Feminism

men write letters to me

As I started becoming more involved in an online life– using Twitter more often, blogging regularly, opening up my e-mail for people to communicate with me privately– I knew that I was going to have to steel myself against online harassment. For the first six months I was terrified of what was coming, unsure of how I’d stay healthy and strong in the face of that. It worked out that it didn’t arrive as a sudden deluge of hate, which was what my imagination had concocted; instead it was a slow and steady progression of vitriol and misogyny. In fact, looking back, it’s funny to me to see how the harassment has “evolved.” Initially all the harassment came from fundamentalists who didn’t like what I was saying, but has slowly shifted to misogynists who actively go out of their way to find women to hate on. My blog has appeared on places like The Slyme Pit (Google that with caution), I’ve been ripped to shreds in comment sections all over the internet where my work has been re-posted, and I’ve even picked up a few hate-readers.

That slow and steady increase in harassment has given me the time to build up a thick skin, which is definitely not something I’d previously cultivated. Now when an asshole sends me a hateful comment I can shrug it off more easily, especially when the substance of the comment is so unoriginal it’s beyond boring. I’m fat? Really? That’s what you’ve got?

Something I did not expect was the bizarre e-mails.

In a way, I find these things profoundly more disturbing than most of the comments I get– excepting the rape and death threats. Some of them are bizarre and threatening, which is a difficult combination to shake. I’ve been accused of being a fundamentalist double-agent, using my “powers that are far beyond ordinary people” to use you, my readers, as “guinea pigs” in some convoluted fundamentalist trap. I barely understood that one– although being called a sorceress, essentially, was entertaining and is now my reliable pick-me-up about my writing: I’m such a damn fine writer someone accused me of sorcery once.

All of these bizarre and harassing and threatening letters and comments come from men. All. It’s gotten to the point now when I see a notification that I have a comment from a male-sounding (or gender-neutral) username I don’t recognize, I ask my partner to read it and evaluate whether or not I can publish it (so, all you douchewaffles out there, most of the time I don’t even see your comments. They’re getting read by a guy so unflappable and emotionally steady you’re definitely wasting your time).

But what I’d particularly like to talk about today is a very particular subset of men who write to me. Almost all of these e-mails follow so specific a pattern I’m left scratching my head wondering if they’re all the same person, or multiple people who have all read Arguing with Liberals for Dummies.

This type of man– I’m going to call him Mr. Apologist– sends me an e-mail that opens with how concerned he is and how much he just wants to understand me. He wants to clarify things in order to communicate clearly. All those italicized words have become red flags for me, as well as the tone in which they’re said. Mr. Apologist is mild, bordering on gentle, and every word is obviously meant to be soothing. He goes out of his way to seem as non-combative as possible. He just wants to talk.

For the first couple years, I took Mr. Apologist seriously. I would craft extensive, well-thought-out replies. I engaged these men for hours, for days, doing what I thought was my job– after all, I’m a feminist. If someone comes to me asking questions, I’m going to use every opportunity I can to educate. I would do individually-tailored research, finding resources I thought would help this man particularly well.

Over time, however, I noticed a pattern: inevitably all of these men would become recalcitrant. I would tamp down feelings of frustration, telling myself sternly that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and this would take time and effort and patience. But, eventually, it would become obvious that Mr. Apologist is not actually interested in “understanding” me. What Mr. Apologist wants to do is find out what my particular set of presuppositions, arguments, and support are for various issues so that he can bring to bear everything he picked up at his “Defending the Faith” class at church.

I’ve also noticed that they all want to “talk” about the same things:

  1. Hell
  2. Salvation
  3. Homosexuality
  4. Abortion
  5. The Meaning of Truth
  6. How Women Need to be Gentle and and Meek and Mild and Sweet and Invisible

When I figured this out, all I could do was laugh ruefully. Because– supposedly– they got my e-mail from my blog (it’s the only place it’s published) which means if they’ve spent two seconds around here they’d realize that I used to be them. There is not a single argument they can possibly make that I have not already made myself. In fact, what I’ve found is that when I used to be them, I was a much better version of them. For example, if I’m going to debate someone about homosexuality in the Bible, my opening salvo would never have been Sodom and Gomorrah (first: Romans 1 is much more verdant territory. Second: Ezekiel 16:49).

