Looking foolish does the spirit good. The need not to look foolish is one of youth's many burdens; as we get older we are exempted from more and more, and float upward in our heedlessness, singing Gratia Dei sum quod sum. - Johm Updike

Thanks be to God that I am what I am

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Not All Masks Are For Carnival

***Since the vast majority of my new visitors are not bothering to read anything on my blog other than this one post, I have decided that the best way to get you to read my response is to do this.

Oh, by the way, your actions are proving my point.  In fact, your actions are carving my point into granite.***

Roughly two weeks ago, I had an unpleasant experience in the Twitterverse and blogged about it here.  If you are interested, please read the post titled Not All Masks Are For Carnival.  Now, the person who angered me has felt the need to respond with a post on their blog and comments on mine.  Mark also felt that it was appropriate to include a link to their site in his comments without asking me first.  I removed it not because I felt Mark does not have the right to respond but, because I feel that inserting a link without my permission was, in a word, rude.  The author seems to be very hung up on the subject of who is right.  Really,  how very White Male System.  Just what I wanted on my blog about my experiences.

If you are unfamiliar with the phrase, I urge you to read the book Women's Reality by Anne Wilson Schaef.  The author explains the mentality of White Male System thinking far more eloquently than I could.  The book is an excellent starting point for anyone interested in feminism and I have, over the course of my life, passed out more copies than I care to remember.  Surprised that a woman who does what I do for a living is a feminist?  It is a problem I wrestle with each and every time I work and part of what I am working out in my blog.  It is also the reason I am so brutal with some of the callers.  If their fantasies involve more ugly stereotypes than I can stomach at that moment, I tend to let them know it.  With both barrels.

What is boils down to is that I really don't care if Mark feels that he is right.  I feel that am right.  In my world view, both of us have valid perceptions of the experience we shared.  I suspect that in Mark's world view, that is not possible so he has set out to prove that he is right.  Okay, go for it.  Refrain from putting links on my blog.  I did not do so to yours.  In fact, I did not make any  comments on your blog.  Nor do I plan to.  The elderly gentlemen who inquired whether I not I charged Mark for the conversation in his comment made it clear to me that I have no desire to.  I deal with enough of that attitude when I am working, thank you.  Another man passing judgement about something he knows nothing about and thinking that he is cute.  Ah, no.  There are many words for that bit of bullshit, 'cute' is not what comes to mind.  I think that the author of that comment exactly the same as the callers I speak to and I've already shared my feelings about them.

I also found another comment by Bee C rather telling about the attitudes of the people involved.  Both Mark and this person feel that a transcript of the conversation was necessary.  I admit, the first version of Not All Masks Are For Carnival contained just that.  However, after consulting with friends and sleeping on it, I decided that to do so was childish and unnecessary.  I felt then as I feel now; my perception of the experience is valid because it is mine.  As I stated in my reply to Bee C, writing an unasked for critique and posting it in a public forum does require you to read the fucking material.  In the case of a blog, at least solid sampling of the material since most people will not have the time to read the entire thing.  I am also not asking the Internet community at large to pass judgement on that experience which is why I chose not to include a transcript or list Masquerade Crew by name.  I was blogging about my experiences, not inviting debate concerning the validity of my perceptions.  The fact that Bee C chose to interpret my posting that way is ...interesting, to say the least.

I chose to write about my experiences as a PSO to help me process them and to share with others some of the amazingly stupid stereotypes I have smacked myself into because of it.  I am not just talking about the callers.  Conscientious people ask questions before passing judgement on what I do and what I write about.

And then there is the rest of the world.

***And here is the original post***

Something very unsettling happened to me the other day.  I am on Twitter (@Wickedjulia if you would care to say hello) and I have noticed that the vast majority of what goes on at that site is Shameless Self Promotion.  Celebrities promote the movies and television shows they are involved in,  authors promote their books and other writing projects, politicians abound, and everyone seems to promote their favorite charities and causes.  For an information junkie like me, it is Sin City.  I joined Twitter after reading an article on indie publishing that encourages writers to promote their own works and, bloody hell, that article was right.  So I started taking baby steps in promoting my blog.

Nothing big, mind you.  I have been simply tweeting to my followers that there is a new entry (when there is one) and asking them to read it.  No phony reviews, no teaser sentences, just 'read my blog'.  One of the things that I find both amusing and annoying is how many people promote their own work with a "I'll follow you if you follow me" strategy.  At a certain level, it makes sense and is fair when they actually follow through on that.  Most do, temporarily; they follow for a bit and then disappear, so while one is essentially promoting the other by reading and possibly retweeting to their own followers any witticisms they find amusing, the other is doing nothing.  Which seems to be the culture of Twitter.

