Thursday, August 12, 2010

I Am Hated (And Strangely Excited About It)

I don't think most people go through life intentionally pissing others off (there are, of course, exceptions, but in general I have a pretty Pollyanna-esque view of my fellow human beings). However, I think we all do it to some degree, often by accident or by thoughtless actions that blow into drama-filled chaos or even just by a misconstrued statement.

I never thought I'd be in the position of ticking off another person so badly that she felt compelled to write an entire blog post blasting me.

I also can't believe that I'm laughing about it. I'm ridiculously sensitive (to a fault, to be completely honest), and a lot of times the tiniest bit of criticism has me virtually in tears.

I've toughened up a lot in the past year, in large part because of the divorce situation but also through working at Zelda Lily. There is a great core group of readers over there that leave thought-provoking comments taking what my colleagues and I write to a whole new level--but I have been ripped a new one on more than one occasion.

To wit:

The author here is pretending her values are absolutes that everyone should abide by, and seems outraged that there are other people don’t share her values, to the point of degrading and mocking them. Why aren’t these women allowed to like their lifetyles, exactly? Is Katie Loud going to go on a Middle East tour and tear off burkas too?

I cried when I read that comment. Bawled like a baby. And then I realized that the commenter had a point. I might feel that he misconstrued my point (the piece was an admittedly hard slam of an extremely religious website that operates under the "Husband is Master ... and Wife's Job is to Cook, Clean, and Raise Perfect Children" philosophy), but if the message I was sending was that I felt like everybody should agree with me all the time, then shame on me. You know?

So instead of flying off the handle and doing something stupidly impulsive (See? I'm getting better ;-)), I thought really hard about what was said, wrote a piece here on my personal blog explaining my frustration with the challenges of balancing feminism with religion, and resolved to be more aware of all sides of a story in the future.

In retrospect, I'm glad that that comment was made, as painful as it was for me at the time. It was a tremendous learning experience for me both as a writer and as a human being.

It has also made me able to laugh--and laugh hard--at the recent incident that's really at the heart of this post.

So back in late May/early June, when I was still a newbie at Zelda Lily, I wrote a piece about an ad featuring a bra by plus-size store Lane Bryant being refused by a couple of news networks that went on to feature ads by Victoria's Secret.

Well, evidently I really pissed somebody off ... She wrote a vitriol-filled rant against me personally and the company I work for. My words and intentions are taken completely out of context for the purpose of her piece, and for the first time I feel like I am actively hated by someone that doesn't know me from Adam.

You can read her piece here, if you're interested.

I was really angry at first, actually. Then I reread my piece almost obsessively, and I of course knew what I was trying to say so her interpretation seemed even crazier to me.

And then it occurred to me how sad it is that someone has that much hate stored up from a piece posted on June 1 to let me have it with both barrels.

Then, of course, I just laughed.

The thing is, it's fine to disagree with people. I learn a hell of a lot from people that disagree with me (or play devil's advocate) since it makes me think on so many dimensions.

What's not cool is the meanness. The comment about "Katie Loud tearing off burkas on a Middle East tour" bordered on mean, but I could see where the guy was coming from when I put it into a greater context. Ultimately, it helped me a hundred times more than a compliment would have.

I'm not being mean here. I even linked to her post so she can get page hits.

I'm not used to being hated ... and I'm kind of proud of myself for 1) not going to pieces over this, and 2) realizing that I am not the one with a problem here.

On a different note, I had one of the most traumatic events of my life happen to me today, and I'll be blogging about it tomorrow. I'm not proud of my actions (mostly because there were no actions on my part ... I was, like, the anti-feminist, ashamed as I am to admit that), and I'm still too shaken up to write about it yet.

But it's quite a story!