Unsolicited Criticism

What you need to know to survive it

Unsolicited Criticism is, more often than not, a put-down, a pistol drawn from the holster of jealousy, of envy, perhaps even of sanctimony. “Your jump shot sucks.” “Your poetry leaves a lot to be desired.” “Isn’t all this painting, what you call ‘art,’ a lot of work for nothing?”

“Hey, thank you so much. Why, I didn’t realize… I’ll work on it.”

Of course you didn’t realize. It doesn’t suck. It doesn’t leave a lot to be desired. It isn’t all for nothing. If he does happen to be right, it’s coincidental. Motivation is everything: He wants it to suck, probably because his does.

Once you do realize, you ask him why he would say such a thing.

“Hey, just trying to be helpful, Man.” “Constructive criticism.” Or my favorite: “Sue me for caring.”

Do it, Man. Just once. Please, somebody out there do it.


Political Correctness on ESPN

ESPN Sports Nation’s Michelle Beadle, generally adorable, has unintentionally shown herself to be a hypocrite. Nothing new there as far as an illustration of the human condition, but most of us do try to be aware of it enough to at least keep it in the closet instead of throwing it out there for the multitudes on Twitter.

ESPN’s First Take Stephen A. Smith, generally boorish and full of hot air, nevertheless sensitive, fair and honest, was talking about NFL player Ray Rice hitting his wife. On CNN, as you’ve probably seen, it looks like he’s dragging her out of an elevator and she’s out cold.

Stephen A., speaking about the incident on First Take, clearly disturbed and disgusted by domestic violence in general—he has four sisters he loves, he’s seen it –did warn women to be sensitive to whatever might be provoking these guys. Are they pushing buttons they might not be aware of? In other words, are they being passive-aggressive?

And why not? They’re angry. Look what they’ve had to put up with. How else can they fight back, except through a guerrilla-type psychological warfare? These guys are bigger than they are.

Stephen A’s point is that that can be playing dangerously with fire. It frightens him, not for the men, but for the women. These men can be dangerous. He knows. We all do.

I would add to his point: If you’re pushing these buttons, and in denial about it, or somehow not aware of it, you’re in even greater danger.

If you’re standing up for yourself your way, the only way you can preserve your dignity–and for survival reasons can’t just walk out of the relationship–but you’re aware of it—what you’re doing to fight back and why—more power to you. Because you’ll know just how far you can go.

Unaware, you’ll remain a victim for the rest of your life, even in one way or another, with your next partner.

The politically incorrect word Stephen A. used, of course, was “provocation”. And for abuse victims, at least, it is loaded, no question. Ray Rice’s fiancé was knocked out. He’s a pro football player. As Stephen A says, there is no way to justify it. It’s wrong. Period.

Why is the word “provocation” so loaded? Because victims of domestic violence, deep down, do question themselves, even when they have no reason to. It’s human nature. You can’t help it? As with all abuse, physical, sexual, psychological, verbal: Did I somehow invite it? Was I somehow responsible?

This is a feeling—shame, guilt–rather than a reality. And if the victim feels the guilt, opens herself up to the shame, these feelings will subside, the fog will clear, reality sets in, and she can see the perpetrator for who he is.

If she denies these feelings, “provocation” will remain an even more loaded word for her. Denial adds to her baggage.

Ms. Beadle tweeted to her national audience first that Stephen A’s remarks made her feel “unclean”, like she needed a shower. Then, sarcastically, she said she’d planned on wearing a mini-skirt that evening, but…

So without further ado, Stephen A, himself now clearly guilty and ashamed, offers a heartfelt apology that only a delusional cynic could find fault with, and ESPN suspends Stephen A for a week from First Take.

After which Ms. Beadle tweets that she has been before in a relationship with an abusive man, implying she knows whereof she speaks.

Finally, she tweets, that in an abusive relationship, both parties can be abusive.

That goes far beyond what Stephen A. said, and she tweets this immediately after she’s sent him crawling away with his tail between his legs.

Is the word “provocation” loaded, or Ms. Beadle?

Has the former victim become, in her own way, a psychological abuser?

Did his comments inadvertently open her up to a more expansive view?

If so, who fights for Stephen A?

Not ESPN. Not in this world.

And so the abuse goes on.

Political Correctness , at least in this case, is abusive.