Women in Secularism Making You LOL: Lindy West
Women in Secularism is sooner than my overbooked schedule would like to admit. I am incredibly excited to meet, for the first time in person, the fellow speakers, con attendees, and ex-Muslims I’ve known online and through their work. I have been following Lindy West‘s feminist, body acceptance, and comedy work for years. Eighteen-year-old me would squee herself to death if she knew that, 8 years later, she’d be interviewing the likes of Lindy West, Susan Jacoby, and Lindsay Beyerstein.
Here’s Lindy on troll reformation, crunchy spider legs, and cupcakes.
You have, in the course of your Internet career, managed to amass a smattering of labels that is impressive: feminist, comedian, activist. Who annoys you more: people who call you “brave” for the act of existing or people whose vitriol leads to the first group calling you “brave”?
Ha! Yeah, I would definitely never describe myself as “brave.” Weathered, maybe? I’ve just been doing this for so long that I have really secure emotional defenses in place. So, I figure, somebody has to take the heat on these crappy, divisive issues, and it might as well be me. But, yeah, ABSOLUTELY the worst group is the second one. The oppressive, selfish, cruel, anonymous garbage-people who make being a woman on the internet as unpleasant as they possibly can. I think of internet trolls as a coordinated arm of the status quo. They are actively trying to shut women up.
I hope you’re not sick of this question, but …. What was the worst comment/troll you’ve ever received? And, if different, what was the worst one you received that was definitely from a woman?
My worst troll ever was definitely the guy who made a fake Twitter account of my father who’d passed away about 18 months earlier. The bio said, “Embarrassed father of an idiot,” and the location was “Dirt hole in Seattle.” It had his picture on it too — a picture taken in the living room of my childhood home. It was in the middle of a particularly big online shitstorm for me (right after I went on TV and spoke out against misogyny in comedy), and I was still very much in the thick of the trauma of my dad’s death. So, seeing my dad’s face harassing me on Twitter, when my feed was already deluged with rape threats and abusive garbage, was pretty emotionally debilitating. But then the craziest thing happened. I mentioned it in a blog post a few weeks later and that troll actually e-mailed me and APOLOGIZED. He also made a donation to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in my dad’s name. So, in that way, my worst troll was also kind of my “best” troll.
I don’t get a lot of abuse from women, but there are some pretty nasty female MRAs out there. Luckily, it’s impossible to take those dodos seriously.
I’ve gotten people who accuse me of things that are so off-base that they don’t upset me at all, they just confuse me. Is there anything you’ve been accused of doing or being that is so left-of-field that it has totally befuddled you?
One thing I (and any fat woman who writes about body positivity) get all the time is furious men whining about how I’m trying to “force” them to find fat women attractive. Settle down, boys! Don’t even worry about it! We will NEVER, EVER HAVE SEX. I’m already engaged to the world’s greatest dude who’s hotter and funnier than you AND thinks of women as human beings. So.
I’m with you on feeding trolls until they explode. Any fun techniques you’re willing to share that you’ve used or have seen others use?
This is the new rule I just made up and posted on my Tumblr:
Any MRA, PUA, anti-woman libertarian atheist college freshman, “nice guy” crybaby, “reverse racism” tea party uncle, fat-shamer with zero followers, and/or aggrieved “free speech” comedian who talks to me just gets a “goo goo ga ga.”
NO TIME, LITTLE MAN.
There’s nothing quite so satisfying as a nice “goo goo ga ga.”
I find your food and booze reviews utterly delightful. Is there any type of edible or drinkable that you would never review for some reason, even if someone paid you to?
Depends on how much money we’re talking about here. Like, I don’t want to eat a tarantula, but if it could pay for my kids to go to college? I’m all over it. Get those crunchy spider legs in my mouth ASAP.
Being internet-famous can be weird in the ways that it does and doesn’t spill over into offline life. How has it been for you?
Pretty good! I actually get recognized quite a bit, and people are incredibly kind and awesome. But it also makes me a little paranoid. Like, one time I was working at a coffee shop and this dude was just staring and staring at me from across the room, and then he surreptitiously took my picture with his phone. So I got convinced that he was one of my trolls — because there’s a pretty widespread community of men who take a masturbatory pleasure in harassing me — and I could just see my picture showing up on their message boards, like, “FEMINIST COW EATS CUPCAKE.” But then later that day, the same dude tweeted at me and was like, “I was too shy to say hi at the coffee shop, but I’M YOUR SUPERFAN.” I felt like a real shithead. If I ever see that dude again I will buy him 100 cupcakes.