What IS Harrassment

I’d like to interrupt the current insanity with some helpful definitions.

By this I don’t mean just the SFWA incident, about which I can’t pronounce because they haven’t actually revealed what the horrible horrible incident was, and without that I can’t comment.  I can also add I’ve heard rumors about this editor for years, but rumors aren’t proof.  So I won’t pronounce on that one way or another.

HOWEVER there has been a lot of screeching and finger pointing and crying of harassment everywhere else too, and frankly, ladies, I’ve had enough.

So this is the part of the blog in which we define.

What is harassment?

Harassment: sexual, political or social has two necessary components – you can’t avoid it, and it’s being perpetrated by someone with power over someone without power who is either an underling or in some other way needs this person to continue working/doing what he/she must to survive.

Take for example the charming habit of just about every Portuguese male over the age of twelve of standing outside café doors and shouting suggestions on what they’d like to do to me/have me do to them (I think some of the things were anatomically impossible.)  They were annoying, they often made it very unpleasant for me to go buy an ice cream.  They certainly often made me want to unleash the fist of doom.  Were they harassment?  No.  I think they might be a very stupid approach to courting and judging from some women who would shout back at them, it might even have worked.

However, those women – and I – didn’t need those men to survive/earn a living.  So at the very worst, the men were incredibly rude and yeah, I wanted to unleash fist of doom, but that would be dignifying their nonsense.  Ignoring them OTOH baffled them.

In fact, a month ago I was subjected to the international version of same as road workers called out helpful suggestions in Spanish.  Solved by pretending not to understand a word of Spanish.

Was it harassment?  No.  It was uncomfortable, and unpleasant, but that doesn’t make it harassment.

Mind my words: NO ONE is entitled to go through life without being made uncomfortable.  A) it’s impossible B) in some times and places discomfort can be useful. C) It’s impossible to play your whole life at kindergarten level.  NO ONE CAN MAKE LIFE SAFE FOR YOU.  NOR SHOULD THEY.

Some years ago, at a con, I entered the backroom of the barfly suite, where there were only a dozen guys.  They were watching a racy movie and started to turn the channel, then said, “Oh, thank G-d, it’s Sarah” and kept it on.  Was I disrespected?  Were they objectifying me by watching nudie females?

Ladies, gents and dragons: Watching nudie other sex (or same, depending) is what humans do, and often one of the only pleasures when you live in interesting times.    For me to make the leap from what the guys were watching to an insult to me personally would require me to assume that I was one with the skinny little things pretending to have sex on the screen.  The only reason for commonality there would be we have similar genitals.  PFUI.  It takes more than that to make me the soul sister of say Hillary Clinton or – gag – Nancy Pelosi.  (Both of which would be very bad subjects for nudie movies.)  Besides, seriously.  The guys were taking some time off and having fun.

Was I made uncomfortable?  Actually no.  It would be like being afraid of Night Of The Living Dead.  I made some comments on the action, including the “that’s anatomically impossible” and left because it was boring.

But suppose I’d been made uncomfortable.  Was that harassment?  Well, no.  Yeah, those guys were fans.  But the only way to make it that they had power over me is to assume every person of penis TM has power over every person of vagina TM.  That’s Marxist social theory, and why would he be right about that, when he’s wrong on everything else?  Marx can suck my middle finger.

But Sarah, you say, then you’re subjecting women to being made uncomfortable everywhere they go.  That might not legally be harassment, but surely it creates an hostile work or play environment.  Would you want to live being made uncomfortable everywhere you go?

Sure.  I did.  I do.  The degrees of discomfort vary, and if a place is so bad I can’t take it, I stop going there.  This happened with the Nebulas when for two years it became the high palace of leftist twaddle and that’s all people talked about everywhere, and I couldn’t say anything, because, well, it WOULD have meant my career.   But the best cons were – some still are (Liberty con excepted) – places where I’m made very uncomfortable by not being able to shout “You lie” and get in fights.  That’s life, isn’t it?

But Sarah, what if the hostile environment is at work?  What if these people DO have power over you?

Two suggestions – there are two types of work environment that will try you.  I only experienced one, but I read a lot about the other, which is “environments dominated mostly by males, who will make terrible jokes, etc in front of the women.”  (BTW the reverse occurs too.  No?  How many times do you ladies discuss your periods where guys can hear it?  Isn’t it amusing to see them turn purple?)  From what I read in police women and others biographies, the nonsense stops once you become ‘one of the guys’ – this involves not shrieking and giving back as good as you got in the way of jokes.

But Sarah, it should not be needed.  They should immediately auto-censure when a woman is near.

First of all that’s not how humans work.  Some form of hazing ritual applies to guys too, particularly in dangerous professions.  You need to test the newby before you depend on him/her for your life.  Second, if they censor their thoughts, they’ll end up missing stuff they NEED to think.

The second type is the (often international; mine was) company where women are viewed as combination servants and eye candy.  My response to that, and it worked like a charm, to the point of having my male boss reproach a passing-by engineer who had made a lewd comment, was to draw the line.

Few women are taught to do this these days.  But it is coded deep in the male brain and it works.  If you know a Southern Lady over fifty ask for lessons.  It involves looking neither shocked nor disgusted but inexpressibly remote, like they just put themselves beneath your notice.  The term is “freezing” for a reason.  Practice in front of the mirror if needed.  It works.  You will actually be treated above your work position – it works that well.  You need to know how to do this, because the world can only be made safe for you by YOU.

Now, let’s talk about conventions.  Conventions are tricky places.  They both are necessary for work, and they are ultimately parties.  You can’t make it totally safe as a work environment because it isn’t.

At one World Fantasy I was propositioned by SIX guys, three of them editors (well, junior editors) including the gentleman who wanted me to “dominate” him.  No, I wasn’t wearing black leather.  I was wearing a frilly green dress.

Did it make me uncomfortable?  Well, it made me worry about what they thought was so dominating about me (It was the theme.)  They might have planned it but I doubt it, since I know some of them don’t talk.  Mostly it made me laugh and look for my husband to tell him.

See, cons are supposed to be fun.  I don’t want to have to stand around minding my every word, and I don’t want my male friends to have to do the same.  Getting a little boozed up – or in my case just high on having people around – and flirting or joking with friends is what parties are about.  (Flirting is not sexual.  It’s a mind game that uses sex as a basis.  I enjoy it, even though as far as I’m concerned there is ONE man in the whole world I’m interested in.)

If the screaming delicate flowers ruin my conventions, by making men stop attending, I swear to the memory of Robert A. Heinlein that they’ll live to regret it.

Now, let’s talk about what IS harassment.  Harassment is when people use shaming and innuendo and exploit other people’s harmless behavior.  Harassment is giving liars the ability – unexamined – to render someone a pariah.  ( Yes, women lie.  If you’re over 18 you should know this, regardless of your gender, even if younger boy has trouble wrapping his head around it.  If your entire program assumes women never lie, you’re making an assumption not supported by all of human history and you should perhaps consider what you’re thinking of is angels, not women) Harassment is what was done to Malzberg and Resnick – trying to destroy their careers, their reputation, and their chances of making a living.

That’s harassment.  And that’s wrong.

 

268 thoughts on “What IS Harrassment

  1. At LibertyCon last year, I did something by accident I repeated this year. And this year, when someone told me I looked good, I smiled, and said thank you, and when they tried to apologize for admiring the outfit, I laughed and said “I’m eye candy today, and if you didn’t like it I’d be disappointed.” I was amazed at the look of relief, and the gratitude that was expressed because the poor men were so very afraid to compliment me, lest I be offended. I couldn’t have been harassed, in that venue, even had someone tried, because at the slightest sign of my distress, one or more of my big brothers would have been as protective as I needed (and I understand two of them were, thank you Chris and Jason, when I wasn’t listening to something that was said.) But it couldn’t have been harassment, because I had all the power, something I would not misuse, because I am all too aware of it. (apologies if this is not terribly coherent, waiting for the concrud to give my brain back)

    1. Hmmm. You tempt me, fair lady, to rise to the challenge you set and next year come in better than t-shirt and jeans.

      1. If anybody sees me in anything other than t-shirt and jeans the general assumption is, “Who died?”
        Actually that is a misnomer, I don’t recall ever wearing anything but jeans (albeit nice ones, probably either new black or this really nice pair of light gray Wranglers) to a funeral, and underneath that buttondown dress shirt is either a t-shirt or a wifebeater. With the exception of insulated pants or wool pants in winter, the last time I can recall wearing something other than jeans is shortly after high school, when I was a groomsman in a friends wedding (actually have been in two weddings, but in one we wore black jeans, and both weddings substituted cowboy boots for dress shoes).

  2. That’s all well and good for verbal harassment, but there’s also more physical behavior.

    Take the groper. Gropers need a firm response like {slap}, but the lady being groped also needs the support of any surrounding males to make sure said groper can’t then get away with some limp “It was just a joke” thing. Part of the problem of a semi social event like a con (I’ve never been to one, but it’s the same as a trade show which I’ve done many) is that people in general try to minimize conflict which means that gropers can frequently get away with their behavior because the outraged response is far more noticeable than the initial offense. Hence a smoothtalking groper (and they often are) can manage to make it sound like its her fault.

    This also applies to generic non-con activities such as crowded trains or similar. One of the abiding joys of my life was when I hurled a groper of a train in Japan just as the doors were closing leaving him on the platform with his trousers falling down.

    1. Gropers get punched. At least that’s my policy.
      In crowded trains in Portugal I used a hat pin my grandmother had given me. I leave it to your imagination where I used it. And yes, gents SHOULD be clutching themselves about now.