What frustrates me about Mr. Apologist is that he also has another name: Bancroft calls him the Water Torturer.

He tends to stay calm in arguments, using his own evenness as a weapon to push her over the edge. He often has a superior or contemptuous grin on his face, smug and self-assured. He uses a repertoire of aggressive conversational tactics at low volume, including sarcasm, derision—such as openly laughing at her—mimicking her voice, and cruel, cutting remarks. Like Mr. Right, he tends to take things she has said and twist them beyond recognition to make her appear absurd … He is relentless in his quiet derision and meanness …

In an argument, she may end up yelling in frustration, leaving the room crying, or sinking into silence. The Water Torturer then says, See, you’re the abusive one, not me. You’re the one who’s yelling and refusing to talk things out rationally. I wasn’t even raising my voice. It’s impossible to reason with you.

From Why Does He Do That?, 94.

I have slowly come to the opinion that conservative Christianity teaches everyone– but especially men– to be Water Torturers. Staying calm in an argument is one of the ways we feel superior to everyone else, and emotions from other people are taken as a sign that we’ve “won.” These men feel the same way: an excellent example that many of you are familiar with is Tiribulus. I’ve also talked about this in the context of that protester outside The Reformation Project: that I’d become emotional couldn’t be a sign of how offensive, mean, insulting, and degrading he was being– it was the sign that he’d won the argument. He’d stayed calm longer than me: ergo, he was more logical, more rational, more right than me.

Today, when I get one of these e-mails, my responses are brief and straightforward. I link him to a few posts that are a good example of my stance on an issue and then ask him to limit his contact to commenting on individual posts if he’s so interested in “asking questions.”

So far, no one has taken me up on that.

[sidenote: I do respond to e-mails from men. I’ve gotten pretty good at telling the difference between guy-with-an-actual-question and guy-who-just-wants-to-debate-a-liberal. I do enjoy talking to all of you, male, female, or otherwise.]

Photo by Kevin Steinhardt
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  • I thought I was just being a bitch. I didn’t realize that so many people have this exact same problem that there’s a name for it. (This is half of why I read your blog… Every other post, I get that “Oh shit. It’s not just me” feeling, so thank you for putting up with the harassment.)

  • OH GOD I’M NOT ALONE.

    The more I write about leaving Christianity and the toxic things I’ve found about the religion, the more “concerned” emails from men I get (and the occasional woman, but 99% men). Especially from my Plymouth Brethren Dropout blog. It’s always, “But have you considered…” usually something I’ve specifically addressed. It’s so very frustrating.

  • Ah yes, the “if you have emotions, you’ve lost” argument. The “I must be winning because you’re having emotions” = one of the most common techniques used to shut women up, and at some point I realized most men who utilize it don’t even know they’re doing it.

    • minuteye

      I find that people who use this technique also seem to have weirdly specific ideas about what counts as “an emotion”. Woman crying in frustration = emotion, man yelling in frustration (which has the effect of drowning out everyone else) = passion, dedication… something, but not emotions!

  • Nothing but respect, Sam. I got really burnt out last year after arguing with one guy who was going for the water torture method of apologetics, and I didn’t even have to contend with any misogyny layered on top of all the other fundamentalist crap. It’s a total lose-lose situation when you’re faced with someone who doesn’t seriously want to talk, but won’t hesitate to say you’re being dismissive if you don’t have the resources to pour into a conversation like that.

  • Huh.

