I’ve been following the ongoing discussion of the ways jerks on the internet are especially vile to women. Like Digby had a commenter who once told her that she wrote a lot better before she “came out as a woman.” And I don’t think I’ll ever forget when one of the usual trolls at Post Politics told GoldnI that someone needed to teach her “a lesson.” I’ve been fairly lucky, I think. The problems I’ve had here have been very minor and I don’t really read the comments at Pith, so they could be as nasty as hell and I’d never know.
But one thing I’ve noticed is that all it takes is having a public platform. Period. A woman who write about staying home with her four children can attract assholes who then decide to spend their free time telling her how she’s been brainwashed by her “sky fairy” and how her children should be taken away from her and so on. A single woman with no kids can attract assholes who then decide to spend their free time dogging on her for how she’s unlovable. There literally is no “right” behavior that doesn’t result in assholes.
What’s interesting to me is that we, as women, are raised to be nice, to acquiesce, and to try to put ourselves in the position of the other person, and to assume either the best of that person or that we’ve provoked them somehow, or that they just can’t help it. We have been raised to not be bitches. And yet, not being a “bitch” doesn’t save you from abuse.
What’s more, people who aren’t skivvy assholes enjoy the company of people who are loud and opinionated and who know their own minds and do things they find fulfilling. So, it’s as if we’re being steered away from a really awesome, positive personality trait because it might make us “bitches” in the eyes of people who are always going to find something wrong with us anyway, without regard that it will make our lives more enjoyable to us if we can speak our minds.
But haters are always going to hate, as Kat Williams says, so why worry about whether and how we should acquiesce to them and instead worry about mitigating their damage. That’s why I love Alyssa Rosenberg’s of a “Threat of the Day,” which works especially well because, she’s right, it’s not just that they say it on a site as prominent as Think Progress, but that Google archives it. Pointing out that it’ll be around forever is as excellent a payback as I can think of.