I sent a personal email to someone whose list I was on. My expectation was that this was a private email between two people. It wasn’t hostile in any way. It just said that I had a differing view and it contained a link to the blog post on which I expressed that view.
What I didn’t expect to happen was that this private email would be published to a list of thousands of people, and a blog post I wrote for a few of my friends who were confused about Brexit would go viral.
This post wasn’t ever intended to be an academic essay. It only took a few minutes to throw together. It was just a clarification in very general terms that I felt might be more useful than the tweets and Facebook posts I’d seen on social media. I made this very clear on the post. It wasn’t aimed at people who had voted a particular way, and I included the way I had voted purely to allow people to correct for bias if they chose.
My expectation, since I’ve been REALLY lazy with my blog this year, was that only a few of my close friends would see it.
However, that’s not what happened.
I manually approve comments. Usually, I approve all comments, but on this post I could not. As they started to come in from this chap’s email list, it became clear that many of these comments were coming from angry men with no respect for women at all. The tone was almost universally shaming, belittling, and deeply sexist. In all cases, it was personal. Usually, it addressed my readers and referred to me by name as some kind of specimen of vile dehumanised being, as if they were standing in front of medieval stocks and appealing to the audience to throw their most stinky eggs into my repulsive face.
In a post that’s really tame given the usual posts online, they had chosen to focus all their bile on a combination of my choice of vote and on my gender. They were all from the ‘remain’ camp, and I had chosen to leave. As they set out all their reasons why those who chose to remain were the absolute salt of the earth while those who decided to leave were worse than pond scum, they did so in gendered terms and in terms that implied brain damage on my part.
Well, they were right on one thing. I do have brain damage. I hope that if they read this they feel a sense of pride in having uncovered that with their shaming. I hope it helps them to feel like they are bigger men. Bravo to them for outing the coma survivor. However, I don’t accept the gender based shaming.
I may not make a politician any time soon, but I can string together some words. And, after years of earning my words with a broken brain, I’m cool with that. Here are some words I wrote. Fluffy stuff. Might be ‘too feminine’ for your tastes. Don’t care. I AM a woman, and I’m smart enough to be an Amazon bestselling author. Maybe I’m not a columnist for the Financial Times, but I was a magazine columnist for six years for other publications in both the creative and business industries. So, feel free to take your toxic masculinity and shaming and stick them wherever you need to, but not on my blog. It’s not a mean place. It’s pink, FFS! It’s not for you. It’s for awakened and independent creative types and entrepreneurs, however they vote and whatever their background, race, or gender. But… not for toxic people.
I’ll be exactly who I am. Flaws and all. Your approval is not required.