I decided to be a little more aggressive with my own Shameless Self Promotion.  After all, I have just as much right as anyone else, to try to showcase my writing.  And I want feedback, goddammit.  I want constructive criticism, o' friends of mine who read my blog and have nothing put in a comment but, will discuss the subject in person.  You know who you are.  No brownies for you until I get more comments.  (Like I'm actually going to follow through on that but, hey, it sounds like a credible threat.)  So when one of the 'people' I follow tweeted a promise to 'read yours if you read mine', I, jokingly, responded that I had been reading theirs and asked them if they had taken a look at mine.  I wasn't really expecting a response through Twitter.

Less than two minutes later, I got a fucking critique I didn't ask for through a social media forum.  The woman assumed that my lack of graphics was a conscious choice (it's not) and proclaimed the subject matter to not be her cup of tea.  At the end of that two sentence critique, she added that she would retweet my blog to her followers.   At this point, I am in shock, as I often am when someone I do not know is unconscionably rude to me.  Giving an unasked for criticism of my blog on Twitter struck me as more than a little trashy and, by the amount of time that had passed, I knew damn well that she had not read anything.  Wait, it gets better.  A second later, a mass tweet appears with my description of my blog pasted in it and an invitation to her followers to read if they are into that sort of thing.  Have you ever heard the phrase 'damning with faint praise'?

I sat there for a moment, rendered utterly speechless by the crude and blatant dismissal I have just received before I take several deep breaths and draft a civil response.  I state that I find her attitude unfortunate (while thinking it is revoltingly classist  and narrow-minded) and add that I enjoy reading about the lives of other people a great deal.  She lets me know that she doesn't enjoy reading things with an overtly erotic theme.  My thought in response is; Lady, have you actually read some of the romance stories you peddle on your site?  I have used a few of them as inspiration for work for the purpose of talking to pervs.

However, I am still struggling with desire to be polite so I advise her to read the first entry where I, rather tongue-in-cheek, explain the purpose of my blog without any explicit sexual descriptions.  I do not point out that the last two entries also lack anything sexually explicit.  She would know that if she had actually bothered to read instead of just glance around when she went to my site.  Which she, oh so obviously, didn't out of the assumption that I write porn and her eyeballs would melt if she were exposed to that subject matter.  My very first entry makes it quite clear that I am not advertising my services as a PSO, I am talking about my experiences in an industry that cloaks itself in fantasy to promote its services.  There are fake blogs out there, written to advertise the services of independent PSOs and, they are porn.  I refer to them as fucktress sites because the first one I saw started with the sentence "I am a 52 year old professional fucktress and I love..." and we can stop there.  You get the idea.

The truth is, I don't like the overtly explicit stuff either.  I have to listen to callers fabricate their fascinating, (and plagiarized) sexual histories in that language when I am working and after that, I am done.  I am a good enough PSO to not have to talk about my characters with that kind of language and most callers actually enjoy innuendo over Extreme Slut Mode.  In fact, I was speaking with one of the trainers last night about a schedule adjustment and she brought up the frustration she feels when new PSOs engage in that behavior.  The problem with that technique is that not only does it guarantee short calls for the PSO using it, Extreme Slut Mode  also conditions the callers to expect that sort of over the top, graphic porn storytelling right at the beginning of a call.  If the callers run into a PSO who takes the time to tailor a fantasy just for them or entertains them by showing her knowledge in another subject they are passionate about, pervs conditioned by PSOs who use Extreme Slut Mode get frustrated and verbally abusive.  They have been trained to expect to 'get happy' (as one friend describes it) within a couple of minutes by neophyte PSOs and they like it because it saves them money.  Whining about the cost of phone sex is a really common way for pervs to encourage a PSO to 'get to the good part' faster.  Another one is telling the PSO that they just got cut off from the other PSO they had been talking to and she's not available and he's so close and could the PSO he is now speaking to just help him out....Yeah, I fell for that one.  Once. At the beginning, when I was still thinking about being a PSO as similar to customer service.  I learned very quickly that it is not.

See what I did there?  I described a facet of the industry while discussing another subject to, hopefully, illustrate my point.  I admit I do that a lot.  The woman I have been tweeting with informs me that she has read my first entry (liar) and basically demands that I point her to the one non-existent post that discusses the industry without anything that might scorch her delicate soul.  I try to explain that the industry doesn't work that way, its not like anyone emailed me a manual titled How We Lie To Callers 101.  I had to figure this out on my own, for the most part, and am talking about it here.  And how frustrating it is, and silly, and stupid....  Alas, Twitter is not conducive to lengthy explanations and she loses patience or decides that she has proven her point about the content of my blog and stops communicating with me.

