I’m really bad at fighting. Oh, not physical fighting, though I suppose I’m bad at that too at this point, since I haven’t been exercising like I used to and I’m not twenty anymore.
And I don’t mean I’m not good at landing metaphorical blows. No. The part I’m bad at is staying angry.
It’s funny, as much as we get accused of “hating” the only things and people I’ve hated are historical people and regimes that have killed millions of their citizens. Yeah, yeah, I hate red and black fascism, aka Nazism and Communism like I hate hell, all Capulets and … well. Not thee. The other things I hate are more things I strongly dislike: Licorice, bad, preachy books, teachers who don’t do their job, cold days. I don’t spend my time sitting around and going “I hate you snow, I do.” I just mumble disconsolately about not being able to walk and my fingers hurting with cold even while inside.
There is on the left this certainty that women are more peaceful than men that I think comes from two things: first the empathy which women have, or at least display more, which is part of raising infants; two women’s inability to stay burning at peak flame and the ability to find excuses for even the worst misdeeds, in order to keep their “tribe” together. What my mom called “Mothers always love the worst child the best.” (I never asked whether this was an admission I’m her favorite.)
This doesn’t mean, mind you, that women are not capable of aggression and war. I’ve said before that having attended an all-girl high school I could tell these people something about women and fighting.
It’s just that when women are bad, they’re very, very bad. They tend to fight in an underhanded way that leaves plausible deniability and the ability to pose as an angel before the world.
Of course, in an all-girl high school, like in prison, some women would adopt masculine personas. So we had a lot of ninth graders when I entered (first year of school was seventh) who were all but gangs and would run around beating up the younger and smaller kids and making them fall into line. Since these gangs were, not coincidentally (the revolution had happened the year they entered high school and were starting to have illusions of adulthood, so they were fertile ground for proselytizing by the worst kind of person) extreme left, the things they wanted us to fall into line with were things like demonstrating to support the communist regimes in Africa, the same ones that were laying waste to the countryside and were propped up by Russian and Cuban mercenaries who thought the cultural revolution had maybe been a little soft.
Which brings me to “Not only no, but hell no.”
One day, herded into the gym with the rest of my class for one of these “demonstrations” which were then televised in the nightly news as “the students of blah blah support” I had had enough. You see, I’d built a radio that got the BBC. I knew some of the atrocities going on over there. (Not all, of course, the BBC too had long since taken a sharp turn left. Talking to Peter Grant is an education.) So I stood up and said “Enough of this bullsh*t. I’m not supporting murderers anymore.” And walked out. Now I was one of the largest kids there, having stopped growing at 12, and I was known to be a fighter. They couldn’t in front of everyone try to stop me, because that meant that there would be a free for all, and there were only 50 or so of them and a couple of hundred of us in that gym. My class felt emboldened and walked out after me. And then everyone trickled out, leaving the raging, powerless storm troopers of communism fuming.
There was an after-episode to this, of course, where half a dozen of them ambushed me on the way out. I wasn’t alone, and I could fight.
This is not told to show my courage. Before I did that there had been five or six such demonstrations I’d sat through, because — honestly — I didn’t want to get beaten to death. It’s just to show I’d had enough. It takes a while, but at some point I’ve had enough.
The funny thing, you know, is that I don’t remember the names nor the faces of some of those girls, and simply by age/timing, it’s quite possible some of them were in my circle of friendly acquaintances in college.
But the REALLY funny thing, and the part the soft-headed left in science fiction generally confuses with women being “peaceful” is that this type of behavior — being physically threatened — is much easier for me to be brave about than a typical female way of fighting.
You see, women fight by stealth and in the dark. The blows they deal you are by whisper campaigns, and by “the big lie” and they rarely leave any dealings in the open that let you say “Ah, that, this far and no further.”
On top of that, there is the Weaponization of Empathy. There is a wonderful article about it here, much better than I could write. (The author is young and falls under the heading of “so sharp he cuts himself.” But when he pokes under his own self-assumed despair about the times (we who lived through the seventies rolls our eyes) he’s truly brilliant to the point of “that’s so true it hurts” and if Reason doesn’t snap him up soon, they’re fools.)
I think this is evolutionary. Women are smaller, more fragile, and if they weren’t able to turn on the tears and the poor me and stop what is coming to them when machinations in the dark are discovered, the species would have died out long ago. (And my entire plan for getting into heaven at four, when it seemed quite likely I’d die any night, was to turn on the tears and claim I didn’t mean any of the bad things I’d done, so I should know.)
So, what is weaponized empathy? It is the use of your own best qualities against you.
