August 28th, 2006

Angry Young Meredith

Face-punching for free

leahbobet has a call to arms regarding the incident at this year's Hugos wherein Harlan Ellison groped Connie Willis's breast onstage.

I'm not especially involved in the SF community anymore, mainly due to lack of time and effort on my part, but I've also heard reports from thewronghands and other tech women about inappropriate groping/wrist-grabbing/whatever from people in the tech field. Now, I have a standard response to things like this: if someone gropes me, I punch the offending party in the face. I don't care if it's a friend, an acquaintance, or a total stranger. A friend might get the courtesy of me saying "Hey, cut that shit out," but if they keep it up, they're going to get punched. Someone at #s decided it would be funny to tickle me, and ended up getting clocked in the throat. Someone at elegantelbow's New Year's Eve party decided it was okay to fondle the scarification piece on my right shoulder, and got an elbow in the ribs for his trouble. This kind of thing doesn't happen to me often -- perhaps I'm just not the most gropeable person in the world -- but the response by now is just instinct.

However, I know there are a lot of people out there who, for some reason or another, don't feel comfortable punching an assaulter in the face. Maybe you've never hit anybody before and think it wouldn't work. Maybe you're worried about getting hit back. Maybe you were brought up to believe that Nice Girls don't do that sort of thing and haven't trained yourself out of it yet.

Well, I am not a Nice Girl, so here is my offer: if I am in your immediate vicinity and someone gropes you, I will punch them in the face for you. All you have to do is alert me -- quickly -- to the problem and the offending party. A nice loud "$name, get your hands off my $bodypart!" should suffice. This serves two purposes: one, it lets me know who to let have it, and two, it draws attention to the asshat in question and directs the condemnation of the rest of the room straight to the offending party. Shame -- particularly shame in the heat of the moment -- is a powerful disincentive toward sexually offensive behaviour. People grope other people because they think can get away with it. Okay, yes, Harlan has drawn the ire of a large part of the SF community after the fact, but unless some form of lasting censure arises from this groundswell, he has gotten away with it. Had someone raised a ruckus at the time, he would have had to deal with a rather more acute form of embarrassment than what he's being subjected to now; the condemnation of peers who are in front of you is a lot more cutting than the condemnation of peers who are far away.

So, SF folks, do what you can after the fact; I applaud that.

But next time, someone punch the asshat in the face, okay?

Good shit, bad shit

Good shit: I picked up a set of ramps and a torque wrench yesterday, so that I could change my transmission fluid and filter. (Saturns have an easily-accessible drain plug, so if you own a Saturn and your mechanic tries to tell you that you need to pay him to use his fancy-schmancy vacuum-line system to flush your transmission fluid, either he is bullshitting you for money or doesn't know anything about Saturns. In either case, find a new mechanic.)

Bad shit: It did not occur to me that a 3/8" torque wrench requires a different set of sockets than the kind that come with an ordinary socket wrench set.

Worse shit: When I checked my bank balance today to make sure I had enough money for new sockets, I noticed a transaction for $31.99 at Bed, Bath and Beyond, dated yesterday. As enochsmiles and I are not allowed to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond by ourselves anymore, I was suspicious. Further investigation revealed that the BBB in question was in Conroe, TX (!), and that late last night someone had tried to charge a much larger amount at a pharmacy in New York.

Good shit: The NY pharmacy transaction didn't go through (insufficient funds).

Better shit: Not only am I not getting hit with an insufficient-funds charge, my bank immediately and cheerfully cancelled my existing debit card, is FedExing me a shiny new one, and is disputing the BBB charge since they claim they don't see it in their system. I have the most awesome bank in the entire known universe.

Even better shit: Despite not having access to my bank account, I had enough money in the coffee mug we use for change that ended up in the laundry to afford both train fare to the auto parts store and a shiny new set of 3/8" sockets.

Best shit of all: I have now successfully changed my very own transmission fluid and filter. Go team me!

Icky greasy shit: I am covered in transmission fluid. Next time, I need to be more careful about how close my hair gets to the drain pan.

Redemptive shit: I have a date with my shower and a bar of Lava soap. Mm-mm clean.