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Jun 17 2009

Hugs, Twisty: Blamer goes out and does what needs to be done

Hugs Twisty! Whaa?

Well, Twisty may be orbiting some distant star in a talking robot ship that makes her margaritas and tacos, but her fan mail continues to pour in here in Cottonmouth County. The post office at Rattlesnake is swamped, and are thinking of giving her her own zip code. This would be a symbolic gesture, of course, since Rattlesnake’s only settlement is Spinster Aunt HQ at El Rancho Deluxe, and we already have our own zip code.

However, there is neither snail mail nor Internet on Obstreperon (it became obsolete once the natives evolved giant, throbbing omniscient brains), so Twisty is obliged to correspond via subspace vacuum tubes. One such tube arrived this morning. To wit:

“It is a pleasure to reprint this communiqué from blamer T. Daniels, who steeled up her huevos and took blaming from Internet Feminist Theory to real-life praxis.

Greetings Twisty

I would just like to write you a quick note of appreciation and thanks for inadvertently pushing me to stand up for myself against my heathen bloke-manager. I’m 23 years old, I work at an NHS a nursing home in the UK and have recently reported one of my senior colleagues for indecent behaviour towards me. He has made remarks about my appearance (and other members of female staff) and I decided I could no longer stand his low level harassment. Whereas previously I would’ve just brushed his comments off and dealt with my humiliation and embarrassment in silence I know now how important it is to not feel like I’m suffering from delusions of persecution and get this guy done. I feel that without the ammunition your writing has given me I would never have had the confidence to report this arsehole.

Thanks awfully and long live IBTP!

T.Daniels

Dear T.Daniels,

Several years ago, while I was taking a shower, I listened to cult figurine Sarah Vowell on the radio. That I was taking a shower at the time has no bearing on the story, but I am compelled to include this detail because it amazes and infuriates me that I can remember such a trivial minutia ten years later, but that really consequential stuff — what were my father’s last words to me? What is the recipe for that stuffed summer squash thing I used to make all the time in the 90′s? How many liters in a hectare? — these memories and so many more, all dusky ephemera that fluttered briefly in my glistening lobe and are no more. The aging spinster’s mind, once a vigorous, shining, athletic muscle, is now a soupy sponge that someone has thrown into a colander to drain.

So Sarah Vowell — who, despite her “concessions” to Beauty2K-Compliance (lipstick and high heeled shoes) has been called a “curmudgeon” by Bitch magazine — was on the radio in my bathroom in 1998, doing that humorous piece on her Goth makeover. You know the piece: she adopts the Goth name “Becky” and is celebrated by her Goth tutors as having “skipped a couple of levels and gone straight to pink.”

T.Daniels, you remind me of this. You have skipped a couple of blaming levels — i.e. hanging around on the blog, describing your unique relationship with your Nigel, correcting other blamers, engaging in call-out-pile-on mania — and gone straight to actual Feminism: fucking doin’ sommat what actually means sommat.

They might try to beat you into submission, demand concessions, minimize the harassment. Stay burly, T.Daniels. Letters like yours are what keep me from ripping my own head off. Thank you. I hope you apprise me of the outcome of your action. And if you know a recipe for stuffed summer squash, by all means lay it on me.

Hugs,
Twisty

P.S. On behalf of Jill, thanks to the Blametariat for all the kind internet condoling re: Zippy. She was indeed that once-in-a-lifetime dog.”

56 comments

  1. admirerofemily

    Here, then, is a comment, offered in the spirit of keeping your/Twisty’s head connected to your/her shoulders.

    I changed jobs, because I could no longer reconcile certain aspects of it with what I’ve learned here.

    Thank you.

  2. speedbudget

    I have been posting feminist screeds on my Facebook page. I have also been having long talks with my mother, she of the “You should never be smarter than any man you date” attitude.

    She’s starting to come around.

  3. Catherine

    We had our bi-yearly anti-harrassment video at work yesterday. It was fine except for the part where it said that women who wear short skirts and plunging necklines are asking for trouble (I’m not making this up). Because of you, instead of just rolling my eyes and complaining to the woman next to me I send a formal letter to HR telling them to get a clue.