No matter how much they’ve done to you, and you can prove — say, for instance, orchestrated an international media campaign to call you racist, sexist and homophobic, or perhaps threatened your careers, your invites to cons, etc — they always come back to “you were wrong about this minor point and you wronged us, and how can you be such a bad person?” And because you are a nice person, and PARTICULARLY if you are a woman, you will buckle. You will wonder if you’re being too harsh, if you’re being mean.
Recently I was talking to a friend about such feelings about an editor. It is not too much to say this editor made my life living hell for almost ten years. The problems ranged from simple miscommunication to outright lies such as telling me that I’d have to reclaim my rights through the same agent who sold them, something she could not avoid knowing it’s a lie unless she is completely senile. They ranged from what could be simple incompetence to what most certainly was malice, unless again she is completely senile.
Notice that last caveat. When this editor then tried to scold me for saying something very like this in a post (without naming her) I thought “what if she is senile” and felt bad, until my friend pointed out she’s way too cogent in public to be THAT senile and that at the same time appalling stuff was being said/done to me, other authors were getting the velvet glove treatment.
But I still feel bad about cutting her off, even if I did it for my sanity, because the feelings are stupid-female, and my instinctive feeling is to heal the tribe.
This is how women are more prone to end up in abusive relationships forever, how women end up taking back accusations of spousal abuse even before the bruises heal, and how women often get the short end of a divorce EVEN WITH ALL THE LAWS WEIGHED IN THEIR FAVOR.
Because once we come down from being angry, our instinct tells us we need the tribe intact and we should heal it.
In my case because I think a lot and self analyze continuously (a necessity if you want to write, or at least to write believable characters, or “simply” to live) I know this fatal tendency and I watch for it. My most common defense against it is to “wall people off.” In my life, since about twelve, I’ve done this exactly three times. I stop talking to the person, having any interaction. I pretend they don’t exist. (Yes, above mentioned editor is one of them.) In most cases, when I get really mad, even for cause, I find a way to forgive my friends. And though we might not be friends again, not as we were, we remain friendly or sometimes not-as-close friends. But in the case of a truly toxic relationship, in which the person is trying to push me into feeling guilty, I de-exist them. It requires that I have liked the person a lot at some time, but that I know they’re bad for my emotional (and sometimes physical) survival. Nothing they do or say can reach me, because I’ve cut them off. That is the only thing that stops them using my empathy against me. And every time I’ve done that, after I’ve done it, I found out what they’d been doing behind the scenes against me was much worse than what they were doing openly that caused me to cut them off.
Weaponized empathy is being used right now by Islam against the west. And by the left against the right in every arena in this country.
The funny thing about weaponized empathy used by a group is that those fighting in the front lines are very often not the ones who are toxic or conniving. Those fighting on the front lines are often also victims, sent against you. In the case of Islam, who the hell can avoid feeling for the refugees trying to get into Europe? They are like most refugees pathetic and poor and fleeing for their lives and the lives of their children.
They are also instruments of Islam’s diaspora. The bad unreformed, serious as a heart attack Islam that has kept vast regions of the world in a darkness far worse than the middle ages.
Because you see, if people simply flee by one or two, they often leave behind all those rules they were taught. The women uncover. The men start wondering if they really have the right to kill their daughters for dating a foreigner. They become the assimilated Muslims that Islam’s sh*tlords hate.
But if they flee by the community-full? You will never escape those rules, and you’ll be bringing the power of the crazy imams to entire regions of Europe.
We’ll leave aside the part Europe and Lead From His Behind Obama had to do with creating the crisis. The crisis can now be used for the Diaspora of Militant Islam on a grand scale, putting Europe in an existential cultural crisis, where they either abjure the humanistic values of their past, or they will be destroyed in all but name.
Or take the cases of the left. Most of the people screaming that de-funding planned parenthood will leave women without access to health care, know bloody nothing about it. But they have been convinced of this, till they feel guilty for pulling tax payer money from an organization that actually and quite literally sells pieces of murdered babies for profit. (Put that in a fantasy setting for the full recoil.)
The Hugo fight, btw, a very minor battle in the cultural war is using this too. Right after the beginning of Sad Puppies III they orchestrated a vast international mass media campaign to reverse the sides in this equation. The pasty-white entrenched power side portrayed itself as trying to bring more women and people of color into SF and being opposed by this, shall we say “neo-nazi, reprehensible” slate of racists, sexists, homophobes. In fact the battle had bloody nothing to do with gender or color — except perhaps that we have a few more women and people of color — but with the old, stale, Marxist ideology (not even Marx, Marx, you know, but College-Marx) that the entrenched establishment of SF endorses and considers the mark of “good literature.” (And btw, not even with that but with the fact that these books are by and large either barely competent or snooze fests.)
