Last night, I had the extreme pleasure of going to see Lindy West speak with Irish author Louise O’Neill here in Dublin. The event was part of Lindy’s book tour promoting her memoir, Shrill, but they also talked about body positivity, the #shoutyourabortion campaign, and Lindy’s ideal internet troll.
In their discussion of internet trolling, Lindy’s story for This American Life came up. I immediately remembered the harrowing tale of an internet troll who created a false online account of Lindy’s own father, who had recently passed away, saying horrible things about his ‘daughter’. The story has stuck with me since I heard it over a year ago, but I (dumbly) didn’t even realize that this was the same woman until that moment. Now seeing her in person and watching her light up the entire room, the depth of that story hit me all over again – How could something so horrible happen to someone so vivacious and warm? Are some people truly that threatened by other people’s happiness?
But what makes Lindy incredible is that she did not simply accept this troll and let him continue (although she did talk about when that is totally okay to do too), she actually confronted him and spoke to him for several hours about his own life and how he came to troll her for the last several years. Who confronts and forgives their horrible online trolls?! Lindy West, people. What a badass.
The two went on to discuss Lindy’s new book (which I’m totally picking up now so bravo at successful marketing), where she shares stories of her journey from quiet human to loud and proud fat woman and feminist. Just hearing her speak for that hour, I can tell that her voice is thoughtful, funny, and fierce and I’m excited to see how this translates into her writing. I’ll keep you posted!
The whole night was actually a fantastic reminder that the feminist world is a rather small one and is full of women who want to help each other out. Because I’m on my own quite a bit, it’s easy to think that maybe I’m the only person thinking about this stuff, maybe I’m the only one feeling this pressure. Especially after leaving Bryn Mawr, where everyone talked about feminism constantly, the real world has seemed so barren in terms of these kinds of conversation. But being in that room with women (and men) who wanted to talk about these issues and share their real stories felt so good – someone even commented that they wanted to bottle up this feeling and carry it with them all the time. And I think that’s the challenge for feminists everywhere: how do we live our values every day in a world that tries to tear them down? To that, I don’t think there is one right answer, but last night definitely reminded me that solidarity is essential in making equality happen and allowing diminished voices to become amplified.
A huge thank you to Louise O’Neill and Lindy West for an incredible evening and a huge boost in my feminist confidence! Also shout out to Irish Tatler for the wine, mini hamburgers, and for sponsoring our sweet selfie – always appreciated!