    Reading that description of the “Water Torture” person, I realized that in a lot of ways, I used to be that guy in arguments. I look back on my younger days, especially in high school, and I loved to debate like that. I don’t know that I totally recognized that I was doing it then, though looking back, I know that I did regularly make “arguments” which were intended primarily to enrage my opponent and not to actually try to advance the conversation. I’d always just looked back on that time and called myself an asshole, but the more specific name here is useful.

    Incidentally, having progressed my political views pretty strongly since those days, one of the things that really bothers me about modern conservative parties is seeing arguments that I made back then used seriously today; I knew at the time that those arguments weren’t intended to be good ones, they were intended to enrage, so hearing them ooze out of the mouths of modern politicians is exceptionally frustrating.

    • This is very interesting – i wonder sometimes if certain people really believe what they say, or if they are just going for the shock and distress value. I’m one of those people who tends to disingenuously believe what people say about themselves, and i’m slow to pick up things like people arguing in bad faith. It makes me a good target for this sort of thing. You giving the insiders perspective helps.

  • Good for you! I’m having this anxiety as I prepare several posts of my own…

  • Brilliant! Thank you so much for writing this. I’d never heard of the Water Torturer before, even though I’ve certainly met many of them. Stay strong, and keep up the wicked and wild writing magic!

  • I feel like I need to make up for the assholes (especially my “fave” Tiribulus) by saying that you are articulate, well-reasoned, refreshingly sympathetic, and terrifyingly amazing.

  • Reblogged this on crashinglessons and commented:
    We’ve all met that guy…

  • Wow. I’d never heard of the Water Torturer before, but boy have I experienced it. I’m sorry that’s a reality you have to experience so often. I really appreciate your posts and your words.

  • Gina

    My husband and I frequently get into it with these kinds of people, people who had previously been in our lives and who we thought were quite reasonable. It’s been fascinating to try to talk with them, and to never have our points addressed. Instead we hear over and over again how confused we are and how we just don’t understand them, so they give us their sermon again. It would be an interesting psychological study if it wasn’t so damn frustrating.

  • My wife kind of enjoys getting into debates with one such guy who is a friend of a friend on Facebook. I don’t have the patience or emotional energy for it. She notices specifically that, when he replies to her arguments he tends to call her “illogical” or “clearly too emotional to be rational about this” although he doesn’t say such things to the men arguing (and is often quite emotional himself). He then demands evidence for her position which she supplies in spades in the form of research articles, quotes from laws, quotes from court cases, news articles, and statistics. This obviously must fluster him because he then immediately asserts that the evidence is “not good enough” because study X is not 100% perfect, and the victim in news story Y might possibly be lying about something, and anything the UN says can’t be trusted, and scientists could be wrong, etc etc etc and then goes back to petulantly insisting that her position is baseless and irrational. All the while, he repeatedly refuses to offer any real evidence of his own, besides quoting the 1848 Webster dictionary (because older dictionary = better???)

    I don’t know how she can stand it, but I think she enjoys being able to effectively trash his arguments while everyone else on Facebook watches and chuckles… particularly since she’s a woman and the fact that she can utterly dominate him in rational discussion (no matter how much he insists she can’t) drives him crazy.

    • Probably the 1828 dictionary. Fundies like the prescriptive dictionaries and consider Webster’s 1828 to be more reliable especially when defining terms we commonly use in religious conversation.

      • Aaah probably. I was tuning him out by the time he had written a few pages worth of rambling nonsense and I couldn’t remember what 19th century dictionary he wanted me to look up the word “liberty” in.

      • megaforte84

        They also like that specific dictionary because it uses a lot of heavy religious wording and secondary definitions. I’ve heard it specifically recommended because one of the secondary definitions under “Truth” is “Jesus”.

        There’s no way to use that dictionary the way an elementary or middle school homeschooler would and not get a religious indoctrination along with the vocabulary lessons.

