But then they win

My emotional balance has been precarious recently. I’m mostly okay, if only a resigned kind of okay, but then there are the moments where I’ll feel a sudden tightness in my chest, a shallowness of breath, angry warm tears welling up.

It happened again today when I came across this reflection from a female sports journalist on Twitter, who’d received a nasty and obscene anonymous email attacking her, her work, and even her parents. She wrote, “Emails, tweets, comments like this, they take a toll on my psyche and significantly impact my ability and motivation to do my job. I don’t think it’s ‘tough’ or admirable to pretend that someone calling me a ‘disgusting and miserable bitch’ doesn’t make me upset for a couple days.”

It hit me hard. The reason I’ve been teetering on an emotional edge for the last week is likewise a cruel, baseless, anonymous takedown on the Internet, one that impugns my character and my motivation for doing the work I do for diversity in tech. It’s bullshit, but it still hurts. It makes me wonder what I’m doing and why I even bother. Maybe I should just quit. Stop talking about diversity, just shut up about it. Go back to coding. I like building products better than being a broken record about diversity anyways.

But then they win. And the horrible anonymous bigots and bullies can’t win.

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92 thoughts on “But then they win

  1. Hi Lindsey, we don’t know each other and I am not in the industry, but don’t stop working to improve the situation. Women bring a lot to the table and make noteworthy contributions everyday. You might not see the changes you wrought but those who come after may well benefit from your efforts.

  2. I totally agree, it’s cruel, empty and just vicious. Pure ignorance. And same here, makes me angry but you cannot fight it directly, not becoming same level. All you can do is carry on your good work, over the time it’ll make a real difference. We need inclusion and diversity on all levels so the world will be better place to be🙂

  3. I know all about being victimized by bullies… only diff is mine were in the real world… in my Elementary / Middle School hallways and on the playgrounds. And time does not heal those wounds. You’ve nailed it down perfectly. It’s that damned anonymity factor, which online commenting offers… and far too often, that brings out the worst in people. Hmmm… is “people” even the operative word here? Or is that too cruel? Although it may feel like you’re fighting a losing battle… to not do so, as you pointed out, only let’s these losers win.

  4. You have to keep going they are just words, cruel and hateful words but without the voices that speak peace, uniformity and love those words are all the words we will hear or read about, and if that occurs they will be have won.🙂

  5. Hey fellow blogger. We can’t stop talking and addressing diversity. In light of everything the world is going through, talking and reacting is exactly what we need to do.

  6. There will always be ignorant people saying stuff that they shouldn’t, but everything that somebody hates will also have people that love it. Also, your specific industry (and many others) has been in want of women since it’s beginning, and it has made a harmful, but not irreparable impact on how society views that industry. Instead of letting it get you down, let it inspire you to prove them wrong.

  7. Don’t quit! You are inspiring to women and anyone who is being ignored. I teach my students everyday that it is most important to stand for who you are, not who society thinks you should be.
    sandyintheclassroom.wordpress.com

  8. I find it more outrageous that some people will take a moment to even post some of the drivel being circulated out here in cyberspace. When someone ” hates” on you, its usually because you’ve touched a nerve that they cannot rationally understand so they reach for the lowest common denominator. Use them as motivation!!!

  9. There are all sorts of people in the world and stupidity and viciousness is rampant. Anyone who has a sense of self worth (and I assume you do and for the very good reason that your work and your person is widely acceptable) must understand their personal worth. By that standard the idiotic comment you might get over the internet is immediately classified as mere noise, no more worth your attention than a barking dog or a chattering bluejay or the rattle and bang of a garbage can lid blown down by a gust of wind. The kind of comment. It is the racket of a disturbed mind seeking relief in verbal graffiti and deserves pity, not self re-evaluation.

  10. Anonymous mails are cruel and vicious. IT says everything about the person, who sends them. You are so much more than them. You work hard and you have the courage to continue, dispite them. You are strong, they are weak. Otherwise they wouldn’t send their mails anonymously. If they had a little bit integrety, they would write their names! So, keep up the good work and try not to mind them! 🙂

  11. This post made me so angry. It’s insane that in today’s world, women still have to worry about this kind of vile harassment online. Sorry you had to go through that.

  12. I don’t know when civil rights for free speech stopped being civil. I certainly enjoy a good debate of ideas. The problem is that people tend to attack the individuals rather than the topic. I think the technology boom happened so fast that the etiquette that many people would expect has not been put into place on a social or legal level. There is movement in this area. The hulk hogan case gives me hope, an example of a public person having the right to privacy. Keep fighting but take a break when you need one. It will be a long battle.

