Maybe it’s the way I’m feeling today, but I’m tired. I’m tired of fighting for my life, my health, and my right to exist as a full and wholly actualized human being with the expectation that I be “civil” or “lady like” to those who oppress me. Those who name me less than.
How To Treat A Lady On The Internet
Here’s a primer on how to behave with regard to the human people otherwise known as “women.”
Hi folks. The following is a good guide for how to treat women on the Internet, whether you are a dude, a lady, a genderqueer person, or a unicorn who somehow gained the ability to read English (JK we all know unicorns can read any language they damn well please.) I’ve seen men engage in some of the practices I describe unfavorably, but guess what? I’ve seen gals do it too.
This is not about one instance in my own life but a series of many instances in my own life and in the lives of other folks online. Some of you don’t like what you perceive as “p.c. bullshit.” This ain’t about your notion of political correctness (which is usually code for “being a decent human being,” but whatever, I’m not here to quibble with you on that and I’m a blasphemous broad myself so I get your frustration when you feel you’re being cramped.) But this is about acting like a good person and not a damn fool.
I’m laid up sick with an upper respiratory infection and yet I’m still doing this kind service because stupid behavior on the Internet exhausts me. And I want to be able to just link folks to this where necessary. Feel free to do so as well. Let’s go.
If you get blocked or unfriended, do not ask why. Do not approach. We did it for a reason (probably not drunkenness, although that is possible!) If we want to tell you why, we will. Go be a good person and imagine it’s just because we were having a bad day. Or ask yourself why and really look at why we might’ve decided not to engage with you further. If you want to say to yourself, “What a dumb bitch!” I guess do that? Whatever. Just don’t say it to us. Stay away.
If you DM us on Twitter and we don’t respond, don’t DM us again. This is simple.
If we tell you to take us out of a thread on Twitter or elsewhere, do it.Don’t ask why. Ever. There may be someone in that thread of whom we have grown weary or with whom we stopped engaging a long time ago. It’s quite likely they’ve harassed us and we’ve blocked them, but when you respond to all of us, we still get the tweets clogging our feed. Alternately, we may simply be busy and not have time to keep up.
Just do it.
Imagine we asked if you could move your car so we could back out of the driveway. You’d just do that, right? It’s easy. Okay, just do this.
You know when Eliza in “Hamilton” (c’mon bro, you’ve listened! your bro has!) says, “I remove myself” from the whole story? She’s in a situation that is too painful and sad so Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is a certified genius for real, gives her the out. Later she jumps back in of her own volition. That’s us. Except we don’t have a wonderful dude doing it for us, because we’re writing our own narrative here. Be an ally or just a decent person and respect that choice.
Do not respond to every tweet, every Facebook status update, every post we create anywhere on the web. Being a fan is a fantastic thing. I’m a fangirl myself. Love the fangirls and the fanboys of this world. But this goes beyond fandom. When you give the impression that you seem to think you’re in a constant conversation with us, it feels creepy to us. Often, this is an issue of you having trouble recognizing boundaries, and that’s not always your fault! We are all wired differently and we have gifts and difficulties, sometimes around perception. So if you’re a person with a good heart who may perceive things differently than most, you’re still probably going to respect a boundary once it’s explained to you.
But there are others who are not that way.
There are others to whom I say: why do you have all the time in the world to do that? Go look at other cool stuff too. Art, music, politics, your kids’ homework. Buy a Solange album. Yes, the latest is fantastic but she’s always been great. Never afraid to experiment. Revels in evolution and progression. Did you know? Go listen. (And don’t bother Solange. She deals with enough.)
If we never respond to you, we probably muted you on Twitter or unfollowed you on Facebook but stayed friends with you so as not to enrage you or upset our mothers because you still live in the small town where we grew up and our moms have to deal with you at the grocery store. The muting or unfollowing may be because you’re annoying or you have terrible opinions or horrific taste in furniture and yet you won’t stop posting photographs of your awful furniture.
Don’t ask us if we muted you.
It may be because you seem unstable and we don’t want to further inflame you by blocking you. (Did you know that this is how we have to deal with folks online for our own safety? It’s true. Usually the folks with whom we have to contend in this manner are men. Not always.)
Do not make sexual or flirtatious comments on the social media of a woman you don’t know. If you do know her personally IN A SEXY WAY and you make such a comment and she checks you on it, back off. You’ll know if she wants to fuck you because she’ll fucking fuck you. Until then, exercise some restraint. It’s better for your soul and your dong in the long run. I’m giving you strategy here, dude: if you want to shtup us, shut up and be a good person. We find mystery exciting! (That’s not always true, it just sounded like something that would be in a Maxim article from 1997.)
