What I’m doing while I’m not doing the stuff I’m supposed to be doing

Happy February 1st.

OMG. It’s February 1st.

2016 has already gotten away from me. I’d like to say that it is because I’ve fallen so deep into a writing coma that I couldn’t come up for air because of all of the amazing sentences that I’m constructing… but that’d be bullshit.

I’d like to say that it’s because I’m swamped since I won the Powerball, too, but well… clearly, no.

Here at Casa Filak, things have been a bit hectic in 2016. Just before Christmas, our youngest daughter was diagnosed (finally) with Fibromyalgia. She’s eleven. That really, really sucks. She was, understandably, suffering from some pretty severe depression after having felt like crap for over a year, and we’re getting that under control, as well as learning new ways to help her cope with her pain and her new reality.

I don’t want to help her cope with a new reality.

I want to go back to the old reality, before she was in pain all the time. Before she felt nauseated. Every. Single. Day. I want to go back to the reality where she runs around and plays like a kid, where she doesn’t have to remember to do neck stretches to keep herself from getting headaches. I want her to be staring down the highway of life where the biggest worry she has is who’s going to be assigned to her cabin at 5th grade camp.

I’m kind of pissed.

But I can’t show her that, because I have to show her how to be strong. And I can’t show her that, because being angry isn’t going to do her one bit of good. And I can’t show her that, because this isn’t about me at all… it’s about her and I want her to know that she’s perfect, even though her muscles aren’t.

So… right now, a lot of the things that I’m supposed to be doing are slipping to the wayside. We have about 7 specialists appointments a week, right now, as we try to wrangle her symptoms under control and help her to learn coping strategies and warning signs. Right now, all the creative juices in my head have turned to sludge. Right now, the characters that are living in my head are a lot quieter than the kid that lives in my house… in my heart. And right now, I’m having a hard time remembering that I’m an author. That I’m a woman. That I’m anything other than mother.

I know that this will pass. Each day gets easier. Each day, she gets stronger and as she gets stronger, so do I. One day, soon, I’ll remember that I’m somebody else, besides just her mom.

But right now, I’m having a hard time remembering that, so I have to tell myself. Just as a reminder.

Quick and Dirty Review: THE DISTANCE FROM A TO Z by Natalie Blitt




So, I’m supposed to be finishing line edits, right now. I’m supposed to be neck deep in removing all the extra commas from my manuscript (I have an addiction. I admit it — My name is Stacey and I use WAY too much punctuation.) HOWEVER, that being said, I took a night off last night.  My agent-mate, the lovely Natalie Blitt, had a book birthday yesterday with the release of her Teen Romance, THE DISTANCE FROM A TO Z, so I took a few hours off to read it.

And it was fantastic.

But since I have to get back to those commas I’m going to do a quick and dirty review — five things I loved about this book about a girl who travels away from home to immerse herself in the culture that she loves — to get away from the family that drives her crazy — only to find love in a most unexpected boy.

#5 – Abby and Alice. The friendship between these two is perfectly real. Both are flawed, both are strong in their own way. They have fights and make up over real things. Their friendship drew me into this book right away.

#4 – French and Baseball. Full transparency — I don’t speak French and I don’t really like baseball. We’re an NFL family, around these parts. But the immersion of the French language and the baseball — all the baseball — made these characters real. The French language and the baseball references become a part of the story. They become characters unto themselves. And they are great fun.

#3 – Trivia as Foreplay. Here’s the thing — I am a sucker for a good nerd love story, and Abby is a nerd that I can totally get behind. She is smart and funny, geeking out on all things France and the beauty of words. (You know I’m all about that.) She’s got a head full of baseball facts and all kinds of family baggage and is trying to find her place in the world. And any book that uses a trivia competition as the first real set-up to romance gets an A+ from me.

#2 – CONSENT! Zeke is a jock. He’s the exact kind of guy you would expect to push back, if a girl says, “No.” But instead, Natalie Blitt has given us a story that at its heart is about consent and that, way more than his shaggy blond locks or his easy smile, is what made me love Zeke.

