Sexual harassment allegations against SEO and tech rockstars

For the past several days, I’ve been watching real-time evidence of a narcissistic culture in the SEO Industry.  These are the people who help your website draw in more visitors; one of the so-called “rockstars” is Joost de Valk, founder and CPO of Yoast (company which provides a popular Wordpress plugin while also educating website owners on and helping with SEO practices).  He has also just been appointed Marketing and Communications Lead for Wordpress.org.

I first heard of the story on the WP Tavern, a Wordpress blog, here: YoastCon Overshadowed by Twitter Storm: Joost de Valk, SEO Industry Leaders Called Out for Objectifying Women

From what I can gather, a few people have been posting and tweeting to bring attention to allegations against De Valk and other “rockstars” which they say have been ignored for years now.  The allegations include sexual harassment and treating women like sex objects.

They pulled out a few tweets that sound bad, but which the intended recipient says was not harassment.  The trouble is, however, that the whistleblowers are now being harassed online, called trolls, while in the WP Tavern comments, many people–mostly men–are scolding them and saying it’s not an issue.  One–a man–even wrote:

OMG…
Imagine a world where no men or women have any sex on their mind. One does not need to be a rocket engineer to conclude mankind would die off in about 40 years. And you beggars are programmers.

If there did not happen anything physical it is OK until anyone involved says it would be too much for her. Even if there happened anything physical is also OK until it was consensual.

So go and find a real issue please!

By the way there are women who hardly ever get noticed by men, i am absolutely sure that case hurts way more than being noticed.

UGH!  There are so many things wrong with the above quote.  First of all, the idea that it’s okay as long as it’s not physical–That reminds me of my ex-friend Richard saying that online harassment of me wasn’t “real” and I was being “ridiculous” because it upset me.  Then, basically saying that it’s worse to NOT be harassed because you’re not pretty enough.

UGH UGH UGH!

Along with this is a total disregard of the fact that the allegations go way beyond a few questionable tweets from years ago.  The independent news website The Overtake went more in-depth than the Tavern did, posting an article with the following:

The SEO-industry’s history is one steeped in gender prejudice, the objectification of women and sexual harassment.

One woman who was afraid of being identified said she had been ostracised and lost friends after calling out senior executives in SEO for inappropriate behaviour. Another described being pushed out of a company after refusing to visit strip clubs. The Overtake has also heard about incidents of alleged groping, sexual comments and other inappropriate behaviour, including rumours of a serious sexual assault in 2014 which was allegedly covered up.

A now-deleted review on job rating website Glassdoor mentioned an incident where a woman says a company CEO put her in a situation where she appeared semi-naked in front of colleagues against her will. The Overtake has seen the review but we have chosen not to reveal further details to protect the victim. –Giada Origlia and Katie Wells, Gaslighting–abuse–cover up–#Metoo is finally spilling out into tech

I’ve also been following the Twitter feeds of a couple of women in tech who are also speaking out about this, confirming that it’s not just something that a few guys made up to make the SEO “rockstars” look bad (an accusation which I’ve seen repeatedly).  The women are speaking of an atmosphere in which they’re passed over for promotions and their contributions minimized because they are women.

And on the Twitter feed of one of the male accusers, I found this thread.  On the feed of another accuser, I found this, linking to a Reddit post which read:

I have been at events in Germany where it’s happened. I’ve heard even worse reports from women at events in Germany where it’s happened – literally illegal, sexual assault stuff, and with no recourse and no followup. Until a few years ago, I was like you and would say “I haven’t seen that at all,” but when I started asking questions and paying deeper attention, I saw it everywhere. It’s heartbreaking. –Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz

A blog post from 2017 speaks of a “coding rockstar” who harassed and groped the writer.  She was told to report him, but like many women, did not feel comfortable doing so.  So then in 2017 she heard him say in a tech talk at a conference,

He started his talk with disparaging comments about women and their role in tech. He followed that up with a derogatory anecdote that his girlfriend’s job was to “do him.” He did not stop there, he went on to attack the group I work with, calling us whiny and making fun of our efforts to make websites more inclusive to people with disabilities. He mentioned (more than once) that he could care less about making his project more accessible to others. –Carie Fisher, There are Weinsteins lurking in every profession–including tech

After reading these posts online, the comments in the Tavern become especially egregious.  I see so much gaslighting and trying to shut down the conversation, trying to shut up the whistleblowers.  I’ve made a few comments myself, trying to alert them to how bad this looks to outsiders, but I’ve been completely ignored.  (Ignore the woman–You mean, like they’ve been doing to the women who are victims of this harassment?)