      1. 😀 Sounds like something I’d have loved to do a few times when younger (now I mostly get ignored, the only occasional risk are old drunks with whom the bigger problem can be how not to throw up from the smell) but it might get you in jail here (even back then), in the worst case, or at least paying the groper. Best part about stiletto heels, accidents happen and stepping on somebody’s feet with your full weight on the heel… 😉

        As for verbal, and visual stuff – I think I may have mentioned my dad had a garage? You just ignore them. Possibly sniff disdainfully and ignore.

        1. A proper disdainful sniff, if you can do it, is up there with the freeze look.

          Momma always said get the shoes with reinforced spiked heals, and to aim for the instep. (If the heal is not reinforced it can break making it harder to run and bare feet in the city can be dangerous.) Now this was not to be done unless other less aggressive methods had proven useless — and the unwarranted attention was looking to be of a serious nature. As The Spouse has observed, one can do some real damage with a well aimed spiked heal.

          1. We got Italian stilettos, with real little metal daggers inside. Even then in the mid eighties, one of those broke on me, or at least the plastic around it broke which — since the creature was still coming at me — forced me to grab the shoe and use the heel as a dagger.
            In retrospect, I think he was on something. HAD to be. Real men are not Inigo Montoya (and I hadn’t killed his father.)

            1. Hm. If he was on something he may have dreamed that you had (killed his father. Or his supplier. Or stolen his stash).

              The high heels meant for dancers should probably be fairly strongly built, although I never bought them. And easier to run with. I mostly used my mother’s old 50’s and 60’s heels when young, they were much better made than what you could find here in stores during the 80’s. The early 60’s ones I still have, and they are still usable, although I should take them to a cobbler, the leather around the heels is too worn to look pretty right now.

          1. I later had that hat pin affixed to my school bag. The problem in Portuguese public transport is frottage. If you turn around and slap the sob, he claims he just got jostled and you’re evil, and creates a public scene. BUT if you arrange your bookbag and shove back and up and it skewers him in the privates, if he bitches, YOU can say it was an accident, you didn’t realize that was sticking out, and how did he come to be that pressed against you that he got such an injury?
            They never complained. Sometimes they screamed before moving (limping) away.
            My female relatives and I used to trade stories of our best skewerings…

            1. With an innocent and totally shocked look, of course. My specialty move, when I was young and innocent-faced, was to pretend a totally clueless degree of naivety, and ask of those who had made completely vile suggestions to explain them completely and in detail – if at all possible, before an audience. Until I was in my early thirties, I could get away with this (Being one of those who always looked half a decade younger than I was.) The entertainment value of this was positively epic!
              Alas, after a certain point, I had to fall back on the put-down which has been referenced up-thread. (Bored and affectless expression – “It looks like a p**is, only smaller.”)

    2. Gropers get slapped and then taken out in the alley by any handy honorable men, taught manners and left there.

      1. This brings up a critical point: the responsibility for each “side” to police their own. Males need to communicate to boys (of whatever age) that women are to be treated respectfully until they convey agreement otherwise (and how to know when that has happened.)

        Women need to instruct girls that men are animals and that you don’t rattle their cages and don’t tease them except in appropriate circumstances — and how to know those circumstances. Stroking a guy’s hair, or body, or planting a peck on his cheek or patting his tush all convey a message; you are writing a check that you might not be prepared to cover, Hustling a guy at a con for a steak dinner, drinks, dealer room pretties and airfare home is as truly harassment as him thinking that spending money on a gal entitles him to get familiar.

        Society used to have rules, however laxly enforced, about such things. Thanks to the “Sexual Revolution” the old rules were overturned and we all got screwed. Nowadays it is a jungle out there, and there are plenty of predators whatever their plumbing.

        1. To channel my inner Baptist preacher (yes, even us rad-trad Catholics have an inner Baptist preacher…), “Can I get a AY-MEN!?”

          🙂

          1. LOL. My husband’s inner Baptist preacher heals computers. You haven’t lived till you see Dan go “Come out of this computer, ye demons of blue screen.” The weird thing is how often it works.

            1. I do better with threats of violence (against the computer, of course).

                1. I’m old school- I rip off Berke Breathed. “Do you want your memory to wind up in a toaster?”

            2. Running joke around here is the opposite… whenever complex work needs to be done on a PC, you *will* smash your finger or thumb or something or nick yourself on the one part of the case where it is possible etc…

              The joke being that this is actually necessary, make a blood sacrifice to the PC gods in order to make it work….

              1. It is amazing how often a good swift kick (or other blunt force trauma, as appropriate) judiciously applied to recalcitrant complex electronics causes them to work properly. It’s almost like they’re sentient, or at least pain averse.

                1. True story: one day my beloved husband, who works with computers comes home to find me kicking the fish (The Fish was a computer so named because when I was on deadline, it would float belly up.) I was saying something like “you unmentionable piece of refuse. If you don’t work I shall set fire to you” while kicking it VIOLENTLY. Dan was horrified. “You never kick a computer. NEVER. They’re delicate pieces of machinery.” Since I was beyond controlling myself, I was banished to cook dinner, while he “saw to the problem.” (Dan does this when he thinks I might kill someone too. He finds something urgent for me to do elsewhere, while I calm down.) When I came back half an hour later, to call him to dinner, I found him kicking The Fish. “Aha,” said I. “You’re not supposed to kick computers. They’re delicate pieces of machinery.” At which point my darling drew himself up on his dignity, and looked at me, completely serious, and said, “I can kick it. I’m an expert. Those are TARGETED kicks.” 😛

                    1. mid 80’s USAF, EC-135 airplane. One particular box of electronics almost always had a bowed-in faceplate despite being rather thick aluminum. There was a nearby pipe overhead that almost always had two worn spots…right where someone would hold on for balance as they kicked that particular box. (If I remember, the box was full of relays that would stick)

                  1. Several ETs of my acquaintance took great joy in the maintenance schedules for some of the things on the ship– two that come to mind are “hold at shoulder height over a hard surface, drop” and “hit right *here* with the rubber sledgehammer.”

                    ATs, working with far more delicate equipment, don’t have fun stuff like that… not at my level, anyways.

                  1. There was an elaborate and very high-end copier in the base HQ building that us in the Public Affairs office at Mather AFB had access to in the early 1980s, in order to make copies of what we gleaned from the daily trawl through the local newspapers for distribution to the senior commanders. The thing was about the size of a VW Bug, and sometimes it hung up. There was a certain place where you had to kick it – a place marked precisely with the smudges of shoe soles. All PA staffers tasked with delivering the daily sheaf of newspaper clippings were briefed on exactly where and the precise amount of force necessary to get the darned thing working again.

                    1. I used to live not far from Mather! About that time frame, too, and now I have the chronological vertigo of realizing just how long ago it closed. I’m not old enough for this!

                    2. You’re not old enough? I lived in base housing, and I have tried to find through google-street-view where I lived during the time! It’s all yuppie condos now, apparently. I am silently sobbing – I lived there, and not so long ago! I gave base tours; the museum, the picnic grounds, the flight line, the little observatory where they taught baby navigators how to read the stars – (it was the only observatory for miles in every direction), the field where there was a burrowing owl nest.
                      My city is gone …
                      Of course, I ought to be used to this. Every base where I was assigned during my career is gone, and the ones left are unrecognizable to me now.

                    3. It’s all yuppie condos now, apparently.

                      I was born in the foothills just an hour or two east, what was then a little farming town with lots of elbow room, and it’s since undergone the same transformation. All the upper-middle class corporate drones and .gov drudges in Sacramento discovered the place; now most of the farms are gone and the yuppies remain. I’ll be driving through both cities tomorrow, en route to WesterCon; I’ll salute the past for both of us as I go by.

                    4. Thank you! (weeping silently into my evening glass of Chablis) I loved living in Sacra-tomato, and everything about my tour there.

                    5. When John Ringo writes of the Fort Bragg he knew in his first Posleen novel I know it. When I first got to know Fayetteville, NC there were still old wooden barracks that were built for incoming soldiers in WWII.

                    6. Heck, Ft. Jackson had WW2-era barracks on top of Tank Hill, in 1989. Spent a day cleaning some of them out….

        2. As I recall, we used to call such things “social mores”. Or manners. But nowadays it seems like there’s only one sex that’s being reminded of the need for it while the other blithely goes its merry way, sending really mixed messages with the visual while screaming “oppressive jerk!” with the verbal.
          Yet another reason I ❤ my awesome wife.

          1. The more I learn of other men’s wives, the more I love the Oyster Wife. Encountering young single women even more so; the rising generation of ostensibly marriageable females largely make me weep for humanity.

      2. I’ve always enjoyed the hearty laugh (in my deep low voice) followed by a loud “You have got to be kidding me, grabbing my [whatever]”. Guaranteed to shrivel the offender.

    3. Way back in high school the guys would play a game where they’d reach out and grab your breast. I either drew blood with my fingernails as they pulled their hand away or caught them in the shin hard as I could with the clogs I wore. (high heel solid wood… it was the 80s)

      Amazingly the grabbing never really felt like a violation.

      I did get pinched at the carnival in Costa Rica. The sidewalks were so crowded that we were all pressed together. I whirled around and a guy now about three people back was looking right at me, so I’m sure that’s who it was. If it would have been remotely possible to clobber him I probably would have (also, I was there for a karate tournament and was at the carnival with a black belt former Marine and our daughters so if I couldn’t take care of it, there were options) but mostly I just thought it was really funny. (It was actually so crowded that we were holding hands in a train with the girls and at one point I physically pushed a couple of people apart and pushed one of the girls through like birthing a baby.)

