A brief statement on Warren Ellis

TW: Sexual misconduct, not directly described.

No one has asked, and I’m certain I would be just fine were I not to say anything at all, particularly anything I’m treating seriously enough that I’m calling it a Statement, but:

I have, on many occasions in the past, recommended Warren Ellis’ comic book and novel work in this space and others. He was, for many years, my favorite comic book writer, and I have a ton of his work in my house. I consider several of his comics to be among my favorite series of all time. His newsletter was the direct inspiration for my book Skylights, and he is mentioned in the introduction to that book. I have at least two books he has autographed and may well have more, although I have never met him in person.

In June of 2020 Ellis was accused of sexual misconduct by what eventually ended up being dozens of women; far, far too many to make it remotely reasonable to question or investigate any of their stories. Eventually nearly a hundred women came forward with some sort of story involving Ellis and emotional or sexual indecency, misconduct, or assault.

Ellis responded by publishing a brief statement in which he … well, didn’t quite deny all of the allegations, but certainly denied the context in which many if not all of them took place, and issued an apology that was rapidly deemed insufficient by, as far as I can tell, everyone involved. He then closed his mailing list and his Twitter account and went away for a while. While his statement mentioned making restitution for his behavior, he has not done so in any way that anyone involved has noticed.

Image Comics has recently announced that Ellis and artist Ben Templesmith will be collaborating on a revival of Fell, a series the two worked on in the early 2000s. While I am aware that there is no one out there calling out for my opinion in this matter, and other than a vague feeling of possibly unjustifiable betrayal I am absolutely not one of the people Ellis has harmed, I will not be purchasing or reading any of his work in the future until his half-assed apology is replaced with actual definable action steps to rectify and heal some of the trauma he has caused. If you’d like to see what that might look like, I’d recommend looking at the statement from So Many Of Us that is on their front page.

Until that has happened, I am done with him and any of his future work in any medium, and I will continue to not recommend his past work either, regardless of my feelings about it at the time it was released.

On Al Franken

Al_Franken,_official_portrait,_114th_CongressI’m not at work today– I woke up with my head swimming like crazy, a condition that, seven hours later, hasn’t really gotten any better– and I probably ought to be doing something, anything other than sitting in front of a screen.  But seeing as how things like walking around or moving in general aren’t exactly easy at the moment (the decision to call in was made moments after realizing I needed to sit down for my morning piss, and then needing to take a second to not pass out after I did) I’ll just write a shorter version of the post I had in my head anyway because staring off into space until bedtime doesn’t sound super exciting.

So, yeah: screw Al Franken.

I really could make that the entire post, and be done with it, honestly.  There’s been a lot of yammering in Democratic circles over the last couple of weeks– I am paying no attention to what the other side thinks, because fuck them– about whether Franken resigning after multiple credible accusations of sexual harassment, at least some of which Franken admitted to, was going to be a Good Thing for the party or not.  Franken, if nothing else, is at least a reliable vote in the Senate for Our Stuff, and has managed for the most part to buck the trend of former-entertainers-turned-politicians being useless buffoons.  I myself tossed the idea of him running for President around a couple of times,  an idea that I’ve mostly shot down because I’m really dead tired of voting for white men for President and don’t want to do it anymore.

And I dunno.  Maybe I’d feel different– I suspect not, but maybe– if Franken was from a state that didn’t have a Democratic Governor, and maybe I’d feel different if the current lead candidate to replace him wasn’t a woman.  But the idea of keeping a predator in the Senate because he’s currently useful to us is not a look I’m especially happy with.  Oh, you don’t like the word “predator”?  Too fucking bad.  Dude shoulda kept his goddamn hands to himself.  It is actually not hard to not grope people.  In fact, not groping people is easier than groping people!  There’s less to do!

“But the Republicans aren’t about to ask the shitgibbon to resign!  And they’re voting for a pedophile for the Senate right now!”

So?  Fuck them.  They’re assholes, every last one of them, and I don’t want to be like them.  I want every single one of these sex-assaulting shits removed from whatever public role they hold, and I want each and every single fucking one of them replaced in whatever positions they held by women.  And honestly, I’ve seen a few prominent feminists on Twitter posit that they aren’t especially chafed by the idea that a few genuinely innocent men might get caught up in this, and I’m starting to come around to their side of things.  Blow the whole shit up and start over.  I don’t care if Franken gets tossed to the wayside in the process.  Motherfucker shoulda kept his hands to hisgoddamnself.  He didn’t.  Bye, Felicia.

And now my head’s swimming again, so I’m going to go back to lying around and not doing anything.  If anybody else gets busted for sex assault while I’m gone, assume I want them done and dusted and don’t bother telling me about it, OK?  Cool.

A simple request

Could every man who is about to be driven from his job because of his history as a rapist and/or sexual harasser– and you fuckers know who you are— just do us all a favor and resign from your jobs and disappear off of the face of the earth now, without further ado and/or drama?  You fuckers are over, and the world’s about to be better for it.  Go join the fucking dinosaurs in the tar pits.


