The Harlem Shake, Alyssa Edwards and an Ostrich, Boys’ Clubs, Rockstar Librarians, and Being “Nice”

Or how Facebook is the root of all evil. Or how female librarians are constantly asked to be Miss Congeniality, whether we like it or not.

Welcome to a long and convoluted post in which I try to say what I mean without naming-names or getting too personal (even though people were more than happy to get personal with me).

I’m sure a lot of you go-getter librarians are aware of a group on Facebook in which we all bounce ideas off of each other. It has a name, but I’m going to refer to it as Librarian Facebook Group. I had been a member of that group for a while and I’ve, for the most part, kind of liked it. Sometimes it seemed little more than a contest to see who was the most hard-working/innovative/busy/well-recognized/etc., but otherwise it was a place where I could touch base with the people I’ve met at ALA conferences. On Librarian Facebook Group, you could ask for advice or feedback and get actual help. I enjoyed the little support system in this group.

That was until I mentioned that I would never do the Harlem Shake in my neck of the woods: It would seem way too cheezy for my NYC teens (who already think I’m ancient and out of touch) and I really do think the new-fangled version of the Harlem Shake is a form of cultural appropriation (lots of libraries have been posting their own versions of the Harlem Shake, but you might notice that it’s a white-washed version of the original dance). Cultural appropriation is a real buzz-term this year and it’s really pushing lots of people’s buttons (kind of like how the term “political correctness” pushed everyone’s button in the 90s). Nevertheless, cultural appropriation is a relevant topic in today’s America. I’m not going to go too much into it here, but you should totally check out some articles on the Harlem Shake and cultural appropriation here, here, and here (this last one’s a bit long, but definitely worth the read). 

There was a definite line drawn down the center of the Librarian Facebook Group and the discussion about cultural appropriation was getting pretty heated. I, and others, was on the side that the Harlem Shake and cultural appropriation were, to put it very simply, bad. Others seemed to think the Harlem Shake was OK, but one person in particular was getting pretty nasty. Let’s call him…Sanderson. Sanderson’s kind of a rockstar, big-wig librarian. Sanderson was making bad jokes and just being out and out rude. Here’s the thing, though. The moderators of the group never called Sanderson out. Sanderson was not asked to behave. And, other than the people that Sanderson was belittling and dismissing, no one told Sanderson that he was being mean.

It finally seemed that the whole Harlem Shake/Cultural Appropriation debacle had blown over on Librarian Facebook Group. That was fine by me. It had potential to be a real debate, but it had just blown itself up into an all-out flame/troll war. No one was listening and feelings were being hurt. Fine. End the discussion. Kill it with fire. Let’s never talk about it again.

Except that someone did bring it up again (and surprise, in a totally condescending manner). And hey, that’s their prerogative. But people on the internet always seem so offended and surprised that when they say something to get a reaction, THEY GET ACTUALLY GET A REACTION. And I reacted. And others reacted.

And then a Facebook Librarian Group moderator told us to “get along”. Mind you, Sanderson was never told to get along. Sanderson was never told to be nice. But a bunch of female librarians? Oh. We have to be nice. That got me thinking about Kelly J.’s post in the Stacked Books blog, “To Be a Woman and Speak Your Mind” in which she says:

People who want to silence you don’t do so by wielding an ax. They do it by asking you to “keep quiet” so you don’t “cause trouble.” Code for, if you don’t say what’s on your mind, there won’t be any incident. Except, if you decode it, that actually means that the person maintains their authority. That they don’t need to defend themselves. That things can remain status quo.

Likewise, women are told to “be nice” all. the. time. “Being nice” is code for keeping your mouth shut, not sharing your opinion, and following along with what people want you to say and do. It’s pejorative. It’s degrading. It’s a phrase that is absolutely coded in gender politics — women should be nice.

Men do not get asked or told to “be nice.”

Nice is a way of downplaying opinion. It’s a way of telling someone that what they think isn’t pretty or kind and therefore, it doesn’t matter. Being told to be nice is one of the most condescending things you can say to another person or have said to you. It makes the person being told to be nice feel small. It achieves precisely what the person saying it hopes to achieve: power.

