I’ve recently been more active in my social media: blogging, tweeting, googleplusing, etc. As an author, I like to try to keep fans up to date, and blog about things that are important to me and important to those who enjoy my fiction and non-fiction. Lately, however, I’ve been getting more trolls than positive feedback and it’s not great for my mental health. As a woman with a mood disorder and anxiety, I’ve found that I have to know when it’s time for a break. And I often take them, but I don’t stay away, as some do. And this is why:
The last month has been a troll haven. I have received a barrage of sexist, even violent comments and messages. These things come mainly through Twitter and Google+, for some reason. I think I’ve had to delete about 12 messages in the last week from strange men who’ve written various harassing things either under my innocuous posts or via google messenger. These things range from gross “YourehotttakeoffyourclothesIwanttoseeyounaked” to violent “Iwanttorapeyourpussy.” And they are usually written like the above examples, in a stream of ignorance. I delete them and try not to get upset. But the terrifying messages about violence against me or even just perverted things that men would do to me are hard to ignore. Because it triggers me, a survivor of sexual assault. And because it shows me just how far we have to go in this society to become peaceable, accepting, caring.
And it’s funny (not ha-ha funny, mind you; more ironic funny) because my posts on feminism and sexism and gender inequality are often met with a roll of the eyes or outright disagreement. How can it not be clear that these things exist? When I get 12 disgusting to violent messages a day, how can you doubt this? When the statistics for Violence Against Women are staggering, how can you ignore that these things happen daily? Happen often?
I’d like to take a moment to ask the male authors or male social networkers our there, how many times a day does someone threaten to rape you? Send you dick picks? Even pester you with unwanted advances? Not often? Not ever? Once in a blue moon? Because I get at least 12 a week. And I think it’s safe to say that I’m not famous, so I imagine it’s worse for those women with a much bigger following.
And that’s why, despite the headache and triggering brought about by social networking, I continue to write about things I know will be met with, in the least, dismissal, in the worst rage or violence.
Because I’m not afraid. I’m done with fear. And it’s clear that this dialogue still needs to happen.
My main character in Monochrome, Abigail, is surrounded by the violent intent of men. Even the one man she trusts in Monochrome doesn’t understand what women are up against, how it’s different:
“She didn’t want to have to explain to [Ishmael] that it was different for women. When women were desperate they were expected to debase themselves, and so many of them did. Men weren’t expected to give their bodies to strangers in order to feed, clothe and house themselves. They weren’t seen as walking sexual prey. He’d never understand, so she held her tongue […] If he’d ever been attacked–his body treated as a steak needing tenderizing–or lived his life on the tips of his toes, poised to flee from a smile that could turn to a sneer, he’d think before joking so casually about the women of Red Street Brothel. (Monochrome, H.M. Jones)”
I write about violence against women, even in my fiction, because it’s clear to me that even some of my best male friends don’t understand. So let me make it clear: violence and the threat of violence is my every day anxiety. Don’t, for a second, believe that women don’t have more to shit to slog through. We have a history that places us as not very valuable property, as punching bags, as weak.
But we live in an age where women are fighting back, are brave despite the fear and will not accept ignorance. So learn or be left behind, but don’t pretend that inequality doesn’t exist.