    4. I understand that one– my first groper, I didn’t know what to do with him. The second one a dropped with a backwards hands to a sensitive area. It dropped him. The guys around me were laughing at him. He had been told that I was not interested in his amazing hotness.

    5. When I worked at a restaurant in Atlanta which was run by male homos who grudgingly allowed heteros to work in the kitchen, I got patted on the ass a time or two. I said something like, “hey, cut that out!” They ceased and desisted, and we spoke no more of it. It’s when people don’t take no for an answer, as I wrote recently at Vox’s place, that it’s ok to start thinking about deadly force. Hell, even if you are sexually attracted to the person pinching your bottom, maybe you’re just trying to get some work done and don’t need the distraction.

      The women who worked for my Dad were always addressed by him as Miss or Mrs. So-and-so., he being a Southern guy, and gently reared.

      1. Ah, yes. I had almost forgotten the restaurant where I was one of few hetero males on staff. The gays there were completely in tune with other peoples’ orientations, though, so there were never any incidents, though it did make me do a double-take when the one waiter(ess? – boy, was he a flamer) first called me, “hon”.

        OTOH, when I was working with this one female cook, and the night manager had kneeled down to get something from the small refrigerator, and I said to her, “Look, you’ve got him on his knees, now,” he looked back and, choosing to interpret it as if I said *I* had him on his knees, he looked at me and replied, ‘Well, since I’m down here anyway…”

        I nearly peed myself laughing.

    6. If his trousers were falling down I have my suspicion that his behavior rose to a bit more than a simple groper…

      1. Well yes. Though I’m not quite sure he’d actually got to that point yet. I wasn’t aware of the state of his trousers until he was on the platform and the doors were shutting. He was quite upset though and I think that may have been because some of his property remained on the train, still he probably learned not to do that again – at least not when there are gaijin around

  3. In 20+ years in professional jobs, I’ve known one person to get fired for harassment, and two for sexual misconduct at work. All women. The harasser had years of making inappropriate remarks to (female) co-workers on and off the clock; the two women apparently were neglecting their work to get busy with each other.

    That was an unusual place to work, but that I’ve worked in IT all my life and never seen the supposed plague of male harassers… And it’s not like there aren’t any women in IT. It’s not 50/50 “in the lines” but it is in management; I’ve never had a job where there wasn’t a woman a step or two above me in the chain.

  4. “..this involves not shrieking and giving back as good as you got in the way of jokes.”
    Yep – that’s how it worked in the military. Make your comeback just as crude, funny – and deflating to the offender, and you were gold, as far as being a woman in a mostly male environment.

    1. ISTR a Spider Robinson joke that ended “it looks like a penis, only smaller”.

      1. I cannot remember where, but I read that in a story recently. Not one by Spider Robinson, though.

    2. I liked the military and never had a problem. Men do act differently in a mixed environment than they do in one that they perceive as “male.” I did once have to work with a guy (kid!) who F-this and F-that constantly and after a while it got really really old. I should have turned that with a joke about vocabulary but it built so slowly…

      It was funny, though, when my NCOIC took me aside right after I got to the shop to explain his private life (he’d married his maid) and I thought… why do I need to know this? Which was apparently all over my face because he said he wanted me to hear it from him instead of someone else. It seems that gossip is still an issue in male environments. 😉

      1. Yeah. Anyone who says men don’t gossip is either deluded or full of it.

          1. And their gossip is somewhat different. Women are more concentrated on “what our Jane said about their Deidre.”
            BTW, check your email. I think I am in your spam.

  5. I love going to cons simply because I’m around people who understand my interests in ways my friends at home don’t. I usually attend two or three a year, but with Worldcon in driving distance for once, it will be the only con I make this year. (I hate to miss Fencon, but that the economic reality.) Depending on how it goes, it may be my last for a while. With all the screeching going on, I’m beginning to think I’ll be too busy worrying about offending some woman I’m probably not aware of to enjoy myself.

  6. There is, however, a third component: In order to truly be “harassment”, it *must* be repetitive. One cannot “harass” someone with only one incident.

    1. That is why it was necessary to devise the nonsense of a “hostile environment.”

      The current social regime empowers the dramatic and hyper-sensitive, granting them a weapon to deploy against those of good will. The harm done is the ploy’s erosion of the bulk of those persons of good will as they reach the conclusion that “there’s no pleasing them.”

      1. I think that “hostile environment” is legit, at least to the extent that a person ought to be able to have that conversation with your boss and discuss what might be done. I worked at a place for a while where heated political conversations were normal and it really wears on you after a while, even if a lot of the people agree with you. After a while you just want to say, can we please just be about *work*?

      2. Many years ago, I worked for a law firm that handled a group legal plan. Oh,boy, what fun. And my favorite are the people who heard “hostile work environment” and believed that the term meant that they could not be spoken too rudely at work.

        Nothing could dissuade such people that they had no such “right”. Nothing.

        For those not realizing it, discrimination against people on the basis of gender in employment is prohibited. A legal doctrine has arisen that if a worker is subjected to sexual harassment to a degree that forces him/her to quit to escape it, there may be liability by the employer (with lots of other elements involved …).

        You don’t have a “right” to a pleasant workplace free from expressions of “hostility”.

        Indeed, if your boss is a screamer and screams at everyone regardless of gender, you are not being discriminated against illegally.

        1. Thanks, Roman, for providing the context. “Hostile Environment” is a legitimate term which Vile Progs have expanded beyond any reasonable definition. Such mission creep is one of their favorite ploys and in this instance threatens to reduce the world to kiddygarden with them as headmistress. The intent is to make people so self-conscious of their interactions that normal behaviour and expression become impossible, with the slightest transgression (see: Paula Deen) becoming grounds for severe punishment.

          Used to be you only got that kind of ostracism for using the wrong fork.

          1. The problem arises because its shorthand for a specific kind of discrimination claim. And people take it from that context and think its some general legal right.

        2. I would be more upset by sexual favoritism than by “sexual harassment”. For instance, I worked as a rod man once for a surveyor who missed his previous rod man, a woman who liked to “do the deed” with him. How could I compete with that?

          1. OK, sorry, I just finished laughing … rod man, really? I know it wasn’t funny at the time. No you can’t compete.

            Sadly, no matter the rules, there are some people who are going to take advantage of whatever they can to get what they want. In some cases they it might be that they are just enjoying themselves, but it still causes trouble in the workplace.

            1. I’m not sure where JTG is from, so not sure if that was an intentional choice of title or not. All surveying outfits I have worked for commonly used the term chain man, but I have heard surveyors from other areas, or at least that spent considerable time working in other areas call the position rod man. So if I would have used the term it would have been intentional.

  7. Holy shiznik. I tried to imagine it, and I think it’s true. A freeze face actually WOULD work on me. (Hypothetically. No woman would decline my charms, of course.)

    Freeze face threatens a man’s faith in his charisma (and even social power, if we take it that far), and that’s an unconquerable neurosis that even otherwise socially invincible men have (its avoided only by not having an investment in the society).

    Even angryface just makes me laugh. Freezeface would be a terrible blow to my manhood. So, as much as I hate to encourage the opposite sex to better arm themselves, I must confirm its psychological value.

    If it results in a renaissance of the classical woman, it’s a worthwhile sacrifice.

    #takeitfromadude

    1. Not reacting can be a useful tactic. I used to work as a receptionist in a very busy office that dealt with a very diverse clientele, who all were under high stress, suffering from emotional issues, and/or meth. I wound up cultivating what my girlfriend called “receptionist face” – eyebrows relaxed, neutral half smile, eyes relaxed, and no tells to the emotional reaction.
      I actually practiced this by standing with my nose one-half inch from a door, wall, post, or refrigerator, and quietly saying, “Please has a seat. I will tell [whoever] that you are here for your appointment.” I worked up to saying things like, “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow,” or whatever silly thing I could think of to say with a calm voice and straight face. When I could do it every time, all the time, without giggling, I felt I had it down.
      It worked most of the time. Screaming is a lot of work, and if there is no reward, the automatic reaction is to try and find another strategy.
      Of course there are limits. If you use it in an argument with your girlfriend it will just make things worse.

    2. My Mom was a Southern lady, born around 1922 in Mississippi. She was always careful of her looks, and never failed to watch the Miss America contest and cheer on her fellow MS gals.
      During WWII she was secretary to the president of a railroad. She had her pick of guys, but generally only dated fighter pilots, specializing in the Dutch East Indies Air Force. (They had a training base in MS.) Occasionally she went slumming with a U.S. officer at the local POW camp; those Germans cooked some good food.

      Nonetheless, I am quite certain she was a virgin when she married my Dad. She knew where and how to draw the line.

      1. Oh, a song my Mom taught me:

        Be-hind, the door, her father kept a shotgun
        He kept it in the springtime, and in the month of May hey hey!
        And if, you asked, him why the heck he kept it,
        He kept it for her fighter pilot far, far, away.
        Far away, far away…

        1. We marched to a “for a sailor who was far, far away” version of that in bootcamp– There was a girl who wore a yellow ribbon.

          1. Here is the actual song, actually a cover, the original was a believe song by a female group, but this is the one that I have on my computer and a couple of CD’s.

