I hit a milestone today. I got called a whore (or was it slut?…) on the internet. It’s really been a long time coming. I have been having all these OPINIONS on THINGS, and talking about feminism on the internet and all. Getting uppity. Oddly, that wasn’t got me into trouble. What did, however, was declaring I hated a song on the radio. I may have called it the worst song evar, complete with misspelling. I do that sometimes; hyperbole is something I’m a fan of. I didn’t even name it in the same post, until someone asked me what song I felt earned that monicker. I had to google the lyrics to get a band name. I will admit I did use the phrase “horrible combo of creepy-sexist and catchy” to describe it, but I feel like I am well within the bounds of the reasonable to make (brief) social commentary on the contents of a song on the radio.
It turns out, however, that doing so is grounds for someone to send me a little love-note. By love note, of course, I mean an animated gif of someone throwing something at the camera while screaming, with the caption “fucking whore” underneath. For not liking a song, and calling it sexist. The song in question (whose band I will not name, for reasons explored below), explains how the singer can’t help but cheat on his significant other because he is “tantalized” by legs and hair. Not even women, just disembodied pantyhose displays in department stores and wig racks. Well, maybe not that last bit, but SOMETHING here has to be funny.
Long time spectator, first time receiver of such loving affection, my brain froze. “Surely, I thought, this must be a joke.” I clicked through to see who had thought this was a good idea, hoping that it was some kind of sarcastic “hell yes!” I just wasn’t understanding. The account turns out to (claim to) be the singer for the band who does this song that makes me cringe every time I hear it.
Deer in headlights. Did that just happen? My heart started going a mile a minute, which is kind of silly when you think about it objectively, but in the moment, after thinking for so long and hard about what I would do when it was finally my turn, it kind of freaked me out. And just like any other rookie in anything else, I failed. I didn’t screenshot it, and by the time I clicked back, the post had been deleted.
“Well, maybe he reacted in anger, and thought better of it. Maybe he’ll apologize in a moment here.” No one ever accused me of being the brightest crayon in the box when it comes to people. I tweeted what had happened, suggesting someone had perhaps counseled him towards a better course of action, and ended directly at the gentleman in question, noting that I had, indeed, seen it, and didn’t find it funny. “He’ll surely apologize, we’ll have a good laugh, and everything will be FINE” I think.
Radio silence. I realize, finally, the situation I’ve put myself in. I’ve publicly accused a person, arguably famous, of calling me a mean name. Without proof. Shit. This could be nothing, but it could get bad. “Please, let him apologize.” The little Notifications icon lights up. “Ah, I bet that’s it! Whew!”
He had favorited the tweet I had mentioned him in.
“Ha!” that little star whispered to me. “I caused you pain and fear. I made you doubt and worry. And now I’m going to gloat.”
Fuck. That. Fine, then, I’ll block you, I’ll report you like I’m “supposed” to, when people try to intimidate others on twitter, and I will go back to work.
Nothing is ever easy.
Twitter’s report form requires a link to a particular tweet. The one that no longer exists. That I didn’t screenshot. That I didn’t access via the tweet URL, so wasn’t even in my browser history. You cannot report that someone did something, so long as they delete it before you can grab a link. The friction gets to be too much. I close the tab.
“This is no longer worth the energy it’s taking up,” I decide. “It’s only a little bit of hate. It wasn’t even that bad. One tweet? Shit, the women you look up to don’t even READ any particular tweet, they fly into their accounts so fast. Wuss.” I haven’t been sleeping much, lately. I can’t figure out what’s changed, whether it’s just more Fun With Depression, or what, but no matter the cause, the result is that I have been sleeping 3-5 hrs a night on weeknights. The only reason I am getting more on the weekends is my husband lets me sleep till one in the afternoon. I am running on fumes, and I have neither the physical nor the mental energy to open myself up to any more risk. “That’s it. If i just shut up, and let it lie, then hopefully nothing bad will happen.” Visions of hordes of angry indignant fans flit through my mind. “It could be so much worse.”
I’m ashamed of it, really. “You promised yourself! You swore you wouldn’t let this shit go. That you were more important than that, and if you weren’t, whoever came afterwards sure as hell was. If someone treated you badly, what were they doing to all the OTHER people in their life? It’s your RESPONSIBILITY to push back!” I still believe that. That decision, that promise, is important to me. But feeling how awful I feel under such a tiny amount of hate, just one musician with hurt feelings and the inability to take a bit of criticism I hadn’t even meant to level towards him, I can’t blame any of my heroes for giving up, or sounding scared, or frustrated, or weak. I was beat before anything really happened to me.