Being told to be nice is something I am utterly sick of. It’s like, so let me get this straight, even though female librarians dominate the profession, I still have to work twice as hard to be seen as smart, clever, funny, innovative, recognized, and creative. Wait, and on top of all this, I have to be nice? And nice doesn’t mean what you’d think it does. At least not for a woman. It doesn’t matter that the kids and babies at the library adore me, or that I work super hard to go the extra distance for my patrons, or that I have written proof that I’m nice, or that I’m a volunteer, or that I’d like to think I’m a good friend/girlfriend/daughter/librarian (Seriously. This is what my life has come to. Giving you a laundry list of why I think you should think I’m nice). It means that I have to be absolutely just darling on the internet all the time. Being nice for a woman means not arguing or debating or speaking your mind. Being nice means not calling out people when they’re wrong or you’re being stepped on. Being nice as a woman means knowing when to be quiet and when to bow out and when not to rock the boat. Because, while you may be intelligent and hard-working, you’re a woman. And you need to be nice and sweet, above all else. I just haven’t seen the same demanded of men.

And because being nice is the best that you can accomplish as a female librarian, one of the moderators of the Librarian Facebook Group (I’m calling him Sean, here. That’s not his real name, but he’s another rockstar librarian) sent me this email, just to knock me down a couple of pegs and show me just how not nice he thinks I am:

Offline, I’m calling bullshit on your whole persona. Seriously? Suddenly the girl who posts pictures comparing people in the LGBT community to ostriches and dinosaurs is real serious. No patience for this. As someone who grew up in an LGBT household let me tell you, you need to check yourself about being culturally sensitive. I guess I should just sit back and smile while you mock the community. Don’t cast the first stone Ingrid.

Wow, guy. My whole persona? So, you’re calling my entire being “bullshit.” Cool, so that’s like pretty much everything about me. Sean was reacting to these photos I had posted on my Facebook wall:

alyssa dinosaur

If you don’t know what this, that’s OK. The person pictured is Alyssa Edwards, a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Alyssa is known for making totally whacked out faces in the mirror while she does her makeup (and probably equally known for what looks like a lot of plastic surgery, which totally sends her “looks” to a whole new level). I adore her in a weird way as she vibrates on this totally strange plane of existence. She’s a reality show personality whom I find pretty entertaining. But yeah, I think she makes crazy faces. This is my crime. I found these Tumblr pictures comparing her to a dinosaur and an ostrich. This does not mean I am mocking the gay community as a whole. 

I asked him why he was going after me, and Sean said, and this is a quote: “Because your posts are as much hurtful as the Harlem shake posts.” Oh. I get it. This is retaliation for how I spoke my mind about the Harlem Shake and cultural appropriation. This is, “Don’t act like you’re so great. You’re not and I can prove it. You’ve misstepped.”

Sean’s email definitely made me cry (I hate to admit this, as I’d rather be seen as a total hard-ass, but it’s the truth). For reasons I won’t get into, it’s important for me to be supportive of the LGBTQ community. I volunteer, I’m on the Rainbow List, and I’m always trying to educate myself. I’m not asking for a pat on the back for this, like, “Oh, congratulations, you’re putting forth the bare minimum towards being decent human being. Here’s your ‘straight person who’s not a total ass’ medal.” What I’m trying to make clear is that having some big-deal librarian calling me a bad ally, apropos of nothing, is very hurtful. It’s hurtful because I strive to be a good ally every day of my life. But this doesn’t mean I have to absolutely enjoy Alyssa Edwards’ orangey make-up job. I also make fun of Ramona Singer’s crazy eyes on Real Housewives, but no one has called me a misogynist. At least not to my face.

All I’ve ever wanted from ALA is to be an Emerging Leader (check), to be on the Rainbow List (check), and to be on the Stonewall Book Awards Committee (maybe someday?). Other than that, I’m not quite sure where I want my career to go. I realize that part of getting ahead in ALA is schmoozing with the rockstar librarians and being nice and being visible. Is having the moderator of Librarian Facebook Group essentially calling me a homophobe going to hurt my reputation? Is he going to pass around what an awful person he thinks I am? Will this prevent me from doing what I need to do in my career? Is bowing out of Librarian Facebook Group going to hurt my visibility? Will people forget who I am? I’m not sure. What I do know is that I’m not the only one this has happened to on Librarian Facebook Group. I hope others will speak out.

That said, I’m not going to fork over my banana slicer quite yet.* I need a break from the group until things calm down. I might decide to come back if things evolve into something more civil.

(Not to fall into the females-must-be-nice trap, but I want to say that there are TONS of people in Facebook Librarian Group that I adore and admire and look up to. The majority, in fact. My feelings about one or two librarians don’t make me like the others any less. And no, as I have already answered on Twitter, I do not hate men. Seriously, I can’t believe I am addressing that. Some of my best friends are male librarians. I even live with one. And he thinks I’m kind of OK, sometimes.)

