On Sunday morning, I woke up excited to go to brunch with a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile. I got dressed, headed to the gym, and when I got home, I made some coffee and dug into the interwebz to see what was what on a Sunday morning.
Not 15 minutes later, I was sitting on my sofa with tears rolling down my cheeks.
My readers only have access to the parts of my life I choose to share while certain people in my life have access to me. And that’s because (to be quite frank about it) many of you haven’t earned it. But it’s the same for me – I haven’t earned the right or privilege to sit at your family’s table and share in your news and memories.
But today, you’re going to get a straight-up shot (not a glimpse) of The Girl behind RedheadWriting. And that’s because I’m growing a pair and finally saying something I should have long ago:
Stop talking to me that way.
Let’s Start at the Beginning
Facebook. It’s the place where I stay connected with family and friends, new friends and old. It’s where my audience shares in my life (what I reveal) and I can keep up with what the people in my life are up to – and choose to share.
On Saturday, this is what I chose to share:
Innocuous. And not that it’s any of your fucking business, but I’d spent the day hiking. With my dogs. I love to go hiking and loaded up Beatrice Olivia the Mini Cooper with Big Dog, Small Dog, and a Camelbak and headed out for 3 hours in the hills of Boulder, Colorado. The weather was perfect. The dogs were soooo great, especially considering their off-leash adventures have been limited, and I got to spend a few hours with me – someone I’ve been missing (a lot) over the past year. I always seem to find her outside.
And Then It Goes Left at Albuquerque
The comments on the thread start rolling in. And suddenly – people who are supposed to be my friends just fuck it up. Some of the comments were deleted after I posted my response (which you’ll find below).
And Here is Where I Cry
You can think I’m a big ol’ pussy all you want, but when I came home from the gym and looked at all of this again, I just started to cry. The last comment in the thread got me thinking about “being dressed that way” and being a bawdy femme. Do I invite this? Do I grant permission? Am I telling people it’s okay to talk to me that way? So I sat there on my sofa wondering, as this wasn’t the first time it’s happened. So what did I do?
I grew the pair that I tell all of you that you should be growing on a regular basis.
So Don’t Fucking Talk to Me That Way
Do you know why I make jokes about my tits? So you won’t. Why does a woman say she has a big ass? So you won’t say it first. I fully own the fact that I am a foul-mouthed, no-holds-barred writer along with every ounce of whatever that comes out of my mouth. I own it. And even if I walked around dressed like a hooker, it doesn’t give the people in my life the right to talk to me that way. I sat on my couch on Sunday morning and cried. I was late to brunch because I had to pull my shit together and de-swell my tear-stung face because people who were supposed to be my friends thought it was okay to talk to me like that.
Well, It’s Not
I think poop jokes are funny and I can never get enough of Archer. I have been known to use the word “fuck” as a comma, adverb, and noun – and all in the same sentence. But given that information, it does not give you the right to shit on my life. And in return, it doesn’t give ME the right to shit on anyone else’s, either. It’s all fun and games until someone pokes an eye out – and I got mine poked out on Saturday and Sunday.
I think the world was possibly a better place when men wore hats and people danced – where there was a certain amount of decorum and respect that ruled (at least) our public-facing lives. While I can’t speak to the other social norms of those days and fully admit that, from a woman’s perspective, they were less than diverse or ideal, there’s a certain amount of validation in a woman being able to haul off and issue a gloved-hand slap to someone who’s disrespected her. And it all goes back to the perceived level of permission granted in the online space…and who you think you know versus who people really are.
Permission: What You See and Who I Am
I created RedheadWriting. She’s a persona. She’s a lippy broad and that’s why people love her – or hate her. She says what many wish they had the balls to say and riles-up others when certain topics arise. She takes a great professional photo and welcomes any opinion to be shared on her blog and Facebook page (so long as you identify yourself – there are no anonymous comments welcome). She swears enough to make a sailor blush and has an inexplicable affinity for hedgehogs (in the non-Ron Jeremy sense).
But do most of you know who I am? Apparently I have to share this information with you so you realize that there’s a person behind this persona the next time you feel entitled to haul off and make a comment on my life:
- I put up my first Christmas tree in over 9 years this past weekend. It’s lovely.
- I love kids and hope to have some of my own someday soon – and you can go fuck yourself if you want to chime in about me being a certain age and how I should write that shit off. I wrote a book about it. Holler. And last week when I included a linkbait headline alluding to being pregnant (in jest), thanks to all of you who sent me emails through my contact form expressing relief when you found out it wasn’t true. Because apparently, the idea of me becoming a mother at some point is terrifying to you. Whether you meant it or not, that hurt, too.
