Haters Gonna Hate. What’s a Woman to Do About It? - the Cut
I’ll let you in on a secret, though: I love my haters. I relish my hate mail because it’s how I know an article I’ve written is really making the rounds. But for most women, ad-hominem attacks — many of them violent and sexual in nature — have a chilling effect on their willingness to speak up publicly as experts. Fellows in the yearlong Op-Ed Project program, which is designed to empower women to become opinion leaders, learn not just how to write op-eds and speak in soundbites but also how to handle the negative feedback and “address opposition” when they become spokespeople in national media. “I have a mantra: If you say things of consequence, there may be consequences. But the alternative is to be inconsequential,” the Op-Ed Project’s founder and CEO Katie Orenstein told me. “My point is not that we should speak up at any cost, but rather that we can’t allow fear of negative feedback to determine what kind of voice we have in the world.”
“Don’t feed the trolls” is advice that bloggers of all genders have taken to heart. But in these days of democratized communication, when even the casual Facebook update can prompt a heated discussion, haters are everywhere. Impossible to ignore. Rather than starving them, savvy people now brag about their trolls, and even use the haterade to their advantage. While the term “hater” has been around as long as hip-hop, it’s become so commonplace for rappers to decry their haters (or thank them, if you’re Kanye) that last year Complex named it one of the biggest clichés in the genre. Haters have also morphed into a meme of their own. You’ve seen the reality TV clips and the GIFs: Haters gonna hate. Hi, haters! Haters to the left. Keep hatin’. The lesson? Haters aren’t something to be feared. They’re validation that you’re a big deal. And they’re fuel to do better. Now you’re inspired to prove that their jealousy is warranted.
“Yes, the more successful you are — or the stronger, the more opinionated — the less you will be generally liked,” wrote Jessica Valenti in a great piece on women and likeability published by The Nation a few months ago. “All of a sudden people will think you’re too ‘braggy,’ too loud, too something. But the trade off is undoubtedly worth it. Power and authenticity are worth it.”