible to say something which is benign and true (e.g. "I haven't witnessed any of what you’re describing.") It's okay for someone to say that and it's not okay to make the assumption that this gives you an invitation to be condescending about it. In the same way that not everything about consent exists for men's pleasure (true) not every statement or experience a man has exists for a blogger's teachable moments.

The good news is that there are plenty of men and women who dislike bigotry and want to overturn it with more humane and just systems and they do that without bad faith, self-serving tactics like this.
posted by koavf at 1:57 PM on August 6 [3 favorites]


> The last link in particular gives me the impression that there is literally nothing a man can actively do to help women gain equality outside of being docile and do whatever the consensus amongst feminist women is.

That's not really what I took away from it. Heck, fully half of the 10 items not to do are just variations on a dude "helping" by volunteering what's attractive in women. An additional 4 are the dude turning the conversation back to him and what he feels, and the remaining 1 is just plain rude.

It's a pretty narrow band of things not to do.
posted by postcommunism at 2:02 PM on August 6 [20 favorites]


The last link in particular gives me the impression that there is literally nothing a man can actively do to help women gain equality outside of being docile and do whatever the consensus amongst feminist women is.

There are things men can do. I am just not really in a good space to post publicly about that right here, right this minute. A lot of women have a lot of very legitimate anger about these issues and it is common for people generally to not know what to specifically suggest that is pro-active rather than re-active. And even if you know a pro-active suggestion, other people frequently have a hard time wrapping their brains around it. Such suggestions are often subtle and often take a good understanding of a broad context of things to really get and it often gets the deer in the headlights look. So there are inherent challenges involved in addressing those sorts of things but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
posted by Michele in California at 2:08 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


koafv I hear what you are saying, and yes some complaints on that list seem silly, some are spot on. My feeling reading that list is that it contains things that are often said by men who proclaim themselves to be allies but aren't really that committed--and while there is nothing wrong with saying 'I find strong women attractive' qua saying 'I find strong women attractive', there are a lot of comorbidities with saying those things and sexualizing feminism and also not really committing to it.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:18 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Sometimes it is very, very hard to figure out the right thing to do. But the proscriptions set out in the last link aren't really that hard to grasp.

Patronizingly talking about what you find attractive in women, or grousing about how you're not getting the he's-one-of-the-good-ones cookies for whatever grand act of allyship you think you're doing, is basically never the right thing to do.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:22 PM on August 6 [10 favorites]


Positing that there is a feminist cabal requiring men to be "docile" because a link criticizes men focusing on attractiveness or sexuality, or trying to make the conversation about them, isn't really helping. Whether or not the list is 100% useful, it's not difficult to find men who express those sentiments and get upset when told that's not what being an ally is about.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:22 PM on August 6 [10 favorites]


There is bad faith from the start with the first claim: "I'm really attracted to strong women... who says all women have to be 'strong' (whatever that even means)?"

Interesting that you are arguing against, IMO, an aside and not the main point. The "..." you included sure leaves out a whole lot:

"Wow, thanks for making female empowerment all about what helps you get your rocks off!

This might come as a shock to you, but women didn’t become “strong” so that you’d find them more attractive. The women’s liberation movement isn’t about turning women into a race of sexy fem-bots who will kick ass and take names in latex catsuits for your enjoyment. It’s about allowing women to express themselves however they like without having to worry about the male gaze."

It comes across as you acting in bad faith when you leave out the meat of the argument.
posted by LizBoBiz at 2:24 PM on August 6 [19 favorites]


And re-reading the list it makes it pretty clear that the author wants men to stop saying those things within the context of them acting as an ally, not never ever say those things even to yourself in front of the bathroom mirror or to your diary or on your birthday or at happy hour with your bros.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:30 PM on August 6 [5 favorites]


I have a hard time taking anyone seriously when they have so many assumptions and agendas that make it virtually impossible to say something which is benign and true (e.g. "I haven't witnessed any of what you’re describing.")

Weird that you chose that specific example, but "benign" would be the LAST word I'd used to describe anyone who said "I haven't witnessed any of what you're describing". If you haven't had the same experiences as someone else, well duh, so there's really no reason to point that out to someone. Telling someone that you personally haven't witnessed what they told you is what you say when you don't believe someone and you want to let them know that you don't believe them, politely. It's a really crappy thing to say.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:49 PM on August 6 [7 favorites]


Liz, I tried to address the argument as such later if it appears that I missed the point or intentionally glossed over it. I guess the best pull quote I have for my beef here is: "Learn to sit down, shut up and listen. You might actually learn something." This is a rude and condescending thing to say.

You cannot extricate means from ends and if you're trying to be a good person or do a good thing by being a bad person or doing a bad thing, then that is bad—it poisons the good you are trying to accomplish. This author is no more guilty of this than anyone else I've seen use these tactics and it's certainly more egregious when it comes from someone who is in a position of power or dominance (then it would be bullying at best). If you have a beef with something like intimidation tactics on the part of men against women (fair), then don't use intimidation tactics to get someone on your side. If this is what feminism is about (and I'm glad that it's not), then of course I don't want any part of it.

Just like how good and sane members of whatever group should call out bad members, those of us who believe in a more just world should stop others who want to use tactics that are inappropriate, even if the end is supposed to be something which is good. (In fact, that makes it worse!) This applies to the "shut up and learn" mentality of some feminists, the tactic of outing someone who is closeted as a bisexual or homosexual, the use of insurrectionist violence to overturn capitalism, etc. etc. The fact is, those who are disenfranchised and who want a finer world have to be better than those who are perpetuating oppression—that itself is not just or right but simply true. It's not a luxury that you get to be mean or rude or invade someone's privacy or whatever else because you're a member of a disenfranchised group.
posted by koavf at 2:50 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


We tried giving the less egregious everyday sexism/racism/homophobic/transphobic stuff a new term - micro-aggression - and people including on this very website derail every damn conversation using that word into an "i don't like that word/ what you're describing is not really aggressive/ it undermines actually aggressive behavior" argument. The word is not the problem. The behavior is.
posted by misskaz at 2:50 PM on August 6 [45 favorites]


"Learn to sit down, shut up and listen. You might actually learn something." This is a rude and condescending thing to say.

Yeah but you really can learn a hell of a lot by doing that.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:54 PM on August 6 [29 favorites]


And it's the only way some people listen, especially those that are used to getting their own way, as those who are privileged and/or in positions of power often are.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:55 PM on August 6 [5 favorites]


I see we are already up to the part in the thread where someone complains that feminists aren't nice enough and that this is much more serious than sexism and harassment.
posted by bile and syntax at 2:57 PM on August 6 [47 favorites]


Tone scolding, really?

Let's not make this all about koavf's performance of how to be that guy.
posted by FunkyHelix at 2:59 PM on August 6 [6 favorites]


I think rating different kinds of harassment, drawing a line in the sand at some level, and saying "Okay, these things are now considered "major" and "constant" and can safely called harassment, but everything else will now be called [something else]" is only going to make people start saying crap like "Oh, having assholes hit on you at a bar and not take no for an answer? That's not harassment, that's [other term]."

