Oh HaleNo: When the Bully thinks she’s the victim

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If you were on Twitter yesterday, you probably saw #HaleNo trending – it was in response to Kathleen Hale’s piece in the Guardian where she shared the tragic story in which her life was RUINED by a book blogger who devoted their entire life harassing her.

Which, given the stories we hear about online trolls/bullies, doesn’t seem too far-fetched, does it?

Only, if you read the piece (linked using donotlink so that it won’t improve the Guardian’s site ranking), it’s clear that isn’t what happened at all.

One of the amazing things about the internet is that you can create a pseudonym. Want to whistleblow? Live in an ultra conservative community, but want to write about things you know wouldn’t fly? You can create a pseudonym and do so. It’s amazing. It’s also something that bullies and trolls use to their advantage.

But that is absolutely not what happened in Hale’s case. Hale is the one who engaged the blogger, after she read the blogger’s negative review. She’s the one who couldn’t let it go. She decided that the negative tweets and reviews she got were the fault of that negative review. And just like that The Blogger became her white whale, who she continued to pursue – to the point where she used her publisher to get the blogger’s home address and went to confront her. That’s right. She actually went to someone’s house.

How bad was this harassment? It was enough that the blogger blocked Hale on FB, deleted her Twitter account – and then eventually returned to Twitter and set her profiles to private. But not before Hale sent the blogger multiple DMs to criticize her for using someone else’s pictures for her account. (Which incidentally, we don’t know whether or not they were used without permission- that’s entirely Hale’s assumption)

I’m not underplaying any of it. Literally, as you read, there’s red flag after red flag that Kathleen Hale can’t be trusted to be honest about herself. She begins by sharing the anecdote of her so obsessing over her book that her editor had to tear the finished book from her hand to keep her from attempting to edit it further. It’s meant to be funny, but makes it clear that she’s someone who obsesses.

It’s obvious reading it that Hale isn’t the victim. She’s the aggressor here, picking on a person who chose to use a pseudonym for her own reasons- reasons we aren’t entitled to have.

And the Guardian happily shared this story of an author stalking a reader.

Some good pieces about this:
Stalking is Never OK! Authors, Bloggers, Entitlement and Obsession
On the importance of pseudonymous activity

Thankfully, #HaleNo was the response from authors and book bloggers alike, saying that her behavior isn’t acceptable.

What are your thoughts?

His name is WHAT?!

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As many of you know, I am kind of a walking Star Wars Encyclopedia. When I got into the Star Wars movies, I really got into the Star Wars universe. Memorized timelines, adjusted timelines when things just didn’t make sense… and for about a decade ran a Star Wars RPG (using West End’s d6 system) with my best friend in college. It was awesome.

Even he's perplexed.

Even he’s perplexed.

So when news surfaced that Emperor Palpatine was finally given a first name, I couldn’t wait to see what it was. C, the aforementioned college best friend, was annoyed when she shared the link- but I figured it would be something overly fussy.

Nope. According to Wookieepedia, who sources the name as being in the upcoming Tarkin novel, his name is…

Sheev.

Sheev Palpatine. Or Sheev Sidious if you’re nasty going with Dark Side monikers.

Seriously? I would have gone with something a little more Roman sounding.

So, as I said on C’s FB post about this, I’m going to paraphrase Nick Fury for my official response: It’s a stupid-ass name, and I’m going to ignore it.

What sort of name do you think that Senator/Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine should have had?

Satya Nadella : A Lesson in Privilege

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Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO was at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Arizona, and asked by Maria Klawe (Harvey Mudd College President and Microsoft board member) what women should do if they feel uncomfortable asking for a raise.

And well, he suggested that they don’t ask for raises. But believe in the system. And that not asking is a superpower and good kharma. (If you click the above link it has his full answer, his initial tweet about the backlash, as well as an email he sent to Microsoft employees that actually was a better response than the tweet).

Klawe disagreed immediately, and pointed out that she felt she hadn’t negotiated her pay in some positions and felt underpaid compared to male counterparts. And then she offered some actual advice- about doing research about pay for your position, and find someone you trust and roleplay the scenario until you’re comfortable.

So why did Nadella get it so wrong? Privilege. While he did later acknowledge the gap in pay that men and women make, he lives in a world where he can indeed trust the system. He can put in his work and have faith that his work would be recognized and he would receive fair raises accordingly.