#1 – Instant Gratification. The e-book is available right now. Right here. Or here. And it’s $1.99! And it is a quick, happy read that made me smile. It was lovely and I’d recommend that you use a few hours of the time you’re supposed to be doing something else to fall into it, too!

The Stars Look Very Different Today



I woke up to sad news this morning, as did everyone else in the world. David Bowie has died of cancer at age 69.

If you’d have asked me, yesterday, if I’d have felt compelled to write a blog post if David Bowie died, I’d have shrugged and said, “I like his music. He was a hell of an entertainer. But he doesn’t really have anything to do with me.”

I’d have been wrong. The minute I read the news, I felt like I was kicked in the gut and it took me a couple of hours to understand why.

The short answer… the easy answer… is Labyrinth. It was, in my recollection, my very first taste of fantasy. We weren’t a family that dwelled in the land of wizards and warriors, of swords and sorcerers. We were a family that watched Westerns. Later, I would bond with my dad over Star Trek and Star Wars, and even Beastmaster, but my earliest movie memories were The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and Gunsmoke. And while I can see the way that those stories, too, have touched my work, nothing shook me by the shoulders the way that Labyrinth did.

From the moment we watched Labyrinth, it changed the way I thought. I remember, in winter, a huge puddle formed downtown, and the top layer would crust over with ice. My sister and I discovered that if you broke the crust in the middle, then stepped on the edge, it would bubble — our very own Bog of Eternal Stench. I’ve forgotten whole years of my childhood, but I remember that puddle like it was yesterday.

And David Bowie was a part of that. Jareth was a force of nature, a celestial being, a kind of immortal that I had not yet known. He was the kind of beast that stole babies from their cribs and tried to seduce the heroine to the dark side. He was evil, but in a way that made you want to be evil, too.

As I got older, and my musical tastes diverged from my parents’ love of all things Country and Western, I heard Space Oddity. I heard Heroes. I heard Rebel Rebel. I heard him play the part of Ziggy Stardust, and he was so charismatic, so otherworldly. He was experiencing the earth as if from somewhere else, and that spoke to me. As the kind of person who has always questioned where they belonged, I got David Bowie. I felt like he got me.

I didn’t know David Bowie. He was an entertainer and an artist. He was a father and a husband. There are those in this world who truly mourn his loss, today, in a way that I cannot, and my heart goes out to them. I hope that they find peace.

But, for me… this world glitters a little less, today, than it did yesterday. There is less Stardust in our sky. There is a little less magic. The Goblin King is dead. All hail the King.

Commencing countdown, engines on

Check ignition and may God’s love be with you

On Jessica Jones – AKA Kicking Rape Culture’s Ass and Other Acts of Heroism

***** This post may contain SPOILERS for the Netflix series, JESSICA JONES. It also may contain some discussion that may trigger an emotional response from some people, including those that are sensitive to discussions of rape and sexual violence. *****

We finished watching the Netflix Original Series, JESSICA JONES, last night, and I’ve been walking around in a fog, somewhat overwhelmed by all of its awesomeness for the last 24 hours. It wasn’t that Jessica kicks ass without taking names (Although she does). And it wasn’t that this show passed ever feminist media test that’s ever been made (Although it does). It wasn’t that the show takes gender norms and turns them around like the “permanent press” cycle of my dryer (Although it really, really does).

What really blew me away about this show was the way that it took EVERY SINGLE ASPECT of rape culture and pummeled it with super-human fists. Jessica Jones is DAMAGED. She is broken. She has been through hell, having been tortured and controlled by Kilgrave, raped and forced to do unimaginable things for his pleasure. She is full of rage, rightfully so, and these circumstances have altered her. Permanently. She is truly messed up by it — which is pretty refreshing, if you think about it. So often, characters who have been through a traumatic experience —  especially rape — spend an episode or two having PTSD, and then they bounce back. But experiences like that aren’t bounceable. They change you, and usually they change you to the point that you don’t go back to who you were. JESSICA JONES really shoved this idea down your throat. Brutally. Beautifully. Honestly.

