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All-female theater troupe has horrible experiences performing in Somerville park

Erin Butcher, artistic director of Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company explains why performing in Somerville's Powder House Park means she will never do all-female outdoor performances again:

Vaguely, in the back of my head I must have known that a few homeless fellows would populate a public park in summer every now and then. But I really didn’t think much of it. I would be there every day anyway if there were any problems, and I had very rarely ever been approached by any homeless people in Somerville in my 4 years of living there… so it would be fine….

It was not fine. ...

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Eventually they will vote Republican after more exposure to reality in this lovely Sanctuary City. She doesn't say if any of the troupe tried lecturing to the homeless men on feminist theory, women's rights, microagression, and polite social dynamics.

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Since when does Republican = reality?

That's the funniest damn thing I've read all week!

Maybe you should move to Kansas for a bit of exposure to Republican faith-based reality, maybe drive your car around in circles until the roads collapse.

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This is the point I'm making. After years of ideals crushed by reality, many people turn to more pragmatic strategies and solutions, often backed by Republicans, though hardly exclusively.

I like Bernie Sanders idea of post offices cashing checks for example, serving those homeless people getting ripped off by check cashing services.

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When, exactly, have Republicans been pragmatic during this century?

http://billmoyers.com/2015/10/29/the-gop-and-the-rise-of-anti-knowledge/

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Bush signed a law requiring cars to have backup cameras to save the lives of little kids. Obama declined to enforce the law because it would cost automakers a few dollars. It wasn't until the parent of the dead kid whom the law was named after initiated a lawsuit that Obama decided to follow the law.

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This Week in N = 1 Studies

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And everyone over 50 just wants the world to go away.

Or something like that.

And the P.O.s should become banks. And they are financially solvent except for that manufactured crisis in which that they have to ridiculously prefund their pensions.

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What exactly would having republican leadership change about situation? Last I looked there was still homeless/lowlife dirtbags in GOP turf, sometimes a whole lot more of them.

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Tennessee maybe? I can't even think of any state controlled by republicans. Wyoming?

I can only picture rural, southern or western areas. And a possible response that the women in those parts of the world might be packing heat.

But nonetheless, I honestly can't think of any place ruled by Republicans. I guess I need to get out more.

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You might want to do some more reading.

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We have a republican governor! And you do realize the governor is the head political position in the state!

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He's not a real Republican.

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for me to have voted for him

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...Massachusetts is GOP Turf. OK makes total sense. I guess GOP is the liberal party then.

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Wait, it's Markkkkkkkkkk. He's probably serious.

:(

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I'm guessing you've never felt threatened before. Good for you. If you do ever find yourself in a situation where you feel threatened (and I mean really threatened, not "oh shit I might have to punch someone" but "oh shit am I going to get out of this?"), please try your own advice of escalating the aggression and report back.

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"OK Scary dude. You can threaten and intimate me now, but just you wait. Next election I've voting republican!"

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Personally I'd rather interact with junkies and addicts than be anywhere near amateur theatre. Just me though.

Seems like there is more the police could have done to stop intimidating behavior and the observation that the problematic folks acted differently when even a single male was present is very telling. That is legit creeper behavior. I wonder if the cops did not find anything actionable or if they were lazy/uninterested.

That said, there is a definite vibe in the post that the author is angry that others dare to be present and use a public space in ways that violate special theater snowflakes. Complaining about someone who sits and watches for 8 hours? The problem is not the person sitting in a park - it's the group present in a public space yet unwilling to deal with all that act implies. Want privacy and perfect isolation? Don't set up shop in a public park that is expressly open to all.

I get that there is a fine line between "using public space" and "using public space in ways that harass or intimidate" but the addicts were there before the show and will be there after the show closes. Public space has it's pros and cons and one of the big cons is you can't control the environment nor expect the cops to constantly police the behavior of all involved. Next year? Better site selection or increased event staffing/security.

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And I agree with your post. She and the troupe were in a public space, a park to be exact, and because it is a public space, one will run into the public which includes men. And some of the men will have issues such as substance abuse, homelessness, mental illness, etc.

As far as I can tell, some might of been obnoxious (possibly due to the aforementioned problems), touchy with the sets and/or liked the performance enough to sit there for many hours and "stare". None are arrestable offenses.

Next time rent a hall with a stage and just omit those you feel comfortable with (i.e. women).

Aside from all that, what bothers me more is that she makes the assumption that the men can control their actions which makes me think she is terribly naive and/or ignorant in the areas of mental illness, alcohol and/or drug abuse.

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This is attention seeking behavior that these women are engaging in. Renting a hall would defeat the purpose of their group.

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Last I checked, women are people, too, and have the same right to use a public park as men - and to do so without harassment.