        • iskadrow

          That’s interesting. Have encountered people quoting from a dictionary as if that settled a disagreement every now and then, but apparently just rarely enough for me not to notice that they all were using the Webster’s 1828. Looking it up I was confronted with quite a bit of weirdness. Alongside hymns of praise for the thing also stuff like an editorial by Senator Mike Fair, in which he first claims that Webster was a Founding Father, then lies by misquoting the dictionary (!) and finally contends that his lie proves that the Founding Fathers totally were in favor of supporting (Christian) religion, even if unwilling to establish a “state faith.”

          • I had the unfortunate ‘luck’ to sit through part of Focus On The Family’s “The Truth Project” before I left the SBC, and part of the lecturer’s argument that the US is in spiritual decline is that no general-use American dictionary since has listed “Jesus” as a definition under “truth”. Otherwise I might have thought it was entirely the out-of-copyright thing getting the homeschoolers and church schools to switch to it over costs and everyone else following their lead.

            I wouldn’t be surprised if another reason they like it is that the fundamentalist-friendly publishers can print their own editions, as it’s completely unquestionably out of copyright, and then everyone has the same definitions without having to pay a secular publisher or fight about which religious publishers which churches are boycotting at the moment. The Christian book order catalogs a friend of my family gets usually have a hardcover decent-quality edition on sale for the same price or more than the college dictionary I bought when I started college – and without half the staff costs to pay from that money.

    • I heart your wife.

    • ako

      I’ve totally seen that in debates – guys who show no actual skills at examining the evidence or reaching rational conclusions, but think that if they go “You’re irrational! Look how irrational you are! You’re full of emotional bias!” loudly enough, that’ll prove they’re the rational ones.

  • This is why, in the comments policy page for my blog, I put it up front that comments with “talking points” will be deleted without comment. It’s my blog. You want to argue, get your own blog.

    With you 100% on this. Great post.

  • Caleb G.

    This vitriol and misogyny is just another reason why I am not on Facebook. I used to one of those Mr. Apologist water torturers. I apologize profusely for how so many of my half of our species can be such douchebags.

  • Really interesting post. I’ve certainly come across Christian men like this, putting a wonky lid on their fury that quickly falls off. I’m confused that Tiribulus falls into that category though, as my first experience of him was a furious rant about ‘hateful pagans’. He calmed down after that and has been making no sense in more friendly tones ever since. I guess as a ‘Christian gone wrong’ (from his point of view) you’re more dangerous to the Truth.

  • I am so glad you are willing to write, despite all the crap. Thank you.

  • Doesn’t Ezekiel say something about how the true sin of Sister Sodom was that her people had easy, prosperous living, and yet did not care for the poor and needy? Yet I guess it’s too easy for the Water Torturers to ignore this….

  • toninamdc

    I feel like I’ve been hit by a mental lightning bolt. That Water Torturer description is my father. That’s exactly how he treated my mother for 20+ years until she finally left him. That’s how he still behaves to me. No matter how calm and rational I am, he picks and picks and picks and picks and picks in an attempt to force a reaction out of me, until I slip and display some trace of human emotion. Then he condescendingly says there’s no need for me to get so upset, that I clearly can’t think rationally at the moment because I’m getting so emotional about [X] subject, but that once I calm down and get my emotions back under control I’ll agree with him.

    This post is a big deal for me. I never knew until today that this wasn’t just some idiosyncrasy of my father’s. I never realized it was a recognized behavior pattern that some people (particularly men of a certain mindset) use to abuse and attack. I can’t express how relieved and validated I feel right now. This is really REAL. It’s not just me! I’m not just making up convenient excuses for my “irrational emotional overreactions”! I’m not simply indulging in delusions of self-justification! Thanks so much for writing this, Samantha.

    • IBlake

      Welcome to the club Toninamdc. Wonder if my father had two families (just kidding) as I could have written your post to the letter.
      I have come to see how being raised by a person with this Narcissistic personality disorder really messed me up psychologically. Negating the emotions of children (no matter what age) is a travesty.

