Political Flavors

From The Mouths Of Babes

Posted in Personal Essays on July 25th, 2011

Greta Christina recently commented on facebook:

[I] Am very puzzled by the troll on my blog who thinks I’m a vegetarian dog owner. And who apparently thinks these would be bad things. ?!?!?

And it brought me back to the eighth grade. I was sitting in Art class. At my assigned table were two other girls I didn’t know well but were fairly neutral towards me and two boys who, for some reason had decided to pick on me. They bullied me while the two girls said nothing, for fear that they would become the targets next. They made comments about my clothes, or anything they could think of. I was a slightly awkward 13 year old, growing out my bangs and without much fashion sense, but my biggest crime, in retrospect is that as a new student that year I hadn’t yet found a stable group of friends to back me up. And I also had not learned how to project confidence and a “don’t fuck with me” vibe – my adolescent vulnerability was on my sleeve.

I was a part of my school’s Conservation Club – an extra curricular activity for young environmentalists with maybe 4 other kids but somehow the boys in my Art Class had found out about this and thought it was hilarious.

“Hey! Those acid wash jeans are sex-y!” he said mockingly.
“Shut up.” I thought I was being forceful, but it probably made the bulls-eye bigger.
“Do you know how you are going to end up? You’re probably going to never get married, because seriously, what man would want you? And you will be living in a big mansion, as President of Earth Day adopting Korean kids.” So much to unpack there. Sexism, racism, and more from some middle school jerk.
I thought about it. I knew the “forever single” was supposed to hurt my feelings, but I was more interested in his career prediction. President of Earth Day, I already knew, was not a real job, but it sounded pretty fucking cool.
“Ok, whatever.” I said. The bell was about to ring.

I’ve often thought back to that day and how much his insult(s) revealed the amount of toxic hatred our culture spews and is picked up by kids and teens. I thought of it the night before my wedding and laughed that he was so far wrong on two counts (My job is white-collar boring and administrative, and I have not yet see President of Earth Day on Monster.com). The mansion and Korean children have also not materialized.

So yes, Greta, trolls have a way of picking out stereotypes they feel represent the “worst” about a group and flinging them back at us in a way that both fails to insult and reveals a lot about their own warped ideas.

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