Love And Light: On Insta-Bullies + The “High Road.”

Love And Light: On Insta-Bullies + The “High Road.”

Community Most Popular Posts Shift Of Power Tips + Tools

Last week, I got my first public InstaBully.

I knew this moment was coming. While not “big” by industry standards, my Instagram numbers were steadily growing, and between three speaking gigs in two weeks and a brand new collab underway, I was seeing an amount of traction that was abnormal for what I’d experienced thus far. I knew, also, that as my “numbers” began to grow, that so would my trolls.Maybe if I kept things sterile and serene on social, but that’s not my jam, because I believe that if you have a voice people are listening to, you should use it.

But also, I know it wouldn’t really matter either way. I could post about politics or I could post about pomegranates. I could post about body image or I could post about the best bakeries in Manhattan. I could post instrospective captions or I could post a string of vague emojis that don’t really mean anything in particular. I know that women are bullied on social media for just existing (much like in life!), and I also know that the more outwardly successful you are, the more bullying comments you receive. Just go to the comments section of anyone you deem even mildly #famous and you’ll see what I mean.

katie horwitch instagram bullies

this was the pic, btw.

I also want to add that this isn’t the first time I’ve been harrassed online. I’ve received DMs on all platforms and seen men tag each other in my posts commenting with wagging tongues or some other disgusting emoji or outburst. But this was the first public-facing comment that was directly directed at me, whose direct purpose was to knock me down and dehumanize me.

I’d like to say I was unaffected and laughed the second I saw it. But when it showed up in my notifications, my heart dropped. I can;t say I wasn’t expecting it – part of me for the last month had been whispering in the back of my mind, Wait for it… – but it still stung. After the first 15 seconds, I shook off the sting and started laughing. I’ve Made It!, I cheered to myself! And proceeded to check out this dude’s account then block and report him, not before (of course) snapping a screenshot for harassment proof and to text my friends. Oh, and blast on my personal social accounts.

I knew sharing this would be a little social experiment. How many people would laugh, how many would get angry? How many would know that this is sadly expected, and how many would be agog that this would happen to ME, “violently positive” (as I’ve been deemed by some friends) Katie Horwitch, who keeps her posts PG-13 at their racy-est and proactive at their most charged? I’ve come to expect a wide gamut of reactions based on the wide gamut of experiences and perspectives all people come into a conversation with.

But what blew me away in THIS conversation was the overWHELMING prevalence of this one comment:

This is obviously a very sad person and we should send him light.

Now, not everyone commented with these exact words. Most came to me in the form of “Wow, what a miserable life he must lead” or “What a sad person he must be” or “Laugh at their misery with compassion” or “Imagine how shitty his existence must be and how badly he must need a hug” or even “By the looks of it, this guy is clearly so sad in life and clearly needs medication.”

I’m not one to downplay mental health issues. But the overarching theme and connecting thread between all of these comments was: he gets a pass because of how hard life must be for him.

I know my friends were well-meaning when saying these things, and didn’t meant to downplay anything. I know this because I know this kind of deescalation is a conversation and perspective that’s been taught. It’s kinder than “stooping down to their level.” It’s more “enlightened.”

It’s the “high road.”

But it begs, no, PLEADS the question:
Why is our default response with hurtful men, particularly WHITE men, to play the compassion card, while when it’s a woman or POC, it’s to get angry and spew hate their way (even when they’re NOT actually being a bully, but that’s another conversation)? Why is it that the bully in the situation gets a free pass when the bully is an angry white dude? 

 

I am strong and confident. I’ll be just fine. But some people aren’t. And saying things like “don’t let it get to you, they’re just sad in real life” excuses the bully’s behavior, writing it off as a supporting example of a greater thesis statement about that person’s life. A life that doesn’t involve you, but in this moment, actually does.

Even more than that, using excuses like “what a sad human being” normalizes pushing others down to make yourself feel better. And even MORE than that- and this is what really gets me – it makes the harrassee, on the prey, feel GUILTY for not feeling compassion for their bully.