If we block a person or unfriend someone, do not ask why. Do not say he’s a really great guy and look, he’s really sorry.
HE IS NOT A REALLY GREAT GUY. WE DO NOT BLOCK OR UNFRIEND GUYS WHO’VE BEEN REALLY GREAT TO US.
There are people to whom I will never speak unless absolutely necessary and with whom I will never work unless I have to, and it’s specifically because they thought it was time to play Cupid for creeps. You have no idea what we deal with and what we hear privately. It’s not your business.
Your nice guy friend who is nice to you and is so nice to your daughter and has never raped a woman in front of your face and who maybe says he’s super sorry? Yeah, he may be a serial harasser, a rapist, or a dude who punched us in the face one night in a drunk blackout. You don’t get to know that information unless we want to tell you. You don’t know the shit we know about him and we’re not telling and you and he should be so fucking thankful for that. Is he married? Oh, be a thousand times more thankful. You know a tiny bit of the story, and it’s all filtered through him.
I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this but YOUR BOY IS AN UNRELIABLE FUCKING NARRATOR.
And if he’s pleaded with you to be the intermediary and you actually did it: congrats. You fell for it. He’s an abuser trying desperately to draw his prey back in. He’s using you for that purpose. Stop being stupid.
And get better friends.
If somebody says mean things about us elsewhere, do not tell us unless you genuinely fear for our safety. Then tell us. We can choose whether we wish to alert the authorities. You win zero points with folks you want to love you when you say, “Look at this stranger talking shit! Look at me defending you! I’m such a great person!” Oh really? We see right through that. “Mean Girls” came out a long time ago. This ain’t high school. Go away.
Do not give out our contact information without asking our permission.Some of us have websites and places where that information is readily available, because we’re happy to engage with requests we can honor. Direct them to these places if necessary. And if we don’t respond? Sometimes it’s a safety issue. Sometimes it’s simply an “I’m busy” issue.
Women get endless requests for help and assistance in various ways at various times. Everybody in the world thinks they have the right to our time, our money, our emotional labor, our business contacts, the works. This is true whether you are A Gal Of Note On The TeeVee or A Gal Who Is Awesome And Definitely Of Note With Zero Interest In Having Her Name In the Newspapah. We can field those requests with grace if we wish. Or we can ignore them. That does not make us rude. That does not make us ungenerous. That does not make us bad people.
I gave up nice a long time ago. Nice did me no good as a woman. Niceness is a lie they teach you to keep you sweet and compliant while you’re screaming inside. You know what I picked instead? Kindness. I chose to be kind. Kind means I respect your boundaries and you respect mine.
When we speak about abuse and we don’t use names and we don’t give clues, there is a reason for that. Do not DARE question our choices to tell our stories and to use anonymity and discretion to protect ourselves and the people we love. We do not owe it to you to name names. We do not owe it to you to be the heroine. We are not cartoon characters. We are not fairy tale princesses. We are not imagined fearless, flawless brave warrior women sent from on high to do battle with dragons while you sit from afar and say, “Yeah girl, get it!”
Look, you wanna know why we don’t name names, beyond “discretion” and “etiquette” and “not wanting to get sued for saying something that’s true but that we can’t prove because nobody was in the room when it happened?” Because we don’t want to get hit, slapped, raped, beaten, or killed.
If you do not know how present that is in our lives, even in my own privileged life, this is my invitation to you to listen the next time a lady says, “He…he wasn’t…I mean he tried to be a good person, I really think he’s a good person but…you know…there were issues.” and then looks away uncomfortably. What’s her body language saying? You might consider saying, “I’m here if you need to talk. I don’t expect you to and I’m not pressuring you to. But know that I won’t tell anybody and I won’t judge you.”
And then, for God’s sake, honor that commitment to your friend, your colleague, your sister, your mom, whoever. And if they don’t wanna chat, leave it. Leave. It. Alone.
And by the way? THIS IS HOW YOU SHOULD TREAT EVERYBODY. I drew you in with that “ladies” headline but this is actually about treating human beings with dignity in physical space or online space.
You are part of a collective whole and I am addressing the whole. If you and I have had a personal interaction in which I have expressed displeasure, do not approach me about this. Just do better in future.
