I woke up this morning, grabbed my coffee, and jumped right into my daily routine. Kids up, kids dressed. Check my work email. Kids fed, kids packed. Check my social media. Kids out the door, kids to school.
Huge breath, open to-do list, start the day.
As a freelance writer and parenting blogger, part of my actual job is to moderate comments on my blog and remove those which do not meet community standards. The larger my following grows, the more time I spend on this task. You see, for some reason, trolls seem to be thriving these days.
*cough* our president *cough*
This job can be rather tedious. It’s easy to spot the phishers and the fake accounts. But determining which trolls to remove and which to pardon? That’s where things get tricky.
I get messages like this on a daily basis:
Usually, I don’t engage these folks. I don’t have the space for that negativity in my life.
But today I feel compelled to respond. Because looking at this man’s profile picture, I am floored. This man, who had so many cruel things to say about women, y’all…he has a daughter.
A sweet little girl in his profile picture who is very clearly the apple of his eye. So today, I’m taking the time. Because I wonder if this one is reachable.
This one’s for you, sir. The man who spends his time tearing down other women, while attempting to raise one.
I realize you can’t see this post because you were banned from my page the moment you wrote that nasty comment.
But I did get a chance to see you.
I saw that you take your daughter on special trips, just the two of you. I saw the way your eyes smile in pictures with her, like she is your whole world.
I imagine she really is your world. You can’t fake happiness like that.
But it does leave me with a single burning question:
How could a man like you, a father like you, be so nasty to a woman you’ve never met while simultaneously raising such a lovely young girl?
You may think these two things are separate, but you are mistaken.
You may think you can pop onto my page, make a few hateful and demeaning comments (the one above was not the only gem), then sign off with a smirk and tuck your sweet little girl into bed.
All without consequence.
But, you are wrong, man. So, so wrong.
You see, by putting that kind of hate into the world, by mocking the expressions and words of mothers you have never met, you are actively nurturing a cruel and intolerant societal attitude toward women. You are promoting the misogynistic culture that says “because you are a woman, your voice doesn’t matter.”
Isn’t that literally what you just said to me? That my voice didn’t matter?
Yes. That’s exactly what you said.
Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. I’m 32 years old and have heard worse things than “oh, look another mom with nothing to say”.
But your daughter? She is young.
Do you want her to hear these things about women? Or worse, believe them?
I know enough about trolls to know you probably thought this was harmless fun. That your quick, nasty comment has nothing to do with the future of your precious child.
Well, let me tell you this: Your poisonous attitude contributes to an overall current that your daughter will one day have to swim against.
Words matter. Because you see, sir, words echo. Through time and culture, toxic ideas are propagated and kept alive by comments as small as yours.
“You aren’t enough.”
“Your voice doesn’t matter.”
“Because you’re a woman…because you’re a mother.”
How would you feel if these words were spoken to your daughter?
The words you put out into the world may very well echo into the lives of your children.
It all comes down to this simple rule: Be kind. Send goodness out into the world instead of hate. Speak life, not malice. Show love, not disrespect.
For heaven’s sake, it just isn’t that hard.
But what do I know? I’m just another mom. Right?
Wrong. And I somehow hope you learn this, sooner rather than later, for your daughter’s sake.