the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Last Post On This

I had a very long conversation with Maggie Dammit this morning, and she helped me understanding why the post I wrote two days ago upset so many of my online friends — too many of you have been just like this girl in the car. There’s not much more I can say about this incident from years ago. What I’d like to walk away with is an understanding that this was aggression towards a woman, and I was a jerk towards her.

I was rather clueless when I published this post. I had no idea that it would provoke such intense emotions. That is a problem in itself. I don’t think most men realize how many women walk around with painful memories.

I spoke a great deal with Maggie about this comment from my friend, Deb on the Rocks:

I have never been quite sure if your crushes, your proclamations about women’s physical attributes, and your impulsivity/agressiveness on Twitter was humor or truth. People convinced me it was humor. Now I’m confused again, because it’s the same type of sexualize/rejection-fueled impulsivity that you describe here. We’re all works in progress, and I understand writers documenting those truths. I’d like to understand more.

This comment bothered me, because it is about NOW, not the past. I appreciate her being honest, and giving me something to think about. I am much more likely to say something stupid or demeaning on Twitter than ever be physically abusive with a woman. That’s just not me. But I do talk a lot. Do I exhibit aggression towards women online? Do I sexualize women in my jokes? Would you like me to be more business-like on Twitter? You would be a better judge than I am. I’m here to learn.

Thanks.

If you would like to speak to me on the phone or Skype later in the day about anything, email me.

And Kelly/Trish – I am putting back the stuff I edited out.

45 Comments

  1. ACG

    Not that I have spent a ton of time with you, but we’ve chatted in the past and spent some time in person and I would always describe you are a gentleman. If we were all judged now by the stupid and impulsive things we did as teenagers, I’d be in a lot of trouble.

  2. Major Bedhead

    Words can hurt, too. Not as badly, maybe, as physical violence or aggression, but they do stick and leave lasting impressions. Just ask my pitiful excuse for self-esteem.

    I’ve stayed out of this because I don’t feel like I know you well enough to make comments on what kind of person you were or what kind of person you are now, but I have been following here and at Maggie’s blog. Like a lot of other people, I think this is a conversation that needs to be had – this kind of thing isn’t discussed nearly often enough.

    Your comment about men not knowing what kind of memories women are walking around with is dead on. I have a friend, Mike, who, when asked, said he feared monsters and zombies when walking down a dark alley. The woman he was talking to said she most feared men being in that same alley. It just never occurred to him that most women have that fear. Hopefully, the discussions going on about this will maybe bring more of these issues to light so we can all learn a little about each other. One can hope, at least.

    So while I’m sure this has been pretty painful for you, in the long run, maybe it’s a good thing that you put it out there and got the variety of reactions that you did. Maybe it will help. Hopefully that will have made it worth it.

  3. MommaSunshine

    Neil, you’re one of my favourite people on Twitter. I take your comments as being humourous and sometimes controversial, for the sake of arousing people to converse. I imagine that you’re a lot quieter in person, that your “Twitter Personality” is like a bigger version than your actual self.

    I say keep being you.

  4. Deb Rox

    I don’t have any agenda for who you are, on Twitter, in your blog. You know, I think we all have a lot of Venn Diagrams of self floating around out there, me included, and we also have some weird community tolerances for things that just wouldn’t float in person, and I’m trying hard to understand what the hell we are doing. Or at least what I am doing. I think you know you can be aggressive online. Didn’t you recently publish a list of your Twitter hijinx? I told you I got all protective of Jenny when you seemed to call her out once. And you know you can be a flirt, a perv and a celebrator of, as you say, all the hot women you feel lucky to know. That’s all a crazy cup of Yatzee dice, and deserves examination now and then. It looks like you got a raft of feedback for the New Year.

  5. Heather

    What I think you’re missing is that leaving out the sexualized innuendo on Twitter isn’t being “business like”– it’s being decent. At times it doesn’t bother me, at times it’s just crude. I think Deb nailed it in her comment. It gives me pause, but that said I don’t like you any more or less than I did last week.

  6. patty

    You wrote an ungraceful post. And you’ve handled yourself with exceptional grace ever since.

    I don’t know you well, but I appreciate your tweets and posts and always come back to read more.

    I’m glad you engaged some of the people who reacted viscerally to your post to learn more, to listen, to understand. Dare I use the word? It was (shhh) brave.

