Now, I am the last person to come out and tell you not to blog while angry. I mean, I am not a giant hypocrite. I blog angry all the time.
However, as I’ve gotten older and, I hope, wiser, I have learned that there are two ways to blog angry.
The first way, the way a lot of folks do it without thinking, is to word-vomit out your first, gut, knee-jerk reaction onto the internet, consequences be damned.
There is a time and a place for that.
That time and place are not, however, when your company has just found out someone you hired is a sexual harasser, racist, or other form of bigot. More on that/those specific situations in a later post.
When you knee-jerk react to revelations like that your first instinct is going to be to protect yourself/your brand, and at this point in time you will do that wrong. So wrong. So very wrong. You will either say shit that could be considered legally actionable by the person you are firing/trying to fire because their presence is damaging to your company.
OR, and this is the most likely case, you will say a bunch of horrid, victim-blamey, messenger-shooting bullshit that will make you look like an asshole.
This is the time when you step away from the keyboard. If you can, respond only with, “I need a little time to digest/look into this.” Then get up, go for a walk, pet a kitty, punch a punching bag, go for a jog, whatever it takes to calm you the fuck down before you sit down to respond to people.
Everyone wants to think that we can recognize bad guys at a glance, at a look. “I am an intelligent, adult human being, and I would *know* if someone were a bad person.”
Yeah, except intelligent, adult human beings get fooled all the fucking time. And abusers are really good at first impressions, otherwise they’d never sucker anyone in. If they were assholes all the time, the victim pool would dry up pretty quick. And they hate that.
So take a step back, a deep breath, and LISTEN to what people are telling you. Particularly when they have, oh, I don’t know, screenshots or witnesses.
The second kind of blogging while angry is when you use your anger like a white hot fire, to forge your response, craft it into weaponized discourse that will eviscerate the unworthy at 20 paces.
I would like to think that I manage this most of the time.
I suspect I’m somewhere between the two more often than not, and probably closer to the former more often than I’d like to admit.
But I TRY for the second.
Anyone who tells you that anger can’t be constructive is trying to buy your complicity with something. Yes, anger can be destructive, but sometimes the things you’re trying to destroy need to be destroyed, like the fucking sexist, racist, ableist, transphobic, homophobic status fucking quo.
The bricks those drag queens threw at the cops who were trying to criminalize their existence at Stonewall were not thrown with kindness. They were thrown with anger, and lots of it.
And yes, there are instances where peaceful civil disobedience works. But there are also places where it doesn’t. But that is another post.
What I want to talk about now is one type of situation where anger is fully justified.
When women report sexual assault or harassment, we are almost universally disbelieved. Rape is one of the least successfully prosecuted crimes in this country, if not the world. Women who come forward face scorn, derision, name-calling, character assassination, and they rarely, if ever, see justice done.
When you accuse a woman of falsely accusing someone of sexual assault or harassment, I want you to think about what she’s just set herself up for by coming forward. Odds are pretty good she’s going to lose a lot, if not all, of her friends. She could be harassed by hundreds or thousands of strangers online. If she goes to the police, odds are good some cop is going to ask her if she’s sure she wants to ruin that nice young man’s life like this, even though the majority of rapists, even if they are convicted, go back to their lives like nothing fucking happened.
She, however, will be deemed a troublemaker and could find herself on one or several blacklists, especially if the industry she works in is small and incestuous enough.
Whatever imaginary payout you think she’s angling for, IF she manages to get one, it’s going to be eaten up by lawyer’s fees and will likely not be enough to finance a change of career, move to a new city, or enough to support her and any family she might have. Also, money does nothing to forestall the symptoms of PTSD and the loss of faith in humanity.
“But he could lose his CAREER!”
Could he? Or is it more likely that companies will wait for this all to die down and hire the shithead again. And even if he did, that implies that it’s ok for the victim’s career to go up in flames to save a man’s career.
I want you to really sit with how fucked up that is. And the fact that you didn’t even think about it before it occurred to you. The fact that you think it’s ok for a woman to have to put up with sexual assault (because a lot of harassment is, physical touch=assault in many jurisdictions) or harassment every fucking day of her job, to have to worry that her co-workers will rape her if given half a chance, and definitely wouldn’t believe her if it was someone else.
If you don’t think this is damaging as fuck, can I live in your charmed world? Where harassment and sexual violence are a minor inconvenience that can be laughed off with a smile, instead of inspiring a lifetime of nightmares and panic attacks.
And if you think women do laugh that shit off with a smile, it’s because the women in your life don’t trust you enough to tell you the truth.
There’s probably a reason for that.
Don’t get me wrong, at least we’re fucking talking about this shit now, that alone is a HUGE improvement. But until sexual harassers and abusers are the ones facing the consequences of their actions instead of the victims, we’re still just taking baby steps when we should be taking giant, harasser smashing strides.
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