Man Calling Libraries and Masturbating to a Supreme Court Opinion
July 23, 2021 7:44 AM   Subscribe

"You saw that headline and thought: “This can’t possibly be real.” Alas, it is very much a real thing that’s really happening in America in 2021. The asteroid cannot come swiftly enough."
posted by Slinga (28 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite


 
Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case that established that the prosecution must turn over all evidence that might exonerate the defendant (exculpatory evidence) to the defense

So it's a case about making sure the defendant has every chance to get off?

seriously, this is really gross behaviour and I feel for the librarians
posted by nubs at 7:50 AM on July 23 [15 favorites]


The “sexual harassment is bad… and funny!” framing in this blog post is pretty gross.
posted by zamboni at 7:51 AM on July 23 [14 favorites]


I've said it before: there are some men who just want women to be forced to talk to them.
They are not necessarily the same people who want them to be forced to have sex with women, but they are likely to be that as well some day.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:55 AM on July 23 [15 favorites]


The only people who think "This can't possibly be real" are non-librarians. Most (female) librarians who deal with the public have experienced some flavor of this nonsense.
posted by jabes at 7:55 AM on July 23 [26 favorites]


This has been an on-and-off discussion in librarian social media for months, including debate about whether to not share this person's personal information (though we don't know much more than a phone number) in order to protect their privacy (protecting people's privacy is a big part of librarian professional ethics) or to share this person's personal information to limit their ability to subject additional library workers to nonconsensual sex acts (in case you can't tell from the framing, this is the option I strongly support).
posted by box at 8:05 AM on July 23 [19 favorites]


(Probably unimportant detail: as I understand it, this person isn't asking that the text of the court ruling be read to him, but rather the Wikipedia entry on it.)
posted by box at 8:07 AM on July 23


what zamboni said – gross, not funny, and maybe the guy in question does not deserve to have blog posts about him in the first place?
posted by bitteschoen at 8:07 AM on July 23 [4 favorites]


Oh, I think that he does; he deserves to be known as far as is possible. We can't eliminate the possibility that being widely known is also a kink of his, but that's not the point; the point is to make it possible to avoid him and to get him to stop, if law enforcement can. (Stipulating how crappy an option that is, of course.)
posted by Countess Elena at 8:20 AM on July 23 [7 favorites]


Once again, The Onion.

Unfortunately, this happens to my wife. She owns a wedding dress store, and when she was getting started a lot of other owners told her stories of this guy who calls and asks about accommodations for people with physical disabilities. He asks about whether the consultants will help him get the dress on, and how much they will help, and so forth and so on. And then it happened to her a month or two after her store opened. There was another person who called and wanted to make sure her store was trans-inclusive (of course it is!) and had a similar conversation and booked an appointment, even. But he never showed. We think it was the same kind of thing. Sigh.
posted by Snowishberlin at 9:04 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


I see someone tried to add text to the wikipedia article itself this week (since removed) that "As of 2021, an unknown man has reportedly called several libraries across the US and asked for a librarian to read him information on the court case over the phone, of which he'd then masturbate to. There is an alleged ongoing FBI investigation to find the identity of this man."

Which would be a hell of a thing (but useful) for a librarian reading the article to suddenly read out loud and comprehend in real time if they are getting harnessed by this person.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 9:31 AM on July 23 [7 favorites]


A friend is a childrens' librarian at a library here in Brooklyn which has just reopened despite having a broken air conditioner. My friend says that they've been coping by closely monitoring the temperature, and if it gets above a certain point they just close that branch for the day and draw straws to see who gets farmed out to a different branch and who gets to just go home early.

...I have just sent her a link to this article with the note "no matter how crazy it gets for you today it could be worse."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:29 AM on July 23 [3 favorites]


I use to work a ready reference telephone bank at the library. Guys use to call up and if a woman answered they’d ask them to read a definitions of private parts and stuff like that from medical dictionaries. I wanted to get an air horn for them but my boss frowned on that.
posted by marxchivist at 11:32 AM on July 23 [2 favorites]


Just published (academic rather than public libraries): "#MeToo in the Academic Library: A Quantitative Measurement of the Prevalence of Sexual Harassment in Academic Libraries"

Open access, no paywall.
posted by humbug at 11:44 AM on July 23 [4 favorites]


Hee - my librarian friend just texted me back "oh, THAT guy....." yeah, librarians know about this dude.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:10 PM on July 23 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I work in a public library and the tone of the blog post is a bit too flippant for me.
We haven’t had this guy call us but leadership has warned us about him. We’ve had similar things happen before. It’s really unsettling to take a call like that and there’s nothing funny about it.
posted by bookmammal at 2:21 PM on July 23 [13 favorites]


I have had a lot of colleagues and graduates sexually harassed by patrons. I have a couple of friends who have had to deal with this specific creep.

I would like this article retracted and apologized for, myself. I've called it out on Twitter.

Sexual harassment is not funny. Articles that make light of it like this contribute to its continuance.
posted by humbug at 3:59 PM on July 23 [16 favorites]


My friend studied law. In one class a young man was banging on so long about the Australian Constitution—which has no place in our law remotely like the more famous US one—that she told him if you like it so much, why don’t you go outside, roll it up and fuck it. I hope none of these people actually study law
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 4:26 PM on July 23 [3 favorites]


Do we know it's that specific text he's getting off on? Maybe a woman's voice reading anything at all would do the same job for him and he's just picked Brady v Maryland as a random example?
posted by Paul Slade at 4:10 AM on July 24


I worked in a telephone reference department and we had a guy who would call for medical definitions but only if a woman answered the phone. Once his game was figured out and we knew his voice, if a woman got him on the phone she would transfer him to one of the guys and he would hang up as soon as he heard a male voice. Creep.
posted by zzazazz at 8:24 AM on July 24


From my reading MetaFilter, I understand that library patrons coming in to enjoy porn and masturbate is a civil right. I am delighted to see there is a line drawn SOMEWHERE!

