"Hannah is a fucking disgusting feminist piece of shit, stupid shark mouth with ugly tits."
Anonymous Internet commenter sitting behind a computer
This is only one of the thousands of comments I receive on a daily basis, which either berate me for being a feminist (can someone please tell me when "feminist" became a dirty word?) or what the Internet so kindly refers to as a feminazi, or explain in explicit detail what someone would like to do to said "shark mouth"... and other orifices (it is unclear at this point whether or not these, too, resemble a marine animal).
This particular comment was posted on a video in which I played a "name that tune" game featuring Top 40 and old classic songs as a promotion for one of my YouTube channel's sponsors. Now, to be fair to the commenter, two out of the five songs, which were generated at random, were indeed by female artists, so that must be where the "feminist" part came into play? Or perhaps it came from the fact that I even opened my "stupid shark mouth" in the first place...
Unfortunately, being the recipient of derogatory and degrading comments is part of my job -- I work on the Internet. Not only do I work on the Internet, I am a woman who works on the Internet, so the comments are all the more denigrating, numerous, and borderline abusive.
As a female YouTuber, on a channel with nearly a million subscribers, receiving these negative comments is just part of the job description. Something I'm told to "brush off" or "ignore." And while I'm confident in my intelligence, my voice and message, as well as, frankly, my appearance, trying to brush it off doesn't always protect me from the deep hurt and insecurities that can arise from reading the cutting words of random strangers.
But that's always the advice, right? "Brush it off." "F*ck them." "What do you care what strangers think?" And as a strong and opinionated woman, these are the same phrases I would offer to a girl friend, if she were in the same position. But is that what we should be telling each other? To just ignore the horrendous -- often gutting and threatening -- bullying that somehow gets disguised as feedback? I don't want to just accept the fact that because I was born with different genitalia than another person sitting behind his computer, he can say whatever he wants to me, under the cloak of anonymity, and I simply have to shrug my shoulders and say, "Oh well, that's just par for the course." If that's the case, then me and my "ugly tits" want a different course.
It shouldn't be my, or any other woman's, responsibility to learn to just cope or go home. I go to work every day, work my a** off, and yes, sometimes I open my mouth and have an opinion, but it shouldn't be my job to get a thicker skin or my onus to just deal in the face of these attacks.
I don't have the answer as to how to fix the culture that has developed in this web of hatred and ignorance (and yes, that pun was intended). But I do know that we need to hold each other to a higher standard.
Despite what I read addressed to me every day, I still believe that all humans are good at their core. I still give people the benefit of the doubt and try to always remain optimistic. But I believe that if we open our eyes, we'll realize that this is not a world we want to live in. A world where, with a simple click of the "Enter" key, people can tear each other down with insults and comments we would NEVER even think, let alone vocalize, were we to see the person face-to-face.
And that's the problem with being a woman on the Internet: that's what I've become -- a dissociated face. I am no longer a person to the trolls of the web. I am merely a face, an object that they can release their struggles and frustrations and idiocies onto, assumedly devoid of feelings or even the means to defend myself. So I guess that's why I'm writing this, to remind you that I am a person. That the women who put themselves out there on this frontier of new media are people. And that a world in which we disregard the humanity of the very people we call our girlfriends, sisters, wives, and mothers away from the screen would be a very sad place. But what do I know? I'm just a "disgusting... piece of shit."