The last thing I sent her was a direct message because, unlike some, I feel that it is inappropriate to point out a person's less than stellar behavior in public.  I tell her that I found her snap judgement of me disappointing and hurtful.  I do not mention, in this last tweet, how insulted I am.  I assume (and perhaps I shouldn't) that she is smart enough to get that.  I have been in a position when I was required to pass judgement on another's artistic output.  I was a sculptor before an injury forced me to relegate my passion to a hobby.  I once took a class taught by a famous bronze sculptor who insisted that I help with project reviews because I was the only other working artist in a room full of students.  I remember the painful diplomacy I used when dealing with those young artists.  I had no desire to insult them or the subject they were trying to communicate through their work.  I wanted to provide those artists with an honest critique that would help them develop their skills.  At the same time, I wanted to let the 'easy A' students know that I was on to their tricks and they were no longer in high school.  Art, in any media, is bloody hard work and no one has a right to dismiss that effort without even looking at it.

In other words, Madam, not only have you failed as a promoter of art in the form of writing, you have failed as a human being.


  1. My Twitter interactions are largely positive, but every once in a while you get a real doozy (like this one). I had one person telling me I should filter out my Followers, because she didn't want bots who followed me following her based on her interactions with me.

    I politely ignored her. Strangely, she hasn't interacted with me since. Win!!!

    Try not to let it bother you too much. Some people exist through their negativity.

  2. I hope you un-followed her. and blocked her to boot. That was just rude. I read more explicit (although admittedly less disgusting) stories on the voles nest then I run into on your blog. Something she would have figured out if she had bothered to read Any of it before passing judgement.
    Do I get a brownie now?

  3. Personally, I don't find any of your entries vulgar. You keep it relatively PG, sometimes a little more PG-13 for context, but nothing I've ever blushed at. You don't promote these disgusting behaviors, you just talk openly about them. It makes sense from a clinical standpoint. Twitter is a blessing and a curse and the anonymity that the internet provides makes people think they're exempted from the basic laws of civilized society.

    Anyway, don't let it get to you. Ignore, block, and carry on.

  4. I think I found your blog via that tweet. I've read six or so entries, and I have to say, I love this blog. I agree with Kai in that you keep the explicit stuff to a PG or PG-13 level, which is good because that's not what I'm here for. As a student of psychology, what I love about your blog are the basic human truths in each of your posts. Keep writing what you're writing, and don't let anyone else define what needs to be heard.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. (Okay, lets try this again. There were far too many typos in the last.)

      I removed one of The Masquerade Crew's responses to this blog entry because it linked back to his site. I do apologize for thinking that Mark was a woman. However, this is my blog and I get to decide what links will appear within. Some people feel that I have overreacted. That is their choice. I hold with the that behavior was inappropriate and dismissive of both my writing and my life experiences. I did not ask for a critique to be aired on Twitter. I did not ask for a critique, at all. I still follow Mark's site and know that his 'off the cuff' comment about my site was distinctly different than any other promotion I have seen him make through Twitter. Those I have seen are always positive. As I said, via Direct Message on Twitter, I considered the matter done weeks ago.

      Two people can have vastly different views of a single conversation. That is life. Social media does not allow for emotional context. I found the interaction unpleasant and rude. Mark feels differently. End of story.

      On a side note, what I find amusing and less surprising is that Mark felt it was necessary to post the transcript of our exchange in his post. My first angry response to his behavior was to do the exact same thing, provide a transcript of the exchange because I felt supported my view of events. I asked a few friends to read that first draft offer advice. Ultimately, I decided that to do so would be tedious and unnecessary. This blog is about my experiences, including the stereotypes I have been forced to confront as a PSO and, therefore filtered by my opinions of events. Just as your opinions are filtered by your experiences. Both are valid. Had I been able to leave the comment while removing the link, I would have done so. However, this is my playground and I get to decide what plays.

  6. Also interesting to note that at least two of the commenters above follow me on Twitter.

    1. I am sure all of them do. I still follow your site. I did not ask anyone to chose sides and am not now. Are you?

  7. To me it sounds like you got overly offended over a misunderstanding. People are allowed a choice in what they read. If you read the blurb of a book and don't like it then you're not going to open a page (even though it may mean you miss a good book) and with so many blogs out there the same is true of blogs with descriptions. If the description isn't your cup of tea, why should they have to read.