  4. verona

    The dilemma I feel in situations similar to T. Daniels’ is this: Do you make a formal complaint, which will likely land on the desk of another asshole and therefore ultimately cause more problems for you and not the harrasser in question, or do you take matters into your own hands? I think feel involving more people in the conflict tends to blow up into a drama vortex where no real problem gets solved. So my options wind up being a. Have a heart-to-heart talk with the harrasser and be honest about the discomfort his comments cause me or b. Heave a rock through his windshield or secretly spit in his lunch before walking out. Sometimes b. tends to follow a.
    Also, sometimes work harrassment happens in ways it’s hard to describe on paper. “I thought he was my friend but now he talks shit about me behind my back and gives me bad reviews because he implied he wants to go out with me and I didn’t show any interest” doesn’t sound like anything solid enough to formally complain about. Those are the times when vigilante action starts looking good.

  5. yttik

    “I know now how important it is to not feel like I’m suffering from delusions of persecution and get this guy done.”

    Beautiful line. I sure wish I could fit that on a bumper sticker.

  6. Laughingrat

    What Verona said. Harassment is hard to describe, hard to pin down, sometimes. And when the administration at your job is unsympathetic or refuses to take the problem seriously (because they’re gutless motherfuckers, not that I have any strong opinions about this or anything), reporting harassment actually puts one’s ability to continue to earn one’s keep on the line.

    We probably all know this, but it’s just important to keep the magnitude of the problem in mind. Reporting harassment is a pretty terrifying prospect for all of those reasons and more, especially if you’re not part of the comfortable financial elite. This, of course, means that T. Daniels is awesome, brave, and bold for doing what she did. I hope things work out for her!

  7. vinoveritas

    Actually, reporting sexual harassment can work remarkably well, especially the more “corporate” the setting is. I should know, I reported a slimeball teacher at the trade school I attended and he was shit-canned within a month or two. I had to be persistent and complain several times, but just picturing the look on his face when they told him was worth it! Anybody experiencing harassment of any sort at work needs to document it well. Write down any incident in detail with times and dates. Be a squeaky wheel. The mere idea of a lawsuit is enough for most companies to take action on your behalf. If that doesn’t work, by all means, get creative.

  8. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    It’s been my experience that sometimes c) having a casual, off-the-record chat with the harasser’s boss can be effective. The harassing shrivels up and dies, kinda like a slug when you sprinkle salt on it.

  9. Orange

    When I was in college, I worked briefly at the video store where my sister worked. She and numerous other teenaged girls and young women worked the counter. The owner was a greaseball named Jay, who was closing in on 40 and yet saw nothing wrong with talking about sex and lewd innuendo with the girls and women. Not a one of them liked that or respected him, but they liked the job so they never did anything about the harassment.

    I am delighted that T.Daniels has realized she needn’t put up with that sort of crap. Huzzah!

  10. the Omphaloskeptic

    Thanks to several years of devoted IBTP-reading, I managed to explain a) the basic tenets of feminism, b) the driving ideas of both radical feminism and sex-positive feminism, and c) the extent to which they come into conflict with one another –– to a couple of my non-feminist friends (it’s hard to have any other kind in high school) in under ten minutes, DURING our post-graduation beach week. And I neither offended anyone nor made them think I was crazy!

    They concluded that radical feminism wasn’t a lot of fun to think about; I had to agree. But I’m counting the experience as a victory, however minor. So, thanks, Twisty!

  11. Stella

    This blog changes my life.

  12. Valerie M

    Thanks to all the lurking here I threw away my razor and tweezers, and also started up my own business. It’s a fair-rate DIY business for low-income women and OAPs. My employees are allowed to bring their children to work, babies even.

    Yeah, the myth that work just cannot be gotten on with if children are present is just one of the myriad ways that women’s biology has been used against them to keep them out of well-paid professions.

  13. PhysioProf

    Twisty’s in the house! w00t!

