The Worst Thing You Can Say To Me
Like every woman who writes opinionated things in public spaces, I get hate mail. Sometimes it’s hate email; sometimes it’s a DM; other times it’s anonymous mail sent to my house; a weird voicemail; whatever. I’ve been writing opinionated things in public for almost twenty years now and this is not new.
Recently I’ve written about abortion, Elon Musk, and Republican embrace of authoritarians like Viktor Orban, and all of these things have resulted in my inbox (and DM stream) being flooded with people who disagree with me and are willing to tell me in very graphic terms what they think should happen to me. Here’s something I got yesterday in response to some stuff I’ve written about Elon Musk and right wing sentiment on Twitter:
Ironically, the people who claim to be independently minded and care about the “marketplace of ideas” are the angriest when you express yours and they disagree with them.
But nonetheless, I cannot help but notice that all of my nastiest hate mail has a through line: and it’s almost entirely written by men, and it always goes to great length to talk about my sexual appeal or lack thereof, even though I write about politics, economics, and media, and pretty much never my personal life, much less my sex life — not that writing about those things should invite this kind of commentary, either. (The above email is also obviously insanely racist, which is maybe the second most common characteristic of the emails I get along these lines.)
This is not entirely surprising because it’s not like misogyny is foreign to me. As a woman, you experience it all over the place, to varying degrees — in the healthcare system, at work, randomly in public. But there’s a specific line of criticism that I find interesting in the sense that it just tells you how confused the critic is and how little a lot of men understand about women.
That line of criticism goes something like this: you, woman I disagree with, are sexually repulsive. I might describe this in a number of ways. You’re ugly. No one wants to fuck you. Blah blah blah. BUT AT THE SAME TIME: you…