In Classical Philosophy, there is a idea called the "Paradox of the Heap." The idea is that you want to define a heap, so you ask someone "is one grain of sand a heap?"Well, no, obviously not. "Two grains?" Again, no. Then you eventually get to a point where they say "yes, 65 grains of sand is a heap." Then you say "But 64 grains weren't! How can one grain make a heap?" The best response to this developed in the Classical World was by the Stoics, who basically said "don't play this game."

And this business of "we need better words" is a sort of Paradox of the Heap. If you can classify harassment finely enough, the idea seems to go, you can draw a line between harassment and not-harassment. But here's the thing -- the only way to win that battle is not to play. Because there aren't necessarily fine-grained distinctions between harassment and non-harassment. There is a fuzzy boundary that takes in all sorts of factors that you can't know, especially if you are reading about the incident on the web. When a person says "I was harassed" or "that made me feel uncomfortable" or "that was creepy," you can't pull out your harassometer or metrics list and check to see if they are telling the truth or understanding their own experience or whatever. Because that impulse, as natural as it seems, is never going to help and is almost always going to make the situation worse. So, don't play that game; take that person at their word and say "fuck that was shitty" or "I'm sorry you had to experience that" or something else supportive. "Solutions" and "analysis" aren't really what is needed.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:06 PM on August 6 [80 favorites]


Standing up against injustice, hate, and "milder" forms of bigotry is terrifying and comes at a huge cost for those who do it. Because the person who'se humanity is being dehumanized has already had the voice dismissed, it can help for people outside the group in question to step in and step up. And it's really.... really really intimidating, hard to do and met with people hating you, disliking you, telling you you're really mean and not nice, and dismissing your humanity as well and trying to get others to as well.

So yeah I give props to anyone who steps outside their comfort and safety zone to standup for people being mistreated. That said, expecting praise FROM the people who are already busy dealing with the dehumanizing behavior is inappropriate. Tell your partner, your friends, your family, you went through something rough by standing up for someone or you're proud of yourself because it was kind of crazy. That's fine to do!! We can want praise for things we do well even mundane things, there's just a right place for it.

Anyways so I want more male voices but I also hope they will actually read from the women dealing with things, what sort of activism will help instead of just plowing ahead with things they made up will be helpful to do or say and then being offended if a woman mentions even nicely "that is not actually helpful!" It might actually be a good idea to do some actual reading from feminist activists and writers to have a better idea of what is helpful to say or do, and then listen if you get feedback that wasn't helpful. It IS hard to do that, really really hard.

Most of us feel strongly about our own demographics but it's much harder to become educated about other groups and try to be an involved activist and to say things.

There have been times when people were saying racist things and I was terrified of those people, and I said nothing. I don't blame guys for not saying anything because it IS scary, but their voices of guys may have an (unfortunately) larger impact. So I try to share things about racism and voices from people of many different races/ethnicities even though I know people on my facebook feed or whatever might hate me--- I feel like.. ok they can write me off and all the better and plus my friends of other races know I will stand with them and learn about the issues.

"It's not a luxury that you get to be mean or rude or invade someone's privacy or whatever else because you're a member of a disenfranchised group." Actually if someone's rights or welfare are being violated they have every right to defend themselves even if it includes being "mean or rude". If someone is screaming insults in my face I'm allowed to tell them to fuck off. I don't have to be nice and I don't have to be even more of a saint than the average person to have the right to defend myself from verbal attacks, prejudice, hate, disenfranchisement or other injustice by individuals or communities.

I feel like you demonstrated really well right there a really harmful standard applied to those who are mistreated, that they have to be ANGELIC in order to... to what, keep being treated badly? They have some obligation to keep being mistreated lest they be EVEN WORSE than people mistreating them? It's a weird and harmful and popular mentality so thanks for illustrating it so well. It's like when onlookers watch one person be mistreated they judge the person being harmed as even worse than the person mistreating them if the injured person defends themselves. This is wack and enables abusers and bullies to reign.
posted by xarnop at 3:11 PM on August 6 [30 favorites]


Man: But that thing that feminist said was really condescending.
Women: We really don't give a shit if you're offended. If you're not helping us because we offended your sensibilities with our tone, you were never going to help us in the first place.
Man: But my feelings are hurt.
Women: We literally are not able to use pictures of our face online without dealing with harassment.
Man: But my feelings are hurt.
Women: We cannot leave our houses without dedicating a significant portion of mental energy to escape routes and defence strategies and putting up with harassment like it's some kind of background noise.
Man: But... but... tone!!

Seriously, if your manbritches are in a twist over "maybe you should shut up and listen", you're basically the #1 type of dude who needs to shut the fuck up and listen.
posted by NoraReed at 3:21 PM on August 6 [64 favorites]


Okay, this is going nowhere positive. Take it for granted that my point is not being communicated, I'm mistaken, or both. My feelings were not hurt by OP or (Jay) Aaminah Khan or anyone else but evidently I've made someone angry. There's nothing to be gained from talking about how I talk about this anymore but there are valuable and salient points made in the links above that can have some constructive discussion.
posted by koavf at 3:28 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Who is angry?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 3:31 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


I see we are already up to the part in the thread where someone complains that feminists aren't nice enough and that this is much more serious than sexism and harassment.

When the tone arguments begin, i am always reminded of Ellen Swallow Richards, the first woman to study at MIT - when applying, she offered to do her professor's mending so that her male peers and teachers wouldn't be uncomfortable with a woman in the classroom. While she was at MIT, she swept up and cleaned the lab, she mended her professor's suspenders, she did all she could not to 'roil waters' (her words) but did all she could to be quiet and show she wasn't really rejecting the woman's sphere - all this in spite of being an internationally recognized scientist while she was still a student!
That was in 1870.
Now it's 2014.
I imagine that Ms Richards swallowed quite a bit of rage during her student days. So when DO we get to express that maybe we're a tad peeved about the status quo? That we're still being asked (metaphorically) offer to do the mending in exchange for a slice of the pie? We don't REALLY mean to quit our natural sphere - our voices are 'ever soft and low, such an EXCELLENT thing in women' and we're happy as clams, really we are! Everything's peaches and gravy - if you could just consider this little accommodation, while we sit very still and smile -
posted by tabubilgirl at 3:34 PM on August 6 [18 favorites]


One thing I notice in a lot of these arguments is that it is easy for people who come from a place of privilege to argue about things like harassment and tone as if it's an intellectual exercise, while people who experience harassment are purposely using an angry tone because they have lived through some shit and are angry about it. It's not an abstract argument about "making the world a better place" but a plea for getting people to validate that harassment is a shitty thing that happens and acknowledge that it's harmful in a very real and visceral way. Having your very real feelings twisted into someone's philosophical debate about abstract concepts doesn't do justice to the visceral experience of being harassed, and having to cut yourself off from those feelings in order to debate abstractly with people who have never really lived it isn't always what someone is looking for in a conversation. In which case, you should, for lack of a better term, sit down, shut up, and realize that in that moment, it's not writing for or about you.
posted by ohisee at 3:35 PM on August 6 [38 favorites]


Who is angry?