But no, in the Tavern and in comments to the whistleblowers on Twitter, men (and one or two women) have been, basically, calling it a big nothingburger.  While the whistleblowers and victims have been speaking out and saying it is indeed something and they won’t be ignored anymore.

And the allegations are hardly a revelation–The following was written in 2013, and I’ve seen videos of SEOktoberfest (now yanked from Youtube) proving this is true:

There is no doubt that the technology sector is more than averagely sexist. The reasons for this are multitude and too complex to explore in this blog post, but suffice to say that the technology sector – and the digital marketing sector, as a subset of the tech industry – is infused with a laddish attitude and enjoys pervasive and embedded sexism.

I find this rather unpalatable. I think the tech industry needs more women, and more participation from women. We shouldn’t abide by companies and conferences using objectified women as enticements and attention grabbers. We’re not stone age cavemen any more.

…Some conferences use booth babes – or even Playboy playmates – as enticements, and whenever you see such a prehistoric mentality on display you should strenuously avoid the conference and let the organisers know their backwards approach to marketing ensures you will never participate in their event. –Barry Adams, Fighting Sexism at Digital Conferences

Considering what I’ve seen on gaming forums online, I suppose it’s not so surprising: After all, when I was dipping my toe in such forums in the mid-00s, I saw lots of sexism, lots of “raep” jokes.  That’s where I got the harassment I described above, which Richard dismissed as “not real.”  That’s where you find a lot of techies, the ones who are likely to go into the industry.  And then they wonder why there are so few women gamers or techies….

 

 

 

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Brett Kavanaugh’s Narcissistic Rage episode, DARVO, and why we don’t speak up

The Kavanaugh debacle is triggering for many women.  Seems like every woman in my Facebook/Twitter feeds is being triggered.

And in a case that–for now–is he said/she said, how do we tell who to believe?

First of all, reporters have been doing more work than the senators apparently, digging up alumni and evidence all over the place.  For example, see the following:

Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer’s compelling story here.

Kavanaugh accuser’s friend says she has told him she needs more than one exit from her bedroom

A classmate who originally said that the incident with Ford was well-known at school, before retracting

The classmate’s original Facebook post on the subject

Affidavit from Accuser #3, accusing Kavanaugh and friends of predatory behavior

Kavanaugh Classmate Tears Into His ‘Blatant Lying’: I’ve Witnessed Him ‘Stumbling Drunk’

How we know Kavanaugh is lying

Old friend of Kavanaugh’s claims that his depiction of himself is a lie

As I watched the opening statements yesterday for both Ford and Kavanaugh, I paid close attention to their body language and demeanor.  Because yeah, I may have trouble with such things, but I’ve been studying narcissism/sociopathy for years now, and how to spot a predator or an abuser claiming to be the victim.

Ford was timid, terrified, quiet, on the verge of tears.  Like someone who has been attacked and traumatized and is scared of it happening again.  Even Fox News commentators and even Trump are saying she seems credible.

Kavanaugh, on the other hand, was on the attack: loud, raging, gesticulating, snarling.  Complaining about how this affects him–but never a thought to how it has been affecting Ford.  Instead of welcoming a full investigation, he evades the question, and derides the whole fact-finding process–a process which, if he’s innocent, should exonerate him.  Cold, dead eyes and a terrifying snarl.

