A Lesson in Rejection


Meenah braiding Vriska's hair as she pouts.

"One of the biggest mistakes in life is thinking people will show you the same love you’ve shown them." ~ Sasha Banks

Alas she speaks! Oh speak again, dark angel. Yes, I know it's been a while since I posted anything on my blog. Honestly, I've a lot going on and I've been taking some time off from social media, mostly just focusing on keeping up with my main channels while posting an insightful comment here and there on Twitter.


I have a few articles in the works, and while it's become sort of a pet project, I also don't want this site to devolve into me just talking about everyone's favorite video game critic; but a lot has been happening recently and I've sort of been dragged into it as well so I felt compelled to comment.


As always, I'll save the best parts for the end just to make sure you all are doing your due diligence.


So a couple interesting things have been happening to both Sargon of Akkad and Anita Sarkeesian lately and they aren't necessarily unrelated. Those of you who've been following me for a while know the story of how I've sort of taken it upon myself to try and #HealTheDivide between the two of them (and for those who are new, you can read all about it here).


When we last left off, I had just finished writing about my meet-up with Sargon in Manhattan and how I'd finally managed to have an honest conversation with him and many of his supporters, shifting their perspective of her character towards something approaching decency. To their profound credit, many of those I'd spoken with were quite receptive to what I had to say, even if it may take a good deal of repetition before it sinks in.


At least the seed has been planted in their minds.


Following that night, I'd sent an email to Feminist Frequency letting them know of Sargon's desire to bury the hatchet with them. Sadly, no response.


Lamentable, albeit somewhat predictable as well.


No worries. I'm in this for the long game, much in the style of Trump with regards to the reunification of the Korean peninsula. I don't expect it to happen overnight.

Terezi, Gamzee, Karkat computer

I bet you're just dying to know what it says in that email, though, aren't you?

Sadly, you'll just have to keep wondering for now.


In the meantime, a few of the predictions I'd made about Anita through my invocation of the Persuasion Filter managed to pan out. Firstly, you might recall from my article entitled In Defense of Anita Sarkeesian that I'd talked about a gentleman by the name of Boogie2988 and how all the Anti-Sarkeesians (a term I just coined) rallied to his defense against her bully tactics of him. In that article, I declared this to be a form of virtue signaling since Boogie himself - the so-called victim in this case - actually made his peace with her, even calling her a wonderful human being.


Most people didn't accept it at the time and continued to use her comments as a club to beat Anita over the head with even against Boogie's objections.


Well fast forward to this month and once again we find Boogie elaborating on how wonderful she is:


You might recall me saying that I disagree with her arguments, but I'm not against her in terms of her character. Now you have two people saying it, and both Boogie and I have had the benefit of personal interactions with Anita unlike many of you reading this who just make videos or blow up her Twitter from afar.


Maybe my opinion doesn't mean much to you, but I should imagine you'd have a hard time holding in your mind a defense of Boogie while at the same time ignoring his testimony. Or, at the very least, that's a shit thing to do and shows you don't actually care about him, you're just in it for bloodsports.


If, on the other hand, you care about morals and consistent principles and civility, I'd advise you listen to what the man has to say about her.


You should also listen to him if for no other reason than he has actually had a productive conversation with her. One that involved Anita actually hearing him out in good faith. So if you wanna get through to people like Anita - to radical IntFems and SJWs - take a lesson from the people who've already done it and do likewise.


Screenshot of me clearly not being blocked by Anita.

As of my writing this, she still hasn't blocked me, so clearly I must be doing something right.

Must be hard for many of you to admit she's not actually as bad as you imagined.

Another prediction I'd made several months ago using the Persuasion Filter had to do with Anita's true motivations at VidCon and what she really thought of Sargon such that she'd be compelled to act the way she did. While I'm not a mind reader, I wrote that her expressed feelings of intimidation were genuine. That she really did feel threatened and harassed by Sargon and his friends, even if ultimately I knew her concerns were unfounded as they had no intention of doing anything to her.


Well, ladies and gents, now I have confirmation of that.


Recently, Anita created a thread on Twitter talking about gaslighting. For those who aren't familiar with the concept, gaslighting is when you try to rewrite history in someone's mind, using falsehood to make them go crazy for the purposes of controlling them.