In addition, I love the fact that Jessica, while our protagonist, isn’t especially likeable. You spend a lot of time wondering why Trish puts up with her, why a kind, attractive man like Luke Cage (Thank you, Netflix, for remembering that women enjoy an eye-candy love interest, too) would ever be interested in her. And then you get a glimpse. You see a fraction of a sliver of what Jessica was like, before Kilgrave. She is such a multifaceted, deeply engaging, fully fleshed out character, that despite the fact that she’s a hard-edged, unfriendly witch, most of the time, you still feel for her. Because she feels real.

Which leads me to another thing that I really enjoyed about the show. There are no characters that don’t get fleshed out. Pretty much all of the bit players — even if they only have a few minutes of screen time over a few episodes — they still manage to surprise you. They don’t feel tropey. They feel REAL. Robin, Louise, Pam, Wendy, Albert, Ruben, Claire (I love you, Claire), and my favorite, Malcolm. They are solid and sordid and they grab you, and don’t let go.

I love the active discussion of rape, and rape culture. I love the way that consent is in your face, every time Kilgrave is on the screen, and is being discussed. I love the conversations that his actions inspire, and the way that Jessica has taken control of her body. She refuses to allow him to take her unwillingly, any more.

I love the way that female characters (I’m looking at you, Hogarth and Robin) are given the roles usually held by men. Hogarth is a womanizing bastard, but she’s the lawyer you want when you’re charged with murder. Robin is the super-creepy neighbor that seems to be keeping her loved one prisoner. You’ve seen these characters before — many, many times. But rarely have they not had penises.  I love how nurturing and compassionate Malcolm is, and how dedicated to the idea of true love Luke is. These are so often seen as “feminine” characteristics, and this show takes gender norms and stirs them up. It takes a friendship between two women and makes it the central relationship — the core — for each of them. It does things that we don’t see often enough in pop culture, and it does them well.

And quite controversially, I’m sure, I loved Kilgrave. Don’t get me wrong — he was the worst of the worst, and deserved a lot worse than he got. But he was the very personification of rape. Think about that, for a minute. This character represented RAPE. Then think about the fact that strong, intelligent women kicked his ass. They worked together. They bled. They cried. They talked and they raged. They looked on as tough men (even the toughest, most unbreakable of men) fell beneath his spell, controlled and mentally raped. Over and over again, characters said to Jessica, “I had no idea… I didn’t believe…” Nobody could fight that battle for Jessica. She had to win on her own terms. And the fact that she wasn’t “fixed” after she had her revenge just makes me love the show, more. She can’t be fixed… she can only get stronger.

I salute the writers, the directors and producers, the actors (especially David Tennant, who has probably made it so I can never watch the 10th doctor, again), and Krysten Ritter, who oozed broken glass with each performance and choked life into Jessica. If Marvel is capable of putting JESSICA JONES out there, in their Cinematic Universe, then I expect them to step up their game on all female superheroes. I expect more broken, beautiful, heroic, fully-fleshed out heroines. They’ve blown their cover, now. We know their secret — and we know that they’re capable.

Admissions of Guilt and Other Such Apologies

As I reported a few weeks ago, I have been most fortunate in signing with an awesome agent, Rena Rossner. She has been a blessing, editorially, and I’ve spent the last few weeks cranking out a set of revisions, which I’ve sent off to her for review. It was a chaotic time.

Add to the revisions the fact that my youngest daughter has been suffering with renewed symptoms of Post-Concussion Syndrome from the concussion she got, a year ago, and the fact that my eldest son fractured his finger, which required surgery to place pins in it. My eldest daughter is charging through her senior year, and has just been accepted to college, and my youngest son is playing soccer and his vocabulary and reading level is expanding by the day.

Add to that the fact that I am still working 20-30 hours a week, helping my husband run his business, and trying (and mostly failing) to keep some sort of order in the household.

I managed to get the revisions in, but I’m failing at a whole lot of other things.

If/when the book ever sees the light of day, you’ll all be able to read that one of the main themes of this story is the fact that family isn’t just blood. You make your family, and that family comes first. I’m failing at that, right now, in a lot of ways.