I see it happen on a small scale in instances like this one and on a more serious scale with my black or gay friends who are told that they should feel sorry for the people who speak such hateful words about them. That, to quote Shakespeare or someone like him, “they know not what they say” and should be sent, to paraphrase, “love and light.”

Well, I call BS on love and light. I call BS on the default of putting yourself in the shoes of the oppressor, whether it’s the man catcalling you on the street or the online troll smearing your DMs with racism. I call BS on it all.

I call BS on love and light. I call BS on the default of putting yourself in the shoes of the oppressor, whether it's the man catcalling you on the street or the online troll smearing your DMs with racism. I call BS on it all. Click To Tweet

 

So how do we do it then? In the true spirit of how I write, and WHAT I write, and what others SHARE on this platform, how does this turn into a proactive post offering tools and insight instead of a reactive post venting and offloading emotion?

•SHARE. Brené Brown says that shame can’t live when spoken out loud. Names are shame’s worst enemy and take away shame’s power. When I share things I feel shame around or stuff people say to me that’s meant to tear me down, though, I check my intenitions behind the share. Am I looking for pity or to engage in a hatefest? Or am I posting to expose darkness, to show that this can happen to anyone, anywhere – and we must join forces to take on that darkness?

•Engage with the bully **when PRODUCTIVE and PROACTIVE.** Is commenting back going to help someone learn something or help prove a point when it comes to creating the world you want to live in? Then post away. I thought of posting a comment back to this guy to show others who might be watching how to disarm a bully (my personal tactic is humor and confusion. “I actually thought of this same joke in middle school so I could poke fun at it before any of the mean 12 year-old boys could!” would’ve done it). But this particular comment was so juvenile and nonsensical that it didn’t deserve the time of day – mine or anyone else’s. If the photo or caption had been different – maybe more sexualized or risque – I would have used it as an opportunity to assert my right to portray my body however I pleased. My right to take pride in my sexuality instead of it simply being fodder for others (men) to comment on and make decisions about.

But this wasn’t the case. It was about him leaving a nonsensical comment that didn’t have anything to do with anything except general punny slut-shaming because it’s “funny” and demeaning. It was a classic bully move. This dude didn’t follow me (I checked). This guy didn’t care about what I had to say. He wanted to come into my space, spit at me, and then leave. It would be a waste of my time to try and engage and create a comment war or generate more anger – all on MY page, mind you, which I have worked hard to build and have strict community guidelines around. Namely, don’t be a dick.

I’ve been shamed before for my choices in clothing or maybe a look that “feels” provocative. But those are my choices. I know who I am and I know what I’m doing. And I will always defend that, so that others who might not be able to find the words themselves can have a point of reference if and when it happens to them.

•SCREENSHOT and REPORT hate speech. I’m not talking about silencing voices you don’t agree with. Don’t do that. It’s a reeeeal bad look, to put it mildly. I’m talking about the old PSA of “if you see something, say something.” I’m talking about if someone is coming at YOU or someone else with toxic, malicious vitriol, take a screenshot for your records and then report that shit. Platforms like Facebook are preaching that they have zero tolerance for hate speech and harassment. At the end of the day, they’re businesses. They exist because of us. And their noble claims of being an inclusive, tolerant zone, as much as I would love to say are all about their core values, are most likely ALSO a direct result of a shift in user experience. See something? Say something. Make those platforms do something about it.

 

Interestingly enough, this also happened the day before the news broke about the US administration’s talks about making it illegal to recognize more than two genders in our country. I shared a post by my friend Kelsey, which I thought was so succinct and well-written. Not even an hour later, I received an extremely nasty DM from someone telling me that I looked stupid and our country looked stupid, and while I was “over here caring about stupid pronouns” there were “people dying from bombs across the world.” Apparently I wasn’t allowed to care about Trans rights *and* international warfare. ::shrugs::

And this is where it all starts to get blurry. How do you interact with, if you even interact with at ALL, people who are yelling AT you and not speaking WITH you, who slam you with hate speech and view life through a very narrow lens of their own making?

