Follow-Up on What Has Been Happening

[Content Note: Abuse; harassment. This post is being published with the input of the moderators.]

In the day since I posted a detailed account of the activities of a hate site targeting Shakesville and the members of this community and anyone associated with me, we have received an overwhelming outpouring of support and love, for which I am immensely grateful. Thank you, so very much, to everyone who has taken time to stand with us—whether publicly or privately.

Literally hundreds of people have said in comments here and on Twitter that they do not want false concerns for their "safety" to be used as justification for harassing me, the contributors and mods, the commenters, my colleagues, and Iain.

But the response from the hate site has been to double-down and wildly spin cockamamie defenses of their vile harassment.

Among their justifications for the continued harassment are:

1. Their site is the only way to give me "feedback." Nope. (I'll come back to that.)

2. I don't understand humor. Actually, I do. I do question, however, whether they understand irony, given their position of policing my feminism while wielding classic antifeminist tropes like the Humorless Feminist at me, in defense of harassment and abuse of me and everyone about whom I care.

3. They're not trying to silence me. Good luck convincing anyone without a destructive agenda of the veracity of that ludicrous claim, when right in your mission statement is: "The fact is, her time needs to be finished."

4. That it isn't harassment because they aren't coming to our inboxes and on Twitter, and the site has nothing to do with our getting harassing, abusive, and threatening comments, emails, tweets, phone calls, etc.

This is grade-A unadulterated horseshit.

As I said in comments, no one can know what's in our inboxes. And, as more evidence of their knowing exactly the kind of person I really am, they know that I won't publish the names of people harassing me and expose them to retributive harm, so I can't push back on their claim that none of the people affiliated with that site have emailed me aside from saying: They have.

I have received countless emails that include favorable quotes from, screen caps of, and/or links to that site, admonishing me to read it, followed by all manner of bullshit, including very occasionally threats. Some of the Shakesville moderators have received similar emails.

Members of that site have also publicly come at me on Twitter. That they choose to ignore it, or claim it "doesn't count" because it wasn't the site administrator hirself, is indicative of how their defense is a constantly moving target.

If they say, "No one has come at you on Twitter," and I am able to point to people having come at me on Twitter, the defense then becomes, "No one who runs the site did it." And if I then make the point that the site is nonetheless clearly inciting harassment they claim it doesn't, then they resort to speculation it must be MRAs or 4¢han or someone trying to discredit them.

Sure it is.

That the site administrator and members of an obsessive hate site can express shock or disbelief that the result of running such a site is people harassing me via email and social media is an absurd and harmful lack of the most basic accountability.

They routinely dehumanize me and assert that I "must be stopped," and then have the fucking audacity to feign surprise when people treat me like I'm a monster who has to be stopped.

The site administrator encourages members of hir site to stir shit at Shakesville, calling it "great justice," and then imagines that hir readership, admittedly and openly a collection of people with an axe to grind, contains that shit-stirring only to my comments section, but never comes after me via my publicly posted email address or public Twitter account?

That is a profound denial of the harm zie is inciting against me.

Of course that is happening. Of course it is.

And the people doing it are positively braying about their affiliation with the hate site. I'm not making guesses. They are proud of it.

But I'm meant to believe, in contravention of all reason, that people like MRAs, who also have a beef with me, are trying to discredit a hate site that targets me? That defies logic.

Everyone is a liar. I'm a liar, the moderators are liars, the people who email me are liars. Everyone just lies all the time—except the people who are running an obsessive hate site.

Sounds legit.

5. I'm "abusive" for having banned people for violations of my clearly stated commenting policy and because I didn't respond to some emails, so I deserve it.

Again, and I cannot emphasize this enough, if all that was happening at that site was criticism of the commenting policy and moderation decisions, and/or people commiserating about how terrible Shakesville is, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

I don't agree that it's "abusive" to push back against and/or ban someone for behaving in my space in a way I find objectionable. Virtually every single online space with a comments section draws boundaries around what constitutes acceptable commenting; mine are much tighter than most other spaces, but that doesn't make them "abusive."

I also don't agree that it's "abusive" to fail to respond to every single email I receive. Especially since my posted Email Policy clearly states that I won't: "I simply can't respond to everyone anymore; be aware that reaching out with an expectation that I will respond, and/or respond in precisely the way you want, is not good faith."

