The MAGA mob is not content to exact their rage on the writer only online—they've also threatened her to her face. Why do Trump's fiercest supporters' hate their fellow Americans?
Hooray for the internet, amirite?
Sorry if the images shock you. I’ve been living with cyberharassment from Trump supporters for so long, messages like these no longer make me mad. I just kind of roll my eyes and shake my head.
There was a time I let these get to me, though, and it took over my life. Back in September 2016, I flipped off a Trump supporter who was standing in his driveway next to a “Hillary for Prison” lawn sign. Instead of flipping me back, he jumped into his car and chased me for two miles, aggressively pursuing me while taking photos of my car and my face. I flagged down a cop, the cop talked to the other guy way too long, and I went on Facebook Live to ensure my narrative didn’t change. The cop shamed me for “starting it,” and once he let us both go, I thought I’d simply file a report and be done with it all.
Instead of being able to control my own narrative, the entire internet decided what it was for me. That day in September kicked off an insane series of events that grew more ridiculous by the day. The guy I flipped off is one of those mega-MAGA types, and he immediately went on all the worst Dark Web sites and sounded the dog whistle for the worst of the worst to go after me. And they not only answered that dog whistle, they took it upon themselves to make it as bad as they possibly could.
I have a tattoo on the inner arch of my left foot that reads: Scrivo la mia propria storia. It’s Italian for “I write my own story.” I am the boss of me. I decide what people know about me. I had been able to control my social media and present myself, my “brand,” in my own way. For the first time since I got that tattoo, someone else had taken over my story, and I couldn’t let that happen. But it was so overwhelming, so vast. There’s no way to control something that goes viral.
If they had only gone after me, I think I could’ve maintained much better from the outset. But it didn’t stop at a fake Twitter profile posting my address and a photo of my house. They went after my kids, my extended family, and my friends. They contacted my former and current employers. It got progressively worse as the Facebook Live video was being shared literally so many millions of times, I still don’t know how many views it’s had or how many different right-wing sites have posted it. I don’t know, and I don’t want to know, what else has been done with my face thanks to stills from that video. I’ve seen enough that any guy I might want to date who even casually asks the Google about me will most likely run away from me as fast as he can. And, who could blame him? It’s a lot to take on. I mean, imagine being a single woman and trying to explain this to a guy you just matched with on Tinder.
You can only see shit like this for so long before you have to make a decision on how you’re going to deal with it. As long as that sexually deviant traitor is in power (and probably even after he’s gone), I’m going to keep getting messages like these. You can do several things, and I’ve done all of them, trust. Ignoring them is really not an option. I see everything they send me. I can’t pretend I don’t see it, and I can’t not read it once I see it. But I can control how I respond to it.
I’ve become quite the student of how they use language to intimidate, and they all seem to follow the same basic template. And yes, for the most part, all of them are the worst spellers in the entire world. They will go after your looks first, then your marital status. If you’re single, of course you are, because [insert gross reason, usually how you’re unfuckable yet deserved to be raped]. If you’re married, they will send faux sympathy to your partner, because who’d want you? They also do this if you have kids. Your poor kids, having you for a mother, etc. Next up, they’ll remark on your need for some kind of mental help and/or medication. They will also accuse you of the very behavior they display; we call this PROJECTION LANGUAGE, and once you can recognize it, you’ll see it in every tweet and message they send. Of course I’M not a racist homophobic sexist xenophobe, but that’s what they do: take the worst of themselves and try to turn it around on us. Sound like anyone else? *cough*
Responding to them isn’t the best idea, because then you find yourself spending far too much time embroiled in an online argument with a willfully obtuse moron who will never back down. Years of bullying have taught them that they can never be wrong, and they must always have the last word. It of course got much worse after the Inauguration and they decided to blame everything on me. It’s all my fault Hillary lost, it has nothing to do with Russian hacking or anything else. It’s pointless to try to reason with the unreasonable. And you don’t want to sink to their level, you always want to rise above. Sometimes I can’t help myself though.
Most of the time, I take advantage of the BLOCK and MUTE features, which come in handy. I prefer to mute the idiots, because blocking them is what they want, it’s a “win” in their beady little eyes. They hate it when you ignore them, but some of them go a little too far with their harassment. And that’s when I discovered the satisfaction that is shaming and outing them.
You’ll notice that when using Facebook Messenger, most people have their places of employment listed. Or who they’re in a relationship with. You can easily find their profiles and see who their family members are. This is info that we can use to our advantage. A quick screenshot and BOOM! Not only can I can share their hate with people they claim to love, or the people they work for, I can also share it with my 2,700-plus Facebook friends and 14,000-plus Twitter followers. Making people aware of this awfulness is a big part of it, because so many still have no idea this is going on. The ones I shame think their online actions have no consequences, but they soon learn they fucked with the wrong woman.
I have so many of these, I could write a book. In between the photos, I could discuss how it feels to live with this shit every day. That feeling when you wake up, not knowing what awaits you, and seeing a message calling you a “libtard cunt” before you’ve even gotten out of bed. Explaining to any new people you meet how you live with this since it became your new reality nine months ago and seemingly will never stop. Trying to navigate life as a single mother to two very aware teenage boys who I know I’ve unwittingly hurt by my actions. Knowing there will always be people out there who have already decided who I am, what I am, what I should and shouldn’t do or say, who I should and shouldn’t be. The ones who want me to shut up and be quiet.
And, fuck that. As long as they keep providing me with the material, I’m going to keep using it against them. Because I can and will control my own narrative. They don’t get the final say when it comes to telling the world who I am.
Scrivo la mia propria storia.
I write my own story.
There’s never been a more important time for quality journalism. You can help by supporting DAME’s reporting, commentary, and cultural criticism. Because it matters who covers the news. And it matters who covers women’s issues in the news. As a member, you’ll receive Parlour, our members-only newsletter, plus DAME swag, and you’ll be automatically entered for a chance to win Soraya Chemaly’s Rage Becomes Her and Brittney Cooper’s Eloquent Rage. Become a supporter today.
AN INDEPENDENT FREE PRESS HAS
NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT.
Your financial support helps DAME continue to cover the critical policies, politics and social changes impacting woman and their allies.