#metoo and me

So a friend of mine, a friend who will likely see this, so it’s not as if it’s behind her back, posted this on Facebook the other day.  Forgive all the blurriness:


And here’s the thing: yeah.  It does.  It makes me uncomfortable.  The notion– a notion I believe without the remotest qualification, by the way– that literally every woman I know has experienced sexual harassment makes me profoundly uncomfortable.  Hell, uncomfortable’s not even the word, although it’s part of it.  There’s a fair degree of fucking rage in there too, for example.

And no, I didn’t “like” the post.  In fact if I have hit Like (I don’t use any of the other options, ever; don’t ask me why) on any posts associated with the #metoo hashtag, I don’t remember doing it– and I’m pretty certain there aren’t any.

I hit Like on her post and then deleted it.  Wrote a comment, and then deleted that too, and then spent the next couple of days fighting off this post.  The reason I haven’t interacted with any of these posts online isn’t because of some feeling of discomfort or shame, is the thing.  I haven’t because none of this is about me, and I feel like it’s pointless at best and empty virtue-signaling at worst for me to interact with a thing that isn’t supposed to be about me in specific or men in general.

So, yeah.  All of them.  #allofthem, if you prefer.

I’ve spent the last few days– longer than that, really, but it’s come to a head in the last few days– thinking a lot about my own actions as a cishet guy throughout my life.  And in a lot of ways I’ve been resisting the temptation to paint myself as one of the good guys.  I’ve never raped anyone, obviously.  (Is it obvious?  Probably flattering myself.)

But there was that one time, with that one woman, where she indicated her lack of consent to a certain action at the literal last possible moment, and it’s haunted me ever since.  When I say last possible moment, I’m not exaggerating, not by a millisecond or a fraction of an inch.  I didn’t go any further– of course I didn’t– but my first immediate visceral reaction was wait what the fuck are you kidding and I don’t know how much of that reaction got through to her.

I’ve never catcalled anyone, not once.  Never hassled a woman in a bar, never got angry with anyone because they wouldn’t give me a phone number or something like that.

(I have what I’m pretty sure is a funny story about accidentally approaching the wrong woman in a bar who I thought was one of my friends; maybe I’ll tell it sometime.  It’s not for this post.)

But I had years– years— where I bought into the idea of the friendzone, and where the idea of just telling a woman that I was interested in her and thought we should go out/make out/fuck each other senseless was pure anathema.  No, she (whichever she was at the time) was gonna figure it out sooner or later and fall into my arms.  I was a Nice Guy.  Sooner or later she’ll figure out that all the guys she dates are assholes and I’m right here, all not being an asshole and shit.

I can think of some moments, some interactions that make me cringe right now, honestly.  I’m pretty sure there were times when I was being creepy as fuck and didn’t even realize it.  There are others where I know I was being creepy as fuck and I regret the hell out of them.  Some of them probably involved the woman who originally triggered this post, honestly; we have a bit of history together, not all of which I’m proud of.

(True fact: the first time I kissed the woman who eventually married me, we were sitting at a table in a diner and I literally said “Let’s go make out in the parking lot,” and it worked.  Sooner or later I broke past the idea that doing nothing would get me somewhere.  That said, if that line doesn’t work?  Possible eew.)

I remember one time in high school when a bunch of us– too many to fit in the car– were all going somewhere, and one of the girls decided she was going to sit in my lap.  I put both my hands in my lap, palms-up.  She shrugged and did it anyway, probably knowing that having both hands on her ass would make me twice as uncomfortable as it was making her and that it wouldn’t last more than a moment, which it didn’t.

I still remember that.  I wonder if she does.

(I was gonna say “I’ve never groped anyone who didn’t want me to,” which is what reminded me of that story.)

I remember a week– one very, very weird week in middle school– where for some reason everyone, boys and girls, were all going around trying to yank each others’ shorts off.  By the end of the week everyone had their belts on so tight or their pants laced so tight that I suspect some of us were cutting off our circulation.  I was on both sides of that little game.  But I can’t say I’ve never tried to take anyone’s clothes off who didn’t want me to, either.  I still remember the two girls I targeted; I know one of them took a swipe at me at one point too, although I don’t know who was first.  I don’t remember what the other one thought about it.

(God, I’m glad my middle schoolers never had that bug hit.  I can’t imagine what the teachers were thinking.)

I don’t know that I have a single, overarching point to all this.  Okay, yeah, there’s obviously an element of the confessional here but that’s not the entire point.  I have contributed to this culture of rape and harassment, or at least participated in it, and the fact that I’ve learned (tried to learn) to be better in recent years doesn’t affect the facts of who I was and what I did, even if I can point to any number of men who were maybe worse.

You don’t stop rape, or sexual harassment, by controlling women.  You stop rape and sexual harassment by insisting that men learn to be better.  One of my most important jobs right now is to raise my son to be better than me.