"Someone's too emotional to have this conversation" Checked.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:41 PM on August 6 [17 favorites]


One thing I notice in a lot of these arguments is that it is easy for people who come from a place of privilege to argue about things like harassment and tone as if it's an intellectual exercise,

Oh heavens, yes. This approach is one of the things that makes the internet toxic on almost all issues of oppression.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:45 PM on August 6 [5 favorites]


There's nothing to be gained from talking about how I talk about this anymore but there are valuable and salient points made in the links above that can have some constructive discussion.

I agree. I'm wondering, too, why you categorized them as "rude" if you felt they were valuable and constructive.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:52 PM on August 6 [4 favorites]


This applies to the "shut up and learn" mentality of some feminists, the tactic of outing someone who is closeted as a bisexual or homosexual, the use of insurrectionist violence to overturn capitalism, etc. etc.

This is a really weird set of things to treat as a set.

"It really annoys me when my roommate leaves the toilet seat up, sells stolen goods, straight up murders people, etc. etc."
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:11 PM on August 6 [20 favorites]


listen ladies talking about how "feminists" talk about things is just fine but talking about how I talk about things is just silly and ignores what I'm trying to say
posted by Metafilter Username at 4:15 PM on August 6 [8 favorites]


Off Topic: One of the links at the bottom of the page goes to a MetaFilter thread about feminism from 2000 that is all about how feminists are "silly bitches." I'm glad that the tone policing is more respectful these days.
posted by ohisee at 4:28 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


From the first link, the author uses "femmefolk" and "femmetype folk" to identify groups of people who don't identify as women that are still subject to sexual harassment as if they were a woman. (Or at least that is my interpretation of the terms, happy to be corrected if there is a subtlety I don't get.)

Seeing as how it's a neologism that I haven't heard before (nor does Google seem to know about it), I started to wonder if there was a better way to express the idea (and especially because I don't really like -folk as a suffix.) But I couldn't come up with anything obvious--are there any alternative terms for the concept?
posted by TypographicalError at 4:33 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


> Off Topic: One of the links at the bottom of the page goes to a MetaFilter thread about feminism from 2000 that is all about how feminists are "silly bitches."

And although the OP link on that thread is dead I can tell from the comments that it was a list of things men can do re: sexism, and that #1 on that list was: "Listen to women. Learn from their experience."
posted by postcommunism at 5:10 PM on August 6 [4 favorites]


From the first link, the author uses "femmefolk" and "femmetype folk" to identify groups of people who don't identify as women that are still subject to sexual harassment as if they were a woman. (Or at least that is my interpretation of the terms, happy to be corrected if there is a subtlety I don't get.)

I may be wrong on this, but I think femme started in the femme/butch dichotomy, talking about gender presentation more than gender per se - as one could be butch but cis female as well (or femme but cis male). My guess is it moved on from there and people are still playing with it in terms of differentiating between gender and gender presentation.

I tend to textually present myself as a femme cis woman if I'm feeling fancy.

I'm less sure about sexual harassment within the LGBTQ community, but I would imagine sexism and internalized sexism both negatively affect femme people disproportionately. I'd be un-inclined to try to rework a neologism regarding that from the outside, though; it's kind of the opposite of listening to the people whom the issues primarily affect.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:27 PM on August 6


I've probably said most of the things on the "don't say this" list in the last link -- I wouldn't say them now, but it mostly came from a well-intentioned place, so I can see how those get perpetuated endlessly by people who've thought things through halfway but not all the way.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:36 PM on August 6 [4 favorites]


2bucksplus: To be honest, as a man, my understanding of what "harassment" is had to be dialed way, way down. I had thought harassment was relatively big and relatively uncommon and like this comic points out, I almost never see that happen. Sexual harassment would be the kind of thing that results in court cases with nasty fines for employers, for example. Or is the kind of thing that gets people thrown out of bars.

When I was eleven years old I was walking home from junior high when I stopped at a major intersection midway through my walk. Two college age men in a pink, open jeep started yelling things at me, mostly about offering me cunnilingus. I didn't understand most of what they said, but I knew it made me uncomfortable. I stared into space as if I didn't hear them. I never told anyone until decades later when women began talking about street harassment.

Between eleven and thirteen, when the safest way home was along a major highway, I was honked at and yelled at out of cars about once a week. The treatment didn't stop until I moved to a different high school and my way home was through parks.

When I was twelve, two boys followed me through the school and into the woman's bathroom harassing me. They left when I flushed the toilet. I got in a physical fight later with one of them which ended with him hitting me over the back of the head with a book and knocking me unconscious. That one came to the attention of the school officials, but I didn't think about the harassment part of it until this year.

When I was fourteen, a boy in my art class sexually harassed me for months. He would put his hand on my chair and tell me to sit on it. He would try to touch me. He would ask me questions, and rub up against me. I minimized it even when I told my mom about how I didn't want to go to art class anymore. She told me to write down every instance. By the third page, I decided to tell the teacher about it, and she read him the riot act. He never went near me again.

When I was fifteen or sixteen I was at a remote bus stop waiting to go home after a training I had to go to. A man in his fifties or sixties walked up and began talking to me as we waited. After about ten minutes of talking, he started telling me what a good wife I would make, and asking if I was a virgin. I mentioned I was in high school. He asked for my telephone number. Repeatedly. I was very scared, and very alone. I physically moved away from him, but we were at an isolated spot on the side of a six lane highway, waiting for the bus, and I was worried if I began to walk to he next bus stop he would follow, and I might miss the bus and have a lower chance of getting away from him, so I stayed. After he kept asking for my number over and over, I lied and gave him a fake one. When the bus came, I made sure to sit where he couldn't sit next to me, and planned to get off of the bus at a busy market so he couldn't follow me home. I didn't tell anyone until decades later.

There was a hallway in my high school where the boys would hang out along the hallway sexually harassing every girl who walked down it. Some girls complained to the principal, but he said they were exaggerating. I figured out ways to never walk down that hallway. I never told anyone until decades later, when someone said our school didn't have a sexual harassment problem.

From sixteen until twenty I worked at summer camps I took the bus too, and from twenty until twenty-two I took the bus to work. I knew where the men who would yell things at me were and practiced not looking at them while tracking where they were in case they got too close and could be a physical threat. I never told anyone until decades later.

I don't know which of the above experiences I had should be "dialed down" from something "big". None of them involved court cases, most couldn't, and in several I couldn't even show damages besides several hours of fears and the resulting long period of time spent meditating on how I should be less nice to strange men because clearly I was leading one of them on (yay, internalized victim blaming). I've never been sexually harassed at a job, that I can recall. I've only once been harassed at a bar (it never reached the level of sexual, imo) and it wasn't a "get him thrown out" offence, just a creepy experience.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:36 PM on August 6 [22 favorites]


I guess I'll appear be that guy the article's about. Hopefully I'm not.