I can’t tell you how many phone calls I have not returned, how many text messages and Facebook statuses I’ve overlooked. I can’t even keep track of all of the things that I should have said, and done, that haven’t been said, or done. I owe so many people a lunch date, or a phone call, or an email, or whatever… and you know what’s awesome?

I’m pretty sure that I’m the only one keeping track. I have the very best friends in the known world. I have an amazing support system of family, friends, confidantes, and partners in crime, and I know that even though I’m feeling this guilt… they’re just cheering me on.

My house hasn’t been as filthy as it has recently been since I last had a newborn. My mountain of laundry that needed to be folded nearly reached the ceiling… and was tackled by mother — bless her soul. Our dishwasher broke and my husband, despite working 14 hours a day, washed dishes by hand, every night while I did revisions.

I am not worthy.

If the book sees the light of day, I won’t have room for all of the acknowledgements that should be made. To everyone who I have overlooked while struggling to make this dream come true, please accept my admission of guilt, and my love. I couldn’t do any of this without all of you.

You are my team. You are my family. You are the reason I’ve been able to do any of this.

So, this happened…

Forgive me, my five blog followers, for I have forsaken thee…

I didn’t MEAN to stop blogging. In fact, I have every intention of blogging all the time. I’ll be driving the kids to practice, or sitting at my desk at work and think, “HA! That’s hilarious. I should totally write that down and post it on the blog.” But… well, my life tends to get in the way. I apologize. I’d push it out of the way and tell it to be more courteous, but… well, life.

And then, some new stuff happened, and it got a lot more crazy. But in a really awesome way.

So, without further rambling, I’d like to announce that I have signed with the fabulous Rena Rossner, of the Deborah Harris Agency!  She is fantastic, and has an excellent eye for editing, and is also funny and kind, and I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that I’m SUPER-GEEKED about this development. She was one of the agents that were at the top of my list of choices, and I was and will continue to be thrilled to have waded through 48 rejections in order to get the one offer from her.

I’d love to sit here and type out painstakingly long descriptions of #1 son’s broken finger and the surgery he just had to pin it, the Princess’ accidental glutening of herself and the misery that ensued, the AWESOME trip to Nerdcon: Stories that I just took with my fabulous critique partner, the broken dishwasher, the busy work schedule, Little Man’s current  obsession with battle royale nature lit, and of course, Eldest Daughter’s acceptance to COLLEGE!!!!! But alas, I have much revisioning to attend. And also, probably, a dishwasher to buy.

And plans to take over the world, Pinky. Love and peace and cookies to all of you.

*** True Confessions of a So-So Housekeeper ***

About nine years ago, we purchased a Dyson vacuum cleaner because we had been buying — and burning through — crummy $100 vacuums every couple of years and were tired of the cycle. It wasn’t cheap, but we figured it was worth a shot. It came with a five-year warranty, and of course the “never-lose-suction” guarantee, so what the heck.

Five years ago, the dog chewed through the power cord. The vacuum was still under warranty, so while they were replacing the cord, they cleaned and serviced the entire machine. That being said… that was the LAST time that any maintenance (beyond emptying the canister) has been done, because I forget. Or get lazy. Or just… meh.

Over the last couple of months, I began to notice that the vacuum wasn’t picking up all the little bits that it used to, and last week it became evident that I was really only pushing the vacuum around as a form of cardio exercise because absolutely no actual cleaning was taking place. So I bit the bullet and called the vacuum service shop. They quoted me $150 to clean and service the machine, but I’m cheap, and I thought that after 9 years, there was a decent chance that we’d just need a new vacuum, anyway. So I took drastic measures.

I decided to have a go at maintaining the vacuum ON MY OWN. I know it was an insane thought, but hey… some of us have to be pioneers.

I turned to the google for help and — lo and behold — apparently there are filters that can be easily removed and cleaned. Who knew? I did this bizarrely simply task, then sat down and cut off all of the hair/yarn/string/ribbon/miscellaneous detritus from the beater bar. By this point, I figured I was the Queen of all domestic goddesses, and I turned on the vacuum…

Only to hear the same rattly motor sound and see that there was still no suction. Bummer.

