How to really not be an asshole  

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A few days ago I read Chris Clarke's article on How not to be an asshole: a guide for men at Pendagon. It's a discussion about the attacks on Kathy Sierra that happened on the internet. I agree with the premise of the article. Many people have dismissed her claims stating "not enough evidence" or "the threats weren't serious." But however anyone may feel about it or about her, what was done to her wasn't right. It was stepping over the line. That has been clearly shown.

I did take exception to one paragraph in the article and the overall atmosphere of the comments. It went like this:

— If no woman in your life has ever talked to you about how she lives her life with an undercurrent of fear of men, consider the possibility that it may be because she sees you as one of those men she cannot really trust.

Men aren't evil. Men aren't the enemy. Assholes that think they can intimidate or have fun at the expense of terrorizing someone are.

I find it insulting to the human race in general. And I find painting all men with a broad brush of violence disturbing. I have respect for the men that are my friends, family, and especially my husband and I know that not one of them would step over the line into physical or psychological violence directed at a woman. I think they'd be horrified to even contemplate it.

It doesn't help his cause to villainize innocent people. It's fine to point out that dismissing Kathy out of hand is wrong. I don't even mind him telling people to shut up, because sometimes people need that. But [edit: removed don't] I think he crossed over a line himself.

I am not afraid of men. I don't live in an undercurrent of fear. Am I cautious of strangers? You bet! Do I fear someone just because he's a man? No. Would I fear a man that acts in an intimidating or threatening manner? Of course! But most men I've encountered don't.

I'm sure there are women that fear men and for good reason. I've seen the effects of domestic abuse. Maybe I've just been lucky. But I have to pin some of that luck on the very fine men that I know.

There's no reason a man should feel ashamed or be told he can't state his opinion just because he's a man. And that's the feeling I got from that article. The assholes that committed the acts in question, helped them cover up, and defended them, those are the people that are in the wrong.

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