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No Right Thing to Say

I was recently interviewed for a podcast. There was a male and a female host. During the course of the interview, the female host told a story of a sexual adventure from high school. My reaction was “Good Lord, where were your parents?”

After the podcast recording which took place at a convention, the female host asked the male host to drop the discussion from the recording because it made her feel uncomfortable. Later, after the convention, she posted that she felt like it was slut shaming. I contacted her right away and apologized for making her feel that way. We even discussed rerecording an interview in which we will have a frank discussion about the incident and the surrounding issues. I also posted on her thread with a public apology even though she did not intend to call me out by name.

As I prepare for our coming interview and discussion, I’ve given the incident a good bit of thought.

If a male friend had been interviewing me and told a story about he and two friends involved in a high school club that specialized in cunnalingis and had business cards made up, would I have reacted the same way? In all honesty, I might have still said “Good Lord,” but I don’t think I would have said, “where were your parents?”

The cohost has stated that she did not believe the slight was intentional, but it still made her uncomfortable. I respect her as a person and an author and I did not wish for her to feel the disrespect she did as a result of my comment. It really did break my heart to think that she carried that with her after that while I was ignorant of what she was going through. The bawdy nature of the interview had just carried through and then we all parted ways onto our other convention business. I know that she has had a rough year from things she has posted and she was keeping up a strong front during the convention which included the interview as well. She did not let show how the incident had truly affected her at the time and I’m sorry that it weighed on her mind and heart following that incident.

Looking back, I’m not sure what to do differently and that will be something we will need to discuss in our follow up interview in which we have an honest post mortem of the incident for the purpose of everyone having a chance to learn from it. As an interviewee, it was a little different than just walking up on a conversation in a hallway and throwing in my two cents. There was a lot of back and forth and looking at that moment when I reacted to the story, I try to rewind it and rework it in my head and I come up empty. With an audio interview, surely awkward silence isn’t the right response. There could have been the innocuous “Oh, wow” or “There you go.” I could have gone with encouragement like the proverbial locker room banter. I’m not sure that would have come off better. I could have told my own story to follow up, but no one wants to hear that from me, believe me. As an interviewee, I was put in the position of reaction, but I don’t know what the proper one was.

These topics will be worthy of discussion and will come up soon in a frank, friendly, positive discussion regarding the entire topic.

— Jay Wilburn

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Jay Wilburn
Jay Wilburn has a Masters Degree in Education that goes mostly unused since he quit teaching to write about zombies. Jay writes horror because he tends to find the light by facing down the darkness. He finds the journey through life easier by having you join him. Jay is the author of 2 series: The Dead Song Legend and The Great Interruption. He cowrote The Enemy Held Near with Armand Rosamilia. You can also find Jay's work in Best Horror of the Year volume 5 and Dark Moon Digest. Each year Jay has the pleasure of featuring many great authors in the genre through the Summer and Winter of Zombie blog tours on his website.

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