Why Do I Have To Be A Manager?

I was nominated for an award through my organization for excellence in librarianship; I didn’t win, and the person who did is a motivated and inspirational woman very excited about her work. Being good at what I do, however, isn’t enough for my administrators. They keep pushing me to become management, something I don’t want to do.

The raise for stepping up is only $200 extra a month. Yeah. Big bucks, there. It’s not enough to tempt me into a management position–even if I wanted one, which I don’t. There’s a couple of reasons for this.

Reason 1: I have a Library and Information Science degree. I don’t mind working as a librarian (though the aspects of my system have made that a slog through hell most of the time). I value helping people find information and teach information literacy. I value providing materials, computers, wifi, to individuals who may not have access to them on their own. It’s really too bad that what librarian’s are supposed to do is not what I end up actually doing in my job (programming is not librarianship).

Reason 2: I spoke recently to a manager who said it was the worst mistake she had ever made. She is not the only person I’ve spoken to with the same sentiment. Our system is unforgiving when it comes to petty grievances, mistakes, you name it. Managers get the brunt of the payback for complaints and whatnot and are expected to transfer the same to their workers. It makes for very hostile work environments where trust is an expensive luxury that usually ends up biting the hand that felt it. Trust tends to lead to disciplinary action.

Reason 3: Harassment and abuse. When upper management decides to go for the throat, they expect the on-site manager to be their first line of punishment, whether that manager agrees with their assessment or not. It’s hard to punish someone you work with when they haven’t done anything wrong, but an administrator has decided they don’t like said person so they are intent on hounding them out of the system. If you refuse to carry out the punishment, you get in trouble for not doing your job. You carry out the punishment, you lose all respect of those under you because they see you as upholding the unfair biases of administrators.

Reason 4: A personal tale that illustrates how my system works. A racism complaint was lodged against a co-worker by a customer, and administrators saw this as an opportunity to take down said co-worker (active in union? Down you go!). There was an HR investigation, and the investigator decided to speak to every employee at our library, whether they were involved in said incident or not. I sat down for this interview, and the first thing that popped out of her mouth was, “You’re in big trouble.”

What?

Apparently the complaint said someone with strawberry-blonde hair did something offensive. I don’t have strawberry-blonde hair–it’s red. But close enough, I guess. So the interviewer went on and on about me getting punished for this offense that she refused to specify before she even asked me a question. When she did get around to asking me what I knew of the events that led to the complaint, I told her that I was scheduled off on the days in question. I was not present, so there was no way I could answer the question. She stared at me, realizing that her “big catch” had just slipped through her fingers. She had no idea what to do, and half-heartedly asked me about co-worker’s character before telling me I could go. Apparently she did not find out until interviewing others who actually worked that day that said customer had threatened to kill our co-worker, and a security report had been filled out because of it, putting the customer’s complaint in a very different light. How nice.

That is how my system works. No effort is made to find out what truly happened in any matter. Assumptions are made and those are acted upon, whether true or not. No effort is made to actually seek the truth. Punishment is dished out based on those assumptions, not what actually happened. Many times punishment is simply petty revenge, but it all coalesces into a work environment that is hostile and unforgiving–and local managers are required to carry out most of the punishments even if those punishments are chosen and instituted by other administrators.

Funny, I keep telling myself that this work environment is a product of a head librarian who saw punishment as the obvious way to keep workers in line. I keep telling myself that other library systems are different, that the soul-crushing micro-management with harassment and punishment as incentives to keep your head down and mouth shut is unique. I just can’t actually convince myself of that.

So why would I want to be a manager in this system? I don’t. Of course, I was told that my not wanting to be a manager is not a good enough reason to not get promoted. I have to come up with a better argument. And yes, my system does tend to move librarians around, against their will, to other libraries, filling positions that administrators have decided need to be filled by that particular person. Something to look forward to.

