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Reasoned debate is the backbone of any society and those differing opinions are what makes the world go around. Language is such a subtle being, as most writers know. Reading through this a couple of times, I find the author's use of the word 'real' confusing. What or who is real here? I am a real person and I personally don't find the 'Rack' or its use of framing objectionable. While I can understand that some might, it confuses me that the author goes on about 'sexual assault' as though it is a phrase to be bandied about without real depth. Such phrases are triggers, as any author knows. Real sexual assault is terrifying, demeaning and violent.
This nanny state of a society <I>I</I> find objectionable. That people would take my choices away from me. As I said to someone the other day, back in the 60's it was 'burn the bra' and my comment on that was, "Why would I burn a perfectly good piece of clothing which was doing a fine job, thx muchly." It seems that certain groups attempt to shock us by using more phrases such as 'The rape culture' and so forth. I understand the need for harsher treatment of rapists and better treatment for the victims, that isn't my point. My point is knowing the difference between real violence in any shape or form towards anyone of race/creed or colour or gender against a light-hearted reference. Are we so insecure that we have to jump to the defence of such things?
Even in writing fiction. God forbid that we make a racial/religious/sexual slur. I am sorry, but 'real' violence comes from the acceptance that we are victims and everyone is against us and is out to get us. No, we don't bow down and meekly accept verbal or physical violence but let us understand what it truly is.
As the mother of a son who witnessed true violence against men, women and children in a third world country, I feel I am reasonably qualified.
I'm siding with OFW here, although I'm glad to see comments in this forum remain civil on both sides. I think this author made an excellent point against herself with her words "Don't be upset and internet." If you're upset, it's always wise to cool down before firing off hasty words in a public forum. Because that is an excellent way to start a shitstorm whether intended or not, and an excellent way for additional people like the OFW editors to be excoriated and abused on the internet just as the author felt she was in the original interview.
Probably not the first person you're hoping to see here, and I promise I'll try to be brief.
First off -- yes, you're right: I should have read the other interviews in the series to get a sense of what they were. You are absolutely, positively, 100% correct there, and I sincerely apologize that I did not. I made an assumption that was incorrect, and not making it would have saved us both a lot of pain. Checking out the publications you're talking to is very good advice, and something I've perhaps lost sight of this summer. I'll be doing that again going forward, and thank you for it.
As for the blog post, where things get a little stickier:
Everything I said, both in my e-mails to Michael (who I was trying to avoid naming, because of the whole not wanting to drop internets on people's heads thing) and in the post, and in its comments, was honest. Fully and completely.
I know you don't know me except glancingly (from the OWW, I believe, and Internet-knowing isn't really the same sometimes), and so from your perspective I am a stranger who is saying bad things about your friend to other people. There is no reason for you to give me any credibility right now. I'm going to ask you to take the risk of giving me your trust on this one, though: Please trust me. I'm not lying, or double-speaking, or acting out of twisted motives. I'm not formenting drama, or talking out of both sides of my mouth. I give you my word on it. I was not speaking with the clearest head, and definitely out of more emotion than I usually like to (don't be upset and Internet!). But I am a mostly sensible person, and I was and am speaking in good faith.
So what's behind the blog post?
I wanted to tell people this happened, and how it felt as the affected party, because I felt like it was -- like I said -- a useful piece of a conversation: The same one that's been happening about this year's Readercon, and around gaming circles and Twitter and a few other places. About how we, as human beings, can make other people feel absolutely horrible with words we don't see the problem with -- not because we're terrible people, but because we're working in different contexts. That when people say the words like "victim" and "violation" there are real feelings and needs behind it, not manipulations to get someone to do what they want. I framed the post with "This is why we keep having this conversation," and that was the thesis, the point. We keep having this conversation because one person can say something and think nothing of it, and have this described affect on another, and we have to be kind to each other and think about this stuff; think about the other person in the room.
So when I said I did not want a shitstorm, but still posted? Both those things were true. I didn't want people to go decide, "Oh, hey, BAD PEOPLE I WILL PUNCH THEM." I wanted them to think about how they themselves act and speak and are considerate of the other people in their own space. I was hoping that someone might see that third-party example and go, "Oh. I get it."
And the other reason: That hurt. It made me feel frozen and sick and threatened, even though I knew intellectually there was no malice, or physical threat. And I felt like if I didn't say anything, that hurt would be doubled by the fact that I felt like I was then keeping a secret -- that something hurt me and now I had to, for whatever reason, _not tell anybody_ and just let it eat at my stomach. You are right that keeping things to private e-mail would have also avoided any Internet noise, and I could have done so if I really wanted no noise. But that doesn't take into account that the words in the framing story, whether you think they should have or not (or I think they should have or not!) really, really _hurt_. And just as your anger and feeling like an author, who has more power than you, is unfairly attacking you and your colleagues makes you hurt even though that wasn't what I wanted to happen, writing me into a situation with violence and powerlessness, even though you and Mike didn't mean
it to, made me hurt.
