An Open Letter to My Kids About the Bullies. My Bullies.
I know you see it, and I know it hurts you.
Many times now, most recently over the last few days, your mom has been subjected to vicious online attacks. And unfortunately, you're old enough to be online, to read them, to get upset about them.
I know you're angry your mother shared something on Twitter with the word "feminism" in it and was quickly railroaded by insults from dozens and dozens of internet strangers. 48 hours in, they just keep coming.
While some people simply voiced disagreement with the link I shared on the importance of women's rights, others bypassed disagreement completely and went straight to name-calling.
They attacked my weight. Attacked my looks. Attacked my ability to "get a man." (That last part is extra funny when you know I have a wife and that she's drop. dead. gorgeous.)
They called me ignorant, a terrorist, a bitch, and far, far worse. They went through my profile, realized I'm a supportive mom of a trans child, and started attacking my parenting, too.
Incidentally, attacking my looks, my parenting, and my ability to mate because I expressed the need for gender equality is a prime example of why feminism is still desperately needed. It's almost funny, really. Almost.
I know you see it, and I know it hurts you. How could it not? If my mother was being slammed with insults, I would be hurt, too. That's my mom, guys. You don't mess with someone's mom. It hurts, and you feel sorry for what I'm going through.
But I want to make one thing perfectly clear: Nobody is messing with you mom, and she's not the one you need to feel sorry for.
As I've said to you already, the people you need to feel sorry for are the ones attempting to do the harm; those who create anonymous accounts for the soul purpose of seeking out and attacking others. I can only imagine how much hurt and anger and powerlessness must be going on in one's psyche to make that a hobby. Purposefully trying to bring harm to online strangers isn't even on my radar, as I'm sure it isn't on yours. We're not wired that way.
Do I disagree with people sometimes? Of course I do. But I'm looking for dialogue; I'm looking to learn. If our opinions are different, I want to know why. So when I posted that link, I appreciated the replies in disagreement that were respectful. We had actual discourse. We learned from each other (I think.) We left the conversation without having to use the "mute" or "block" buttons.
Disagree and yet still treat each other as fellow human beings: IT CAN BE DONE.
That's the respect I hope to model for you. And I won't be 100% perfect with it, but I certainly won't be tweeting someone, like the lady who's profile claims she's been "saved by God" did, only to say "LOL HOw about FU and your BS."
Jesus would be so proud, wouldn't he?
Do these people not consider that I'm someone's child? Someone's mother? That my family can see what they're saying about one of the people they love the most in this world?
To be honest, I hope they don't, because the alternative is even scarier: They do consider it, but they don't care.
They don't care. And here we have reached the sub-basement of human decency. (It's musty down here. Let's head back up.)
So let this be a lesson to you, my wonderful kids. Learn from their actions. If what's happening to me hurts you, use that to push yourself upward toward the penthouse, rather than sink to the dank cellar, where trolls breed and hide. (Way better view, far less smelly.)
Let the way I try to live my life be a lesson to you, too. I'm not hurt by their words. Okay, sure, they sting a little when I first see them. Of course it does. I have feelings. But the string quickly dissipates because I have a life filled with a blinding amount of love. No joke. I've built up a support circle of kind, accepting and supportive people who always have my back.
What do you build up when all you do is tear people down? I don't want to know. But I can guess, when you turn the screen off at the end of a long day of trolling, there isn't a whole lot of kindness, acceptance and support waiting for you. You need to cultivate that stuff, and that's not how you do it.
But yeah, I know you see it, and I know it hurts you.
I'm sorry my job attracts these kinds of people from time to time. Anytime someone rocks the boat and creates real change, people do their best to steady it - and not always in the best ways. However, they're an unfortunate reminder of why I do this work in the first place. They remind me not to be complacent, to keep speaking out, and to not back away when the bullies walk down the proverbial hallway.
I hope that, when I die in an unfortunate chocolate eating incident at the age of 103, you'll remember that I did not back down when hate was hurled my way. That I fought back, not by yelling insults into the cellar, but by continuing to gracefully make my slow and steady way up to the penthouse - without looking back at them even once.
May you remember my love more than their hate. May I teach you how much more powerful that love is. It's strong, my darlings, and it will take you in all the right directions.
And with that, know I love you more than anything.
Standing strong and looking up,