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"...another reason I'm intrigued with the hanged of Salem, especially the women, is that a number of them aroused suspicion in the first place because they were financially independent, or sharp-tongued, or kept to themselves. In other words, they were killed off for the same sort of life I live right now but with longer skirts and fewer cable channels." Sarah Vowell, The partly cloudy patriot.


I'm posting a lot today, I guess

I have an op-ed piece that I have been working on for some months. I take it out, fiddle with it, and then put it away. I shared it with my old advisor (undergrad), and she thought it was great and that I should publish it. I submitted it to a paper, but never heard back. So, I decided that while I was employed by a university, to use their publications department.

When my old advisor and I wrote an op-ed piece together, she sent it to her publications department, they helped us focus it a little, and they sent it out and got it published for us. They were also really supportive and kind in their feedback. So, I thought maybe this would be a similar experience.

I submitted it to someone who said he'd look at it and get back to me. I heard nothing - so I contacted him 3 weeks later. He lied and said he'd told me he would pass it on to someone else. He never said that. So, the other person contacted me a full week later ( I should note that my old advisor's publications department's turn around was less than 2 days from edits to sending it out). She insisted we talk on the phone - which I didn't want to do because:
a. I hate the phone;
b. Without my cell phone, it is hard for me to arrange to be near a phone much of the time;
c. I do much better with critical feedback in writing - and I knew that would be even more true in this case.

So, we finally talked today, and when I hung up the phone, I sobbed. Right now, I feel emotionally spent.

The piece I wrote was about the rights of victims versus the rights of perpetrators using my experience of the attempted assault 1.5 years ago, and the difficulties I encountered with the police and the legal system. It was a personal piece - but I thought it was strong and focused.

Apparently it is not. I was told that it was "vague and sketchy" and that it took me "5 paragraphs to even get to the point" and that there were so many details that completely caused her to call my story into question (and she contacted a law professor - who denied that what I said occurred with the DAs office could have occurred), etc., etc. She also took the opportunity to tell me how I SHOULD HAVE handled things. That is, how I should have handled the responding officer coming on to me, how I should have handled the court case, what I should have known to do, etc. I asked that we please focus on the piece, which I think offended her.

But, a large part of my point is showing that victims know so little and yet no one helps. If I have no experience with the legal system, how can I know what my rights are, much less what questions to ask. Part of the point of my piece is that it seems like everyone is looking out for the perpetrator - not the victim - and that is screwed up.

At the end, she said, "So, I don't know if you want to spend the time revising this or not" and told me that if I did, I needed to make sure it was interesting.



At 6:12 PM, Blogger BrightStar said...

That lady sucks.

I'm sure your piece is already interesting. You could have some online volunteer friends read it, perhaps?

At 6:25 PM, Anonymous Princessrunner said...

What a horrible thing she did. In criticizing your piece on the lack of rights for victims, she victimized you all over again by not believing what happened to you.

That is extremely unprofessional.

Oh, and many law professors are very out of touch with what goes on the in criminal court because they don't practice.

At 6:35 PM, Blogger Anastasia said...

o my god, that is horrific. what the hell is her problem?

At 8:40 PM, Blogger dr four eyes said...

Yeah, that woman didn't get it at all, did she? Being a good editor requires a lot of sensitivity, both to the author and the text, sensitivity that she's clearly lacking.

I hope you'll find someone who can give your piece a more thoughtful and thorough reading--because the point you're making obviously needs to be made.

At 9:30 PM, Blogger StyleyGeek said...

That is horrible. The worst part is that she can't have even thought about the point of your piece if she could then treat you like that.

I want to hunt that woman down and explain to her what a moron she is.

At 9:35 PM, Blogger k8 said...

I'm so sorry! The editor and the lawyer sound as if they were both incredibly rude (on top of not getting the point of the piece).

At 10:08 PM, Blogger shrinkykitten said...

b*: I think I need to hide with it again. It's not something I feel comfy opening up to for criticism. I thought it was past enough - but I guess not.

princessrunner: thanks for the comment about the law profs. You are right - she had me doubting myself and my memory of it all over again.

anastasia: maybe since she's not a writer anymore (she used to be a reporter) she's forgotten that it is hard having your writing torn apart. Or maybe she has been on the receiving end for so long, she's inured. At any rate, given that a large part of her job is to help profs write op-ed pieces (we are extremely encouraged to do so by the university - it looks really good to the public), she should know how to give feedback more better :) (ungrammaticality purposeful). I just realized she didn't say a single positive thing about it.

dr four eyes: thanks. It probably won't happen again for a while. But I think you are right - what I experienced was horrible. Were I raped, it would be much much worse in terms of how I would have been treated by the justice system. And I think people need to know how victims' rights are not just trampled on, the system is so confusing and blaming victims are not often even aware they have any rights.

styley: I'd totally like to see you do that! Could you bring a parrot to help?

k8: I don't know if she was rude so much as oblivious. What's weird is that she framed wanting to talk about it on the phone rather than via email as being related to how personal the piece is. She said at one point it was "too emotional" which apparently is not good. It's a lot less emotional than the stuff I wrote right afterwards! I think it's angry - and I don't know that a reasoned piece on that topic would have much weight. I also think there is humor in there.

At 11:04 PM, Blogger BrightStar said...

I understand why you wouldn't want to share it right now.

At 11:52 AM, Blogger Clio Bluestocking said...

What a nasty woman! How you "should" have handled it? That's the most insulting, patronizing, clueless way to discuss something traumatic with a person. It's a "blame the victim while showing how superior and knowlegeable I am" tactic. My brothers would say that she need a real ass-whoopin'. I'm so sorry that you had to go through that. As my exceedingly adorable nephews would say (quoting Teletubbies): "Big Hug!"

At 11:14 PM, Blogger k8 said...

True. I use the word rude to encompass a wide range of behavior I find annoying. I can see that academia's cult of rationality has infected this editor. Is she reading it as something that will represent the university? If so, she might have different criteria for this type of writing than, say, someone at a newspaper or magazine. Regardless, though, her approach was inappropriate.


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