Like fish in a barrel.

I opened the paper to see the gorgeous Chrissie Swan staring back out at me with her infectious smile this morning. I adore Chrissie Swan. To me she is approachable and relatable. She is my age and juggles two sons. She is smart as a whip and funny to boot. 

“Seriously- people look at this photo and that’s what they see? How about three happy people, smiling, one mum who adores her children, and that’s it.”

I went on to read the article, which outlined the hate attack she has come under from anonymous folk, tucked up behind the safety of their keyboards.

I felt sick.

“A woman with intelligence and humor? Comfortable in her own skin? OUT OF THE KITCHEN? An outrage! We must tear her down at once …”

I might be a bit raw at the moment. I was picked apart, shredded and crucified in the comments section of the Sydney Morning Herald last week for no other reason than I was a female with a voice that I dared to use.

“Unfortunately, we live in a Patriarchal society and despite the bra burnings and the feminist movements, a lot of people still find themselves threatened by strong female voices. Culturally, parts of the community would be happier with women producing a perfectly clean house, coiffed hair and a martini at the end of the day, rather than a well thought out opinion.”

My mum sent me an email. She wrote of small penised men with downtrodden wives. Mum is a woman with a strong voice. She has been on the local council for 20 years, pushing snowballs up volcanoes, being patronised and bullied by the men she worked with. A picture of her head superimposed onto a bikini model, threats and other lovely tactics.

And all because she was a woman with a strong voice.

“You just have to have a thick skin and inevitably feel sorry for dumb arses and lament over the fact that our society will always have these people on the sidelines.”

I was meant to appear on a high rating prime time show this week to talk about blogging. I had the pre-interview with the producer who asked me whether I ever felt the pressure to have more children so I could continue to be a mummy-blogger. And what my income was. And no, I am not kidding.

My guard went up immediately. I got off the phone, just knowing that no matter what I said, I would be stitched up somewhere. Because it seems to have become a national sport. 

“In my experience, women are extremely supportive of other women. They champion each other’s choices and achievements. They are also quick to tear each other down with such ferocity it’s scary. We all need to work on stamping out the nastiness”

I cancelled the segment.

“Mostly, I think the attacks come from women who are unhappy, insecure and owners of very small minds. They’ve lost all perspective on what’s important in life (assuming they had it in the first place) and think that by attacking others, they will somehow make themselves feel better.”

The truth is, I am just not that tough. Do I have to be? Why can’t I just write my stories, have a laugh and enjoy the process, connections and opportunities that come my way?

Why are women who dare to show an opinion, or even just share a story with an audience, deemed as fair game by any half wit with an internet connection?

I am so naive. I just do not get it.

“I think Anne Summers said it best, way back in 1975 when she spoke of the divide thrust upon women by society, and I think that extends to the media too. They see us as either rotten to the core or intrinsically good – “Damned Whores and God’s Police”. There is no happy medium and leads to so much vitriol including the old pearler ‘you can’t be a good motherand a career woman’

Are the only people we want to see representing women in the media are those chosen based on aesthetics by men? Scripted voices, nodding and smiling along. Making no waves? 

Do we want to be bombarded by perfect images of perfect scenarios so we can look at them and take away a feeling of inadequacy?

Do we continue to accept vanilla because we are too afraid to ask for a different flavour?

“This is the reason why

people retreat and don’t speak up, or dare say something in the world. It’s such a shame. The people who stay small out of fear .. often turn on the people who aren’t staying small. Because how dare somebody else do something that we are too scared to do?”

I often sit and ponder about trolls and nasty fold who take pleasure in putting others down online. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel in a lot of ways. What sort of pleasure does one get from typing such vile offerings.

I am trying to understand. It seems I too, am pushing a snowball up a volcano. I got in touch with Chrissie.

“One day we’ll look back on this persecution with great shame. 
It is weird to be in it.”
Chrissie Swan 

Weird indeed.