              1. It is best known as a cavalry song, interestingly enough I couldn’t find a copy of the cavalry version, however.

  8. Having attended a number of Anime Cons where people cos-play in sometime rather outlandish and revealing costumes I have thought about some of this. I have seen some very interesting and inventive attempts. There was a woman with a five month old in stroller who had glued cotton balls on her body to come as Naruto’s sexy-no-jutsu. (It would really have been better if the cotton had been mounted to a flesh toned body suit. Momma always said there was something to be said for a bit of mystery.)

    Ladies, and in this case I am using that term advisedly, why in the world do you think it is being liberated to behave towards and around men in a crass manner? Even worse why do you think you can do that and then complain when you have put on a costume and someone tells you, politely, mind you, that you are looking good? No wonder some people think women are illogical confusing creatures.

    Maybe it is just me, but I have trouble when women complain about men being men. When someone comes to a con in a costume, and doesn’t expect to be looked at what in the world is going on in their head? I am not suggesting that one put up with smarmy innuendo. That is where your southern lady’s freeze look comes in handy, and it is where gentlemen tell others that they have crossed the line. Otherwise, just enjoy the people who are healthily appreciative of what is being presented.

    One caveat: when you look like a long time denizen of the night who should be leaning on a lamp post in pre-clean-up Times Square, don’t be surprised if somebody treats like one — even at a con.

    1. Wearing clothes is a form of speech. People should expect people to react to what they say with it.

    2. If the extent of your apparel consists of some cottonballs glued in strategic places (I have questions about that by the way, 1. Isn’t using the restroom a bit of a pain? 2. Did you make sure and do a good wax job before you applied the glue?) you are advertising. If you get offended because someone ogles you, that is called false advertising.

      1. Actually, in this case, people were mostly stunned and looked away. I do think she had on a thong and pasties under the cotton balls … but I really didn’t want to look too closely.

    3. Eh, at a certain point cries of “false advertising” seem appropriate. Like the dirndles that did not come home with me. I love dirndles. The Munich and south Bavarian style does not love me, at least not for wearing to religious events and places of worship (although, if I followed a fertility-based religion . . .)

  9. Meh. I stopped going to cons years ago, over a more gender-neutral precursor to the present phenomenon — the changing of the social norm from the old “cons are a great place to go to meet new people who share, if not necessarily _exactly_ your set of geeky interests, then at least a comparably-large and comparably-geeky set of their own” to the new “cons are a place to go to meet up with people you already know, but few people there will have any interest in talking to folks who aren’t already their friends”. (I can spend time with my existing friends _without_ round-trip airfare complete with getting myself and my wife molested by the TSA, renting a hotel room, and buying a con membership, thanks.) It wasn’t yet a _hostile_ environment, and only the bugnutscrazy fringe was grafting “rape culture” polemic onto it, but it was already clearly losing whatever actual charms it might still have had.

    That was about 10 years ago.

    Judging by the commentary going on lately, it’s gotten so bad that:
    1. Every woman (or at least, near enough to all of them as makes no difference) assumes that any conversational approach from a man constitutes a proposition for sex
    2. A substantial percentage of women are convinced that they’re imminently going to be possibly drugged and definitely raped
    3. Those in positions of cultural influence have utterly lost the capacity to distinguish between an undesired conversation and a felonious assault, and are pressing hard on those in official policy-making authority to cast off that capacity as well.

    Maybe some cons still aren’t like that. I hope so, even if only for the sake of the future of SF. (For that matter, being married to someone who soon will have novels to promote, I’m really hoping to get through the experience without having to spend my weekends locked in a hotel room alone, for fear of either getting her blacklisted or getting myself arrested.)

    Besides, even for those who _do_ go to cons looking for a sexual encounter…if fen wanted to do their sexual-trawling in the bar scene, they could just _do their sexual-trawling in the bar scene_. They don’t need to import the toxic norms of that scene into fandom!

    It’s like watching your nice, clean, relatively-free state get gradually infested with Californians.

      1. Both Liberty and Con*stellation have a major component of uncles and big brothers who do not take kindly to baby sis getting harassed. That sort of thing tends to pollute an atmosphere of good natured flirting and oggelling which we all appreciate enthusiastically. That, and the ladies all know that even if they didn’t bring a gun of their own there’s always someone with a loaner handy.

        1. Well, that’s the other thing — I usually have something sharp about me. Okay, when I fly it’s not a knife, but let me assure you I use steel crochet hooks, normally fly with them, and they can do MAJOR damage.

              1. Actually I don’t think much when I go into kill mode. I don’t THINK I’ve ever killed anyone — one guy is a question, but trust me, it was self-defense. And if he’d died it would have been in the paper, right? — but when I go physical I berserk out. This actually would make me a very bad soldier, but one on one (or one on a few) it has kept me alive a few times. Mom berserks too. Considering that’s where the blue/green eyes run uniformly (her family. No, I didn’t inherit them) I suspect Viking pirates off the coast in that line. :/

                1. I have a neighbor like that. He is a real emotional sweety-pie most of the time, but has been known to go berserk, as in “Wow! What am I doing here, and why are there all those guys on the floor, and where did all this blood come from?”

                  He claims it’s his inner Finn emerging, he being about 1/2 German, 3/8 Finn, and 1/8 Mohawk. He gives his German side credit for keeping the Finn part under control, except sometimes… Well, as Kim DuToit says, sometimes the RCOB descends in front of his eyes.

            1. Kate Paulk and I tried to convince MMike to make ceramic hairsticks, of the same sort of material used for knives, perhaps with an external blunt casing and an inner stiletto. Safe for the scan machines, but I HATE to fly practically disarmed. I feel naked.

              1. I thought he just dealt with steel, does he do ceramic also?

                On a related note years ago I seen a hairbrush with a stiletto blade (all plastic/scan proof) inside the brush part. Grabbing the brush and pulling on the handle resulted in you holding a handless hairbrush in one hand and five inch bladed plastic stiletto in the other.

                  1. stiletto hair brush:
                    http://jaxknives.com/cold-steel/honey-comb-knife-92hc.html

                    from cold steel, 43% fiberglass, 57% glass filled nylon (think Glock grips) $10.95

                    Bronze weaponized hair sticks http://www.kilts-n-stuff.com/kilt-accessories-en/celtic-hair-sticks/

                    There are, of course, always REAL hair daggers
                    http://www.bronzejewelers.com/hairpics.htm

                    further down the same page, they offer two three and four pronged Kanzashi which are more than strong enough to count as a weapon. My daughter’s comment was that she just had to always use at least TWO so that pulling one didn’t result in her hair falling down and becoming a problem. She was rather fond of very rigid plastic or wooden chopsticks for that as well. She has a glass tumbler on her dresser with a large assortment of long pointy sharp things in various colors and with or without dangly things on the end.

                1. I have thought of walking into an airliner with a lump of flint, a piece of deer antler, some leather thongs, and a stick, and walking out of it bearing a nice sharp stone knife. I think I would tell the guy in the next seat that I was going to an anthropology convention and forgot to do my homework.

              2. OH YES!! Not only for flying, but dressed as I was at Liberty Saturday night, my blades were in my purse, not easily accessible. But hairsticks would have been perfect. Heck, I wrote a piece of flash fic a while back about a murder done with them…

                1. For some reason, the Chinese wrote endless numbers of murder mystery plays and books where the murder weapon was a hairpin or a very skinny nail hammered into a guy’s head under the hair, and everybody thought the guy just died naturally. (Which is why every Western mystery writer writing ancient Chinese mysteries feels obliged to do the same.)

                  Of course, if I was binding women’s feet from birth, making them marry polygamously, etc., I’d probably be afraid of hairpin vengeance also.

                  1. Well, there is that story in the Bible… but that was a nail. I’ve used good teak chopsticks as hairsticks, and you really could do some damage with them, but it would show!

                    1. It was a tent nail/peg. Every time I have Jury duty, my husband understands it as Judy Duty (or pretends to) and asks whose head I’m going to puncture.

                    2. ‘I just gave him some warm milk and tucked him up nice and cozy.’ swore Jael, ‘ Oh, your honor, you want to know how that nail ended up through Sisera’s head? Well, I am so very sorry, but something about snoring just sets me off and I don’t know what I’m doing.’

              3. I plan to get an acrylic clipboard, preferably with a handle slot at the bottom, or if not, then to cut one into it. This isn’t something that everyone could do, but if needed, I will break it diagonally, which leaves a hellishly sharp edge. Then use the piece which still contains the handle.

                1. Anybody has any familiarity with using a sling? How hard would it be to learn to hit anything with it, and how much damage can they do? As far as I know something like a small bag of small round stones would be allowed on most places, or just a few in your pocket – say that you collect stones, or marbles, or something, or maybe you just bought them for some kid. And a sling shouldn’t be particularly obvious as a weapon either. Make a belt out of it or wrap it around your wrist or something.

                  1. Problem with a sling on an aircraft is room to swing it. Maybe it would be practical on one of the really big liners, but I haven’t been on one of them before, or if I was, I was too young to remember. Learning to be accurate is pretty hard, too. This is assuming you are talking about the kind of sling where you hold a thong or string in your hands and swing it around your head before letting fly with the stone at the end. If you’re talking about what is typically called a slingshot in this country, consisting of a handle, two vertical posts, and elastic bands, plus a leather piece to hold the stone, then yes, that should be reasonable, and not require much practice. I would look into getting one built that was in two pieces that aren’t recognizable until fit together, though.

                    1. I wasn’t thinking specifically of airplanes, actually, remember where I live (no weapons which can be recognized as weapons, basically). So I have occasionally considered what alternatives there might be. Especially for long distance, I can figure several things one might be able to carry without getting into trouble (unless one maybe ended up actually using it), but they are all something for close contact.

