Here’s my question: Does that absence make you think that you got through to me? Or does it make you think I wasn’t listening? How could you even know? I’m interested in your answer, but I’m also going to guess it (that’s ALSO something people who are listening can do. It means I’ve thought about you a lot and am trying to model your answers – if I can do that, then clearly I’m getting you. If not, you can tell me so, and I can fix the model). I guess that you don’t find a lack of male engagement indicative of having communicated to men well.
Silence is, without a doubt, the hardest thing to parse on the internet. Did the person you were arguing with go away because you made a really good point they couldn't refute, or because they decided you weren't worth wasting their time on? Even harder to interpret the silence of people who've never entered the conversation at all. TBH, I don't really keep track of individuals. I don't think you could, and stay sane.
And I'm going to say this, and try to ignore how dirty it sounds*: I've never had a problem with a lack of male engagement. There are loads of men here who've constructively engaged on threads of mine, and threads of Russell's on the same kinds of topics. A good sign of someone who is listening and engaging is that they will ask questions. I've also had 'conversations' with men here where I'm clearly not being listened to, but lectured at. Because this is the internet, I've seen conversations I was clearly never supposed to, where guys who comment here occasionally have said things about me that... well, they wouldn't say in front of me. The people I've seen defend me in those circumstances are also disproportionately men. They're disproportionately Russell, to be fair.
I've known a lot of you guys for a really long time. I've met a lot of you in person. That helps me interpret both your speech and your silence.
*by 'ignore', I clearly mean, 'point out'.
I hope this starts a shift in my own thinking and behaviour:
Dated May 2014. FFS guys….dunno about you but I’m shocked at my inability to ever actually listen
Thank you, Ali. This is why I keep doing this stuff, and trying to do it in a fairly temperate fashion no matter how frustrated and sweary I might get, because no matter how many times I say it, someone is actually hearing it for the first time. And I'm just speaking for myself, not 'women', but if a man has to say it for a particular guy to hear it, if that man has reach that I don't, then okay. I do not give a fuck about the means, just the result.
I've been writing here for eight years now. In that time, I've seen some really significant changes. I used to get a lot of shit from women, about how my dress and behaviour was Bad for Women and giving men the wrong message. Slutwalk. Boobquake. My impression is that, over those years, there's been a real shift in the dominant voice in feminism, and that policing of female behaviour is something I just don't hear any more. It's well possible that's just me, they've given up on me.
But the stuff with men? That post from nearly two years ago is nearly entirely made up of links to stuff I said even earlier than that, and we're still having this conversation from first principles. I know there were a bunch of us who felt like the whole 'Auckland serial rapists' thing was going to be a turning point, and then it wasn't, and here we are, and it's fucking frustrating.
These men, they're usually abusive in private. When they're abusive in a public venue like this, it's because they feel SAFE doing so. And they'll keep doing it, at concerts and sports stadiums and bars, until the backlash around them is such that they don't feel safe.
Someone tell me, what can we do? Even if its just a start
I had some suggestions a couple of years ago.
If there is a difference, it’s that the low-level (with potential for high-level) aggression women have experienced since forever can now be expressed near-instantly and “eloquently” via text rather than in person.
Which is both an improvement and a... disprovement. Fuck. Because yeah, one douchebag can reach so many more women now, at so much lower a risk to himself. But on the other, when they do it in writing we can share it. You can see it, verbatim, which makes it much harder to dismiss.
(I can see Emma nagging at me to stop trying to fix things).
Oh Bart no, not this time.
A couple of times now I've sat down to type this story and decided not to, because it felt like a side-track. But I'm going to do it, and if it does, people can just ignore it. The TL:DR is 'sometimes things feel like they've got worse because they've stayed the same'.
So the last year or so, I've been dating. And what I've found is a bunch of men - in their thirties and forties - who can't understand that women can set boundaries, and those boundaries should be respected. And I've found myself wondering aloud if men are actually WORSE now than they were when I was in my twenties. And of course, they're not, it's just that the intervening twenty years having made no fucking difference is so frustrating, it feels worse.