If you have had a personal interaction with a woman who is not me and she has told you to go away, stay away. Don’t go back and say, “I’ve changed!” unless you’re working a program that asks you do so, within reason. Your amends should not be her burden. She may not wish to forgive you now or ever, and that is her right.
Good people make mistakes. I know I do, all the time. But we apologize unless it would be stressful or dangerous or offensive to the injured party. We move forward and we do better. Just because you’ve violated certain boundaries of politeness and ideal human behavior does not automatically make you a monster person, okay? So don’t go into some shame spiral.Shame is useless unless it prompts better action. Take this information. Think on it. Do good things in the world.
I’m going back to being physically ill now. Share this with friends and neighbors and the aforementioned magical unicorns who can read everything. Not that unicorns need this information. They’re born compassionate and polite. The rest of us can often use a little help with that.
Geoff and I may not live in Cambridge anymore, but we still work there and it is my heart-home. That’s why when a giant fire blew up in the middle of the city at the end of 2016 it felt not only like a giant slap in the face, we anxiously watched as people we knew, first responders primarily, fought to save the community we love. Some of the people displaced by the fire turned out to be from MIT. Nobody we knew personally, but the MIT and Cambridge communities rallied around them.
Collective memories are short, especially for tragedy. That fire was at the beginning of December. Other things have happened since then, and this next week is going to be a busy one in the US. Happily, there are still benefits happening in and around Cambridge for the 125 people displaced by those fires. Displaced is a really clean, clinical term for, “lost everything in a raging inferno from HELL.” I know, I had to deal with the aftermath of the fire that killed my grandmother. Once you’ve been through a fire you never, ever forget.
This weekend, if you’re around Cambridge and you can, help these folks out. I can pretty much promise you they had the worst holiday of their lives, and they’re going to be rebuilding for years. Here’s a really enjoyable way to lend a hand.
There’s even going to be time to go, enjoy yourself, and get home in time for the Sherlock S4 finale.
See you there.
Regular readers and anyone who’s perused my resume probably know that Geoff and I are happily employed at MIT. I am also involved in the arts here as a member of the Artists Beyond the Desk committee. It’s a great group and is regularly responsible for concerts of staff who are also musicians, writers, actors, etc. It allows us to showcase our artistic skills that are in addition to those we wield behind the desk.
There is an ABD concert coming up this week, an MIT Women’s Chorale concert on the horizon, as well as a music job opening you should know about. Read on for more details.
On Wednesday on my way home from work I missed my bus. I didn’t actually see my bus so I can only assume that it was early as I was on time. This meant that I took the other bus that drops me off about 5 or 6 blocks from home. As it was a gorgeous day I had the opportunity to walk, pick up a (losing) lottery ticket, and take some photos of flowers along my way home.
While Spring always makes me a little sad, Spring flowers are my absolute favorite. I think it has something to do with the fact that Spring flowers come in a riot of colors, but SO many of them are purple. Purple is my favorite color, always has been. So, enjoy some photos of the spring flowers that are still out. It may have been in the upper 70’s yesterday and we may have had a wacky mild winter, but it’s Spring in New England.
Many of the readers around here know that Geoff and I both have neurologists at Boston Medical Center. You may also remember me singing in the Boston Medical Center Concert When Patients Heal You last November. (Video is here, sorry for the sound quality) I’ll be singing in the concert again this October. Watch this space for more details.
Anyway, the BMC is loaded with great talent and with people who give their time and talent to not only give back to the community here in Boston but also but to raise money for others who need it, as well as to fund health care for those who would not otherwise have access to it. I’m not performing in the concert listed below, the pianist/nurse/saint I’m performing with in October is. Check it out.
It has taken a while for me to process everything that has happened in the past couple of weeks. And truthfully, I am still processing it.
Never, in my life, would I have predicted that the discussion to get rid of the Confederate flag once and for all would begin in Charleston, South Carolina.
The same place where the Civil War began, all those years ago.
This may rank as one of the more unusual shows I’ve done to date. Also, I know I don’t have any plaid to wear. And I do not own cowboy boots. But, I think it is going to be really fun. And tasty. Really tasty.
Crafts, Food, Beer & Cider. Om, nom, nom. Come join us.
Somerville, formerly known as “Slummerville” has the most artists per-capita of any city in the US second only to NYC. That’s not bad considering Somerville is a suburb of Boston (though functionally it is as much a part of Boston as Cambridge.)
If you’re a resident of Somerville, if you work in the ‘ville, or if you make art, play in a band there, or spend a lot of time doing Somerville related things, this post is for you. (If not, you should read it anyway, it’s about communities and people working together.)