    • Lucy

      Another category of people who do this is that of Nice Ladies, covered in this RealSocialSkills article, Nice Lady Therapists.
      http://realsocialskills.org/post/93977719432/nice-lady-therapists
      This feminine version of the Water Torturer, as is suggested in the article, appears to be especially common among women who work with disabled people and as therapists and psychiatrists, but I bet it occurs as well among women who don’t work in these types of fields.
      Oh, and if you are a man who does it, the existence of female Water Torturers does not let you off the hook. All this says is that people of both sexes will do this kind of abuse; the only reason that linked post focuses on women is because it is there to draw attention to a specific, female subcategory of abuser often found in therapy, social work, special ed, and psychiatric fields. It does NOT say that psychiatry and mental health services in general are a sham, nor does it say that female abuse victims are as guilty as the abuser, nor that those who have to deal with a male Water Torturer have any less real an experience than those whose Water Torturer is female. Any Water Torturer will drive their victims into a rage or other outward emotional display and blame the victim for that display; alternatively, they might gaslight the victim into believing they are happy with the way that they are treated, so that when the victim does get upset, which could be days after the “torture”, they can never figure out the reason why. That is true no matter what the gender of the abuser OR the gender of the victim is.

  • Hi Samantha. Hopefully you have a bunch of dudes throwing some support and encouragement your way too. I don’t really understand why so many men are threatened by smart, strong women; it’s stunning it still gets promoted in the name of Christianity. I don’t get it. But in any event, you’ve done a good job calling it out. Hope this finds you well.

  • trevel

    I now REALLY want to email you, starting with:

    Hello,

    I am communicating clearly because I am concerned about clarified understanding….

  • Crystal

    You poor thing. The vitriol and disrespect ladies receive is beyond the pale. If men were more respectful and kind, I would love them back. But they are not and I have to remember that.

    Also, I know about “water torturer” because I know of people who have stayed calm while I have gotten agitated in an argument and I felt so silly and humiliated. How do you overcome something like that – I mean, how do you respond to someone who stays calm while you are agitated thus expressing their superiority over you? What is the right reaction?

    That water torturer thing sounds like Eric in Divergent 🙁

    • Crystal

      And I should not talk for there was one time I left some comments you put in moderation that I looked over and realised were very rude and I was wrong not to apologise for them. Can you forgive me?

  • Dan

    I have experienced the water torture comments on my blog and on Facebook threads. I deal with the vitriol and hate better than I used to. But some days I buckle. Even now. Rarely I find people who want to talk. People seem to want to praise ideas like their own or hate those who think differently. Rare is the one who wants to understand. Good luck on finding those who want to understand.

  • Jerri

    The comment thread is as great as the post. You have some great readers. <3

  • iskadrow

    I’m increasingly wishing “Rhetorics” were a subject taught at schools. Of course, if such a subject only consisted of enacting ideal, moderated discussions it would be almost as worthless as not teaching it at all, but what I am thinking of would be a bit different: Acquainting pupils with all the dirty tricks of eristic dialectics people actually use to leave a conversation under the impression that they haven proven themselves right; shedding light on the various fallacies people routinely employ; etc. pp. All of that with the aim of making pupils capable of identifying demagoguery when they encounter it and hopefully to make it harder for water torturers and their ilk to operate.

    Naturally, pupils would also learn to use these tactics themselves – but that I do not see as a damning problem. I don’t think it’s possible to eradicate disingenuity and deceit from human interaction, and if these tactics were taught formally and taught to everyone we’d at least be on more even footing. As things stand, graduates of the (not incorporated but nonetheless real) “William Lane Craig school of apologetics”, for instance, are able to use questionable arguments with the reasonable assumption that most of their audience are not sufficiently familiar with their bullshitting ways to name them. Similarly, many people rightly feel that something is off with the argumentative behavior of a water torturer, but they lack the vocabulary to say what precisely the problem is …

    • minuteye

      Your idea makes me picture a competitive game, not unlike the “questions tennis” in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGEYFE7e_R8), where students debate, and can call ‘foul’ on logical fallacies used by their opponents to score points.

