I kicked a metaphorical hornet's nest today. Help me soothe my stings?
September 13, 2018 3:04 PM   Subscribe

I'm part of a community of let's say professional teapot makers. The male owner of a teapot manufacturing firm who is an event organizer treated me Very Badly in a gendered way several months ago. This happened when I was volunteering at a teapot event that he organized. I finally made a formal complaint to the national group of teapot event organizers and teapot standard setters and am waiting to see what comes of it. Help me be calm and be prepared for what might be coming. throwaway email - teapot.problems@gmail.com

I have to attend an event soon for the local chapter of teapot makers and it's possible that some people will bring this up to me. It's also possible that some people will be angry at me for doing this. I will be attending national and international events for teapot makers and it's definitely going to come up at those, whether people know it was me or not.

There aren't many female teapot makers and I am definitely female. A few female teapot makers are involved in shielding this person from consequences. Other female teapot makers have moved on to making mugs and plates specifically because of this guy.

I have some advocates in the community, a few people I have spoken to agree this guy has to go and have encouraged me to speak up while also being clear that it's not my fault if I'm not comfortable doing that. Nobody has promised me any outcome.

Questions I want help anticipating, answering, and/or not answering:

Why didn't you say something sooner? (Ugh. barf.)

What exactly did he say? (I don't want to answer this, the things he said were so gross I don't want to have to hear them inside my own head ever again, much less have to say them out loud. Also, I didn't make recordings, so my ability to be verbatim is poor)

Is this really important enough to make someone lose his company/reputation/standing in the community over? (YES, absolutely, but I want to answer this one with swear words, obscene gestures, and tears. Also, his behavior is causing whatever consequences he receives)

If it was that bad, why isn't anyone else complaining?

What other questions can I expect?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"This incident is pending an inquiry from National and I'm reserving comment until it's resolved. Thanks for understanding."
posted by phunniemee at 3:10 PM on September 13, 2018 [29 favorites]

"Surely you must have done something to encourage that behavior."
posted by adamrice at 3:26 PM on September 13, 2018

"I can't believe how the atmosphere here is poisoned now. No one can enjoy themselves anymore."
posted by humuhumu at 3:48 PM on September 13, 2018

I know you don't want to think about what he said, and that's perfectly understandable, but if you didn't write it all down at the time in detail, or when you made your report, then write down as much as you can remember right now. Then sleep on it a few times and add more details as you remember. Then feel free to put it away and stop thinking about it forever or until Teapot Headquarters requests it. Write it down while it's relatively fresh because if he's a serial offender and if other people report him, it will help if you say, "He said yaddada," and somebody else says, "He said yaddada." Yep: stories match, there's a pattern.

I'm glad you have some advocates, and I bet there are many more potential advocates. Somewhere many someones would be pleased to know you're doing this because chances are excellent if he's done this once he's done it lots. This was brave, and it was the right thing to do.
posted by Don Pepino at 4:09 PM on September 13, 2018 [9 favorites]

Link goes to Twitter and is specifically aimed at shitty comments by men to women in STEM, but you might find the recent #9replyguys framework helpful for anticipating and categorizing responses.
posted by deludingmyself at 4:22 PM on September 13, 2018 [15 favorites]

You did a really important and brave thing by making a formal complaint. I’m glad you have some support within the community, and I’m 100% sure that there are others who are silently glad that a formal complaint has been made.

Some ideas for scripts to respond to some of the questions -

What exactly did he say? “I don’t want to get into the specifics right now. Hey, did you see that teapot painting class?” Change the subject. If they push, “oh hey, I have to run to the restroom / I have to go grab this person I see, catch you later!”

Is this really important enough to make someone lose his company/reputation/standing in the community over? “I just reported what actually happened, it’s not up to me what happens now.” Maybe add, “if he faces consequences for his actions that’s on him.”

If it was that bad, why isn't anyone else complaining?
“You’d have to ask them. Maybe they just wanted to move on with their lives.”

It’s always okay to say, “I don’t want to get into this right now, I need to focus on this teapot meeting.” And walk away if you need to.
posted by insectosaurus at 4:25 PM on September 13, 2018 [11 favorites]

"The National Board is reviewing that."

I strongly urge you to say no more than that in reply to any comment or question about the complaint, whether the speaker knows you made the complaint or not. ANY thing you say other than that will be repeated, with distortion. What you say now may influence and taint the investigation/process. Saying more now, outside of that process, will hurt you.

That is a hard thing to do but is necessary.

(I say that as a male teapot maker who encouraged female teapot makers to report in a similar situation.)
posted by ITravelMontana at 4:50 PM on September 13, 2018 [24 favorites]

I came in to suggest you respond with a non-response like "I'm not here to talk about that" and then saw ITravelMontana's script.

If possible have one or more of your allies go with you and stick next to you for support.

Thank you for being brave, and good luck.
posted by bunderful at 5:52 PM on September 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

You may get all sorts of other questions. Be prepared for anything. But as others have said- your response should be fairly standard, and along the lines of, "I'd love to say more, but while things are still being investigated/decided/sorted out/adjudicated, I am just not able to."

I'll add the advice of a trusted colleague, good for all such situations: Say nothing you would not want repeated in a court of law. Lastly, I'll add- yesterday on Twitter I watched a group of people dox a racist Portland woman in a matter of minutes. Not that your situation will ever reach that level, god forbid. But just know that keeping your mouth shut is never a bad strategy, and you need to protect yourself as best you can. Good luck to you.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 2:32 AM on September 14, 2018

(Adding that my use of the Portland example is only to serve as a reminder of how quickly something can escalate. No commentary or opinion is being presented with regard to that incident other than that.)
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 2:39 AM on September 14, 2018

« Older I need Facebook to de-integrate from Instagram   |   Roaches. Why'd it have to be roaches. Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments