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Hate the game, not the woman

OPINION

  • Zooey Deschanel
Zooey Deschanel (Getty Images )
July 15, 2012|By Jessica Galliart, RedEye

Ladies, we need to have a serious talk about the word "hater."

It's an empty word, made up by reality TV stars and used by people who are grasping for an insult that can't be turned around on them. And it's kind of eating womankind alive.

Think Nicki Minaj's solo work is disappointing? Hater. Liked Lady Gaga better when she wasn't wearing horns on her face? Hater. Not convinced that Zooey Deschanel is as adorkable as everyone says? Hater.

This scourge is particularly prevalent in social media. As someone who works on Twitter and Facebook—and, to be honest, pretty much lives there too—I see tweets declaring naysayers "H8ters!!!" pop up in my feed like gnats going to town on a pale tourist. It never ends, and I've been the target of the hater insult myself, simply for disagreeing with someone else—another woman.

OK, yeah, America has more important issues to worry about: health care, neighborhood violence, Paris Hilton's access to turntables ... the list goes on. But American women, specifically, even after several years of watching unprecedented attacks on gender equality and women's rights, are more divided—and divisive—than ever.

We're hellbent on being as delusionally fabulous and self-centered as possible, declaring any dissenter a "hater" and destroying each other until there's nobody left standing—except the men who've been pointing and laughing the whole time, of course.

If women can't calm the hell down when another woman disagrees with her opinion, how can we ever expect to be treated with respect by the powers that be?

Think about a few women's issues to make headlines recently. In Michigan, two lawmakers were silenced on the House floor after daring to utter the word "vagina" during debate about abortion legislation. A student voicing her opinions on birth control was called a "slut" by professional—and influential—gasbag Rush Limbaugh. And what was with the collective and overblown hatred for HBO's female-centric "Girls" and its creator, Lena Dunham?

The issue here is that rather than uniting to tackle these problems, women are attacking each other in scary packs by screaming "Hater! Hater!" at anything that remotely encroaches on their sensibilities. It's ignorant, reductive and delusional to assume that every woman who disagrees is doing it purely out of jealousy or envy.

Here's a proposition: Instead of focusing all of our efforts on knocking one another down at every opportunity, how about we choose our words more carefully? Listen to each other. And instead of barking "hater" at the ones who really be haters, just ignore them and send them on their way.

We can start conversations with the ones who simply disagree. With so much of the world seemingly dead-set on getting women to sit down and shut up, perhaps we can make an effort, through our own interactions with each other, to set an example that this isn't acceptable.

What do you think? My Twitter handle is below. However you respond, I won't call you a "hater." Girl Scout's honor.

Jessica Galliart is RedEye's social media lady. jgalliart@tribune.com | @jessicagalliart

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