Defending That Google Dickbag is Like Throwing a Shit-Stained Towel at Women’s Collective Face

Holly Wood
Aug 9, 2017 · 5 min read

Shit toweling is a neologism I coined today on twitter dot com.

This man insists Google’s now famed memo-writer be re-educated rather than fired. He then proceeds to insinuate to me that my reaction to his ridiculous claim means I lack compassion, something to remedy by activating my PFC (presumably my pre-frontal cortex). He accuses me of not having read or reflected on the absurdity of his defense.

This behavior coming from men is what I’ve decided to call shit-toweling. Shit-toweling describes the practice of trivializing or otherwise diminishing the compounded suffering that women and other marginalized groups experience over the course of their lives. Most typically, shit toweling is done by white men in an effort to defend a member of their own in-group from having to face accountability for reprehensible actions towards marginalized others. While there are many ways to shit-towel, the aim is always to discredit and silence feminist critique.

When men try to stifle women’s right to grievance with bad-faith arguments so badly construed that it insults everyone’s intelligence, it is the emotional equivalent of when a man wipes his ass with a towel and then flings it in your face. An example of shit-toweling would be a man trying to defend male privilege by insisting that those who criticize male privilege aren’t themselves being inclusive:

These shitbirds are legion. They wildly outnumber the minority of men stupid enough to risk their entire career by hitting send on a company-wide misogynistic diatribe. At breakneck speed, these men trip over themselves to defend the first amendment rights of professed shitbags as if Google has any civic obligation whatsoever to retain socially hostile staff. Last time I checked, software engineers have not yet organized for the collective right to academic freedom. Their opinions are not protected speech. They can be terminated at will. Especially if what the things that employee says jeopardize a company’s ability to retain and recruit new talent. While women’s discomfort is obvious, I know from having lots of friends in this world that there are plenty of male engineers who would also have an issue with working alongside an outed bigot and chauvinist.

The shit-toweling continued all day as men in other industries would go on defending this kind of antisocial workplace behavior as if professed sexism and racism are things any company that employs human beings should continue to tolerate in 2017.

While software development remains a highly valued skill, it’s not as if engineers who want to work at Google are scarce or hard to find. For every job opening at Google, there are literally hundreds of qualified applicants hoping to be interviewed. So what’s weird is that these shit toweling men presume that a profit-driven company can ever afford to alienate a talent pipeline full of talented, ambitious women not only ready and qualified to do that fuckwit’s job but can do it with the empathy and compassion for her colleagues than he just demonstrated himself incapable of practicing.

Men who defend shitbaggery like this presume that a for-profit company can afford to have the productivity of half its engineering staff undermined by the presence of an asshole who thinks their work so subpar that he had to write a fucking manifesto about it. Do these men really believe that women would ever want to report to a supervisor who wrote a manifesto questioning their capacity to code because they menstruate? How do you think those women would feel around performance evaluation time? How safe do you think they feel going to him with workplace problems? What program manager in her right mind would want to retain this guy on her team? Who would feel good about him talking to clients?

Every day, men throw shit-stained towels in the face of women when they defend Bill Cosby and simultaneously accuse dozens of women of hearsay and fabrication. Or when they insist rape culture is just in women’s heads. These men demonstrate that they really think their extracurricular time is best spent defending a class of men whose position at the top of the social order is already pretty well defended.

But despite the overwhelming evidence that the board is clearly not tilted in women’s favor, men then have the bald audacity to demand that women think about how their oppressor feels after being called to task for sending a fucking sexist manifesto to his entire office. They demand that she empathize with the fuckbag until she can agree that he should not lose his job over this. If anyone thinks he should lose his job, they must be unfeeling and lacking compassion. His employment is clearly more important in the scheme of things than women’s dignity.

This is what shit toweling day in and day out does — it makes women feel like men really believe that their job is to just take men’s shit. Men should never be held personally accountable for their sexism. All sexism is really just women’s misunderstanding.

It was a joke.

It’s just locker-room talk.

Shit toweling as a response to events like this is like saying while what this guy did is bad, he’s not the one on trial because what’s really on trial, say these men, is women’s right to protest. Like so many contrarian press outfits, they ask the contrarian question: but do women really have the right to complain?

In so doing, these men insinuate that their personal interpretation of reality is the only valid one and that women who disagree must to be corrected. This is ridiculous. This needs to stop.

It’s 2017 and men somehow still believe that what feminists are asking for is validation. Women are not asking for men’s opinion. Women no longer accept white men as the official arbiters of right and wrong, of what is and is not technically constitutive of workplace hostility. If anything, white men would be the absolute worst judges of such affairs considering their relative social advantage.

Though I’m sure some shitbags are going to show up to fight me, demanding that I include the poor, beleaguered white men in my classification of the systemically marginalized.

But nah.

I’m not going to.

I, like most women, am just fucking tired of this shit.

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Holly Wood

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Documentarian of the absurd.

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