• Alison Tennent

You're Whining At The Wrong Woman

Updated: Jul 20

I Don't Suffer Fools At All

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Every now and then, an imbecile will pop up in my replies to do what imbeciles do - complain about something I didn't say, ignore what I did actually say, add a strawman or two, say something about a topic they think I should be addressing, use an ad hom or other logical fallacy and then slink off, smirking.

They've fallen for the fable that women, particularly middle-aged women, are an easy target. These same trolls - and they're of both sexes - rarely approach men in this fashion, because they would expect to be slapped down. They do it because they see my deceptively approachable face and because they do understand that women, generally, are softer in their approach, more malleable and that my sex has more of a desire to appease.

But I grew up in Glasgow.

The phrase "doesn't suffer fools gladly" could have been invented for me. I don't generally, start fights. But I rarely walk away without punching back.

What irritates me the most, aside from ignorance, is that these nincompoops don't generally address what I've said, have no valid argument, but rather wish to whinge about what they think I said, wish I had said, have inferred I was thinking, or wish to discuss themselves.

For that reason, I wrote this piece a while ago:

Over the years while out and about in Queensland, I have become involved in altercations a few times with people who thought they could shit on me easily because I’m a short, soft looking (now middle-aged) woman with an engaging smile.

To date, nobody has left with that misconception intact.

Your instinct that I am generally kind and approachable and will not harm you for no reason is correct.

Your instinct that this makes me soft and an easy target is not. There are several very distinct versions of me, and if you provoke me you will meet most of them.

I daresay I'd be truly dreadful and pathetic in a fight now. I was fast when I was younger, and relied on surprise, speed and aggression to protect myself.

But I'd still give it a go. And you'd better be prepared to make sure I cannot get back up, if you start with me. If nothing else my yell rivals that of a silverback and everyone in a ten-mile radius will know we're scrapping.

I have a friend who once followed a road rager back to the driveway of their home, because they had harassed her while driving. And when they screeched at her that they had her rego number said, quietly, "And I know where you live". The rager ran inside and locked the door. And that was the correct instinct. This friend is also a middle-aged woman who looks deceptively approachable.

We naked apes know when faced with someone who means it, eons of evolution have seen to that. That's why I was able to force three grown men who were harassing a friend and I to back the fuck down when I snarled at them, long ago in the cinema. It's not that they couldn't have hurt, or killed me. It's the naked aggression they reacted to. If you're genuinely prepared to fight, even if you wouldn't logically be able to win, most humans back down. They see it in your eyes.

I’ve plenty more of those tales, but one suffices to make my point.

I'm not hard. Far from it. But my childhood taught me that when people come at you, you must come back at them as viciously as you can with everything you have. I'm from a long line of berserker and when my temper snaps, something goes "boing" in my brain. Logic is no longer in charge. And my temper sometimes snaps when I feel threatened.

Do whatever it takes, use whatever weapons are at hand, bite, kick, gouge, stamp, scream. Defend yourself.

That's the only way imbeciles, bullies or the self-entitled ever learn to leave you in peace. I had to learn not to overreact to perceived threats once I left the environment I grew up in, but your upbringing never leaves you.

The only exception to this is when I am out and about with a man. When I am with a man I will not make any attempt to enter into a chest-beating contest and will leave it at a sneer, because inevitably if the encounter escalates the violence will turn back on him. It's unfair and dangerous to put your husband, brother, son, friend, etc in a position where they have to fight to protect you, and I don't do that. If, however, he needs some backup from me, you can be sure I'll do my very best.

Online aggressors are much more cowardly, of course. They are usually the sort of people who would literally never start a fight with me, or anyone else, in person.

And online imbeciles generally react in an outraged and distressed fashion when they are responded to in a manner befitting their contribution. I find that both amusing and satisfying. I have a few stock responses I offer before completely ignoring them. I rarely block them, because I want them to see my response. Unless they're a serial offender, at which point it's worth blocking them to avoid the boredom factor.

I remember long ago, when my brother was in primary school, a fledgling imbecile walking up to him at playtime, out of the blue, and crowing "Speccy!" A common taunt back then aimed at bespectacled persons, also occasionally enhanced with "Speccy four eyes" or simply "Four Eyes!". Oscar Wilde, eat your heart out. Jack was not offended, merely confused, because she was also wearing glasses. His reply of "But you're speccy too?" was met with hysterics. She literally burst into tears and ran away. I feel this is the perfect analogy for the imbecile commenter who receives their just desserts.

It intrigues and confuses me that someone who has approached me and had a bit of a whine at me can then become deeply upset when they're mocked. Respect for opinions is earned, it's not a given. And nobody needs to listen to your shit.

That goes for me too, of course. On occasion, I've been known to offer a provocative response to someone if something they've written has irritated me. I rarely read their response to my response, because if they tell me to step off, it's pretty much what I deserve. At least I can own that.

But mostly, I just keep scrolling.

So for all the imbeciles out there who spend your dreary lives looking for reasons to be offended and try to make yourselves feel relevant by bickering with strangers, here's my advice:

Don't make assumptions about anyone. Don't assume that pleasant, middle aged women are an easy target. Don't start fights you cannot afford to lose. Both in real life and online you have no idea what someone is capable of, what weapons they may be carrying, what background they may be from - so why provoke them for no reason?

Make very sure that the person you're trying to antagonise is someone you could take in a fight. And if you still want to go for it, swallow a teaspoonful of cement and harden up. Don't wade in to a slanging match then start whimpering when you receive the disdain you deserve.

But, imbeciles being imbeciles, I suppose such advice won't penetrate.

Never mind, at least they're fodder for occasional articles.

PS — if you’re offended by my swearing in this article, please do read this for further enlightenment:

Alison Tennent, Queensland, Australia, July 2021 Copyright Alison Tennent 2021, all rights reserved. Scottish by birth, upbringing and bloodline, Australian by citizenship. If you’re reading this anywhere but The Garrulous Glaswegian, Vocal+ or Medium, this work may have been plagiarized.

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