                      Just for fictional purposes, mind you. I might write some sort of urban fantasy which happens somewhere in Europe one day. 🙂

                    2. Oh, ok. Well, as I mentioned, slings are difficult to master, but then again – look at the story of David and Goliath – those things ARE serious weapons.

                      This brings up a possible discussion, however, simply on improvised, disguised, or non-standard weapons in general.

                    3. Yes. Disguised could be big trouble if found under the wrong circumstances, obviously disguised probably worse than just obviously weapon. Improvised, or something which can be claimed to have been improvised if used, might pass. Something like David’s sling might fit under that ‘was improvised’.

                    4. Anything which produces tension — elastic, coiled spring — can be used to project an object forcefully. If improvisation is not required an apparently simple ball point pen could be manufactured with a setting allowing the spring to not only retract and extend but fire the ink cartridge. I expect considerable hiding of weapons could be achieved in strategically manufactured lingerie, as well, say a detachable garter for elastic tension and a removable yoke joining the bra cups. There are reasons the scenes with Q were favourites in the Bond films.

                      Similarly, any leverage enhancer can be used as a weapon. A ruler, perhaps with a sharpened steel spine, can be devastating (as generations of Catholic school students could attest.) But if the user is skilled at stick fighting even a pair of common drum sticks can be effective close quarter weapons (which prompts thought of a scene in which a band’s drummer takes out a half dozen would-be kidnappers.)

                    5. There was a mention in the OT of something like five hundred slingers who did not miss. It may have been at considerable range too.

                      I expect that’s guys with years of practice at a minimum, tho’.

                      ===============
                      As to the topic of the post, thank you Sarah for standing up for sanity and civilization.

                    6. For a woman it could be made to use as part of your hair containment, like a combination hair stick and rubber band in one.

                  2. A traditional sling, which is simply a pouch with two long rope like handles, is a formidable weapon but takes some considerable skill to learn to use effectively. As I recall Roman slingers carried lead shot, round or teardrop shaped, and were deadly at what I would call these days handgun range. Then too, you’re never out of ammo as most places have suitable stones readily available.
                    The way I’ve seen it done is you load the pouch, swing in a circular motion, and release when up to speed. Most often I’ve seen it done like an underhanded softball pitch, but a horizontal disk rotation with side release is another option.
                    Us gun geeks like to say that just as today you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight, back in the day Goliath brought a sword to a projectile weapon fight.

                  3. Try bolas. Easier to master and can be said to be a two ball clacking toy until you throw it.

                    1. Looks like you could make one from a cord and stones in small pouches. Even better. One might carry a pair of Chinese stress balls, maybe of some pretty stone and keep them in two small leather pouches so that they don’t chip while carried in a purse, and just happen to have some cord there too (or wear something like a paracord bracelet). Totally spur of the moment improvised. 🙂

                    2. Okay, now I’m confused, immediately after explaining how they are used they cite two people, both who state they are used by men (one states they are used to enlarge the penis). Huh?

                2. Wayne, you could pre-score it lightly on the diagonal, and if asked, just say it’s for drawings in the field (surveying, plen air sketching . . .)

                  1. Oh, yes, diagonally scoring it would tend to control the break much better. I would stealth it just a bit more, though. VERY light scoring in a diamond pattern, all over the underside, then covering that with and acrylic paint, but a heavy scoring, also covered over, on the break line.

              4. No one is ever “disarmed” if you’ve sufficient imagination. Airline aircraft cabins are full of weapons for the imaginative.

        2. LC had the largest concentration of people actually carrying guns I have been at in rather a long time. It was a pleasant change from those cons with weapons policies which state that FAKE TOY guns must be prominently peace-bonded, or may not exist at all.

          Which of course, takes the mind back to RAH’s comment about a polite society.

          It was moderately boggling to spot the guys in kilts with belts wide and tight enough to ensure that their holster didn’t move. And of course, the number of people openly carrying bare steel was “large”

          It was a VERY fun con, the only downside was that Sat night I didn’t FIND the damned mad scientist panel. 😦

          1. You couldn’t have got in, even if you had. I’m a person who considers 90 degrees “nice” and I couldn’t get in. I think it was the Cooked Scientist Panel. Dan and Robert withstood it, mostly because they like to talk science, but it was HOT. I hung out outside the door with various fans and eventually Mrs. Correia who apparently joined us in lieu of killing someone. I have no idea what happened but my husband says “her husband is not the dangerous one.” 😉

            1. Fun evening.

              As to travel weaponry, the most dangerous one is between my ears. For to the rest, find me sometime offline for a discussion of what constitutes improvised weaponry.

              1. Yeah, I really wish the people being menaced with box cutters on 9/11 had remembered that every “seat cushion that can be used as a flotation device” could have also been used as a shield (complete with straps) that no box-cutter could have made it through.

                1. True. Many things won’t make good weapons, but just about anything is better than your fist. So many little bones. Incidental to air travel, one of my favorites is a rolled up magazine. Which every airline so kindly provides me the seat-back pocket.

                  1. I have, on occasion, heard “something strange” outside the room when I’m showering in the morning with the girls, and armed myself with the air freshener can, or the listerine, or anything else that can go for the eyes. (Not my perfume– way too small of range, even compared to throwing an open half gallon of stuff at someone’s nose.) A couple of times it was my husband unexpectedly home early, and usually it was “probably just the cats.” (We have one that stamps his feet. You can hear him two rooms away, on carpet.)

                  1. I have to disagree. There ARE dangerous weapons, if you include danger to the person wielding them. Then, weapons which are poorly designed, constructed, or maintained, can indeed be dangerous.

          2. Tennessee state laws and the rules of the venue must be different.

            We are required to not allow real weapons on the floor, and to do peace-bonding. If you buy a sword in the dealers room it is boxed, the box taped up and you are to take it to your room or lock it in your car. Fake guns are required to be safety orange around the end of their barrels, as well.

            Further, because of Virginia state laws we have to warn attendees that they may not wear masks, or anything else that obscures their faces, outside of the venue.

              1. I could be wrong, it wouldn’t be the first time, nor probably a last, but I believe the mask/not obscuring the face in public law in Virginia dates to 2001 or thereabouts.

                    1. I wonder how many other states have them– the story I vaguely remember mentioned that they were a common way to combat the Klan.

                    2. AL had one while I was there. I believe GA does too, because I seem to remember DragonCon having to get an exception to it so people could stay in costume between the various hotels.

              1. CCW does not grant carte blanche to carry. Premises may bar patrons from carrying weapons inside. Most public facilities (city halls, court houses, convention centers) include such bans in their rules.

                It makes a certain sense; do you really want people carrying guns while dealing with the DMV?

                1. Note: Private places can ask that folks not have their concealed carry, but they can’t make any legal actions– just if they find out you have it, they ask you to leave. (The argument of if it is more rude to carry when asked not to, or to ask people to remove their defenses without sufficiently taking up the task yourself, is something that calls for beers and a week or so.)

                  The legality of having it in state gov’t buildings depends on local or state laws, all military facilities do not recognize any CCL, and as I recall there are some laws that are illegal but not yet formally removed.

                  1. This varies from state to state, for instance in Texas there is a provision in the concealed carry statutes that a sign that meets the statutory requirements (sec 30.06 amusingly) for wording/size in a business would carry the force of law – ie., concealed carry on that premises would be a crime. Other states have no such provision, and a private business with a sign prohibiting would not carry the force of law.

                    States also vary greatly as to where in private businesses one can carry, usually the variance is among places that serve alcohol. Texas to repeat the example forbids carry in an establishment that obtains 51% or more of its revenue from on-premises alcohol sales, and such premises are supposed to post a 51% sign.

                  2. Post offices also forbid carry, presumably since going postal is a privilege reserved for union card carrying postal workers.

                    1. When ever there is a can drive by the local post office, I make sure to put a couple of boxes of 5.56mm in my mailbox for the poor, less affluent postal workers.

                  3. Actually, this depends on the state. In some states, there are legal ramifications to carrying with a CCW somewhere that has a no guns policy.

                2. Yes premises may bar carry (as noted below this depends on the laws in that particular state, for example Idaho is a right to carry state, they can ask you to leave, but it is not illegal to carry open or concealed just because they ask you not to; which primarily means that it is not illegal to carry concealed on such premises, because if they can’t see it they won’t ask you to leave, and refusing to leave when asked is the only actually unlawful act) but CACS stated Virginia state laws. I was asking because if state law doesn’t forbid it the logical recourse is to simply change venues to one that doesn’t bar people from carrying.

                  1. BTW, there is an Android app I have on my phone called “GunFreeZone” that lets you know in real time who doesn’t want your business…..

                  2. I was asking because if state law doesn’t forbid it the logical recourse is to simply change venues to one that doesn’t bar people from carrying

                    There are a limited number of venues that will house a con that draws several thousand and rising. We have out grown hotels. And, for our purposes, as an Anime con, with the guests and artists we want to attract it behooves us to aim for 5,000+.

                3. “It makes a certain sense; do you really want people carrying guns while dealing with the DMV?”

                  If you have dealt with the DMV lately, that answer is likely a resounding YES!

                4. As of July 1 in Kansas, a public building, such as the DMV or a city hall may only bar CCW licencees if they provide adequate security including search of all persons and parcels entering the building. Private property holders may bar CCW holders, but must post the appropriate state defined sign at _every_ entrance. If you enter through a door that is not posted, you’re not in violation. (Meaning that at many places, entering through the loading docks is perfectly clean.)

