Depleted but not defeated

This morning, my father texted to tell me that he is looking forward to my next Chills column.

I sat back in dread. 

I had planned to use this second piece to dive into the kind of work I have missed doing (while doing other things at NYT) — reporting on human rights violations around the world, all while pulling back the curtain on how the journalism gets made. But…writer’s block.

It’s not something I deal with for the most part but, as I told my dad, I feel depleted. The more I thought about it, I realized I should just write about that then: what it has been like to have my name splashed across newspapers around the world, and thousands of people offering both hate and love all day long, day after day, in every i- and e-place possible.

Messages have been pouring in over Twitter, Facebook, text, phone, WhatsApp, Signal and pretty much any other messaging service that exists in 2021. Mostly, they are supportive. Beautiful. Encouraging. Kind. Many are from journalists (I thought that being part of New York media for 20 years had given me a decent amount of contact with a lot of journalists, but now I think I actually know every single one of you).

I’ll tell you a little about the not-good messages I’m also getting. I’ve written about this topic before because I am a woman on the Internet, and, because I often write about women, I am a favorite target of misogynists. (The time I co-bylined a story with Gloria Steinem in The Guardian was really fun.) Because my friends and I get so many horrifying messages from men because of our work, I just assume everyone knows that. But this week, a number of men (and a few women) have been supremely shocked to read some of the garbage I’ve been getting and wanted to know how bad it really is. I can answer that easily:

It’s bad. It’s very, very bad.

Some of them want me dead.

Here’s a sampling of what I’ve received over the past few days:

You’re a piece of shit. MAGA!! (Author: Pound my ass) 
Chills. Such chills. "...then they came for the journalists and we did nothing but laugh because all of you deserved it..."
I hope you never land another job.
Are you the cunt that is with the NY Times?

Hahahaha Shit canned from the NYT. Because you are a Scumbag Liberal "Piece of Shit". The only good news would be you ceasing to exist.

Chills???  I am sure your panties were wet when his plane landed....Fuck you and the NY Slimes.

someone should go vigilante.  Find you....

keep whining you no-talent, truly physically appalling (is your goal to look like a male accountant?) bitch.
Dumb Fucking Bitch Media is TRASH Better delete this account too dumbass
You’re a moron.

Yeah. Some of those are from women, but it is invariably men who write, and it is always men who insult women’s looks in these kinds of messages. I’ve been called “hideous” countless times this week, among other pleasantries. 

But I’m laughing out loud right now because the insults about my appearance are so cheap! I don’t know why men think I care at all what they think of what I look like. I truly don’t.

In any case, here’s another example of men telling women journalists they hate us. In 2013, my friend Amanda Lindhout got some really nightmarish stuff as her book A House in the Sky was coming out. (I can’t recommend that book highly enough.) Amanda was kidnapped while working as a journalist in Somalia in 2008, when I was working at the Committee to Protect Journalists. I documented her case for more than a year, feeling hope fading month after month as she remained in captivity. But she made it out. After 460 days, Amanda got out, but somehow a lot of men really — really — hate her for it.

Among many others, this is one of the messages Amanda has received (I wrote about this for The Nation):

I would keep you forever and you’d only be free when DEAD!!!!! Your pussy n ass would never be empty you fucking cunt.

But enough about the Dumb Bitch Morons of the world.

As I said up top, I’m depleted. But I’m happy to say that much of that exhaustion comes from the absurd number of messages of support I’ve received from friends, colleagues and total strangers. I love you all, but I kind of need to stare at a wall for a while now.

As I wrote on Twitter on Monday: All I ever wanted to do was write. Not be written about.

Now please excuse me while I go take a nap with my donkey (above).