I agree with the message, and I love listening. Revolutions don't happen because some people said "okay, this is the point at which we revolt" without anger getting involved, but because the anger boils over and influences people's actions unconsciously. But the problem is the people who expect you to argue back with them, and the ones who really just want you to listen and agree, and that initially you can't tell the difference. And this is the exact same problem that anyone perceived as a woman has in daily life.

Part of what I take for granted in my (relatively short-I'm a mefi baby by most standards) experience here is that the mods will shut down any nonconstructive stuff here. My eyes may glaze over because I dislike anger, partially because I never really had much to be angry about, but hey, I won't stop using this site, because it's a damn good site. Listening to the same thing over and over again is how we learn, and eventually we realize that it isn't really the same thing over and over, and eventually we get the deeper nuances.

Try not to be that guy, guys. But just because some people just don't get it doesn't mean they can't help. People that sort of get it are still better than those who don't try at all; just look at old people who hate everything and those that are making a conscious effort to adapt to new political and other norms. I sexually harassed in elementary and middle school. No one's perfect, and no one's perfectly feminist. Sexism hurts all.

Oh, and feel free to shout me out if I comment again on this thread in an argumentative manner. I tend to feel sick after I post, so it'll probably make me feel better in a strange way.
posted by halifix at 5:40 PM on August 6


"Learn to sit down, shut up and listen. You might actually learn something." This is a rude and condescending thing to say.

You may not like it, but it's true. And it's not hard to do... it's actually incredibly easy. There are plenty of discussions right here on Metafilter that I'm interested in, but don't have enough knowledge or experience to participate usefully -- like, for instance, trans issues. Rocking up to one of those threads and doing a whole lot of talking? Not good. I'm not bringing anything valuable to the table there, I'm just sharing uninformed opinions and making the discussion about me and what I need to learn. Time that could be spent in actual exchange of ideas instead becomes a tedious 101 session, exhausting the people who actually DID have something of value to say but who had to spend their time yet again patiently going over the same basic topics for the 7,000th time.

Over time, those members leave this place, because it SUCKS to constantly have discussions derailed like this. It's demoralizing. And it's easy to prevent... all you have to do is be quiet sometimes, observe, and learn. If you're unwilling to do that, why are you even here?
posted by palomar at 6:59 PM on August 6 [22 favorites]


Deoridhe's comment reminded me of the so so many many times I was harrassed and assaulted in private, public or at work during the 70s and 80s. Two decades worth from the age of 12 to about 30 when I married. Uh, hold on. From 7 to 38. So the 60s to the 90s: three decades.

I too rarely mentioned it to anyone at the time of the events, there seemed to be no point. When your life from birth is embedded in a culture of patriarchal denial, when you know that telling people (men, employers, mother) will just result in them apportioning part or all of the blame to you, when that fuckin poisonous "boys will be boys" trope has more currency than your right to consent, there's no point telling anyone as it doesn't make things better. Getting on with life and hardening one's shell, improving one's defences seems to be the best way forward. For example, I began keeping a knife in my apron pocket after the sexual assault at work and the cook knew it was there and he knew I would use it because I had told him, rudely and abruptly, that I would. I got another job before we could test my threat.

30 years of having to change clothes, change job, change expression, change house, change my route or transport home, just because some men think, as the second link above states, that I am somehow in their territory, not mine, and thus fair game for harassment.

Harrassment is not too strong a word for the myriad of aggressions, small and large, that women are subject to. So much harrassment happens in private between the perpetrator and the subject. Men don't witness it because men don't often do it in front of other men unless the other men are joining in too. That's why it is vital than men "shut up and listen" when women tell them what happened. And while listening, give the woman your 100% belief. Because the doubt men (and some other women - boss, mum, I am looking at you) exhibit when women express their experiences is an ugly, painful, isolating thing to hear. And unfortunately all too common.
posted by Kerasia at 7:27 PM on August 6 [11 favorites]


Oh goodness, I just wanted to drop in and say hello! I actually just did an interview where I talked about mefi and it's general awesomeness, then I get home and find I'm on the FP!

Anyways. Hi.
posted by robot-hugs at 7:27 PM on August 6 [49 favorites]


I don't think the first link and the web comic add much to the harassment discussion, honestly. Maybe it is the done thing these days to use web comics to make important points, but I don't feel like the conceit works well here. This is just an earnest message being drawn into the mouths of stick-figure characters. There's no compelling reason for the format. The panels serve no purpose.

Humor is what makes a comic. Poking fun, satirizing or just being silly, those are all things web comics do well. If you want to make a point with a comic, you can certainly do it, and you can choose whether, when you are making that point, sophisticated satire or straight-up slapstick is the way you want to go. But you still need some humor in there, no matter how dark and cynical, for the whole thing to work right. This comic has the cynicism, but none of the humor.

Oftentimes a point made with humor is all the more memorable because the comic format allows us to look at things in a different way. Just consider how many times an XKCD comic perfectly sums up an issue being discussed in a thread and it becomes obvious how effective the medium can be.

Occasionally, though, the comic format serves as a (very transparent) attempt to make a serious subject seem less threatening, even talking down to the audience at the same time. We've seen this in the past, when creepy subjects like how to protect yourself from an atomic bomb got drawn into comics for kids. Of course we know the concept of safely ducking and covering from a fricking atomic bomb is absurd on its very face (unless of course you are the Wolverine); it just makes it creepier that the authors sought to mollify rightfully anxious families by putting out silly little comic books for their kids.

Basically, if an author chooses to put something in comic format, I feel like there should be a good reason for that. If I see a comic that does not deliver with the humor, that makes me wonder why that format was chosen at all. Is the author trying to latch onto an existing meme? Appropriate another's successful style? Pander to some special interest? Or does the author feel like the audience just can't handle a more sophisticated approach?

I think that's why that first link really doesn't work for me. That "comic" falls flat because it is a transparent attempt to cover a Very Serious Message in what looks like a light-hearted way, and unfortunately it fails; the message overwhelms the medium. My sense is that the reason it fails is in large part because the author does not really respect the intended audience.

TL, DR: the first link is essentially just a condescending PSA.
posted by misha at 7:29 PM on August 6


palomar, nice to see you back!
posted by Kerasia at 7:29 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Hi robot-hugs! I liked it! :) I think the more the merrier in formats that help educate and it was great! Frequently, educating people means pointing out how harmful or ill-informed their opinions are. This doesn't necessarily have to mean protecting the people being educated from ever feeling any discomfort when realizing they were behaving in a way that hurt others. Sometimes that feels a bit sucky. Certainly humor, or crafting a more pleasant experience of receiving a message can get the message to go over better, but I don't think there is any obligation to ensure everyone being educated they are sexist/racist etc have a pleasant experience of being respected about their sexism/bigotry.
posted by xarnop at 7:47 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


... Is the author trying to latch onto an existing meme? ...