I’m still working this out. Right now, I’m thinking it’s futile to argue with people who are hell-bent on interpreting your words, your decisions, and your SELF as they see fit. As a quote shared by brilliant Vienna Pharon and @mytruthnturs said, “self care is also not arguing with people who are committed to misunderstanding you.”

But I am still learning. And next year, month, week, hour, I might feel differently. That it’s important to speak up no matter what, even if the person on the other end is determined to shut you down. Yet right now, I don’t have time for that shit. I have work to do.

When consulting with brands and “influencers,” I’ve heard people say that they feel like having a certain amount of visibility or recognition will allow them to talk about things they actually want to talk about. That once they reach a certain number or achieve a very specific self dictated level of success, the conversational doors will fly open and the soapbox will appear. When that happens, they say, they’ll talk about racial injustices, gender disparities, wage gaps, the whole shebang. When, when, when.

My question to them is always: why aren’t you talking about these things now, if those are the conversations you want to be KNOWN for having??

And this is where I’m at. In this period of unusually rapid growth, it’s even more vital for me to use my voice in the way I know how and know I must. If you’re looking to build a genuine following and highly engaged community online: post your values. Post your Self. It’ll get rid of the noise real quick, and you’ll end up with the people who are Your People. Win win.

Post your values. Post your Self. It’ll get rid of the noise real quick, and you’ll end up with the people who are Your People. Win win. Click To Tweet

Oh, and as for my last name? You’ll notice I didn’t change it when I got married. Katie Tucker is pretty adorbs and could have worked quite nicely. It could have also avoided this lame bullying comment.

But here’s the thing. I’ve spent years making peace with my last name. I’ve spent years emotionally sifting through the self-deprecating comments of my family members about how much it sucks, or women telling women to make the change as soon as they can. I’ve learned to make loving jokes, and I’ve learned to find the power in it.

 

One crisp and slightly ethereal day last year, I ran into my friend Michael after I finished teaching one of my classes. Not unusual (we do work at the same place), but this time, his face lit up differently when he saw me in the hallway. Like I was a walking epiphany. “This might sound weird, but I was thinking about your last name the other day,” he started. Oh no, I thought. Here it goes…

“I broke it down and I realized your last name is made up of two labels devised by the patriarchy. ‘Whore’ (or Hor) for sexually empowered women, and ‘Witch’ for socially and politically revolutionary feminists. Your last name is made of up two terms that were created by men to demean strong and powerful women who were viewed as threats. Your last name is basically the most badass, most powerful, and most on-brand last name you could have.”

Damn straight. I’ll take it.

(**my people, for the record, believe in trans rights, believe that black lives matter, believe survivors – and while my people and i might not agree on everything in life, my people like to lean in and get curious way more than lash out and get cruel.)



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WANTcast 045: On Switching Gears + Embracing Your You-ness with Rachel Winard of Soapwalla

WANTcast 045: On Switching Gears + Embracing Your You-ness with Rachel Winard of Soapwalla

the WANTcast

Rachel Winard is the founder of Soapwalla, a indie skincare brand based in Brooklyn that prides itself on being pure, effective and trustworthy. The all-female company is based in Gowanus in a converted canning factory – so cool. After discovering that she had systemic lupus (an autoimmune illness that led to skin irritations), Rachel started creating products that wouldn’t irritate her skin. Today Soapwalla is a globally sold and recognized brand, and truly one of the OGs when it comes to the world of natural beauty. Soapwalla is proudly an LGBTQ-run business, an active advocate of gay and women’s rights, and works on getting customers involved too.

In this episode we talk about Rachel’s crazy and unexpected career journey from the arts to where she is now, how to advocate for a more inclusive and just world in both business and life, our mutual love for kind of unexpected things (like dinosaurs) and so much more. She is such a calming force and at the same time, so bright and effervescent – a friend of mine likes to say that certain people are like the “bubbles in champagne” and that’s definitely the case with Rachel.

