Um. So, I linked that last post to my Facebook page, and a few people started copying the link to their own pages (at my own urging, I confess). But a couple people posted it as “here’s a story about how women have to be more secure.”
And that wasn’t my intent at all. I meant for it to be a cautionary tale for men, about “here’s how not to behave towards women because seriously”. I also meant it to be a huge public spotlight on Eric From Riverhead and on how much of a cheesebutt* the guy was. I want it to get back to Eric that a whole bunch of people now know that this is something he did, and I want him to feel as stupid as possible about it – and I want other people to remark about the stupidity of his actions.
Because honestly, this is the only way to stop this kind of behavior. It is permissible in this society for men to behave like creeps – they don’t get any kind of public blowback, or if they do, they get a whole bunch of other people jumping in to their defense – “oh, he didn’t mean anything bad by it, he’s just kind of awkward, cut him some slack….”
And the problem is that society takes that kind of attitude to its extremes, where a blogger mentions that a well-known person in his circle has raped her…. and the comments are filled with people doubting her story and accusing the blogger of making it up. Or a woman who campaigned for Jane Austen to be featured on British currency starts getting death threats on Twitter….and Twitter doesn’t really do much but give the offenders a slap on the wrist. Or a woman speaks at a convention about how women are often objectified in their community, and then has a guy follow her into the elevator at 4 am and tells her he saw her speech – then asks her if she wants to come to his room to “have coffee” – but when she complains about it, she’s the one who gets vilified.
And there are a lot of other instances in the science fiction and science communities now, where some person of note – a thinker, an editor, a writer, someone high up there – is now being named as a repeat creeper, or in some instances, a repeat rapist. And the only reason that they are repeat offenders is that when a woman speaks up against the offender, numerous people leap to his defense, and women are left to bear the brunt of their own safety – if a man makes some kind of unwanted advance to a woman, it is her fault and her responsibility. No one tells the man that it’s actually his.
And I refuse to accept that. The reason that Eric was a Cheesebutt isn’t my fault. My leaving one stone unturned when it came to securing my online identity isn’t what made Eric a Cheesebutt. The reason why Eric is a Cheesebutt is because no one else ever told him not to be. He claimed to have “never done this before,” but I doubt it – maybe he didn’t call a stranger out of the blue, but I’m positive he has tried other self-centered ways of approaching women before. And the only way to stop Cheesebutts like Eric is also the only way to stop repeat rapists or repeat sex offenders – to put the onus of the crime back where it belongs, on the person doing the offending. They need to be told that this behavior is something they should be ashamed of, and is something they should not do.
They should know they made mistakes. They should be told they made a mistake. They should be criticized for that mistake, and they should work to correct and to not repeat that mistake. Just as I have corrected my own mistake.
And that’s why I wanted this story told – so Eric, and Cheesebutts like him, would start to finally get the reality check that no one has ever given them before.
(*Yes, I have settled on the epithet “Cheesebutt” for Eric, and others like him, which is a term that I made up in my own head, and frankly sounds awesome.)