Yesterday I posted Professor Kevin Westhues’ “Checklist of Mobbing Indicators,” and, as if by clockwork today I was mobbed on Twitter in a thread that matched 13 of the 16 indicators, point for point.

I’ve been the target of what Westhues describes as mobbing, which is evidently a sociological term that sometimes also gos by various other terms in other contexts like “bullying,” “group think,” “epistemic violence,” “gaslighting” and so on, for going on 3 years, now. As others & I have stated time & again, these mobbers’ unwillingness to examine history, and to re-write history so it begins at whatever most recent retaliation or refutation I make, is a constant theme. I’ve been discussing this on-and-off for as long as it’s been happening, but mostly in a detached, academic way. Others, notably unquietpirate, have written much more deeply personal accounts of the impact this has had on them, as well as on me.

Reading Westhues’ descriptions of the traumatic effects mobbing behaviors have on targets resounds very deeply and very painfully. But it is also an enormous relief. Finally, I can name this specific abuse I’m enduring with terms endowed with the magic cultural legitimacy of the academe, and even though I think academics are classist hogwash, I’m hopeful using the sociological term and framework may convince more people to step outside their “not my problem” bubble and pro-actively support me against this rather than remain uninvolved bystanders.

So, I am asking you for help.

  1. Please read about mobbing. I’ve just begun to do this, too. Maybe we can help educate each other. I’m currently going over the “Virtual Mobbing” article. It’s long and dense but obviously specifically relevant to my “workplace,” the Internet.)

  2. Help me find answers to “What to do about it”, which is a topic I’ve found mentioned but only briefly at the end of, “At the Mercy of the Mob.” If there are no solutions provided by the texts, help me imagine possible countermeasures and think through potential solutions, mitigations, harm reduction tactics, and so on.

  3. Send me notes of encouragement, tell me what you like about my work, about me, speak kindly to me, and perhaps even more importantly, speak kindly about me and do so in public. Here’s a simple example of how to do this.

I want to highlight number 3, in the list above, because this is one the things that people still don’t seem to understand about the Internet. One of the unique characteristics about “Virtual Mobbing” is that the Internet enables a kind of plausibly deniable stage whisper. This kind of talking about someone but not necessarily to them is one of the most pernicious and common tactics of cyberbullies and virtual mobbers, because of the scale, speed, and confusion at which the Internet amplifies fearmongering.

Read more )

Signal boost.

I would also like to introduce everyone who assumes that a person who is being cyberbullied or mobbed "must have done something to deserve it" to the following (very relevant to what Maymay is doing) quote:
Problems worthy of attack, prove their worth by hitting back. --Piet Hein

Up Close and Personal: Consent as a Felt Sense and the TSA

[…] The woman who patted me down last Sunday was so good at making the encounter feel consensual — or more consensual than usual, or perhaps “minimally non-consensual”, anyway. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was she did, how she moved, how she inflected her voice and when and where she made eye-contact specifically, to inject a sense of non-violation into the situation. But it was something about her own gently expressed awkwardness in combination with her unquestionable competence and professionalism that did the trick.

She made me feel like we were both humans stuck in a bad situation that neither one of us was happy about, but that it was also sort of funny in a sad way, and that it was a worse situation for me than it was for her, but we were agreed on the point that we mostly just both wanted to get it over with and get on with our lives without either one of us causing the other undue hardship.


And this is my point. Even though every TSA agent uses the exact same words and touches the passenger in the exact same places, some of those encounters feel more consensual than others. According to a legalistic definition of consent as permission, every encounter I have had with the TSA pat-down has been identical in terms of consent. But there is absolutely no question in my mind that this is not the case. “Consent” is an experience much more nuanced and rich and complex than a simple question of whether I said “yes” or “no.”
Link to the rest of Unquietpirate's essay

I love that you’re talking about this. And because I thought you’d find it interesting, I wanted to chime in with a story of my own. Read more... )
"In the weeks that followed, my mom used all kinds of emotional abuse to get me to stop criticizing her. [...]