  14. Hattie

    Vinoveritas: good advice. I worked in a prison as a teacher, and we used to write “incident reports” about out of line prisoner behavior toward us.
    Advice: Write these things down as soon as possible after the incident. Jot a few notes if you can’t deal with making the report right away. These can be surprisingly helpful, as we forget details so fast. It is important when you write these things to stick to the facts. Date, time, what the setting was, what he said, what you said, etc. You can add how the incident made you feel but do not wander off into abstractions or polemics. This is the strong way to deal with such situations. If you decide to act, you have a body of evidence to present that is detailed and can be used to show a systematic pattern of harassment.

  15. OVERLADY

    Valerie M: I FIND YOUR COMMENT TO BE EXTREMELY THOUGHT-PROVOKING!!

  16. Sutton (simply)

    What a pleasant surprise in the middle of my work day to find not one, but several reports of how IBTP has gotten women up and acting–acting up, as it were. Inspiring and cheering. Thanks to T. Daniels and to all who commented.

  17. Hannah

    Hei great! This is turning into a “feminism in real life” thread!

  18. Oaktown Girl

    First, a hearty “Huzzah!” to T. Daniels.

    Second, this is priceless: You have skipped a couple of blaming levels — i.e. hanging around on the blog, describing your unique relationship with your Nigel, correcting other blamers…

    I especially love the “unique relationship with your Nigel” part. If I were clever and a writer, I’d make up some shit and send Twisty a series of letter explaining how me and my Nigel have a relationship that transcends the Patriarchy. Or better yet, if IBTP were the sort of place to hold a “contest”, I would propose a contest to see who could compose the best, most nauseatingly vile and clueless “Why my Nigel is Different” letter. That would make for some really great laughs, which I’m sure we could all use. Winner (and probably all participants) would get the gratitude of the readers, and a gift certificate for some tacos or something.

  19. phiogistic

    IBTP (and the support I got from the IBTP forums back in the day) gets at least partial credit for me having the courage to report the porn on a professor’s computer I was working on last year. There was a time I would have silently “sucked it up” and continued working in a decidedly hostile workplace. Not any more.

  20. Laughingrat

    Hattie, Vinoveritas: I didn’t say it was bad to report sexual harassment. I said it could be dangerous and problematic for the woman reporting it, and that is a fact. Not every HR representative or manager plays by the rules and supports the complainant in these cases. I stand by saying that T. Daniels did a brave thing, as well as a good thing.

  21. polly sytrene

    Sadly T, these things usually get ugly, as most employers are crap at dealing with them. (I speak from personal experience,though not of sexual harassment directed at me, just plain ordinary discrimination).Make sure you keep a very good record of events (dates, times, places),get as much as you can in writing and I hope your colleagues back you up.

    Good luck, you’re a brave woman and props to you for actually doing something.

  22. birkwearingblamer

    Blamers, gather evidence. I can just imagine blamers taking pictures of asshole bosses who invade their personal space. Keep your phone near and snap a few. You need dates,times and other witnesses. Unfortunately, management often controls well-meaning HR people. Try HR first but don’t be surprised if it is not effective.

    If HR does not resolve anything, contact an attorney who specializes in employment law. Trust me, they’ve seen it all. I had a colleague who won a sexual discrimination case, and she donated the award to charity. She already had another job and just wanted to make her point.

  23. BMS

    You have skipped a couple of blaming levels — i.e. hanging around on the blog, describing your unique relationship with your Nigel, correcting other blamers, engaging in call-out-pile-on mania —

    And the ever-popular devolution of a thread into flame wars about scrubbing shit-stained toilets.

    I loved those threads. They’re why I stopped reading IBTP’s comment threads for over a year and read only Twisty’s beautiful screeds.

  24. Agasaya

    Every advance made comes on the heels of those who suffered for taking action in a hostile environment. Unfortunately, some of us are stuck setting precedents and building them into immutable laws – hence whistle blower protections and protected classes. Every start is a battlefield but often an employer will be happy to prosecute some employee for harassment based upon sex or race etc. Usually those creeps aren’t very good at what they do so it offers them an excuse.

    Too bad the actions aren’t just taken because it is the right thing to do.

    I am in search of a kick-ass, rad fem lawyer in NYS. Anyone have a suggestion?