Maybe men need a #metoo hashtag.  Or an #allofus hashtag, because right now, it is all of us.  We’ve all contributed to this.

Or maybe we could just stop, and fucking listen, which was what the point of the hashtag was in the first place, and try to learn to get better.


In which I hope this is funny

ku-mediumI don’t know how to write this post.  I’ve been working on it in my head for over a week now, and in none of the versions in my head have I hit the tone I like, but this story is either funny enough or weird enough to deserve telling– I just don’t know how to do it right.

Also, here’s a phrase I’ve never used on the blog before, but this is important:  Consider this your trigger warning, if you’re partial to such things.  This will end well, but it will not start well.

I was out of the office for a good chunk of last Tuesday.  When I got back the guy who had been acting as our principal designee (because the principal and AP were both also out of the office) said that there had been a really weird spike in sexual harassment issues during the time we’d been gone.  These things happen in middle school, but they’re not super common, so for multiple things to happen in the same day is odd.  I’m not around for the explanation or the ensuing phone calls; I just know Stuff has Happened.

The next day, I walk into a parent conference with the designee and the assistant principal because I need to talk to my boss for a few minutes, and end up sitting down and being part of the meeting.  Mom is the parent of a fifth grade boy, and he appears to be in grave trouble.  She is expressing two emotions: the first is horror and the second is an almost craven sense of apologeticness, if that’s a word.  She’s so sorry for what he did that it almost hurts me to listen to the conversation.

She keeps saying that when he used “the word” or “that word” that he didn’t really mean what the word actually meant, that they are immigrants and “that word” is used differently in their country.  She looks Hispanic, and so does the boy, and he has a unique first name that really doesn’t scan to any particular ethnic group or nationality that I’m aware of, so I assume “their country” is somewhere in South America.  Then I hear her speak to her son in whatever language they speak at home and it’s clearly not Spanish, but she doesn’t talk long enough for me to get past hey wait that isn’t Spanish and start listening for whatever the language actually is.  The general mood in the room is solemn; I consider leaving but she begins addressing her remarks to me as well as the other two as if I belong there so I don’t.

Eventually, she leaves, insisting that not only will she tell her son to stop using “the word” but that she will stop using “the word” herself, because she knows that the reason this happened is that she’s been setting a terrible example for their son and that she realizes that this is not how things are done in America.

One guess on what I think the word is, right?  There’s only one word in the English language– well, two, maybe— with enough power that someone would refuse to even say it while talking about it.  So he’s called someone the N-word, right?  But that’s not sexual harassment.  It’s a lot of things but it’s not sexual harassment.  So… huh?  Weirdly, though, there’s talk about how she’s pretty sure her son likes the girl he used “the word” around, and… huh.

They leave.  The AP and the other guy exchange a look, both take a deep breath, and then crack up laughing.

“What the hell happened?” I ask.  “What was the deal?”

“He threatened to rape a fifth grade girl,” the AP says, practically wiping tears from her eyes.  The boy, remember, was also a fifth grader.

My eyes widen.  What the fuck are you assholes laughing about?  This is, as you might imagine, a big deal.   I’ve literally never had to deal with a rape threat in a school before.  That’s major.

I express that sentiment.  They laugh harder.

“They’re German,” the AP says, as if that explains it.  I give her a yeah, so the hell what? sort of gesture.

Apparently there is, and if you are German or speak German better than I do please feel free to enlighten me here, some sort of German proverb, or slang expression, or figure of speech, or something, that basically means “stop bugging me” or “leave me alone,” meaning mild, possibly even affectionate harassment– that, when translated into English, comes out as rape.

This woman has been using this phrase, translated, around her son, for years.  She has apparently, and at this point my AP does a picture-perfect impression of this lady, one that causes me to lose it and crack up out of sheer disbelief, on multiple occasions said the phrase “I’m busy, go rape your father” to her son.

Her son, in saying “I’m going to rape you,” to a little girl in his class, meant “I’m gonna get on your nerves.”

And, understandably, this has caused all sorts of merry hell to break loose.  Apparently Mom is fully aware of the word’s connotations in English– how could she not be?– but hasn’t managed to purge the word from her vocabulary, to the point where American friends of hers have actually called her out on it and asked her to stop using it.  You can imagine how this would go, right?  You don’t just drop a loaded term like rape into a conversation without causing a little bit of a hitch here and there.  And, god, if she’s seriously said “Go rape your father” to her son while on the phone with someone else?  What the fuck I don’t even.

This all sounded deeply weird to me, of course, even a little unbelievable, until it hit me that I use the phrases “Are you fucking with me?” and “Are you shitting me?” on a fairly regular basis, and in very much the same way those phrases would be hugely opaque to anyone with no understanding of colloquial English.  This is, presumably, more or less the same phenomenon, only through another filter where it’s been translated.

So… yeah.  I have no idea if anyone reading this is laughing right now, or if you just think that’s an insanely weird conversation to have to have.  I hope you at least understand why I felt like I had to post it.  🙂