I still do not want drama, or some endless, stupid Internet fight where people who are all acting out of very real emotional places just kick each other unproductively and make more bad feeling. In my end of the world, I haven't been permitting it: When people have called you malicious I have corrected them, and when people have tried to sensationalize this I have asked them to take those words down. The point here is not to treat each other badly _more_.
So I want to ask: Is there something I can do, besides the explanations and apologies for my part in the issue above, that will help you and Mike feel less hurt and angry, and get this dealt with and done for all of us?
And also to ask: Please, think about it. Not in the way of "Am I a terrible bad person who kicks puppies!" but "Is a thing I figure is a funny literary device going to cause real sadness and hurt to other people? And if so, how do I want to treat it, or modify it, or counterbalance that in future?"
Like I said to Mike in the last e-mail I sent him, I'm trying to let you know that the depiction you're using with this column isn't a feature, it's a bug, and I'm certain that I am not the only person in the world who will feel this way. The issue will likely come up again, and I just really don't want this to happen again, especially out of a misunderstanding or miscommunication. Because I _know_ you're not out to hurt people. Please don't say "your problem, and screw you if you disagree", or chalk this up to people who are oversensitive, or easily offended, or trying to say they feel victimized just to screw you. It's real hurt. Don't write it off. Please think about it.
First, thank you for commenting. I do applaud that you took the time to reach out. But I feel as though you're still doubletalking. I need to clarify a few things that you're not getting. "...an author, who has more power than you..." No, that is not how I perceive you at all. You have no more or less power. As you said, we're all real people. Power has little to do with this. You felt wronged, you told us so, we went about trying to make things right, and before we could do that, you decided to make your "data point." Two wrongs don't make a right. Yet that's what you've done with your post and the subsequent shit on Twitter and your blog. You felt wronged, so you did the same to Mike. Does that seem like the mature thing to do? Does that seem like someone who doesn't want a shitstorm? Not from my point of view. And It's not a matter of "screw you" to someone who's easily offended. If that's what I'd meant, that's what I would have said. In this specific situation, it's "don't participate." By don't participate I mean, stay away from OFW if you are easily offfended. We're not changing our format because someone out there says "I don't like that." Too many people look for reasons to be offended. I'm not bending to that kind of nonsense. This world would be a better place, and the people in it happier, if more of us could take a step back, and get over ourselves. And you are easily offended, because there is nothing even close to a sexual assault in that treatment. That you could be really hurt by it really astounds me. How do you get by in life with such a thin skin? Does your moral outrage and unflagging self-righteousness help to shield you? We've had great feedback from members on the Rack. It's a favorite section. You, and your "followers" are the first to object. Sure, you probably won't be the last, but while I don't go out with the goal of offending people, I don't actively try to avoid offending them either. That would be exhausting and impossible to accomplish. I'm sure you're not a terrible person. I'm sure you think you've done the right and noble thing here, but what you're saying you want doesn't match your actions or the words in that blog or your comments later. Mike and those of us involved in OFW have been called a range of things on Twitter and your blog. Does "sick fucks" sound familiar? It's been implied that Mike has done something criminal as well. This "rape" cry, whether meant as a real rape or metaphorical is crossing a line when it hasn't in any way occurred. It's taking a very real, very serious crime and pinning it to someone who in no way deserves the label. It's taking a term given to the most loathesome of people and slapping it onto a man who is kind and decent. Actions like yours are why we keep having this conversation. Women who are all to eager to cry foul at any minor offense from a male make it tough for women experiencing real trauma and real attacks to be heard. Why? Because the rest of the world gets tired of picking the drama queens from the real victims. I'm no stranger to violence or sexual victimization. I'm a real person too, and I've been in some really dark places where no one heard me asking for help. It makes me furious when someone takes a nonissue and blows it up under those banners. Your post wasn't about making a data point. It's an extraordinary interpretation of the facts designed to get a reaction. How do you think the target of that reaction is going to reply? And there was no attempt to keep things anonymous. Your blog followers linked rather easily to us, because you left the right crumbs for them to do so. You're far from stupid and I know you're not so naive as to believe that your blog post would do anything BUT raise a shitstorm. What you could have done to make this better is given us a chance to right the situation. We might have been more receptive to what you had to say if it wasn't dramatized in an explosive little piece on victimization and how the big bad interviewer violated your rights. He didn't. We didn't. The Rack will not change. The only small modification I plan to make is to let authors know that the easily offended should not participate. That's all. The only way it would come up again is if someone agreed to participate without doing their homework. I can't control that and I'm not going to go about my business worrying about it.
I’m saddened to witness a talented writer rousing her followers into demonizing a fellow writer, and by extension every OFW editor, on account of her flair for melodrama. That such a writer has the effrontery of suggesting prior approval of an interview—tantamount to moderating a comment before its posting—is beyond contempt, like any other attempt at censorship.
