on speaking out, and being told to shut up

summary: here follows a long and rambling post about someone who publicly spoke up about something. she received some amazingly supportive messages and is immensely grateful to lots of people. she also got told to shut up about it, got called a liar and an immoral snake, and accused of being politically motivated. in the context of being told to shut up, she and her business were indirectly threatened. she understands why lots of people don’t speak up about things. should she shut up?

***spoiler alert: she has absolutely no intention of shutting up***

on speaking out, and being told to shup up: some thoughts, reflections, and questions

it’s been a funny old week. on the back of the open letter that i wrote and posted on here, i got invited to go to radio sheffield to pre-record an interview about the whole misogynism debacle. somehow overcoming my natural shyness (…) and my aversion to getting up at a reasonable time of day, i did so, and expected not much to come of it. but all in the spirit of getting the message out there, it seemed like a good thing to do.

the interview aired a couple of days later, with a pre-recorded response from jared being aired at a later slot in the same programme (on the off-chance that you weren’t awake and/or listening, and you have 20 minutes or so to kill, you can listen to both interviews here while the programme is still available – i’m about 20 minutes in, jared’s response is about an hour later). the purpose of this post is to talk about the aftermath rather than the content of the interviews – however, interesting to note that he’s changed his story from the fact that we “attacked” him (“her friends attacked me”) as he’d told south yorkshire briefing at the end of june. i still have a lot of concerns about jared’s story of that night’s events, but will come back to those at a later date (maybe). (unless i get distracted by shiny things.)

where was i? oh right, yes. the aftermath. i was totally overwhelmed by the volume of positive comments from people – friends, customers, and people i’ve never met. and i’m eternally grateful for the support and humour. you guys rock. i’m stopping short of name-checking you because i have a sneaky feeling that writing this might be the equivalent of the billy goats gruff trip-trapping over the bridge, and i’d hate to divert any of the fury your way. i was aware that there were people questioning my motives on other forums, but as they weren’t addressed directly to me i was happily ignoring them (and for what it’s worth, i would never want to stop anyone from questioning my version of events, it’s good to question things and be critical). anyway, mid-afternoon, and i’m sat pretending to write that night’s quiz. suddenly, *PING!* – a new twitter notification pops up from someone – let’s call him richard:

“funny how ur a massive Scriven fan and are attempting to smear Jared innit? Anybody would think you’d planned it”

hello, sorry? it was news to me that i was a fully paid up member of his fan club, although i had retweeted something from him earlier that day (in case you’re interested, paul scriven had quoted a tweet from a bbc journalist and said “Seems we have a very worrying pattern emerging here. He seems to think as not reported to Police not an issue. It is misogyny is misogyny!” – i happened to agree, so i retweeted it, being unaware that the ANGRY LAWS OF SHEFFIELD TWITTER mean that if you retweet something, you are a massive fan of that person and therefore completely politically motivated. who’d have thunk it, eh?)

anyway, i replied to richard:

“why do you think i’m a “massive scriven fan”? because i retweeted something that i agree with? x”

which got the almost immediate reply of:

“cos ur lying to smear a good person. I’ve known Jared since he was 1 year old. There is no bigger advocate of women’s rights”

so, 2 tweets in and i’m being called a liar. i don’t like being called a liar. so i responded:

“oh mate. you weren’t there, i’d politely suggest you’re talking bollocks. i am not lying.”

at this point, 2 messages back almost simultaneously, 1 from richard (“And u were?” – well, yes, i was, that’s kind of the point of all this … ) and 1 from his brother (“don’t think he is saying you were lying … “ errrrrr, he literally said “ur lying”).

at this point it was like being caught in an angry online cat fight, with text-speak and crimes against grammar flying all over the place like chunks of badly spelled cat fur, and it was hard to keep up let alone translate. richard then said:

“just stop it. Distressing to many people. Clegg lost. Accept it”

feeling a little confused at my newly found political interest, of which i was previously unaware, i responded:

“i have no interest in party political matters. you want to talk about distressing? try being hit in the face by someone bigger than you.”

