Maine News Anchor’s “Fan Mail” is Just a Glimpse Into The Fear Women Face Daily In and Out of The Public Eye
Trolls are everywhere. They have always been but since the social media boom, people become emboldened behind the keyboard to say things they would likely never say out loud and would no doubt cause their mothers to be ashamed.
Others take it a step further taking their vile behavior into "real life".
Public Figure Targets
A common target for trollish harassment is local figures in media. Especially female news anchors. Many have over the years shared e-mails and unsolicited commentary regarding their appearance. Criticizing their size, their outfit choice, their hair. Sometimes it goes further to hate. Hate of someone they have never met. This hate is overwhelmingly anonymous. And yes, while men are not immune to this behavior, women are oftentimes targeted more frequently.
WMTW Allison Ross
Recently WMTW anchor, Allison Ross shared a card she received in the mail on Twitter. The front is covered in flowers and on the inside a cruel message:
"Get off the tv!! You Lying ugly, c***!!"
Ross captioned simply with "Fan mail". Because honestly, it's oftentimes more common to receive criticism and hate rather than glowing reviews and compliments.
The Tweet thankfully prompted responses expressing how vile the card is.
Even from Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah
Rudeness vs. Fear
For many seeing this card will give them pause and say, "well that's not very nice", but for those working in the public eye, again for women especially, this can be terrifying.
Think about it. Someone took the time to find a pretty card, no doubt to set the recipient up to think it was something nice. They wrote a vile message, paid for a stamp, and mailed it. There was A LOT of thought put into this card. There was a lot of effort to make sure it packed the biggest punch.
Who's to say this person stops with a card?
As someone who works in media, I have received my fair share of scary experiences. My experience, however, largely comes in the form of extreme infatuation.
I have received countless paragraphs from men about how much they love me. Talking about the life we could have together. Expressing a desire to fly to Maine and meet. Paragraphs about us being together. All from people, I do not know and have never met.
Below are just a few examples:
These came from people who I have had little if any social media communication with.
I have shared these screenshots and others before on my own pages and have been met with some comments alluding to some of these guys just being friendly. Shooting their shot. And sometimes guys will get defensive and dramatic saying, "Well I guess I won't even try to talk to a woman then."
This leads to an important dialogue to have about women's safety. Not only online and for those choosing a life in the public eye, but private too. It's an issue almost every woman has dealt with at one time or another.
Safety Over Ego
Recently TikToker, Greg Doucette when viral for this video criticizing another woman's video for saying she is not looking for a date when she's at a gas station:
This prompted countless stitches from women and men pointing out how flawed his reasoning is.
This analogy of a bag of cash is spot on.
Maine TikToker, BabiesofSteele weighed in with a recent scary experience of hers:
"The worst-case scenario for this man was that his feelings got hurt, and he got rejected. Right? My worst-case scenario and a very real reality for women is that we get f*cking murdered."
Sure, being rejected by someone sucks, but having that be your biggest fear is a huge privilege. Especially when, for most women in the public eye or not, our biggest fear is our safety.
All this to say, on-screen or off, behind a mic or off, man or woman, behind a keyboard, a pen, or in person, it costs nothing to be kind and it costs nothing to take that extra moment to ask oneself, "Is this normal behavior?", or, "How might this action be perceived?"