To him, his answer made perfect sense- because it’s what he knows. I’m not excusing it. On the contrary. I think it was a sexist comment, and irresponsible of him to speak at a conference for women when this question made it clear that he hasn’t listened to women discuss their perspective on the issues. It’s one thing to acknowledge that there’s a gap in pay, it’s another to have listened to women discuss being steamrolled or labeled as being “difficult” or “greedy” when they’ve tried to ask for raises.

Because there is an incredible double standard in how men and women are treated in the workforce. A man and a woman could react the same way, but the man’s assertiveness in a woman could be read as being domineering. A man’s to the point, where the woman’s bitchy. The man know’s what he wants, and the woman’s labeled as power hungry.

So if a woman asked for a raise, they could be labeled as not being a team player for pointing out that they’re carrying their department. Or conversely, if their concerns do come out, they could have their fears completely dismissed and then being labeled spineless. Those are all examples that I heard from friends, and yes, I was asked “if I had a spine or not” when I admitted I’d been nervous to point out that the work I was doing was worth more than what I was paid.

And those labels stick. Much like the “you look tired” comment that even the Doctor (in Doctor Who) used to destroy Harriet Jones’s career as Prime Minister. Even if the Doctor was right that her actions were wrong, the path he chose to destroy her was deeply rooted in our gender inequalities. A man in a leadership role (political or business) can be tired, and we won’t question his capability. But with a woman, we wonder if the role was simply too much for them.

That single question to Nadella proved how important it is that people with privilege understand what privilege is. Because if you have it? You start out being unaware of it. It isn’t until you listen to the people who do have societal labels that hold them back- race, gender, sexuality… that you can see what’s going on. And actually understand what you’re being asked.

So my advice? Listen. If you have any doubt that you’re not understanding the full extent of what’s being asked – ask for clarification. Listen and ask questions, two actions that we should all take to heart.

Your thoughts?

Midday Phone Calls from the School.

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I don’t get a lot of calls here at the house. Lots of cold calls from companies looking for construction work, but those are easy enough to fend off. (It’s depressing when you realize that they’re trying to reach elderly people and mostly likely scam them out of money by overcharging them for work- since you wouldn’t reach a working adult during the day by calling their house) Now that we’re in the fall, lots of calls from campaigns.

But very few calls meant for me- and by that, I mean on my cell. This week, I was working (while on the phone with my mom, who has proven to be the one person I can talk to and focus on work simultaneously), when the screen lit up with a call from the Kidlets’ school.

And when you’re a parent, you know that’s never a good thing. Mentally steeling myself for the Little Kidlet having some sort of allergic reaction, I answered. “This is Whitney.”

“Mommy?” It was the Oldest Kidlet, his voice wavering.

“You okay, kiddo?”

“Mommy, you forgot to pack my lunch.”

I ran downstairs, his lunchbox wasn’t there. Looked in the car. It wasn’t there. I distinctly had the memory of jamming it into his backpack…. so I drove over to the school.

Where the Oldest Kidlet was sitting in the nurse’s office and had worked himself into a worried frenzy. So I asked him to walk me through it, and asked the first and most important question- why hadn’t he just bought lunch? (He has an account at the school, we keep it loaded so that he can do that if he wants/needs to)

He didn’t want to answer, and just wanted to find his lunch, so I got a visitor’s pass and went off to search for his lunchbox. We checked his brother’s backpack – nope. We looked in Oldest Kidlet’s backpack. Nyet. And right there, in front of his class, I saw his lunchbox hanging up on the hook right next to where his backpack was.

So I handed it over, sighed, and walked him back to the nurse’s office – he admitted that the only reason he hadn’t bought lunch was because he didn’t remember the PIN they have students enter. The nurse (whose daughter has been in every single class with OK since Kindergarten) just sighed and reminded him that the lunch ladies could look it up and write it down for him.

All in all, it wasn’t an emergency. At the time, I was mostly just annoyed that I’d had to stop working and drive over. But I did realize that I added about 300 steps just walking around the school grounds looking for the lunchbox- which is a good thing.

I can’t be the only parent who’s had to go to school because their child swore they didn’t have their lunch… what’s the weirdest thing you’ve had to go to school to take care of?

Hello, ER.