One evening, when I was exhausted from arguing with her, I collapsed on the couch. She sat next to me and stroked my head, and told me I could trust her, and that she loved me, and that she hoped I’d get better, and said how she thinks I’m an awesome person.

It was like being cuddled after a nonconsensual BDSM session, as I told a friend a few days later. Had I not read a post on tumblr criticizing the lack of consent in Fifty Shades of Grey, I would not have recognized what my mom was doing that night.

Then I realized she’d done this all my life: attack, threaten, comfort. Hurt, and then flatter."
How a Logical Girl Talked Herself into Fundamentalism, Part 3

From a lovely blog that is probably well outside of the filter bubble of the rolequeer discussion. For a little context, there’s an initially shocking amount of kink/BDSM among the survivors of Fundamentalist homeschooling.

There has not been much criticism of the BDSM scene from the exhomeschoolers, although I don’t currently feel like that’s on their heads so much.

So let me start it now.

With the context of ubiquitous physical punishment and emotional abuse, it is perhaps not surprising that for many of the people who grew up in these environments gravitated to the BDSM subculture when they left. After all, we were used to a male dominated, seniority based authoritarian structure, with physical punishment, normalized abuse and so on. The right to chose our own jailers felt like freedom.

But the BDSM Scene is the exact same lie as the Fundimentalist homeschooler subculture we walked away from.


cool-yubari, you were homeschooled, right? Was it anything like this? If not, why not?


No. There’s overlap, but no.

I’ll try to summarize the personal parts, but this is going to get long. Read more )
Click for context. )
[Addressing the OP directly because that’s how this post flowed.]

Here’s a shitty fact about straight society: there are a lot of things that don’t explicitly mean “do you wanna have sex with me?” that do, in fact, often mean “so, wanna have sex with me?” It’s confusing, I know. A lot of women turn down offers to do stuff that they wouldn’t actually be averse to doing, like … you know, meeting someone in a private place for coffee, because they have a diffuse sense of social discomfort that warns them they might not be hearing exactly what the other person is implying. And yes, straight men set up this dynamic, in order to make sexual offers to straight women and not be turned down directly.

When everyone’s on the same page, it sort of works. Like, “I turned down his offer to grab some coffee together after dinner, and we can both pretend he didn’t just covertly proposition me.” Or “I can agree to have coffee with him, and the rest of the room can pretend we didn’t just have a conversation about how we’re going back to his place to have sex.” It’s not fair of straight men to get their reaction to hearing their own secret codes used in a non-sexual way all over your fabulous gay self. That sucks.

I would be all in favor of said secret codes being a lot more publicly accessible, or abolished entirely, because it’s dangerous for, say, socially awkward or neuroatypical women (and everyone who didn’t grow up with English as their first language) to have to navigate a world where people are offering one thing and believe they’re obtaining consent for another. But it clearly also creates problems for you, as a gay man who wants to have literal coffee with man friends and keeps being misunderstood.

On those grounds as well, help us dismantle the patriarchy. :)

Tags: sexuality, feminism, consent, psychology
Click for context and longer explanation. )
My point is, though, that activist culture has done a piss poor job being honest with people about the fact that they don’t get a choice about being political. The same way you can’t safeword rape culture, you can’t make others open-minded and accepting of a thing that they rejected in order to be perceived as normal. “Being normal” involves a lot of sacrifices, disappointment, and unhappiness. Not to mention boredom and loss of self. The stated payoff is that you are rewarded with as much happiness, acceptance, and stability as a human can get. Someone who waltzes in and wants those nice things without martyring themselves in the process makes everyone who took the bad bargain and settled for it feel cheated. If life doesn’t punish that, they’re quite willing to. And I think it’s telling, and terrible, that activist culture doesn’t address that at all. Doesn’t warn people of what they’re in for from other people, and why, when they embrace the ways that they’re different. Because that whole dynamic is intrinsic to the struggle, but you don’t have to go in completely unprepared for it and unarmed.