I think it's probably more likely that the author already has a long running webcomic where she often discusses interesting/human rights issues and decided that hey, this is a subject I'd like to say a thing about, and did so using the tools, medium, and audience that she already has at hand.
posted by phunniemee at 7:51 PM on August 6 [15 favorites]


I really enjoyed that Robot Hugs comic. It seems like a really easily accessible way to present the problem and some simple solutions to an audience that hasn't thought a great deal about it.

I'm going to experiment with posting it on Facebook. I don't think I have any precious manbaby dudebros on my friend list, but hey, if I do, maybe they'll learn something.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:54 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


Robot-hugs, I'm sorry that I posted my last comment right after you joined the thread. My timing sucks.

It probably feels like a personal attack on you. Really, though, I just feel the comic format is working against what you are trying to say.
posted by misha at 8:03 PM on August 6


There is absolutely no reason that comics should be funny. The comics most people are most familiar with are probably those (that used to be) in the newspaper, and while some of those are funny, there were always soap operas, too. Many people read serial web comics, which run the same gamut as the old newspaper comics. Many people are also familiar with super hero comic books, which are sometimes funny, but certainly not always. And many people also know that graphic novels exist, which span the full literary gamut, as novels do. If you want to learn more about the language of comics, I suggest Scott McCloud's excellent book Understanding Comics.

Also, Robot Hugs is fucking awesome.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:06 PM on August 6 [17 favorites]


Humor is what makes a comic.

Some of the best comics I have ever read have been complex and moving dramas. Y: The Last Man, WE3, V for Vendetta, The Sandman... it's a long list.

Comics are a medium. They don't have to be funny, any more than all novels or all TV shows or all movies have to be any one thing. They are limited in scope and approach only by the author's imagination. As are all mediums.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:12 PM on August 6 [7 favorites]


No problem, misha, I don't mind the criticism, though I do disagree that comics should be funny.

I don't remotely pretend to be a great comic artist, but I feel very strongly about the literary/visual medium of comics and graphic novels and it's potential to convey ideas in wonderfully unique ways. Some very sweet feedback on some of my (very unfunny!) mental health comics has been by people who have used those comics to communicate with their family and peers things they had trouble explaining with words.

hydropsyche - I have Scott McCloud on my nightstand - his work inspired me to submit my final grad school paper on Othering in comic format this summer through my site.
posted by robot-hugs at 8:54 PM on August 6 [9 favorites]


Some of the best comics I ever read were by Lynda Barry and were harrowing.

(I liked this very much; I actually think it's a very mild and helpful set of instructions.)
posted by emjaybee at 8:59 PM on August 6 [8 favorites]


So, I posted this comic on my facebook earlier today.

It prompted a friend of mine (acquaintance, really) to go and read through the archives.

Said person then sent me a message saying how much they liked the robot-hugs comic, and how much the comic spoke to them, and we kind of chatted back and forth for a while, and then this person told me they're in therapy for gender identity issues, and that sorry to be dumping all this on me but that they needed to be able to tell someone.

So, robot-hugs, thank you for creating a thoughtful place that made my friend feel welcome and comforted, and for making me seem just by proxy to be a much kinder and more comforting person than I actually am, and for allowing my friend to feel safe enough to finally come out to someone other than their therapist. You have done a good thing.
posted by phunniemee at 9:03 PM on August 6 [18 favorites]


Humor is what makes a comic.

The first comic to win the Pulitzer, Maus, was about the Holocaust. It's one of thousands of effective serious works of art in the comic medium. If you haven't read them already, check out Persepolis or From Hell or Fun Home or Logicomix or on and on. They're all great, and none of them could do what they do in any other medium.

And keep on keeping on, robot-hugs. One of my favorite experiences with art is the little shock of recognition you get when someone distills a complicated and ineffable feeling you get sometimes into an instantly understandable image. The Sadness Python perfectly captures how I get sometimes when I'm sad, when my sadness is simultaneously restricting and comforting. Thanks for making it.
posted by amery at 9:04 PM on August 6 [15 favorites]


Humor is what makes a comic.

You mention Wolverine a few paragraphs later, so I'll just point out that he is part of a large and varied body of "comic" work that does not rely on humor to define itself.
posted by Etrigan at 9:23 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Dykes to Watch Out For contains lots of funny moments, but does not rely on humor to tell stories or deliver messages.

Breaking Cat News, though, does an excellent job of talking about serious subjects in a humorous way.
posted by rtha at 9:39 PM on August 6 [4 favorites]


hypatia dot ca: What you can do - be proactive in stopping con harassment
We aren’t doomed to being the harassment and sexual assault capital of the tech world. We can make a difference. And it starts with each one of us standing up for what we think is right, in the moment when it happens.
posted by flex at 10:00 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


I really like robot-hugs' comics because it's nice to see less gendered and androgynous characters. I've been reading comics my whole life and the idea that sequential art has to be funny is ignorant as fuck, and considering the amount of comics posted here where if humor is present it isn't the point (ASL Hawkguys was just, like, last week), it's got to be an intentional ignorance, because if you're on mefi you're getting links to good stuff in that format a couple times a week.

Hell, even if it's "just a PSA", comic books have a long and often painful (as in painful to read, not causing physical pain) with "educational material", from the decent Cartoon Histories to airplane infograms to "Lex Luthor stole 20 cakes". This got its message across and its format likely hit more readers than it would have otherwise; I'd call that a success.
posted by NoraReed at 10:54 PM on August 6 [6 favorites]


As a Person... I'm saddened by how oblivious I've been to things happening all around me. I've tried to learn and grow, and be more protective of those around me.

As a Parent, I'm learning tons of things about life that I missed the first go around, or just took for granted. And yes, I'm learning a ton of things about this issue that I was totally clueless about... along with many, many more things about life.

You truly learn things when you have to teach them... and now I'm doing just that... it is an amazing learning experience.

My promise to myself and her before she was born was that I would always be a Parent first, and a friend second. I will not let my needs get in the way of doing the right thing.

Anyway... I'm going to be as protective as I need to be... and just try to be smarter about when and how to do that. Hopefully the things I've read here, and the discussions that follow will help me to be wiser, and more effective in this piece of the puzzle.

Sorry if this was too much of a ramble... thanks for reading.
posted by MikeWarot at 1:11 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


"Learn to sit down, shut up and listen. You might actually learn something." This is a rude and condescending thing to say.

I've been thinking a lot about this post and conversation and this quote, among a myriad of other reactions, has begun to crystallize something in my head.

Women are held responsible for what men do to them.

A man sexually harassed you? What were you wearing? Even if a woman is wearing a burka when she was sexually harassed, it must somehow be her fault. Be more clear about how men should treat you; how can they respect someone who doesn't respect herself? Stop being so nice all the time to strange men; you know how they are.

A man raped you? What were you wearing, drinking, saying doing? Were you to nice? Maybe you sent mixed messages. It must somehow be your fault. Did you drink anything? Were you a virgin? Women are like uncovered meat/lollipops/candy/food/prey. You should be more careful and not be so nice.