This is exactly her view of Sargon:


Anita's tweet about Sargon at VidCon

I hate to say I told you so, but I fucking told you so.


Now, is it fair to say that Sargon is a serial harasser? Well ... yes and no. It's directionally correct in so far as Sargon has made a number of unkind videos and statements about her in the past, including Photoshopping an image of her face onto the Brain Bug from Starship Troopers (more on that later), defaming her character by publicly calling her a fraud (more on that later too), and not wasting an opportunity to make jokes at her expense.


UPDATE: The same week I published this article, Anita and her cohosts talked about VidCon and online harassment on their podcast, further confirming my prediction of how she felt about Sargon. That it was all about the optics, as the Persuasion Filter suggests:


(Relevant part at 25:35)


In fairness, Anita is not beyond valid criticism or parody for her ideas, some of which can be quite pernicious in their own right (such as lauding the involuntary firing of Grid Girls), but if the intent is to win friends and influence people, this is not a productive way to go about changing her mind.


When I met with Sargon, he and I discussed this at length, how he had basically become the face of all her critics - many of whom are quite hostile (more on that later). When I spoke with him, he admitted frankly and with humility that he had in fact been overly harsh to her at times and he would try to do better going forward - which at least so far, to his credit, he seems to be living up to. He's made a few comments about her but those seem more geared towards her arguments, which I've said before are fair game.


In many ways, the two of them are twain as Anita has also become the public face of many things people hate about feminism as well (such as Gamer Gate). In both cases, I can say as an outside observer, I think the way each views the other is a patently unfair caricature.


Speaking of people who've become the focal point of mass ire ...

On the same topic of gaslighting, this is also her view (and that of many others) when it comes to Trump:


Anita's tweet about Donald Trump

Take a moment and pause to reflect on the tagline used in that article.

Bear in mind, this is someone's opinion she's treating as fact.


"A flood of lies that defies our best efforts to debunk them." Wait, what?! If something can't be debunked, then the general assumption is that it's true by default, so is this article saying here is a flood of truths?


"A presumption stands good until its contrary is proven." ~ Legal Maxim


Scott Adams has been talking about confirmation bias and Trump Derangement Syndrome for a long time, as well as the idea that we're watching two movies on one screen. Would that I could sit down for an hour or three with Anita and walk through a lot of this stuff with her together, pointing out her own biases - a topic she should understand already - trying to grasp what exactly she's so afraid of, because clearly we aren't watching the same movie. Not at all!


However, unlike modernists such as Sargon, I'm savvy enough to recognize that the problems attending postmodernism and intersectional feminism are mostly about perception and psychology.


This is due to my training with the Persuasion Filter.


Anita herself talks about this all the time. It's basically her brand, and if you listen carefully, she's very open about all this stuff. She is, in fact, quite transparent when you stop and listen to what she actually says. As I've expressed previously, she's a Master Persuader with a few bad arguments. She's obviously very smart and sophisticated and reasonable and kind. If money isn't her motivation, which I've proven in past articles it's not, then the only thing left is a genuine sense of compassion. She's demonstrated that she can be creative and funny and isn't above even a little bit of provocative trolling of her own at times as well. She just needs someone from the opposing camp who's willing and able to meet her as an equal, much like Boogie. Someone who speaks her language, much like Boogie.


More recently, I've become bolder in my own challenges to her arguments as I feel she's had enough time to get comfortable with my presence ... sort of.


If you scroll through her Twitter, you'll eventually come across examples in which I also push back against some of her more problematic posts. However, pay attention to the way in which I address her and Feminist Frequency in contrast to how most of her critics do:


My Tweet to Anita regarding Trump gaslighting

Can you spot the technique?


I won't tell you what mine is, but among the eighteen victim types listed in Robert Greene's The Art of Seduction (seduction here meaning persuasion in general), I would bet real money that Anita probably leans towards the Lonely Leader type.


A Lonely Leader is characterized by a sense of isolation that comes from taking on many heavy burdens, many great responsibilities that make them difficult to relate to, in this case her role as a thought leader in modern feminism. Many of you reading this probably wouldn't look up to her as a role model, but but plenty of others do, for better or worse, and that can weigh on a person. It's a sentiment that Sargon shares as well when he said that part of the reason he's a dick to her is he feels compelled to bolster the troops around a rally point, and such point happened to be her.