I turned the machine this way and that, hoping to spy some offending hunk of flotsam clogging the works. I did, in fact, find a bobby pin, a piece of shattered mechanical pencil (the entire eraser end) and two crystallized fruit snacks. Success!

But no. Still the rattle. Still the lack of suck.

Just as I was about to accept defeat and pay out the hard cash to have a profession do the job, I noticed a button that I’d never seen, before. (Perhaps because I’d rarely ever actually looked at the vacuum in any in-depth manner.) Intrigued, I pushed it, and a small hatch opened to reveal what resembled nothing other than a dead rodent. (It wasn’t, thank all the Gods! Though I’m not sure how surprised I’d have been, if it had turned out to be a mouse corpse. It was really only a tightly woven blob of pet-hair, safety pins, paper clips, a juice box straw, and beads.)

Cringing, I removed the carcass of filth, replaced the secret door, and VOILA! That puppy sings like Old Blue Eyes, once more.

In closing, I cannot recommend the Dyson vacuum cleaner enough, if you — like me — have a tendency to vacuum up any and all clutter that gets in your way, without thought of consequences, while refraining from even the most basic level of maintaining your machine. Because hey… here’s to another nine years of half-assed housework! Cheers!

Back to the ConFusion

I had the pleasure and privilege of attending ConFusion in Detroit, again, this past weekend, and OhMyGod, was it excellent. My friend, Andrea, who runs the Little Red Reviewer blog and writes for SF Signal and Apex Magazine (she’s just awesome like that), was there, and she took me under her wing, introducing me to many excellent folks.

I was super geeked to have the opportunity to meet Joe Abercrombie, who lives in the UK and doesn’t get to the US, often, but it was meeting Kameron Hurley (I may have mentioned my adoration for her more recent works, a time or two) that threw me over the edge. I did my best not to completely lose my shit as I explained that WE HAVE ALWAYS FOUGHT changed everything about the way that I write, but… well, let’s just say that I wasn’t as successfully cool as I would have liked to have been. There may have been hand flapping and fangirl tears. I might have squeed, just a little.

But the thing that I took away from hanging out in the same space as all of these excellent writers… They’re not so different from me. Once upon a time, they were a newbie. Once upon a time, they were looking for an agent, scrabbling for some sense of destination. They were overwhelmed and uninformed, and they were all so incredibly cool to talk about it with me, to share stories of their struggles in getting published. They were nervous, once, and some of them still are. Over and over, I was told, “Keep at it. If you want it bad enough, you’ll keep working at it, until it happens.”

I had the opportunity to talk with some relative newcomers (Ferrett Steinmetz has his first novel, FLEX, coming out in March, and Brian McClellan is finishing up his Powder Mage trilogy… AUTUMN REPUBLIC comes out in three weeks, and they were both super cool guys.) And I had the opportunity to talk to those that have several books under their belt, including some seasoned veterans of publishing. I got a TON of book recommendations from people whose work I appreciate, and I had a blast. (And I got to meet Robert Jackson Bennett, who is just as funny in real life as he is on Twitter, and whose work I really admire.)

And as always, it was such a comfortable, welcoming environment. I’m not good at small talk. I don’t have a lot in common with the other soccer moms, or the PTO parents. But here, in the midst of a thousand geeks and nerds of all varieties, I could make small talk about the things that I love… writing, or gaming, books and words. I could comfortably and proudly be myself, and let my freak flag fly. It was awesome. It was amazing. It was invigorating. And I am counting down the days until next year’s con, and I just want to thank everyone who put together such an amazing convention, and everyone who was so welcoming and willing to talk.  Cheers!


Book Review – THE MIRROR EMPIRE by Kameron Hurley

There was a lot of pressure, riding on the shoulders of this book. Hype surrounding it was everywhere, on all of the review blogs that I follow, on Twitter, on podcasts–pretty much everywhere. And I was worried. I’m not going to lie. I didn’t make it through GOD’S WAR, by Kameron Hurley. Maybe I was a different reader, then. Maybe I didn’t give it a chance. Or maybe it just wasn’t for me, but I just couldn’t get into it.