  25. tora

    Because of IBTP I am able to concisely summarize why something is misogynistic and then backup the basic tenets of feminism much more often. It’s been difficult to get to know my arguments so well that I don’t get flustered while being very angry because I’m listening to misogynistic crap coming out of my friends’ mouths. Also, I only bother to set my good friends straight since they’re people I would genuinely miss being around otherwise. They usually wind up (over time– it takes so much time!) agreeing with me in the end, and then I feel like I’ve actually made a difference in the world. Plus I’ve stopped worrying about whether I have armpit or leg hair showing. Nobody’s said anything!

  26. niki

    Oh Twisty, you have NO idea how much your words here change the minds of your readers. Sometimes all it takes is knowing one is not alone in one’s frustrating situation and hearing the solutions of others to spur on a more collective form of action. When I first started reading I was practically in tears daily, both from the frank wit and the astounding revelations.

    Having said that, I’ve long since given up ranting on my own blog in similar fashion, as it is situated in the social heart of the porn culture glorification (urban California!) and all I ended up doing was arguing endlessly with ‘enhanced’ ‘exotic’ dancers and whatnot.

    Nevertheless, please keep on keepin’ on. PUH-LEEZE.

  27. Sophie

    Having complained to HR in a previous job about a job advert poster that appeared around the building based around an image of a woman in a bikini and the words ‘Do you want it? Come and get it!’, I know well how daunting it can be to stick your head above the parapet.
    It was the talk of the office for a day or so and I got all the expected ‘well, it was designed by a woman so how can it be sexist’, ‘it’s all a bit of fun’ blah blah blah, from men and women. But I also had (fewer) people say ‘Yes, actually I thought that was a bit off, too.’
    My point being, T Daniels, that you are indeed to be applauded for not taking it lying down, and that it’s important to remember that even if you don’t get everyone agreeing with you, just the action of challenging shit makes people think twice. If no one says anything, no one will think more than once (if at all, in the case of my bone-headed former colleagues).
    For the record, it was only a partial victory in the end (they agreed with me that the wording implied that only people who found women attractive, ie straight men and gay women, were welcome to apply for the role, but they didn’t deal with my complaint that it was an inappropriate way to communicate between work colleagues per se) but they did change the poster to one that wasn’t offensive.

  28. truffula

    Harassment is hard to describe, hard to pin down, sometimes.

    I used to think this. Then I realized that it was because I had been trained to think this. I had been trained to not recognize harassment as harassment but to interpret it as “guys being guys” or “guys being clueless” or some other baloney. Well, 1) fuck that, and 2) if it’s just “guys being guys” then guys are harassers.

    I agree with vinoveritas, keep a written record. Not only might it help correct a bad situation, it will help a person start to see the pattern, see the harassment for what it is.

  29. tinfoil hattie

    Nice work, T. Daniels. Three cheers and a big “thank you.”

    This blog ruined my life. In a good way.

  30. Shopstewardess

    T – Congratulations on standing up to be counted.

    This man may change his behaviour just from a formal complaint being made against him, even if no further action comes out of it. But all the advice above about keeping records is good – if it comes down to your word against the his, notes you take at the time will ensure that what you say will be detailed and accurate, and more difficult to dismiss.

    If you belong to a professional organisation or trade union, it may be worth getting in touch with them, as they can provide both moral support and information on what procedures might follow from your complaint. It can be lonely being one person dealing on your own with a big organisation.

    I understand the cautionary advice from blamers about the possible adverse consequences of making a complaint. Even if a part of the patriarchy pays lipservice to women being equal to men, when women do something that makes it clear that they are not men (such as getting pregnant, or making a complaint of harassment or unequal treatment) they are at risk of being forced out of the “assimilated men” group, and so getting worse treatment than before. But in the UK, and in the public sector, I think you’ve got as good a chance of success as just about anywhere.

  31. speedbudget

    Recently, Mom sent one of those chain emails to me. The one about “Why are white people called racists but black people aren’t?” It also held up Kramer as some kind of white cultural hero. I only scrolled down to see what it was about, then I hit “Reply All” and wrote “Please check your privilege at the door.”