      • iskadrow

        Thanks for reminding me of that play. 🙂 And I’d say picturing competitive games is not that far off. Have been thinking a bit about how I would approach teaching such a subject, and rewarding successful use / recognition of sophistry in the context of a game would certainly make an appearance.

    • picklefactory

      Nice avatar!

      I think of the WLC school as “hitting the reset button”.

      • iskadrow

        As with the Simpsons and similar series, always returning to a status quo?
        (And heh, not sure how nice the avatar is. If our universe turned out to be the one described in the Warhammer 40k setting I would be dooming as all. Luckily, I doubt that to be the case and can honestly claim that I really only want to honor Eris.)

  • When I got divorced, I had a worship pastor try the Water Torturer method on me. It was manipulating, demeaning, and emotionally abusive.
    I so appreciate that you called this behavior out. I too see it in a lot of men who get into the “debate a liberal” mindset, and it’s frustrating.

  • I love this post. I would propose that these argues could also be called energy suckers, because that’s exactly what they do. They keep asking more and more, little by little, relying on your good faith until you have no more energy to help them. And then you’re exhausted and it’s hard not to lose your temper. My brother is one of these. Thank you for this post, Samantha. Reading it has been therapeutic.

  • I grew up with a water torturer. And then I got into a relationship with one.
    The Water Torturer boyfriend once told me a story about his soccer playing days that should have been a warning, but i just didn’t make the connection. He said that because he was generally not easily riled, he would go out of his way to get the opposing teams players upset. He did this with lots of little moves, kicking them with his cleats repeatedly when in close quarters, never enough to draw the refs attention, so he never got in trouble for it. The opposing players would get steamed and frustrated over the harassment, and would then invariably make mistakes, which the Water Torturer would then exploit. Only much later did i realize this was his style of personal interaction as well.

  • trevel

    My “favourite” water-torturer tactic is the “stay calm” tactic: telling people who are pretty much already calm not to get so emotional, angry, frustrated, whatever. It generally works because there is nothing quite so rage-inducing as being told that you’re acting irrationally emotional when you’re actually acting rationally logical, and it derails the argument into whether or not you’re calm enough — instead of whatever the actual argument was initially about — while at the same time placing you in the position of having to prove a negative. (There is, I think, literally no way to prove that you’re calm. Especially over the internet. It’s one of those things where the more you deny it, the more true everyone thinks it is.).

    And I’m a dude, so I figure I only get hit by this at half force: after all, there doesn’t exist an entire societal construct saying that my gender is too emotional to make reasoned arguments in the first place.

    I’m personally working on developing the opposite tactic: the one where someone actually IS agitated and I say something like “your emotions sound perfectly reasonable to be having, given the circumstances you just described,” (only in a less robotic phrasing (usually)) and then the person calms down, since what most people want is for their feelings to be recognized.

    • I wonder if telling someone else “calm down” has ever, in the history of the human race, had a positive effect.

      (You’re not a sorceress? Oh, too bad.)

      • trevel

        Depends on if you think annoying your internet adversaries is a positive effect… 😀

    • ako

      There is, I think, literally no way to prove that you’re calm. Especially over the internet.

      Yeah, I was thinking that the “Calm down!” trick was popular over the internet because it’s harder for someone to show they are calm. So the person’s left not only fighting the “Only calm and emotionally detached people can be correct” assumption, they’re also having to put forth an argument about their own emotional state, knowing their words will be scrutinized for anything that can be interpreted as emotions, and if they get noticeably frustrated by the person twisting their words and aggressively misinterpreting their emotional state, they’ve just lost.

