On Not Staying Silent

I’m taking a little break from social media to refill my bucket. So, this is a quick (unedited) post about why.

I have seriously considered quitting blogging 3 times. The first was when the blog wrote under a pseudonym for years changed direction and we decided to part ways. The second was when I had not one or two, but three sites plagiarizing my content and the fight to make them stop seemed overwhelming.

The third was yesterday after I sent these two tweets:



The first was retweeted by a blogger well-known for intolerant fearmongering about homebirths. At first I was amused by her ego in both finding and retweeting my tweet. I joked that I was singing, “You’re So Vain, I’ll bet you think this tweet is about you,” tipping my hat to Carly Simon. But, then a couple of, dare I refer to them as, trolls tweeted me about dead babies due to homebirth risks and advocating against learning about birth information. Not so funny when you realize there are people trying to scare women away from birthing choice.

Next, I received a notification about a new comment on an old post. I love comments, especially the ones on my homebirth stories because they’re often left by others who have, or plan to have, gentle births.

But, not this comment. This comment was about how selfish it is to birth at home because I don’t care about whether my baby dies. Similar comments were left on 3 of my homebirth stories by the same “anonymous” person (thank goodness for ip addresses.) Then this person found my stillbirth stories. And left comments basically saying that I deserved this for birthing at home and that it should teach me a lesson not to be selfish.

If this isn’t vile enough, the person didn’t bother to read that my daughter died from genetic problems before I went into labor. Had I gone into the hospital, her body would most likely have been cut out of me as the risk of hemorrhage was too great. She also didn’t see the post I wrote about the treatment I did receive in hospital when I brought her body in.

But none of this is here nor there. The point is, this person and the 3 others who left cruel comments about my previous births and current pregnancy are not motivated by concern over “dead babies.” They are concerned with controlling and punishing women.

It took me a few hours to find compassion and empathy for the people who left comments. Some of them have experienced tragic loss. Some of them feel they are rescuing or protecting women and babies from birth dangers. They can’t see the harm they’re causing or they choose not to. Or they think they’ll frighten someone into silence or compliance.

When fear is overwhelming, controlling and punishing are coping mechanisms. It’s not my job to fix or change this, although I think this hurts my heart to leave someone suffering more than anything else. I’m not willing to subject myself to pain in order to do it.

As for the original “she who shall not be named,” I’m still trying to figure her out. But, I understand her enough that I fully stand by my original tweet. There is no credibility from someone so willfully intolerant of other viewpoints.

It took me overnight to realize this because being bullied (or trolled) isn’t pleasant. It is smothering, angering, and depressing. Most of the advice online is to ignore it. Shake it off. But, I think that’s BS. I think it allows, even encourages, more online bullying.

I’ve read from others about far more extensive bullying than this blip I’ve experienced. I understand the urge to turtle. But, I’m not going to be silent. Instead, I asked a thick-skinned troll eater to moderate comments for awhile. I won’t see any negative comments, but rest assured they’re in a folder, along with ip addresses and any other identifying information. My troll eating friend found it interesting that 2 of the people have personal facebook accounts easily found. So, their personal information is also in this wonderful file that I shall never see. If any further action is needed, troll eater will take it up with their isps.

Troll eater and I discussed sharing the comments or any identifiable tweets and links, but I wouldn’t want these people to be trolled in return. So, if you’re reading this and are pissed, I ask you to write something of your own about speaking out about online trolling or advocating for women to empower themselves in birth (and please share the link here, if you do!)

Make it positive. Speak Out. Even for those so lost in pain and intolerance that they cannot advocate through the anger.

14 thoughts on “On Not Staying Silent

  1. As a former homebirth midwife who also had a stillborn daughter, I’ve been through the ringer that you describe of people questioning, questioning, and judging. Good for you for refusing to be silenced (and for protecting yourself).

  2. I’m so sorry you are dealing with this write now. If I have time over the next two days, I’ll post about it on my birth blog. People can be so cruel, especially online. Lots of positive thoughts and vibes your way.