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They have the same right to the public park as the others that use it. Unfortunately, they might of underestimated what that might of meant (or what they might of had to deal with). I guess I am still agog at their outrage.

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might of != might have

Can this stop, please?

(Post entirely impartial to previous content)

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It wasn't someone sitting and watching. It was someone getting up close and personal in the backstage area, staring at the actors.

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where someone sits within arms length ofme, sitting sideways, and staring right at me, or in my general direction. If it bothered me, what should I have done? Call 911 on my phone or text transit police, telling them this person made me uncomfortable by 'staring' at me and sitting too close?

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He's staring at me!!!!!!!!!

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Wouldn't the "backstage" area consist of a public park?

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nobody stare at the actresses, okay?

They really don't want anybody to stare at them.

In fact, it would be really nice if everybody out there could just turn their backs so they could have their play without being stared at.

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Actresses could perform with their backs to the audience whenever they find the staring too aggressive.

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I think the cop meant to say there is nothing they feel like doing. Intoxicated people interfering with a theater production doesn’t sound completely legit to me. I would see what police leadership feels about this.

It’s interesting that when police do want to confront you, you can be waiting for a bus or sitting at a table drinking coffee and you are accused of loitering.

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The Mayor may have a hands off attitude towards illegal immigrants, drunks, and the homeless, so cops were leaving the men alone rather than cite them for public intoxication and try to move them along. Other duties were likely of higher priority for them too, and the production could have paid for a detail cop if they thought they needed one.

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She did learn a good lesson about reality. And they should have planned for some security. And maybe planned for a lack of interest by the police.

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I got as far as the 'Angry White Male' part, and closed the page. This is one of the saddest, most lame things I've read in awhile. The writer is typical of a certain, dare I say privileged, demographic, who obviously grew up in and lives in a bubble. She is a fine example of someone who has been shielded one way or another from the harsh realities of the human condition, and life in general. She has the audacity to consider herself 'progressive', yet haa nothing but scorn and contempt for those who are literally on the bottom rung of society, dysfunctional alcoholics, drug addicts,and in many cases mentally ill, primarily because they are, by her own words, 'Angry White Men'. She even snuck in a jibe implying they had 'White Male Privilege'.You can be assured if they were homeless, alcoholic druggie women of color, anybody really who wasn't an 'Angry White Male', her tune would be different.

Welcome to the real world, Miss; better late than never. And next time, bring your own bodyguards, male if necessary, thry don't have to be white. The cops were correct, those homeless 'Angry White Male' alcoholics and druggies have as much a right to be in that park, and sit were they please, as you and your acting troupe.

Now, I think I need myself some intoxicant to calm down.

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Where she said the reason she referred only to men is because it was only men who were harassing her and her performers?

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"Because even men whose lives are in shambles, who have nowhere to go but a public park, and nothing to kill the pain but these substances STILL believe themselves to be above women. Still believe that as a woman I must interact with them in a certain way that maintains these gender roles. And that they have the RIGHT to leer at young women any damn time they please, especially if there are no other men around to stop them."

This is loaded statement and she is making a lot of assumptions and judgements, especially regarding men "whose lives are in shambles". I am a woman and I get the harassment part is not pretty but when I see a person write this stuff (and I am being polite here), my concern meter goes way up and out.

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Actually, a lot of people don't understand that people living on the streets and in shelters and who have mental illness or drug problems use their "threatening appearance" or "aggressive behavior" to ward off attacks from other people.

Yes, some don't know when to quit or move away, but that's part of the reason why many are homeless to begin with. Paranoia and drug abuse don't help with this.

These people may also have perceived this project as a threat to their "turf" and used their limited arsenal to mitigate the intrusion or drive that threat off.

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Why would she capitalize it as "Angry White Male" if it was just a description? Is this a common phrase in certain circles or something?

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I hate to be a Monday-morning quarterback, but it sounds like she didn't do her homework.

The park in Somerville we chose to use was lovely and conveniently located, but we had no access to storage, bathrooms, or electricity and the City of Somerville was incredibly unhelpful in regards to all these things.

And on top of that, the park was apparently populated by homeless drug addicts. Why didn't she bring some security guards?

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It's too bad that Somerville has become the sort of place where this would be necessary.

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You mean as opposed to times past when Somerville was a gracious bower of civility where theatrically inclined women were free to roam, untrammeled by coarse street vagabonds?

Remind me when that was exactly?

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In the past, if a homeless person harassed a woman in Somerville, the police would do something about it. So it didn't happen much.

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I, like Sally and Patricia, could tell you plenty of stories that say otherwise.

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Or why didn't she hire a police detail at double-and-a-half overtime?