A man stalked you? You need to be more clear about the fact he should go. Stop being so nice. Be more upset and emotional; how can we believe he's bothering you when you're not weeping? Get a gun to protect yourself.

A man sentenced you to jail for shooting/shooting toward a man? Clearly you should have told the man to leave you alone more clearly. Shooting him seems like an over-reaction. Why are you so emotional? You shouldn't be so nice.

A man doesn't listen to you? Why aren't you more clear about what you want? Women always use, "I think" and "sorry but" and other things to soften what they say, and it makes you seem less credible. You shouldn't be so nice.

Women: "Learn to sit down, shut up and listen. You might actually learn something."

This is a rude and condescending thing to say.

posted by Deoridhe at 2:13 AM on August 7 [38 favorites]


I really enjoyed this roundup - especially robot hug's comic, which was fun to read and directly actionable.

The one point on this post I would argue is jaythenerdkid's moratorium on "consent is sexy". Every time I've encountered that catchphrase, it has been in the context of teaching people about explicit consent, and how it can be built into your real life without being totally awkward. I think changing the culture from assuming consent based on actions, to doing a quick verbal check to make sure everyone is on the same page is actually a great thing, and shines a light so there is a little less darkness for the actual rapists and creeps to hide.
posted by fermezporte at 5:32 AM on August 7


There's a significant chance of being publicly pilloried for trying to construct a positive dialogue but inflecting one word incorrectly, and very little possibility of significant recognition for simply having said the right thing.

I realize that this point was answered by a few people, but it has been nagging at me since yesterday. There are a couple of points here that need to be addressed.

First, yes, it is possible to get attacked for making a "minor slip;" people have a distressing tendency to unload on people who are generally on the same side because they are close and more vulnerable than the real sources of power. On MetaFilter, a fast-moving thread can deliver a half dozen or more stinging putdowns to what was intended as a positive contribution, and this can hurt. However, there's more going on here than you, the slippee's, hurt feelings. The comment, innocuous as it seems to you might very well be echoing a standard party line of oppression -- having heard it twice a week for their entire adult lives, non privileged people may react badly to hearing it again, no matter how novel it seemed to you. As pointed out in the first link, uninformed advice almost always falls into this category -- people don't want to hear "what you should have done..." so much as "gosh, that sucks." How do you avoid this? By sitting down, shutting up, and listening. That sounds harsh and rude, but it's pretty good advice. You learn things. You begin to see some of the obvious pitfalls and "obvious but unhelpful" responses. You can see where your "minor slip" is actually a major (or at least frustratingly common) faux pas. You can learn how to not make things worse, and then, maybe, how to try to make things better.

Second, I'm really uncomfortable with the assertion that there is "very little possibility of significant recognition for simply having said the right thing." Because the reason for doing any of this is not "significant recognition." There's an idea in Buddhism called "the gaining mind." This is where you engage in your practice with the expectation of getting something back -- enlightenment, usually, but it could also be peace of mind, freedom from stress, whatever -- and that desire to gain gets in the way of your practice. You should be practicing for your practice, because that's what you are doing right now, and living in the future is a serious stumbling block. Similarly, if you are going to engage in calling people out for racism, sexism, homophobia, etc, especially as an "ally," doing that with the expectation of a reward (even as small as recognition) gets in the way of doing the right thing.

So, why do it? Why would a man (for example) want to take on the fraught job of engaging with other men over sexist behavior? Well, obviously, because it's the right thing to do. If that's not motivation enough, there's always karma. Now, these days, we tend to think of karma as brownie points handed out by a cosmic score-keeper where good deeds earns you good fortune. That's malarkey. Karma means that your actions have an effect. You do good, and the world gets better. You do bad, and the world gets worse. You may not get the direct impact of the good or bad, but you still have to live in the world. So, if men take it on themselves to challenge sexism where they find it, especially with and among other men, they make the world less sexist. And, while this may never get you the Feminist Fist Bump of Righteousness much less the Sash of Ally or the Hot Date of Worthy Gratitude or whatever your gaining mind is calling for (and it may get you nasty pushback from the men you are dealing with), it will, bit by bit, make the world a better place. Imagine a world where half the people weren't constantly dealing with harassment; everyone would have more energy for things as simple as productive work environments, non-toxic interactions, a positive home environment. We are all soaking in the swamp of sexism; if we all do our part to drain it, we we all have drier feet. And that can only be a good thing, individually and collectively.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:43 AM on August 7 [29 favorites]


The one point on this post I would argue is jaythenerdkid's moratorium on "consent is sexy". Every time I've encountered that catchphrase, it has been in the context of teaching people about explicit consent, and how it can be built into your real life without being totally awkward. I think changing the culture from assuming consent based on actions, to doing a quick verbal check to make sure everyone is on the same page is actually a great thing, and shines a light so there is a little less darkness for the actual rapists and creeps to hide.

The context you're describing is awesome, but is there any reason you couldn't have all of that without the 'consent is sexy!' catchphrase? I don't see why consent needs to be fetishised or the justification for consent needs to be cast in terms of (women's) sexual appeal rather than respect for all of the good you mention to exist. Can we not try and challenge the 'women are all about sex' thing, rather than reify it in an attempt to make it subservient to promoting enthusiastic consent? Fundamentally, you shouldn't be asking for consent because it turns you on, but because it's the right thing to do.
posted by Dysk at 6:21 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


The context you're describing is awesome, but is there any reason you couldn't have all of that without the 'consent is sexy!' catchphrase?

It seems to me that the whole "Ten things male feminists need to stop saying" list could be boiled down to "male feminists need to stop making it about them." In all of those points there is a significant quality of "I value [characteristic], so it's great that women have [characteristic]." And that can seem positive, especially when [characteristic] is something that women are traditionally not allowed, but it's very easily read as "women are valuable because I value them" which is the same old same old. Which, it occurs to me is the kind of "minor slip" that I was discussing just above. Not necessarily ill-intentioned, but buying into a dynamic that's really problematic once you see it. And, as a man, you only get to see it when it gets pointed out to you, because, well, sexism.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:41 AM on August 7 [9 favorites]


I'm surprised by the people commenting that being a guy speaking against harassment of women is risky and with low gain.

I think of how much happier and more capable the women in my life would be if they weren't being harassed, and that's a great gain to me. I think of the high stakes that harassment has for them, and the low stakes that it has for me, and the risk of losing a douchebag friend or acquaintence that I don't want is, well, totally low-risk.

Seriously - just practice it a few times:
[disgusted face] ugh don't be that guy
[condescending face] oh how's that approach been workin' for ya?
[eyeroll] quit it, you're embarassing yourself

...and you'll be able to do it next time some asshole tries to buddy up with you on somebody else's blood.
posted by entropone at 6:44 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


The context you're describing is awesome, but is there any reason you couldn't have all of that without the 'consent is sexy!' catchphrase?