                  And yes, I stood in line at the DMV recently with my wife while watching several people renew their CCW’s while carrying. 🙂

              2. The convention center complex is city property. No weapons are allowed on city property unless they are carried by agents of the city, state or country. This was interesting the couple of years we shared the venue with the local contingent of the annual Marine Corps Ball.

            1. Yes, Kansas laws are different. Publicly owned buildings may not post as prohibited unless they meet state standards providing security in the building (searchs and guards) Private buildings may post as prohibited if they post the state approved sign on ALL entrances. Skip one, and entering through THAT entrance isn’t prohibited.

              And yes, we’ve stood in line at the DMV watching others renew their CCW while carrying.

              Tn laws are not quite as free, but close.

    1. That’s been my expereince as well, that Science Fiction fans in general tend to be unwelcoming to outsiders, often downright hostile. Not that everyone who enjoys science fiction is hostile, just that when fan groups get together that it seems to foster an “us vs them” mentality and I guess I look more like a “them” than an “us”.

      1. As the volunteer coordinator at my con, people often advise volunteering as a good way to automatically belong and meet people.

        I think it’s a real problem though, that fandom tends to be insular. I try to encourage the notion that cons should be child friendly… the fliers for bondage groups bother me, as do rampant elves on note cards in the dealer room and bondage artwork in the art show. And it would be good to, perhaps, remind people nicely that people who read science fiction and fantasy range from Wiccans to Christians to Atheists and politically from far right to far left. I object to the concept of “safe places” but certainly half a thought that you want to be welcoming of pagans *and* fundy christians as well as democrats *and* republicans and that we want Want WANT children to attend… that would be good.

        1. he fliers for bondage groups bother me, as do rampant elves on note cards in the dealer room and bondage artwork in the art show.

          Uh… elves on their hind legs with their arms up?

          Guessing it means something sexual and probably perverse from the context…..

          1. You’ve got the general idea, just think of rampant as referring to a specific bodypart rather than the entire elf. Having never seen one of those cards before (just having heard the reference, apparently rampant elves are popular in certain pseudo-medieval heraldry) what is their intended use?

        2. “And it would be good to, perhaps, remind people nicely that people who read science fiction and fantasy range from Wiccans to Christians to Atheists and politically from far right to far left.”

          How true.

          1. Some people don’t want to be reminded, and when reminded, don’t want your filthy money anyway. Because they’re tolerant and you’re not.

            Oh, and these are usually the ones who used to talk about kids needing to be exposed to the realities of life, but now don’t want to see kids at all because kids harsh their mellow.

            1. And one of them runs Starbucks. (came out when a stockholder wanted to know why he’d deliberately offended a large portion of the customer base)

              After checking that almost all of their outlets are directly owned and run by the company, I stopped buying from ’em. Bigots and bullies who justify it as “you are evil” and wish to silence disagreement? Blow it out your nose….

  10. Hmph. I’ve been in “harassment” trouble twice: The first time, a student who usually dressed grnge came in wearing a pretty sweater, a shprt skirt, white tights, and heels, as I said “Nice outfit.” The second time, I commented in a class about a Wall Street Journal piece that said women we moving up into management in software engineering at a much faster rate than other engineering fields, and I said I was proud of my area for leading the way.

      1. Me neither, except having watched the “Lady” kerfuffle, I think it goes like this “You noted that women made great advancements. That’s like saying women are inferior and you’re shocked they advanced. Sexist!”

    1. One of my friends (and no really it WASN’T me) got in trouble briefly for answering a question from a particularly dumb blonde inside sales chick when we were working at a networking company.

      She asked “Is there such thing as promiscuous mode and do we do it?”
      He replied “Come into the lab and I’ll show you”

  11. Yes, women lie. If you’re over 18 you should know this, regardless of your gender, even if younger boy has trouble wrapping his head around it.

    I’m one who has trouble sometimes because I nearly ALWAYS assume that people are telling me the truth. Only in a few circumstances, such as when I have information to the contrary, do I suspect them of lying, or simply being wrong. It bites me in the ass, but I have no understanding of how to tell when someone is being dishonest.

    1. I assume any woman under forty (and about half of them over) is lying on matters of sex and social interaction until proven otherwise, or unless I know her parents and antecedents, or unless I “know” her — which might include a very short of acquaintance but one of those people who just clicks with me.
      I know it’s unfair. I went to an all-girls middle and high school. It left scars.

      1. The worst working experiences I have ever had were with other women and they *do* lie. Men aren’t perfect but I find they’re easier to read and therefore easier to work with. Like you I need to know a woman for a while before I trust her integrity. Sounds awful to say that but life experience has taught me to be wary.

        1. Women fight with words, more than men do. Words, dissimulation and social backstabbing. They’ve had to. Men are stronger physically. But in a world that devalues physical force and rewards social backstabbing, women are the ones to fear.

          1. Yes– there are some of us (me) who is deficient in this area– it has gotten me into a lot of trouble with other women. For a long time all my friends were men only.

          2. I saw a book, about thirty years ago. I think the title was “Cheating.” The author made the point that cheating is what you resort to when you are the weaker party in a conflict, and you have to win.

            Not all social relationships are conflicts in which you have to win.

            1. Women tend to view then ALL as conflict or at least opportunity to get “advantage.” I don’t do that well. I have a very male way of “loyalty to friends and allies.” Possibly because I was daddy’s girl and a tomboy. This is why I hated working in all female environments. I tend to baffle most women. The women I’m friends with are all Odd and don’t engage in beehive behavior. (Thank heavens.)

            2. I once read a self-defense instructor saying that being experienced in tournament-style fighting (whether it be martial arts, boxing, fencing, etc.) was actually a detriment to learning self-defense. Because subconsciously you know the rules and are less prepared for defending against or using ‘illegal’ attacks. There is no such thing as cheating in a life or death situation.

              1. Well, yes. This is why I advised (un-necessarily, because she obviously already knows this) our hostess to go for the eyeballs with the crochet hooks.

    2. [I]I’m one who has trouble sometimes because I nearly ALWAYS assume that people are telling me the truth.[/I]

      It took my freshman year in college to break me of that. Now, if I don’t know you or the subject matter, I assume that I’m being lied to unless proven otherwise.

      1. I know that, in theory. In practice, however, I can’t seem to operate that way, though I have made some progress. Now, at 48, I’m probably where most people were at 12.

  12. I’ve never had complete strangers come up to me and ask me to dominate them.

    I must be doing something wrong.

      1. I went to a country club Halloween party dressed as a military dominatrix, once. Wore parts of my BDU uniform with a tight white tank-top, and made a grand entrance, smacking a riding crop against my hand, and asking if anyone wanted a touch of military discipline.
        I got a great reception, but I think my brother (who was also a guest) wanted to sink through the floor.

    1. Dominating somebody strikes me as horribly tedious and a lot of creative work for somebody else’s pleasure, especially when that somebody else is a complete stranger. No wonder people have to pay somebody to do that. I’d rather read.

      1. I’m sure I’d be the world’s worst Dom: “So, uh, you’re a bad girl! Yeah, you’re so bad . . . Um, should I whip you now?”

        1. My favorite line from that evening was “You don’t even have to touch me. Just tell me what to do.” Someone here said the best answer to that was “Take out your checkbook. Write me a check for the entire contents of your bank account.”

          1. O. K. See that door over there?

            Go through it.

            Then go down the hall and out the front door.

            Keep going.

      2. As a slacker, this is one of the reasons I don’t keep a dog. Dogs don’t respect you unless you dominate them (some say this applies to wimmen, too). That seems like a lot of work to me. Now, a cat is just a buddy who hangs out with you, he brings you rats, you bring him Purina, play stalk-and-pounce with each other, etc.

        1. Um, maybe some dogs, but by no means all. If you are basing this on those books from the 70’s and 80’s about how dogs are descended from wolves and you need to be the Alpha, those were based on some seriously flawed studies. (Unfortunately, there are still a lot of trainers who work this way and promote this.)

          1. Yes and no, it depends on the dog. Dogs are like kids, they need both negative and positive reinforcement, and the reinforcement has to be tailored to the individual dog for the best results.
            Unfortunately the backlash to ‘alpha-style’ training seems to be ‘omega-style’ where people NEVER punish the dog, and let the dog completely dominate them, doing whatever it wishes.

            1. I was replying to the comment that dogs need to be dominated and didn’t want to take over the thread with a really long discussion about dog training techniques. Yes, you do need both kinds of reinforcement, but that’s not the same thing as trying to get respect by force.
              (For that matter, cats need both kinds of reinforcement, too. Or you end up with a critter who can get anything they want just by non-stop meowing or threatening your furniture with claws.)

              1. Dogs just like to know who’s boss, and where they stand in the social hierarchy. If you let them know, they’re happy. Every so often, they’ll check to see if anything’s changed; and if it hasn’t, they’re happy.

                My family owns Irish wolfhounds. I guarantee you that this means “dominance” is almost entirely intellectual. There is no freaking way that humans can physically dominate an Irish wolfhound, which is why you don’t.

                To quote St. Robert Bellarmine’s Steps of the Mind’s Ascension to God through Created Things, as translated by an anonymous Anglican:

                “The Image of God, as St. Basil says, is that which commands the rest of the creatures. But Man has command over the beasts not by virtue of the members of his body (which in respect of strength are inferior to those of the brutes), but by virtue of his mind endued with Reason and Free Will. For Man presides over the beasts not by virtue of what he has in common with them, but by that which distinguishes him from them and constitutes him the Image of God.”

