I write memoir. Sometimes people ask me why I would publish such deeply personal things, and I never know how to answer that question. Because I can? Because I think shame is the single most limiting factor of our lives? Because I want people to know the same sense of relief I have many, many times – that relief when you read something, or see something, and you think, “maybe I’m not horrible.” But often it’s because writing about something is a way of taking control of it. Owning your own story is empowering. Having someone else tell it to shame you is not.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot today because I’ve been watching two good friends have their lives dragged through social media in horrible ways.

And I think about all of these news stories – politicians’ dick pics, barebacking requests, grindr photos – all of these things, the real world of desire and shame and love and risk and identity – and we all make jokes about them, judge them, maybe sometimes feel sorry for the parties involved.

But really, we should all ignore them. We should ignore them on the proposition that these things could happen to any one of us.

Anyway, don’t believe everything you read on the Internet, first of all. Second of all, read with compassion whenever and however you can. This current story is tragic and personal and painful, and this is all I will ever say about it.

Back off, hyenas. Even you may need to rely on the common decency of other people someday.

4 Replies to “Hyenas”

  1. I’ve been incommunicado for several days, and just heard of this. Thanks for saying what you did, Helen. Not only does this sound like it might well be an inherently murky situation—it is incredible what a divorce can do to otherwise honest, lovable people—it seems to be, yet again, one of those stories which has had gasoline poured all over it by the Internet. Someone has found yet another way to cast the first stone? People can be so perfect and relentlessly judgmental when they are not themselves involved.

  2. Honestly, I think the blackout by the trans community has been pretty disgusting. What happened to speaking up with the victims of rape? If this had been a cis male software engineer raping a trans woman, you can bet everyone would be all over it. As it stands, the outside observer would assume that only TERFs and MRAs care about it. This post, as well as Anastasia’s comment, come very close to being rape apologia.

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