nolite te bastardes carborundorum


I’ve been avoiding this. I didn’t want to think about it, didn’t want to dwell on it, didn’t want to really acknowledge what had happened. I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t heard about what happened at University of California Santa Barbara last week. If you haven’t, “Elliot Rodger didn’t have Autism, he had Anger” by Emily Willingham and “Stop Being Surprised, Damn It” by Donna Decker are good places to start, in my opinion.

I heard about the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Saturday night, and contributed a few tweets. I spent the rest of the holiday and most of this week avoiding the internet because those tweets were basically blood in the water. I couldn’t face all of the e-mails and comments that started pouring in– people attacking me, accusing me of horrible things, maligning my integrity, my honesty, belittling me, and harassing me for days. It’s only just now died down, but I’m still flinching when my phone tells me that someone tweeted at me or I’ve gotten an e-mail.

I tried to view these attacks as funny– after all, they really were just fulfilling Lewis’ Law. My point could not have been proven any better, really.

Except… that really doesn’t help.

It doesn’t help when I can still see Elliot Rodger’s face, can still hear his speech in my head, repeating on an endless loop, and it’s accompanied by the dozen other times I’ve heard that exact same speech (granted, without the “I’m going to kill all of you” part) shouted at me in restaurants, in my car, in a classroom, on a sidewalk, on dates. That speech has been directed at me, meant for me- and it’s been given to me as though I’d be sympathetic, as though I’d understand and be on his side.

That frightens me beyond words.

Because, up until now, I’ve been annoyed by ideas like the “Nice Guy” and the assumed existence of some “Friend Zone.” The notion that some men think that being a decent human being entitles them to sex with women has infuriated me at times. But, it never really scared me. Now, it does. It terrifies me. Because now I’m wondering– how many of the threats I’ve gotten have been idle? I’ve dismissed them, up until this point, because I’ve always assumed it’s just some guy being an asshole from the safety of his keyboard. But now . . . now I’m not so sure. That man who followed me around in his pickup truck for half an hour– if I hadn’t dialed the police and told him I was doing so, what would have happened? Would he have tried to hurt me? The men who followed me out of Wal-Mart and shouted things about my ass and watched me as I put my groceries into my trunk while my heart was trying to strangle me… if things had been just a little different, what would have happened? Would I be alive right now?

And what about a young man I grew up with that has delivered three different versions of Elliot Rodger’s screed to me over the years– who I’ve had to block multiple times because he keeps creating accounts to harass me? As far as I’m aware, he’s angry, and bitter, and people who know him describe him as “hurt” and still single and has “given up” on relationships. Will I wake up one day to a news story about him going on a rampage and shooting people, and then naming me in a 140-page manifesto as the woman to blame?

The world we live in is … it’s horrible. The thought of it has kept me in my bed, hiding under blankets and avoiding any form of reality for a week. I didn’t want to summon the strength to hit delete delete delete over and over and over again, while opening up each message and reading it and taking a screen shot and finding his IP address and blocking him from my blog and on twitter and from my e-mail and putting all of the information in a folder I keep on my desktop– and feeling as though if I don’t do these things I’ve failed in some way, when I shouldn’t have to be doing it at all and the fact that I do is what’s fucked up and not me not wanting to deal with it at all.

It all just gets so exhausting. I’m tired of being afraid. I’m tired of grieving. I’m tired of that horrible lurch I get in my stomach when I read yet another headline about how a man has stabbed someone, or shot someone, because they didn’t get what they wanted from women. I’m tired of the blinding rage and fury that follows when I see comments that sympathize with a mass-murderer because yeah, rejection sucks, broI feel ya, dude.

I wanted to burn the internet down this week. Just burn it at all. Burn it with fire.

I wanted to sleep and never get out of bed and pretend that the only things in the world that exist are Klondike bars and Netflix.

I don’t want to talk about these things. I hate that every time I do, it feels like people come out of the woodwork for no other reason than to harass me and then eventually melt away. The endless barrage of “you’re a lying whore” and all the people on internet forums who are so filled with hatred that they rip me to shreds for no goddamn reason. I’ve stopped checking my stats hardly at all because I see the list of referrers and I know that the people who are coming here and reading my words aren’t here to understand, or to learn– they’re here to find ammunition to blast me with by taking everything I say out of context.

Then I read back over this post, and I realize that I’ve spent 900+ words whining about nothing. I get e-mails from anonymous assholes?  People talk about me on message boards? That’s nothing. It barely matters at all in a world when girls can be kidnapped for trying to get an education. When simply being white protects me from the harassment and dehumanization that women of color face on a daily basis. When I’m in a healthy, loving relationship with a man who would be devastated if he ever did something to hurt me.

Thankfully, I’m surrounded be a community who support what I do, who believe in what I write, who hear my despair and wrap their arms around me and whisper “illegitimi non carborundum” and give me the hope to keep going.

So, if there’s one thing I would want to say to all of you, it’s this: don’t let the bastards grind you down.

#YesAllWoman will make a difference. All of us can make a difference. The world is a horrible place, yes, but I still believe that it doesn’t have to be this way– that it won’t always be this way. It can change. We can do better.

We won’t let them win.

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  • Bob n PA

    My 17 year old son was killed in car crash 2+ years ago. His accident changed me and my theology change to the folowing: we are born into this world with a relationship with our mother (and our father), when we die we are judged on how we treated the children of God and how the children of God treated us. Please know I find comfort and strength in your posts. May you find peace and comfort.

