Here, I reported on my frustration with the lack of feminist allies in my general network following an unpleasant exchange with someone I felt had harrassed me.
Naturally, it got even more interesting the next day, when the following email arrived in my work inbox (the author’s name has been redacted and substituted with That Guy Everyone Hates (TGEH):
Hello, [me] I never responded last year to the facebook message you sent me. I gave up on that after reading what you wrote because you invited no response from me, and were so final in stating that you were ending our friendship and cutting off all communication.
Obviously, this was very distressing to me, and came as a complete shock because you never implied there was the least problem between us. Our last meeting was when you, [husband], and I spoke at [a gallery] during the art ramble. I thought we had a very fun, enjoyable conversation, carried out in the middle of the room surrounded by art ramble attendees. Certainly nothing you said to me implied otherwise. [Your husband] also did not seem upset, though you told me in your message that he was. You even brought up your risque Zoomanity [sic] story. Why, if I was making you so uncomfortable, as you implied?
How sad all of this was because I appreciated our friendship so much, and admired your work so much. I nominated you two times to become a member of the [local art club], but you even chose to demean that effort on my part in your message. Why would you treat someone who had been such a good friend and supporter as you did me? I am still in the dark.
Yet, I had hoped to revive our friendship at some point. When I might happen to run into you I was going to say: “You know, do you think we could begin to rebuild our friendship, Guenevere? It really meant a lot to me.” The opportunity had not yet arisen.
But now, you have made a demeaning, damaging, untrue, and possibly libelous comment about me yesterday on facebook. In response to an off hand comment referring to Anna Wintour, you say I am a “sexist pig”. Did you ever happen to see The Devil Wears Prada? It satirically and negatively portrays a character based on her. Are people who criticize Anna Wintour sexist pigs? of course, not. She is criticized, ridiculed, mocked, and yet, admired all around the world. But… you chose to lash out at me. That would be fine, but what you then said and implied about me is not.
I need you to immediately remove your posted comment calling me a “sexist pig”, and I need you to post a comment at that same post page a withdrawal of your comment about me being a sexist pig, and that you apologize sincerely and without reservation for calling me a “sexist pig”.
I am a highly accomplished professional, and have made many contributions to our arts community. This is widely acknowledged. I have worked too hard to have someone damage my reputation without cause, especially over something so trivial as a joking comment about the editor of Vogue magazine.
I have made a substantial donation to the [university] theater department this year, and I am about to make two more. I do not believe your public comments about me would be at all appreciated or understood by the department administration.
Let’s please bring this silly feud to an end, Guenevere. We are both accomplished professionals with busy schedules and work to be done. Despite any disagreements I still hold some hope that at some point in the future we can again be friends.
Brings a tear to the eye, doesn’t it? How mean I am. How sad he is. How confused by my objections to him. That, right there, is an entire lesson in Women’s Studies 101: Men Hate You. Also, that little implied threat about my job. Cute.
Guy Everyone Hates,
I would greatly regret doing anything to jeopardize public support of my department, so I have removed my comment and have notified my Department Chair of the situation and my lapse of judgement, now corrected. I’m loathe to get into a “I’ll apologize when you apologize” sort of exchange, so perhaps we can leave it at that. I regret the choice of public name-calling, but it appeared to me to show up on a conversation that was between myself and [another friend] and not the FB population at large, and I did not pause and consider if there were some other way by which you could “see” my page–as we are not FB Friends, I thought it wouldn’t be visible to you. Given our history, I felt you had no place in the conversation and I didn’t find your comment appropriate.
Two years ago, at the point at which your treatment of me offended me, I notified you of my feelings. I am not sure why it is hard to believe that I felt embarrassed and humiliated by your harassing commentary, but I was, and I reached a point where I was angry with you about it. I felt that you assumed a liberty and intimacy with me that was unwarranted by what I considered to be a professional relationship. Your choice not to respond or apologize, I felt, told me all I really needed to know about your opinion on the subject. I fail to see why you are confused; you offended me, I told you what and why–what is there to be in the dark about?
I don’t, actually, consider it a feud. I consider it choosing not to spend time with someone who has made me uncomfortable. But, as I stated above, I will avoid any sort of public statements where social media is concerned, and I agree that it’s not appropriate. I’m happy to be civil, which I have been until this incident last night, and which I will rededicate myself to in the future.
I then forwarded the exchange to my Department Chair. He wrote the following :
Just an FYI… TGEH has never donated money.
Naturally. My sense is this; TGEH is teetering on the edge of appearing to be continuing to harass me after being clearly informed that his behavior was unwelcome. He has now added threatening my job, and now my boss has the chain of events in writing.
I hope that he just leaves me alone as I’ve asked, since the upshot of this was simply that I find his behavior offensive and want nothing to do with him. Seems pretty simple to me.