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

*Obnoxious inside reference. I apologize.

66 thoughts on “The Harlem Shake, Alyssa Edwards and an Ostrich, Boys’ Clubs, Rockstar Librarians, and Being “Nice”

  1. On the issue of cultural appropriation, what do you think of Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat books? I find myself oscillating between poetics and annoyance. As a whole, I really like the series and I do think that her appropriation comes from a place of sincere admiration, but is that enough to warrant the acceptance of cultural appropriation? I really liked the Rookie discussion on how because some areas of the country have a majority of one culture, such as a Latino population in Southern California, that it is seemingly easy for style to permeate an area. It is a slippery slope. But I am going to have to admit, I have stayed away from, and have not even seen any new Harlem Shake videos.

    And your discussion of being “nice” reminded me of a book that I am reading right now: If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You by Kelly Cutrone. There is a chapter called “The Truth Hurts: When Did Spiritual Become Equated with Nice?” I know this sounds like a self help book, but it reads more like a memoir and I have admired her for years now. She’s a no nonsense, tells it like it is, PR woman in a shitty, cut throat industry. And do you know why I was drawn to read it/admire her? Although, yes, she is a total hard ass, but she goes out of her way to care for other people. Thing is, people can’t be expected to be “nice” because, let’s face it, nice is subjective. It seems to be more of a respect issue and respect is hard to maintain in a flame war, especially when people are impassioned over a subject. And no amount of “be nice” or “get along” will ever, ever stop a flame war. The only way for it to end is to let it die slowly, after you have said your piece.

    1. It pains me to say it, but I think Weetzie does appropriate, and I’ve only realized that just recently. I need to revisit the books (which I do pretty often), to really formulate a real opinion on that.
      I love Kelly Cutrone! Didn’t read the book, but really loved her TV show. I was sad that it didn’t go on longer. I kind of admired her.

  2. lilysea

    When men are told to be nice, they tend to cry censorship or call other people oversensitive, too.
    Given that you look totally queer in all the pictures on the sidebar here, I say you’re an ally on the basis of walking through the world in a way that makes you a potential target in the same way us literal queers do–more so than some (me, for example, who is a more classic femme in my looks).

  3. Meghan

    Thanks for writing about this incident specifically and the overall tone that can be found in the “movers and shakers” in Libraryland. You can have a tense but ultimately fruitful discussion about real issues in culture and libraries. No one even needs to make a joke or post a funny gif. It’s really that simple. It seems like dumb luck for “Sean” that you posted that silly picture from Drag Race as opposed to something equally silly/horrifying from RHOBH or something. What a windfall for someone clearly looking to take you down a peg or two.

  4. Illegitimi non carborundum – “Don’t let the bastards grind you down”.

    Ingrid – If you walk away, they’ve won. Sanderson & Sean have succeeded in pushing your point-of-view off the stage, out of the discussion, and left more room to strut their stuff as all strutting peacocks want to do.

    Are you seriously going to let them get away with that? That’s not the Ingrid I’ve come to know and love (as a friend, perverts get your mind out of the gutter).

    Now get back in there and show them what you’re made of. Show them the “Bang, zoom, straight to the Moon” that we all know you’re capable of.

  5. For the Record, since you won’t see it:
    I shared a link for this post on the Librarian FaceBook Group with the following intro:
    Some may disagree with my linking this. Call me a rabble rouser. Say I’m making waves. Frankly, I don’t care. I KNOW this is the right thing to do according to MY moral compass. Some of you strutting peacocks should be ashamed of yourselves.

  6. Katie

    Hang in there, Ingrid.

    This whole mess has been inexcusable from the start, but was there ever a line crossed with that email. You are one of the FIRST people I think of when I think about good allies and don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t. You’ve handled this with grace and dignity, IMO, without the singling out that others might have shown. And you have also managed to call attention to the main problem — that girls are told to settle down and be nice while guys aren’t — hopefully people will start getting the message!

    Stay strong, you are one of the good ones!!

  7. I just replied to Jules link on the TT — no one was replying despite several other active discussions and that just pissed me off. Plus only females were “liking” the link… things that make you go hmmmm….

    Ingrid: Not sure if you are on FB at all today, but I did send you a message this morning right after reading your post while I pondered things through. Just know that you are supported.

  8. I feel like things needed to go both ways. If nice is a virtue that we hold as a group, everyone’s got to meet the same standards. I can be a bit of a pollyanna in my own internet community about telling people to keep it civil but we are painfully aware that we have to hassle everyone about that stuff equally. Sorry this was a PITA for you. I appreciate your voice.