  • I can’t imagine all that you go through, but know that you are making a difference especially to women like me! You’re brave because someone has to me in order to create change, thank you so much!

  • I’ve been paying as much attention as I can tolerate. I’ve contributed some tweets and wrote my own blog story http://lisaleben.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/yesallwomen-my-story/ with just one of my experiences – but I’ve intentionally tried not to follow things too closely. I know there’s a few people hibernating from the internet this past week and that’s ok. I do what I can. You do what you can. We can’t do it all. Take care of yourself.

  • Samantha, I wanted to let you know that some of those links to your site have come because of me. I probably should have found a way to mention it before, but this is as good an opportunity as any. I’m a member of the fandom for ElfQuest and we got into a discussion there about this very topic in relation to a post that ElfMom, Wendy Pini, posted.

    It’s called Storytelling truth and the world we live in. http://www.elfquest.com/storytelling-truth-and-the-world-we-live-in/

    Hopefully the link will connect, otherwise, it should still be on ElfQuest’s main site as one of the recent articles. There’s a long discussion in the Forums and I went through and linked a number of sites, including yours, because I feel that you are able to articulate so much better than I ever could how important and how real this issue is.

    So not all of those who are visiting are looking for ammunition. They’re looking because I suggested that they read your words and hear your story because you are one of the courageous women that I admire. I wish the world were such that you didn’t have to be afraid, that I didn’t have to be afraid, but I have to believe that little by little we are working to make that world for those who come after us.

    Thank you for your time and your words and your courage.

    • krwordgazer

      I’m a member of that group too, and your links were definitely apropos to the discussion there. No one could have said it better or more convincingly.

    • I just wanted to let you know that I wasn’t referring to the ElfQuest hits when I talked about a message board– so nothing for you to worry about! 🙂

  • Hugs and love, darling. I appreciate everything you do here more than I can say, and you have made a huge difference in my life personally, coming from a similar background, you’ve helped me work through and clarify many things as you’ve recorded your thoughts on your own journey. And I could second all of this. <3

  • Great post. Take a break and recharge…thanks for writing!

  • haettinger

    “I spent the rest of the holiday and most of this week avoiding the internet because those tweets were basically blood in the water. I couldn’t face all of the e-mails and comments that started pouring in– people attacking me, accusing me of horrible things, maligning my integrity, my honesty, belittling me, and harassing me for days. It’s only just now died down, but I’m still flinching when my phone tells me that someone tweeted at me or I’ve gotten an e-mail.” <– yep.

  • Gram Pol


    Don’t let the bastards get you down!

  • Jackie

    What gram said. Don’t let the bastards get you down.

  • BRAVO, Samantha!! As long as you’re aware They are *trying* to “grind you down,” the less successful they will be!!

    I first read the phrase “nolite te bastardes carborundorum” in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale” [It’s also a movie with Natasha Richardson & Faye Dunaway] last year. Since reading that book, with every “victory” the republican elite garners, with every whittle of our basic rights into nothingness, I can’t help but think that we ARE headed for The Republic of Gilead.

    Makes me wanna stay in bed, too.

  • Margaret


  • Stephanie

    Just… hugs and thoughts and prayers. Your posts here have helped me SO much. I’m sorry you feel discouraged. I’m sorry you have these legitimate concerns and fears.

  • Divizna

    “The notion that some men think that being a decent human being entitles them to sex with women”
    Thinking that you (general you) are entitled to sex with someone makes you definitely not a decent person.
    Let’s call this notion of entitlement to sex what it actually is: a demand that the woman rape herself.

  • The entire week has been difficult for many of us. Unlike you I simply wasn’t brave enough to enter the fray.

  • Sympathies. Nothing to offer beyond that, alas.

  • You’re my hero, Samantha. This has been a nightmare week, and like you I’m ready to just hunker down and wait for a new dawn. Thanks for all you do, shedding light and revealing truth. Keep taking care of yourself.

  • Hang in there, Sam. You got this.

  • Neweb

    Great post. However, wouldn’t it be possible to use another expression? It’s somewhat incongruous to end a post on gender equality with a phrase that reflects prejudice based on illegitimacy. Yes, I know, I know, it’s culturally acceptable. But so is a lot of sexism, too. You’re already setting a higher standard, so I don’t mean to pick on you, but the end of this post is insensitive to those who still do face derogatory comments based on the marital status of their parents.

    • Courtney

      She’s not talking about men in general she’s talking about men like Eliot Rodgers. It’s weird that wasn’t obvious to you.

  • Would it spoil the mood if I said “nolite te bastardes carborundorum” sounds like a spell final-year Hogwarts students learn in order to deal with sexist wizards?

  • Thank you for writing this. I just wrote about it too and it’s incredibly heartening (as weird as this seems) to know I’m not the only one who just wants to hide under my blankets and ignore the outside world forever. “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum” has become a bit of a mantra this past week.

  • Preach! You shouldn’t have to face this kind of backlash for something as simple as expressing your opinion, especially when that opinion is one that promotes equality.

  • I think this song might help you out today, if you haven’t listened to it already. “Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down” by Over the Rhine. I’ve always turned it down in the car because I haven’t wanted my 4-year-old to start repeating it, but…maybe I need to make it a mantra for her instead!


    • I love Over the Rhine, but hadn’t heard this song yet. Awesome– thank you!

  • Aibird

    Thanks for writing this. And no, it’s not whining.You’re speaking the truth about what happened to you. I wish this stuff didn’t happen. And I know all too well that fear you describe.