  7. Marinka

    I like you the way you are on Twitter. Maybe because I’ve met you in person and talked to you a lot, I don’t feel threatened at all. I’m pretty sure I could take you.

  8. Supa Dupa Fresh

    Personally? I’ve been watching you online for a long time and yeah, you may be a little clunky with your crushes. Some might call it sexual aggression, but whatever it is, your behavior doesn’t seem far out of the norm to me. If I met you in a bar, I’d probably flirt or snark back. No big deal. You’re a GUY. (I’m talking about your tweeting, not your teenage actions).

    You also take your lumps when they come.

    It’s true that many men are clueless about women’s everyday security concerns, so this is a good discussion to open up.

    About the lumps — you have chosen to play in a women’s playground. I agree with one commenter who said that men were treated like pets at BlogHer. The cooing in the “Men of BlogHer” session made me nauseous.

    Among women bloggers you may be a novelty, may get favorable treatment sometimes, but now you know how we defend and occasionally hurt each other too. We gots claws.

    Just like a woman who works as a reporter covering football, you should be acclimated to the standards and expectations of your audience *and* your peers.

    So again, good to talk about it.

    Keep your ears open to the smart, tough, thoughtful, occasionally humorous women around you and you’ll be fine.

    Just my opinion.

    X

    Supa

  9. Staceylt

    I like you just as you are on Twitter. I am a lot harder to offend than most women, however, and sexual jokes don’t bother me at all.

  10. maggie, dammit

    I feel like the comments written by everyone else–on your blog, on my blog, on Thor’s blog, on Kelly’s blog–have been incredibly eye-opening and articulate and fascinating and even though this whole thing has thrown me and so many others for a major loop, I’m glad for it. I’m glad for all of this talk. I’m glad that you found a take-away here, a new way of looking at old things.

    I don’t want you to change who you are, Neil, because I’ve always believed you to be so authentic. I think there’s a way to still be you and be more aware, but that’s not my place (or anyone else’s) to say. I think it’s obvious that you are trying very hard to understand this firestorm you triggered and I think that in itself says a lot about your character.

    I’m sad that all of this shit hurts so much. I’m sad that my friends are hurt.

    And that includes you.

    I’ll stop now. You’ve heard it all. xo

  11. Miss Grace

    I don’t like you any more or less today than I did last week. You are a person, I think you try to be decent, you try to be funny, I think some of your behaviors should sometimes be examined, I think I could apply that judgment to just about anyone I know.

  12. amber

    Okay, so I just read all three right in a row. The first one made me gasp out loud – I was instantaneously outraged. But I could also see the pain that it caused you – and it certainly seems like you learned your lesson.

    I’m rather new around here, and so don’t know you well, but I think you’ve handled this well.

    We all make mistakes. As bloggers, we do it in public. But if this made just one person a little more self-aware, it was a conversation worth having, right?

  13. Heather B.

    It could be because I’ve been out with you before and you walked me to Penn Station in the rain or it could be that it’s fucking Twitter and so how seriously can you take someone in 140 characters? Either way I do not find you to be offensive and/or take you seriously on Twitter because you are SOOOOOOOOOOO not like that in real life. But that’s something people have to experience for themselves.

    That said what you did – in your youth – was fucked up and I know that you realize that. And I think that because I’ve done awful, horrible, very bad and ILLEGAL things in my day, I’m less inclined to judge your character of now based on your character of yesterday.

    So there’s my opinion.

  14. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    Women do carry a lot of baggage as they move through the world–fear of being attacked and overpowered; fear of being raped, violated, humiliated in the most intimate, personal way imaginable; fear of becoming pregnant and facing hard choices/circumstances alone; fear of being judged harshly for expressing (or NOT expressing) our sexuality; and fear of being diminished and made to feel powerless (a fear I suspect many men have too).

    Maggie’s post on this topic was so eloquent in expressing the experience most women have in the world. And for all of us, there is a MOMENT when our fears take on a life of their own, when they rise from our subconscious and become reality. Maybe it’s something like the incident in the car that you wrote about or maybe it’s something far worse. Regardless, it’s life changing.