    They still went to the effort of promoting you. And their interactions seemed polite. What isn't exactly polite is writing a post slamming them. This is the internet after all, there are lots of haters out there. But writing a one sided blog post on something like this is only going to get you a bunch of replies saying "Oh sweety you don't listen to the haters' or 'wow rude and childish much'.

    I'm going to admit I am a member of the Masquerade crew (and also btw the one who reads most of those 'erotic' books you referred to - though we don't review erotica, some of the books just have sex in it) and can say that just because one person likes reading that sort of thing (and your blog actually seems of interest to me) doesn't mean that everyone has to, and if someone doesn't maybe you should accept it instead of turning it into blog fodder and a big debate. If someone chooses not to read based on the description that is their choice. And hating on them will only get you sympathy or hate yourself.

    1. If you offer a public critique of anyone's writing, yes, you are required to read their work. Or, in the case of a blog, a sampling of it. Anything less is dishonest.

      A couple of sentences and a paste to not represent effort to me.

      I chose not to list the Masquerade Crew by name because I acknowledged that this post is about my perceptions of events. Mark chose to do otherwise. As far as I am concerned, there is no debate. We have different views of the same event. That is all.

      I follow the Masquerade Crew and still read things from that site. Some of them I enjoy, others I do not.

      I do reserve the right to use any of my experiences as blog fodder. Like almost any other blogger I have seen. Why are you stating that I am somehow required to do otherwise?

    2. Bec C. You are offering your own perception of events and telling the author of the blog that her perception is wrong. It seems to me that you are missing the point entirely. As far as I can tell Wicked Julia is making every effort to be civil, but still express her feelings about the exchange. Sadly not the same cannot be said of everyone responding to her. Also I am inclined to agree that a public, unsolicited critic is tacky at best, esp in light of the fact that the person offering said critic so obviously didn't bother to read the blog before firing it off.

    3. Do you even know what the "critique" was?

  8. And yet I still don't see the critique in it. Not their cup of tea? I'm sorry but how is that a critique and not just an opinion? Maybe you're just being overly sensitive. It is the internet and when all you have is text to respond to it's very easy to take the wrong message. Me, personally, I saw no critique or dismissal of your life experiences, but just a statement that it wasn't their sort of thing. And that's fine, or are you the sort of person who really wants someone to read who knows that chances are they won't be interested in it? Everyone is allowed to be as conservative or liberal as they chose and even PG 13 recollections of work in any kind of the sex industry can be too much for some people.

    And yes you have the right to turn anything you want into blog fodder, as do people have the right to judge you for making that choice. But hey, this is your playground,you can post what you like and you can remove any comment you like, even on the pretense of it harmlessly linking back to a site where heaven forbids, they actually get a second opinion.

    Also any time you ask someone to read your blog you are asking for feedback. By being on the internet itself you are asking for people to look at you and give their opinion. You can't post an angry blog post everytime someone posts something you don't like.

    But hey, keep enjoying your playground. As interesting as the idea of your blog is I won't be around to read it because I know I can be overly critical in my constructive feedback and I wouldn't want to risk turning into a blog post myself by posting some.

    1. Yes, everyone has the right to be as conservative, or liberal as they want. But you can't reasonably say that something is 'not your cup of tea' unless you've taken a look at it. other wise the best you can say is 'it doesn't seem like my cup of tea, but I haven't bothered to read it, so I can't offer an informed opinion'. Additionally, not wanting to promote someone who has publicly stated that your Opinion is wrong seems like a perfectly reasonable position to take to me. It's not like the site is hidden. If a person is interested in a second opinion they can easily look up the site. Plus, would it have killed him to ask permission before posting a link in someone else's playground? It would have been polite.

    2. You are still missing the point. If a person reads my blog and posts a comment here, they are welcome. If you feel that you are somehow not welcome under those terms, Adios.

  9. While I have had my fair share of run-ins with blog and twitter trolls, I also have to wonder what should the correct response to your tweet have been?

    I personally find it uncomfortable when people ask have I looked at their stuff. What does one say if one doesn't actually like it? There is a saying in the legal industry - don't ask questions you don't know the answer to. The reason being, you might not like the answer.

