It was Passover last Friday, and my friend Janet invited me to a Seder. The timing was perfect. I’d just published “Blood, Sugar, Sex, Dickheads” and my blog was getting crazy traffic. I was incredibly uncomfortable; I felt exposed in a way I hadn’t expected. I was texting my friends in a panic — I wrote “fuck” so many times that when I wrote I was trying to “duck comments,” autocorrect changed it to “fuck.” I was looking forward to spending time on the history of the Jews rather than the history of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The Seder was in Beverly Hills at a friend of Janet’s. There were 10 adults, Janet’s teenage daughter, and 6 boys between 7 and 15. We took turns reading the Haggadah and it was business as usual until we got to the part where Moses hightailed it out of Egypt. Then it was the 15 year boy’s turn to read.
“Moses stretched forth his rod,” he read, and started to laugh. “MOSES STRETCHED FORTH HIS ROD!” He read it again and laughed harder. By the fifth time he said rod, he couldn’t breathe. The younger boys didn’t get it at first, but when they did, all hell broke loose. There is absolutely nothing better than watching a 7-year-old laugh at a joke he’s not sure he understands.
I thought it was hilario
“This is a sausagefest,” 13-year-old Molly said, rolling her eyes.
When I got home from the Seder, I went back online. I read comments people had left on my blog, and didn’t get pissed until the third time I was informed that “boys will be boys.” At that point, I composed some delicate prose like “The fucking Chili Peppers were not the fuck boys in the fucking late 80s and early 90s.” (I didn’t post it. I know better than to engage.)
I expected to get flamed for “Sex, Sugar, Magic, Dickheads.” I have a crew of professionals who’ve predicted everything that’s happened — Ellyn told me before I even published the article that it was going to get traffic, and Katie has reminded me daily that the comments would build but their sting would pass. She married a famous guy, and when a photo of their wedding hit the web, she got hammered. Now, four happily married years later, she’s entertained by the comments, which include “WOOF,” “You have fat stubby mingos,” and “Can you spell goldiger?” (Sic, obviously.)
I was almost looking forward to the insults. I thought that I could collect them and for the first time ever publish a post without exerting effort. It was initially promising. The Huffington Post wrote that I’d “invited two members of the band to join me in the store room” (when in actuality I had taken them there to ply them with swag, as we did with anyone we were brown-nosing), and it inspired a barrage of stupidity. People insisted I made the story up (as if I couldn’t have come up with anything more salacious than two guys pressing against me and suggesting we get it on). Many said that I was collecting my 15 minutes of fame, unaware that my 15 minutes were up in 1989 when I took a photo with The Jets. There were a shitload of people who thought I was an idiot because I should have put out, when a) that’s just asinine, and b) it was about power, not sex.
Yesterday, in search of material, I broke my vow not to read the comments. I waded through forums in search of the dumbest, and what I discovered blew me away. For every rancid accusation, there were 100 messages of support. Scores of people shared their stories about harassment, many for the first time, and the intelligence shattered the ignorance.
It wasn’t my post that went viral. It was the conversation about it that did. It brought some awareness to sexual harassment and the necessity of speaking up. That’s way more than I would ever have hoped for. Have at me, trolls. The internet gives everyone a voice, and they’re louder than you are.
Thank you to everyone who wrote and posted the articles that inspired discussions, in particular the LA Weekly, Jezebel, Attn:, Skepchick, Metafilter, AV Club, The Boston Globe, Perez and the Huffington Post. Thanks to the journalist who suggested I was off my meds or spurned by a Chili Pepper; it’s been a joy to watch you mocked and derided.
I’m grateful to everyone who commented, liked, tweeted and shared, and grateful to all of my friends. Special thanks for the “boys will be boys” comments! I know it wasn’t on purpose, but I thank you for cracking me up.