Duh-Dos, A$$#oles and Harassers, Oh My

If you haven’t read “8 Things Some A$$#ole Says in Every Debate About Sexism” article by Luke McKinney on Cracked–do it now. It’s directed at men, but it will resonate with women. It did with me.

#8 The Duh-Dos had me nodding along. I’ve experienced this, most recently in a discussion on a friend’s Facebook page when he asked for opinions on #Gamergate after posting an article about Anita Sarkeesian and the harassment she received. I made a comment about some of the harassment I’ve experienced playing Elder Scrolls online and immediately a troll popped up and went on a hate-filled rant about lying women and how they want to destroy video games. He had never experienced harassment like I described, so it didn’t exist. I had to prove that it did, which I couldn’t, because it didn’t exist.

The harassment? Early on, a month or so after the release of ESO, I was playing and actually enjoying it (I am not a fan of MMOs. I prefer single player, hands-down, so liking the experience was surprising) when some jackass decided that, after every comment a feminine-sounding moniker said in chat, he would reply with absolutely horrendous statements. He said things like, “How do you make a woman shut up? Punch her in the mouth. How do you silence a woman? Slit her throat.” Then he dared the women to complain to Bethesda about his behavior because it was an open platform, he had speech freedomz, and you don’t have to play the game if you don’t want to so that means you agreed to put up with this shit when you logged on.

That’s the reason I refused to play MMOs until now, why I refuse to play multi-player on-line with strangers. And the troll pretty much firmed my resolve in that regard (except for ESO. I love the Elder Scrolls, and I will play this game because of that).

Surprisingly enough, a woman agreed with the troll. She had never experienced such threats in a multi-player game, and had a hard time grasping that other women had. She told me I just need to get my girlfriends involved, get them playing with me, then I wouldn’t have to worry about strangers.

OK. Perhaps. Have a friends-only invite game. The problem? Women react with shock when I’ve mentioned the throat-slitting comment–and some wonder why I still play games. They see it as a failing on my part, that I would willingly put myself through that sort of thing just to play a game. They won’t. See? Problem solved.

I’m never going to stop playing games. I love them much. They’ve been a part of my existence since I played the Intellivision as a child, and I just can’t see myself giving them up. That’s not the solution to this problem. Men recognizing that women have vastly different experiences on-line, and those experiences can be very painful, will be a start. Absorbing articles like McKinney’s will help. People refusing to be assholes to other people will go a long, long way in solving some of the harassment issues women experience (yes, I know, men can be harassed too, but not to the extent that women are).

But for the most part, assholes will remain assholes. They hide behind their anonymity and make life hell for others because they see no direct impact on their own life. They can threaten murder, get off on it, and not have to deal with any repercussions that arise from the threat. My husband brought up a Simpson’s episode he thought relevant to this discussion. He talked about an episode where Bart stole a video game and Nelson told him that shoplifting was a victimless crime, like punching someone in the dark. That’s exactly it. Assholes, for the most part, are punching into the dark. They don’t care who they punch as long as they punch someone who’s female, and go on their way, satisfied they hurt someone they will never know or care about (while stories like the one Lindy West told about her cruelest troll reforming his opinions give me hope for humanity, that hope is still kinda small).

Frankly, I don’t understand this need. I don’t understand the need to hurt others to make yourself look big. That’s pathetic, but it seems to dominate the thinking of a group of men who really, really don’t see women as human (and no, having a daughter does not automatically make you a feminist. If you can’t see the woman you supposedly loved enough to marry as a human being, why would you suddenly see your daughter as one? Just think about the popular t-shirts fathers wear that are threats to their daughter’s future boyfriends. Do you think a man who wears a shirt like this sees his daughter as a person or a possession?).

If #NotAllGamers Is Your Defense, You’ve Already Lost

I delved into Intel’s withdrawal from Gamasutra this weekend, seeing if public outcry has changed their minds about supporting misogyny and hatred over a woman’s right to be part of the gaming community.