THE MIRROR EMPIRE felt different, right from the first page. And I don’t just mean different from GOD’S WAR, which it obviously is (SF vs. Epic Fantasy, etc.). No. I mean that this book was different from anything I have ever read, before. The world was truly (TRULY) unique, the sociological aspects were incredibly diverse and fresh, the characters were unlike any that I’ve ever read, before. Except, of course, that they weren’t. What Hurley does with gender and the flip that she does to genre tropes is nothing short of astonishing. It is breathtaking. It is brilliant. It is… a bit daunting.

To be honest, I couldn’t have gotten through this book, even a year ago. I am a better educated reader than I was, then. I couldn’t have gotten through this book, before I read “We Have Always Fought,” Hurley’s Hugo Award-Winning Essay about gender in narratives. I couldn’t have gotten through this book before I read ANCILLARY JUSTICE. I’m still, even now, digesting the depth and breadth of what Hurley has done, here, with THE MIRROR EMPIRE, and maybe I will be, for a long, long time.

And maybe that’s the point.

The story–at it’s very heart–isn’t one that we haven’t heard, before. An orphan must become the Chosen One. A stern, military hero must soften, and find their heart. A person, unsuited to rule, must do just that. These are things that we have seen, and read, countless times, before. But Hurley makes you question everything you know about this story. She makes you doubt your memory of those narratives. She makes you want better.

Are there things that I’d change about this book? Yes. I found it dense, and in some places, confusing. I (ridiculously) didn’t like some of the names, and I had a hard time keeping them straight. I could remember their actions and their story line, but for me, their names didn’t fit. That’s a personal, stupid thing that I didn’t give any bearing to, in this review, because that’s my brain, working against the story line. I’d have liked more of some story lines, and less of others–but again, all personal tastes.

What I wouldn’t change–what I found amazingly fresh and inventive and beautiful–was the world building. I just want to wallow in Hurley’s notebooks, where she’s plotting out the plant-based public transit, developing the carnivorous species of plants that walk the forests, laying out the many genders and societies and governments and religions. I want to flip through the card file with the information about the different worlds that mirror the one that most of the story is told in. I want more, because it is clear that Kameron Hurley has been living in this world for a good, long while, and she must have volumes of glorious, intricate detail. I wouldn’t change the uncomfortable scenes of sexual dominance, where our militaristic, matriarchal character literally “manhandles” her kept husband–a man who is pampered so that he’ll remain soft and desirable. A man who is later treated quite horrifically, in ways that we have seen female characters treated innumerable times. I wouldn’t change the physically disabled protagonist, who despite her body, uses her mind to solve dilemma after dilemma. I wouldn’t change the relationships and the tenderness, the violence and the betrayal, and I wouldn’t change the feeling that I had at the end–

Which is to say, “There must be more, and I want it, now.”

This book isn’t for the faint at heart, and it isn’t for the occasional fantasy reader. This book is hard core, but it is beautiful in its hardness, and it is well worth the time and effort and occasionally feeling as if you are stupider than everyone else in the world, as you work your way through it. And for what its worth, if she hasn’t won the award, already, I’m voting for Kameron Hurley for smartest person in the room.

Next up, I’m reading CITY OF STAIRS by Robert Jackson Bennett.

Things That Shouldn’t Have to be Said

****** Trigger Warnings ********

In the post, I discuss internet harassment, including death and rape threats, in some graphic detail, especially in the articles linked. Also, I use my more grown-up vocabulary, so if you don’t like R-rated movies, read at your own peril.

