Bullying through exclusion: looking for the middle ground

Imagine having your child lying in your lap sobbing because her own friends were hurting her feelings during her birthday party. That’s a special pain.

“what’s going on baby? Why are you so upset?”
[long involved tale of being excluded over and over] “…and then they told me I wasn’t their friend!”

[struggling to stay calm and sane] “oh honey… it’s your special day..”
“YES AND THEY ARE JUST MAKING ME FEEL NOT SPECIAL AT ALL”
*heart breaks and breaks and breaks*

There’s no pain quite like comforting your child when their feelings have been hurt, especially when they were hurt by people they love. It’s a unique kind of tenderness fused with white-hot rage tempered by the knowledge that your rage will ironically hurt your child even more were you to act upon it. I have spent many a night holding a sobbing son while he wondered why his dad did not show up, so this is not a new situation for me. I already know that to be comforting as a mom, all I have to do is hold my child, stroke their hair and murmur soothing words.
In order to help them heal, however, I need concrete answers to their questions and solutions to their pain… which I cannot realistically give.

This is the problem of peer exclusion.

Believe it or not, peer exclusion is part and parcel of bullying. As defined by psychologists and developmental specialists, peer exclusion (past the age of 5) is both a part of bullying and a form of bullying on its own. Some studies suggest peer exclusion and ridicule (without accompanying physical abuse) is more common among female peer groups. In any case, it is an aspect of bullying that has very little attention. Much like verbal an psychological abuse, however, peer exclusion merits attention right alongside “regular” bullying. The effects of this type of bullying are just as damaging and can have longer-lasting effects.

But how do we tackle this? How do we, as parents, approach something that straddles the line between self-formed identity and subtle cruelty?

The question is how do I give my child the respect as an individual to make her own social choices while instilling in her the values of being open-minded, tolerant and gentle with other people’s feelings? How do I teach her “include others” while teaching her “don’t be an emotional doormat”? While I want her to be loving and accepting of everyone, I don’t want her thinking that she is wrong to have preferences. I want her to see the shining light of humanity within each person while understanding that not everyone is a good person. I want her to learn love and tolerance and forgiveness, but I don’t want her thinking its her obligation to tolerate all behavior or forgive all trespassers. Just how do we define “accepting” anyway? Where do we draw the line at “other people making choices” and “other people being mean”?

In the most recent example of my child being excluded, I sat with her for a while, soothing her sobs until we could talk. She sat up and I said “maybe you need to find someone else to play with. If people aren’t letting you have your special day, then let them go”
I could tell this idea pained her: she wanted to enjoy everyone at her party, even if they refused to enjoy her. These were her friends- kids she’d grown up knowing. Some of them she’d known in the crib. These were people she had dubbed her favorites; its why they’d been invited to the party to begin with. But what I couldn’t make her see was that sometimes friendships form between your friends that you are not a part of and that soemtimes means you get left out. True, good friends will be happy to let you back in, find ways to include you, but sometimes kids just don’t want to do that… or they don’t care.

She went off to play with someone else… a relatively new friend and we continued with the party.

…until the next episode happened. It just so happened I was there for it and I was able to intervene in a way that made the whole situation very clear. I told the repeat offenders that they were guests in our house and they were there because Lil Miss wanted to spend time with them and that if they were not going to include her in playing with her toys that she got for her birthday, I’d be happy to call their parents and have them taken home. The kids in question looked at me completely stunned. One of them tried to explain why they needed to exclude her and I interrupted with no uncertainty. “I don’t care what your issue is with her, you are NOT going to take her toys, push her out of her room and not let her play. Make your choice” Suddenly all kids involved decided that perhaps playing with her was not such a bad thing after all. Ten minutes later they were all having a great time. Mind you, these are kids who, when playing with Lil Miss all alone have absolutely no problem playing with her and often ask for her company. This is how I know this isn’t just making social choices. This is about deliberate exclusion.

Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened to Lil Miss. And though similar situations have arisen at school, her teacher has assured me that she has intervened whenever possible – because its already well known that Lil Miss is easily upset by being excluded. Which makes her a prime target for bullying by peer exclusion. So this isn’t just something I talk about because I think “those uncouth kids…” this is a real problem that could dog her throughout childhood and beyond. This is an issue of self-esteem and fear of rejection. But its not something I will sit by and blame my daughter for. Yes, she needs to learn how to stand up for herself in a reasonable manner that shows she will not be manipulated. But its the other kids who are either unwittingly or cruelly choosing to exploit the biggest emotional pitfall she has right now and I won’t stand by and make her think its all on her to fix that problem. I’m not going to turn my head and make her believe that she’s overreacting to a make-believe problem. I’m not going to gas-light my own child just because other kids are being mean but not using actual violence. I’m going to speak up for her whenever I can and teach her to speak up too. Hopefully through our unified efforts, she will be ready by high school to shrug off the deliberate efforts to provoke and hurt her. Because I can see that coming a mile away. Conversely, its always possible that she may decide to go on the offensive and do the same to others to prevent it happening to her. I hope our talking and modeling together she will not go that route either. I hope I can raise her to understand the difference between being careless with someone’s feelings and being cruel.

I hope I raise her to understand how important it is to speak up, whether its for herself or for someone else.

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I guess I did good

Second son walks into kitchen, looks at food on stovetop curiously.

“Try it, its real good” I say.

He raises his eyebrows and says “really?”

“sure. It’s cheesy chicken stuff. with chips”

Second Son takes a chip and dips it into the mix saying “Its like nachos with chicken?”

“yes,” I say, “but in a dip?”

Second Son pops it into his mouth. Eyebrows start going up and down as he chomps. Face contorts into frown.

“They are a little spicy” I say, knowing he does not like spicy food usually.

“It IS a little spicy” he says, still making weird faces with his eyebrows going up and down. At one point I giggle because I’ve never seen him change faces so often especially while eating. I half-expect him to spit it out and run for the milk. Its not THAT spicy but he can be “sensitive”

“uh, sorry… are you alright? I know its spicy, do you need some milk?”

“No,” he says, eyebrows moving in time with is jaw.

“well, I like it. I think its not bad…”

“Its DELICIOUS” he says with absolute finality. Then pops another into his mouth.

Well then.

A Special Journey

I want you to look at something for a minute. Not a long time, just a minute or two then come back here.  Pictures of people

This is a special place. When I say “special” I mean that in many ways. It’s a summer camp for “special” people AKA People with Special Needs most commonly the Developmentally Disabled.  Not children, though it may look like some are children, this camp is actually for people who have “aged” out of the usual summer camp programs offered in their area. These are all actually technically and legally adults.

Look at those faces. Some of them are laughing and happy, aren’t they? But some of them don’t look like that… they look slack, unaware or unimpressed. Some even look unhappy. But the people with them, doing activities right next to them are happy, smiling even so. In some ways, looking at those pictures is disturbing to people because they are incongruent, the pieces don’t add up to a familiar whole and that tends to make human beings uncomfortable. Its okay if those pictures make you uncomfortable. Its even okay if those kinds of people make you uncomfortable. Let’s not worry about that right now. Just listen to me for a little while.

Those people, those adults are “special” as I’ve said. They aren’t cute little children and they aren’t people with clearly defined issues that you can spot right away and know how to handle. Many of them have multiple disabilities. Many of them have physical as well as developmental and intellectual disabilities. Of course everyone knows that this does not make them any less human beings. Everyone knows that people like this deserve to have a decent life with as much help as we can give them. Everyone knows that people like this can be joyful, happy, kind and curious.

What many people do not realize is that people like this can also be scared, angry, anxious and sad. They can also feel sexual, compassionate, depressed and rageful. They are not as limited as their faces make them out to be. They are, in fact, adults in more ways than you can see, even if some of them are “stunted” or “slow” or have lagged behind. Even the ones who cannot talk, cannot walk, cannot hold your hand – they still grow, change and feel just like everyone else. This is something that many people do not realize as well: those “special” children that you see on TV or commercials or even in the park do not stop growing.  Yes, all those cute-as-a-button kids you see and feel moved by continue to grow even after you stop seeing them on TV an commercials and the park. They turn into adults.