WANT Rachel:



This Episode Is Sponsored By:
4 Weeks To Wellness

The 4 Weeks To Wellness program is a plan that ditches quick fixes and helps set you up for long-term wellness success physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s all about finding – REALLY finding – what works for you, putting your wellness puzzle together, and finding a way to do right by your body without giving up your life. It’s for anyone looking to make healthy changes (but lacking the framework and structure to actually make them happen) is gonna love this. Added bonus, Phoebe has personal experience with autoimmune diseases, thyroid issues, SIBO, Hashimoto’s – so if you do, too, Phoebe might be the accessible coach and cheerleader you need. It all happens online and is completely up to you how fast or slow you go.

Enrollment is open from now till April 20th, so go to thewellnessproject.com to sign up – use the code WANT for 15% off, AND be sure to enter The WANTcast in the How Did You Hear About Us section.

SHOW NOTES:
Soapwalla
Instagram
Facebook
Twitter
Rachel’s dino office
ACLU
Call Your Representative
4 Weeks To Wellness

If you liked this epiosde and everything WANT is throwing down, be sure to head on over to the site and SUBSCRIBE to The GOOD Word, WANT’s weekly email love letter where you’ll get all the posts and pods delivered directly to your email doorstep, plus first dibs on events, workshops, and the stuff I’m WANTing each week that I think you’ll love too. Also head on over to iTunes and subscribe, and leave some stars and a review to spread the WANTcast love, I apprecite it more than you know.

WANTcast 043: On Woke Wellness, Feminist Fitness, Having Hard Conversations, and The History of “Happiness” with Natalia Mehlman Petrzela

WANTcast 043: On Woke Wellness, Feminist Fitness, Having Hard Conversations, and The History of “Happiness” with Natalia Mehlman Petrzela

Most Popular Posts the WANTcast WANT Women

Today’s guest is one of the coolest chicks I know (and you too, soon!), and a conversation that’s a LONG time coming: scholar/writer/teacher/activist Natalia Mehlman Petrzela.

 

natalia speaking on our how to activate your inner activist” panel in 2017


Natalia is a historian of contemporary American politics and culture and is currently writing a book on American fitness culture. She is the author of Classroom Wars: Language, Sex, and the Making of Modern Political Culture, and the co-host of Past Present Podcast, a show that turns hindsight into foresight by examining what’s going on in America today through a historical lens. Natalia is Associate Professor of History at The New School, a co-founder of wellness education program Healthclass 2.0 and a Premiere Leader of intenSati, a fitness class that combines cardio with positive affirmations to make the ultimate uplifting workout. 

In this episode we talk about talking to kids about what’s going on in our country/world in an “appropriate” way, where our quest for happiness and “following your bliss” really came from and if it’s actually serving us, making wokeness more than a gimmick, locker room talk (no, not in THAT way), feminism/activism’s place in the wellness industry, and so, SO much more. 

WANT Natalia:

Listen on iTunes | Listen on Stitcher | Download | Support the pod by shopping on Amazon

Maybe the next phase of happiness + fulfilment is a more realistic assesment of it. - @nataliapetrzela Click To Tweet
What you do in the fitness studio is a low-stakes template for what you can do out in the world. - @nataliapetrzela Click To Tweet
Finish this sentence: I want to be strong SO THAT I CAN... Click To Tweet

Show Notes:
Website
Past Present Podcast
Instagram
Facebook
Twitter
Choose Love, Not Fear in 2013
How “Empowered” Speech About Your Body Might Mask The Same Old Issues
Derek Beres (introduced us!)
Gerren Liles (asked an awesome question!)
Photo cred: Elena Mudd

 

Like this episode? I’m so glad! Sign up for The (Good) Word, WANT’s weekly email group, at womenagainstnegativetalk.comleave a review on iTunes (the more reviews and five-stars, the more our message is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram (and tag Natalia and I so we can send you love!). Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

 

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WANTcast 041: On Conquering Change (When You Don’t Like Change) + Making Wellness Intersectional with Katie Dalebout

WANTcast 041: On Conquering Change (When You Don’t Like Change) + Making Wellness Intersectional with Katie Dalebout

Most Popular Posts the WANTcast

We’re back in action, baby!! I can’t think of a better guest to kick off Season Three (which, by the way, will be 20 episodes and now run every other week instead of every three weeks) than author and host Katie Dalebout.

katie dalebout women against negative talk wantcast

Katie is the host of the Let It Out Podcast and the author of Let It Out: A Journey Through Journaling (Hay House 2016). Katie is a writer and podcast host focusing on self-care, self-awareness, and self-expression for the greater good. Through her speaking and writing, she aims to help people develop a positive image of their bodies by embracing their creativity and personality outside of their physicality.