      1. Yeah I may have jumbled that.

        1. I have mixed feelings about niceness as a value, but if folks decide nice is a value, then enforce it for everyone (i.e. don’t tell you to be nice and ignore other people’s not-nice behavior) that doesn’t seem like it what was happening here on FB and that sucks.
        2. I guess there is no #2.

  9. I’m mostly a lurker in that FB community but I had been enjoying it. I work lots of hours at my day job and really appreciate ways of feeling connected to people outside my immediate sphere. And while I know that most people don’t share my politics, especially not in professional spaces, I was really surprised at the virulent shut-down that happened during that discussion. The total inability to listen. The way some commenters clearly felt that their own discomfort–around being called out, in part, as people blind to the ways white privilege enables that comfort–took primacy over engaging in a dialogue about cultural difference in the library. How do you serve diverse, multiracial, multiethnic communities if LISTENING isn’t a primary value? I don’t expect everybody to share my understanding of how race operates in contemporary America, but I do expect people to be up for seeing a new perspective and maybe even changing their minds. The mocking shut down was the worst thing I’ve seen on the internet in awhile. Total bummer. I also suspect that if Sanderson had talked to you about how those images made him feel when you posted them, you probably would have been up for hearing and considering his perspective. (I am guessing he had zero actual issues with those images at the time!) Anyway, it was great to see your commentary in the FB group, and I appreciate this post as well.

  10. Brock Martin

    “even though female librarians dominate the profession, I still have to work twice as hard to be seen as smart, clever, funny, innovative, recognized, and creative.”

    I agree with your sentiment, but the truth is that there are so many fewer male librarians that yes, women DO have a more challenging time standing out (in any of those ways you list) than do men within the profession. There are a lot of reasons for this, of course, but I don’t think that dominating the profession numbers-wise can equate to the likelihood of being noticed. Sad but true.

  11. librariankate7578

    Here’s what I posted on Librarian Facebook Group:

    “I stayed out of the whole thing last week, conversing with a few people privately on the matter. Now reading this blog post, I realizes that yes, some people stepped out of line big time and do owe Ingrid an apology. We can’t go back in time to prevent what happened last week, but we can all be careful. It doesn’t mean this group needs to be 100 percent serious 24/7, but we need to think carefully about our words.

    I’m with what JP also said earlier – if you’re going to be a bully and be insensitive, you need to be booted, no matter who you are. Let’s not let some behavior get by based on name and prestige alone.

    There’s a very fine line between constructive conversation and bullying – let’s not cross it again. Because if it does, I’m taking my toys and going home, and anyone and everyone is allowed to follow me.”

    Ingrid, I don’t always agree with what you say or how you say it, but I don’t like what happened here. This was taking things way too far, and you’re owed an apology by Sanderson, Sean and several others. I’m glad you shared this with us, because it changed my mind completely on things. Thank you, and brava for being you.

    1. librariankate7578

      Forgot to add that your experience really did hit close to home for me – I was bullied in an online class recently in a situation that played out very similar to yours. In an attempt to have constructive discussion on one of the class assignments, a troll seized on the “my boyfriend helped me with most of this assignment” portion of the comments and ran with it. I was not only a cheat but furthering stereotypes about women not being able to code or program, I was flaunting my looks and ability to catch a man, etc. It was horrible, and many in the class came to my defense (as I am seeing here and on Facebook), both men and women. The troll never gave me an apology, and I wish I had some closure. If this blog post wasn’t your closure, I hope you get that apology.

      1. We’re librarians. We use whatever is the best source of information we have access to at the time, if that’s your significant other so be it. Even in the outside world we still find our sources.

  12. Wow, I might have to blog about it too. But let’s start with this:

    As someone who was directly involved let me thank you for writing this and let me also say, for anyone reading this, that you were not alone – I also felt beyond silenced and belittled. None of our PARTY ROCKING moderators were bothered to step in when Sanderson was repeatedly (and clearly, even before he confessed to it) trolling.

    Meanwhile NO ONE involved in the original conversation, no one who bothered to actually comment that is, brought it up again in the totally different thread. (an act which, to me, was an indicator it was about to become an “inside joke” in the community – LOL REMEMBER THAT TIME PEOPLE KEPT TALKING ABOUT THAT MADE-UP CULTURE SHIT?) Yet somehow when we commented that felt belittling and unnecessary to us we were told to “get along.” Well, I don’t want to “get along” with feeling mocked and trolled in a community that is supposedly made up of my colleagues. Sorry! I don’t want to “get along” with people who think that the fact that I care about issues like, oh, cultural appropriation is beyond mockable and silly. Sorry! Oh wait. I’m not sorry about that at all.