                1. My cats are winning. Mine is winning because she asks for the door to open while I’m still asleep. I’m up and opening it before I’m awake enough to realize what I’m doing. Dr. Seuss is winning because he torments Dad and Dad has no patience. He gives in, and as a consequence the cat knows exactly who to bug.
                  The dog is so much easier to convince that “the humans are busy and really, you do want to go lie down for a while now.”

                  1. Mine loves attention. Especially when I’m doing anything else but lying in bed (if I’m in bed she is content to come and lie on top of me). Cooking dinner. Writing. Sitting in the toilet… that’s when she has to have the attention and right now!

                  2. Regarding cats i will make two observations.
                    First, to know how to handle a cat simply watch how mama cat handles her kittens. A common technique I’ve seen repeatedly is for mama to press down on the top of kitten’s head and hold them in place. Does no real harm, but gets their attention.
                    Secondly, I have never ever seen a pile of cat bones next to a dish of generic cat food. Finicky my aunt Fanny, spoiled is what it is. That said, cats do require more fat in their diet than dogs do. A steady diet of dog food will harm a cat’s fur while a steady diet of cat food will make a dog sick. And people food should be reserved for special treats, though giving kittens left over spaghetti with sauce is a hoot, especially when they have light fur. Makes them all look like little vampires until they clean themselves up.

                    1. You say that about the bones, but one of ours is quite capable of going on a hunger strike. Mostly, though, they get expensive food because otherwise Euclid removes all his belly fur and bites off his nipples. We think it’s allergy, but he could be cunning…

                    2. Cats go blind on dog food, IIRC.

                      Our two bruisers get whatever people food they can steal or mooch off of the girls, plus the oil when we have smoked clams. (Less because we want to give them the oil than because it’s easier than fighting them away from the plate.)

                    3. Actually a working dog requires higher fat content than cat food, cat food has much higher protein content than is necessary for dogs however. I prefer 24/20 (protein/fat) in my dog food for my dogs, but they work hard, feeding that same food to a sedentary house dog would cause obesity problems. All commercial dog foods have higher protein than fat content, but the closer to equal you can get them the better (actually the most important is what the protein and fat is derived from, and how digestable it is). Thus I prefer a 24/20 over a 26/18 or 30/20 feed. I have fed cat food before, but had to supplement with fat to keep my dogs healthy. Also don’t feed a higher protein content than necessary to your dog, because higher protein (particularly that derived from vegetables, meat protein is much healthier for dogs) than the dog needs for his lifestyle is hard on the kidneys.

                    4. OTOH, I have actually heard / observed several examples of crazy vegans trying to keep their cat on a vegan diet. Cats are obligate carnivores and anyone doing this should be busted for animal abuse.

  13. First job out of high school was in a factory that had around 2500 employees, 2000 of them women. Made appliance controls and timers. Women are just naturally better at finicky repetitive assembly tasks so we guys were around to tote, fetch, and keep the component parts coming. So there I was still in my late teens surrounded by a couple thousand mostly middle aged blue collar female workers. Harassed and abused? You betcha! Learned to swear like a sailor and always protect my parts. Probably the best education an innocent young man could receive.
    Many years later working in a small independent government agency we guys learned to always self censure around certain females, and be very cautious as there always seemed to be a ringer in the crowd who was actively looking to trick someone into saying anything that could be construed as harassment. In one notable case a particularly vicious young lady was working late when a janitor popped in to empty the wastebaskets and offered the comment that it looked like he and she were the only ones still working in the building. Next day she tried to file a complaint with her supervisor, claiming she felt threatened. Supervisor took her into his office and closed the door. Several minutes later she came out red faced and visibly upset. Got the whole story later from the supervisor. The girl tried to claim that the janitor was coming on to her and she wanted him fired. What she had completely failed to realize, she was rather clueless in that and a number of other areas, was what the rest of the office knew quite well, that the janitor in question was openly and quite flamingly gay. Also a very friendly guy who everyone else liked. The other minor detail was that she was a prissy southern white girl while the janitor was black which I’ve always expected had some passing influence on her attitude. Supervisor read her the riot act, explained the facts of life to her, and told her to shut the hell up and go back to work unless she wanted to deal with a counter claim of bias and racism.
    Years later I had to accept this girl on a mission team I was in charge of and found that she hadn’t apparently mended her ways as she tried to get an admittedly foul mouthed old Texan kicked off the team because of his coarse demeanor. I did some creative shuffling of team assignments and kept them far apart for the duration of the mission. Afterwards I called in a few favors and got the witch transferred into a make work position with a cool title and no responsibilities. Better than she deserved, but at least away from causing my people any further harm.

  14. My convention experiences seem to have been along two different lines: 1) “We’re all family/community here” and 2) “We all came to this con to go to parties, get drunk/drugged, get naked, and have sex, so why are you reading a book?” Needless to say, there’s more fun going on in 1), despite the fact that 2) thinks it’s fun. (I’m not against drinking, mind you, but it’s only fun if you can remember it. Many people in all walks of life have to learn this rule the hard way, alas.) You get predators at 1) because everybody is friendly, so nothing bad could possibly happen. You get predators at 2) because nobody is conscious enough to tell what’s going on.

    I haven’t really seen a lot of fannish girls/women lying or complaining around here. (Though I’m sure it happens.) What I have seen is a lot of people, male and female, not realizing they’ve been taken advantage of, because they’re young and dumb, or because they are so desperate to be loved/liked.

    I do remember running into a situation where some chick kept bugging some priest guy from an Eastern rite church to date and marry her, when the rule in his rite was that they had to marry before getting ordained if they were going to marry. Apparently nobody ever managed to break it to her that she had no chance and that he only thought of her as a friend anyway — plus she was making the guy look bad. Also she wasn’t religious, which one would think would discourage one. So yeah, there are some people out there who, without being stalkers, have a tenuous connection to reality.

    There are actually a couple of SCA-background romance novels that talk about the strange ways people get sexually harassed or taken advantage of in the SCA sometimes, over issues of purely-SCA royalty, hierarchy, awards, etc., even though these power issues don’t actually apply anywhere except in the SCA. Not super-great romance novels, but I thought it was interesting to see “things Scadians complain about” showing up in the fictional world.

  15. Had something very similar this year at LC happen to Mel. She got “accidentally” groped by new con attendee in ConSuite. He was informed this was not acceptable and will not be tolerated. I may have threatened bodily harm, unsure. I doubt he does it again.

  16. I really think that most definitions of harassment should be common sense. There is always an idiot though that will see somebody do something that without being consensual would be harassment, and decide that since they could do it, it must be acceptable. For example, I was at a gun show a while back and seen a friend of mine walking around with his girlfriend, I snuck up behind them and slapped her on the rear (this is a longstanding joke between us, I do not smack most women’s butts) she jumped about a foot in the air and we all had a good laugh. A few minutes later some random guy walked by and grabbed her butt, none of us knew him, but apparently since he had seen her accept the ‘advance’ from me he deemed it perfectly appropriate to do himself. She swears the only reason he got away without getting his guts stomped in was because her boyfriend, her boyfriend’s brother, and I were to busy arguing over who would get the privilege of doing the stomping.

  17. There’s a line from the play “Silence”, by Dykstra, that has always resonated with me. (I’ll mangle it here, but the essence comes through …)
    “It is a *privilege* to be offended. If your life has been so EASY that a few words or a picture can offend you, you should get down on your knees and thank GOD, every single day.”

    I was on shore duty in Orlando teaching Nuclear Power School in 1993, when the President decreed that women would no longer be excluded from the Navy’s nuclear program. In the post-Tailhook (Google it) military, the prospect of being in a position which would require exercising subjective one-on-one disciplanry authority over opposite-sex trainees was absolutely terrifying. I watched literally dozens of male staffers (myself included) actively evaluate the merits of leaving shore duty early to avoid facing that danger.

    1. The current and recent SFWA debacle’s remind me strongly of Tailhook. Don’t worry about proof (which may or may not be present) just condemn all males who might conceivably have been in the vicinity.

    2. Oh yes– I went through Pensacola electronics training with mixed groups and the women were hard-core. The guys who had to go through the barracks in the women section every day would get an escort from one of the women they could trust because it was so bad about sexual harassment (women doing it btw) that they wanted some protection.

      1. I had an acquaintance in my class at the NCO Academy who said he had never really understood what sexual harassment was, until he stood CQ in the women’s barracks. (He was actually a very nice guy, in spite of the habit of chewing snuff. The thing that I most appreciated about him was that he would sort of hang out in the doorway of my room in the Academy barracks. He would not actually come in – that would be threatening, and possibly grounds for being seen as a harasser. It was actually kind of charmingly neo-Victorian of him, and I appreciated the consideration.)

  18. Some of you know: I tend to refer to females as “The Lady [name]’; I do this because I never know which of the three possible female-specific titles (Mrs.; Ms.; Miss) to use.

    And if her behavior does not warrant being classed among “The Ladies”, she will not be spoken of at all. >:)

    1. Oh, don’t be silly. Mrs. Hoyt is Mrs. Hoyt. Miss Chase is Miss Chase, or rather Bad Cat Robot, as I have thought of her for about 10 years. Miss Hayes is Sergeant Mom. I tend to think of people first by their Internet nicknames.

  19. I have a 17 yr old daughter and with all the so called controversies going on lately I spend more time explaining to her why most of these situations are NOT harassment than why they are. I really don’t get it, if my child can understand why things like over heard conversations and jokes among friends are not actual harassment then why can’t a bunch of supposedly grown woman get it. Believe me if you’ve ever been the victim of actual harassment you would know it has absolutely nothing to do with feeling uncomfortable. And you’d realize just how much you’re demeaning the real victims. IMHO the men who are hopping on the bandwagon are even more nauseating. All that’s happening is we’re creating a whole new breed of royalty who’s slightest decree can criminalize any type of behaviour that they don’t care for. Today’s feminist are not interested in equality, they are looking for a way that makes them better than the men no matter what the cost or that’s the way it seems to me lately.

