I’m also a woman in technology, and like you, have experienced in the past several months, similar things; even to the point of pointing things out to colleagues male and female who tended to agree with my observations, at least conversationally.
It’s weird though, I rarely get asked if I’m offended by anything. And I’m usually not offended by things I notice that exclude me. That said, I’m not in a very visible place and I’m able to find communities that appreciate the occasional jab from me or others - sexist or not. Nothing is ever directed directly at me,either, at least such that it makes my attention.
This brings me to my point - when a person presents their own offended feelings at feeling excluded by a joke or comment, I don’t feel sad or angry. Concerned that they feel excluded is more like it, and not angry that a person who was being themselves (however douchey) imposed their personal sense of humor on the feelings of another person. It’s upsetting to the person who has been trampled, totally. That sucks - but this person is a) reacting based on prior personal experience that is informing their feelings and b) also imposing their sense of how others should behave as much as the original douchebag (we’ll call it that for labels’ sake.) More than anything, the emotional stress that they feel on the others side of the joke is alerting them to a pit of emotion that many jerks may be responsible for placing, but ultimately only up to them to align with a perspective that takes only the useful part of the offense (like: “That person is a douchebag. I should avoid them.”) without suffering the negative (like: “This emotion is more than I can handle. Shame on this person for triggering this emotion in me. It’s all their fault.”). And no lack of these experiences will help them do that.
While tact has the incredible ability of presenting hundreds of ideas to a mind before it has noticed that even one has sunk in, it’s a learned ability, so not everyone who wants it has it. Also, in trying to express oneself even being mindful of tact, it’s not always possible to be expressive of a notion without learning afterwards that the effort was out of bounds. Then, there are the folks that never want to be tactful; they want to use spite for division, control, and to get their jollies. Arguably, these are the folks who really deserve the wrath of the offended. In time, they do suffer the consequences of their hideous tactics, especially when they don’t change. People who get actively offended get enraged at their tactics, and people who don’t simply make a note to avoid this a-hole and turn away. In time, they don’t have a leg to stand on.
I am a woman in tech who has required conscious absorbtion of every bit of tact I have ever learned. I was bullied as a kid. I tried to bully and failed then too. Everything sucked, everything was offensive. Everything upset me. It doesn’t today - or should I say, it rarely does. Getting out of the stuck-point of being offended was not an easy journey, but ultimately it has these rewards: 1: never giving your time to anyone who isn’t worth it. 2: the ability to laugh at yourself. 3: The ability to develop tact authentically and use it. 4: The ability to evaluate situations from a place of intuition where you can guage your future happiness at a moment’s effort.
That said, I occasionally offend people. I mention his hairline. I wonder if she looks better since the weight came back on. I draw clear memories of that time he/she was an a-hole to me and don’t downplay my holding them accountable. I also occasionally guess right when someone tells me about being called names, being treated or threatened a certain way with a single question: “Was it a man?”
The best we have to offer the world comes from experiences and conclusions we draw from those. Being offended is an experience that can be un-learned as auto-traumatic. If everyone at least tried to do this, the folks trying to honestly learn how to express non-hurtful notion while messing up wouldn’t hate themselves later for trying, or have to find ways to excuse their honest efforts; and a-holes would still suffer for being a-holes. It’s a win-win.
Any person who experiences a negative emotion so strong as triggered by a comment/joke by exclusion who chooses to turn it back on the originating source either to their face or (worse) to third party gossip only extends and strengthens how hurtful the situation can get. This effort might as well be summarized as “since I am hurt, I’m taking as much as I can down with me.” They make you, Jenn, sad and angry, and hosts of others as well. Did that help you, or them, at all?
This text is in response to this post, where Emily Lewis admits to losing her entire life to her problems, and everyone else (even me) is to blame.
Firstly, I’d like to thank you for finally expressing your vague conclusions about my personality in a place where everyone can see them, even me. This is a step forward for the situation as for the last 18 months, when attempting to converse with you about whatever caused them, I have been stonewalled. Closed off. Completely unable to reach you, as adults often reach out to one another to settle disputes or disagreements. I’m glad that you have finally chosen a medium to express these feelings, as you have refused to do so with me, and appear to have only done among third parties, in varying unversioned iterations among closed circles where the sheer level of your rage was enough to seal the truth of your convictions against me in the ears of trustful third parties. I digress. Thank you for finally going on record with some version of your plague of the mean girl. It’s because of this that we can finally start having a healthy conversation. Seeing as this is you preferred medium (not face to face, as we have already covered and will cover further in this message.) I am happy to meet you here and address your vague references to events that have so spiraled out of reality.
It seems like you have put some thought into your feelings, and still are, according to your post. There just isn’t any letting it go, despite our last interaction being around 10 months ago. Despite this effort, you list characteristics of this “mean girl” in the first paragraph of the section as being “creepy, unstable, stalker-ish and psycho” as well as mean. Hm - these don’t add up. A mean person is a bully which is a position of unrelenting power. Creepy, stalker-ish refer to positions of attempts to gain power over a person from a place without. (As far as unstable goes — that’s coming up. Wait for it.) This person can’t be all these things. It’s impossible. Mean girls are not stalkers. Creepy people are not bullies. Your assertion that this person (me) is all of these things shows that you don’t really know what this person is - just that they keep bothering you, without any contact from them for the better part of a year.