… which earned a reply calling me an “immoral snake”. so having been called a liar, accused of being politically motivated, and called an immoral snake, i then unleashed the most offensive word of all. yes, dear readers, i called him a “wazzock”. this heinous insult earned me the rebuke of:

“Two names you’ve called me already. I’d suggest you were abusive to the bouncer , therefore initiating the beef”

i replied with:

“you called me a liar, sweetheart x”

i then got accused of being agenda driven, told that we were “Lying toads the lot of ya” and told “…Shame on you!! You disgust me”. i couldn’t resist replying in kind and telling him he disgusted me too. and then:

“Mouthy aren’t u?Not hard to see why aggressive people want to crack u”

now, pay attention here, i wouldn’t want you to make the same mistake i did at this point. apparently, this is *not* the same as saying that i deserved to be hit. apparently he wasn’t saying that i deserved to get hit, but that “…Im sayin you are abusive and mouthy so I get why you got chinned”. i’ll admit that the subtlety of this is lost on me … but then again, i’m the kind of feather-brain who thinks that a song where the chorus rants “i wish i were a misogynist i’d smash her in her face” *is* misogynistic, and is actually about a man fantasising about smashing a woman in her face. silly old me, huh?

there were various other references to me lying, veiled threats about “the old crowd” who used to drink here who “wouldn’t have stood for this shit” and in all honesty i was getting increasingly bored of the whole conversation. some of the pub’s lovely followers (again, no names, i can hear the bridge rattling already) chipped in and got caught up in the middle of it all. i owe you all a pint at some point :) but i have an aversion to arguing in circles, so i stepped away. quiz night happened, drinks were taken, and the day ended.

next morning i awoke to an avalanche of tweets. some of them were hysterically funny (i think my favourite was “Sorry to hear that , you don’t deserve the abuse . I have no idea where the pub is , but if I did I wouldn’t go near the place !” and also one that i can’t remember exactly but said something along the lines of ‘i don’t live in sheffield but if i did i’d boycott the place’. wonderful. simply wonderful. more people should go around boycotting places they’ve never heard of and have no intention of ever being anywhere near :) but i was intrigued about the “abuse”, and found that someone implied that the pub had been involved in sending abusive messages to someone whose son was in hospital. the pub had not done these things. what had happened was that someone who works here had got into a heated discussion with someone on her personal twitter account, in her own time, and without the knowledge of the me or anyone else who works here. much as i am a massive control freak and would like to control every detail of everybody’s lives, i’m not sure that it’s possible. or legal. but in an attempt to calm the waters, i agreed to talk to her about it anyway.

i actually ended up having a long and heartfelt conversation over direct message with someone, and most of it was incredibly civil. it’s clear that we’re never going to agree about any of this, but i have no problem with someone disagreeing with me. the world is a very warped place if you only talk to people you agree with, who support you, and who don’t criticise you. however – and this is a very big however – i do object to being told the following things: “shut up” “your size and your gender are completely irrelevant” “This IS going to stop one way or another” “It stops and it stops now” “It’s time to shut up” “Otherwise I cannot defend u from the idiots” and “War it is then”.

now i like gangster movies and crime fiction, but i have no interest in being caught in the middle of a latter-day protection racket. i have absolutely no idea what “war” means in this context, but i’ve flagged it up with the police anyway just in case. and i wanted to share it here too, because i will not be bullied or threatened by someone into being silent in return for little old me being defended against nameless idiots.

misogyny matters. domestic abuse matters. a lot of people suffer in silence, and it can destroy lives. i totally understand why people don’t speak out about things that affect them, why they think they won’t be believed if they do, and why they think it might just compound the problem. i’m lucky enough that i can speak about things that i feel are important, and that i can try and raise awareness. i’m also lucky enough that on the back of being “mouthy” i can try to fundraise for charities. and i will continue to do so.

as columbo might say, just one more thing: i am yet to hear a convincing argument for why the “i wish i were a misogynist” song is not misgoynistic. answers i have been given so far have included: “because it isn’t”; “because i said so”; “go back to your record collection”; and “in the same way that smack my bitch up is about heroin not violence”. as we’ve already discussed though, i clearly don’t understand how the world works, so i don’t get how those are viable arguments. so, in the interests of trying to be a better person, i’d welcome any comments that explain it better. thanks :) x



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