  20. Ah, yes, harassment. I worked for our dear Uncle Sugar for the better part of 34+ years, and the last 20 or so of those years were mostly filled with lectures and admonitions about us evil men harassing the poor delicate females who worked in the same place. It got to the point that if a woman happened to walk by and heard or overheard something not directed at or intended for her she could bustle to the nearest supervisor EEO counselor and file a complaint.

    Also any touching was verboten. One of my little known talents, and I only have a very few, is being able to rub/massage stiff necks and shoulders to get them loose enough that the discomfort they cause is reduced. During one session for the women it was pointed out that neck and shoulder rubs were considered harassment. One of the women pointed out that there was someone who was pretty good at that and if she had a stiff neck or shoulders she’d come to me and have me work on her. She was NOT going to stop that. The ladies from DC were taken aback, but relented to the point that it was okay if they requested it.

    Too many people, both male and female are too easily offended and want redress for the offense, the harsher the punishment the better. The women who were the most easily offended thought nothing of being too weak or whatever to do some jobs that needed done and requesting the assistance of any man they figured would do it for them too. The less easily offended usually just cowboyed up and did the work that needed done. They were the true feminists IMHO.

    1. I think it is part and parcel with the pursuit of man-made perfection and an attempt to build a fool proof / litigation proof set of rules and guidelines. It is easier to say that if some people have abused touch nobody will be allowed to touch.

  21. Heh. I worked in aviation and either 1) gave as good as I got when appropriate (old guys in the shop), or 2) used the “cold chill of doom” look, followed by “that’s not professional. I suggest you rethink that statement.”

    I got physically harassed in High School and junior high, and the stuff that is called “sexual harassment” in the media? Pfooy. For a college junior to get expelled for asking a freshman over for some fun, just because the senior has “implied or actual social superiority” because he/she/your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine has been in college three or four years longer? That ain’t real harassment.

    And happy July 4th. Sarah, I waved as I flew past Colorado Springs last night.

      1. Be careful what you ask for, I might have to go to a meeting in Denver in mid-August and I’ll be driving.

  22. I worked as a waiter at a restaurant once when I overheard one of the other waiters (who was a jerk in other respects), ask one of the other girls who worked there for a lap dance. A few minutes later I asked her if I heard what I thought I did & she confirmed it. He was fired shortly after.

    I personally think the firing was entirely appropriate, but I’m wondering where it fits into your scheme.

    1. That’s unprofessional behavior, particularly since slapping him in front of the customers would be something she could get fired for, and which would distress the customers. Glad he got fired.

      1. If he’s got bad enough judgement that he’s doing something like that not just on the clock, not just in public, but close enough to be heard by at least one other coworker– he’s a liability.

    2. First I would have to ask what type of restaurant, if as I am assuming it was a normal family restaurant then yes it was very inappropriate, and probably (definitely if he asked in front of customers) a firing offense.

      On the other hand if it was a restaurant where the waitress’s performed lap dances for customers I would consider it mildly inappropriate for another employee to ask for one, but not a firing offense.

      1. No, he did not ask this where a customer was likely to hear (theoretically possible, but not likely). No, I did not work at a strip club.

        The interesting part to me is contemplating this situation where, otherwise, I liked the offender. In this case, the guy was a jerk and had a number of other employees annoyed with him already. But what if he was an otherwise okay guy who, in this case, said something very stupid?

        1. If someone is salvageable, they may receive “counseling” from the boss, and possibly some kind of invitation to perform other duties or stay home for a bit. Otherwise, they will learn a salutary life lesson the hard way.

  23. In the category of “giving back worse” to deflate the harasser, the best I’ve ever heard was Thing 2’s line to a classmate:
    “I’ve worn heels bigger than you. Get over yourself.”
    🙂

  24. At Arisia (www.arisia.org), the PC crowd is invading en masse; I’ve just sat through a Division Head meeting talking about hiring/firing/staffing and it’s pretty darn out of control. I do wish folks like you would show up and explain to the delicate little snowflakes that being complimented on one’s costume isn’t harassment!

      1. Maybe you should come as “Natalia Bosting”. [Wink]

  25. FWIW, John Scalzi has a blog post on this very subject at:
    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/07/02/my-new-convention-harassment-policy/
    In a nutshell, John has publicly stated that he will not attend any con that does not have a published and enforced harassment policy. While I understand his position and he is certainly free to do whatever he wants, I did express some concerns over implementation and potential for abuse.
    This is what I posted there:
    I would agree completely that a set and well disseminated policy is a good thing.
    I do see problems though from two fringe elements involved in this issue.
    First, a true creep simply will refuse to believe that the policy is directed at him (or her). You could tattoo the whole thing on the back of their hand and it simply wouldn’t sink in that you meant them. It goes beyond a lack of social skills. The only real solution to such admittedly rare types is a permanent minder or ejection from the con.
    At the other extreme are the professional victims. Also reasonably rare, but they do exist. I’ve seen them in action at cons and other venues. Their entire focus is to count coup by seeing how many “offenders” they can get in trouble or booted from the event.
    And both of these types will jailhouse lawyer you to death taking any stray point in your harassment policy and twisting it to support a totally inappropriate and unintended result.
    I have worked staff on a number of Mensa Regional Gatherings which are very con like, and have had to deal with both types. There always seems to be one or two at every event. Best response is to have sensible and well muscled security staff close at hand, and give them or any other event staff the authority to pull the plug and have an offender shown the door.
    Just back from Liberty Con and AFAIK any such incidents were resolved promptly and quietly. With the exception of the extremes I mentioned offenders are usually just poorly socialized and tend to back off when it’s pointed out their advances are inappropriate.

      1. It’s been my observation that no one can be more abusive than a dedicated self appointed PC cop. Best to shine the light on them and watch them scurry away like the cockroaches they truly are.
        I respect John and understand his intent, but the way some other folk are salivating at what they apparently see as their G-d given right to dominate and control the actions of others has me mildly concerned.

        1. I await, my breath unabated, the rush of con boards to make themselves Scalzi-compliant.

          1. Considering the fact that con handbooks find it necessary to include personal hygiene advisories I am confident that carefully defined and rigorously enforced harassment policies will make all cons into safe and fan-friendly environments for the comfort and safety of all about the same time that pigs attend Top Gun school.

            Most likely Scalzi is feeling too much the Big Dawg to need the commercial benefits of con attendance and is using this as a way to turn away from those while burnishing his moral superiority badge.

  26. Dog food is lacking in taurine, which is absolutely necessary for cats. (Possibly lacking in other nutrients but taurine is the big one.) My cats get good canned cat food (not enough water content in dry and I am NOT risking stones in neutered males.)
    My favorite method of immediately discouraging cats in with a hiss. I can quite realistically mimic an angry cat, it’s effective from a distance, and there is no need to annoy the cat by touching or tapping them. Only kittens will hold still like that. Adult cats (if not brought up with that as their human’s means of discipline) are quite capable of retaliating with teeth and claws. I consider my cats more dangerous than my dog. The dog will have to be really pushed to retaliate (she never even attempts it) and if she ever tried, all you have to watch is the head. Cats you have to watch the teeth and all four paws. Plus, they are much more flexible and can nail you with a limb you thought safely secured. ( I have had to medicate them at various times. That internet joke about the steps for medicating a cat…it’s not funny anymore.)

    1. Not sure what you are replying to (I must have missed a post about dog vs. cat food) but all my cats have always survived and thrived on dry dog food. To the extent that when available they choose it over cat food (conversely dogs tend to prefer cat food, but it doesn’t have enough fat content for a working dog). Of course all my cats are outside cats and half wild, they supplement by hunting, or rather I supplement their hunting with food, thus they probably get any defeincies in their food from the varmints they catch. As long as they have water always available I see no problem with feeding dry food, when traveling, or in the winter I feed my dogs wet food, so as to insure they get plenty of liquids (usually dry food with either meat broth or plain hot water poured over it). My cats do not eat their food immediately however, so I do not give them wet food in the winter, because it would just freeze into a block of ice before they got around to eating most of it. I do feed canned food to sick dogs, because I want to insure they don’t get dehydrated, and sick animals do not always drink as they should.

      I got the life bit out of my hand Monday, by a dog that was not only knocked out with a general aneasthetic but had a L-block done with a local also, before the vet started cutting on him. He apparently has a very high tolerance, it took over twice as long for him to go down as it should, and even with both the general and the local he was kicking and jerking when the vet was cutting, so I was holding his front legs and collar, while the assistant held his hind legs, when the vet made another cut he jerked his head up and chomped down on the hand holding his legs (with his eyes rolled back in his head, showing the general in theory should be doing it’s job) and wouldn’t let go. As far as medicating cats goes, I advocate welding gloves and black tape 🙂

    2. The Spouse and I used to wrap a beach sized towel folded in half tightly around Clyde (short for Clytemnestra), who could be a real holy terror of a cat when she wanted to be. One would hold her and so the other could clean and medicate the abscesses she got as a result of staunchly defending her territory. It was easiest when we had a friend to help out, but the two of us could manage.

  27. Mrs. Hoyt, your response to this whole mess has restored some of my faith in humanity. Thank you for your wit and wisdom.

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