- I slipped and fell in love in late 2010. His name was Jason. He died unexpectedly from surgical complications on October 31, 2010. And I miss him. But my life is better for him having been in it and there’s not a day that goes by that the thought of him doesn’t make me smile.
- The last time I tried to date, the guy showed up drunk at my house with a gun. I don’t really know if you know the terror of hearing a round being chambered or chamber being cleared behind you. But I do. And maybe you don’t know what it feels like to have someone digitally stalk you for a month, calling you every name in the book for breaking up with them. But I do. And y’know what? There’s a certain humor to the entire situation. A certain bone-chilling terror as well to know that all of that crazy relationship shit you read about ? Yeah – you’re not immune to it. And no – I don’t hate him.
- I miss my brother. We were best friends growing up – geeks in unison. He’s on his own path right now and chooses to not connect with our family much. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in life is respect that it’s his path to follow. Even though I miss him.
- I have a niece and nephew. My niece is the spitting personification of me (my entire family says that by all rights, she should have been MY daughter so I’d have to raise her 🙂 ) and my nephew is autistic. He’s amazing and autistic and my sister is the biggest hero in my life for doing all she’s done to ensure he has a path equipped with tools he can use – and in his own way.
- I love getting dressed up, and not because I get to wear a push-up bra. Because I love dresses and skirts and the way I feel in them. I’m not so much a jeans or shorts girl. You’ll find me in a sundress before shorts and a dress before slacks. Every time.
- I struggle with my business and chosen career every day, not unlike many of you. I love what I do and am damn lucky I get to do it. It’s just an ongoing struggle to separate the “easy” path from the one you know you really should be taking.
I’m human – just like you – and while I might have a pair of balls, it doesn’t mean I’m immune when people are less than respectful of me and the person that’s behind this site that you keep coming back to time and time again (for which I thank you).
So, Who Are You To Talk To Me That Way?
When it comes to my blog and my Facebook page, they’re all about persona. Really – have at it. If I initiate the blue streak, you’re welcome to join in. But when it comes to my personal life, do the same as you’ve had done to you: don’t hijack someone’s life for your own amusement.
Because it hurts.
And I’m telling you – you don’t have the right to talk to me that way. I don’t have the right to talk to anyone that way, either.
I even asked someone I was with last night if this is something that men encounter, to which he responded no – not really. I’d love to hear from the men who read my blog (as there are many of you) on how you set the guidelines for speaking to the women in your life. I certainly hope I don’t talk to the men in my life in such a manner. Mostly because doing so would send the wrong message. Which leaves me wondering about the message of permission that I send. Madonna/Whore complex is a brilliant explanation when it comes to psychoanalysis, but why am I left always wondering if I’m seen as one or the other…when neither is optimal?
And Please Don’t Give Me the “Dressed in Such a Manner” Argument…
It won’t hold up in a court of law and it won’t hold up here.
What sucks is when you’re placed in a position – by the people in your life, no less – to consider the type of people who are in your life.
And it’s something I’m doing a lot of thinking about right now. Because I’ve let people talk to me like this for…well, ages. Something told me that it had to be okay, even though it made me feel sick to my stomach sometimes. I realized it was time to take the advice I’d recently given to a friend’s daughter when she was made extremely uncomfortable while visiting a local business (who shall remain nameless) by what the proprietor assumed (incorrectly) were some innocuous remarks about her chest-region gifts (WTF – who SAYS things like this to a female patron?).
It doesn’t matter how you’re dressed, honey. You still deserve respect. It’s our obligation, however, to think about what we say so as to not invite conversations we don’t want to have. But sometimes, it doesn’t matter if we invite people or not. They’re going to have the conversation that they want to have. And that doesn’t mean it’s okay or you have to put up with it.
We won’t go into the phone call I made to the local proprietor. I will say, however, that I handled it professionally.
Game On or Move On?
So the next time you want to say something off-color or twist someone’s line of conversation, understand that there’s a person behind that digital persona. A keyboard and a screen doesn’t lessen the impact of words thrown around in what you perceive as “fun.” And regardless of whether you perceive someone’s words as being “dressed in such a manner” as to invite a bawdy return, maybe think twice. Permission once doesn’t mean an open-ended line of consent. And now, not that you’ve earned it, you know a little bit more about me. What’s private. What wasn’t yours to know in the first place. But what else is going to let you know that I’m human – that I have feelings – and they’re not yours to twist into some fucked-up bendy straw variety of amusement?
So please don’t talk to me that way – and whether you believe it or not, I am a goddamned lady and should never have to ask to be treated like one. And the only reason you’ve been slapped today is because you slapped me.
And it hurt. Fuck, did it.
Your ball, my friends. I’ll be over here holding the two I just re-discovered.