I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed last week when I came to a meme that said, "Twenty-five percent of women are on anti-anxiety medication. The other seventy-five percent are mentally ill."
I sucked in my breath. Did I ask for this? To be bashed first thing in the morning, before the caffeine has a chance to kick in?
I shook my head and just like that, unfriended the guy.
Let's call him David. Because actually, his name is David.
I posted an update: "I unfriended a guy for posting a woman-bashing meme. Just sayin'."
The comments rolled in:
"He sounds like a jerk."
"Who needs the negative energy?"
"I hope we're still friends. I just posted a meme about when it is acceptable to bash a woman. I'll save you some time. The answer is never."
"I hope you wrote to tell him. Otherwise he may not notice."
To that last comment I responded, "Oh he'll know. He'll definitely know."
Because, yeah. I spam people. I LIVE on Facebook. David would definitely notice my absence in the form of 30 or so fewer posts each morning.
I use Facebook as my political soapbox. I post news items and my perspective on them. Like all the time. It's too much for some people. But not for others.
I have followers.
Which is why David and I became friends in the first place. He sent me a friend request because he's a right-wing conservative. So am I. He liked my politics. All the cool right-wing Jewish conservatives friend me on FB.
But here's a funny thing about politics: people assume that "right-wing conservative" translates to gun-toting, anti-abortion, intolerant, bigoted, sexist homophobe
And the thing is I am none of those things. Never was. I wasn't raised to be any of those things so I'm NOT any of those things.
Instead, I was raised to always consider the feelings of others. I was raised to be respectful of a person's standing and office. I was raised to believe that God gives us free will, so I don't push my views on others or insist people act as I do. I don't bash those with whom I disagree.
David on the other hand, enjoys bashing the President, the First Lady, gay people, black people, and women. It's a general rule with him. Anyone he disagrees with is fair game.
Still, it seemed odd that David would send me, a woman, a friend request, and follow up by posting a woman-bashing meme. It seemed odder still that it didn't occur to him I might be offended by that particular meme--that some of his friends are hello, WOMEN.
Here's where I'm at: I'm a woman--a mother of 12 children with no higher education. I've clawed my way into the blogging world and snagged a full time job as the communications writer at a major nonprofit, Kars4Kids. I'm a success in my world. I should be over all the female angst, right?
But no. I fight with insecurity every day. I worry that I inhabit a man's world, whatever that means, that I've somehow infiltrated a secret club in which I do not belong. I struggle all day long and sometimes lie awake nights trying to still the stirrings inside that say I'm not good enough--that no one will ever take me seriously--that I'm no Krauthammer, no Thomas Sowell.
I get past it. Get actual work done by forcing myself to keep on keeping on. And I block out the Davids in my life who tend to amplify the fear that holds me back and freezes my hands above the keyboard. I mostly succeed.
It took David a week or so to figure out that I'd unfriended him. Longer than I'd thought it would take him. Or perhaps he figured it out earlier but was trying to think how to ask me (or whether to ask me) what had caused me to unfriend him.
David's FB message awaited me this morning: "All right. What'd I do to make you unfriend me?"
I said, "You posted a meme that said some women are on meds and the others are mentally ill. I'm a woman."
His response? He shared a photo of Hillary Clinton, a meme. It said: "That awkward moment when millions of racists suddenly become sexist. November 8, 2016."
Hillary Clinton (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
I shook my head. David is just clueless. He'll never get it.
David could have learned something. He could have apologized and I would have accepted. I would have sent him a friend request. Instead, he pushed it.
Here's the thing: guys like David think they're manly when they refuse to be politically correct. So they cross the line.
All the time.
David comes from a world I fight to rise above. His world has nothing to do with politics. It's a petty world, it's mean, and it holds me lower than dirt. In this world, in David's world, there is no room for anyone but David.
Me? I don't even think about being politically correct. Because being a decent, considerate person remains the same no matter where you are along the political spectrum. I've always known that. Being polite has nothing to do with politics.
I never once heard my mother say a bigoted word and I doubt I ever will. It's not how she rolls. So it's not how I roll.
This essential element of who I am, you see, has nothing to do with politics.
And it never will.
Follow Varda Epstein on Twitter: www.twitter.com/epavard