“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”—Malcolm S. Forbes.
Once upon a time, the Geek Husband What Rules and I worked in a dance club. He was head of security and occasional DJ. I was a bouncer, a barback and a bartender. One night while barbacking I saw the GHWR hug this woman who was super snotty to me all the time. Not in a, I thought something was going on way, we had a lot of the regulars we liked and we hugged hello and good-night. But this particular person was just awful to me when I was out on the floor as a barback. So one night I asked him, “What’s up with that? Why are you hugging that awful person?”
“She’s always been nice to me.”
That is the crux of holding people accountable.
“He’s always been nice to me.”
When you have something people want, jobs, industry credit, a broad enough platform to matter to their profit margin and their ability to sell shit, people will be nice to you when they won’t bother being nice to other people. If they want to trade on your good will in some way, some day, they will be nice to you.
After several minutes of me trying to explain why she was awful, I finally said, “Look, in about half an hour I will go bus her table, and I want you back there to watch, ok?”
He went, and saw as she refused to get out of the way, and was, in general, really rude and dismissive. When he moved closer, he heard her talking shit about me after I’d left. I knew she would.
He tapped her on the shoulder, and her face went all smiles, and he said, “That’s my wife you were just really shitty to. I think you owe her an apology.”
Unless the people whose opinions impact their bottom line see (in this case her ability to charm her way into the club without paying cover), the people being horrible will keep being horrible to people they think they can get away with mistreating.
Now, it was easy for me to tell the GHWR to come back and watch. It was easy for him to be walking through the club and hear the gross shit dudes said to me while I was clearing tables and bartending. But the fact that he needed to SEE it still rankles me.
He’s gotten a lot better at taking me at my word. Because where we worked I could demonstrate to him, “No, I am not over-sensitive, as culture and the media have assured you I am. I am not looking for shit to get offended by, people literally do this shit to me, all the time, because I am a woman.”
Because our culture and our society constantly tell us that women are not to be trusted. We are over-excitable, overcome with emotion too easily, too easily shocked. What’s an expression for someone getting upset over nothing? “Clutching your pearls.” Dudes don’t wear pearls.
So, yeah, part of what we need to happen regarding holding people accountable for their bad fucking behavior is for the people they keep sucking up to, to pay attention to what the rest of us are saying.
Honestly, we are not randomly trying to torpedo good people just because. When we finally get to the point of using someone’s name to call them out, it’s a desperation move, because we know we have just unleashed a shit-storm, on ourselves.
No woman names a man lightly in public. Trust me on this.
We agonize over the decision, we second guess it, we turn over in our heads whether or not we have the mental fortitude to withstand the storm of bullshit headed our way for doing this. We think hard about it long before we hit “post.”
Just please, pay attention. When someone is nice to you, watch how they treat other people, people who can’t do anything for them. That will tell you what kind of person they really are, far better than any ass-kissing they may bring to the table.
Also, I want to congratulate Rob Donoghue of Evil Hat Productions for being one of the dudes who gets it, and who listens to us. Thank you, Rob.
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