11 Sep A Message for the Twisted, Bitter and Violent Readers

* A while back, someone wrote a “critique” of one of my newspaper columns, questioning how could I possibly know anything about being a Samoan woman when “you sit in your air conditioned house with your perfect husband and your perfect children and your perfect life…”

I was angry. And gripped by the fervent desire to immediately write several blogs about how I have an imperfect life…-  how only ONE room in my house is air conditioned and I can’t turn it on very often because it eats up all the cash power and we then have to eat leaves and sticks for a few days so I can scrimp money from the food budget so we can get the power turned back on. And about every mean thing the Hot Man has ever said to me and done to me in our twenty two years together (the man is a BEAST I tell you. A cruel, chauvinistic heartless selfish BEAST!) And about how much these Fabulous children are really not fabulous at all because in actual fact they drive me up the wall and I often count the days, hours and minutes until they all move out and go to university/prison/theArmy/TheLandOfFaraway. Lots and lots of reasons why my life IS NOT PERFECT DAMMIT!!  An entire comparison of “woe is me…my life sucks so I am indeed qualified to talk about being a Samoan woman…” (Because everybody knows that a real Samoan woman lives in a bush hut and her husband beats her with a broom everyday…and everybody knows that only poor people in bush huts abuse their children…right?!)

* Another someone messaged to tell me that I’m a terrible advocate for women living with abuse and violence. “You don’t deserve to be a spokesperson for abuse survivors and domestic violence survivors. You’re not worthy to speak on their behalf.”

I felt like shit. Especially because this ‘someone’ is a person who’s supposed to know me well. Immediately I started going through everything I’ve ever done in my life that could possibly help me out in a court of law deciding whether or not ‘Lani Young is a Shitty Advocate for Women and Abuse Survivors.’  I needed evidence to prove my innocence. To establish my worth.

* Another someone bombed my Facebook page with curse words and threats, Eff-wording my family, my parents…calling me a “filthy molested whore” who needed to be silenced and have my words “erased”. They systematically went through all my posts over a 48hr period and plastered hate-filled rants all over them, slamming my Wendt family for being ‘mutt half-blood’ Samoans who have no titles…and more. The same person also set up several public FB pages – ‘Lani Wendt Young has herpes.’ and ‘Lani Wendt Young is the Dumbest Woman in History’.

I was afraid. For my children. What if this person lived in Samoa? What if they came across my children somewhere and screamed abuse at them, took out their twisted frustrations and hatefulness on them? I was even a little afraid for myself. What if this person is at the next book signing event I do somewhere overseas and they physically tried to hurt me? And yes, I almost wanted to cry because while I was prepared for people not to like my books or my blogs – I wasn’t ready for people to despise me and want to eliminate me for them and to possibly put my family’s safety at risk. I spent several days fretting over this, not being able to sleep because of this. NOT WRITING because of this. Not wanting to leave my house because of this. While the Hot Man told me to issue an invitation to the twisted, nasty anonymous FB troll “Tell him to come to our house and threaten us so I can beat the crap out of him…Tell him I would LOVE to talk to him in person…”

* Another someone went through this blog and wrote, “I’ve read nothing in your work that benefits a single person, or helps a developing mind. I could in fact use your written word, in print, to prove legal madness and deem you insane and a harm to others, that’s how bad your work is.” To give legitimacy to their argument, they went to a whole lot of trouble to create a fake email, ‘crazyWendtFamily@gmail.com’ and a fake url, http://smarterthanyou@gmail.com.

This time I laughed. A lot. Give that person bonus points for creativity?

This time, I’m done. Because I have finally accepted:

I don’t need to justify myself or my words to anyone. Especially not to random bloggers, keyboard warriors, or anonymous haters and twisted individuals who have nothing better to do with their time than create entire alter-ego online identities so they can chuck rubbish at other people. Not only that, I don’t even need to justify myself and my words to supposed friends and family who don’t like the way I advocate for the issues that have personal meaning for me and that impact on many others who are voiceless.

Cos here’s the thing. Do I have some strong “controversial” opinions about some “sensitive” difficult topics? Yes I do. Do I write and speak about them openly and publicly? Yes I do. Does it mean everybody has to like what I have to say? No, they don’t. But that doesn’t give them the right to try and shame / bully / harass / degrade / threaten me or my family. And I don’t have to be patient and polite and continuously smilingly diplomatic to people who are rude and obnoxious to me in public, private and on social media.