    I’m a middle class woman from a stable, two-parent home who married young and well and has lived a fairly white bread life. Lucky me. But I will tell you that in my relatively sheltered life I’ve known SEVEN women who were raped, five of them raped by people they knew (a friend of the family, an ex-boyfriend, a college “friend,” a boss, someone they met at a party.) One woman gang raped and in a coma for months, another woman in her 60s was raped by a 16 year old boy and asked me to tell her story…I went to court with a rape victim…Two rape victims were relatives…

    So yes, this is a very personal and painful topic for me, for others.

  15. kealan

    I should probably just keep my mouth shut, but I liked your original post. Not all women are afraid of men and/or sexuality. It’s reality, and I like that your post was a just a glimpse into a moment that is by no means, I’m sure, uncommon. If we can’t contemplate reality in art (writing, painting, film, etc.), where can we?

    In my opinion, if you’re truly offended by a piece of writing or any other art form, then that’s baggage you need to deal with in your own way, not the other way around.

  16. thordora

    The story made me hurt in a way I hadn’t hurt in awhile. And that’s not your fault. My silence was a recoil, to not blame you.

    You aren’t a bad person. You told your story, we react. Sadly, it’s a story too many of us know far too well.

  17. Velvet Verbosity

    Here’s my two cents on this matter. I don’t know you from Adam, Neil. Just because I read your blog now and then doesn’t mean I know you. The best I can do is get a “sense” of you, and even that is filtered by what you choose to write about and how. My sense is that you struggle to figure women out, and your relation to them.

    So first of all, I do fall into the category of women who commends you for sharing this. Before anyone else thinks that maybe I’m clueless, let me just say that I was a victim of sexual assault. An attempted date rape that I got out of. It was traumatic. I didn’t tell my parents. And for a good two years after the incident, my fight or flight response would kick in every time I smelled his brand of after-shave, anytime I saw someone with the same build, the same hair, or even the same shadow. I was also a victim of a domestic assault. I also suffered severe emotional abuse at the hands of caregivers as a young child (not my parents).

    So, I know trauma. And I don’t make light of it.

    But here’s the thing. If I somehow came across that guy that attempted to rape me so many years ago, and he happened to have a blog, and he happened to post about this incident, and he expressed shame over his behavior, I would know that he had learned something from it. That right or wrong, he screwed up, and as a man he was taking responsibility for what happened. It wouldn’t erase the pain entirely, but at least I would know he didn’t think it was ok.

    I didn’t see one ounce of justification or excusing of thoughts or behavior in your post Neil. That is something that many men who perpetrate violence on women never get to. They often justify it. “Yeah, I was wrong, but she asked for it.” Or some variation on that theme.

    We cannot eradicate violence against women without men on board. Men can’t be on board if they don’t examine their own thoughts on the matter in an honest way. So before we mob lynch one guy who put it out there that this happened, and that he was responsible, I think we should take a step back from our own pain and realize that what happened here is important in a very large way. Instead of a back-lash, let’s encourage other men to talk about what they’ve done, and let them process it so that it doesn’t happen again, so that our young boys and men can hear from a man’s perspective why it is wrong, how emotions can get out of control, and why they shouldn’t, before they find themselves in the same situation.

  18. uncouthheathen

    I can’t seem to grasp quite how it is that people are getting so angered that a post was written about something someone did in their long-ago past that they admit they are ashamed of having done. I don’t think we all need to walk around life (or the Internet) worrying about who we are going to offend with our words when we aren’t using them to be purposefully cruel. People do and say regretful things. I don’t think we have to change who we are because at some point someone could be offended based on their own life experiences. We are all responsible for ourselves, for our feelings and how we manage them. I see how someone who has been sexually assaulted might be upset by your original post, but I still cannot understand why you are called out for writing about what has sparked in many people, bad feelings about past experiences.

    We all have our burdens and we are all responsible for managing them in such a way that we can make it through life, around people who have vastly different experiences. We can’t always be in other people’s heads to understand how what we say or do will upset them. It would be an impossible task.

    What I am getting at here is that I don’t believe your original post was bad or a mistake. It was an experience you had and you wrote about it online in your personal space where you write about your life, past and present, “good” and “bad,” both the beautiful and less attractive aspects of what it is to be you – what it is to be any of us. Life is a jumble of experiences and at some point our actions will be unfortunate. We can’t not discuss that for fear it might be hard for someone to read, for someone to hear, for someone to attempt to understand. People make mistakes and on that night you made a mistake and you felt bad about it. If anything, it taught me that very good people do things that they regret and they are still very good people because they are thoughtful about their actions. I’d be concerned if you were never bothered by it, but I am not concerned that you wrote about it.