I love football. That isn’t a deep, dark secret, and it isn’t a guilty pleasure. I LOVE FOOTBALL. Sundays, at our house, are full of jerseys and chicken wings and cheering and occasional groans and outbursts of swearing. That is the game–you win some, and you lose some. When I was pulling this post together in my mind, I was going to talk about Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson and the utter shit-tastrophe that last week was, PR-wise, for the NFL. I was going to write about how you can hate the things that these men did, and still enjoy the game of football. This isn’t an if/but situation. This is life, where sometimes people do bad things, and yet we must remember that ALL people associated with them are not bad. That’s what I was going to write, and that is how I feel. Do I think that the NFL should let either of these men come back to work? No… with the addendum that I believe in second chances. If either man went to counseling, saw the error of his ways, expressed honest, soul-changing remorse. Then maybe.

Adrian Peterson is still asserting that what he did to his son is just “discipline.” He’s got a long way to go before I will ever be pleased to see him in a jersey, again. Ray Rice and his wife seemed to have worked things out. Why she stayed is, quite frankly, none of our damned business, and has no bearing on how the NFL treats this situation. I’ve read a lot of victim blaming, in this situation, and it makes me sick. If you’ve watched the video (which I will not link to here, because it is disturbing and I don’t want to glorify it, any more), I would imagine that you would see that there is nothing that she did that deserved to be cold-cocked to the face. Blaming women when men are violent, or sexually aggressive, or just assholes, has gotten really old, folks. Can’t we just move past the “Boys will be boys” nonsense?

Did the Ravens have the right to cut him? You betcha. You can be let go from employment for just about any reason under the sun. Randy Moss, arguably one of the best wide receivers ever,  was traded away from the New England Patriots (for a 3rd round pick) and then cut by the Minnesota Vikings, all within a month–because he criticized the coaches. Ray Rice’s actions made the Baltimore Ravens look bad, and in that case, they have every right to protect themselves.

But where I started, with this post, and where it is going, are two different places. I’ve been somewhat horrifically mesmerized by the internet response (and the real world response) to these controversies. One woman showed up at the Vikings game on Sunday wearing a Peterson jersey and carrying a tree branch. People everywhere are watching that video of Ray Rice knocking out his fiance and saying, “Well… maybe she hit him first,” or “Well… if it was so bad, then why did she stay?” I’ve seen people defend Peterson’s actions as reasonable discipline. I’m sorry–any time a child’s genitals are lacerated during a “whipping” you’ve crossed the line beyond reasonable, a long time ago. According to the internet, Peterson was just doing his best to make sure that his son grew up to be a good person. Hell. Adrian Peterson is a damned hero.

And that’s where I fell down a toxic rabbit hole.

The internet, for good or ill, has transformed our lives in a million different ways. We now know the correct song lyrics, any time we want. (There’s no more excuse to sing “Wrapped up like a douche, another runner in the night,”–which does make me sad.) Information–vast, unadulterated piles of information–is in our back pocket. Social media gives us the opportunity to keep in contact with people we love, people we admire, people we’ve never met. The world is both bigger, and smaller, than it has ever been, before.

And mostly, that is a great thing. What’s not so great?


Because it turns out that a chunk of the population is made up of people who get off on tormenting others. (Shocker, right?) And it may be that some of these douche-nozzles wouldn’t be so brave, face to face, but hiding under an anonymous avatar on Twitter, or Reddit, or 4chan, or wherever, they are willing to say some truly God awful things. “Maybe she deserved it,” or “Why did she stay?” look fairly innocent, in the light of some of the more heinous internet harassment campaigns that have taken place–Many of which, we (average, non-internet trolling citizens) will never know much about.

Take for instance the recent #GamerGate B.S.  A coder/video game designer named Zoe Quinn was “revenge-porned” by her ex-boyfriend. He wrote a detailed, graphic, 10k word rant about her sexual deviance and infidelities and posted it all over the internet. Not just one place–but dozens of places. Her name, her image, her personal details–splashed all over without her permission. That sounds bad, right?

Well, what happened next was worse. Some a-holes over at 4chan got ahold of the rant and realized that some of these alleged infidelities were with a game reviewer. Suddenly, this woman’s personal life (mind you, the reviewer in question had not reviewed, nor ever did review, her game–especially after the relationship began) became a rabid, scathing discussion on how women in the gaming world are using SEX (the most forbidden of tools) to heighten their ascent. Not only was Zoe Quinn a slut, but she was CHEATING!!!!

