The solution to bullying, I’ve come to believe, is to say, “I am [insert label here] and you don’t get to define that for me.” Alternately, in the case of some bullies – such as MRAs, who compelled me to write a recent post – the solution is to say, “I don’t give a shit what you think, since your labels are stupid and don’t apply to me. Or reality.” It helps when people outside that specific situation then come alongside and help people see the bigger picture. This idea was basically the genesis of Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project, to name a famous example.
The last couple days an interesting thing has been happening over at Scalzi’s place that illustrates my point way better than the post I never wrote would have. A fellow Scalzi refers to as the Racist Sexist Homophobic Dipshit (RSHD for short, because Scalzi has no urge to use his real name or link to him) has been talking all kinds of shit about Scalzi for the last few months using fairly standard MRA bullshit. This resulted in a lot of trolls heading over to Whatever and annoying the hell out of Scalzi. Scalzi doesn’t seem to like being annoyed by trolls that much. So he did something about it.
Specifically, he pledged to donate money to organizations pushing for equality every time the RSHD mentioned him, capped out at a grand. That’s where the internet took over, specifically the bit where Scalzi is one of the true mensches of the internet and has one hell of a following. Other people started pledging, too. By the end of the day the pledges were over $20,000. By now, three days later, the pledges are at over $50,000.
That’s pretty much amazing. It’s a whole lot of people standing up and saying, “We don’t want your bullying. But we’re going to make something good come out of it and make you look like an ass in the process.” It won’t stop the RSHD, since he seems to get off on shit like this, but this sort of thing isn’t directed at the RSHD. It’s directed at observers to show that there are those who are willing to stand up to the bullies. It’s also intended to show that the bullies themselves are absurd and can be effectively ignored.
It seems to be working, too. Scalzi got a write-up in the freaking Guardian. And the Guardian article called the RSHD a “Racist Sexist Homophobic Dipshit.” It also didn’t use the RSHD’s real name nor did it link to his blog(s). It’s brilliant, really.
Scalzi also commissioned some art. See, MRAs use the (largely discredited) notion of Alpha and Beta males to make sure everyone knows they’re the alphas and everyone who isn’t exactly like them is a beta or a gamma or whatever and, therefore, inferior. There are also animal themes in there for some reason. Scalzi’s solution was to say, “Hey, in your taxonomy I’m a Gamma Rabbit. That sounds like an awesome thing to be, since I’m happy.”
That’s the only way to approach people who try to call you inferior but whose only power is with words. Take away the power of those words and you stymie the bullying.
I figured out who the RSHD was almost immediately. Spend any time on the internet paying attention to MRAs and one name pops up a lot: Vox Day, aka Theodore Beale. He’s harassed PZed and Ed Brayton over the years, who are also a couple of guys who don’t let bullies use them as chew toys. They have a different, significantly less whimsical style, though.
I checked over at Pharyngula to see if PZed had anything to say, mostly out of curiosity. What he had was a link to a Jim Hines post about Beale running for President of the SFWA, an organization for speculative fiction authors which has been headed by one John Scalzi for the last couple of years. I find that notion fascinating.
If you go back to my previous MRA post about an idiot who went after Fred it occurs to me that the entire reason anyone becomes a bully, especially an internet bully, is because they’re deeply unhappy. So they define themselves according to some scale where they can show the world (themselves, mostly) how amazing they are). Seeing someone who doesn’t use their scale but who is also obviously content with the world must, then, be absolutely awful.
That’s basically why Scalzi keeps saying that Vox has a mancrush on him. I’m not saying that Vox Day is a deeply self-loathing closet case (mostly because I have endeavored to know as little about him as possible). I’m saying that Vox Day is a great example of a deeply self-loathing bully who keeps trying to find meaning by emulating the path and then destroying the happiness of others. That must be an awful way to live.
It’s why, on some level, I feel sorry for MRAs. They’re sad, sad people.