    From what I see, over here behind this monitor, you are a thoughtful guy, Neil. You consider your actions and their impacts more carefully than a lot of other people.

  19. Juli Ryan

    Neil, I like you just as you are. Flaws and all.

  20. MayoPie

    I had suspected that you had no idea you were being either controversial or brave. You were simply sharing a mistake you made and how you grew from it. I think what angered some is, “But.. what about her? Forget you and your growth. What about her?” Personally, I think the guilt you felt for doing it says exactly how you felt about the effect it might have had on her. Is your guilt what she needed? No, but what did she need from you? After that moment, would she have wanted anything from you other than your absence?

    What I took from your initial post was A child that knew he had made a horrible mistake and realized it instantly. A man that learned from the mistake he had made as a child and didn’t go on to repeat the behavior. I think that’s good.

    The controversy reached me before the post did, and I have to say, I expected to read a story about the women locked in your basement. Not to marginalize the act you committed or the girl’s emotional state when and after it happened, because as I said and as you have said, it was very wrong. But you knew it then and the shame you still feel is evident today. I don’t know what more you can do, and I certainly can’t begin to think of punishing you for it. You should have had your ass kicked by her brother, father, or male to the left. Whatever. As that didn’t happen, what can you do for absolution? Maybe you just did it. I hope so.

    I used to break into people’s cars and steal their radio knobs. Nothing else. Just so they would get in the car and be utterly confused. It’s because I was a mean jerk. But I learned from my mistakes and haven’t done it in weeks. Everyone can change.

    It’s interesting that you chose that comment because that’s the one that I remembered most.I think it got to you more than the others because it’s not about the past Neil, but whether or not people will wonder if these tendencies exist in Neil today and if these are urges you have to work to keep below the surface, and how easy that would be to do. It calls into question not just what we know about you, but what really any of us know about any of us.

    The one thing I know for sure is, we’re all insane. It’s about time we just started acting like it.

  21. kelly

    i too think that deb nailed it. This whole incident makes me really question community-more than i normally do. I don’t think I can say more than that.

  22. Joe Crawford

    What is past is prologue.

    Take care of yourself Neil.

  23. Aunt Becky

    I’ve done plenty of things I am not proud of. Plenty. That’s what I’ll add to this.

    Neil, I like you. I do. Genuinely.

  24. Pearl

    yeah, I could see how that post could be a trigger.

    regret’s one thing. learning and changing is good. what flared was that of a boy you once were. at the same time the attitude is a cultural embedded presumption of females that leaks out from all directions, in the same way racism and other isms do.

    boorishness against female as a slut is pretty ubiquitous experience that most females have. It reoccurs every few or several years in some shape to me.

    it seeps out in movies just so no one forgets, reminding that power and gendered class are very real and this “culture” and the nearly 100% of daily experience seems a fragile shadow puppet theatre.

  25. Trish/Astrogirl426

    Neil – I’m not going to pass judgement on you, or on the other commenters on the past few blog posts; I hope that I can say I have refrained from judging anyone in this process (for a number of reasons, not least of all being that I would hope I wouldn’t try to judge an entire person based on one event that happened 30 years ago). We all are entitled to our own responses, and we can’t always help what triggers our responses – especially if a situation like this hits close to home.

    I was more interested in how you handled the whole thing. I know that the response to your piece caught you off-guard, but I think you’ve started to get some insight into why the post got the response it did from some people. I’m glad all this happened; I know it’s been painful for you to go through, but I also think that the Neil who’s coming out of the situation is one who’s a little wiser. And we can all use opportunities to become a little wiser, I think.

    As for how you are on Twitter, well, I honestly hadn’t noticed that you were really that outrageously sexual in your tweets. Or it could just be that I follow some pretty outrageous people in general. Don’t worry, I’ll always be willing to tell you when you’re being out of line. 🙂

  26. Danny

    I’m not on Twitter so I can’t comment on your “tweets,” but I’d sure hate it if this exchange led you to drop that goofy sex-obsessed persona you often show on here. I think it’s funny, self-aware, and not at all offensive. But I do know you in the real world and know that the LAST thing you are is disrespectful towards women. Believe me, I’ve read blogs written by men that make me want to puke in their demeaning attitude of the opposite sex but your “sexual” posts always make me laugh. It’s part of you–let your freak flag fly!