When explicit consent first started being discussed (a la the big flap back in the day over Antioch's consent policy), the immediate criticism was that explicit consent would be awkward, ridiculous, and a total boner-killer for both parties. Reframing consent as sexy in and of itself was the fairly effective answer to that. I can see how it can be said in ways that are not so cool, but the basic underlying concept that having an enthusiastic partner is way better than a merely consenting one which is the legal baseline, and both of those are better than the old days, is worth keeping in the toolkit for improving the overall environment. At least in terms of awareness campaigns, they are not using the phrase the way it is used in the link -- which doesn't mean that the dudes the article is about aren't using it in that problematic way.

And maybe things have progressed enough that the "consent is sexy" stuff can be dropped just like previous efforts were superseded in their time. It's not really part of my vocabulary and I'm not sure I've seen it anywhere except on some t-shirts last year, so it may already be on the way out.

I'm surprised by the people commenting that being a guy speaking against harassment of women is risky and with low gain.

I agree. I mean, sure -- it would be high risk if you are alone in a rough bar and you aggressively called out a table of drunk, unemployed lumberjacks and insulted their moms in the process. But it's not high risk to, when and where you can, gently let people know that social norms are shifting and they need to get with the program. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but I've never had anyone want to fight me for it. Other times you read the room and even an eye roll isn't going to be productive and you leave the issue for another day, and that's ok too.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:03 AM on August 7


I realize that this point was answered by a few people, but it has been nagging at me since yesterday. There are a couple of points here that need to be addressed.

It's been bothering me since about 5 minutes after posting it, and I'm the one who wrote it. I'd actually like to talk about my thought process behind that sentence, but given this:

By sitting down, shutting up, and listening. That sounds harsh and rude, but it's pretty good advice.

I genuinely have no idea whether a dialogue is something you're at all interested in. Let me know, because I'd love to discuss it.
posted by Ryvar at 8:26 AM on August 7


Actually, the whole paragraph you pulled that quote from is really, really great. Here, I'll copy/paste the relevant portion of it for you, since you may have only seen the part that you quoted:
However, there's more going on here than you, the slippee's, hurt feelings. The comment, innocuous as it seems to you might very well be echoing a standard party line of oppression -- having heard it twice a week for their entire adult lives, non privileged people may react badly to hearing it again, no matter how novel it seemed to you. As pointed out in the first link, uninformed advice almost always falls into this category -- people don't want to hear "what you should have done..." so much as "gosh, that sucks." How do you avoid this? By sitting down, shutting up, and listening. That sounds harsh and rude, but it's pretty good advice. You learn things. You begin to see some of the obvious pitfalls and "obvious but unhelpful" responses. You can see where your "minor slip" is actually a major (or at least frustratingly common) faux pas. You can learn how to not make things worse, and then, maybe, how to try to make things better.

So, there you go. You want to have a dialogue with someone, but your first impulse is to tell them how they're handling a situation incorrectly in your view? Here's why that's not helpful. Here's how to avoid having a dialogue that immediately goes off the rails: stop the impulse to blurt out your helpful thoughts and just listen for a bit. It's really, really easy to do.
posted by palomar at 8:51 AM on August 7 [8 favorites]


palomar: assuming you're directing that at me, then you'll note that I stopped and asked, first, if a dialogue was desired before plunging ahead. If you have a suggestion as to how I could have made that more clear I'm all ears, because it feels like you're attempting to beat me up for ... doing exactly what was asked of me, which is insane.
posted by Ryvar at 8:58 AM on August 7


Seriously, you tell me stop the impulse to blurt out "your helpful thoughts" - what snide bullshit - when that was precisely what I did. What in the actual fuck is your problem?
posted by Ryvar at 9:02 AM on August 7


"Terrified," "pilloried," "beat up," "extremely high risk."

It's just words on a website.

What in the actual fuck is your problem?

Maybe 2014 Ryvar should have a conversation with 2004 Ryvar.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:05 AM on August 7


ryvar: I think the point that palomar is trying to make is that when you were being asked to listen, you were continuing to talk. Even a song-and-dance about "okay, it sounds like you want a dialogue, so tell me if that is what you want and tell me the best way to be receptive" is continuing to talk.

The way you listen is by not saying anything and letting other people talk instead of you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:06 AM on August 7 [7 favorites]


Empress: this is a community site with users coming from many different walks of life and points of view - if all people want is an echo chamber, why bother posting at all?

I was extremely polite and asked permission before even engaging. Telling a person "no, you should just never talk at all" is ... what in the fuck?
posted by Ryvar at 9:09 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


For the record, though, I think it's great that you are now in a listening frame of mind.

But rather than announcing this state and issuing a call for further comment, I invite you to go back and re-read all the things that women have already said in this thread, even if you've already read them, and reflect upon them. Perhaps since you are in a more receptive mind, things will occur to you upon a second read which hadn't before; then, if there are things you are still unclear about, you can reread and see if those have been addressed, or get addressed in future comments.

Then ask just those questions.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:09 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Yes, exactly. I mean, thanks for calling me snide, declaring what I had to say is bullshit, and asking me what the actual fuck my problem is for trying to point something out to you that it seemed like you had genuinely missed. I have to say, if this is the way you want to go about having dialogue, I can't blame anyone for not wanting to engage with you. Damn, man. No one's saying you should "never talk". If that's the way you want to interpret it, why should anyone bother trying with you?
posted by palomar at 9:10 AM on August 7 [11 favorites]


I mean, thanks for calling me snide, declaring what I had to say is bullshit

Seriously? You're saying that when you said "your helpful thoughts" it was not sneering sarcasm? Because I have extreme difficulty seeing what other reasonable interpretation of your words exists. It was an out and out dismissal of anything I might have to say before I even said it, and if you're an even passingly decent human being then you know that that's a shitty thing to do to someone, ever, under any circumstances. That's just basic respect.

and asking me what the actual fuck my problem is for trying to point something out to you that it seemed like you had genuinely missed.

Here is what you said:
You want to have a dialogue with someone, but your first impulse is to tell them how they're handling a situation incorrectly in your view? Here's why that's not helpful. Here's how to avoid having a dialogue that immediately goes off the rails: stop the impulse to blurt out your helpful thoughts and just listen for a bit. It's really, really easy to do.
Except this is absolutely and totally NOT what I did. It is in fact the INVERSE of what I did:
I genuinely have no idea whether a dialogue is something you're at all interested in. Let me know, because I'd love to discuss it.
You attacked me for doing exactly what was asked of me, and then act surprised when my reaction is upset and defensive? What possible conclusion am I supposed to draw from that?

I have to say, if this is the way you want to go about having dialogue, I can't blame anyone for not wanting to engage with you. Damn, man.

If you read my posts earlier in this thread, you'll note that I have been extremely polite with everyone up until your post because this is a topic I'm interested in furthering my understanding of. You, on the other hand, appear to be primarily interested in verbal abuse and scoring points, and feigning surprise that I would react poorly to this is flatly disingenuous and you damn well know it.

No one's saying you should "never talk". If that's the way you want to interpret it, why should anyone bother trying with you?