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Yesterday the Little Kidlet and I spent some quality time at the emergency room. The day started normally. In the morning, Little Kidlet and I were lounging on the couch when I noticed he had a bruise on his shoulder. Poked it, and TheBoy looked over and asked if Little Kidlet had a black eye.

And to think, this was when his eye was looking better.

And to think, this was when his eye was looking better.

Because his eye was swollen. Really swollen, and getting more swollen as we looked at him. Assuming it was an allergic reaction to something, we gave him some Benadryl for the swelling and put a cold compress on it- and debated whether or not to take him to the ER or the urgent care that might be open on Sundays.

With the history of allergies, we opted for the ER.

I think it says something about how many ER trips we’ve had since the kids were born, that when I said I was going to take a quick shower, TheBoy told me he’d pack some food for LK and get him dressed- that I should think of what we’d bring to keep him entertained.

By the time we’d been signed in at the ER, it started to seem clear to me that this was probably an eye infection- the swelling had gone down, his eye was definitely red and there was some discharge.

(more…)

Juice in the Box, another one down.

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source: juiceinthebox.com

source: juiceinthebox.com

Today’s story is about the ongoing saga of the Kidlets vs Juice in the Box. As I wrote last time, I’d bought one for each kid – they’re reusable juice boxes that are watertight and “practically indestructible.” Then Oldest Kidlet lost his, and it was the end of the world.

But back to the latest, and note that they say practically indestructible. Little Kidlet had been using his every day – right up until the hinges on the lid broke. Making it so that the straw was never shut off, and would leak everywhere.

We have no idea how it happened- if LK dropped it at school (it’s nearly impossible to drag out a straight story from a 6 year old about what goes on at school) or if somehow it was just a bad box. Or if somehow tugging the top off every day to refill it weakened it until it snapped. I think the how will forever remain a mystery.

I do know that we’d bought it from a sale on zulily (which means a closeout sale), and that the one we’d bought directly from Precidio looked a little different. So it’s possible it was an older design.

But they’re pricey, and I honestly can’t keep buying new ones every time they break – so for now, Little Kidlet’s going back to his regular water bottle. The Oldest Kidlet has sworn he’ll be extraordinarily careful with his, since it might be his last. (That sounds far more ominous than I meant)

Anyone else who reads this blog try this product? In looking through Amazon reviews I’ve heard of it shattering when dropped- but not at a hinge. And if anyone has a great alternative for for a six year old who has a hard time getting lids off of water bottles, that’d be great.

Not quite ready for some posts yet.

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You might have guessed that there are a lot of things going on the world that I probably have opinions about. Like the NFL or Emma Watson’s speech for the UN that 4Chan is being creepy about.

And I do have lots of opinions, but the last one is sort of triggery for me at the moment. For those unfamiliar with the term, it refers to something that reminds you of previous events – in my case, the whole tape thing. The idea that a group of people think that releasing pictures would make her behave a certain way is uncomfortably close to what’s going on with me- and all that ugliness is just hard to deal with, especially since I’m between therapy appointments right now

I promise. I will post about the NFL. I will post about Emma Watson’s speech- just not right now.

There’ll be a real post tomorrow, but considering the amount of well-meaning requests I’ve had for a post, or a discussion about what’s going on… I thought that maybe putting it one place might help. I’m going to be a good ol’ fashioned life blog for a bit- talk about the kids, things I’ve done. Table the issues posts while I heal.

Thanks in advance for understanding.

Zorro: a trip to the vet and the weirdness of pet food.

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zorroIn our very full house, we have a cat named Zorro. He’s our cat, not the in-laws. In fact, he’s 14, and adopted TheBoy and I one day. Other than the brief reign of terror when we moved into this house and he decided he’d be the Alpha Cat, he’s pretty mellow- though very vocal.

Over last weekend (not the one that just ended, but the one before), he was puking. A lot. So I took away his food, and noticed that he was just sort of off. Not really talking, just sort of laying there- and he’s a talker, that cat. So we took him to the vet, and they drew some urine and blood and the next day we had to take him back- he tested positive for pancreatitis.

For the next three days, he was at our vet. And for those three days, I had one very upset Little Kidlet- who thinks of Zorro as his cat. The vet called with daily updates. Though Zorro was recovering, he was concerned that Zorro wasn’t eating, and that he seemed fearful. Finally I asked him if he thought he wasn’t eating because he was scared- and reminded him that he’s a 14 year old cat who has access to almost all of our house. So even if it gets loud here, he can find a nice quiet space to sneak off to. He isn’t used to constant noise. In fact, he’s usually the noisiest thing in our house.