The key to persuading a Lonely Leader is to treat them with respect as a peer because so few do. It lifts the burden from their shoulders and makes them feel at ease like a normal person. This is what I've done, it's what Boogie has done, it's what Styx has done, but it isn't what Sargon and just about all of her other critics have done.


Is it any wonder then why she locks herself away in a high tower?


Internet dark full of terrors

Bearing in mind that perception matters more to persuasion than do facts,

since people are generally swayed by emotion over logic.


It also doesn't help that, whenever she does get harassed online (more on that in a minute), far too few people are willing to come to her defense and believe her side of things when objectively they really ought to if they had any principles. You can take the approach most people do and say she made her bed and now she has to lie in it, but I would ask you what crime did she commit for which you're willing to be so cold and uncaring to her now?


I mean that sincerely. I genuinely would like to know.


Maybe this is something I'd have to talk to Sargon about since I wasn't following her during Gamer Gate, but I've been following her for several months, reading people's comments, and to my eyes, I've gotta be honest, it looks particularly cruel and sadistic at times. Again, I view it more like the situation going on in Korea wherein the status quo was to treat the North as a pariah and just beat them mercilessly into submission until they gave into all our demands while conceding nothing on our end. We did that and, for sixty years, that conflict went on with no change, the war growing ever closer to nuclear disaster until finally Trump came along and flipped the entire thing on its head virtually overnight.


In reality, it took months of course and there was a lot of heated exchange, but in the end he raised Kim and North Korea up out of the darkness and into the light to take a place at the table with the rest of civilized society. It was a historic, world-changing event - something no one thought possible - and so far, both sides appear to be genuinely committed to that peace.


Kim Jung Un is a Lonely Leader too in more ways than one, and I find it laughable that people who rebuked Trump for threatening to start a war, who said he could never get them to talk peace, are now suddenly all experts in how it should be done.


Same with Anita and her team. People are quick to claim they are beyond reach, yet Boogie and I both got a meeting with them. Our efforts might not have amounted to much at the time, but then we only had a limited window to really get into it with them; and what little opportunity we had was actually quite productive. I guarantee you Anita's frame of reference has been cracked just by talking to me and Boogie. Maybe take a minute to shut up and listen to what we're telling you so you can see it too.


Those who say it can't be done shouldn't stand in the way of those doing it.


If there's Trump Derangement Syndrome and Sargon Derangement Syndrome, the Anti-Sarkeesians might well have Sarkeesian Derangement Syndrome, inured in confirmation bias and seeing a form of her that isn't really there.


Me as Meenah playing Fortune Teller

Thankfully, I'm sufficiently trained in the dark arts to be able to help diffuse all three.

Continuing on the topic of ludicrous criticisms, Anita recently made a thread talking about a number of conspiracy theories levied against her by her detractors - everything from her not being a real gamer to having an army of sock puppet accounts to being ludicrously rich. I'd gone through all these in my own articles and debunked them as well, and that was from a distance using the Persuasion Filter as a tool for remote viewing. How nice to be vindicated on all that.


Here's where things start to get interesting though.


In that same thread, I offered to help Anita push back against against some of this criticism, all she had to do was ask. The idea being much like I told Ebony Aster when I met her that the two sides are each speaking different languages and a translator would be useful.


My expectation was either Anita would say yes (cuz how could she possibly refuse?) or she'd continue to ignore me, trying to pretend that I didn't exist in order to avoid the pain of confronting cognitive dissonance that someone from the enemy camp could be so nice to her when it seemed like even people on her own side were not.


What I didn't expect her to do, however, is what actually happened:


Anita's reply to my offer of friendship

And to think, it only took eight months to get this far.


Now, to many of you, this may not look like much or, if the replies in the thread are anything to go by, it probably looks like a hard and vitriolic rejection, as though I'd just been permanently expelled from Mt. FemFreq. And maybe in the end that's really all it is and I'm overthinking it; however, when you consider the entire context that built up to this moment and all she and I have been through the last few months, and then apply the Persuasion Filter to it, this is actually quite a lot more significant a statement than you might be inclined to believe at first and it's actually profoundly positive in many ways.


I realize that's a provocative assertion, so allow me to walk you through it.


Again, think about it in terms of how Trump handled diplomacy with North Korea. At first, there was a lot of hatred going back and forth between the two sides, with Kim calling Trump a dotard and a dog and threatening to annihilate him, but in the end he posed for photo ops smiling and hugging. The two invited each other over and I predict they will eventually go on to become friends.