More seriously: this is gross, and people employed in libraries should not have to put up with this sort of thing. Well done for carrying on with this great work despite this kind of nonsense.
posted by Exercise Bike at 9:56 AM on July 24


This is so common. We've had at least 3 or 4 different dudes try something similar in the 10 years I've been working here. It's gross and annoying. This one hasn't hit us yet, but I'll be letting staff know to be on the lookout and giving them permission to hang up on him.
posted by Knicke at 10:09 AM on July 24


Yeah this seems to be, in general, a persistent and old problem - not this specifically, but exhibitionism and other undesirable*, unwanted forms of sexual behavior in libraries. Has this been studied? Why libraries? Is it simply that there are young women to victimize in them?

*There were book ejaculators operating in the one I worked in.
posted by thelonius at 11:10 AM on July 24


Do we know it's that specific text

Don’t know, don’t care. Speculating about the specifics of this guy’s pathetic paraphilia is pointless.
posted by zamboni at 12:15 PM on July 24


He's always specifically asking about Brady v Maryland, not that it matters.

The very foundation of librarianship is rooted in sexism. Melvil Dewey was predatory and fought for women to work in libraries in part due to their cheap labor. In contemporary times, women-centric professions like ours often expect acquiescence, niceness at the expense of personal boundaries, and endless compassion. When I (a librarian) enforce my personal boundaries, I sometimes get pushback from management.

This is unsurprising yet infuriating. Sexual harassment is a maddeningly common occurrence in libraries, and yeah, it has everything to do with the ways that men view women.
posted by sugarbomb at 2:55 PM on July 24 [9 favorites]


I think the "solo sexual stuff in libraries" (porn watching, leaving deposits, etc.) is distinct from the use of the phone to make a person listen to you or speak to you. The "making you talk to me" is just a sheer power play and not always overtly sexualized. I currently work as a librarian and previously, have held jobs where I had to answer the phone: as a DJ on our college radio station, as a clerk at Montgomery Wards department store, as the intake clerk for a psychiatric hospital, as the secretary at a university research lab.

A man realizing that he experiences pleasure from making women talk to him, and that if he calls a certain number he'll get a woman who is required to talk to him, is an experience I have had at each of these jobs. It happens more often in the library role but I think that is just because it's easier to hide your quest to "make a woman talk to me continually for 4 minutes" because "the librarian reading a non sexual wikipedia article aloud" is a relatively common experience in a library and doesn't raise any specific red flags, whereas it was unusual for me to do this in the psych hospital job-- usually the client would do 80% of the talking.

But this experience -- "read something random to me so I can jerk it" -- happens to any woman who is required to field phone calls from random people and is always, always on the edge of my radar when I am talking on the phone to someone. I didn't even know you all (gestures at the non-library-adjacents) didn't know about this aspect of life for modern women who have to use the phone at work.

I actually ended up looking to see if someone had quantified which professions get the most harassment in this way and found "Terror on the telephone" a fascinating article from a library school professor that looks at all kinds of harassment via phone in the 1960s and 1970s and society's responses to it. What stuck out to me in this is that in the late 1960s, Bell was promoting their services to track and find obscene callers, using this language in the advertisement: "First of all, remember that the troubled individuals who make obscene calls are just looking for an audience- usually a female one." Plus ca change I suppose.

It's a heavy read, BTW-- the scholarship and writing is top notch but the subject is depressing.
posted by holyrood at 6:29 PM on July 24 [4 favorites]


I think libraries are extra vulnerable to this because librarians will take the time to actually read something to a caller, which isn't really the case at, say, a coffee shop. That said, it's not just libraries; the redoubtable Captain Awkward has a story about being a restaurant hostess and dealing with a guy who would call in every day and ask any woman who answered creepy questions about her feet. It pretty much happens anywhere women/femme presenting people are required to be polite, especially if the place still has landlines.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 6:32 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


> When I (a librarian) enforce my personal boundaries, I sometimes get pushback from management.

Library management will, in my experience, go a hell of a lot farther to defend and protect the rights of harassers and bigots than they will to defend and protect the rights of library staff.

Years ago we had a guy calling practically every branch in the (large) public library system I work for and asking an endless series of increasingly nonsensical questions. I didn't get the sense that it was a sex thing (but who knows?), but it was definitely a power thing because the goal was clearly to keep whoever answered, male or female, on the line as long as possible and he would get extremely angry if you mentioned using any other site other than Google to try and answer his questions (staff dubbed him "Mr. Google"). Eventually (i.e. after this had been going on for months) we were given permission to hang up on him, which I did extremely quickly the one time I answered the phone when he called. I've also (as a straight male) been asked to take over the reference desk when certain men who made a habit of endlessly chatting up female staff parked themselves there. For some reason they weren't as interested in talking to me and would just leave.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:50 PM on July 24 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this is totally not funny. I got a series of obscene phone calls from an unknown guy when I was married, and my husband just didn’t get how awful it was for me.

I was considering volunteering at a suicide hotline and then read an article by a woman saying she had to quit because of men who call to harass women. She said it is a serious problem, and you can’t hang up on them because they might really be suicidal.
posted by FencingGal at 6:52 PM on July 25 [3 favorites]


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