So we brought Zorro home for a night, to see if he’d eat some wet food. Which he did! They took out the IV catheter in his arm, and he’s back home with us, and everyone’s happy. Especially Zorro, who now has a few places he lurks when the house is just too loud. (And yes, the Little Kidlet is thrilled- and bestows a lot of affection on his cat whenever it seems like his cat wants the attention)

But here’s the other part of this drama that I wanted to talk about. Our vet sent us home with Hill’s Prescription id Gastrointestinal Health Formula. And when there was a brief period where we weren’t sure if it was pancreatitis or IBD, I looked at this can to see what it had.

Corn. It was like the third or fourth ingredient. Corn. For a cat, which is a carnivore. Corn, the one ingredient that I have been repeatedly warned that I can’t digest- so why would a cat be able to?

And it smelled disgusting. (Not to get too gross, but I’m a mother and I have Crohn’s – I’ve smelled a lot of gross things over the years)

I know that most vets take the word of their food reps about the nutritional value of the ingredients in the food, and I don’t blame them- it’s hard to know what’s best for every type of animal they treat. But it just doesn’t seem to make any sense to include corn or wheat (which is getting tougher to digest these days) in a pet product that’s supposedly easier to digest. I did some more googling, and there was a nutritionist who suggested that cats with GI issues (or prone to pancreatitis) switch to grain-free foods with poultry or rabbit. Which is what we’re trying, now. Zorro seems happier. (And it doesn’t smell, believe it or not)

If you have a pet with special needs, feel free to question what sort of food your vet is selling you- odds are, they’re working off the best information that they have. There are animal nutritionists out there, and certainly some more expensive brands of food that have less grain and better quality meat. (I won’t list the name of the brand we’re trying)

Stolen Photos and The Thing I’m Finally Writing About

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As I’m sure everyone heard by now, a lot of female celebrities had nude pictures leaked over the weekend. Leaked. Isn’t it amazing that the media uses that word instead of stolen? Because leaked makes it sound so harmless, so much less violating than something being stolen and put on the internet where anyone can view them.

I hope nobody who reads this blog helped spread them. I hope that nobody believes any of the sexist garbage that the media has been spewing either.I’ve heard a lot of ridiculous garbage from radio DJs and TV talking heads – about how unfortunate this is, but it’s a good reminder that you shouldn’t take these pictures in the first place.

Excuse me? That’s like telling someone who was robbed that it’s their fault because they shouldn’t have bought something nice. Don’t even get me started on saying that it’s only appropriate that women avoid certain activities (like taking pictures of themselves or recording anything with their sexual partners). I’d say that it’s like telling women not to wear clothes they like or go out to bars because they might be raped – but as a society, we actually do that (which yes, I am constantly disgusted by).

thinking_about_the_thingIf any of this seems like I’m taking it very personally, it’s because I am. You know the Thing that I Can’t Talk About? It’s time for me to talk about it.

Two months ago, I found out that a friend of ours had stolen something from TheBoy and I. When we were in our early 20s, we had a camcorder for the first time and recorded a tape. Yes, that kind of tape. We kept it away from the rest of our tapes, and didn’t think about it again.

Until the friend confessed to TheBoy that he had stolen the tape when he helped us move from apartment to apartment. He actually didn’t just steal the tape- he stole it, made a copy of it, and then snuck it back where we’d kept it so that we wouldn’t ever know. And because he made that copy, it’s now being used as leverage against him – and the person doing it is refusing to give it to us.

When I first found out, I cried. I screamed. I felt like I was going to throw up, because I knew that someone I knew and trusted had watched that tape and masturbated – watching us, as though we were just another clip on the internet.

No, I’m not going to say who it is. Just that it was someone very close to us, and someone that both TheBoy and I thought we could trust.

For days, I didn’t do much more than attempt to get some work done and make sure the kids were fed. I stopped running, because I didn’t want to get out of bed. I actually had a mild Crohn’s flare-up because of the stress, and TheBoy had to call into work to make sure the kids were taken care of. I had to force myself to eat (I literally had reminders in my phone).