    Well, I got a reply from Mom and sis asking what I meant. Which is funny, given that my sister is a lesbian surgeon in the military. You would think she would be aware of privilege. Anyway, I sent a reply explaining the concept of white privilege from the point of view of mail privilege and how all the complaints in the email essentially boil down to a white man bitching that he can’t use racist slurs.

    Mom actually wrote me a very nice email back saying how she had never looked at those things in that way, that she was actually nodding her head in agreement with that chain email. And then she went back and read it after I explained privilege to her, and she was embarrassed.

    I like to think my mom will start blaming soon.

  32. speedbudget

    Holy — did I write “mail privilege”?

    Son of a Biscuit.

  33. admirerofemily

    T. Daniels, the advice about keeping a diary of time and date etc is very true. I’d add that it’s useful to keep it to ‘observable facts’ such as ‘he leaned over my shoulder so his chest was against my back, and picked up a pen from my desk’. Or “”he said ‘exactly what he said’”. He can’t deny this kind of thing. Are there any witnesses who would verify what he is doing, or does he wait til you’re alone?

    Try to stay away from the “when he said ‘xyz’ I thought he might mean ‘abc’ or ‘he looked like he was thinking that I was crazy’. Suppositions, second guessing, assumptions aren’t verifiable.

    Writing it down, too, helps remind you that it IS worth complaining, and you’re not making it up, or being TOO sensitive or lacking a sense of humour or any one of the numerous ways such harrasment is trivialised.

    Also, you might want to ask around and see if any colleagues are having the same problem and put in a joint complaint. That way it’s harder to dismiss you, and you can have someone close by to commiserate and plot with as you weave your way through the labyrinth of a complaints process.

  34. Pantsuit Sally

    That’s encouraging, speedbudget.

    My sister used to work at the recycling center at her university, and several male employees frequently looked at porn on work computers, printed the pictures on the office printer, and made blatantly sexual remarks about the female employees. It was so bad that my sister wouldn’t bend over to pick up her pencil if she dropped it. When she and others complained to the boss, the creeps would receive a half-assed admonishment to “tone it down”.

    Finally, my sister had a meeting with her boss in which she made a complaint that he was bound by university policy to report to HR and the employees union, and he implied that he wasn’t happy about doing that and he thought she was making a big deal out of nothing. She felt vindicated when, immediately after leaving his office, the phone at her desk rang. It was a woman calling to speak to the boss because someone in a university recycling center truck had just yelled “Nice tits!” at her while she was simply walking down the street. This set off a series of events that ultimately resulted in several people being fired, while others were transferred…to higher positions in different offices. Then the boss was baffled when my sister told him she no longer felt comfortable working there. So it’s a half victory, I guess?

  35. JS

    You’ll get a litre per hectare for every 0.000001 cm of depth, or 100,000 litres per centimetre.

    For stuffed squash, the trick is equal parts shitake, red peppers, celery, onions and shredded carrots. Add dill, pepper, garlic, a bit of oat flour to make it stick, and enough butter to reduce your life expectancy by six months.
    Sautee all of the sauteeables, mix up, stuff and bake.
    Some Parmesan and pancietta or bacon would round it off nicely if that floats your boat.

    Keep us on our toes on the blaming tip, and pass off these minor queries to your army of flying monkeys.

  36. Comrade PhysioProf

    This blog ruined my life. In a good way.

    Word.

  37. Spiders

    I am also actively feminist in the real world, reporting, challenging and whatnot. The reason I don’t share that stuff on here is because the comments policy does kinda tell us not to “share experience” so I don’t assume that the women here who have talked about nigels or whatever are not also active in the real world.

    Speedbudget, I also received that hideous fucking Kramer email and I did the same thing, hit reply all and then included a little paragraph outlining the way white is still the dominant class on this planet and being called “honky” doesn’t reverse the social order bla bla bla. I really went to town on it.
    I haven’t heard from the “friend” who sent it to me, since.

  38. Comrade PhysioProf

    I once received some bizarre right-wing conspiracy theory e-mail forward from my mother that was also copied to about forty other of her goofaloon right-wing pals. I replied-all providing a link to the relevant Snopes page, and writing “This is transparently ridiculous right-wing propaganda without any validity to it whatsoever.”

