I’ve been known to idle away time that should be spent job-searching reading other blogs, looking at the bitter comments they receive, reading the angry Tweets and feeling smug that I get confidence boosts, good luck wishes and offers of cash and wine.
Indeed, Laurie Penny said:
“After a while, the emails and tweets and comments containing graphic fantasies of how and where and with what kitchen implements certain pseudonymous people would like to rape you cease to be shocking … “
Women debated and wrote about it. With Zoe Williams suggesting:
“Below the line, the rules of the playground don’t apply; if you ignore the abuse, it doesn’t go away, it gets more and more florid. So even though it felt like a poor use of my time to spend the evening bare-knuckle fighting with nitwits, it is better than just letting it bloom and pretending not to mind.”
Then men wrote about it. Nick Cohen stepped into the fray, stating:
“A great many male writers, and quite a few women journalists, find a special thrill in attacking women who write forcefully about politics. Look again at the insults. On the one hand, their critics say that they are preposterous figures, grotesque anomalies, who have no business being in a man’s world. They then explain their presence by depicting them as the worst type of woman, the termagant, the hysterical nagger, the unfeminine shrew.”
Then women wrote about men writing about it with Ellie Mae O’Hagan pointing out the irony of the reception to Nick Cohen writing about the vitriol and misogyny:
“Almost as soon as the piece was published, “Nick Cohen” started trending on Twitter. Clicking on the topic revealed scores of men and women sharing and praising his article; congratulating him for “nailing” the subject.”
The debate is interesting and wholly needed.
Meanwhile I receive kindness from complete strangers: men and women; young and old; aged hacks and cub reporters.
I’ve had offers of bottles of wine, money to pay off my gas debt, more money to pay my fare to job interviews, tip-offs about potential work, been wished well when at interviews and found readers interested to know whether I got the job or not.
I’ve also been irritated by a UKIP member, received the occasional “get a job” dismissive statement but such comments are few are far between – and I’ve never been threatened with violence. Not even when I share some grizzly details of journalistic activity … like routine deathknocks and taking all the family photos so you can stop another journalist getting them.
Is it because I’m unemployed? Do most people not want to kick someone when they’re down? Recent research would say Brits are lining up to kick me up the bum and get me back into work.
Is it because the blog is unthreatening? I condemn and mock Tories, call for the unemployed to unite and say Cameron wants us all in workhouses but it’s not enough to upset a liberal, never mind a right-winger.
Is it because we all secretly love a journalist? I am, after all, a former tabloid journalist blogging about unemployment at a time when red top hacks are currently seen as the devil incarnate.
Or is it because I’ve not revealed my gender? Does not knowing for certain simply make all abuse less likely? I’ve been referred to as he and she, depending on where you read about me.
After all, would a political blog written by a male journalist that includes pictures of his cat be condemned and ridiculed as quickly as one written by a woman?