    And then it got worse – then that email came. Let me say, first, that I mean what I say on my website’s “about me” section: ” I strive to constantly check my privilege and do good in the world and I invite you to help me on my journey.” But you know what that means? That means, as real allies, we have a responsibility to speak up WHEN something happens – not to store it away to use as ammo. In fact that’s why I started this whole lovely thing by mentioning that I felt like the Harlem Shake meme smacked of cultural appropriation: it’s our responsibility to bring this to our friends, colleagues, hell, the world’s note when it happens: “Hey, this feels not right. Can we discuss it?” TRUE allies and people who want to engage in REAL discussion and debate don’t start with attacks and threats and “calling bull” on each other. I worried that night about when I was going to get an email accusing ME of being an enemy or bullshit in my “persona”. That’s an awful feeling, as was all the mocking and demeaning and attempts to shut down discussion.

    And yes, it smacks of threats. Threats to hurt or slander people professionally, threats from people who are well-known professionally, who present and publish, who are on ALA Council, who are connected with large library systems, who have recognizable names. And if you don’t get that? Then guess what, you’re just another privileged part of the problem.

    Ingrid, I am with you. I am inspired by you and energized by you. And I am, right now and forever, committed to not be silenced, shamed, or told to sit down and be nice. I won’t be. I’m not.

    And I’m OK with that.

    1. Jennie

      You know what I don’t get? The timing and the wording. If the pictures are offensive, they’re offensive. Ingrid should have been called on it when she first posted them. If you let it slide because you were being “nice” but now you feel compelled to say something, then what you say isn’t “you’re not allowed to be offended by anything because one time you did something offensive.” Because that belittles the points a ton of people (not just Ingrid) are making and it belittles the point you’re trying to make.

  13. Whatever.

    I know you think it’s about how horrible some men are or that you’re being silenced, or the whole rockstar BS, or whatever else you want to pawn it off on. It’s probably much easier for you to believe that instead of the truth.

    Which is that your pictures are INCREDIBLY HURTFUL. I know you don’t think so. I know you think it’s simply opportunistic for him to jump on you for them. I know you think they are clever and witty and its ok for you to post them because you watch a television show and volunteer at a clinic, or maybe you’re even a member of the LGBT community, or have family who are, or whatever other reason you think of that makes it OK to you. But really, the fact that you think that comparing any pictures of any humans to any animals is funny shows such a tremendous level of ignorance. I know you got it from a queer friendly website so therefore you think it’s ok. Well, guess what? People in communities are hurtful and it’s still not funny. In fact it’s even more hurtful when it comes from inside of a community that is supposed to coming together and helping each other.

    This is exactly why people are scared to come out. People in the community won’t think they’re gay enough or that they’ll be considered to be too gay and then they’ll be forced to live on the fringes where it will just be OK to make a public mockery of them by both communities. It will just be ok to make little pictures and post them on the internet because it’s just funny and socially acceptable to poke fun of someone who doesn’t fit in. For people who are out or can be out because they’re lucky enough to fit in to the community this is all fun and games. But people who the community believes aren’t gay enough or too gay will lose both their straight community and not be accepted in the LGBT community. And then what? I mean, hey… At least maybe they’ll get a TV show were hipsters can pass around witty pictures of how they look like animals.

    I think my point was expressed perfectly by an earlier commenter who seems to think that it’s ok for you to post those pictures because “you look totally queer” so it must be OK. Fucking wonderful! Where does that leave everyone else? What if someone doesn’t dress gay enough, or is in a community where they can’t dress gay enough, or maybe isn’t ready to dress gay enough, or doesn’t feel like they should HAVE TO dress gay enough to be gay, then what? I guess you’ll get an opportunity to make fun of them.

    But no, of course, that’s not it. Sean was angry because he’s simply a man and therefore has devious plans of trying to silence you about the Harlem Shake instead of what he was probably trying to do and give an example as a point of reference that you understand for why he was so angry. It sounds like he did not do it in public or as part of the librarian group? Did Sean attack you on librarian group page? I mean, go ahead and fight for the people living in Harlem and in the name of Cultural Appropriation and then to be an ally and let those pictures slide… I’m sure he enjoyed watching you vehemently defend (and defend correctly BTW) one segment of the population but then post those pictures and think its not the same because you watched the TV show or because you “you look totally queer?” If someone if offended, then it’s offensive and clearly there is something wrong with all of our communities.