Look at them again. Maybe you can see more expression than you saw the first time. Perhaps when you look again, you can see beyond some of the frowns, the grimaces, the slack-jaws and the inattentiveness. Can you see the rest of their expression? Can you see how their faces change ever so slightly? or maybe their body language shifts? No? It’s alright if you still don’t see it. Trust me…

Those people are spending three days and nights at a summer camp especially created for them. There is a volunteer for every single camper. There are supervisors for the volunteers. There are nurses and a clinic. There are therapists and guides and sometimes there’s an interpreter too. They all eat in the cafeteria together, they go swimming, fishing, boating and there’s even a miniature train to take them for a ride. Some of them are not able to ride anything so there is a pier with benches bolted down so they can sit on the lake still and feel the gentle waves moving beneath them without fear. Some of them cannot swim so there are special floats they can lie in that allow them to sit partially up but stay strapped to their volunteer. There’s so many things to do…. activites too – some go on horseback rides with horses specially trained to be gentle and careful and patient. Some go on nature trails that are paved wide enough for a wheelchair. So many things and yet even if they stay in the pavillion they can listen to music, dance, shoot a ball at a hoop or do crafts. Each night is a group activity: karaoke, water fight, sing-along…

This camp is rightly named: Camp Dream.

Look at them one last time for me please. Look at the volunteers with each person. See how happy they are? Sometimes it seems like only the volunteer is happy. But that’s just the camera lying.

You see, each camper has their own assigned volunteer. Many times volunteers return again and again. So they get to know the campers (even though it is mandated that they change campers every time) and the campers get to know them. They know about pushing a wheelchair, carrying someone with dystrophy, holding someone with palsy and guiding someone who can’t see. More than anything else they learn, they learn how to help each camper find what they enjoy. They learn how to help each camper find their own smile. And the volunteers smile so wide even when the camper isn’t smiling because they know, that camper IS smiling.

Everything about this place is so special. They take people who are too old to go to public program campes, the people who aren’t “cute” anymore and they let those adults enjoy their childhood a little bit longer. With something everyone needs sometimes: absolutely devoted individual care and love.

These Special Adults are moving into the adult world. Some of them will stay with their caretakers for the rest of their lives. Some will end up in hospice care. Some will end up in specialized homes and programs specifically for their particular issues. Some will get small jobs and live in assisted homes with friends. Some won’t make it to later adulthood. All of them are expected in some degree or another, to stop being children. Even though in many ways they are NOT children, they still respond like anyone would to child-like delights of play, outdoors and exploring,

And this place does not turn anyone away for lack of funds. They find sponsors. Most of those sponsors will remain anonymous. Some will get a small mention in literature. But its not a commercial effort of any kind. This camp is really all about giving.

Look at those people. You may still feel uncomfortable, that’s okay. They are strangers and they don’t trip your social meter the way you are used to. But I know should you ever meet one, you will at least give them the basic courtesy, respect and dignity you would give any other adult human being. If you don’t know how to adjust your behavior with someone like this, you can ask. Ask whoever they are with, ask someone you know, ask the person themselves. You might end up spending more time with that person than you had imagined you could. You might discover your discomfort melts away into a special kind of wonder, joy and giving.

You might be surprised to find out that maybe you can smile that same smile the volunteers have discovered.

