Several months ago, blogger Heather B. Armstrong, who writes Dooce, started a separate site called Monetizing the Hate. On this site, she posted all of the horrible, vitriolic comments that readers sent her and she plastered the entire page with ads. It's since been taken down, and I can only assume she made plenty of money off of it because she has so many regular readers that revenue from her blog supports her entire family. When she created the site, though, Kate Harding wrote about it for Jezebel. She was surprised that Armstrong got so much hate mail, because she rarely ever voices political or religious opinions- she mostly writes funny stories about her kids and dogs. Harding discussed the levels of hate mail both her and any female blogger that she knows receives for simply voicing their opinions.
I've got a fraction of Armstrong's readers, and I've heard versions of nearly every single complaint on Monetizing the Hate, minus the ones specific to her parenting, Utah, etc., more times than I could possibly keep track of. (My personal favorites so far are the people who believe I should be ashamed of myself for promoting my own book, on my own blog. So unseemly! If I had any real confidence in my writing, I'd trust that the book would find an audience without my having to brag about it. IT IS NOT FAIR TO ABUSE YOUR PLATFORM LIKE THAT.) Every female blogger I know whose traffic exceeds the number of her friends and family members has gotten this shit, and I know a lot of female bloggers. The second some people actually start listening to you, a ton of others become deeply invested in reminding you that it DOESN'T MAKE YOU MORE IMPORTANT.
This isn't the first time I've heard of women bloggers getting vast amounts of hate mail. Lena Chen, best known for her sex blog Sex and The Ivy (which is some of the best sex and relationship writing you'll find out there by someone so young, by the way), now writes at The Chicktionary, and I constantly see some flat out disgusting and insulting comments thrown her way, even though she rarely writes about her sex life anymore, and if she does, there's very little detail. Here are some examples of comments after a post about her vacation in Switzerland with her boyfriend, Patrick:
well, here she goes again. living a life of spoiled indulgence on someone else's nickel (unless mom got a promotion at the motel job). i think i've got her figured out: a spoiled, wannabe-rich brat who needs to flaunt her body, her sex life, her glamorous travels and her ivy pedigree. and all in the name of feminism and social justice! btw, i feel for the 'roomie'. he must only get sex when our princess is "so inclined". here's hoping the parents of these two read this blog: how proud they must all be of little lena's generosity in sharing TMI!
And this one...
I actually would give her the benefit of the doubt for living such a life of leisure if she was hot, but after I saw her nude pictures and I threw up all over my computer screen, I realized her life if pathetic. She has deep issues that are unresolved from her childhood which have caused her to act out like she has. She needs counseling and help.And next...
She acts like she is so hot and so desirable to guys. Barf. Seeing those naked pictures of her pat and mushy body, combined with her ugly face, show just how disgusting inside and out she is.
Is it any wonder all of her boyfriends are ugly as hell and losers? No guy in their right mind would choose to date this fat, ugly, morally reprehensible beast. She is scum.
Her body is all fat and mushy and her face looks like a monster. On top of that she is a worthless whore who has no redeemable value to society. Her lack of morals make her a piece of shit above all else.A lot of Chen's posts have some type of comment about how she needs psychological counseling to face the childhood demons that turned her into such a whore and ruined her life (when really, her life looks to be pretty great to me). Yes, Chen did voluntarily open her life up to comments when she put it on the Internet, but the level of harassment that she faces because of it makes me wonder about the level of cretins who troll the Internet just to harass women like this. Obviously if these commenters didn't like Chen they could just click away, but instead they would rather take the time to spew vitriol her way and try to cut her down each chance they get.
Chen and Armstrong and Harding are all really fantastic writers, all succcesful and widely read. With large readerships anyone is bound to run into some god awful species, but these comments are not someone just disagreeing with their writing, they are attacking the individuals.
Chen, though, proves time and again to be tougher than her critics. This post details how she dealt with an ex posting nude pictures of her on the Internet, and how she never again trusted that people are inherently good:
But outside of HBO world, no one needs to nearly get their life ruined in order to emerge triumphant. The reality is that people are often mean without justification, you may or may not learn from this stuff, and the guy you end up with in the aftermath is not necessarily the pay-off for putting up with bullshit. Though I survived my ordeal more or less intact, with a boyfriend and a puppy dog to boot, I have never regained my former faith in others’ inherent goodness. Which is good, because I was really just being naive. The crazy ex who posted those photos could have easily been written off as a psychotic exception to the generally sane population at large, but what happened in the aftermath demonstrated to me how thoughtless, judgmental, and unkind normal individuals can be and that this tends to be the rule, not the exception, and that Harvard kids with all their privilege are not exempt from moral failings despite being in a position where they should theoretically “know better”.
It's a really great reflective post on the past couple of years of her life. The single comment?
You need to get therapy for your issues from your childhood which have ruined your life. Seek help.