    My mother responded to me, “You should be careful not to reply-all.” AHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

    I have yet to receive another of her loonie-toon forwards.

  39. Squiggy

    What a boon it would be if Twisty, Jill, or any of you other brilliant commenters would write pithy reply-all template(s) that fit for the predictable right-wing-chain-male-mail-propaganda-propagation. I feel a thrill deep in my loins at the prospect. I beggin’ here! Don’t make me get blue-ovaries!

  40. trex

    Because of the priceless blog IBTP, I make sure to take down all rockshow posters with boobs and butts that clueless jerks put up at my bar.
    It also reminds me to check myself whenever I think I might have some privilege creepin’ up in one of my opinions.
    I am considering getting “IBTP” tattooed across my knuckles, just so I always remember, and I’m only half joking.
    Thanks Twisty and Jill, and nice work T.

  41. goblinbee

    Does everyone but me know what the 2K part of Beauty2K-Compliance means?

    Please enlighten!

  42. Spiders

    Goblinbee, it refers to the date or time period, 2000. Remember the Y2K bug?

  43. Margaret

    Despite being a weak commenter, my feminist activity is in the solid blamer department, the crowning glory of which was the establishment of a District Protocol on Family Violence. This protocol, created in the early 1990′s, could save lives. It was; however, created on my back because my experience and resulting fight against the “justice” system was only the catalyst for it. My name is not on it, even though my life was on the line and I took the risks and gained nothing myself. So what if some of my comments don’t make it through Twisty’s rigorous moderation. IBTP is the best feminist blog and I’m proud to be part of it, even if it’s mostly read-only for me.

  44. Stella

    I got that “Obama is a Muslim” forward from my cousin back in the fall. My response?

    “Ah, I finally get the “Obama is a Muslim” email.

    “Obama is not a Muslim. Obama is a longstanding member of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

    “There is a great website that fact checks all the candidates and calls them on false claims in their campaign ads and literature, as well as debunks things like this which are written by ignorant people and spread by chain email by people who don’t bother to check sources and do a little research before clicking the ‘forward’ button.

    “However, even if Obama was a Muslim, that would in no way diminish his ability to be a competent president of the United States. In America, we are all free to practice any religion we choose (or none at all). As long as a person respects the Constitution (which the current president and most of the Congress clearly do not), and does not try to impose sectarian religious beliefs on other Americans, his or her religion is irrelevant. I am personally much more worried about Christian fundamentalists forcing their own brand of fascism on the rest of us than I am about radical Muslims taking over our government. But I am willing to fight both.

    “Check out these sites for information regarding the claims in this and other anti-Obama emails. I would also like to add the disclaimer that I am neither a registered Democrat nor a supporter of Barack Obama.

    “http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/sliming_obama.html

    “http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/01/22/obama.madrassa/”

    Her response to all that?

    “I figured you would know.”

    Number of stupid forwards received since this incident?

    0.

  45. Squiggy

    Brilliant Stella! Keep ‘em coming (and going) blamers! Or, er ahh, if I got to choose I’d read many more of these great modeling examples. Here.

  46. Jezebella

    I find that liberal use of the Snopes deters almost everybody from sending me idiotic chain mails more than once. Twice, at most. Snopes: such a BUZZ KILL.

  47. virago

    OMG, does this sound familiar. I work on a psych unit, and my supervisor is a male nurse. He is constantly making sexual comments and demeaning comments to the women employees. He almost got it for sexual harrassment a few years ago, but the female employees never went through with it because he made their lives miserable. OTOH, he leaves me alone because I tell him off. He might have gotten away with sexual harassment and still walks the line, but I think he’s afraid that he’ll be turned in again for it. That’s why he backs down when I confront him on it. I would turn him in myself, but I have absolutely no back up from any other female employee. I figured out how to handle him, but a lot of them haven’t. The funny thing is he tries to act all macho, but being a nurse isn’t exactly a macho career field. I think he tries to compensate for this by treating all females like his inferiors. Anyway, he’s an idiot, and I won’t hesitate to tell him that.