“chaiyya chaiyya”

4/16/13

 

“jala chaiyya chaiyya chaiyya, jala chaiyya chaiyya chaiyya”

“Walk in the shadow of love, the shadow of love”

Thump, thump, foot stamp with clear rhythm of the open train they ride

beautiful man and sensual woman twist and turn around each other with smiles that match the pastoral landscape surrounding them

more men dance beneath them, turning, bending, clapping with bright clothing,

swinging dark hair so far as to lose their head-coverings

“jala chaiyya chaiyya chaiyya, jala chaiyya chaiyya chaiyya”

“Walk in the shadow of love, the shadow of love”

and the train continues through a landscape of breathtaking beauty

beauty matched by the lone woman thrusting her hips

instinctual, not sexual

enticing, not arousing

the man smiles, snapping his neck in time with her torso

“jala chaiyya chaiyya chaiyya, jala chaiyya chaiyya chaiyya”

“Walk in the shadow of love, the shadow of love”

Thump, thump, a solid march that does not climb nor descend, but steadily moves forth

as the train rounds a bend, displaying the dancers almost as parts of a machine

machinations of joy and celebration

the singing not matching the actors but somehow enhanced by the incongruity

finding the video and clicking on it to watch for the first time

“jala chaiyya chaiyya chaiyya, jala chaiyya chaiyya chaiyya”

“Walk in the shadow of love, the shadow of love”

heartbeat matching the dhol thumping pounding like feet stamping in unison

sweat beading on my face, breath shallow and short in anticipation,

lean forward, not enough screen for my eyes to drink in the event

thoughts cascade

how can they do that? how can so many strangers fit on that platform without falling? dancing waving their turbans, banging their heads, twitching in time,

footsteps pounding still,

Thump thump

words I don’t know, can’t know, but familiar from other songs

man’s voice drops down, conspiratorial whisper, speaking of wearing his love like a charm, a way to keep her heart with him at all times

he kisses his own hands and touches his cheeks in reverence for the love so spiritual for him

head bowed, eyes closed the music seems to pause even as

Thump thump, footsteps marching still

Thump thump

song swells, man bursts with his proclamation of devotion, strange to this American as his climactic moment is singing about friendship, not lust

arms thrust to the sky, train swiftly moving still all around him lift their arms in agreement

A song, a video, a movie, a dance…. all this is playing out before me on Youtube. This piece, clip, part, excerpt plays and the past unfolds…

being pregnant and chair-bound, watching videos for new music,

stunned, elated, tears of joy

Holding onto my chair, trying to dance in my ninth month because the rhythm will not be denied

TURN UP THE VOLUME LOUDER LOUDER LOUDER

suddenly my boys, teenagers all, are with me, writhing and hopping in their gangly gawky way

but elation from me becomes frenetic haste in them

we jump in unison

Thump thump bare feet stamp a beat that threatens our poor carpeted floor

Thump thump

all together, so rare for us, nearly desperate to push the feelings out of our bodies and into our feet

“jala chaiyya chaiyya chaiyya, jala chaiyya chaiyya chaiyya”

“Walk in the shadow of love, the shadow of love”

words are mouthed with the notes even though we know nothing of the language

English, for my boys, is no less mysterious, syllables to trip over in attempts to reach out to other humans

music sounds beckon like a crooking finger in front of a revolving door

THUMP THUMP heart slamming along until there is no discernment of time, of bodies, of separation

together all four of us jerk, twist, nod and shake out all the connection we cannot put to words in our quiet moments of mundane life

THUMP THUMP is the chant of our feet as video plays forgotten

nothing but the music, the unknown syllables turned to one more instrument to flick our attention to

man and woman, voices tease each other, nearly touching in their words and tune, wrapping around each other like caduceus – separate but climbing upwards, ever upwards

break in the song twinkles with promise, the beat sits behind different movements

unevenly other sounds move forward, retreat,

man’s voice breaks in like peeking through curtains

surprise again as woman’s voice answers the man once, only once and together they continue their spiral towards climax

But we can’t stop now, our bodies are not done,

I click “repeat” before anyone can move

and  the keening of the start soothes our firey nerves, stopped too soon

introduction done, we resume our consensual march

Thump thump, family soldiers we are, building an intimacy so elusive there is no name for it now

“jala chaiyya chaiyya chaiyya, jala chaiyya chaiyya chaiyya”

“Walk in the shadow of love, the shadow of love”