The last guy I went out with, winnowed from a pile of cruft that was even worse, could not accept that I didn't want to be touched while I was sleeping. After we broke up, I asked him not to contact me any more. He messaged me six times that same day. I blocked him from my phone, from a bunch of social media sites... three months later, he's still finding new ways to get to me. I feel like I've never been afraid after breaking up with a guy before, but I started off on this site talking about a guy taking me hostage with a crossbow, so... I guess not.
In the end, it doesn't really matter whether it's got worse. It hasn't got BETTER, and that there is enough of a problem. Guys my son's age are being douches to women, and I'm so fucking SICK of it.
I’m 61 and was brought up respecting women, giving up seats for older people on public transport and generally having basic manners.
Basic manners would involve listening to women when they talk about their experiences. We know that some men don't even notice this stuff when it happens right in front of them. I want men talking about this stuff, to each other, but not 'talking not listening'. As I've said before, we are the experts
And you're younger than my abusive father would be if he were still alive, and all his peers who condoned his behaviour when they knew full well he was abusing his wife and his step-children. You're about the same age as the guys who always seem to think they can chat me up at the bus exchange late at night. So, young men were doing this when you were young, and men your age are still doing this. It's a continuum of behaviour which does not accept that women have the right to control what happens to them.
We can say 'this stuff seems to be getting worse at this particular gig' AND 'this stuff has always happened'.
I think something to improve the convenience of reporting abuse is worth exploring, but only to save the hassle of finding a security guard and pointing them at the right person.
Some sports grounds, and only some, will publicise a number you can use to text security to let them know there's a problem. It means you can complain without anyone knowing WHO has complained. But it's part of a toolkit, and it relies on people knowing that non-physical abuse will be taken seriously.
Fortunately, I refreshed the page before typing exactly what Deborah just did. Call it out when you see it. Not just the behaviour itself, but the blame-shifting that enables it. It's not women's fault for being somewhere being female. And it's NOT alcohol's fault. There's a book called Why Does He Do That by a therapist called Lundy Bancroft who deals with abusive men. And while the book concentrates on domestic abuse, this is all on the same continuum. He says he's never seen a man who is only abusive when he's drunk. Booze is just one of the things that provides these men with an excuse for their behaviour. Oh, but I was drunk, so I'm not responsible for what I did. He might have a drinking problem, but he also has a Being an Arsehole problem.
Feeling sorry for the caterers and food carts at the cricket – looks like it’ll all be over by the lunch break 108/0 after 8 overs!!!
(and I suspect even Emma didn’t want it over that fast either…)
There wasn't even a full 'lunchbreak'. People were walking around hawking 2 for 1 burritos basically as soon as we started batting. No amount of wheedling on our part seemed likely to persuade the teams to play a 20/20 after they were done.
So we headed home instead and had an indoor picnic while playing a board game my 20 year old son won while playing as Caroline Bingley.
My summer. We spent all yesterday at the cricket. Boxing Day on a grassy bank behind a white picket fence at a cricket ground: perfection. Tomorrow, we're going to go back and do it again. This in spite of the fact that radiotherapy has given me the sun tolerance of an Irish redhead. I am in a lot of pain today.
I think I’ve mentioned this before but I was very struck with Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time, which is the story of a detective who examines a historical mystery while stuck in hospital: did Richard III kill the Princes in the Tower?
Oddly, I've read this book twice, because I get it confused with Elizabeth Peter's The Murders of Richard III, which is about a series of copy-cat murders of Richardists.
My favourite re-imagining of Sherlock is Neil Gaiman’s Lovecraftian short-story A Study in Emerald, which is collected in his Fragile Things.
It's also a board game I really, really want.
I love mystery fiction, even when the writing is not always brilliant (I love Agatha Raisin, but this is one example along with M.C Beaton’s Hamish MacBeth books where the tv adaptations are better than the books).
Quoted for Truth.