If you don’t like what I write about – then can I suggest some options.

a. Don’t read my work. Don’t download my books, don’t read my blog, don’t buy the newspaper if you see my face in it, don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter. You’ll be happy and so will I.

b. Do read it. Then analyse what’s wrong with it and write a critique of the content like an intelligent, articulate person. I read those kinds of critiques and learn from them and am influenced by them. Not a pathetic criticism of my air conditioned bedroom and a cheap shot dig at how hot my husband is or how fabulous my kids are. Because let’s face it, he is hot. The man is a 44yr old elite athlete Ironman machine and he works his ass off to be a decent husband, father and provider.  And my children (while they can get on my nerves), are pretty fabulous. I work very hard at my marriage and at being a parent so I don’t need to apologize for what I’ve achieved together with my partner and my children – just to appease your envy.

c. Don’t send me private messages of loathing. Or make anonymous criticisms of what I write on my blog and in my newspaper columns. Instead, put that time to good use and go write your own blog or write your own letters to the newspaper. With your name on them. I don’t claim to be a perfect advocate for women and survivors of abuse, but what matters is that I’m trying to do something about gender violence, in my own small way with the tools that I have at hand. You don’t like what I’m doing? Then get out there and do something different to add your voice and your efforts to the advocacy efforts.

“If you are not also in the arena, getting your butt kicked – then I’m not interested in your feedback.” Dr Brene Brown.

Because at the end of the day, what matters is that I have the courage to own my beliefs and my feelings. I put my name on my words and I carry them with me wherever I go. My opinions have won me some allies and admirers, that is true, but they have also lost me friends and family, and sown dischord in relationships and settings that were once of great strength to me.

I have no time or patience anymore for the random haters. Either put up or shut up.

adaringgreatly

And now that I’ve written allllllllllll that when I should have been working on my latest book, I realize I probably should have just copied and pasted this lovely message from that kick-butt awesome blogger woman Jody who I greatly admire over at ‘Fagogo mai Samoa’… She’s been having trouble with some anonymous rubbish throwers lately so she blogged this – (Click on it and go read it…)

Wee Message.

(Many thanks to Rebecca Luteru  in the comments for linking me to a fabulous talk by Dr Brene Brown, Daring Greatly, in which she quotes from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech on ‘The Man in the Arena’.)

 

 

 

21 Comments
  • Bex
    Reply

    I read this and I’m reminded of an inspirational person, an awesome quote and a great philosophy to live by https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EwFHUtJZmg

    September 11, 2014 at 12:51 am
  • LOVE LOVE LOVE oh and LOVE Jody’s message too! People who waste their time on vitriol and abuse (whether through private messages, blogs, comments or long passive aggressive Facebook posts or notes) have a deep sense of insecurity and inadequacy (probably because they are in fact inadequate). This is sad for them but the rest of us shouldn’t really have to be subjected to it.

    September 11, 2014 at 1:27 am
  • Lani, these people have, like, the devil in them! He’s working through them to beat you down. You have good Christian values, don’t let them do that to you! Your strength comes from a higher power.
    You are voice of those who cannot use their own words because they are being silenced, for you to advocate for them. If only one person stands up and faces the abuse because your words gave them the power to do that, that is one more woman who is empowered to reverse the abuse in their lives.
    As a distant third cousin Wendt relative, to the person who made up the ‘crazywendtfamily’ website, I just have two words for you, since you’ve now pissed off one family here in the mainland regarding the ‘crazywendtfamily’, F*** off you morons! You attack my family’s name, you attack the family. Get some education in your lives and have a civil thought and conversation for once. It takes sheer guts to do what you are doing Lani, please keep it up! (Ok, that was more than two words, but you get my drift…..)
    …Just my Thoughts
    Dolores Trujillo-

    September 11, 2014 at 3:01 am
  • Elenoa
    Reply

    LOL bunch of cowards with fake profiles. Things they say to cover up *REALITY. Pay no attention to them, Lani. Keep on keeping on!

    September 11, 2014 at 3:38 am
  • Dahlia Loibl
    Reply

    Dear Lani.,

    thank you for your blogs. i hope this comes through because i cannot access fb from work so i can say,.., THANK YOU!! to hell with the haters, i cannot believe how creative they can be in faking their websites and addresses. the extreme measures they go through just to vent their hatred – it’s pathetic. anyways, continue to shine as the fabulous mother you are to your children, the HOT sexy wife to your husband and an amazing writer to us fans!!

