I get hate mail. Not as much as Dooce, I’m guessing, but enough. I get hateful e-mail – and comments, and Facebook messages, and tweets – about how depressing I am, about how I’m exploiting my children, about how I whine too much, about how I’m encouraging women to take anti-depressants and so contributing to the global drug problem, about how it’s terrible and selfish of me to look for my long-lost brother, about how nobody wants to hear about my Frankenvulva, about how I’m setting the feminist movement back by complaining about motherhood, about how I should just stop writing about my grief over the death of my father already, about how I only write about Tanner to get attention for myself, about how I’m an attention-whore who really should just shut up already, because, please.
I get correspondence that addresses one or another or some combination of those issues and others left unmentioned with some regularity. It’s why I sometimes close comments; it’s why I sometimes just don’t look at my e-mail: because I know that at some point I’m going to read something really hateful. Something like this:
You seem to love to play the role of martyr. The world is always out to get you, whether it’s for nursing, having a blog, neglecting your kids, or just generally “being”, right? It’s always someone else’s fault, according to you. Your “woe is me” tone is getting pretty sickening. Woe is you because you don’t get enough sleep. Because your kids drive you to “need alcohol” regularly. Because there’s not enough Ativan in the world. Because your girly bits got mangled giving birth. Because your husband finally had the brains to cut his son’s hair so he didn’t look like a daughter. OH EM GEE, ITS ZE END OF THE WORLD.
But then on the other hand, you try to champion for women’s rights, and how women are strong and awesome. Except you whine all the damn time. Your kids are your constant source of whining; that is, until someone insults motherhood and then you’re ready with a pitchfork and torches because you’re so proud of it. How are you proud of something you constantly bitch about?
You capitalize on your kids, there’s no way around that. You use them for your own financial gain, just like you did when your dad died. Let’s see the revenue jump from blog ads when people were coming to your blog when that post went up. Never mind that you didn’t take care of him when he was alive. Never mind that he was alone when he died. How many days did he lay there alone? But you miss him so much, right? And love him so much? Yeah, as long as it makes you money.
And your project for your dying nephew is just as bogus. “Tutus for Tanner”? FYI: Tanner’s a boy. You really went with tutus? [ed. note: Tutus for Tanner is not my project, although I do whole-heartedly support it, obviously] Oh right, its all about you, not him. And then your first idea is to take your kids and your friend and her kid down to Disney, without the boy this is supposedly all “for,” all on someone else’s dollar in the name of your nephew? You want to do something to help your dying nephew? Drive yourself out THERE to see him with your kids. Raise money to help with research for a cure. [ed. note: donations to organizations I'm supporting with 100 Miles For Tanner can be made at the project's main page] But that’s not as fun, right? That’s not Disney and sparkles and tutus with your kids for free, so why do it?
You honestly make me sick. Keep making money off your dead dad, your dying nephew and your kids. Keep taking trips for free while your 15 minutes are still here, because eventually, people are going to see the scum money grubbing famewhore that lies underneath the fake exterior, and you’ll be yesterday’s news. Here’s hoping that’s sooner than later. Go take another Ativan, cause that’s how you cope, right?
God, it’s awesome being a mom-blogger.
You wonder why I get testy about mom-bloggers – about women who blog, generally, who share their stories and open up the space of discourse for these narratives, for our narratives – being dismissed or belittled or snickered at or even just being called ‘charming’? Because of this. Because I am not alone in this. Because, for some reason, us telling our stories – us telling those stories, us making a living telling those stories – is regarded by some – many? – as vile and reprehensible and toxic and because those some – those many? – would have us shut up. Because as women, as mothers, as women-who-are-mothers and women-who-are-not-mothers, we are still denied a voice by those who think that our stories should only be shared behind closed doors, behind the veil of privacy, in secret, in whispers.
Because this sucks, that anyone thinks that it’s okay to tell any one of us what kinds of stories we can tell, and how, and under what terms. Because although one might think that hate mail is just what comes from exposing one’s life in the public sphere, that someone like me should be prepared to just suck it up as part of the cost of doing this, of telling these stories, I say no, no, it’s not; no, it shouldn’t be; no, I shouldn’t have to. I think that it’s sexist and it’s hateful, and it doesn’t matter whether that kind of mail comes more from women or from men – I’m pretty sure that this one came from a woman – it’s still a sign of a bigger problem, of a more serious ill.
Our voices aren’t free so long as we’re subjected to hate when we raise them. But I don’t know what to do, other than to keep writing, and to keep taking the blows, and to hope that I – that all of us – can outlast and outspeak the hate.
Is that enough?
(My reaction to the Tanner-specific hate is over at Their Bad Mother. I’ll just say here that this came at a bad time, and that there were many tears last night.)