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I was legitimately interested until she brought race into the story.

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Eloi meet morlocks.

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The park in Somerville we chose to use was lovely and conveniently located, but we had no access to storage, bathrooms, or electricity and the City of Somerville was incredibly unhelpful in regards to all these things.

Oh no, the city didn't cater to amateur theater? I don't mean to trivialize this real world lesson in diversity among the general public. Nobody minding their own business deserves to be harassed, but public space is public space. So much of this was just so naive and reaching that it overshadowed any real grievances. The "Angry White Male" tumblrina tone really put the nail in the coffin. This person has some real-world growing up to do.

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On the stage. maybe.

In real life and the puling post that followed, not so much.

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Is this little snowflake for real? It saddens me that there is an entire generation of privileged young women this out of touch with reality. By her own admission she is insulated into a specific bubble, "living in liberal Massachusetts, doing theatre, and working in an all female work environment, means that these days I don’t often come across too many openly misogynistic men", and cannot handle it when the bubble is pricked. Our universities, with their puritanical speech codes, "safe spaces" and the like, encourage this pampered, snowflake-like outlook and do not prepare young women for the harsher realities that life can often offer. Welcome to the real world and it's not always pretty.

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Let's train these women to deal with men who are jackasses, because there is literally no way to train men not to be jackasses. It physically can't be done.

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In general: I agree with you
In this case: these are not people who have the ability to control their behavior.

The problem is more one of "why are these people wandering around public parks harassing people". The answer very likely has something to do with how there used to be this island where they used to be able to just hang around and be away from the stresses of the city, and get drug treatment if they needed it, and now that island isn't there anymore.

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Just harder to get to and facilities closed.

Sheltered snowflakes need to learn coping skills should they ever leave this island of Political Correctness, get on a plane and visit a country where men are really agressive.

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Sheltered snowflakes need to learn coping skills should they ever leave this island of Political Correctness, get on a plane and visit a country where men are really agressive.

And you need to practice SHUTTING THE HELL UP a whole lot about what other people should do in situations that you will never face. Starting now. Just shut the hell up and stay that way for a good long while.

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Just because it's worse elsewhere doesn't mean this is acceptable behavior here.

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alcoholics, and drug addicts then. If you apply for a federal grant, you just might get funded.

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you'll find that the ones that need to be trained are the ones that can't learn. What is one to do?

Lock up all the drunks, addicts, and vagrants, you say? I'm up for that. There's even a term for this vague concept you're formulating: Broken Windows.

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they are hardcore druggies, alcoholics, homeless, and most likely mentally ill, not surprisingly, their behavior is erratic and can be rude and scary. Attempting to 'educate' them like college freshmen or in an HR orientation class will not work. They are not representative of healthy, well adapted adult males.

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I totally sympathize BUT for the organizer not to anticipate this is incredibly ignorant and foolish. Seriously, where does the hell does she think she lives? Kansas? It was her responsibility to hire private security guards in order to ensure the safety of those participating was guaranteed. This is just the world you live in, crime and vagrancy happens, especially in a public park in a large metro area. It's just hard to bellies that anyone would be surprised by this. My advice to the organizer is; stop living in a bubble!

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I thought the writer told her story in a pretty honest and descriptive way. Unlike seemingly every other commenter here, I did not get the sense that she was trying to shove some agenda down my white male throat.

I mean, she's not saying that these men should be kicked out of the park, or sent to feminist reeducation camp. Her conclusion is that she should be more conscious of how she programs theater and conducts her job/life. She is a lot less pissed off than I would be.

Even if she is some "liberal bubble child," at least she is learning and growing from her experiences, which is seemingly more than can be said about some of the people leaving comments after reading (?) the article.

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Her takeaway is pretty much "I am never doing this again!" I'd be more impressed, I guess, if she found a way around it. If you have the guts to do all-women's theater then surely you could be more prepared to tackle issues like this. Any 1970s feminist collective worth its salt would've found some forceful women to run security of sorts (probably a couple of rugby players would go the trick). There's a weird, very modern combination here of "hear me roar" and "we are fundamentally unable to protect ourselves" against what seems like not terribly egregious or unpredictable behavior by a bunch of sad, drunk guys. I can't really believe that the only solution was to call in the boyfriends.

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Yes, 70s women grew up having to deal with unfriendly and threatening men from an early age. A girl needn't leave the house to learn that the world contained creeps. Before caller ID, just picking up the phone introduced a girl to anonymous obscene harassing men. Not being chauffeured to school, or even to the bus stop, meant that children explored their neighborhoods by walking, often receiving offers of rides from strangers. The sheltered lives today's young people lead have not prepared them well in the practice of street smarts. And young women, especially, would benefit in a crash course on the subject when they leave for college.

