I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that so many bloggers (and their extremely opinionated readers) have been focused on me and, to a lesser extent, my new book this past week. It’s a blessing in some ways, because it’s good that people are talking about the book, even if most of the people talking about it haven’t read it and have some very wrongheaded notions about it. On the other hand, it’s never easy reading complete strangers calling you names, passing judgment on you based upon — well, nothing really. But I guess that’s part of the game. Celebrities deal with this all the time, which makes me feel sorry for them. I’m not a celebrity, obviously, and so this scrutiny is sort of new and I’m trying to figure out how to keep my balance in the midst of it all.
I would like to thank Gawker.com — Jesus, I never thought I’d write THOSE words! — for taking the time to actually ask me about this stuff, and for posting a fairly good piece about the whole thing. The reporter, Max Read (what a great freakin’ pen name, dude), was respectful, and I think really did understand what I was trying to say. Sadly, there are lots of creepy crawly trolls online who are trying to pull him in the opposite direction, in the “the bitch is crazy for saying Latino isn’t a race” direction so many of them seem to inexplicably love…what’s weird to me is that none of the trolls in question seem to have ever actually read anything I’ve written, forming their opinions solely on wikipedia entries or comment threads on extreme right-wing websites. Whatever. I will say it is depressing as hell to have nearly a decade of journalism (some of it award winning), and another decade of book writing (13 published books in total) under my belt, only to be judged, in the end, on nothing but the lunatic rantings of a couple of anonymous trolls on the Internet(s). It is incredible to have done so much good work, only to be remembered for nothing but a resignation letter written 13 years ago that was never intended to be made public but which was leaked by my former bosses. Lordy. What a world.
I think it’s good to ignore the really crazy assertions, for the most part, because to acknowledge them gives them power. But there are some ongoing statements that are very wrong that I feel it is important to address, because they are being made by the main bloggers themselves and then repeated in increasing crazed fervor by their minions. So, here goes:
1. The cowboy never raped me. Can we please stop saying he did? Can we please stop trying to see everything through an “either/or” lens of simplistic reasoning? I described an incident where, during an argument, he stopped arguing with me, grabbed my hand with a stern look on his face, took me to the bedroom, bent me over and had sex with me. We had previously joked about how, if we ever got in a no-win fight, we should just stop and screw, sex being perhaps the best thing about our relationship. In that particular instance, I was a willing participant in the sex. He didn’t force me to do it. Now, that said, it wasn’t loving and it wasn’t beautiful, either. He was a little rough, and a part of me (confusingly to those who like simple answers to complex situations and questions, no doubt) sort of liked it. I did not ask him to stop and he did not force himself upon me. Therefore, it wasn’t rape. The experience was sad, certainly, and he did remind me during it that he was “in charge” and I had to stop talking back, etc. Yes, this is ugly, and yes it was a turning point for me in the relationship. But it wasn’t “rape”. Not to me. While the cowboy could, at times, be a brutal man, emotionally, verbally and psychologically, and while he did threaten me with physical harm more than once (but never hit me) he was NOT a rapist, to my knowledge. I think that repeatedly referring to him in this way is irresponsible, libelous and, frankly, might get me killed. So, please. Stop.
2. My new boyfriend did not write a thank-you letter to the cowboy for abusing me. He wrote the cowboy a thank-you letter, but not for hurting me. That would be moronic and scary, and the new boyfriend is neither. He’s a kind, decent human being. I posted the letter, and my thoughts on it, on this blog a while back. I’d encourage you to read it by clicking here, if you are one of those people who feels the need to comment about how “sick” I am for having a new man who thanks the old one for abusing me. That is total bullshit, and if it were true you’d have a right to insult me. But it’s not true. I appreciate your concern, however sloppy and lazy, but I assure you things are not as you have all frenzied yourselves to believe.
Anyway, I’m glad the book is getting attention. We all knew that no matter what happened in my relationship with the cowboy that the book would inspire no shortage of controversy. I remember my agent sitting across a table from me and asking me very kindly whether I realized what I was in for with this, whether I truly understood just how vicious the backlash might be from those who would kneejerkingly misunderstand everything about the book because they didn’t read it and would therefore decide I was somehow anti-feminist. I nodded and said, “bring it on.” I knew. So I’m not surprised.
I do, however, wish people would read the book before deciding what it says, just as I’d like them to get to know me a little before calling me names…but I also know that, in the end, people are rarely talking about “you” when they’re supposedly talking about “you”…they are almost always talking about themselves…and “you” are little more than a lightning rod for whatever discomfort they have chosen your avatar to represent in their own psyche.
In the interest of being completely transparent, I’ve decided to host a Livestream chat on my website for anyone to join tomorrow. I’ll be live, on video, and you guys can ask me anything you want to. I want you to be able to see my eyes when I answer you, so that you can judge for yourself whether I’m telling the truth or crazy. I encourage you to join me, because I am genuinely interested in what you have to say, and hope that you will extend the same respect to me. Come to this link tomorrow, Sunday, January 13, at 6 p.m. MST (8 p.m. EST) and let’s talk about this, like civilized, intelligent people. Or at least not like idiots. Deal?