Well actually: the witch hunt has yet to begin

So Humans, here’s my thought: how about if we change “witch hunt” to a Hunt for Santa Claus’ elves? Because then, maybe, y’all would understand: it’s a hunt for people who DON’T EXIST. And you would understand that you are NOT USING THIS METAPHOR CORRECTLY.
A witch hunt is an appropriate term for… well, a witch hunt. Oh, but Keiren, you will attempt to argue, there *are* people who call themselves witches! Uh huh. Usually they prefer wiccans, but yeah, it does happen. But they never claim to ride broomsticks, turn into cats or kill people with magic. They don’t claim to do magic… and they were but women who were different in some way–perhaps too sexual, too independent, too smart, too aggressive in standing up for themselves. They were women who were in some way outside of the norm so society labelled them and hunted and punished them. The witches they were hunting did not exist… so they found women, labelled them witches and that was enough for them.
A witch hunt is an appropriate term for the McCarthy Hearings: yes, there were people who called themselves socialists and communists and yet they were not the magic-using killers that Joe wanted you to believe they were.
A witch hunt is not an appropriate term for women naming the men who sexually harassed and assaulted them. Is it a witch hunt to investigate child sex abuse claims in the Catholic Church? Or was that a valid attempt to seek redress for crimes committed against children? Was that a valid attempt to take people out of power who willingly did harm to those who could not defend themselves?
Are women not valid human beings? Do they not deserve safety… since they will rarely if ever see any justice?
It is not a “hunt” when in order to identify a man who has assaulted or abused women one only needs to turn on the television… the fact that duing the Golden Clobes, during all the inspiring speeches, all the commentary on the women’s black outfits, all the focus on hashtagging TimesUp and promoting the initiative, there in the midst of it all were men dressed in black wearing TimesUp pins who have used their imagined power over women in some way. Some of them were called out: some were not. There were women, dressed in black, walking onstage wearing TimesUp pins who had to stand in front of men knowing that some of those men have harassed them, even assaulted them. Men who have made them feel unsafe.
It’s not a witch hunt… unless you mean the attempt to turn the tables and make it about the women… those noisy harridans blaming everything on the poor men, ruing their careers. The trollops just trying to get attention, trying to be photographed and interviewed… oh. Oh. Yes, you’re right: a witch hunt is probably right around the corner.
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Their mental illness is not your excuse

How many times do we need to say this in how many ways? Even if we disagree with someone, even if we think they are the biggest hypocrite, even if we’re disappointed, even if we know terrible terrible things about them:

1. Don’t fucking body shame.
2. Don’t fucking mock or cite their mental health in any way, shape or form.

At which point, Our Expert will explain why HE gets to do so (it’s inevitably a “he”) as he has insider knowledge so therefore he’s special and gets to. No. That’s what “don’t” means. No. No. No. People with mental health issues are people with mental health issues. That does not mean that they are not owed respect… it also does not mean that it is to be used as an explanation for any behaviour or beliefs you don’t agree with. It also does not mean you get to throw it out as some sort of trophy, “I never thought good things about that person because I *know* they’re mentally ill!”

Oh, golly… makes you look kinda bad when I put it like that, doesn’t it? Hmmm…

Which witch is hunting now?

Trying to organize my thoughts coherently but it’s hard when I’m constantly choking on anger…

1. First thing I saw on Facebook was a post about an Uber driver who refused to drop a customer off at her requested stop (told her she was wrong about the address) and locked the doors and windows to keep her in. She posted about it to let others know and for women to share. So, on one of those, a man turned up to announce that she should have videotaped it and without having done so, he doesn’t believe it happened. He thinks she made it up for drama; she’s racist against the driver’s ethnicity… maybe she’s just lying because the driver turned out to be her ex.

Boy oh boy… let’s see:  if it was an ex, one assumes someone on her FB list would be aware and would have pointed that out (I’m going to decide that my assumptions are just as valid as his). If she’s making it up because she’s racist, then that’s a terrible thing… but it would seem to be missing a good payoff. Her post will have a limited audience, and her world is probably filled with people of that ethnicity. Why is she savaging just this one?

Women have been complaining about incidents with Uber drivers since the launch of the company (yes, women have had problems with taxi drivers since the start of that concept, too). It is not at all unheard of. And because the company does seem to lag in its safety concerns, women have been warning each other… just as they always do, as they always need to do.

2. A post by feminist writer Clementine Ford about watching a quiz show with a male Doctor Who expert who was being belittled by the host with the usual “nerd virgin” nonsense. She makes a lot of valid points about how this contributes to toxic masculinity and writes,

“It is incredibly harmful to push stereotypes that define men by their sexual prowess and use it to judge their masculine worth. It causes direct harm to some boys because it pushes them into sexual behaviour before they’re ready and/or even interested.”