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Yes! Those of us growing up in the 70's did have to deal with much more. I remember cars of men whistling and honking at us walking to school, and this was 7th grade! Some cars would actually stop and I remember one time a car full of men stopping and the car doors started opening.

We knew the drill and managed to keep ourselves safe.

great point.

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You took so much more creepy behavior for granted--flashers, public masturbators, cat callers, obscene mutterers and yellers. In seventh grade I had a guy try to lure me into his car while I was waiting for a friend to go to school and then when I demurred and started to walk away, he got out and started to follow me, at a run. I bolted up the street to where there were a few people around but holy hell--scary. Never told my parents or anyone.

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It was sooo much worse in the 70s, and it;'s soooo much worse today under ISIL, and yahda yahda yahda. Listen to yourselves, for God's sake. You're acting as apologists for shitty, barbaric, dehumanizing behavior on the lame-ass excuse that it's worse somewhere else. Since when does "it sucked worse then/it sucks worse somewhere else" excuse bad behavior? Was that how you were brought up? Tell me, if you misbehaved, did you ever once get off the hook by telling your mom about something your brother did that was much worse?

This stupid "it used to be worse/it is worse elsewhere" pseudo-argument is the kind of lame excuse that little children try (and generally fail) to excuse their misbehavior. Chronological adults should know better. Grow up.

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The point being made is that there was a time when women grew up with an awareness of this type of scumbag behavior. Ergo they were more equipped to deal with it. It is less the case today where a certain demographic of women are being brought up in an oversheltered manner and react the way the author of the article reacted.

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That's rich coming from you, queen of the online tantrum. Please feel free to point out where anyone excuses the behavior of the men in this instance except to observe that they are not college boys or construction workers but exactly the kind of creepy, addled losers you'd expect to find hanging out 24/7 in a city park. It's not that the harassment doesn't suck but they should have been more prepared to deal with it--it's the surprise that's puzzling folks here. Any theater company who performs in a public arena less genteel than say Tanglewood shouldn't be surprised by unwanted attention of all varieties--any Elizabethan would tell you as much.

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Yes, nobody is excusing the bad behavior of others. If anything, the Maiden Phoenix director's fear was UNKNOWINGLY encouraging it. Those men were sadists.

Those men were getting off on her fear. One sounds like he was having a blast regaling her with stories of bar fights and violence. She was frightened so much that she fell into the old "damsel in distress" mode: "I even started to flirt with him". She wrote, "How humiliating!" She better not call herself a feminist. She fell back on the only power she believes that she has, her "feminine wiles."

Little does she know, like Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ, she is smart, lovable, brave, and has tons of power within herself and needs to realize it. If that man had seen that she was not afraid of him, his fun would have been over and he would have eventually gone off somewhere else, unless he was a Shakespeare fan.

By declaring "I'll never perform in public again," she has surrendered her power to them.

She has just as much right to use that public space. Instead, she cowered in fear, playing right into their sadistic scaring tactics. She ought to stop apologizing for her existence and start to own the space she occupies, wherever she is, at every moment of every day of her existence.

She gave her power away. Who has more power? She and 15 white, upper middle class, law-abiding citizens? Or the loitering, drinking and drugging in public threatening and harassing men?

She should change her theater company to the Amazon Phoenix Players, take lots of cameras next summer, and go on with the show.

These are tenets from 2nd Wave Women's Liberation of the 1970s, that out of date feminism that 3rd wave feminists love to mock. Let them mock them. Let them call their boyfriends for protection when they want to put a play in the park.

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some of which were written by actors in this production. Listen to them. They aren't making this up.

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Only that it's not surprising. Somerville isn't Bennington. I just don't know how you do outdoor theatre in a city without expecting obstacles like this. I'm thinking of Tony Roberts in Annie Hall (explaining why he left New York) "I did Shakespeare in the Park. I got mugged." It's not that it's right but public theater is almost by nature confrontational and has to deal with its surroundings. If you do theater in the woods, you may have bats and wandering deer. If you're in Somerville...this.

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One of my formative memories of my teenaged life in Boston was being chased through the Combat Zone/Chinatown by a tall, scraggly, completely crazy guy, wearing one of those olive green coats with the coyote fur around the hood, who seemed to think I was an ex-girlfriend of his named Debbie. I will never forget the spooky hidden face and his careening after us shouting "I KNOW IT'S YOU, DEBBIE!"

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is just sad.

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...is that some of it is coming from women (or so we are told) who have clearly been very well indoctrinated.

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Any woman who holds an opinion different from yours has clearly been "well indoctrinated" by the patriarchy. Because we're all so pliable and ladylike around here--wouldn't dream of thinking for ourselves.

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