  3. Oh, Zoie, this is crazy! I’m so sorry you had to go through this. Trolls are something we’ve come to expect in the online world, but when it is about sensitive issues like the death of your child… it must be really, really hard. And by finding compassion in your heart for those trolls – you inspire me!

  4. Dear Zoie, I love your blog, in fact I just wrote my first “Letter to Little” inspired by you! Every blogger is expressing their opinion and it’s inevitable that many people will disagree. Of course this does not authorize them to post condemning comments but they do have the right to disagree. I think you should do what feels right to you. If you find joy and passion in blogging, then continue and ignore the trolls. If you feel like you want to dedicate your time and heart to a different project, then do that. We all have our frustrations, here’s what I think about when I feel down: “what if we woke up today with only the things we thanked for yesterday?

  5. Hey Zoie,

    I don’t know if you’re aware of Jay Smooth, but he’s a really talented vlogger who addressed this issue of how to deal with Trolls recently. http://www.illdoctrine.com/2012/06/why_you_should_feed_the_trolls.html

    I hope you enjoy it.

    ps I’m glad you are brave enough to keep writing. I had a similar experience and know how crazy making it can be to have people who don’t know the slightest thing about you sharing their (problematic and uninformed) opinions.

  6. This infuriates me, and I’m so impressed and happy that you’re choosing not to be silent about it. Glad you have a troll eater, too! 🙂 I started a post about the ridiculous treatment of mothers after the whole Time magazine mess, and this CD definitely relates. In general it seems like many feel that because we’re mothers they have a right to their say over how we live our lives, and when we step out of line, the bullying and the fear mongering are their solution. It’s hard to see through my anger about it all to write anything more than a rant, but I’m going to try again.

  7. Stand strong in your beliefs, know you’re a good mommy and simply ignore the trolls for the little people with keyboards that they are. I bet you have 99% beautiful comments – focus on those, not the hateful 1%

    Hang in there, and I wish you only happiness.

    Speaking of bullies – here’s my latest post – an open letter to the parents a bully: http://wp.me/s2uEVw-bully

  8. I am so mad that you are dealing with this BS. You don’t deserve it. Heck, nobody deserves it.

    As a Mother who has also endured the pain of losing a child via stillbirth, I am furious and have a hurting heart that somebody would stoop to the level of using that to try and prove their point. That is just wrong.

    I am glad that you have a troll eater. Bless her heart.

    Hugs, xoxo

  9. I simply can’t believe these people. I’m so glad you have your troll eater! I really can’t even begin to comment on the horrible things they dare to say to you. Even if you are strong enough and smart enough to “handle” it and to put it in perspective… you shouldn’t have to.
    I think they’re attracted to your blog because you are so wise and powerful and you advocate and write with passion and you resonate with so very many women.
    I don’t know that I could deal with any of this as well as you do. You manage to have compassion for the small minded and the unkind, and you don’t let it defeat you. You are still able to speak with strength and conviction.
    I admire you up, down and sideways.

  10. I am so, so sorry you’ve been the brunt of such vicious hatred. You have such insightful, thoughtful posts that are fact and research based as well as drawn from your experiences, and I’d hate for your voice to be silenced. Know that there are many of us behind you cheering you on, and the lies and hate flung your way are more than made up for by love and support. Wishing you all the best!!

  11. To troll eater: Thank you. If I had someone like you, I would start a blog. As it is, I am silent for fear of the kinds of bullying and viciousness that happen.

    To Zoie: I am so sorry these people are attacking you this way. The things you have shared have been so hopeful and helpful to me as I get ready to start my own family. I am glad that you will not be silenced by this cruelty. Thank you for all you do.

  12. Your posts are wonderful to read. Too bad these few are so vocal, when there are so many more you have helped. Good luck with everything. And I hope these trolls stop being so ugly and hateful and can be more loving and forgiving and willing to accept others’ decisions like you.

  13. You are a wonderful lady. I’m furious that you’re going through this, but glad you have a web-savvy friend helping& hopefully it stops. Let me know if I can do anything to help ❤

I love comments and try to reply to each one. I look forward to connecting with you. Namaste

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