Hi. My name is Ari Eastman, I identify as female, and I work on the internet.
When I go to work, I expect a few things:
- Laughs with my incredibly hilarious and unfairly talented coworkers as we brainstorm article ideas, communicate with gifs, and talk all things *THOUGHT CATALOG*
- Feel ooey-gooey as hell when I read comments/tweets/messages from people who actually take the time to read MY work…MY work?!? (Still blows my mind)
- Watch a few old clips of Shark Week on YouTube when I’m in need of some inspiration. (procrastination)
- Hear some of the nastiest, meanest things you can imagine directed towards me.
That’s the thing about anonymity: people are let off the hook for their words. We know this. It’s not some new concept that people can be horrible and disgusting on the internet. I knew this signing up. It was even a question I was asked during my interview, “People can sometimes get brutal, how do yo feel about it?”
And the truth? I can handle it. I started a YouTube channel when I was 14 and heard things like, “shut the fuck up, you ugly gap-toothed bitch.”
At 14, it had me bursting into tears. But at 22 when I’ve heard the same shit in various mediums? I’m pretty numb to it. And more than that? I’m actually cool with who I am. It took a while, and it would be a lie to say I never struggle with self-esteem, but overall, I’m comfortable in my own skin. So comments from strangers on the internet aren’t going to change that. I’m so sorry to burst any bubbles, but I’m okay. You disliking me is a bummer, but is it going to ruin my day? Nope. Most days, it slides right off my back.
As a woman with a visible online presence, there’s a word you get pretty familiar with. You see it in comments. I get called it when I write something silly and intended to make people laugh. I get called it when I write about lost love. I’ve even been called it when I grieve my dead father. It’s the same one that when I first overheard it as a child, my mom turned and looked at me and said, “The word that man just said is something you NEVER say to a woman. It is offensive and terrible. That’s a bad, bad word.”
That word is cunt.
So hi again!
My name is Ari Eastman, I identify as female, I work on the internet, and I get called a cunt.
And it doesn’t bother me.
I’ve got my soft spots. And I’m pretty open with exposing them. So you’re really interested in hurting me? In poking and prodding the parts I’m sensitive about? Tell me my Dad wouldn’t be proud. Comb through my articles and point out how often I write about failed relationships, that I cling to people who never wanted me to begin with. Call me pathetic. Say I have no self-respect. Tell me I don’t know how to move on. Remind me that my poetry is simple-minded and I like fragmented sentences. Question my intelligence. Find my Instagram and tell me I gained weight in college. Say my face is too round. Tell me my skin isn’t clear.
Say I don’t deserve to call myself a writer.
You might, just miiiight wound me for a moment. But again, I’d let it go. I’d brush off the moment of “fuck, ouuuuch, right in my HEART” and remember, “Hey! I actually like who I am!”
But calling me a cunt? You’ve done nothing to me. You’ve called me a vagina, the goddamn coolest thing out there. In that case, I am source of life. I am source of pleasure, and endless poetry. I am sacred and beautiful. I have more power than I realize, and thank you for reminding me of that. I accept it with open arms. And knowing me, I’d probably give you a hug.
I never expect everyone to like me or understand me, hell, that would be super boring. I’m okay with people not liking my writing or getting my sense of humor. You don’t have to be TEAM EASTMAN BABYYYY, but just know this:
You don’t hurt me when you call me a cunt. You never will.