I'm just going to quote Empress here, right above you:

The way you listen is by not saying anything and letting other people talk instead of you.

I do not see a functional difference between that and "never talk".
posted by Ryvar at 9:24 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


> The way you listen is by not saying anything and letting other people talk instead of you.

I do not see a functional difference between that and "never talk".


Do you see a difference between "never talk at all ever again", and "stop talking for just a little while and pay attention to what other people are saying rather than waiting for your chance to start talking again"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:25 AM on August 7 [4 favorites]


Okay. You're right. You're perfectly right. I'm such a huge asshole, I'm so sorry.

There. Is that better? You win, Ryvar. I'm done here.
posted by palomar at 9:25 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Ryvar, I gotta say, asking for help understanding and then immediately proceeding with vicious attacks against the very people who are responding to your request for help is . . . not productive, to say the least.
posted by KathrynT at 9:28 AM on August 7 [10 favorites]


Also, Ryvar, that's rather a lengthy monologue for someone who says that they're "seriously interested in dialogue".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:29 AM on August 7


KathrynT: I'm a person with feelings and I did my absolute damnedest to be respectful of everyone in the thread, only to be subjected to the exact kind of attack I wrote about being terrified of in my initial post. Being upset and defensive is a normal human reaction to that.

Empress: if I don't explain to palomar why what he said was incredibly disrespectful on just a basic human-to-human level, I lose. If I do because I go on too long then according to you I lose. Putting someone into a Catch-22 like that where you criticize any action they might take is not an okay thing to do to someone.
posted by Ryvar at 9:35 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


What palomar wrote was not an attack. It maybe had a teensy bit of frustration behind it, but if that's what you're "terrified" of -- if that's what you're equating to literal physical violence -- then there is a level of baggage about women's anger and women's words that you are bringing to this conversation that no amount of women's deference and women's kindness will be able to fix for you.
posted by KathrynT at 9:40 AM on August 7 [14 favorites]


Ryvar: the thing is, if you had truly read and considered things everyone else in this thread had to say, you would have understood all of the things you claimed to be "trying to understand", because those explanations are already in this thread and available for you to read.

....However, I invite you to consider just how perceptive and receptive you actually are, as you've referred to palomar as "he". Are you certain that's accurate?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:40 AM on August 7 [6 favorites]


I'm a woman, not a man, Ryvar. And I did not attack you in any way. I'm sorry if you felt an attack in my words, but there was no intent to attack you, and I did not in any way deserve the things you said here. You're a human being with feelings? Guess what, so am I. And you eviscerated me because you took offense where none was being offered.
posted by palomar at 9:42 AM on August 7 [8 favorites]


[Ryvar, this is the time for you to step back and take a walk. Everyone else, please allow him the chance to do so without further interrogation. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 9:42 AM on August 7 [10 favorites]


So, why do it? Why would a man (for example) want to take on the fraught job of engaging with other men over sexist behavior? Well, obviously, because it's the right thing to do. Because, since I am continuing to not commit suicide, I am kind of stuck in this crappy world. If I am stuck here anyway, doing something to make it a better world means I personally get to live in a less crappy world.

I have also had personal, private conversations with a few men about how their choices and how they treated women were the root cause of their dissatisfaction with their personal lives. Basically, men who are not chronic assholes to women get better sex. So the next time you (generic "you") are tempted to sexually harass a woman because you have some enormous sense of entitlement to get your sexual/emotional needs met at her expense, pause and contemplate how much better your sexual experience might be if women actually liked you as a person and actually were willingly and enthusiastically interested in getting into bed with you and not just, you know, putting up with your shit because men have more money so whoring ourselves out sometimes beats starvation.
posted by Michele in California at 10:10 AM on August 7


I get that self-interest is a good way to convince people of things but I still think it's shitty that we have to tell men that their sex lives would get better if they stop treating women like shit and treat us like human beings
posted by NoraReed at 10:37 AM on August 7 [9 favorites]


I get that self-interest is a good way to convince people of things but I still think it's shitty that we have to tell men that their sex lives would get better if they stop treating women like shit and treat us like human beings

It gets complicated because some people just need to be given the freedom and the vocabulary to know how to ask for sex, and to recognize what a truly willing partner looks like. We have basically no sex education in this country, and people get their knowledge from a weird mix of media, porn, friends, parents(sometimes) and religion(optional). Consent in porn is irrelevant and a lot of movies and TV show people who can't talk openly about sex and aggressive persistence being rewarded. Some people do still need to hear "Consent is Sexy" cause they are young and want to have good sex and this is a positive way to tell them how to do it.

However, it's only ever going to partially work because some people really get off on a lack of consent. They are the real problems. They are the ones who know harassing a woman is wrong and do it because of that. "Consent is sexy" is a great slogan to use with teenagers, but beyond that, you have to be realistic about the fact that harassment is a power trip, and catchy slogans aren't doing anything to deter the behavior.
posted by ohisee at 10:45 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


I get that self-interest is a good way to convince people of things but I still think it's shitty that we have to tell men that their sex lives would get better if they stop treating women like shit and treat us like human beings

There is no we here. That is an approach I personally choose to take. That doesn't make it one you personally are required to also take.

I usually take this approach with men I am on friendly terms with and personally like and I am invested in their welfare. And when they express, in some manner, their dissatisfaction, I sometimes manage to go "Well, here's your problem." and do so in a manner that gets heard. One man I knew quit picking up random women at bars and got married some time after I suggested to him that if he wanted more out of a relationship, he needed to put more into it and picking up women at bars was part of the problem, not part of the solution. He respected me. He listened to me. He made other choices.

I realize it is risky to say such things publicly. It can come across very differently when said publicly than how it comes across when communicated one-on-one. But I think it is worth taking that risk sometimes because, when it goes well, it magnifies the value from changing one mind to potentially changing many. I have gotten good results over the years with taking judicious risks in that regard
posted by Michele in California at 10:55 AM on August 7


I do disagree that comics should be funny.

In support of this thesis, Joel Schumacher did say "they are called comic books, not tragic books"?

Although, in refutation, Joel Schumacher did say "they are called comic books, not tragic books"?
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:47 PM on August 7 [7 favorites]


Claire Zulkey: A Conversation About Friendly Catcalling with My Husband
"No...but still, it's just one of those things that women deal with that guys don't. A woman would just never tell a guy at the grocery store, 'You're really good looking.'"

"But still, it didn't seem like he was being mean. Inherently, it was a compliment. But maybe it isn't. I don't know. So why does it bother you?"

"Because, it just throws me off. I have to think of exactly the right way to respond. I don't want to act like I'm too into the compliment, and encourage him, but you don't want to be a bitch because then maybe he'll turn on you and say you're a bitch if you're too cold. It's just this weird subtle power play. [...] It's not whether or not he thinks I'm attractive. It's that some men sometimes feel like they can just say something like that, in a time and place that's not open for opinions on looks. It wasn't a pickup bar or anything. Look, I know he didn't mean any harm. But it doesn't brighten my day."
posted by flex at 8:42 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


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