Tags: feminism, sexuality, coercion, gaslighting, psyops, discourse, pop social justice, being normal isn't a good thing, when normality = complicity with abuse
aquila_black: Text says "maybe tomorrow." (Soubi: Distrust)
( Oct. 24th, 2014 09:09 pm)
[Discussion truncated.] I have not found “For the most part, this semantic expansion of identity space has been embraced and celebrated” and “it seems generally accepted that it’s a good thing for people to have lots of different words to talk about ourselves with” to be true. I have encountered (as in run into, not as in people did it to me) quite major amounts of backlash around these things, from ‘why do you need labels anyway’ to all the issues people take with demisexuality to invalidation or policing of non binary identities to mockery etc. Which is all gross, but I really have seen it a lot.)

Meanwhile, semantic expansion of identity space is important and excellent. So. Thank you. --lyricalagony

I haven’t either. There’s a lot of anger from people who don’t consider themselves part of the queer politics social bubble and don’t see any reason for the enormous proliferation in terms. Part of it is certainly coming from regressive, “don’t rock the boat” types. But I’m concerned that the emphasis on popularizing ever more specific words may be yet another way for career activists to look busy and a thing that’s encouraging people to be apolitical and self-absorbed: identity politics taken to the extreme where everyone has a list of labels a mile long and accepts or mistrusts other people primarily based on what they call themselves.

Rolequeerness seems to be clearing the way for actual, concrete changes. I like what Unquietpirate and Maymay are doing with it and I see the use of it. But it’s overtly political in a way that most labels aren’t. It’s embracing the ways that it confronts existing structures. And it feeds into more direct challenges to sexual Business as Usual, in the context of Consent as a Felt Sense. That is, it’s being popularized in a situation where the people exploring it aren’t boasting that their identity is omg, so radical, while in practice fleeing from risk and conflict. That, to me, makes it quite different from most labels.

Tags: discourse consensus reality sexuality changing things
"Indeed the state of all who are preoccupied is wretched, but the most wretched are those who are toiling not even at their own preoccupations, but must regulate their sleep by another’s, and their walk by another’s pace, and obey orders in those freest of all things, loving and hating. If such people want to know how short their lives are, let them reflect how small a portion is their own."
—Seneca the younger, De Brevitate Vitæ (On the shortness of life)

Relevant to what Maymay has been posting about wage slavery as an extension of debt and property. Notice that Seneca is depicting this state of affairs as unnatural and taking it for granted that people would stop living this way, if they just “reflected” adequately on the foolishness of their arrangement. That aside, I think it’s also good proof that forced, money-based employment is not a prerequisite for civilization.

Tags: human batteries normalized abuse discourse
"So long as I confine my activities to social service and the blind, they compliment me extravagantly, calling me ‘arch priestess of the sightless,’ ‘wonder woman,’ and a ‘modern miracle.’ But when it comes to a discussion of poverty, and I maintain that it is the result of wrong economics—that the industrial system under which we live is at the root of much of the physical deafness and blindness in the world—that is a different matter! It is laudable to give aid to the handicapped. Superficial charities make smooth the way of the prosperous; but to advocate that all human beings should have leisure and comfort, the decencies and refinements of life, is a Utopian dream, and one who seriously contemplates its realization indeed must be deaf, dumb, and blind."
—Helen Keller (letter to Senator Robert La Follette, 1924)

funny how the most popular narrative about helen keller is a harmless little girl who learns to communicate and then the story ends for some reason gee i wonder why that is

Gee. Why does the popular narrative end before she became a communist? So strange! And the Martin Luther King Jr. narrative does the same thing! What a coincidence!

Also, that the narrative is generally about the abled teacher helping her and how amazing she was to be able to do it. As the wikipedia article frames it: “The story of how Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan, broke through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language, allowing the girl to blossom as she learned to communicate, has become widely known through the dramatic depictions of the play and film The Miracle Worker.” So even the story about Helen Keller is often not really about her.