In this episode, Katie and I talk about major transitions, navigating change (when you don’t have a high threshold for change – and GUESS WHAT? Neither Katie or I do!), moving across the country and what it’s taught us, why constant growth and goal-chasing isn’t always a good thing, the value in doing what doesn’t feel like yourself, and so much more (including a topic I was really excited to dive into with her: INTERSECTIONAL WELLNESS).

 

WANT Katie:
Listen in iTunes || Support the pod by shopping on Amazon

Show Notes:
Katie Dalebout
Instagram
Facebook

Let It Out podcast
Let It Out: A Journey Through Journaling
The GOOD Fest
The Dreams We Woke Up From: Navigating transitions on WANT

Photos by Abbey Moore

Like this episode? I’m so glad! Sign up for The (Good) Word, WANT’s weekly email group, at womenagainstnegativetalk.comleave a review on iTunes (the more reviews and five-stars, the more our message is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram (and tag Katie and I so we can send you love!). Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

 


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WANTcast 039: On Creative Postpartum, Making Money, and Dreamin Big with Erin Bagwell of Dream, Girl

WANTcast 039: On Creative Postpartum, Making Money, and Dreamin Big with Erin Bagwell of Dream, Girl

the WANTcast

We’re BACK!

In Episode 39 of the WANTcast, filmmaker Erin Bagwell and I discuss creative postpartum (aka what happens after you finish a project), setting goals after hitting a BIG goal, speaking up and making your voice heard in the workplace (and world), using your creativity to make a difference, making money and how that relates to feminism, and so much more. Plus, why I’ve been AWOL, and how to pick the Season Two finale of the WANTcast.

WANT Erin:

Listen in iTunes Play in new window | Download Support the pod by shopping on Amazon via this link

erin bagwell dream girl
I'm just getting started. - @erinebagwell Click To Tweet

SHOW NOTES:
Dream, Girl
Creative Money
Feminist Wednesdays
Komal Minhas on the WANTcast


Like this episode? Shoot me a comment on womenagainstnegativetalk.comleave a review on iTunes (the more reviews, the more Erin’s message is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

The WANT Woman: Lauren Bille of Cycles + Sex and The Big Quiet

The WANT Woman: Lauren Bille of Cycles + Sex and The Big Quiet

Community WANT Women

We talk about our Through Line a lot on WANT: the common theme in everything you love and the common goal in everything you do. An alternate way to think about your “purpose,” looking at life through the lens of your Through Line makes things a lot less about what you do and a lot more about why and how you do it.

The best part of acting based on your unique Through Line instead of what you think you “should” be doing?

It gives others permission to do the same.

By leaning into your fullest potential, you create a domino effect that helps others follow suit.

Lauren Bille’s Through Line is the kind that creates a major chain reaction wherever she goes: she facilitates experiences for people to connect and reflect deeply with themselves and others, so muchso that it spurs them into action.

Lauren’s passionate about equality, social impact, building meaningful communities, and shifting cultural paradigms. She’s a master at bringing people together to activate their inner activist. With that kind of Through Line, you’re bound to make shift happen no matter what you do.

Lauren is currently a partner at The Big Quiet, where she helps organize mass meditations (mass = literally thousands of people) in iconic locations like Central Park and Madison Square Garden, and a co-founder of Cycles + Sex, an event that gives people the kind of education, tools, and empowerment on sexual, menstrual, hormonal, and reproductive health that we wish we would have learned in health class.

She’s spent the last 15 years working on social justice causes like race, gender and class politics, education policy, immigration resources, sustainable food, climate change/its effects on third world countries, and democratizing mindfulness. If you’re part of the WANT community here in NYC, you might remember her from our How To Activate Your Inner Activist panel back in February, where she dropped some major wisdom on everything from owning your privilege to mindfully engaging on social media.