Why do I keep likening this to North Korea? Because right now a lot of you are having a hard time imagining how to go from where we are to where I (and you and she and everyone else as well) would ultimately like to be. The situation between the U.S. and North Korea is an example of overcoming a seemingly impossible scenario and making it look easy. By and large, Kim acted the way he did out of a profound sense of self-preservation because he legitimately believed we wanted to wipe him off the face of the Earth. Trump initially played into that fear with "fire and fury" before contrasting it with an off ramp forcing Kim come out of his shell and join us at the table where we can finally tell him all the things we've been wanting to say for so long.


I've been arguing for months now that the same would be true of Anita if you all just stop attacking her, forcing her to be on the defensive. You've got the fire and fury part down, but only a handful of people like me and Boogie are offering the contrasted vision of peace and friendship.


Me as Condesce consoling

You guys are the bad cop, but you think you're the good cop,

when in reality I'm the good cop here and so is Boogie.


So now, I want to call your attention once again to the way in which I compose my tweets to her. What do you notice about them, particularly in contrast to everyone else? Even if she doesn't like me, and even if she disagrees with me, it's kind of hard for her to hate the things I say, right?


It's very Trumpian in its vision of a friendship "maybe someday."


My tweets use pacing and leading ("I know we don't always see eye to eye") thereby acknowledging her experiences and her position. I'm not coming at her in anger. I'm not making criticisms of her character (or of anything irrelevant at this point either - I'm picking my battles). In fact, I'm offering to solve a really big and persistent problem in her life that would ripple out to many others as well if successful, so it's selfless.


I use visual persuasion, showing her the article I wrote with the fan art I drew of her as a gamer, so now she clearly can't ignore it anymore. For her to conclude she doesn't need my help, it seems highly probably she read my article before reaching that conclusion.


Or at least if not, it's there for others to read.


Perhaps most importantly of all, though, I took away her reason to hate me by explicitly saying to her, "I'm not your enemy" in front of the entire class, much like Trump took away Kim's reason for hating us by saying we have no interest in fighting Korea if they just give up their nukes. Our reasons are the same as yours: self-preservation. Apart from that, you can do what you want. You can be our friend or keep living as you are.


And then the response is something like: You mean, you've only been attacking me cuz you're just as scared as me and neither of us has to live in fear if I just give up the one thing you're afraid of that I don't even really want anyway but cling to out of necessity cuz I didn't know if I can trust you before, but now I do? Done deal!


Now she has a choice to make. She can be cynical and think I'm lying (which is hard to maintain given the body of work I've compiled about her), she can succumb to craziness by attacking me anyway (which she knows would only illicit further attacks by the Anti-Sarkeesians), or she can do what she's always done best, which is start to apply introspection and restructure her worldview.


Deconstruction is easy for postmodernists since they're always challenging everything. It's the subsequent reconstruction they struggle with, but I'd be willing to help her with that too.

Notice my response wasn't pushy either, but it in fact acknowledged and respected her decision and her individual freedom. The door is open for her to walk through or not at her own pace. In backing off, I'm trusting Anita as a rational actor with moral agency. I can't force her to accept my help, even though her refusal saddens me greatly. Likewise, though, she can't stop me from writing about her in my own blog either. The best I can do is give her room to struggle on her own and the best she can do is block me but that'd be akin to Kim Jong Un firing off a nuke. It'd be a suicide move and she knows it, so she's stuck and I'm the only one offering any kind of escape hatch.


I predict that, in the end, she will eventually get tired of fighting the masses and come talk to me, and the two of us will be friends years down the line.


Anita playing video games

I dream of a day when Anita and I can sit side-by-side playing video games together

on a Falcon 9 headed for Mars and not once do identity politics come up along the way.


Most of you, however, would probably act the way some of the other commenters did. Right?


One tweet (which has since been deleted after I rebuked to this person) basically called Anita a feckless cunt to her face for refusing my help. This person genuinely thought they were being helpful when, in reality, it was more like the media-political complex continuing to provoke North Korea before, during, and after the Singapore summit, thinking that somehow North Korea would be more inclined to change positions on human rights violations if we continued to act belligerently towards them.