    I’m also surprised by the intense reaction by some to that incident you described. It was a jarring, icky moment, to be sure, especially the poignant and sad image of the girl crying after you grabbed her, and you are right to feel bad about it, but, at the risk of upsetting people who understandably carry their own baggage about sexual assault, I didn’t think it was THAT bad in the context of what you described. I never did anything like that, but I’ve certainly been guilty as a kid of awkwardly grabbing or trying to kiss a girl in a lame attempt to show that I was interested in her. Like you, I immediately pulled away when I realized my actions were not welcomed. Okay, your moment was more lame, but it hardly constitutes rape or sexual assault in my opinion.

  27. this new place

    heeey, three things…1) I think you learned a lesson way back then and 2) I like how you write about these things which are basically what probably most people think about…what comes out in your writing is not anything most men haven’t already thought of, so I see you as keeping it real, all the time.

    I don;t see your post as being a worrisome factor of who you might be now, at all.

    and 3) Let’s skype!

  28. sweetsalty kate

    I think it’s sad that in this discourse, women feel like they have to qualify a fair hearing of you (or a nod, or a lack of venom) with, “Please don’t think I’m clueless – I was date raped/assaulted too.”

    I got my degree at a womens’ university that specializes in feminist studies. I remember this kind of elitism from those classrooms – in which any woman who offered a different point of view is labelled as “doesn’t get it” or “not a feminist” or “anti-woman”. The woman who counters or questions is considered even worse than the typical men who stand against them – she’s a betrayer of her own kind.

    That’s sad. Really sad. I’m not a woman first. I’m a person. My gender is secondary. I speak what I believe and do not consider myself more special, more justified, or more set back because I’m female.

    Which made me unpopular in university.

    That’s a digression, but I’ve been thinking it all day, resisting the urge to qualify my own gentle dissent. I shouldn’t have to.

    As to your question, Neil, I can’t imagine why anyone takes everyday activity on twitter seriously. It’s everyone shooting off in equal measure, in various flavours. If you judged me by my tweets, you’d think I duct-tape my kids’ mouths shut from 1-3 PM every day.

    Wait. SHIT.

  29. Velvet Verbosity

    Kate,

    I wasn’t going to qualify my statement thus, but I was too aware that things were getting divided into two camps, and I wanted to be sure that what I was saying couldn’t be easily dismissed openly, OR in someone’s mind because I just didn’t “get it”. You know?

  30. sweetsalty kate

    Velvet, things do feel that way, don’t they? I’d been itching with that all day. Resisting my own urge to share my own story. As if… what? As if that would give me the credibility to take issue with some expressions of venom, yet still be considered a feminist who values women (as well as men)?

    That’s another blog post written another day. I’d just seen your comment and I wanted to say HEY. Bummer that it does feel that way. So yeah. I know.

  31. Babybloomr

    Dang, Neil.
    This whole thing has haunted me all day. First, because an internet guy I always enjoy wrote something that made me uncomfortable. Then, because the widely diverse reactions made me uncomfortable, too. And finally, because my discomfort made me ask myself some hard questions about my own attitudes, fears, prejudices and experiences.
    I have two daughters, 17 and 13. I have some instances in my past where I have passively accepted or mildly protested unacceptable sexual behavior– not violence, but unacceptable all the same. Kate and Maggie and have expressed so articulately exactly how I feel, and Kelly and Deb have raised some points that have forced me to re-examine how I have acted. This day has given me a lot to think about, and a LOT to talk to my daughters about. Thank you for that, Neil.

  32. caron

    ‘Cause I know another two cents is needed here – the first post indeed was cause for gasps, and that momentary and involuntary recollection of incidents in my past, and the ever lingering fears that accompany those memories.

    I think part of the issue is that those of who have had these experiences, have put the men involved into a certain kind of box. A box for men who do bad things to women. They become villains. And villains, as we know, are always evil. We need them to be evil, because the world becomes a really gray place when nice boys do bad things.

    Everything we’ve known about you tells us that you don’t belong in that box. We can’t have you belong in that box, because then maybe the reverse is also true – our perp might belong in your box. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to know that the guy who stalked me for 3 years might feel remorse.

    We can intellectually admit that the world is full of gray areas, but really, we feel safer operating in a world that’s black and white.