And even still, it’s hard to want to get out there to run. It’s been hard for me to want to wear the clothes that I love, because on occasion the sundresses and skirts make me feel too exposed. I haven’t wanted to blog or work on fiction, because when it came to blogging, it felt like I was lying if I was talking about the fun we’d had over the summer. Which is a shame, because this was a great summer. It honestly was. And looking back on it, it doesn’t feel like I had the right to enjoy it – which I now realize is depression.

My reactions? That’s from knowing that at least two people (the thief and the extortionist) have viewed the tape. I don’t have to wake up and make it through the day knowing that millions of people probably saw me naked and vulnerable. That millions of strangers aren’t weighing in on my actions of having taken it in the first place.

As a victim, I am going to tell you right now what I’ve noticed about how the media is discussing this.

They aren’t calling it theft on a regular basis. They aren’t discussing this as the women being violated. They aren’t even regularly calling out the scumbags who stole the pictures and then plastered them on the internet- or the people who reposted them. Instead, the media focus is on the women, and how they were wrong to have taken the pictures in the first place and used cloud storage.

Ask yourself this: when someone is robbed, do we as a society tell them that it’s the victim’s fault because they wanted something nice? No. If someone’s involved in a car accident, do we say that it’s their fault for being in the car at the same time someone else was drunk or texting? No. Yet, in cases like this (and when a girl or woman is sexually assaulted) we regular blame the actions of the victims. We excuse it, because of course someone’s curious about a pretty woman who’s famous. Because it wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t of taken the pictures or recorded the video in the first place. Are you kidding me?

I’m seeing a therapist, and when I explained the situation to him – and explained that the only reason the Thief knew about the tape in the first place was that TheBoy had mentioned that one existed (he didn’t even mention where it was kept). And my therapist told me that we hadn’t done anything wrong. There was no invitation for it to be stolen, copied. Or for it to be viewed and jacked off to. We did nothing to encourage those actions or to deserve them. We were two consenting adults who recorded something and kept it somewhere reasonably private. We couldn’t possibly have foreseen there was someone close to us who has no boundaries of what’s right and wrong. Or that they’d know someone so self-absorbed that they wouldn’t realize that hanging onto that tape does more emotional damage to us than it would to the thief.

If you can’t fault me, then you can’t fault these women. They simply lived their lives, and we shouldn’t judge them instead of the person/s who ignored their privacy, stole those pictures, and put them up on the internet. Instead, we can tell the media to change their dialogue.

We don’t want to hear people being shamed when they’re the victims. It’s time to start placing the blame where it belongs- on the creeps who violated someone’s privacy by stealing and sharing these, and the people who just keep twisting the knife in the wound by keeping those photos out there.

So there you have it, most of The Thing. I removed as many details as I could, because unlike others involved- I am actually aware that these things cause collateral damage, and there are other people who would be hurt, and I understand fully what it’s like to be dragged into something you have no business being part of. For now, this is all I’m going to say about it…

I’m not sharing this for your sympathy. I’m sharing this because maybe hearing my story will make you rethink how we talk about “leaked” photos and videos. Maybe it’ll help you be a little more understanding about who’s in the wrong.

It’s Race Weekend!

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Welcome to the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend…

Better known as one of two weekends that TheBoy and I are guaranteed to have alone this year. Right now it’s pretty early to be up when you don’t have kids around, and it’s weird to realize that if the last couple months had gone differently, I’d be in the middle of running a 10k right now.

dl 2014 10k shirtIf you’d missed an earlier post, because of The Thing I Can’t Talk About, I didn’t run for the last two months- so no 10k for me. I picked up my race packet, and let me tell you- I am a little bummed. The themes for the 5k and 10k (which are always linked, even though they’re on separate days) this year is Stitch, and the technical shirt I got is ridiculously cute. Which means the medal I would have gotten for finishing would also be ridiculously cute.

So today we’re going to enjoy ourselves. We’ll drive out to Venice for breakfast and enjoy the day and try to get to bed early- because tomorrow, TheBoy runs the Disneyland Half Marathon. And I’m sure he’s going to kick ass.

Just in case you’re wondering why I haven’t been writing more- I’ve been tweaking two posts. One about Ferguson. And another about the objectification of women. I’ve been easing into my new schedule, working nearly full time and doing the stay at home mom thing- making sure that the Kidlets get their homework done. Two full time jobs, basically.

If you’re here in Anaheim, let me know! Maybe we can meet up if you’re someone I’ve only talked to, but haven’t met yet! Wishing you all the best!