    I was going to address this offline, but seeing how you would just post it anyway…

    (this is all so stupid I can’t even believe I’m typing it)

    1. So, OK. We can’t make fun of one drag queens makeup job ever? Mind you, I posted a picture that someone else made making fun of one drag queen’s makeup job, and to you that equals “OMG GAYS R BAD”. Oh, Sean. I’m sure the LGBTQ community isn’t so fragile that it can’t handle some girl reposting a picture of Alyssa Edwards and her self-admitted funny faces.

      1. Whatever.

        See, this is the part that I don’t get… Is your argument that it’s ok to make fun of someone as long you don’t make the picture yourself? I think you’re going to find it hard to defend that one. Or is it OK because not EVERYONE in the community thinks its offensive? I think you’ll also find it hard to defend that one too. And while it CAN absolutely handle a girl posting a picture, I have try to understand if you think it should HAVE TO just because it can?

      2. My point is that you can mock a person (who I like and have stated that I like) without mocking whatever community goes along with it. Like, you being a total dick to me isn’t being misogynistic or anti-Semitic. You don’t like me, but it isn’t an attack on the communities associated with me. I can mock Alyssa Edwards without it being a commentary on the LGBTQ community. I’m making fun of ONE PERSON ON A REALITY SHOW.
        Also, just out yourself already, Sean. If I’m just a big, bad person, just go over to your little FB group and tell them what you said. Own it. Right now you’re hiding behind anonymity.

      3. There is a big difference between making fun of a person who has put themselves in the public sphere and being rude and nasty in what is supposed to be a professional community. Being part of an oppressed group does not mean an individual cannot be as personally ridiculous as a member of the “ruling class”. Rock on.

    2. Red herrings are red.

      Incidentally, it may interest you to know that the adult way to have a discourse of really anything is to not throw names around, even in private. You may also find it fascinating that adults CAN disagree with each other and say things like, “I’m offended by that. Please don’t do that. Thanks.”

    3. Jennie

      Reposted from above because this is the comment I’m actually trying to reply to:

      You know what I don’t get? The timing and the wording. If the pictures are offensive, they’re offensive. Ingrid should have been called on it when she first posted them. If you let it slide because you were being “nice” but now you feel compelled to say something, then what you say isn’t “you’re not allowed to be offended by anything because one time you did something offensive.” Because that belittles the points a ton of people (not just Ingrid) are making and it belittles the point you’re trying to make.

    4. Whatever.

      Ok, well… Here’s the thing… I’ve been talking to a lot of people about this whole thing. I caught up on the discussion on the Facebook Group (which I wasn’t following so closely), I talked to some people who clued me in to pieces about Ingrid that I didn’t know about, I caught up on the stream and subsequent fall-out on Twitter, I talked to some people who know and understand why the posts that set me off were so offensive to me personally, and basically… When it’s all put together I’m going to apologize. I don’t expect you to forgive me, or even understand why I’m so upset by your posts, but that’s not really that important actually. We can just be offended by each other and I realized that’s probably OK. But I should be more civil about it. In our emails to each other I had started the discussion with being an angry asshole because I was so hurt by what you posted instead of talking to you like an adult. I am really sorry for that, I can do better than that. In those same emails, I did leave you my phone number and I was serious about talking if you want to have a more serious and much more civil discussion. Text or phone call or just message me or whatever.

      I’d also like to point out that Sanderson absolutely got a talking to but by much more people than just me. The reason nobody knows is because it was also offline and far before I was an asshole.

      This was the first time that there have ever been anything close to moderators on the group that I know of. The whole entire point of the group is that nobody is in charge of it. People started it and then people started putting the responsibility on the people who started it but I don’t think anyone is in charge. And nobody has been until people started telling other people that they need to act as moderators. But really, there is no intention of anyone being responsible or moderating that group. It’s meant to make everyone feel included and that everyone is responsible. So yes, some people who were trying to moderate, didn’t know how because it’s never been done. This whole thing is an experiment and people are trying to figure out how to make it work and we are all going to screw up. Call us out on that and help make it better and I’ll do better. I’m learning too.

      I’d also like to point out that I didn’t know that Ingrid and I were FB friends until I clicked on her from the FB group page and that was when I saw her posts and that was when I emailed her. I didn’t see them when she first posted them. None of this really matters I guess because my angry guttural attack was not ok and I am sorry.