  33. Knotty Yarn

    Ohhhhh, shit.

    I just checked my reader for the first time in a few weeks and read all three posts. I’m sort of dumbfounded and bewildered and sad and uncomfortable.

    Kate said, in the comments of this post: “I think it’s sad that in this discourse, women feel like they have to qualify a fair hearing of you (or a nod, or a lack of venom) with, ‘Please don’t think I’m clueless – I was date raped/assaulted too.’

    That was something that IMMEDIATELY jumped out at me too, Kate. I don’t have anything prolific to add – just that I noticed it, and it made me uncomfortable.

    But not as uncomfortable as this comment from Kealan:

    “Not all women are afraid of men and/or sexuality.”

    I find it incredibly disconcerting that expressing dislike or disgust over Neil’s actions, or just engaging in a discussion about his original post, could be viewed as a fear of men or sexuality. That comment is a blanket dismissal of so many experiences on the emotional spectrum, and so many voices that have added to this discussion. Puzzling.

  34. leah

    i don’t get all the backlash from that post. true, many of us women have had numerous bad encounters with men but i’ve never perceived you as a pervert or weirdo (seriously).

    keep in mind that people tend to project *their* issues on other people, especially if you open the door.

    please don’t stop anything you do on twitter/facebook/wherever.

  35. mamie

    man, i wish i could write as well as kate. damn, that woman can write. so i will just second her. 🙂

  36. deb

    i guess i am just glad i am not on everyone’s ‘radar’. i don’t know if i could take the beating. but i don’t blog to socialize… quite the opposite, rather. i started writing to say the things i needed to say, but couldn’t say to the “real” people in my life because they would all judge and react and pronounce. but then a funny thing happened, and i DID begin to socialize in blogland, and those same fears from my real life crept into my blog life. i know people have to “own their truths” or whatever, and by telling you how you should feel maybe helps them with their own demons, but i just can’t help but feel like you have maybe been just a tad misunderstood here.

    i bet you’re wishing for a good breastfeeding/working moms v. stay-at-home moms/attachment parenting controversy right about now.

  37. Holli

    Hi Neil – this is my first time visiting your blog. It’s unfortunate that it’s on this occasion, being directed here through Kelly’s very upset post.

    I have been reading Kelly’s work and absolutely loving her writing and honesty for a while, so I believe that if she’s been following you, then you must be a good writer!

    I am a Canadian woman, living in Ghana for the past 13 years. But I grew up in the 80’s in the suburbs and there are countless stories that happened – with victims and aggressors.

    I just cannot share the anger that many of the women have expressed, after reading the story.

    I don’t know you well, but the tone of the story intimates to me that you were a confused, inexperienced, frustrated boy who found himself for the first time up against the big scary feelings of lust and rejection.

    I do believe you were ashamed and sorry and that you have matured and learned how to contain those feelings. The girl in the car has her battle scars too. We all do. But we learn so much – good and bad – about the world during those years, that it’s hard to judge people later based on pubescent fuck ups.

    I wanted to say that we all have our own personal baggage and that everyone who reads your story will view it through the lense of their own experience. You cannot please everyone. I strongly believe that it was your right and that it was important to share the story.

    (Sorry Kelly – just my little view).

    Neil, I think you are generally a good guy with no ulterior motive or evil aims. The best to you in your writing.

  38. Eliz

    I echo the others who say you’ve handled this all very well. I think you’re coming at it from a place of sincerity, that you genuinely want to know why your behavior and your post touched the nerves that it did. I wouldn’t want to see you adopt some sanitized persona of yourself for Twitter. As someone upthread said, we like you goofy and self-aware. And as Deb said, we’re all a work in progress. Next week we’ll be analyzing someone else’s flaw’s, someone else’s past.

  39. moosh in indy.

    I feel that I am a very outspoken prude, I have called you out on twitter before and I feel that what Deb said was spot on, however it is that teenage girl deep inside of me that fights back, not the grown up who made her own mistakes and tries so damn hard not to judge others, ESPECIALLY on past mistakes.
    That being said I think that what has conspired between you and Maggie has been good. Like ripping off a big ugly band aid in one big motion. People can deal with it how they want to from here on out.
    But to judge you for your honesty and sincere motives would be wrong.

