A friend recently messaged me saying, "People are punching me in the face on the internet." She was receiving a lot of criticism for an article she wrote. Her message continued asking, "How do you stay true to who you are, and post freely while having to deal with hot tempered posters? You seem to handle it all well. It's a skill I'd like to learn."
I figured I would blog about this, because it's something I get asked quite often. But, honestly, I don't have a very "good," or definitive answer.
I am a super SUPER sensitive person. It has taken me a while to realize that this trait is a positive one. It has taken me a long time to claim and accept this identity, since, sensitivity is almost always associated with being "weak." It's a completely gendered term, too. Mostly it's women who are called "sensitive." If men are called sensitive, it means they're acting like women--and who wants that, right?
With Guerrilla Feminism, I am often harassed, threatened, called names, etc. Some things hurt, but not as much as one would think--not as much as I feel like they should hurt, since I'm so sensitive and all. I've been called, "Bitch," "Feminazi," "Cunt," "Woman Hater," "Man Hater," "Idiot," "Slut," "Whore," etc. Sticks-and-Stones may break my bones, and names DO fucking hurt. Sometimes.
My answer to my friend (and to others asking how I handle cyberhate) is this: whether healthy or not, I dissociate from the people who say these things. I somehow pretend these people aren't real--which is weird, but I find it helps. It's a survival technique--a way of self-preservation. i think, too, that if you know you are never going to please everyone, you'll feel better. As long as the people you care about love and support you, then fuck everyone else.
Maybe there's more to it than that--I'm not sure. It certainly never feels good to read hateful things about yourself, but luckily for me, I don't care or think too much about those who dislike me. I care way more about what those closest to me think, feel, breathe.
Staying true to myself: there is just no other way for me to be. I can't back down from my beliefs--I've never been able to do this. Having this ability might have made my life easier in some ways, but it was never an option for me. I don't generally think of myself as "strong" (even though, I suppose I am to some degree) rather, I know this to be who I am, and it feels too inauthentic being any other way.