BUT we were tarred with the brush of reactionaries and imaginary-vast-right-wing-conspiracy. Horrible things were said of us, including that Brad had married his wife SIMPLY AS A SHIELD. Yep, his marriage of 20 years is a shield.
But because these people fight like girls, and because their tactics and methods are of a few behind the scenes weaponizing the empathy of the others, the screams go up whenever you point this out. “I didn’t do it. I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. I–” Only of course, some of them show quite a different face on twitter, but that’s another story. Some of them really might not have done it. But a lot of them have used that as cover to then accuse us of monstrous crimes like saying we called them Nazis and Marxists (I thought they liked that one?) and CHORFS (which in most cases is no more than a description.) Note that up to that last one, which was coined by Brad to refer to the side we were fighting and is about as effective as islamo-fascists, even if it’s descriptive. The other two? Not even close. Kate merely pointed out their early tactics resembled early fascist. And I called SOME of them Marxists, because hell, most of them self-identify as Marxists, in tweet and blog post and bio. (Yeah, I’ve said a lot of the non-Marxists are still tainted by Marxist thought. So am I. So are you. It’s been taught as “knowledge” in our colleges, from literature to sociology. It requires conscious effort to extirpate.)
So over on the post when Kate announced Sad Puppies IV there are people casting aspersions over how we’re going to count mentions of a work that should be nominated and whining I cast aspersions over the vote counting at Sasquan. I honestly didn’t remember what I’d said about it, but when they reminded me I said the low votes for Kevin and Butcher were obvious evidence of funny business, I remember saying that. And you know what? It still strikes me as funny. Though Australian rules play havoc with REAL vote-by-preference and I haven’t had time to analyze the vote counts. If these votes are above reproach, they are at the very least poof of how “Fans” have got divorced from the real fans in the genre and how badly new blood is needed.
Now it’s being demanded I apologize for saying that a thousand ballots were spoiled. Again, that is what the numbers seemed to indicate at the first glance at the time. I haven’t had time — I work for a living — to go over the numbers and crunch them and make sure that’s true. Perhaps what they’re saying is true and that was a false claim. Perhaps not.
And if it was a false claim, it makes me feel bad I repeated it. But then I think about it.
At the same time, when Kate announced the beginning of Sad Puppies IV, the cries went up from the other side that it was a Slate, even though Kate was careful to point out you shouldn’t even nominate anything you haven’t read it. But, ah, she didn’t repeat that in a paragraph referring to the mathematical possibility of getting your favorites in. And so they bay “slate” and “funny business”.
They can’t be that stupid. No, seriously. NO ONE CAN BE THAT STUPID who reads books, much less writes them.
What they’re doing is deliberately distorting Kate’s words to create a big lie. Compared to that, I should feel guilty for saying I am iffy about their probity? Oh, please! No, I don’t feel guilty at all.
I particularly don’t feel guilty when the concom tries to cover its ass by saying it returned the ribbons they confiscated to Captain Comic. Sure they did. AFTER the con. And they gleefully tweeted thanking the twat who removed them from the freebie table before that. (And by the way, there was nothing even vaguely inflammatory about these ribbons. All they did was let puppy supporters know they weren’t alone. Which I think was what bothered these people with whom the concom GLEEFULLY aligned.) And also that the Assterisks were Gerrold’s attempt to “honor” the nominees. (Sure they were. Because he never read Vonegut. Please, do pull the other one. It plays jingle bells.)
What these things consist of are weaponizing our empathy, so they can then demand we apologize, while they continue to revile us and malign us.
And of course, the instinct is to go “what if?” particularly since the people making these claims are, they, themselves, exceedingly credulous and possibly dumb. Your empathy goes “but I’m being mean to these poor little–”
It is important to remember that weaponized empathy IS weaponized. At the same time they demand apologies and act aggrieved, they’re still hitting you behind the scenes,and are often the same people saying something quite different in their own forums.
It’s important not to let your best qualities be used against you.
It’s important to know that you’re still a decent person, even if you don’t let yourself be bullied.
The appropriate answer is “Go fish. There is no empathy at home for you anymore.”
No retreat, no surrender until they stop distorting and hitting and trying to destroy people over a plastic rocket. No retreat, no surrender until the Lords of the Establishment stop trying to reverse our situations and appeal to the empathy reserved for those who ware genuinely disadvantaged.
I am not Lutheran, but I will say it: Here I stand. I can do no other.