We Don’t Need To Police Thoughts. Actions and Statements Are A Different Matter Entirely.

The last several years have been … interesting… in nerd and geek circles.  We’ve been dealing with harassment and “fake geeks”, sexism in our professional literature, the deeply hate-filled morass that is GamerGate, and more.

One of the things that often gets us off-track is the supposition that we need to change attitudes instead of changing behaviors.

Changing the former is well-nigh impossible, the latter is comparatively easy.

I don’t particularly care if someone thinks sexist, racist, homophobic, or other thoughts.  I don’t care about what goes on between their ears.

I care very much how people behave toward others, including myself.  (Remember, boundaries.)  Here’s an oldie-but-goodie example:

Is your first thought about an editor that they’re attractive?  Here’s a secret:  I have that thought about some editors too.

And either I’m good enough friends with them that they know it, or they’ll never know it, because I have a professional relationship with them.

And I damn well won’t make it part of an article in a professional journal about them.

Like I said back at the beginning of this year:

In a professional organization and professional writing you should err on the side of caution.

…if that means that you cautiously avoid remarking on someone’s attractive appearance when talking about their writing and editing career because someone might take it the wrong way… then that’s okay by me.

The same principle applies everywhere else.

  • Think that cosplayer is attractive?  Great!  Don’t harrass them.
  • Suspect that someone else isn’t “as geeky as you”?  Great!  Keep it to yourself.
  • Think that cosplayer shouldn’t wear that outfit?  Great!  Keep it to yourself.
  • Want to flatter, hug, kiss, or touch someone else?  Great!  Ask first, or keep your hands to yourself.
  • Think that games should have more shooting, more mammary glands, and less emotion?  Great!  Play the games you like and quit threatening anyone who wants something different.
  • Think that harassment policies are stupid or over the top?  Great!  Obey them anyway, or go somewhere else.

Because if you’re sexist, homophobic, racist, or generally just an asshat, I’m not interested in changing your thoughts.

But I am damn sure interested in changing the way you treat others.

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