Images of Kavanaugh are subject to copyright, and I don’t have $300 to pay for the rights to use one, so I don’t have images of him to clip and paste here.  So click on these links instead:

https://goo.gl/images/3aRGdB

https://goo.gl/images/cJ1T6G

https://goo.gl/images/aKwngR

https://goo.gl/images/e7AKoj

And then look at this:

Brett Kavanaugh's Narcissistic Rage episode, DARVO, and why we don't speak up 1

Genchi.info

And then this:

Brett Kavanaugh's Narcissistic Rage episode, DARVO, and why we don't speak up 2

Genchi.info

 

Look familiar?

Kavanaugh’s snarls are not the face of an innocent man defending himself/his family from attack.  They are the face of a predator whose prey has just exposed him.

My post on DARVO has been getting a lot of hits the past couple of days, especially after it was shared by somebody on Facebook.  It quotes Jennifer J. Freyd, who writes,

“It is important to distinguish types of denial, for an innocent person will probably deny a false accusation. Thus denial is not evidence of guilt. However, I propose that a certain kind of indignant self-righteousness, and overly stated denial, may in fact relate to guilt.

I hypothesize that if an accusation is true, and the accused person is abusive, the denial is more indignant, self-righteous and manipulative, as compared with denial in other cases.

Similarly, I have observed that actual abusers threaten, bully and make a nightmare for anyone who holds them accountable or asks them to change their abusive behavior.

This attack, intended to chill and terrify, typically includes threats of lawsuits, overt and covert attacks, on the whistle-blower’s credibility and so on. —Violations of Power, Adaptive Blindness and Betrayal Trauma Theory

DARVO means deny, attack, and reverse victim and offender.  It was done to me by Richard and Tracy in their e-mail here.  It was done to me by my abusive ex Phil.  It has been done countless times throughout the ages to victims by abusers and sexual criminals.  This frightening power play keeps countless victims from seeking help, as well, because they are terrified of what will happen to them.

One of the excuses used to not believe and to attack Kavanaugh’s accusers is that they didn’t say anything before.  That there should have been a police report if it really happened.  But girls and women who are victims of sexual assault or harassment are often too terrified to tell anyone.

If you want to know why they’re so scared, just look at accusations made against Ford:

“She shouldn’t have been at a drinking party.”

“She was going around in a bathing suit.”  (1, it was one-piece, 2, a bathing suit or bikini does not mean “rape me,” and 3, it was covered by her clothes.)

“Why was she in that room?”  (She just wanted to go to the bathroom, but got pulled into a bedroom.)

“Look how long she took to tell!  She’s just doing this for political reasons.”

She’s being blamed.  She’s being accused of lying.

Just like happens countless times when victims do speak up.  So often, we just stay quiet.

I never told my parents anything that happened to me in school, either.  My mom didn’t know that I stopped wearing dresses to school because a couple of boys lifted up my skirt and laughed one day.  My parents didn’t know that my high school ulcer and TMJ came from boys sexually harassing me in class and in the cafeteria.   They thought that going to classes about stress relief would help.

They didn’t know that–similar to what happened to another accuser, Ramirez–one of the boys pulled out his penis and put it next to me on the table as I ate my lunch, that I think I felt it brush my hand, though I refused to look at it, that the other boys laughed.

They didn’t know how one time, in the line to leave the cafeteria, the boys were harassing me so badly that I crumpled up against the wall to try to protect myself.  I don’t even remember what they did or said.

I also didn’t tell teachers about this.  I was too shy, too terrified of strangers in general, even though my friends were witnesses and told me to tell.

(That’s why friends should do the telling and not leave it to the traumatized victims.)

My parents didn’t know that my ex Phil tried to force me into anal sex, making me feel raped at least once, or that he forced me into oral sex when he hadn’t even bathed.  And no, I never reported it.

No, I don’t remember every detail.  I don’t remember who the boys were in high school, or what all they did or said.  But I remember it happened.

And I do remember exactly which teacher ridiculed and sexually harassed me in class.  There were witnesses.  But I never even thought to tell the principal.  I just switched classes the following semester.

As for Phil, I told a few friends some of what happened.  I don’t remember telling them everything.

