Ask Surly Amy: How to Deal with Hate
I was wondering how you guys manage to deal with all the hate? I became an atheist/skeptic a little less than a year ago, and since then it’s just been wave after wave of violent pushback against feminism. It’s not even just the atheist movement anymore (i.e. Anita Sarkeesian & the gaming community) – everyday, I see some explosion over feminism/women, and every time I see the discussion devolve into how we’re just a bunch of prude whores (oxymoron) who need to shut the fuck up. I’ve become depressed, even suicidal. Am I really less able to succeed at the things I enjoy (technology, science) due to some different brain wiring because I have a vagina? I read these discussions, and we’re always the minority. We’re always drowned out by these people. Not once have I seen someone from the “other side” crossover. All they do is get louder.
(((((Trigger warning for threats of violence against women.))))))
First off if you feel suicidal, please, please get some help right away. It is totally reasonable that you would feel that way. It is extremely difficult to deal with constant, daily abuse. Here is a link to a page that can help you.
I don’t think that we have evolved to deal with daily doses of direct hate. It puts one in a constant state of fight or flight and can take a terrible toll. It’s not your fault and you can get help. Please know that.
For those that may read this and are not familiar with the sort of harassment we have been dealing with here, let me give you an example of an average day.
Yesterday, I saw a thread that asked if it was, “immoral to rape a Skepchick.” Then, this morning I woke up to a tweet that recommended that I light myself on fire.
Here are some screen caps of just a bit of those conversations:
Just an average day for us. And this has been going on ever since Rebecca said, “…hey guys don’t do that.” For me, it has been getting worse over the past few months. I guess I became a direct target after Rebecca decided to stay home from TAM. I was more in the spotlight so the threats became more about me.
I’m not really sure what the best advice here is, honestly. I can say things like, don’t give up and keep fighting the good fight but it sounds so cliché. It’s no joke that this endless stream of misogyny and out-and-out hatred is exhausting. Especially when we here at Skepchick have literally donated thousands upon thousands of hours and thousands of dollars to encouraging the secular-skeptic-atheist movement and to specifically working towards getting more women involved.
I firmly believe we need some more leaders in this movement to make a stand and speak out publicly to enforce the message that behavior that encourages violence against women and minorities, be it rape threats or supposed jokes about rape, death or violence should not be tolerated in a rational, humanistic, secular society. We need leaders to stand with us, not sit quietly by, while we are ridiculed and threatened. But that is another story that I will probably write about later.
Back to actually dealing with the abuse in daily life.
Over time you do get used to it, but it would be a lie to say it doesn’t hurt. I recommend sharing your stories with friends. We are lucky here at Skepchick to have the other writers to share our tales of woe with. It’s a very supportive community. I hope you can find someone to talk to as well. Try turning off the computer and going outside when it really gets to you and most importantly of all, keep reminding yourself that together, we can make the world a better, kinder and more rational place where people are not judged or oppressed based on things like gender/sex/financial worth/ableism or skin color. But we can never reach that goal if people like us walk away. The haters are very good at hate, we are very good at making the world around us a better place. Don’t let them stop you or silence you. Only walk away if you want to. Not because someone douchbag or even a group of douchbags told you to.
And just so you know, about once a week we get an email or message from someone who does cross-over from the ‘other side.’ It’s not usually one of the vocal extremists but it is usually a person who was on the fence and saw the discussions and actually learned from them. This happens a lot. So know that there are lurkers that benefit from seeing how awful people act and seeing those of us responding by speaking out against it and by continuing to do good in our community. We see cross-over a lot, I promise.
So I recommend doing good deeds. Start up a local group. Raise money for a charity. Adopt a pet. Plant some trees. Feed some people. Fix something for a neighbor. Paint something. Make something. Read a book to a kid. Every time you see a hate message against a woman online donate 25 cents to Planned Parenthood. I could go on and on. There is always some good to be done. Don’t let pathetic bigots stop you from living the life you want and try to turn the negativity into something good.
Know that the haters are just trying to silence us because of bigotry. Huge waste of their time and a sad state to be in. We are actually doing things to help others. That’s a good use of time and a happy place to be. So ignore them when you can, mock them when you want a laugh and report them to the police or FBI whenever you see a credible threat and most importantly, keep doing good things.
And please, please get some professional help if you feel overwhelmed.
If you just need a friend to chat with, reach out to me on twitter and say hello and I will be happy to DM with you.
Hope this helped.
Got a question you would like some Surly-Skepchick advice on? Send it in! We won’t publish your real name, unless you want us to and creative pseudonyms get bonus points! Just use the contact link on the top left of the page.