To be honest, I have mixed feelings about the Anti-Sarkeesians.


On the one hand, I can't deny the fact that they're aiding my cause by providing clear contrast (which is highly persuasive) as to why she needs my help. It's a very Trumpian move with me appearing the good cop, like what he did with North Korea by appointing John Bolton.


On the other hand, they're also selling past the close and being total unsympathetic assholes to her and not using empathy to try and view things from her perspective. That's clearly intolerable, which is why I pushed back on some of it, possibly at the expense of effective persuasion, but at least my conscience is clear. Then again, being able to walk away at anytime shows confidence and gains you leverage.


After all, she needs me far more than I need her at this point.


Ultimately, though, actions speak louder than words, and showing her I'm committed to helping even after being rejected is a high ground maneuver. One that does more work than merely stating my intent, and it's my actions that are triggering her cognitive dissonance.


Whilst I appreciate the intent of people trying to defend me, their execution wasn't helpful in the way I'd prefer it to be. I would have rather they simply respect my approach in dealing with this and not try to signal their virtue or project victimhood onto me the way they did with Boogie, at least not without understanding the greater context at work here. I guess we'll see how it plays out.

Me as Condesce punting Rose

Depicted: How people expected me to respond.

You may be wondering why I'm doing this. Why am I being so nice to Anita in the face of such blatant rejection? Maybe some of you think I'm being soft and naive, whereas she's just being her usual hateful, bitter self, so why am I just taking it in stride?


The answer is because I'm not a mind reader and I can't actually know what her intentions are of course. However, the Persuasion Filter gives me a slight edge in terms of guessing.


It's also just good practice in general to assume the best intentions of people.


Being friends is more likely to get results than being enemies. It's the same as those people who couldn't understand why Trump was platforming and humanizing Kim Jong Un - a brutal dictator - when the answer should have been all too obvious. We'd be in a better position to demand human rights changes if we take away their reason for committing them in the first place. You want power and respect? Fine, it's yours. Done. That was easy. What's next?


What do you want, Killmonger? The throne? Cool. Here's your shot. Now let's see what your true colors are when you have all the power.


Respect and platforms are easy to take back if the person behaves poorly, but they're hard to give to someone with a bad reputation. Which is all the more reason to give them to Anita. What has been her consistent complaint? Women don't have a voice, women get ignored and suppressed. Ok, well I'm giving you a shot. Let's see what you do with it.


If the fundamental issue is one of misunderstanding and perception, then giving someone a platform becomes all the more important as a permanent solution. That's why I platform and humanize her, cuz I feel a lot of people are wrong about her and she deserves a proper defense. If it turns out that I'm the one who's wrong, it's absurdly easy to join the fray again and go back to fighting her.


But I'm tired of fighting and I know she is too. Aren't you?


See, this is the part you're all missing. This rejection tweet is the first time Anita has publicly addressed me directly. In the past, we've exchanged emails and I've talked to her via private chat on Twitch or through my patron privilege in AMAs. Somewhat ironically, I've even been dubbed "Vanquisher of the Patriarchy" by her, so ... you're welcome for that. 38D


Me as Meenah gloating

Mission accomplished! We can call the war off now.


I suppose that approach might work for people with a childish worldview in as much as the people claiming Trump could solve the issue of children in cages with a stroke of his pen; and then they all had to grow up rather quickly when he did just that and they suddenly realized the world was far more nuanced and complex than that, and fixing things isn't quite as simple as they believed.


All joking aside though, this is the first time Anita's ever addressed me publicly and there is a lot more information packed into it than you might realize. Again, she's a Master Persuader, and to someone such as that, a little bit goes a long way. Her tweet may have only been five words long, but as we saw with Kanye West and Candace Owens, you don't need a lot of space to send a powerful message.


Brevity is the source of wit.


In order for her to reject my help, she first has to at least acknowledge the person offering it, which means she can no longer bury her head in the sand and pretend I don't exist. She can no longer continue to ignore me either and stick her fingers in her ears and go, "La, la, la, I can't hear you." She clearly can see and hear me, since she responded to me. Moreover, she understands what I'm offering since she very specifically rejected my help. The real question at this point then becomes is it an issue with me personally or with receiving any kind of help at all? Is it the message or the messenger.


My guess is it's more the messenger, since she was a lot more cordial before discovering I had #MAGA in my Twitter bio and learning I was a Trump supporter.