Reminds me of a quote by Hélder Pessoa Câmara, late Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Brazil, that is often paraphrased as “When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they called me a Communist.”

Tags: economics, capitalism, civilization created poverty, artificial scarcity



[Abbreviated argument.]

In the most pragmatic terms possible, this is why throwing more stigmatized groups under the bus is an inherently self-defeating strategy. As long as society has a category of “okay to abuse. Okay to hurt,” devalued, sentient beings are at risk of being demoted into it. When that isn’t challenged on all fronts, the prison just keeps getting bigger. 

So I’m going to be a bit pedantic but I hope my larger point gets across in this stream of consciousness.

If I understood, your fundamental assertion is that human animals are subjected to a legal system they did not agree to be bound by and have no recourse against. This parallels the way humans used to inflict their legal system on other animals. I agree.

I disagree with some of your intermediate points. My impression is that you're trying to dedicate your energy to fixing a whole range of important things that are systemically broken, though, so I'll try to keep this short.  


I've been running into one particular misunderstanding a lot. I'm going to write out what I think is the antidote as a bulletpointed list.

-The fact that you're being abused doesn't keep you from being abusive.

-The fact that other people exercise unfair power over you actually makes it more likely that there's someone you're exercising unfair power over.

-Being aware that this is a thing can help with not perpetuating it.

-Asserting "you're not being abused! What's happening to me is way worse!" is the opposite of helpful.

-Often, it makes the other person feel like they have to challenge the importance of your abuse to prove that what's happening to them is worth bringing up or caring about.

-A lot of people who are being abused and exploited in different ways antagonize each other with this kind of misdirected anger.

-We need to acknowledge that people whose struggles are different from ours have valid struggles, and face real injustices, without letting the conversation turn into a false dichotomy where abuse against a particular group is the only abuse worth talking about.

... at Harriet's Fugitivus blog. I love her posts, but sometimes she mooshes together several different, large, related concepts and I want to send people to a particular part and that's not possible because of the way the writing is formatted. I'm putting the part that I share around the most often below. The rest of the post is here.

I Don’t Want To Say I Was Abused Or Raped Because That Cheapens Abuse and Rape/Some Girls Ruin It For The Rest Of Us

Let’s make this simple.

Rape and abuse exist. They’re horrible and they’re wrong.

The only way rape and abuse can be less horrible is if we don’t value the person who is being raped or abused.

Let’s Godwin’s Law this: Hitler is being raped and abused. How much do you care?

Okay, let’s back this up realistically. Your sister is being raped and abused. How much do you care?

A woman who sleeps with a lot of people and callously disregards their feelings is being raped and abused. How much do you care?

A woman who was drinking heavily at the club and hanging off every single guy is being raped and abused. How much do you care?

The only way rape and abuse can be cheapened is if we cheapen the victims. They aren’t cheapened by expanding the definition of victim. If rape and abuse are horrible and wrong, then more victims just equals more horrible and more wrong. But we can cheapen rape and abuse by limiting the definition of victims we give a shit about.Read more... )
aquila_black: Text says "sometimes we let go" (Seimei Soubi: Broken Tether)
( Aug. 3rd, 2014 11:06 pm)

"In the eyes of a watching world, the fact that the great-grandmother of an Israeli soldier died in Treblinka is no excuse for his own abusive treatment of a Palestinian woman waiting to cross a checkpoint. "Remember Auschwitz" is not an acceptable response.

In short: Israel, in the world's eyes, is a normal state, but one behaving in abnormal ways. It is in control of its fate, but the victims are someone else. It is strong, very strong, but its behavior is making everyone else vulnerable. And so, shorn of all other justifications for its behavior, Israel and its supporters today fall back with increasing shrillness upon the oldest claim of all: Israel is a Jewish state and that is why people criticize it. This - the charge that criticism of Israel is implicitly anti-Semitic - is regarded in Israel and the United States as Israel's trump card. If it has been played more insistently and aggressively in recent years, that is because it is now the only card left.