      Here is what does matter to me. While I may be offended by Ingrid’s post and that clearly, I am an asshole in a lot of ways due to my response, the larger problem is that people don’t feel included or that some people feel that there is a larger problem of rockstar attitudes or men degrading women. To that I want to say that I would love to change this discussion from name calling to coming up with ways ideas about what we can do to solve that problem.

      I am sorry that I attacked you Ingrid and I’ve learned a lot about a lot of things in the whole discussion. Anyway, seriously, that number is for you to use if I get out of line again. Feel free to keep me in check and I’ll really work on being better for you and for everyone. Once again, I don’t expect to be forgiven or anything. Just learning to get better.

      1. I’m not speaking for anyone but myself here but …

        today in Library Facebook Group when conversation about this very post ended up with a man, let’s call him Linus, making fun of the idea that people felt silenced, comparing me, personally, to Fox News, and feeling “solid” on his choice to use sarcasm to respond to me because he felt “skewered” – a man who admitted, surprise, that he didn’t have context (and one wonders what the context is. What was this man told? I have no idea! But I have no reason not to believe it wasn’t “Bitches be crazy!” since the mocking is par for the course. See this is the problem with assuring us little ladies this is all being taken care of behind the scenes, don’t worry! Oh, Sanderson got a “talking to” did he? What was it about? Don’t worry, pretty ladies, we took care of it! Not that we’re mods, because those don’t exist in the community, but it happened! We didn’t do it publicly, you know, how you were all mocked publicly, but we promise it happened!) and guess what happened?

        The non-mod, let’s call him Craig, told us “ALL” to behave or else the thread would be deleted. *I*, along with the other people having an actual conversation in the thread, was being told to behave for no reason that I could discern. I wasn’t attacking, I wasn’t using sarcasm, I wasn’t fanning the flames – I was discussing and asking Linus to think about his flippant comments. Yet Craig didn’t seem to care about this. We were ALL yet again lumped together. Yet again Linus, another man behaving badly and entitled, was “talked to” in private message. And what happened then? Did Linus apologize to me? For belittling me, using sarcasm instead of addressing my point, for not understanding the whole story, for comparing me to Fox News? Did Linus apologize to the community? Nope. Linus said “I meant no harm.” Well, as long as you meant no harm! OK then! And it was OK! Because Craig accepted Linus’s apology on behalf of the entire community and officially declared “that ends that.” One can only imagine if someone had tried to speak up again, but the message to me from Craig at that point was clear: “If you comment again, I’ll use my non-mod powers to delete this thread, little lady, because YOU’LL be the one derailing and not accepting Linus’s apology and wanting to be uncivil and then it will be YOUR fault! I told you ALL to behave!” Yes, well, that was not an environment I felt welcomed in and I certainly wasn’t going to comment any more. In fact, that was the moment I decided I was not welcome and I was leaving the group. When I stated this, Craig rushed to tell me … that, of course, I didn’t understand! Craig wasn’t really talking to me, he was talking to Linus and, anyway, they’d worked it out in private message and I just had to trust that.

        Later, Craig assured someone that “no one was asked to leave” – a statement coming from a great place of privilege. They didn’t ASK me to leave. They didn’t ASK Ingrid to leave. They just made sure we felt roundly silenced, mocked, and intimidated. But hey, those things happen in a non-moderation community! We left of our violation. We probably weren’t tough enough to take the party rocking!

        So, here we are, Craig! Taking it to blogs so it doesn’t bring the INCIVILITY to the Library Facebook Group. I’m sure all those people who mocked us and belittled us are here reading!

        The group doesn’t have anyone in charge? Everyone is responsible? Then why is Craig telling us he’ll shut down threads if we don’t “ALL” behave? It’s supposed to make everyone feel empowered? Then why are Sanderson and Linus being talked to about their behavior in private messages and offline instead of being chastised online for not being able to “get along”? Let’s see some responsibility for that in the public spaces we were dismissed in. Let’s see something other than “we promise, we’re talking to them about it!” because that rings pretty damn hollow to me when what I’m left with is someone who “meant no harm” but can’t apologize for, say, belittling the idea that people were being silenced.

        The thing is: we DID call you out and tell you how to be better and the clear message SO MANY of us got back (as I can attest from the dozens of likes, messages of support, and new twitter followers I gained, all telling me they felt the same) was “Be nice, stop being a killjoy, and shut up already.” It’s not OUR job to educate you, it’s not our job to explain cultural appropriation, it’s not our job to explain to professionals why trolling and using sarcasm to attack while being uninformed in a professional community isn’t a great idea.