  13. The people that leave the comments never have the courage to speak out except when it’s to promote hate and ignorance. I too have the same feelings and sometimes those feelings eat away at my conscience. A subtle shrug of the shoulder cannot rid my mind of hate towards me. Especially when my objective is to unify not divide.

    I can this. Your piece definitely speaks volumes. Continue to strive for greatness. Thank you!

  14. Like you said “But then they Win”. Don’t let them win. Times are changing and you can’t let incidents like this to affect you. Till the time when we have equality all around us we can’t stop. We owe it to our gender we owe it to humanity.
    Forgive, forget and move on with greater zest. Don’t let it hinder your happiness because then he will win. Infact be more happy and shut the world up with your work.
    All the best!!! Be kind…

  15. Never stop. I just had a convo with a guy who said “the feminists have won! My life sucks now! Thanks” I was shocked. I mentioned statistics of economics and violence against women and minority’s. His response? “Statistics are bullshit. And so what you make $0.79 on the dollar, at least you have a job and if your happy it shouldn’t matter.”
    Never stop. Center your energy and keep being a badass. We need voices like yours.

  16. I know you don’t want advice, but I used to be dragged under the bus a lot for being a minority in theatre, and when I realized that the people who were the most cruel to me were eaten up with jealousy and self-hatred, I started to see them as non-human blobs, and it was a lot harder for me to take them seriously. A negative blob who calls you names is less able to hurt you than a self-respecting human who has earned some credibility within their own soul.
    That being said, I did leave theatre for a long break, because the abuse was affecting my life. So.
    You respect yourself, and you have a pure heart. That is something that these people (blobs) will never have. Also, you scare these people (blobs) shitless because your actions show them how small and powerless they have become.
    But you being okay is more important than your diversity work progressing, and I do think there is a point when it’s wise to recuperate. Listen to your heart, not to strangers on the internet (even the ones who believe that you’re awesome, and I think you’re awesome).

  17. As long as you’re doing something and committed to something, there will always be this risk and it sucks! But don’t stop! You have something powerful to say, more powerful that hateful comments and unkindness❤

  18. I hope you continue your course. People are jerks and these things hurt all of us but stay the course. Think of it this way, where would women be if historical women backed down from their battles? Voting? Working? Free Choice? We all have a part to play. That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

  19. You are not alone in this. We all need to keep fighting. You are right – don’t let them win! Thank you for all you do!

  20. Interesting piece, thanks for sharing it. Increasing diversity in tech, science, medicine, etc., is a great goal, an important one. I suspect the “broken record” feeling may last, though – change seems like it would be slow and distributed, making it difficult to observe.

  21. Last year, I went to Portland, Oregon and was followed by a group of guys who repeatedly called me the N-word. It was upsetting, but I did not let my frustrations show. I just kept walking, listening to music. I couldn’t let them win.

  22. AI DIFFERENT TAKE ON THE MATTER. It really has little to do with diversity or a need for diversity. It deals more with fear and control. Once a bully learns, reads or knows you are sensitive he/she also knows where you will go, who you will talk to.
    As a former baseball player we learned that the “heckler” wanted to know if you had “rabbit ears.” Once he established that, he owned you. Once in the Twinkie Dome there was a heckler that was so funny we sat in the dug out struggling to hear his next line. We had to pretend he wasn’t there but he knew he got to us (possibly because we were laughing in the on deck circle)
    My point being the only way to combat secondary bullying is to understand what motivates the bully.

  23. I know how you feel, keep going and dont let anyone bring you down. I love what you do and everyone needs someone like you in their lives. Please keep trying and it will all be ok.

  24. I can relate to what you are feeling. I work in an environment that is toxic; there is bias, prejudice and judgement. It only compels me to challenge the status quo. The isn’t without repercussion except that it doesn’t matter because I chose to do the right thing. At the end of the day, that behavior will carry me through the ignorance. Please, please don’t let anyone kill your spirit and vitality.

  25. Thanks for standing out in the fight for diversity please carry on the good work, over time it will make a real difference and you will win. So be strong and never give up.

  26. No doubt you are winning in the mind of the anonymous loser. Critics are stepping stones to success. They are the rung on the ladder below your feet. All of the comments above are friends overwhelming the fool

  27. No matter in which phase you are in life, you will find bullies or people who would want to discourage you. Don’t let people who are no good in the society affect the good ones .. as the good ones in the society are very rare in this world and age.
    “If there are people hating you, you must be doing something right” live by that mentality. It helps. Trust me .

  28. Everyones’s replies are lovely, however like you I find so much anger and sadness in opinions so carelessly voiced. I am finding it difficult to get past it. I wonder if they have ever faced cruel ignorant judgment, or if they would recognize and relate it to their past mindless actions. I do try to keep in my mind that these mindless opinions are nothing but a lack of knowledge, lack of experience but then I move to thoughts on how the person has a lack of consideration, lack of empathy just pure lack of kindness. These days I find it hard to smile, I try my best to avoid all sources of opinion but how real can that be (it cant). To be accepted, to be valued, to be welcomed. Diversity in my head looks like Tetris, there is always a way where everything can fit and find a place – you just have to be open minded and try different ways, otherwise it will all pile up in an awkward manner and end up in chaos. I wish those of us that work with diversity a stronger sense of self and fiery passion that can never be put out.

  29. We may put up a brave face and pretend the bullies and bigots don’t hurt us, but deep down we take the hit deep – However, I guess that’s what makes us want to stand against the odds by the end of the day, our broken souls trying to lead us into the light by spreading words of comfort and awareness. By the end of the day, all we can do is keep fighting! I know you will never give up, for you are enlightened.🙂 Glad I read this today.

  30. Bullies are intimidated/jealous people who wants to pull you DOWN!. YES DOWN.
    You’re above them so you should keep going.
    go on girl step on the pedestal and Show them what you’ve got. 🙌🙌

  31. Quitting is the worst thing we’ll do ever. However things hurt us everytime we intend to take a new step and try something new. But Hope is the backbone and we shouldn’t loose it.

  32. Ah, I hate how stupid internet hate and comments messes with my emotional balance for days. Sometimes the best thing for me is to check out of being online for 3-4 days, and just focus on writing and creating. But, the need for good people like you to speak up is great! Thank you for spending your heart and life in making the world a better place.

  33. the more people there are pushing you down, the stronger you get, because every time they push you down you have to get up, and every time you get up you get stronger. Don’t be afraid to go down.

  34. The only way to win is too fight! We’ve never met and I’m a newbie to the platform but one thing is for sure, lack of diversity kills and all we have to is look around us to see the damage wrought by inteolrance and xenophobia to see the truth.

  35. That’s the real tragedy of the current progress of communication. It breeds cowards and petty words without consequence and without thought. I’m encouraged by your resolution to not let something as lowly and awful deter you. Move forward in your passion, keep steady in your call to better the world. Thanks.

  36. Aloha beautiful!
    I really enjoyed reading your post. Sometimes we go through some hardship but maybe it is to even more being able to enjoy the sunshine afterwards. I write about motivation and inspiration if you want to check out my blog.

    hugs from Hawaii

  37. I feel this in another industry when men pretend women are super involved and why even talk about it. Keep fighting the good fight. We got you

  38. There just always seems to be a particular type of person who derives self worth by demeaning others. It hurts and it’s so, so hard to get past at times. Yet we have to keep moving forward and persevere despite this. Thanks for sharing this. 😊

  39. Never, ever give up! I always say that unless you are part of the Three Billy Goats Gruff story, you’re pretty damned useless as a troll! Diversity is what makes us great. You’re not alone, you know. As a writer, I’ve been on the receiving end of stuff which, while not necessarily nasty, was nevertheless patronising. One literary agent had me write a synopsis for each chapter of one of my books “Killing For Capone”, and then, when he told me that he was no longer representing true crime, I asked why had he asked me to do so much work, he replied, “Oh you pretty little thing, I thought I’d humour you.” My fist desperately wanted to humour his nose, but I took a deep breath, looked him straight in the eye and replied, “I’m so pleased that my parents took the time to teach me respect and dignity. It’s a shame yours were too busy” and then I walked out of the office, head high, like a goddamned queen! Your post may be titled, “But then they win”, but never forget the words of Mahatma Gandhi: First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then YOU win!

  40. Triketora maybe you will find something that may help in some way from my past experiences. Workplacerenovation.wordpress.com I wish you success in your perserverance to make a difference & would support in any way..Cheers to you in your quest..what you are doing is phenomenal

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