Ultimately, that makes my job harder, but it's still far from impossible; and ultimately, the added challenge might better serve humanity in the long run as another example of people from different tribes coming together to #HealTheDivide. So this could be a potential blessing in disguise.


Either way, I've gotten her to think past the sale. The sale being that at least one person can exist who unironically supports both her and Donald Trump at the same time and who does so consistently. After denial comes anger and I can tell you first hand she is very angry with me, though I doubt she understands why. By publicly responding to my offer, even in a negative, she has to rewrite the script in her head now to account for this fact. Once she does, you'll start to see a cascade effect. It'll take some time, perhaps several more months I imagine, but ultimately it'll happen faster than most of the Anti-Sarkeesians could ever imagine (if they thought it possible to begin with) and then they'll have to rewrite their scripts about her and about intersectional feminists in general.


This is what Scott Adams calls "shaking the box."


I have introduced new variables into the equation that would allow Anita the potential to exit her bubble. Moreover, you all now know it too (at least at a subconscious level) and can help apply pressure to the situation, though I hope you will choose to join me on the high ground and parse everything in the best possible light.


Keep in mind, it's often hard to tell inflection in text, which is one reason I use a lot of visuals and emojis and reaction gifs. Her tweet had none of that, so it could just as easily be read as "Go fuck off and die in a fire!" or "Thanks, but I've got it. Wink."


Reread it and see if you can picture either of those being the case.


"But it's so obvious! She doesn't want your help because she's a crazy, evil ideologue!!"


Maybe. Maybe she really is everything you believe and she just doesn't want anything to do with me for purely ideological reasons and I'm wasting my breath defending her; but let's see if I can help you imagine an alternative reason for why she might turn me down.

A lot of you won't like this, but perhaps the most obvious explanation for her refusal - and the first one that came to my mind when I read her tweet - is that she's actually quite savvy in her own right and, wait for it ... maybe she really doesn't need my help after all because she's a highly skilled public figure with Master Persuader status. Looking at her XOXO presentation, she certainly seems quite capable of holding her own when it comes to rebutting criticism:


Again, you're not gonna like it, but I would highly encourage you to watch this video, and to share it with your Anti-Sarkeesian friends because this short presentation does a lot of things and it'll really stir up cognitive dissonance in you.


Firstly, right out of the gate, she's clearly hugging a white dude and talking to a crowd that includes many white dudes, so there goes the "she just hates white dudes" argument. Secondly, she gives hard evidence for a lot of the harassment she received including examples of revenge porn with her face shopped onto the women.


I think we can all agree that those images would constitute a legitimate form of harassment. Yes?


So there goes the argument she was never sexually harassed online, because even if she was as corrupt as people claim, that is clearly not a productive or proportional response. Free speech, blah, blah, you have the right to make parodies, and this being the internet there is porn of everything, but it's not helpful or kind is what I'm saying.


At best, it's people playing in the weeds. At worst, it's outright cruelty.


On top of that, it also says a lot about her resilience. Many Anti-Sarkeesians tend to view her as a special snowflake with thin skin, but in actuality you probably have to have fairly thick skin in order to maintain such an upbeat attitude all the time in the face of shit like this going on for six straight years and counting. You might say it's just harmless images. No one's actually abusing her, and that's certainly true; but ask yourself how you would feel if someone told you, "Fuck you, straight white male Nazi colonizer" for six years. Maybe you'd grow numb to it after a while, but you'd still rather it stop, right? Or maybe it pushes you further towards radical counterattacks.


Would you consider that a form of online harassment? Would you consider that type of prolonged psychological warfare to be harmless?


Of course you wouldn't. It's why people fight so adamantly against SJWs. Well, she's fighting her own battles too and she's a human being just like you with thoughts and feelings and a desire to be believed and heard. Honestly, a lot of you would probably have a great deal in common with her and could have fun doing normie stuff together if you could just get past the petty politics.

Maybe you can join us on the rocket.​

Another possible interpretation of Anita's tweet is that she is responding out of a feeling of humiliation rather than cruelty. She is clearly a very intelligent, successful, hard-working woman who has fought long and hard to get to where she is and she has a lot to be proud of. Maybe she feels that accepting my help would undermine her success, making her look weak as though she can't defend herself on her own without someone else's pity.