Women Writers Teach You How To Deal With Online Harassment
- JWB Post
- April 13, 2015
Writing as a woman has a bittersweet experience, especially when you start reading the comments. And after learning how morally deficient you are, why your friends and family are unfortunate to know you, and what species you really belong to, it doesn’t end there.
The trolls find you on Twitter. They talk about how wonderful it is that natural selection won’t let you reproduce. They find you on Facebook and describe flaws in your appearance that you never noticed. Some even threaten to rape or kill you—and they don’t spare you the details of how they plan to go about it.
Freelance writer and feminist blogger, Suzannah Weiss asked women writers what they have to say to Internet trolls:
“Imagine how awful it must feel to be someone like that,” Elisabeth Fairfield Stokes, an essayist who teaches writing at Colby College, says. “I really do think trolls are their own punishment.”
Journalist and Pink Bits author Kat George saves her tears for the people she respects: “The day Kurt Vonnegut (wakes up from the dead and) tells me I’m a terrible writer is the day I’ll cry about it.” In the meantime, “if Joe 16-year-old nobody wants to call me fat because he doesn’t agree with my opinion on Lady Gaga, I just can’t see a way to take that personally.”
“I get PAID to give my well reasoned opinions across many different publications, and my career is thriving,” said George. In contrast, “the people who troll me are people who have nothing better to do with their time than to say pathetically NASTY things for FREE.” She continued with a rather humorous analogy:
“You are a wonderful flower who is blooming all over the place, and of course some stray dog with animal AIDS is going to wander past and see your colorful petals at some point and piss all over it because dogs will piss anywhere without even thinking about it.”
“What we’re writing about means something to us and other people,” said Hayli Goode, a health and beauty writer for Bustle. “We have an amazing opportunity to share something through our words that we feel is important.”
Maisha Z. Johnson, an activist and writer for Everyday Feminism, Black Girl Dangerous, and Pyragraph, take comments less seriously: “You would not believe how hard people try to find something to complain about. That alone is reason enough to try not to take it personally, because it’s really so much more about them than it is about you.”
She continues: “The very tiny portion who feel passionately about something critical will be the ones to comment. I know this from the amount of traffic, shares, likes, and behind-the-scenes positive messages we get. You can look at that and know that hundreds or thousands of people absolutely love it—but from the comments, you’d think it totally bombed and everybody hated it . . . Find a way to feel connected to the silent majority who love your work.”
“Let it hurt. Then realize that you’re living your fucking dream every day,” said sex educator and author Allison Moon. “The trolls can stay under their bridges and heckle from the depths. I’ve got a lot more work to do up here.”