  40. lildb

    Neil, I haven’t had time to really absorb any of this; Gwen pointed me to it late last night while we chatted via non-phone (ugh, international calls=$$$$$) means and I came by today to find out what the hub-bub was about. And while I’ve had to scan and skim because I’m at work (tshirts yay), I can see your honesty, your bravery in sharing something pretty lame you did way back when. Your responsiblity-taking for the behavior is what I admire, your willingness to try and discover what’s back of that kinda action, your desire to use yourself as a scapegoat to get to the bottom of the brokenness bw the mens and the womens, I can’t avoid telling you that I’m here. I’m willing to stick my neck out and say thank you. Thank you for being brave in revealing your uglier sides because you believe in the greater good of it.

    You’re alright, Neil.

    (Sorry if this sounds rushed or inane; I *am* at work, taking a quick break to focus on this, and can’t spare much time.)

  41. baltimoregal

    I don’t follow you on Twitter anymore, it’s nothing personal but I have found that you are a bit provocative, and not in the sexual sense, but in the starting an argument for argument’s/ discussion’s sense. And I am too easily aroused, and not in the sexual sense, but in the getting irked/ Irish temper/ plain speak sense. Not all people communicate well, doesn’t mean I don’t respect you.

    When I first began to read initial post I was afraid that provocative tone was what you were going for. By the time I finished it, though, I could tell it was not. You were sharing one of your dark places. We all have them and to share one and not be defensive or fight back when questioned about it (reasons notwithstanding) is laudable.

    Maggie has done you a solid as well- a true “bridge over troubled water,” eh? Just when I thought I couldn’t respect her more…

    Anyway, good on you Neil. I don’t expect you to change who you are. But the fact that you are considering your impact on others isn’t a bad idea. It’s something more of us should do. This is my quote for the year- “Are you more likely to speak up in praise, or blame?” I don’t know the answer yet, but I’m working on it.

  42. Peter

    Wow. Your postings are great and true and the responses I read are way out of whack.. it is as if you are being mobbed by a large number of crazed, out-of-balance women. Whatever happened to these females in the past to cause all this snarling and gnashing of teeth is certainly not your responsibility and to take all that on your shoulders would be a great personal error on your part. Best to just say “sorry you feel that way” and move on as quickly as possible. There’s no reward in dealing with these tsunamis of misplaced rage. In all likelihood there’s no hope for them.

    On we go…

    Pete

  43. muskrat

    I didn’t like you much before and still don’t.

    Ha! Everyone knows you were, like, one of the top 5 coolest guys at BlogHer ’09. And I mean everyone.

    Wasn’t the story from when you were 56 years younger than you are now? Totally ancient history.

  44. alice

    I’m coming in late to this (painful, awkward) party, but I wanted to say that I had a very similar encounter when I was in high school. At the end of a long night I found myself in an overcrowded car on the lap of someone I had no interest in. He was big, the music in the car was loud, and I don’t think anyone was aware of how hard I was trying to fend him off. When I finally escaped I had a bloody nose and a swollen lip. Awesome. Obviously what he did to me was far more violent, but what was the most upsetting then and for years after was the thought that, for him, it was no big deal, that he wasn’t even a little aware of how humiliated and upset I was.

    So reading your story–it helped me, at least. It doesn’t make what you did okay, and I’m not going to jump on the “you’re so brave” bandwagon, but it’s a welcome reminder that a story can be seen from different perspectives, and there can be regret and shame and humanity in it, even if it’s not immediately apparent. So I wanted to thank you for that.

    Also, I wanted to add that cognitive maturity doesn’t develop until we’re in our mid-twenties. Teenagers are, neurologically speaking, judgmentally impaired. It wasn’t just hormones working against you. Again, I don’t want to excuse the behavior, but maybe this sheds a little more light on it…

  45. Shirley

    The post I read has that Neil put his hand on her thigh for 5 seconds, now if it’s been edited I take back what I’m about to write. But c’mon, putting a hand on a thigh does not equate a sexual assault. I don’t know what everyone is getting riled up about, a little thing like this? Sure it wasn’t pleasant, it seemed more awkward, and obviously Neil regrets the whole incident. He should not have to apologize to the girl again. It was a teenage mishap, these things happen. If you’re female you’re going to have to fend off men throughout life, sorry to say, but that’s the way it is. I am not refering to date rapes, gropings or real assaults here, just stupid incidents where things get slightly out of hand.

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