Negative Exposure: When You’re Pinned As Something That You’re Not While The Hits Are Coming In

Last Thursday my blog exploded in terms of views. Seriously, despite my open letters to AWP and ReSound getting a ton of hits, or my commentary on the whole female nude photo leak or even my travel post about the Winchester Mystery House I have never in a single day reached 418 views. But I did on Thursday.

I never pay attention the day I post things, in terms of views and whatnot. My husband who is my greatest cheerleader, on the other hand, does.

“Did you know you had 352 views today?” His face was in shock. I think the best I had done before this was about 200.

“No. Why?” I asked suspiciously, because if timing wasn’t ironic enough, I had just posted something that day which talked about me taking a step back from blogging. Whoa, timing. Well, I was in for an even bigger “Whoa,” than I imagined.

Vox.com put out a feature article that day: The Smug Style of American Liberalism. Now, I’m not going to comment on the article itself, because I don’t consider myself all that smug. (Though the author is quite smug, though that was the point, poking fun at the subject matter and title, and adding a layer of something. The tone didn’t bother me; I saw it as a literary technique/device.)

But here was the problem, the article pingbacked to a post I wrote last fall. The piece talked about peoples’ habits of making fun of a woman’s appearance if they disagree with her. Hillary is manish. Kim Davis has bad hair. Et cetera, et cetera. For the record that was the point of the piece and what it focused on. The habit to attack a woman’s body, insinuating she is only worth whatever her appearance is. Oh, and also how I’m not on board with that.

So, I was horrified to see that the writer of said article linked my blog, not to the post I wrote, but to an image in said post, which I used as an example of what I wished people could move away from (mocking Davis and her appearance). If that wasn’t bad enough the phrase that contained the link was “Mocking her appearance”. Yes, that’s right. The sentence and link insinuated that I was one of those mocking Davis for her appearance, when in fact the entire post was about why people do that and why they should cut it out. Now talk about ironic…

I felt such a wide range of emotions over it. On the one hand my husband’s voice was in my head. “Exposure. Exposure. Exposure.” And there was that. I’m a writer who is just starting out in some ways. Such numbers and views… be still my wee lowly writer heart. But a closer look at my statistics showed that people were ONLY looking at the picture and not reading the post. Meaning they thought I was some arrogant, self-righteous, sexist prick. Because really…

And then I was frustrated because that is the exact opposite of who I am and what I believe. I mean I have written about female empowerment and how women are more than their physical appearance. I’ve written about the rights of women to have nude photos without judgment (when there was that whole photo hack and people blamed public figures for having personal lives). I have written about how people should not rejoice and stoop to protesting the funeral of ultra-bigot Fred Phelps when he died. I’ve talked about privilege including my own, not from a place of superiority or shaming, but a place of understanding one human to another. I don’t have all the answers. And I’d be the first to say so. So being mentioned as someone who was mocking Davis or being all smug… um no. I didn’t even get into the whole religious beliefs thing; I simply stated facts (separation of church and state and the duties of government employees).

The idea that many people will not read my piece and simply assume I’m just another “smug liberal” (not to mention sexist) doesn’t sit well with me. I am someone who over-thinks everything. And I’m diplomatic as f**k. Seriously. My friends, family and other people who know me all say so. My job is usually mediator (sometimes officially, in leadership positions, liaison positions, hell I was even an RA in college, and talk about solving everyone else’s personal problems). I am a liberal. But I am not high-and-mighty and I feel everyone has a right to their opinion, no matter how strongly I disagree with them. As a writer, I am careful with my language.

And if that wasn’t proof enough (I say this attempting some humor), I married a Republican. Oh yeah, I committed the greatest of sins there. I don’t try to change his opinion or tell him he’s wrong, even when his viewpoint makes me think my head might explode. And you know what – it actually works. Sure, we both have the occasional headache (you know he feels the same way about my “liberalness”) but we make it through. My husband has no problem calling me out. Whether he feels I’m overreacting or spouting liberal propaganda, or taking something personally he is always the first to say, “Wait.”

But me smug, not so much. Me mocking a woman for her appearance – has abso-fucking-lutely never happened, and it never will.

Then I thought about what to do. Because as upset as the idea of readers/strangers thinking I was the exact opposite of how I really am, think and feel… I didn’t want to call this writer out in a negative way. He probably just did a Google image search and didn’t bother to read the source (which is a shame, but there it is). Though why the image I used in my blog would be towards the top, I have no idea. I just used a bunch of trending images that were EVERYWHERE at the time.

I thought of what I wanted to accomplish. The ping back itself did not bother me, the context of said ping back did. I wanted the writer to either link it to my actual post, or to rewrite the sentence because as it stood, I was a mocker when my piece was all about not mocking a woman’s appearance because you disagree with her. I did a little sleuthing (my grandfather would be proud, it only took about ninety seconds) and found him on Facebook. Of course that was an “idiot” moment as I came across his Twitter and professional website. Oh well, either way now I had options.

Did I want the ping back to be removed entirely? Or did I just want it to be altered? Exposure… but exposure for being something I’m not. I didn’t want to be petty or bitchy or confrontational even though a part of me was steamed and felt that linking what he did… he should have at least read my post.

I couldn’t decide and also figured he would not respond immediately. So I added a caption under the photo he linked, which read: “VOX Readers please read my WordPress Post “Men Are Stupid and Women Are Ugly: Kim Davis – A Case Study” for complete context on this image. My post discussed the tendency to mock a woman’s appearance, if they found her disagreeable, and why they should not do that. This image was an example of images trending at the time. Thank you.”

Still even with said caption, now three out of ten people were reading my post beyond just the image, instead of only eight percent. So it was better, but it still was not quite right.

So, I decided to write this little ditty. Because as a person who is constantly trying to understand, writing helps me do that. So I’m writing it out, not sure what I’ll do, but sure of this: Exposure is good, but there are exceptions. Being exposed as something you’re not, something that you often speak about in your own writing… that’s about as bad as it gets.

-DMW

 

 

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