When to Say When

Boy was I surprised to get back from my internet-free trip to Florida to see what hell’s been going on with Kathy Sierra from Creating Passionate Users. I caught up over lunch today and had to stop eating. I’m hypersensitive to issues of misogyny and abuse towards women as it is (wait, shouldn’t everyone be?), but this really turned my stomach. It makes Debbie Does Dallas look like a Disney flick.

I’ll try not to recycle what everyone else has said, but will emphasize this:

1. I’m sickened not only by the men who were involved, but by the women (here’s looking at you, Jeanene Sessum) who contributed to this seriously foul behavior. Shame on you. I’ve about had it with the women in this world who disrespect their own gender to fit in with the guys. We see you there, sitting in the front row of strip clubs cloaked in your own self-hatred.

2. Don’t come at me—and I mean it—with any uberFeminism crap. By definition, feminism is a term to classify the philosophy and actions which push for social, economic, and political equality for women. This is America. If you can’t get with that shit then you’re in the wrong country.

3. This kind of stuff absolutely makes my blood run cold to the point that I don’t want to see, talk to, or be touched by anyone with a Y chromosome. So it warmed me up a little bit to see the support great bloggers like Hugh, Seth, and Robert Scoble (to name a mere few) on this issue. Thanks guys, for affirming that not all men are creeps.

4. As someone who’s had her personal safety threatened, it’s important to offer support to people like Kathy—and steadily—for years to come. Fear is a stickler; it doesn’t go away after a few months. It becomes a part of everyday life, and as a friend or loved one, you’ve got to understand that.

5. As a woman who’s lent her name and her face to promoting and marketing her company, I completely agree with Rachel Clarke’s quotable (which was also mentioned on the great Gaping Void):

What the fuck is going on? Why does this happen again and again. The only people I know (in real life or virtually) who have been threatened and stalked have been women. What insecure, small mindedness, misogynistic behaviour takes over people to do things like this. Over 50% of the blogosphere are women, yet we continually get the refrain that they are not A-list, that they are not speaking at conferences. This is why. Put yourself out there, show that there is no difference and you get the anger and vitriol poring out from people from people who think they are better just because they have a Y chromosome.

(I also like Hugh’s musing: “OK, so you weren’t the actual jock who raped the cheerleader. But it seems you were in the posse circling them, chanting ‘Go go go go go go go…'”)

In reality, this stuff goes on all the time. Unfortunately it takes crap like this to remind us that it’s important to say shout “when.”

Kathy, you’ve always ruled the school. Keep your chin up.

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4 responses to “When to Say When

  1. “Thanks guys, for affirming that not all men are creeps.”

    Yeah. Whew. I know how you feel. I was mugged by a black man once, but fortunately my next-door neighbor was black too, and he’s cool and stuff, so I guess that proves they aren’t ALL bad.

  2. Jeffrey Presley

    I don’t think it’s necessarily less frightening when disgusting threats like these are made by idiot rednecks hanging out at the gas station, but it certainly seems more sad that people with at east above average intelligence and talent still behave this way. It’s not always ignorance that leads violence I guess, but I hate to think its some inherent quality in human nature either.

  3. Jeff,

    I totally agree with you. I think the problem with the internet is, as Seth, Hugh, and others have pointed out before, anonymity. People can’t always be held accountable for their stupid-ass actions. As my friend Mark pointed out the other day, where else, besides the web, could you rather anonymously spew hateful words on one site and then hop over to another site to get your fill of child pornography?

    I too hate to think this sickness is some inherent quality in human nature. But, sadly, the kind of behavior that goes on online is going on, in real life, all over the world. Even, as the statistics tell us, right down the street from you.

  4. Charles,

    I’m sorry you had a bad experience. However, I suggest you open yourself up to a little culture, and save these kinds of comments for another blog.

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