She doesn’t mention whether the host came up with the usual “living in his mom’s basement” crap. It’s long been an easy convenient line to sum up gamers and nerds and geeks… and women themselves have been using it as an insult in recent years as a way to denigrate aggressive anti-woman/anti-feminist gatekeepers in popular culture. The quickest takeaway is “how dare you criticize women when you have no responsibility or independence” but I’ve been thinking about the base [internalized] misogyny of the line. It’s never “your dad’s basement” it’s always a mother’s… I have no great epiphany here, just something to think about.

3. Matt Damon. Oh Matt Damon. Ohhhhhhhhh Matt Damon. So here’s the quick version:  Mr. Damon would like people to know that “you know, there’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? ” Really? Golly, there’s a news flash.

Mr. Damon is trying to ameliorate what he sees as the harm done to the good men… the ones that men feel that they can safely support and bring back into the fold, men such as Louis CK who “only” masturbated in front of women without their consent, for example. Mr. Damon is able to understand that sexual assault is bad and does significant harm to the victim; and he’s happy to see Harvey Weinstein lose his career and company (now that Damon has had several movies made with him, which have made his own career and name what they are). He feels it’s unfair that the Louis CK’s and the Al Franken’s of the world have to deal with a loss of income or job and is uttering the same canard as many:  there has to be a sense of degree in punishment.

What Mr. Damon and too many don’t understand is:  there is a difference in the degree of punishment for these various offences. The problem is that women have not been able to access any of it with any degree of success. We all seem to agree that sexual assault is bad and yet, we know as a fact of life that the number of sexual assault cases that make it to the courts is very very small… a fraction of the actual incidents. Women (cis and trans, and cis and trans men and gender non-binary people) report being mocked, not believed, harassed into changing their stories or dropping charges. Victims are threatened that they will be arrested for filing a false charge if they aren’t absolutely completely utterly sure that this happened; maybe they’re just trying to get back at someone? Victims are quizzed as to what they did to make the assault happen:  how did they bring it upon themselves. Too many victims report either being told that there is no point to bring charges (no chance of success from lack of evidence, etc), or being too overwhelmed to continue, not able to psychologically deal with all of what is involved.

And that’s for sexual assault. So, let’s imagine what happens when one reports sexual harassment or the ‘lesser’ incidents of assault that Damon finds benign… for starters, to whom does one report Harvey Weinstein? Or Louis CK? When you’re dealing with someone who owns the company, who is the company, who do you tell? Where do you go for any sense that they could face a consequence? And that’s why people end up talking to the press or posting on social media… at some point, they feel that is all they have:  the hope that the overwhelming social pressure and shame will be enough that the perpetrator will remove themselves from the public view…

…until such a time as their crisis PR manager can ease them back into the public’s awareness and their redemption tour can begin.

Men are characters in their reality, women are props

What you say: “Oh great so now we can’t flirt with women at work because they’ll accuse us of harassing them?”
What we hear when you say that: “Oh great so now I can’t pick the hot girl to hit on because she’s actually a living thinking human being and she has a choice as to whether she wants to flirt with me? And she actually gets to say no? She can tell me to leave her alone and I *have* to?!”

What we know that it actually means: “If I have to treat a woman with actual respect, there are almost none who will go out with me and I won’t get the hot chick I want. I’m just being nice to all the ugly ones.”

***
Been seeing a few convos in the GTA comics community from men announcing that women will start arbitrarily accusing men of harassment just for revenge, to be petty, to have the fun melodrama of joining in the witch hunt! Woo hoo! Witch hunt! Go us!

Here’s the truth:  you are not wrong. Well actually (heh) you are somewhat… there are women who are able to speak out and tell stories about quite a number of you. It’s just that if they do, it’s not revenge, it’s not pettiness… and it is not imagined. That’s what happens when you never ever think as to whether someone wants the attention you have decided to aggressively dump on them. If you’ve been paying attention, you will have heard about the “whisper campaigns” of women telling others about Ghomeshi, about Weinstein and so many more. And yes, we tell stories about some of you…

There are men who I would not be alone with on an elevator for anything… (luckily, as they would be the first to point out, I’ve now hit the “too old to hit on” stage. O! Lucky lucky me!).  There are men who I’ve wordslapped a number of times… and really, they remember nothing except that I’m a bitch, and a feminist and I’m just really angry for no reason. They didn’t hear my words… they just ‘heard’ my gender.

Those of you who are worried:  because you do not listen. You do not ask, you do not listen… and at some level, you do not care. You do not want to have to ask women because they might say no… and you don’t need or want their consent. But if they say no, then you will be forced to stop or “look like a bad guy”. So you don’t ask, you don’t pay attention, you don’t listen… and this way, you can pretend that no woman can ever think you’ve done wrong… unless she’s just a hysterical feminist looking to join in on the witch hunt for all the glorious attention it brings.

We’re not gathering brooms to ride, gentlemen:  we’re using them to sweep out the dirt.