    If someone asked me had I read their blog, and I hadn't, I may well answer with 'it's not my cup of tea' for one of two reasons - a) it's not, and I don't see anything wrong in that. I write fantasy, and I well know that's not everyone's cup of tea either, and I respect that, the same as I am not into erotica, but I respect others are and it's one of the fastest growing areas of fiction. Or, I might give this answer because b) I actually DO think the blog is crap, in which case saying it's not to my taste is a much politer answer. I suppose I could heap the blog with false praise in either scenario a) or b) but that leaves a rather foul taste in my mouth, whereas I don't see the harm is saying something is not really my thing. It's not a personal criticism of the blog, but a recognition of our differences. It's fairly common knowledge we're not all the same.

    It took me nearly the whole post to work out what a PSO was though.

    1. You have a point. However I would point out that that twitter relationship was all about mutual promotion. If he wasn't reading her stuff, and re-tweeting it, while still expecting her to promote his group, then he's using her. 'You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours' only works if everyone's getting their backs scratched. Also I still think that the 'not my cup of tea' response would have only been appropriate if he had actually read the blog... how do you know you don't like something if you don't try it?

    2. ...I am not writing erotica...

    3. I never asked her to promote me. I was simply asking for a visit exchange. And I promoted her before she objected to my so-called critique.

      Also, I knew that I wouldn't like it because I don't read anything of an overly mature nature. I never promised to read it. However, I gladly read it when she asked about a particular post. But in general, no.

  10. If this all boils down to one person getting offended over the other's words on the Internet, or about how one person perceives the other's comments please, just let it all go. You're all making a mountain out of a molehill that is transpiring between two people on the Internet, and by continuing to argue in a forum where no one is going to get the answer they want or the validation of changing anyone's point of view on the subject is fruitless and simply perpetrates the adolescent mindset that is prevalent in 90% of the forum users on the internet these days.

    You're offended by the content of this blog? Then kindly take your opinions and your valuable time elsewhere. You think that you have the God-given right to post your thoughts and opinions? Awesome. Go for it, but don't get bitchy when the moderator or author takes down your posts to keep a civil conversation happening in his/her forums.

    I understand where WickedJulia is coming from. As a writer unsolicited feedback -- especially negative feedback -- is always unwelcome. Always. I don't care if you are the Dalai Lama and you are singing the praises of my blog as the answer to world suffering, if it wasn't my intention and if it was unsolicited praise/feedback, I'm going to flip shit. (I'd be humbled and stricken if it was the Dalai Lama, but still, it's not what I'm going for with the metaphor.) There is a limit to where unsolicited feedback comes from. For me, if you were actually a publisher or agent who read my work and asked for partials or whatever, then yes, by all means. As a writer that is the goal.

    But this is not that.

    This is a blog that is being used to write down a single person's feelings and perceptions. If that is coming under attack -- in a public forum no less -- then there is a problem.

    I have been following WickedJulia for a while now, and never has she asked for critiques on her writing. She writes about her thoughts and feelings. She has asked for feedback in the way of comments. As far as my interactions have gone, she wants to start conversations. She wants people to ask questions. She's not writing fiction, she's writing a goddamn memoir.

    If it's not "your cup of tea" then fine, obviously you prefer to read fiction and have no interest in reading about other people's lives or thoughts. That's great. Don't start telling people that their feelings are invalid, or what they perceive from a TEXT ONLY conversation is wrong.

    I'm quite positive that some of you are going to go look at my blog next. I'll give you the link. It's http://www.thekiriyamaheir.blogspot.com and you know what? I rant a lot over there. I ramble and I get the thoughts out of my head so that I can write my novels and my fiction. Is reading my personal stories, my thoughts and reviews of things I love not "your cup of tea"? Fine. Don't go read my blog. I don't care, and I'm better off for not knowing what you think. But if you want to go read my blog, leave a comment and start a shit storm there? Be prepared to have the hammer of Thor brought down on your head. I don't take shit lightly and I have no problem banning/blocking/deleting and generally pointing out what a bigoted jerk you're being.

    I sincerely think that when it hasn't been asked for, the rule "If you haven't got something nice to say, don't say anything at all" should come back into play. ESPECIALLY on the Internet.

    As for all of you arguing about what "really happened"... Pardon my vulgarity, but, fuck off. Seriously. This is a literal he said/she said scenario and WickedJulia's feelings and perceptions are NO LESS VALID than Mark's. He may be just as offended. Only he knows. But turning it into a showdown online through TEXT ONLY is childish and will not actually accomplish anything.

  11. Ah Kai, I love to watch you breath fire. In case, anyone is wondering, Kai did have my permission to post her link and you should all check it out. She is an enormously talented writer and a pleasure to read.


    In case you missed it.