Carlos--I've actually found in the last six months that page proofs for interviews are pretty standard in a lot of circles, just like with publishing fiction or poetry -- which is a thing I didn't know before. It's intended to catch mistyped words or copyedits, not to lord it over content, and I think is largely a courtesy, but yeah, apparently a professional process. Not effrontery in the slightest, just...publishing.Again: I can only reiterate that I am not and have never been looking to demonize anyone. As I said: I wanted to tell people that this is just an example of a larger issue, in the hopes that we'd all think about our words better and be kinder to each other. That is the absolute truth, and all I can ask you is to extend good faith in turn as a colleague and professional.Thanks,~L
I’m sorry, Leah, I’ve tried, and I keep trying hard to imagine what would I feel if one of my interviews had been set against a background where Bart Simpson kicks a dog or where an Afghan joked that gals in bukhas resemble shuttlecocks. I love dogs and believe that burkhas are an aberration, an insult to all women and by extension to humanity. But however distasteful, if set in the right context (which The Rack, being a medieval chamber of horrors is) the color in narrative is just that: color; which in no way touches the interviewee.
Perhaps, as a man, I can’t fathom the depth of your sensitivity. Problem is that both Renée Miller (a woman, boy she’s a woman) and myself, perused Michael Keyton’s article and found it excellent, and in no way containing anything that remotely touched you as a person, a writer, a woman or a human being. In other words, just in case there’s any misunderstanding: I stand behind every single word Michael penned in that article and would defend the same anywhere, even in a court of law.
I respect your views and outlook, vive la difference! but the contents of your broadcasted posts paint the three of us as unprofessional, or worse; as perverts. In my opinion, this is grossly unfair.
And by the way, I’m unfamiliar with Canadian press standards, but after scores of interviews in the Internet, printed press, radio and TV, I have yet to see one reporter submitting copy to a subject for approval, as it would go against professional ethics, aesthetics and integrity. For typos and other pests, there are editors and copyeditors.
Renee--I'm getting the sense that you're not hearing me, or not in a place to discuss this toward a resolution. Please tell me if that's untrue and you would like to work toward a practical fix here; if not, I'll be bowing out of this conversation after this. No sense in any of us going around in circles.All I can do is again, reiterate: I am, was, have been speaking in good faith. There is no double-talk coming out of my mouth, no dramatization, and no secret plans. I have not told one untruth to you, or to Mike, or to anyone in one thing pertaining to this issue; I spoke about what happened, quoting and citing, and I spoke about how it truly made me feel. Being upset and hurt and wanting other people to know why something upsets and hurts people does not conflict with wanting to not get into an argument about the whole thing. Or, if it makes more sense: I have no interest in an argument; I want a solution.This has largely blown over in my end of the world. It's done and gone. And you're saying, to be frank, some nasty things to me here: I have said "You did a thing, without meaning it, that hurt me; please think about how you do things again in future," and you're calling me names for that right now. Note: I haven't called you one name back, and I won't. Please take that as further evidence that I'm speaking in good faith. Please take me at my word, step back, and think about this thing.And all I can do is reiterate: Please consider that this isn't a case of some asshole being easily offended; please consider that this treatment legitimately hurt and upset a real person, who has a real head and a real heart and real reactions -- and that maybe looking at why, and whether this will cause more hurt in future, is worth doing both on an ethical and practical level. Even when you don't agree that something should hurt someone or feel it wouldn't hurt you, that doesn't make someone else a drama queen, or a fake victim, or crazy, or self-righteous, or not over themselves. It makes them a human being who either sees a thing you don't yet see, or whose experiences have been different from yours. And those people's hurts are still valid. They're still people. We don't want to hurt other people just because they're a bit different. And being mindful about your colleagues' and neighbours' needs isn't changing yourself, or letting people tell you what to do. It's just being considerate. It's just life.You say you've been in some dark places and didn't get the support or acknowledgment you wished you had; I'm sorry for that. That's shitty and it sucks, and I sincerely wish you had. I'd ask that, knowing how that feels to have what you need, what's hurting you, dismissed as weakness or crazy talk by other people? Please don't be a person who does that to someone else. Please be the person, in future -- even if you don't feel you can be now -- who listens, and acknowledges, and helps someone out. Who works to fix the problem, not keep it going.That's all I'm asking you to do: Think about it. When you're not angry anymore, pretend you're me, in a situation where you felt the things I feel because of what someone else said, and then look at what you might do to not have it happen in future because of the OFW editorial decisions, or the words OFW chooses. And then make your own decision about how you'd like to proceed.Thanks, and best of luck with your future endeavours,Leah Bobet
I find it very strange that someone 'doesn't' want to create a storm and then dramatises and tweets. You say precisely nothing if that is the case. Not write sheer hyperbole.