  48. niki

    I feel I may have told this brief tale here before but my memory is gluey.

    I worked for a company that had a good-old-boy harasser, the kind that can’t get fired when employees complain about his constant innuendos and attempts to touch women because 1. He’s just being (whatever his name was) and 2. He’s been here for 20 years, by Gosh! It didn’t help that I was a temp.

    Long story short, since my time there was already predestined to be very limited and I had made my case, everything henceforth could be considered self-defense – like throwing chairs and other office materials at him whenever he came into my office. Although I would never advocate violence as a means to rectify any situation, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the arrangement.

  49. Spiders

    Squiggy, this was my reply all response to the Kramer thingy. Keep in mind I did write it for an audience of ignorant redneck queenslanders so I tried to keep it concise and simplistic. I also sent it back in a large bold font.

    “Michael Richards should be sentenced to a crash course in sociology. Then he might be reminded of the privileged place he occupies in the social order. This is a white male dominated society therefore being white and male means he is privileged socially, politically, and economically. His needs and interests are upheld and enshrined in all of our society’s institutions.
    White males own most of the planet, by far, they control almost all the wealth and resources, while women and minorities perform most of the labour, especially the unpaid and underpaid labour. Fact.
    Just because we are becoming more aware of issues of inequality that have to do with race, gender and class, does NOT mean the social order has been reversed. White males still dominate.
    So when someone calls Michael Richards a honky, sure it’s not very nice for him. But it does not have a long history associated with discrimination and oppression and it does not carry the full force of that oppression behind it.

    Being asked to examine your white privilege and you know ,actually acknowledge the existence of people who are not Just Like You, is NOT the same as social oppression, and frankly Richards should stop acting like a whiny baby.”

  50. polly sytrene

    Can I say that from an employment law point of view, anyone who is i this situation needs to get something in writing fairly early on. The reason is that your employers can’t then say they weren’t made aware of the situation. And evidence is key, absolutely key.

    As somebody who has beeen patriarchy fighting at work for over a year now, (and it is still bleeding going on, and I am still there and I shamed/frightened the f***wits into giving me the promotion I actually deserved, but they still have not got a clue despite me making it quite clear to them that in addition to my unions help I’m retaining an employment solicitor), the thing that will keep you sane is if there is more than one of you. Strength in numbers is key. Suss out which of your colleagues you can trust. Get good legal advice. There’s good free stuff on the web on the ACAS site, the Equalities and human rights commission, but you can also try local law centres if you have one.

    And this is a bloody brilliant site http://etclaims.co.uk/

  51. Jezebella

    When, oh when, will the professional classes get over themselves and bloody well unionize? I could really use some help here in non-profit land, but employment-at-will in a private org leaves me and my peers in a terribly vulnerable place.

  52. Squiggy

    Spiders, that was thrilling. An “audience of ignorant redneck[s]” would be my precise target. This stuff is so deeply entrenched into society’s subconscious that it takes a kindergarten approach to begin to make the tiniest crack into the petrified concrete of the status quo. You makes it so clear and simple. Which also makes it funny in a way. Humor blasts oxygen-filled holes in the humorless Patriarchy Machine. It’s partly why we love Twisty and Jill’s potent powa’ and genius, organic wordcraft.

  53. Spiders

    I agree, Squiggy, you have to break it down into bite sized chunks for them.

    To Polly’s excellent advice I would add that it also helps to get the appropriate legislation in writing and wave that around too. You can print off anti-discrimination acts from the net, so you have something to point to that’s concrete that says what he’s doing is against the law.

  54. Jodie

    Sometimes we do not realize the effect we have on the world. Thanks!

  55. Valerie M

    Great takedown, Spiders.

    One thing – I really hate to nitpick, but you might want to rethink using the word ‘minority’ to describe people of colour when speaking about global issues. POC are the vast majority of the Earth’s human population.

    No offense meant as I am sure you know this!

  56. Spiders

    Point taken, Valerie. I was aiming for something that would have some chance of being understood within these people’s local social context and I just dashed it off very quickly. You’re totally right, though.

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