        I have never in my life felt more thoroughly beaten down than by what has happened here and the continued response. I have never gotten a clearer message from well-known “movers and shakers” who I thought were my professional colleagues that I should shut up and go away. It is beyond frustrating and embarrassing and … sad. If it weren’t for the overwhelming support I’ve received from so many people and so many NEW colleagues who are allies I would seriously consider taking a professional breather because this has been so unwelcoming and disheartening.

        And I think that’s some pretty fucking sad food for thought.

      2. 7shore

        Angie – I want to thank you for that comment. I was wondering what you saw that upset you so much in Linus’ post. I didn’t see things from your point of view and I’m willing to bet that Linus didn’t either.

        Responding to that PoV shift, I asked a question on that FB Group asking whether it was Moderated or Un-Moderated and the responses were rather enlightening.

        I’ve also joined another discussion on what is and is not appropriate behavior for the group.

        I hope you are not so upset that you left and aren’t seeing this. Your feelings are being acted on. If you’ve left, please come back.

  14. Wow, I missed this whole thing on the librarian facebook group because I rarely check in on there and even more rarely participate. But I call b.s. Especially on the email you were sent by the moderator.

    I love the discussion about how women are told to be nice in order to shut us up. This is the kind of thing I frequently bring up w/ my boyfriend when we have an argument. It’s sexism and it runs deep. It’s along the same lines as when random men tell me to “smile.” Condescension and power wrapped up in candy hearts. I got your back, Ingrid.

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  16. Jeez, I missed the brouhaha last week but am not at all surprised by what I’m reading for the cluelessness of some. Been LOTSA convo on this on twitter and blogs. If I could “like” most of the supportive-of-you comments, I would. Ingrid, stay sassy; we got yer back.

    And I’ll say this – I’m an old one (35 years in this career) and this battle has been one women in the profession and society have been fighting since forever. It’s every minute every day from guys telling you to smile to jerks calling out a 9 year -old girl. Man, I’m sick of it!

  17. Nanette Furman

    Speaking as a very old lady, ex-librarian- brava!!! So very very true. On the cultural appropriation head. Just another idiot teapot brouhaha. Sorry. But true. Not to be rude, but not to be nice. Every culture we go to war with, we appropriate pieces of their culture. The Japanese have “appropriated” amazing and bizarre chunks of ours. The Russians like blue jeans and rock. Cultural mixing is as old as humanity. It WILL happen. It may even broaden people’s outlooks. Or not. Depending . Personally, I practice a religion that has nothing to do with my heritage (ostensibly). I could be called a cultural appropriator. Or, I could state that the greater Universe called me to interface in a certain way. Americans really are a bizarre culture, this sprout being just another demonstration of our weirdness. I do understand that groups who have been beaten up and disenfranchised are clinging like mad to what is “theirs”. Good, but maybe the best way for it to flourish is to share….and change, and adapt, and grow.

    1. We’ll have to agree to disagree about that last part. America has made a grand tradition of oppression certain peoples and YET taking some of their cultures for themselves. So, wait, there’s segregation AND a love of jazz music in the first half of the 20th Century? Oh, so you don’t like Black people but you’ll bastardize their music. It’s happened again and again to the same people. If you don’t see it, I can’t help you.

  18. Just something short Magpie!

    Tune out the negative, focus in on the positive, and all will be well in the long run. Nobody in the world has time or energy for these things.

    You do great things for your library. Keep doing that. And everything else? Fuck it.

    1. Agreed. But I also didn’t want to be silent on this issue. I’m over Sanderson and anything he has to say. I’m still hurt by what Sean said and I’m trying to get over it. It’s going to take a while. But I wanted to call out what I was seeing in Librarian Facebook Group. It wasn’t sitting well with me and it clearly wasn’t sitting well for others.
      But this blog is going back to its regularly scheduled programming.

  19. justAnOpinion

    I’ve always thought that the most you can ask of people is that they be honest, in word, deed and spirit; to ask that they also be nice … or rather “make nice” is to to be a hypocrite.

      1. Miguel Ruiz

        Along the lines of what Justin was saying, it’s a book I found helpful in similar situations such as that of which you speak here, both personally and professionally. It wanes on the cheesy side from time to time, but they serve as good reminders.

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  21. And now I feel like an out of touch librarian because I don’t know which Facebook community this was in 🙂 Enjoyed this post though. I’m glad to have found your blog. You’re one of the few people I remember from library school because of your distinctive look.

  22. Pingback: Who Rule the World? Girls – Part 2a: When the Bullied Becomes the Bully | The Librarian Kate

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