Don’t Be a Sheepskin Jacket

Yet another stinkbomb of misogyny explodes in my professional sphere this week.

Yet another misogynist sociopath in the industry, taking cover behind a progressive, woman-led team and forcing them to waste energy defending his predations rather than creating their art and achieving their mission.

It’s bad enough to encounter a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s even worse to realize that the sheepskin the wolf is wearing…is you.

S0. A few words to the wise regarding sexism in a professional setting.

1. Not all misogynists are open, obvious, and easy to identify. Some predatory men are in fact very cunning, manipulative, and successful in recruiting strong women to serve as their defenders and meat shields. Sociopaths are often SPECIFICALLY ATTRACTED to strong, brave, progressive people because we make the best and sturdiest cover from which to hunt others. We lower the guard of potential victims and we provide plausible deniability and front-line defenses.

Men who prey on women seek to embed themselves in progressive institutions and woman-led teams for the same reason that people who prey on children choose to become teachers and pastors. It gives them access, authority, and a LOT of deniability.

Remember the examples of Joss Whedon and countless other false allies who abused positions of trust.

Not every friendly face belongs to a real friend.

2. There is no antidote to being used and manipulated by predatory men except for one: believe women.

Believe them immediately, believe them early, believe them often, believe them preemptively.

Where there is smoke, your best practice is to assume that there is fire.

3. The realization that you have been duped and used by a misogynist predator sucks.

It is one of the most unpleasant experiences that a strong progressive woman can have.

The only thing MORE unpleasant than being duped by a misogynist predator is being the victim of a misogynist predator, and having his female friends and family attack you as the enemy.

I have had experiences in both categories. The latter is the reason I was banned from a local science fiction convention in Vancouver–by the women who ran it, not the man who had stalked and harassed me on Twitter, tried to have me fired, etc..

4. Whatever strategy you are personally using to cope with sexism, as a woman, is just that–your current strategy.

No, it’s true that whisper campaigns do not overthrow the system and that you cannot remove misogynists from positions of trust and power without confronting them directly.

But even a whisper is better than nothing, if it saves another woman from pain and harm. And even a whisper can come at significant personal risk and cost.

Your current strategy for dealing with sexism does not define you as a person. There is no wrong way to survive and thrive in a system that is stacked against you, unless you are deliberately throwing other women under the bus.

Take care of you, take care of your friends. On days you have the strength and resources to stand up for others, that is great. But you do not owe the world your life blood, your livelihood or your trauma. When you’re ready to speak, speak louder, whatever–our place is not to judge you, but to support you.

About Arinn

Author, Game Developer, Anthropologist, Feminist, reformed Supervillainess.

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