Still, these vague opinions arose from feelings, not memories - these are not judgements but expressions. This person was creepy because you felt creeped out. This person was stalker-ish, because you felt they would not relent to your pushing them away, or perhaps “take the hint.” This person was psycho because.. well you needed a scary, vague adjective that would pal up with the rest of them and double as a noun. Well I’m here to tell you that I don’t take hints. I don’t relent to silly games or stop asking questions when I get fear instead of answers, or hints, or even stone walls. I keep asking. Lets see - what were they again? Something like “why are you treating me like shit?” or “Why are you being passive-agressive?” “Why did you stop talking to me?” “I thought we were friends?” “Are you okay?” “What did I do, can I apologize?” and the like. (I don’t remember if I said anything about Webuquerque - but nobody has trash-talked that group more than you - to the attendees or the new leaders, so your accusing me of this comes across as approval.) Funny, all this time I thought you were aggressively stonewalling me, avoiding these answers, and treating me like garbage on legs because you had something against my personality, but this post has revealed far more than that.
There were months where I didn’t give up trying to get answers from people who knew both of us, at places you mentioned. All I wanted was for someone to tell me what was wrong, so that I could be proactive in clearing up anything about me. I never got any answers from them, and apparently they returned to you with reports that I had mentioned you. I’m not inclined to believe that they reported any trash talking (as you have many more exaggerations here than can be relied upon to pass judgement about any mentioned person,) but I am inclined to believe that you were afraid of it. How you got from listening to these people to some kind of fear that anyone was trying to harm you is beyond me (and besides, this isn’t therapy.) In any case, it wasn’t a mistake, because I’m now aware of all people who will take genuine concern to someone like you to completely chop up or worse. That is one way you have helped me.
But even without their help, or yours, I know why nobody would give me any answers - it’s because you didn’t have any. You didn’t have any reasons to explain why you were being a total cunt to me - it’s just how you did things. And if I didn’t like it I could kiss your ass or work your system or .. or.. or nothing. I could just go to hell. Permanently. And one day I wouldn’t be there anymore and that would be when it was all over. Such a romantic notion that a person would just disappear like a wisp - and by your own making, simply because you chose it to be so. And the work you would do to make it happen would be comforting, easy, and light. So I’ll tell you why all this still bothers you, Lewie. It’s because I am still here. I haven’t yielded to any of your hints or efforts to make me go away. My business hasn’t ruined my personal life. My marriage (to a Psychiatric professional) is in-tact and flourishing. My male colleagues are kind to me. My group affiliations are either re-animating or strong, especially where I am the leader, I’m always able to convey the ideas I mean to convey, and my health is optimum. And I don’t have anyone to blame for any bad thing that happens to me, other than myself.
So let’s have a look at this word “unstable” that you flung in my direction in your post about how terrible everything was to you this year. Let’s compare us side-by side. Someone challeneged your boundaries by standing up for themselves, and that makes them mean. You have ignorant male colleages who asked you about your sex life. You tweet about your crotch and your farts. You tweet about and make crude sex jokes. You callously toss people aside when they are no longer convenient for you to use in some way. You are surprised (oh AND disgusted) when a dirty male colleague sees you as a possible next conquest. You can’t classify any objections to your opinions by a group of males as anything other than “sexism” (and probably because those objections are reasonable.) Your life partner- the sole supporter of all of this self-imploding bullshit, was no longer able to sustain a relationship with you, nor you with them. But on the bright side, you have a business that is successful YET IT STILL managed to ruin your life and make you sick. And that makes somebody else the unstable one?
I am not here to be your therapist, but just to let you know that I’m done with you, pleased and satisfied. I got my answers.
Look - as someone who used to be your friend and cares deeply about just about everyone, even individuals like the above, feel compelled to mention that you need to realize that you are doing all of this to yourself. THE ONLY constant in all of your hideous yearly events is you. You. Lewie. If this year is going to be better than a hope, the change needs to happen in YOU. If you do nothing, your life will continue to implode. And everyone you tossed aside will happily continue their lives and you will not be missed. In some cases, you already are not missed.
There are people out there who can help you, if you decide to seek them out. I hope you do. Else, you have one hell of a solitary career in fiction writing ahead of you based on personal experience. And you can always hope things will get better, despite shitting on everyone all the time, so there’s that.
Your buddy, Caroline.
PS. And here’s how your feelings towards me can stop bothering you: Talk to me. This is not an invitation, anymore.
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I want to start this message by saying that I’m not more grateful today than any other day, but that said, I am actively grateful every day for a handful of things, and every day I try to go through them one by one. Here is today:
Having enough to give away to those who don’t have
I’ve learned through trial and error that the way to tell the universe that you are ready for more is not to beg, ask, or present any angst at the table, but instead to be grateful for what you have. It effectively communicates that what you have is working out, and that you are ready for more.
And yes, this is something you should try, if you haven’t. What are you grateful for?
What people call “Breast Cancer Awareness” is borderline offensive. In what way would telling everyone you crave gummy worms make anyone aware of how many women are walking around with cut, scarred, amputated, or deformed breasts?
It’s easy to blame facebook, the messenger, for providing the platform, but it’s just that these chain-letter “awareness” campaigns suggest that we’re doing something for a huge cause while solely contributing to the popularity-sensitive ego of the friend providing the set of instructions.
If you’re truly interested in Breast Cancer Awareness, a great place to start is to browse the forums of the Young Survivor Coalition. Dig around. This is where women less than 60 years old come to ask questions, connect, and comfort one another after Breast Cancer Diagnosis. If you haven’t seen at least one “How do I tell my 6 year old that his mother will die in weeks?” question, you haven’t dug enough.