So many of us are looking to make a difference in our messy world right now. Lauren is proof that change starts not with the WHAT, but the WHY. We create the meaning in our own lives.

WANT Lauren:


Name: 
Lauren Bille


How you’d know me (occupation or role): 
Partner at The Big Quiet , Co- Founder of CYCLES + SEX

What I love about myself (and why): Love comes naturally to me. I’m good at loving people. Also I’m really childlike in spirit.

What is your definition of “positivity?” Seeing things through a lens of gratitude, hope and trust.

When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” 
When I was 17 I was given some tools to deal with life that helped me to see that my probs were of my own making. Essentially I was very self centred. Having low self esteem is just as self centered as having too much pride. It’s all ego.

Once I could see that, I had the opportunity to seek humility and a life when I think about myself less and think of others and how I can be of service more. When I try to live this way- I feel good about myself. It’s a daily practice. But truly, whenever I am very upset, it has to do with me and my thinking about myself.

Low self esteem is just as self centered as too much pride. It's all ego. - @laurenbille Click To Tweet

How/where negative talk shows up in my life: 
It shows up when I’m tired, hungry, not taking good care of myself. And taking care of myself involves lots of diff things. It shows up as pain, fear, wanting to give up and run away, feeling less than (again this is all self centered and ego- like the world revolves around me)

When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually… I don’t want to type it or say it out loud because it’s putting it into the universe, and manifesting. All forms of I’m not good enough, which can be broken down to I’m not loveable.

When others talk negatively about themselves… 
I show them love and then help them think of adding to the world. Watching others talk negatively about themselves shows me how self centered it is.

It baffles me that women still… Get liposuction, fake tan, straighten or perm their hair, don’t leave the house without eye liner. It’s wild all these things we do for the approval of men. Of the systems of beauty set up by men and reaffirmed by women who conform to them. I still conform to them.

I wish that more women… Were brave and honest and bold and independent. Were truly themselves. Let their natural beauty be revealed.

The coolest thing about women is… 
They are the most powerful. They have the solutions to all the problems inside themselves. Together (tribes of women) they are like the ultimate eternal force of nature.


My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: 
Remember that it doesn’t matter! It’s all my thinking! I create the meaning in my life. So I try to look at the big picture, stop being so self centered, pull out of the fear and ego, and be grateful.


I create the meaning in my life. - @laurenbille Click To Tweet

My top female role models: Fannie Lou Hammer, Angela Davis, Alicia Keys

Men can help women crush their negative talk patterns by… 
LISTENING to us. Becoming aware of patriarchal systems. Making choices not to conform to society’s beauty standards. Stepping aside to raise us up.

Favorite negativity-busting activities: Being with powerful women. Creating. Serving causes I believe in. Exercise. Sleep. Meditation.

Fave self-love ritual: 
To do all these things: Foot bath with special essential oils, water or tea, good tunes, pause and feel grateful


Favorite feel-good food(s): 
Water. Smoothies.

Favorite movie(s) to watch when I’m feeling down: Rom-coms

Favorite empowering book(s): 
Pema Chodron,
 When Things Fall ApartAnything by Brené Brown


My feel-good playlist:

Frank Ocean
Blood Orange
Nirvana Unplugged (lol)
Neutral Milk Hotel

Advice I would give my
…4 year old self:
there’s nothing to be scared of

…14 year-old self: same
…24 year old self: same

5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list:

• Make lots of money
• Run for office
• Be a part of revolutionary social change
• Experience revolutionary romantic love
• Build successful businesses that do good for the world

My best tip on self love: 
Treat yourself like you are a friend or a child who you love so much, unconditionally. Think of what they may need, what’s best for them.


When I truly love all of myself… 
I take good care.


Right now, I am most excited about… 
Working with incredible people to shift culture and make positive social impact.


My body is: 
Healthy and grateful.


Three words to describe me: 
Brave. Curious. Childlike.


Current mantra: 
“Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” -Dylan Thomas

Learn more about how to get involved in The Big Quiet here and Cycles + Sex here.


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