So, Friday I did a panel at Norwescon. They’d had a few people drop off due to health issues, and really felt that a Feminism in Fandompanel should happen, especially considering all of the shit that’s happened over the past 9 months in gaming, anime and other circles. So I drove down after work.
There were several men in the audience, which was an improvement over past years, and they mostly asked variations on the same question:
How do we help?
How do we support women without “White Knighting?”
What can we do?
Not to sound flippant, but the bulk of my advice to them was to remember three three-word phrases.
“Dude, not Cool.”
“Yes, she’s right.”
“Stop interrupting her.”
And one four word phrase.
“We don’t do that.”
Or if you want to get fancy or specific, bump it up to five for “We don’t do that here.”
Several female audience members said that they actually had heard guys using those phrases throughout the con already, and it was only Friday.
One guy specifically asked what he could do to support a woman who was debating with someone in public without talking over her or interrupting her. And the panel came up with, stand behind and to the side of her, and nod along with what she’s saying. If she pauses for breath, interject a “Yes, she’s right.” And if the dude she’s talking to keeps interrupting her, tell him to stop interrupting her.
You don’t have to fight everyone. You don’t have to argue with anyone. As I said in the panel, I recognize that not everyone carries around a collapsible white board so they can deliver graduate school level lectures to people who are being assholes at a moment’s notice.
Just three words: “Dude, not cool.”
It is both the minimum you can do, and hugely impactful. Because as much as it sucks, those guys are never going to listen to me. I can trot out my bona fides, and construct the most Vulcan of Straw Vulcan arguments, and even if I stay completely calm and he is frothing at the mouth, guess who’s going to get called “too emotional.”
Yeah, I’m not a fan either.
Let women fight their own battles, but also let it be known you have our backs. You don’t have to ride to the rescue any more than you would for another dude. But you can indicate whose side you’re on. Because sexist assholes assume that because you share their gender presentation, or appear to, that you will have their back.
Prove them wrong.
Do it as consistently as you can.
I get it, there are days I’m not up to arguing, or even dropping a “Dude, not cool.” It happens. Life happens. You’re not always going to have the energy or the strength.
But when you do, please back us up.
“Dude, not cool.”
Just three little words.
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