Men are characters in their reality, women are props

What you say: “Oh great so now we can’t flirt with women at work because they’ll accuse us of harassing them?”
What we hear when you say that: “Oh great so now I can’t pick the hot girl to hit on because she’s actually a living thinking human being and she has a choice as to whether she wants to flirt with me? And she actually gets to say no? She can tell me to leave her alone and I *have* to?!”

What we know that it actually means: “If I have to treat a woman with actual respect, there are almost none who will go out with me and I won’t get the hot chick I want. I’m just being nice to all the ugly ones.”

***
Been seeing a few convos in the GTA comics community from men announcing that women will start arbitrarily accusing men of harassment just for revenge, to be petty, to have the fun melodrama of joining in the witch hunt! Woo hoo! Witch hunt! Go us!

Here’s the truth:  you are not wrong. Well actually (heh) you are somewhat… there are women who are able to speak out and tell stories about quite a number of you. It’s just that if they do, it’s not revenge, it’s not pettiness… and it is not imagined. That’s what happens when you never ever think as to whether someone wants the attention you have decided to aggressively dump on them. If you’ve been paying attention, you will have heard about the “whisper campaigns” of women telling others about Ghomeshi, about Weinstein and so many more. And yes, we tell stories about some of you…

There are men who I would not be alone with on an elevator for anything… (luckily, as they would be the first to point out, I’ve now hit the “too old to hit on” stage. O! Lucky lucky me!).  There are men who I’ve wordslapped a number of times… and really, they remember nothing except that I’m a bitch, and a feminist and I’m just really angry for no reason. They didn’t hear my words… they just ‘heard’ my gender.

Those of you who are worried:  because you do not listen. You do not ask, you do not listen… and at some level, you do not care. You do not want to have to ask women because they might say no… and you don’t need or want their consent. But if they say no, then you will be forced to stop or “look like a bad guy”. So you don’t ask, you don’t pay attention, you don’t listen… and this way, you can pretend that no woman can ever think you’ve done wrong… unless she’s just a hysterical feminist looking to join in on the witch hunt for all the glorious attention it brings.

We’re not gathering brooms to ride, gentlemen:  we’re using them to sweep out the dirt.

BelieveWomenButOnlyIfIt’sPoliticallyConvenient

“Believe women… but only if it’s politically convenient, only if they’re taking down men who are The Real Villains, only if it’s not inconveniencing the work that men are doing, only if it’s something that’s really really bad and they’re not whining about some guy forcing kisses on them and just grabbing their ass… because, after all, ALL women have to deal with that everyday so what makes these women think they’re so special and unique that they should ruin a man’s career just because he did that to THEM? Who are THEY?”

That. THAT is what y’all sound like. Women are only allowed to speak up if it doesn’t get in the way of the work that the men are doing. Otherwise, they should sit in the corner and wait until someone asks their opinion… which no one will do because, wow women like to make themselves look like victims just for a little attention, amirite?

Every single time a woman speaks out on social media and tries to talk about what women face someone will derail with the always classic argument, “How dare you talk about yourself when there’s a woman far far from this conversation who has it worse.” But of course, if that woman was to talk? Sweeties: there is ALWAYS a woman who has it worse, there is ALWAYS a reason why women should stay quiet.

Women have stayed quiet… they’ve stayed quiet for a long long time… and there are women terrified to speak out, to be publicly identified even now. Particularly women accusing anyone trustworthy, anyone beloved… anyone pay attention to the abuse that Bill Cosby’s accusers took? (America’s Beloved TV Dad!!)

Stop telling women that they are to be quiet. Stop telling them that you choose to believe them only if it doesn’t inconvenience anyone else. Stop telling women that a man’s career is more important than their existence.

Witch hunt? Which hunt?

Dear Men:

A “witch hunt” is a search for something that does not exist. It involves hysteria, lies and accusations and made-up evidence.

What is happening now is not a hunt. No one is hunting. Or, if you will, the only hunt is the “which?’ hunt. If you were to turn to any woman of your acquaintance and ask them if they have ever been harassed, groped, assaulted or abused, you will quickly have a long list. And it isn’t one man assaulting all the women of the world. Every woman can tell you of many different men from their history.

Women aren’t imagining it, they are not making up stories as weapons. They are talking about actual events with the hope that people are going to take these accusations seriously and not treat the women like desperate attention-hungry liars willing to humiliate themselves. Some of these accusations involve multiple events, some involve years and years of events. And they are only speaking because it seems that, currently, authority figures are taking them seriously. Women understand that this can stop at any moment, with no warning, and that there will be a backlash. No women genuinely thinks this is the start of a new open safe world.

And what you really need to understand is that when women report the men behind these accusations? Those are NOT the only men who have harassed or assaulted them; those are simply the only one they feel people will believe. Again, it’s the “which?” hunt.

#metoo