No shock–they prefer the misogyny and hatred over the right of women to work in the video game industry.

During my reading I came across an article on Forbes.com by Erik Kain titled “Why It Makes Sense For Intel To Pull Ads From Gamasutra Over #GamerGate And Why It’s Still The Wrong Move”. There was very little said about the “wrong move” other than Intel is right to listen to their customers and quite a bit about how not all gamers are misogynistic thugs sending rape and death threats to women in the business, trying to drive them out. When your main defense of the attempted destruction of Zoe Quinn’s career and life is “Not all gamers do it” you’ve already lost the battle. That’s the same defense that #NotAllMen use, and instead of focusing on issues of misogyny, hate, bigotry, harassment and the like, it sweeps them under the rug so the “but I’ve never done that!” men never have to think about the problems, never have to try and help solve them, and in the end, ignore them because they’ve never done anything like that and the abuse doesn’t happen to them, anyway, so it can’t be a problem.

Kain is angry that Leigh Alexander had the gall to stereotype all gamers into asshole misogynists who send rape and death threats to women. “Nerds” have been fighting those anti-social stereotypes for ages. They are not the secluded basement-dwellers of myth because nowadays gaming is ubiquitous. No, no, gamers are normal people. You see, #Gamergate is really about how people buy good reviews for their video games and how underhanded that is. Sparking controversy by lighting the fuse to a bomb centered on “Entitled Gamers” is just stupid. In the end, it’s Alexander’s fault that Intel pulled their ads from Gamasutra, because her focusing on misogyny, hate, bigotry, harassment misses the point of why #GamerGate was established, and gamers have every right to insist Intel succumb to their “I have a right to send death threats to whomever I want and if you don’t agree, I’ll never buy another one of your products again” demands.

Kain’s article is a “No really, it’s not us gamers who are assholes, it’s the women who are at fault” article. When I read it to my husband, the first words out of his mouth were, “Is he really that clueless?”

Yeah. He is.

Gamers under the #Gamergate hashtag claim they want to solve the problem of game developers buying good reviews. That’s really what the Zoe Quinn thing is all about. No, really. It isn’t about the hundred-page screed her ex wrote to trash her because she broke up with him, and it isn’t about him sending hordes of men after her to shame, threaten and harass not only her, but her family and friends, because they broke up because hey, she slept with a game reviewer who didn’t even review her game Depression Quest but she still slept with him and that is absolutely inexcusable, though we don’t really say much about huge corporations buying reviews because they make COD and GTA and those are games gaters like!!!

And gaters will just ignore the male reviewer she slept with. He’s not that important, even though he’s supposed to be part of the problem. They won’t demand he lose his job. And why not?

So I have a question. If these gaters truly wanted to solve the problem, why attack Gamasutra? It’s known for doing everything #Gamergate people claim they want–fair, good reviews. Oh, wait, that’s right. They really don’t give a shit about fair game reviews–they just want to punish a website who had the audacity to publish an article critical of the gamer culture that led to Quinn’s absolutely horrible experience.

Let me remind you, Mr. Kain, that Intel would not have pulled their ads from Gamasutra if just a couple hundred people complained. No. They had to be inundated with complaints from gamer after gamer, people that you claim don’t really exist. Sure, there’s a few bad apples, but that doesn’t spoil the gaming barrel, right?

Yes, it does.

You see, the message Intel has sent me, and so many others, is that men who believe that women don’t belong in games, creating games, or playing games are in the right and the people who would love to see more diversity in character, story and gameplay aren’t important enough to their bottom line to care about. They prefer to support rape and death threats over articles trying to have a conversation about those horrible things, because silencing critics is an easy way to ignore the problems. They think what happened to Zoe Quinn is justice.

That’s one spoiled gaming barrel. What’s going to happen is that other websites are going to take note and silence their writers so they, too, don’t lose income. Problem solved through threats, which gaters are so good at.

I’m not so willfully blind.