Then time resets in my mind and I fall into another memory

sitting in my armchair, nursing my newborn,

exhausted confused from the sadness which threatens happiness and is answered only with silence

finding the song and playing it again, and again, private, headphones, only for me

so that I might not see my husband grind his teeth once the music begins

moments of stolen release, leaning back with my babe sleeping soundly on my breast,

lost in the voices and beat that create a space familiar and sweet

I crawl into that dark corner and let the waves flow over me, imagining the dance I’ve seen so many times

careful not to move, wake the babe and no song in the universe will bring back that gentle moment

yet still my muscle strain, begging to be given permission to fulfil the promise of the song

Thump thump, swaying so slightly, still in heartbeat time like so many playings before

“jala chaiyya chaiyya chaiyya, jala chaiyya chaiyya chaiyya”

“Walk in the shadow of love, the shadow of love”

yet another time, baby gone, no one around today, given an afternoon to be free in my house

with almost guilt the video beckons me

new speakers cry for their true purpose

click “repeat” and wheel the knob all the way up

THUMP THUMP feet, MY feet this time, cannot slam the wood floor hard enough now,

head jerks hard enough to cause pain for later but now,

now

“jala chaiyya chaiyya chaiyya, jala chaiyya chaiyya chaiyya”

“Walk in the shadow of love, the shadow of love”

THUMP THUMP body takes life from the song and tosses it back from every limb a piece at a time

with no one to see, no one to know, the dance is mine all mine

the energy coursing through

so powerful it surprises, almost frightens

but no time, no time to think

move, move, MOVE, THUMP THUMP, throw every part away, snap every part back, jump jump, thump thump, flick eyes, whip hair, snap arms, crack knees

there cannot be enough force to let the song come out

until finally

four plays later

the body concedes defeat

and exhausted I sit again in the chair

the same chair I first watched the video

the same chair I used to support myself while pregnant and wanting to move in time

the same chair I sat in to nurse my new baby

the same chair I sat in to watch my boys perform chores when I could not walk

it holds me again, connected to that song, that video, that dance

silly really

So now, so much farther along

click “replay”

feel the same push, the same forceful jerk, the same desperate need to throw the music out of my body

but I have the wrong chair

and there are no gawky lanky boys frantically dancing beside me

no newborn at my breast while I sway ever so slightly

Thump thump

it sounds almost hollow

and tears no longer of joy

but loss

this song is no longer ours

the song is just a memory

always,  I can hold it,  shine it, smile at it, with tears so fresh yet so old

Someday, this song will play for me when I am ready for my last dance

Thump thump,

Thump

Mountain Folk

first, look at this:  http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/279-82/13053-a-world-of-hillbilly-heroin

I’ll tell you my story:

When I stayed at the Salvation Army as a young runaway, there was a wild girl who stayed there too who LOVED drugs. Now mind you, I was no innocent; I’d done a few inebrients myself. A little acid, a little speed. Tried marijuana but wasn’t my thing (it makes me terribly paranoid and upset and nauseated) This girl, though, she was one of those types you figure will either be dead or paralyzed within the next decade. Or she’ll “find jesus” or something like that. You knwo what I’m talking about… if you don’t, let me assure people like that really do exist. She was once observe at a party hiding in the bathroom plunging a huge hypodermic into her thigh. WHen asked what the substance was she injected she replied “speed.. I think”
Capiche?

So one night, a male friend of mine drove up to the youth lodge to take us all out. All mean me and her. He had a nice car. Well she decided she needed to get some specific type of drug. I can’t even remember what it was, some pharmaceutical or another. I didn’t really truck much with pill-popping because it just seemed too risky to get the good stuff. Every now and then someone would hand me a pill and say “its black beauties!” or “it Praaludes!” and I’d pop it (I liked uppers) but if I didn’t know the pill I wasn’t popping it. I didn’t know a lot of pills so i declined most. And I was young enough, and cute enough that I pretty much never paid for my own drugs when I did them. People were always handing them to me. I was barely 4 feet tall and I think people thought it was funny to give the “little one” wacky stuff.

Anyway, I’ll call her Liza cuz frankly I can’t remember her name and she probably gave us a fake one anyway. Liza insisted on taking us all on a crazy drive out to get drugs from some distant relative of hers. We drove forever. We were in the STICKS. As in the frickin mountains upon mountains that blot out all city lights and not in a good way. Like you could hear “Deliverence” playin in the wind behind the mountain.
We drove through the woods for about ten minutes once we left the last dirt road behind and we finally came upon what I thought was a deadfall blocking the way. But she insisted we get out so I rolled up my sleeves thinking we’re going to have to clear the debris to continue on. I thought, wow we are so fucking far out that we have to pick up goddamn rotten trees to get to our destination.
Haha.
It was actually her relative’s abode. There was actually an “inside” to this place. There was also uh.. furniature? I guess you could call it? It was hard to tell.

Now, I’ve been scared a few times in my life but never quite so bizarrely as walking through that pile of rotting wood with chickens everywhere. I could not wrap my mind around the idea that someone actually lived there, called this place “home”. Truth be told, it was impossible to really think of this place as anything even resembling a “home” -even to the chickens- what with the “walls” not actually shutting out the elements and the “roof” not actually sheltering us from anything above, including an occasional hawk that dove down trying to catch one of the lazy chickens. There was, of course, a nice fat layer of trash from bygone days and I actually found myself slightly interested when i realized some “junk mail” was from the forties but I lost all positive feelings whatsoever when she walked around calling her relative’s name and got no answer. I had a brief feeling of impending doom when it became clear that no one was going to give a “normal” answer of any type and it occured to me that said relative might, in fact, not be pleased as punch to see her there. Especially with a couple of strangers.

I grew up in the south and I know rednecks but I have to be honest when I say I’d had very little experience with… what we called “mountain people” and of course everything I’d heard was pretty damned bad. You didn’t mess with Mountain people. Basically my family made it clear that you pretty much didn’t have anything to DO with mountain people. If they showed up you humored them and waited for them to be on their way. Under no circumstances make fun of them and talk very simply to them, lest they take offense. They were known to be violent with a hair-trigger. The thing was that my family feared Mountain people, yes, but we felt a certain kind of patronizing kinship with them too. My father’s people were a long line of merchants, So we were never “down there” with mountain folk, but we certainly knew about them. Except me, of course, and i was terrified of them.

While I was busy figuring out that I was probably in the worst possible place I had ever been in my short life and how in hell was my family going to handle the notion that not only did I get killed but I was killed by a mountain person after all their warnings and sheltering, Liza was rifling through one of her relative’s medicine cabinets. He had six afixed to the walls. The reason she had decided to violate his uh, personal abode, was because her relative had apparently passed out on the floor and was lying in apuddle of his own refuse. I noticed the staining before I noticed the smell. I asked her if maybe we should check on him.
“him?” she sniffed, “no, he’ll wake up whenever”
Liza didn’t find whatever in blazes she was looking for and she seemed pretty convinced that cousin whosis had scads and scads of her drug-of-choice (who knew Mountain people could be so darned picky about their inebrients?) she just needed to find the right medicine cabinet. I did think it was odd that in a place so full of… chaos, her great-nephew had adhered to some semblence of order by using actual medicine cabinets to house his pill bottles. Maybe it made them easier to find than letting them lie around in chicken shit.
In any case, she was starting to get kind of pissy about it, making noise and all which alarmed me enough to realize exaclty how scared I really was – as was our driver, Tom who at that moment said “really, Liza, can’t we just uh, come back later?”
She looked at him like he’d lost his mind “and spend another four hours driving?!” well okay I guess that did seem a little nuts if you assumed he was telling the truth and was actually willing to come back.

At that point I decided I needed a cigarette and told her I’d be outside. As I turned to go (and began wondering if i’d make it outside as frankly every angle I turned the place looked like the same ungodly jumble of old papers, sections of sawed-off furntiature, chicken remnants and I-don’t-know-what-that-is-and-I-don’t-want-to…when suddenly someone appeared out of.. the back? of somewhere?
WITH A SHOTGUN IN HIS HANDS

I will not bother to accurately describe this..man? It is sufficient that you imagine the basic Mountain person stereotype. Battered brimmed hat, huge white beard, gaping toothless maw, grey clothes of an indeterminate nature… you get the idea.

Liza turned and said “Cousin Drew?!”
Drew opened his maw a little wider and said the words I was hoping he would not say “Who are you?!”
Liza opened her arms and walked towards him “DREW! ITS ME!!”
“damn, Liza, tell him your fucking name” I thought, “He probably doesn’t remember!”
“Liza??” he finally said
then he dropped the gun and they hugged.

That was enough for me. Nobody was getting shot. I was going outside. I waited until she was ready to go. Tom came out with her, pale as a sheet.
“are you okay? what happened?”
“nothing… he wanted to share his moonshine with me”
“did you?”
“are you NUTS? Don’t you know mountain shine can kill you if you aren’t used to it?!”
“oh okay so was he offended?”
“no, thank god”
“great, let’s go”
“yeah” said Tom

So we left.

This one is short. No really.

I’ll probably construct a scathing long ranty-rant based on this story:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2012/08/16/the-campaign-against-amy-davis-roth/

But right now, I’m just gonna say a couple of things for people to cogitate.

Atheist Guys (and I do mean that in a literal sense), please reflect upon how this is going down and the inevitable outcomes. Regardless of where you fall on the asshole-meter, you’ve got to admit that hounding someone who has been a staunch (un)believer in your geekery is bound to essentially piss-off, scare-off and otherwise offend scads of women who might potentially be a staunch supporter of your geekery as well. Let me put that in even simpler terms: regardless of whether you agree with the hounds or not, it is hounding. 4Chan/anonymous style. Why? Because you really want to ensure no more women get the radical notion that they can complain about being harrassed? Are you honest-to-gawd defending your right to be an asshole?

ASK YOURSELF WHY.

WHY is it important to hound and harrass a member of your group because they don’t like the way they are treated? Are you trying to prove that they are “wrong” about being treated badly? You’re treating them badly because you think they “deserve it” or “asked for it”? Do you think they secretly like it?

WHAT IS THIS FOR?

Because other than making damned sure you get less and less women joining your group (of Atheists? really guys?) I can’t see what the point of this whole shit-storm is supposed to be.

I’m not touching the whole point of Skepchick and anti-harrassment. You know why? Because CLEARLY male atheists who group together specifically with other male atheists don’t give a rats ass about whether women feel comfortable or not. OBVIOUSLY sexual harrassment isn’t something that makes a dent in their self-righteous simian craniums.

So let me leave you with this little nugget: the reason you people (Grouped Atheists) are so fucking unpopular isn’t because everyone’s stupid. Its because everyone’s too socially intelligent to join your pathetic little circle-jerk excuse for a life. Other Atheists who would only admit to being atheists under torture avoid you jackasses like the plague you know why? Because you’re assholes.

So if you’re one of the rare male atheists who groups with other atheists and actually thinks women are people who deserve to feel comfortable and don’t walk around with a boulder ‘o’bitter on your back, then do yourself a favor: don’t associate with these cretins any longer. There’s plenty other geeky events you can go to that have Atheist panels and the like (although personally I don’t understand the need for Atheists to sit around together talking about being atheists) that are quite open and honest about their desire to make sure all their attendees are comfortable.

And Amy? Quit. You’ve surely suffered enough. You won’t get anywhere with this crowd. Stop trying to get the neanderthals to act like men. They’ve shown their maturity level. Stop thinking they are the epitome of Atheist representation. Surely there are enough decent humane Atheists who won’t descend en masse like a pack of adolescent weasels who found a rabbit in a tunnel whenever another atheist dares to talk about uncomfortable things like oppression. Go find decent polite atheists who actually care about other people’s comfort and have fun with them. Please. Because this shit is just horrible and you shouldn’t think you are bound by some kind of feminist honor code to continue putting up with it. No such code exists. When men as a group decide to treat you this way, its time to let them have their little clubhouse and go make your own.

 

I wish you every success Amy.