Seriously. This was a thing.

Quinn’s life was turned upside down. Her bank account and Social Security number were leaked online. Her dad received phone calls, calling his daughter a whore. People sent her death and rape threats. People exposed the personal information of her friends and co-workers. Anyone who dared to speak up for her was publicly threatened, their sensitive information exposed.

This. This is bullshit. But it’s just one case, right?


This happens all the time. ALL THE DAMNED TIME.

(I’m going to link to several articles, because I don’t want you to take my word for it.)

There is a case facing the Supreme Court, in which a man wrote and published, online, violent, misogynistic rap lyrics, plotting his wife’s murder and rape. 

There is a great write-up regarding the prominent violence in internet harassment, aimed at women, in TIME.

There’s an article by feminist blogger, Jill Filipovic, on TPM, that chronicles her own battle with repeated, horrifying death and rape threats–including a psychotic man showing up at the place where she was studying.

And there is a piece by Amanda Hess, at Pacific Standard, that takes a hard look at how nothing is being done to protect people (although it is mostly women) from this sort of harassment. A great quote from her: “But making quick and sick threats has become so easy that many say the abuse has proliferated to the point of meaninglessness, and that expressing alarm is foolish.”

Yup. Because we shouldn’t be alarmed when strangers feel comfortable describing, in detail, the sexual pleasures that they would take with our corpse. You know, because we are women, and we dared to have an opinion. There appears to be a small sect of the population who has decided that women are getting above themselves–working in fields they have no business in, standing up for themselves, speaking out of turn, speaking at all. And this group of hate-filled monsters are using the internet as a weapon.

We hear the term “revenge-porn” and it isn’t even surprising, any more. I had to have a conversation with my teen daughter about the dangers of sexting. NOT because I was worried about her picture being seen, but because I want her protected from her picture being used against her. We’ve seen that female celebrities aren’t protected from this–and again, we hear, “Well, WHY did she have those naked pictures?” We must be clear. A woman owning a nude picture of herself is NOT a crime. Stealing it, distributing it without her consent, and dehumanizing her with it, IS.  Oh, and then there’s this guy, who took his “revenge” to a WHOLE other, brutally disturbing level.

There is a segment of the population (and it is really hard to tell if it is 0.5% or 50%) that doesn’t see what is wrong, here–women, included. But I ask you–how would it seem if someone walked up to you at work and said, “Tonight, after you go to bed, I’m going to break into your house and rape you until you bleed.”  Not cool, right? Pretty terrifying. So how is it different when someone says that, on the internet? Why do we shrug it off and say, “Oh, it’s just those crazies.” I hate to break it to you, but I bet some of you know some of those crazies. People who think that, because they cannot be identified, they have the right to say whatever twisted and disgusting thing pops into their little minds. People who believe that words have no power, or people who enjoy the power that their violent, hateful words give them.

I started off wanting to talk about the NFL. But these aren’t just NFL problems. These are problems, across the board. I was going to write that Ray Rice was a coward, that Adrian Peterson was a coward. That there was no more craven act than a man abusing someone who doesn’t have the power to stop them–and that was true.

But even more cowardly than that is to hide your fists behind words, to hide your name behind a screen. To demean, dehumanize, terrorize, and torment someone simply because you can hide, makes you a vile piece of human garbage.

I’m so tired of it. I am so tired of learning, bit by disgusting bit, that the world that we live in is still (in the 21st fucking century) so bent upon keeping women down. I am SO tired of it. I’m tired of teaching my daughter ways to protect herself from it, and I’m sick of having to explain to my son the kind of man NOT to be, in the face of so many examples. I’m exhausted and weary and pained to see that so many men haven’t gotten that memo.

Please. If you are reading this, and you are a man, take a second to think about how you treat women. I don’t want royal princess treatment or chivalrous manners. Just, you know, don’t threaten to rape us when we do something that strikes you as opinionated. Don’t punch us in the face. Recognize our humanity, acknowledge our worth. Call me crazy, but I don’t think that’s unreasonable.