I checked my work email this evening and saw an email that started like this: “You’re the kind of cunt reporter…”
It ended with: “So yes you are a fucking cunt.”
My immediate reaction: I can’t believe it’s taken this long for someone to call me that.
I’m a reporter. A crime reporter, which is traditionally a male-dominated beat. The story in question doesn’t matter. What matters is one more reporter has joined the ranks of women whom a man has called a cunt for doing her job. There are a lot of us.
His words didn’t hurt me; I am far too thick skinned for that. My self-worth is within me, and no one can take it away from me.
We all know this is not OK. The men who says these things, deep down, I hope they realize what they are saying to not only me, but to all the women in their life. Glennon Doyle Melton has some fabulous words about this.
So I don’t need to carry on with the obvious.
When I debated whether or not to write about this guy cowardly calling me this particular name, I initially decided against it, but then changed my mind. I decided to write this for the same reason I responded to that man with the anonymous email address. He will not shut me up. Just like the men who have called me whore, moron and idiot because I did my job. Just like the people who tell me I should be ashamed of myself for doing my job. Just like the ones who question my intelligence and education. They will not shut me up.
There is little hope of actually changing someone’s mind when they email or tweet you calling you a horrible name. So when I responded, it was to let that man know he would not silence me. I told him I was so sorry for the women in his life (completely true). Strangely enough, the man thanked me for responding (even though he also insinuated that I know what I am and that his significant other thinks he’s the greatest).
He’s right, I do know what I am: I’m an intelligent, fierce, courageous, compassionate, tough, badass witch with a loud, strong voice. I am a phenomenal woman.
“You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.” – Maya Angelou, from “Still, I Rise”
Update: Aug. 11
My colleagues and I were talking about this today, and we agreed there is no similar form of name-calling for men. Readers and commenters have certainly called and abused my male colleagues (especially the sports reporters), but the attacks typically aren’t quite that vulgar. To call a man a dick isn’t the same as saying pussy or cunt because when has our culture told men it’s shameful to have a penis? It doesn’t have the same punch as the female genital names, and it certainly isn’t calling a man “weak” or “worthless.”