Sometimes I don't respond to emails because I miss them, or because I don't have time, or any number of reasons including because there's something about them that sends up a red flag—and, given that there are people justifying their participation in a hate site by my having failed to respond to their email(s), it seems like my instincts to not reply to some of these folks were pretty solid.

But, sure, other people are free to say these decisions are "abusive." The thing is: That's not all they're doing.

6. If I don't like it, I don't have to read it, just like I say about Shakesville.

Firstly, let me underscore, again, that they openly state they want me to read the site. See their justification at #1, which claims that the site is for providing me with "feedback." On the one hand, it's specifically designed for my edification; on the other, I should just ignore it.

And, again, when I was failing to give it the attention they felt it deserved, in an escalation entirely typical of abusers, they starting coming at people I love, in order to force me to pay attention.

To then turn around and try to claim that I should just ignore them is rank dishonesty.

Secondly, whoooooops one of these things is not like the other.

I am not writing a site dedicated to obsessively documenting and fucking with someone's life. The site administrator of the hate site, however, is running a site on which people are allowed to state, as fact and unchallenged, that I am breaking the law. On which my husband's employment information is posted for an audience primed to fuck with us. On which they coordinate troublemaking at my website, my livelihood, with the explicit goal of shutting me down.

Even if all of us who have been targeted could simply choose not to read their "critiques," there is so much stuff posted at the hate site that goes well beyond any "critique" and into territory that could have meaningful consequences for my personal and professional lives.

7. Which brings us to their primary justification for the continued harassment and abuse of people even tenuously associated with this space: It's just criticism.

Bullshit. Bullshit.

They are defending their continued harassment and abuse by saying that what I consider harassment and abuse, everyone else considers "criticism."

But vast amounts of what is posted at the hate site is demonstrably not "criticism."

Not Criticism: "The fact is, her time needs to be finished."

Not Criticism: Positing all kinds of absurd and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about me. See, here's the thing—for something to be valid criticism, there has to be evidence of the thing you're criticizing.

Not Criticism: Deliberately misnaming me to annoy and dehumanize me.

Not Criticism: Orchestrated trolling of my website.

Not Criticism: Stalking my husband—or even mentioning him, as he has nothing to do with the management or moderation of this site.

Not Criticism: Saying that I abuse my husband. Speculating about my marriage at all. That I talk about my marriage on the blog does not make it "fair game."

Not Criticism: Talking about doing violence to one of the people I love most in the world.

Not Criticism: Harassing my colleagues, friends, and family. Tracking down their personal or professional websites in order to find things to use against me/them. Posting lies about them. Intimidating them. Policing the nature of our relationships. Calling them, and me, liars about their own disabilities. Diagnosing them, and me, with mental illnesses.

Not Criticism: Policing every aspect of my personal life.

Not Criticism: Obsessing over how much money I make, whether I pay taxes, how I spend my money, and accusing me of breaking employment and tax laws.

Not Criticism: Saying that my house is filthy. Asking the person who claims to have viewed my filthy home to provide photographic evidence.

Not Criticism: Accusing me of lying about my cat being tiny to get attention. Speculating about how I abuse my dog.

Not Criticism: Debating whether it's acceptable to mock me for being fat.

Not Criticism: Commenting negatively on my tattoos. (Seriously, I don't care what you think of them, but that is not criticism of my work.)

I could go on (and on and on and on), but I think my point is pretty evident. The assertion that the only thing that happens in that space is "criticism" of my/our work, of the content and moderation at Shakesville, is an indefensible misrepresentation of the site's actual content.

I frankly don't think that I'm the one who's confused about what the definition of "criticism" is.

* * *

People have asked me what they can do to help, and the truth is that the best thing anyone can do, as long as they feel safe doing it, is continue to cast sunlight on what's being done to me, to the moderators, to Iain, to this community.

I would not ask anyone to put themselves on this group's radar on my behalf, because here I am talking about what they do to people who associate with me.

But for those who want to help, and feel safe doing so, talk about it. Push back. My profound thanks to my friends and colleagues who have written supportive pieces. (I will link some of them for everyone to see, as soon as I've gotten consent to share them in this space.)

And, for those who want to help, but don't feel safe pushing back publicly, your quiet support is meaningful. Thank you for the emails.

Thank you to anyone who has communicated, in any way: This is wrong.

UPDATE: This piece by my friend Kath, also known as Fat Heffalump, is amazing. And I am sharing it with her permission. Thank you, Kath. ♥

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus