Wednesday, January 31, 2018

contentious remarks

1. I saw a number of posts asking if readers were going to watch the State of the Union. I don't know why: I don't recall ever being asked about watching them before, why should I now? I find my desire not to see that man is strong enough that I even turn off parody versions of him.

2. I've been seeing a lot about how the tale of a woman's date with Aziz Ansari (of whom I'd never previously heard, btw) has become a generational divide, particularly among women. Younger ones are appalled by his behavior, older ones say it was just a bad date, what's the deal? One reply even said what he was guilty of was not reading her mind, even though her objections to his advances weren't just implied through body language.

I thought that I'd be with the older cohort on this, until I read the actual account. Then I was appalled. Not so much that he specifically ignored her objections, but just at the boorishness and heavy-handedness of his advances. People who think that he wasn't smothering her agency must have no idea what a genuinely consensual romantic or sexual encounter is like.

3. A while ago I wrote a mocking advice list of How Not to Respond to Angry People, which received some approbation. I've recently seen an account of a perfect example of this in real life, one employing a technique I hadn't mentioned.

It's in this story about an audience member who hijacked a panel at ConFusion, an sf con. The problem wasn't anything done by the moderator, who wrote the post: she seems, at least in this her own account, to have behaved judiciously. It's something else she mentions: one of the other panelists "backed me up and pointed out that it was not Q&A period and not his turn to talk," so "This man got up and stormed out in a huff." And "as he departed," that same panelist "cheerfully sa[id], 'Bye!' to him."

It's the cheerful "Bye!" that did it. The best word I can think of for that is smug. It's fortunate that the departing man didn't turn around, come back, and punch the panelist in the snoot, because it wouldn't have been out of character if he had. If someone wants to stalk off, don't sneer at them as they go. De-escalate, don't reinforce and compound bad behavior.

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