  • KarenR

    I could add the following to your list of topics:

    Divorce
    Abuse

    The key thing that I learned is that these men are not arguing in good faith. Their purpose is to confuse, demean, and when you call them out they deflect. I have had a bit of experience with Water Torturers and they have shown up in my life as men who are very subtle and skilled in their abuse. Almost all are Christian with stellar reputations so that when they are called out on their behaviors, you are not to believed, “After all, Deacon So-and-So is such as godly man.”

    A form of the Water Torturer can be seen in living color in the film “Gaslight.”

  • And this is why I’ve been keeping mostly silent ever since I realized that I do not think or behave the way I was raised to think and behave. You inspire me to be myself more openly, and if you’ve found a way to allow that negativity to roll off without ruining your day, then I will figure out how to do it, too. Honesty is worth it.

  • This is not exactly quite on the topic, but hopefully you’ll see how my brain made the jump. I don’t think it’s TOO far of a jump.
    I don’t have your exact experience. Some people read my blog but I don’t get a lot in the way of feedback and I am okay with that. I am always super impressed with what you must deal with on a regular basis.
    What I was most struck by in this post however, was that initial point where you try to justify it/try to ignore those initial first instincts. And the reason I was struck by it is because I was just a day or two ago talking about a similar experience with Erik involving online dating.
    This has happened to me more than once. I will be cheerfully discussing media likes or dislikes with a person and mention a thing I dislike (common offenders have included anything to do with zombies). I will express briefly that I don’t do zombies, because for whatever reason I am particularly bothered by people eating people. It’s not a thing I fully understand about myself but it’s a thing I know, so for the most part I just avoid it. And in these instances, this man (it is always a man) will message back and explain to me that the show/movie/etc isn’t REALLY about zombies, it’s REALLY about survival or it’s REALLY about social consciousness or whatever.
    When this happens I am always very offended. I have that feeling immediately. After all, right in my profile it says that I have watched literally hundreds of movies in the last few years. This is one of the few things I know I have some degree of expertise in. Why are they trying to explain it to me, as if I might not know? And yet, I think to myself almost inevitably, that the internet is a tricky place. I think that it is hard to read people online. I think that anyone can make one mistake, I shouldn’t just write a person off for that, that seems unfair and unkind.

    But I’ve never been wrong. It’s never been just one time, it has always been a pattern, it has always been a person I stopped talking to.

    I guess my point is that it is interesting to me that feeling of a need to be nice, to give people the benefit of the doubt, to be reasonable. To be the one who is NOT being angry or getting emotional or being a “crazy female.” Some of these responses are so deeply bred in.

    Anyway. Mostly I just wanted to say thank you for writing this entry, because even though it may seem only tangentially related, it did make me feel better. You are awesome.

    Meg

    • Rhoda

      Going off on a tangent here in response to your comment. Are these discussions by any chance about The Road by Cormac McCarthy?
      I hate that book so much. People rave about it all the time. But the ideas have all been done before, even the pretentious literary devices.

      • *laughs* I’m afraid not. I basically adore Cormac McCarthy (although The Road is not as good as some of his other books) so I would not be prone to object to someone liking that.

  • krwordgazer

    I’ve gotten to where I tell these men when they show up on my blog, “You are obviously here because you want to set me straight. But I am not permitting you to teach or usurp authority on my blog. You must either learn in silence and submission, or go away.” There’s a good bit of satisfaction for me in saying that.

    • Melody

      Your reply just put a huge smile on my face 🙂

  • picklefactory

    Illegitimi non carborundum.

    I was helping my wife with a computer problem last night that she thought had wiped out about six hours of intense work on a speech she’s giving tomorrow. Ten or fifteen years ago I might have uttered the words “calm down” when starting to dig into this problem, but I think I realized along the way somewhere that those words would be to calm me down about whether I could help, not her, even though this is obviously not a disagreement or an apologetics sort of situation.

    So I didn’t say them – she had every reason to be upset, and I think I would have been even more so.

    Policing the feelings of others is disrespectful.