I told his new girlfriend, Persephone, about it.  I hoped she would be appalled that her boyfriend would rape a girl.  Instead, her dismissive reply seemed to suggest that if I were telling the truth, and weren’t just being hysterical or hyperbolic, maybe even looking for attention, that I would report it to the police.

But I was too terrified to tell the police.  There was no physical evidence, so how could I prove it, for one.  (And this is often the case.)

For another, I didn’t know if a rape charge would hold up in court since I had agreed to have sex–I just had not agreed to have anal or oral sex.  I also didn’t want my parents to know we had had sex, because they were fundamentalists who didn’t know about our spiritual marriage, and were definitely against me having sex before marriage.  Even when your parents are not abusive, a combination of old-fashioned ideas and parental disappointment can be frightening.

Another reason to stay quiet is hearing “Get over it already!”  I’ve been seeing a lot of this in reactions to Kavanaugh’s accusers, when even WOMEN have been saying, “It was 36 years ago!  It was just a touch!  How can she not have moved on?”  or “All teenage boys grope!  Who cares?  It’s not a big deal!”

(You don’t forget.  You don’t move on.)

I had my own version of this a year after Richard’s friends sexually harassed me in a chat room.  He saw the whole thing, and how vile their words and behavior actually were.  Yet his wife treated it like it was nothing at all, and then Richard tried to mansplain me into believing that I was being “ridiculous” for still being upset over it (and over his continued friendship with these people) a year later.  He said it “wasn’t real” and he thought I understood that.

The only one being “ridiculous” here was Richard.

The Kavanaugh hearings are triggering for many of us because we see our own traumas being relived in the accusers, our own fears realized as the accusers are treated just as we were, or as we feared we would be treated if we spoke up.

We see nothing changed, even after decades of feminism and then the #MeToo movement.

We see men treating the hearings as a charade, even going into self-righteous tirades about it: not just Kavanaugh, but Lindsey Graham as well–who seems to have conveniently forgotten how Merrick Garland’s appointment was blocked by the Republicans.

And there was absolutely no legitimate reason to block Garland, while Kavanaugh’s temperament and character have already been proven to be narcissistic and dangerous.

Because yes, what we saw in Kavanaugh yesterday is known as narcissistic rage.  This happens when a narcissist or sociopath is called out on their crimes.

So I believe he is guilty.

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The payoff of sharing my abusers’ sociopathic e-mail: Part 2 of my “Stalked” series has been pinned

Statcounter constantly reveals interest in various sections of my “Now I’m Being Stalked” series from 2012.

In this series, which was originally one long post, now split into 7 parts starting here, I described how Richard and Tracy had begun stalking me, and posted the sociopathic e-mail they sent me.

Then in 2014, I re-visited the e-mail with Running my abusers’ e-mail through the narc decoder.

The latest numbers, gathered about a month ago, showed that this series had received 528 views.

In Part 2 and “Running,” I tore apart the sociopathic e-mail by showing the truth behind my stalkers’ ludicrous, lying words.

And these posts are being read.  “Running” has received 33 hits just in the last month.  The various parts of “Stalked” have received 43 total in the last month.

Recently, Part 2 and “Running” have been getting more attention.  Someone in Canada has read “Running” 13 times over the past few days.  And now Part 2 has been pinned:

Gratitude Girl has pinned my post, just before 6am this morning her time, onto the Psych/Narcissism/Sociopathy/Abuse/Codependency board on Pinterest.  (She also pinned Breaking the Power of Narcissists.)

She runs the board; it has 407 followers.  Here’s hoping this pin helps the post go viral, just as a post to a Facebook group last spring made this post go viral: Wasted Years Mourning a Narcissist: Reclaiming Our Lost Selves and Thriving

[Update 4/4/15: And now somebody read “Stalked” (whole page) and “Running,” and subscribed to my blog.  🙂  )

My blog just contains diary posts, not the “expert” advice of life coaches or psychiatrists.  These detail my struggles and the lessons I learn from them.

Yet so many people are connecting with various posts, whether on narcissism or abuse, that I continually see yet another Facebook share in Statcounter, or a reblog.

