It also meant that when the Men started to call the house you were often the one to pick up, and there was probably more than one time when you didn’t hang up when I said, “Adam, I’ve got it.” […] It was a point of pride for me to keep our number listed; getting it out of the phone book seemed paranoid or presumptuous, but I probably should have had it removed. I don’t know how many different men there were because I suspect many of the calls were the same man, just disguising his voice, but there were definitely a quite few, especially after I went on Oprah; I feel like we averaged a call a week. They would often start off very politely, in a normal voice, “May I speak to Dr. Jane Gordon, please?” But then when I said, “This is she,” or you fetched me and I said, “Hello,” the voice would tipically drop into a whisper or a hiss; then—almost without fail—I’d hear the word “cunt.” Sometimes they just wanted to let me know that I was a cunt who ruined their marriage, or that cunts like me were the problem with women today, a bunch of feminazi cunts, or that I should shut my cunt mouth (stop writing); they’d deliver their message and hang up. But there were also threats of varying levels of specificity: that I was a cunt who should watch out, who was going to get what was coming to her, who might get shot while walking on the Foundation campus (that was just one caller, but he called several times), and so on. And there were variations on the theme of rape: I’m going to rape you; Somebody shoud rape you; You were probably raped; If you weren’t so ugly, you’d get raped.
The calls upset Dad more than me. I just felt that if somebody was going to attack you, they weren’t going to call to tell you about it first, although why I thought this, especially given my experiences working with abused women, I can’t say. Certainly it was unpleasant, but these guys were also so pitiful—I pictured them sitting in their La-Z-Boys, working up the courage to make their obscene call, maybe jacking off after from all the excitement, if not during—I couldn’t really take them seriously, or only took them seriously as specimens of the ugly fragility of masculinity. (Of course, if we’ve learned anything, it’s how dangerous that fragile masculinity can be.) Maybe I just wouldn’t let myself register upset because under no circumstance was I going to give them the satisfaction of my sounding hurt or angry ou scared. I never demanded, “Who is this,” I never said, “Don’t you dare call my house again,” I never said, “I’m calling the police,” although Dad insisted that we call them; they said they’d “monitor the situation,” whatever that meant. But then I invented this technique for fielding the calls that I’m still rather proud of.
When one of the Men called, and I said hello, and he dropped into his whisper to call me a cunt of whatever variety, I would pretend that I couldn’t hear: “I’m sorry, can you speak up?” Tipically what would happen is that the guy would repeat, confused, whatever he’d said a little more loudly, and while I could hear him fine, I would say, equally politely, betraying no knowledge of the nature of the call, “I’m sorry, it’s not a great connection, can you be a little louder?” And I’d just keep doing this, keep politely asking the loser to speak up. He’d maybe repeat his message once or twice, but he would always eventually get too embarrassed by the sound of his own voice—or maybe he was worried about being overheard; I wonder how many of these men had wives or daughters in the next room—and finally their voices would waver or crack or, most often, they would just hang up in what seemed like a rush of shame. For a couple of these calls Dad was on the line and we would have to stifle our laughter as we sensed the threatening caller trying and failing to work up the courage to use his grown-up voice. (p. 89-91)
…I believed that I could help a lot of people by describing triangles or siblings dynamics as clearly as possible and that the translation of those concepts into practical advice was my strength as a therapist. I also had, as Sima knew, a deep—a bone-deep—allergy to anything that smacked of mystification, to the way professional jargon—especially, but not only, of the analytical sort—could be deployed to dismiss women as hysterics; this was related to what had happened with my father, all the secrecy and gaslighting abuse involves. Now, the hard-core academics and theoreticians found it easy to dismiss me; if your book is celebrated in The New York Times, then you’re just peddling commercially repackaged ideology; you’re not to be taken seriously. There are of course real arguments to be had regarding what’s gained or lost with one mode of discourse or another, anti-intellectualism can be as bad as snobbery, but it was notable how, if one of the Foundation’s old boys or his allies showed up in the Times, it was because his work was transcendent, but when a penis-envying virago like me received attention, it was because I’d reduced everything to a kind of psychological chick lit. (p. 102-3)
The Topeka School