The habit of tarring any foreign criticism with the brush of anti-Semitism is deeply engrained in Israeli political instincts: Ariel Sharon used it with characteristic excess but he was only the latest in a long line of Israeli leaders to exploit the claim. David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir did no different. But Jews outside of Israel pay a high price for this tactic. Not only does it inhibit their own criticisms of Israel for fear of appearing to associate with bad company, but it encourages others to look upon Jews everywhere as de facto collaborators in Israel's misbehavior. When Israel breaks international law in the occupied territories, when Israel publicly humiliates the subject populations whose land it has seized - but then responds to its critics with loud cries of "anti-Semitism" - it is in effect saying that these acts are not Israeli acts, they are Jewish acts: The occupation is not an Israeli occupation, it is a Jewish occupation, and if you don't like these things it is because you don't like Jews.

In many parts of the world this is in danger of becoming a self-fulfilling assertion: Israel's reckless behavior and insistent identification of all criticism with anti-Semitism is now the leading source of anti-Jewish sentiment in Western Europe and much of Asia. But the traditional corollary - if anti-Jewish feeling is linked to dislike of Israel then right-thinking people should rush to Israel's defense - no longer applies. Instead, the ironies of the Zionist dream have come full circle: For tens of millions of people in the world today, Israel is indeed the state of all the Jews. And thus, reasonably enough, many observers believe that one way to take the sting out of rising anti-Semitism in the suburbs of Paris or the streets of Jakarta would be for Israel to give the Palestinians back their land."

Excerpt from Tony Judt's article, The Country that Wouldn't Grow Up

This was published in Haaretz in 2006, but it's only gotten more relevant and urgent since then.


Recently I reblogged an article showing that social agreeableness could have a positive correlation with "following orders" types of abuse. I wanted to discuss that more. 

Needing the group's approval can manifest as norm-following behavior patterns: "niceness," professionalism, a positive attitude, etc. Not needing the group's approval is only visible when the group demands a specific action or stance and the person does not comply. 

What they do instead doesn't necessarily benefit oppressed people. But they have a choice that someone who is controlled by what the group considers right and good doesn't have. 

People the group protects and treats well are predisposed to see rule-breaking as antisocial, dangerous behavior. People the group mistreats and leaves vulnerable are more likely to expect good things from nonconformists.

Some of the people who can buck society are selfish. But others are courageous, altruistic, and moral in a way that society pays a lot of lip service to, but ultimately doesn't encourage at all.

Last year, my brother was hit by a motorcycle. We were crossing the street and the light changed before we got to the other side and these guys on motorcycles just gunned their engines and one of them hit him. We are incredibly lucky, because my brother was completely unharmed. He fell on top of the motorcycle and it skidded sideways and started leaking fluid. Click for the rest of the story )
The publishing industry has forced the takedown of, a place where students throughout the third world could download out-of-print, hard to find, and overpriced scholarly works. This was not a site that pirated the latest Stephen King novels. It was a place to find everything from physics texts to literary criticism. When the constant refrain of teachers and academic types everywhere is "educate yourself," functionally restricting that to people who live in countries where they can easily acquire and pay for printed books is not a morally neutral act.

The full story is being carried by Al-Jazeera. I haven't seen it get much press elsewhere.
I was reading an interesting article a couple of days ago in Arab News, the less tendentious of two English language newspapers in Riyadh. Here's the crux of it:

"With Saudi Arabia's changing economic environment, higher costs of living, inflation, and a population of over 25 million -- over 50 percent of whom are women -- women's participation in the workforce is no longer a social issue; it is an economic one. Single income families can no longer afford to accommodate the needs and wants of an average-sized family."



aquila_black: Harry Potter is unconscious. His outstretched hand holds the Philosopher's Stone. Caption: Immortality. (Default)


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