It felt so risky to post on these subjects–especially when my two recent abusers discovered them and began stalking me for it.  It felt risky to continue posting even as they watched my blog every week–sometimes more often–to intimidate me into silence.

I didn’t know if they were laughing, if they were looking for a reason to sue, or what they wanted.

It was risky, intimidating, frightening, foolhardy.

But I did it anyway, to prove to myself that I wasn’t just some weak-willed, easily-dominated target of bullies.

And over time, my blog has grown.  My site currently averages 148 views a day and is maybe two months away from 100,000 views.  Others have found comfort and lessons in my posts.  Comments are often turned off, but I see it in repeat visitors, likes, printing my posts, subscriptions, and online shares.

It is particularly comforting to see this in the past week, right after I revised the formatting for the “Stalked” posts and sticky-posted a few of them on my front page for a bit.  Part 2 includes the sociopathic e-mail.

It is comforting to see others read Part 2 or “Running,” because they, too, see this e-mail for themselves.  They then read my response, and find something of value in it for their own struggles with abusers.  I see people click on the link that prints the post.

Just as it was comforting to share that e-mail with the members of the Forum, and know they understand and believe me.  And now, in the past month, new members of the Forum have gone through the 3-year-old threads, read the e-mail and empathized with me, then asked me if things were resolved, and if Richard was properly punished, because child abuse is disgusting.

Just writing these blog posts, and including the sociopathic e-mail from my abusers, was emotionally taxing, because the e-mail meant to rip me apart.

It made me practically catatonic when it first came in.  I was appalled and devastated to discover just how evil both Richard and Tracy truly are, to send such an e-mail and to even plan to stalk me at church!  To call themselves Christians, and then behave in such a manner–!!!!

The e-mail is so horrid (and proves me correct even while objecting to making Tracy out to be a “horrible person”) that I could not even open the original “Stalked” post again for two years.

The same as other e-mails sent by Tracy back in July and August 2010, which I kept as evidence, but have not even peeked at in five years.

Tracy’s style of writing would be familiar to many of you: the kind that tears you apart and makes you afraid to even open an e-mail from your abuser.

(Obviously, Tracy does not feel this way when reading my blog, since she reads here so often.)

When I read Oscar Wilde’s account of Bosie’s telegrams and letters in De Profundis, I realized that Bosie and his father were male Tracys.

Bosie and his father both had a raging dysfunction which Wilde said ran in the family, so it must have been some sort of Cluster B personality disorder.

From what I know of Tracy, abuse, narcissism, borderline personality disorder, and Bosie’s family, writing such horrid letters appears to be a common trait among abusers.

There is absolutely no concern for nor respect for the recipient, but rather a desire to make him or her feel smaller than a dust mite, to make her feel like the slime on the wall of a sewer pipe.

And it makes no difference whether the recipient did anything to deserve this: No, all that matters to the abuser is that the abuser THINKS he did.  Wilde would get such letters and telegrams from Bosie without rhyme nor reason to it.

So it was emotionally risky to open those posts again in order to revise them.  But I did it anyway.

It is wonderful and healing to see that my pain in doing this, is helping others to heal.

It was worthwhile not only to share those blog posts and the e-mail, but to keep them up.  Sometimes it takes a while, but others find them and use them to glean their own lessons.  They find validation for their own struggles.  They find a way to no longer care when their own abusers send them e-mails like mine sent me.

Then, sometimes, they share with others.

It’s all part of raising awareness and helping to heal abuse victims.

[Update 4/5/15:]  Also, the more I see people subscribing to my blog and connecting with the posts that skewer my abusers’ sociopathic e-mail to me, the less and less power that sociopathic e-mail retains over me.  I realize that my abusers have not been back at my church for two and a half years.

I realize that I feel mostly content these days, because I’m busy at church and Writer’s Club, and people in both places call me Friend.  This helps remove any residual emotional attachment to Richard.

My abusers do not have the ability to sue, no legal leg to stand on, so their e-mail had only an emotional power to hurt me.  Once I remove the emotional power, all their power to hurt me is gone.

BLOG HARD!

 

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