    September 11, 2014 at 3:44 am
  • Lani, you have more sisters in arms than you know. You are a warrior and a writer and one day I hope we can sit down over a couple of icy Diet Cokes and talk story about everything from writing to kids to husbands to faith to finding new ways to avoid housework. Know at least one person you’ve never met in person gets you and your ideals. Don’t stress about the haters. If you do, they win. Aloha no.

    September 11, 2014 at 5:52 am
  • kepalena
    Reply

    Hi Lani…You have said it all so well. I was going to put in my 10cents worth of response and say you didn’t need that destructive tone of criticism from the abusive critics to condemn your writing efforts and the brilliant magnitude and intelligence depicted in all that you have written, done and are as an advocator and ‘a voice’ for goodness. Nevertheless you magnificently and distinctively explained it. Yes indeed it is the destructive ugly nature of some to be destructive at anything or anyone that denotes truth, beauty and goodness. Needless to say that we all have our moments of triumph and failure in the midst of all our imperfections. I for one would be quick to say also, I have a husband who is beast-like occasionally, family that needs constant effort and hard work to keep it all together, but do we need to dwell on our flaws and imperfections to qualify one to be a promoter and advocator for most ‘societal issues’. Not at all! You have done much good to be an influential voice for our society. Rest assured that even the One (the Lord Himself) who came to declare the truth to the world was also hated and exposed to the most abusive critique one could ever face. Thank you for sharing as for me personally it is another great manifestation of empowering oneself and that you have not withered because of it. You have responded so well to the destructive nature of those who destructively criticize. I am reminded of a great religious leader who said: “So much in life depends on our attitude. The way we choose to see things and respond to others makes all the difference.” The response of those who have a destructive tone in their nature have done so to show their own narrow-mindedness and unlearned caliber. One’s level of accomplished learning and intelligence is never hard to tell. Again I thank you for being the voice that has spoken so truthfully and penetratingly.

    September 11, 2014 at 6:29 am
  • Nani Bartley
    Reply

    Lani, your Amazing. I wish I had half the guts you have to publicly comment on issues that are important to you. They are important to me too so thankyou for writing. Let’s put these idiots in their little box and continue being a great spokesperson and talented writer.

    September 11, 2014 at 7:20 am
  • Fatima
    Reply

    Lani, I read this because I was intrigued to know what you are going through. I also read this so that I could reply and send you LOVE from deep down in my heart to you in Samoa. I applaud you for all that you have done and for being YOU!! I admire what you do and I want you to know that I am here for you. I totally understand what you mean and I am also going through a struggle where people can’t accept me for being me. But you know what? I’m done with that and not going to take their shit anymore. I love being ME. It’s when we dare to be our true selves you find that you will have more negative people following you around because they cannot do what you are doing. Keep pushing forward and doing YOU. Alofa tele atu, Fatima.

    September 11, 2014 at 8:59 am
  • To'asavili
    Reply

    Dear Lani,

    I was washing the dishes today thinking of you. We’ve never met or swapped words in a coversation. But I am a total Bella (your daughter) fan as all your posts that include her personality just rocks my day. I read every post I can on FB and instagram, “like it” or causally leave a couple of words here and there.

    Back to me washing dishes – I thought about all the negativity that is out there surrounding you or stalking you and thought I’d be one of the many who lets you know, “you’re awesome and to never stop writing.” I enjoy your writing whether its blogs, status updates of the ‘fab 5’ or ‘the hot man.’ Keep in mind Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal woman poem. Phenomenal you are

    September 11, 2014 at 9:49 am
  • Sieni A.M.
    Reply

    “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Whoever came up with that riddle got it all wrong. Words hurt. They slay, twist, and quash the spirit. I empathasize for you, Lani. For the stress and fear this has caused you and your family. So. Not. Cool. People (myself included) have a long way to go to eloquently express their hurt and anger without hurting or angering one another.

    September 11, 2014 at 12:06 pm
  • Lana Leilua
    Reply

    I am a subscriber to your blog that I love nd I just have to say, “God don’t like ugly.” Some people have too much time on their hands. All that energy, that effort to be evil to someone trying. Satan is alive and well my friends. Don’t be fooled y’all. I don’t envy your vulnerability to bare your soul (people think it’s easy, it’s not) Lani, but I admire your courage to share anyway. You know it’s like the crabs in a pot analogy, one tries to get out but the others try and pull them back down. I say, f#$@ a crab (btw I love crabs with loads of butter) be a bird, be an Eagle and believe you can fly like R. Kelly. lol. If you don’t know R. Kelly’s song, I believe I can fly, then my last sentence just went right over your head. If you were my friend nearby, (I’m here in California) I would come over with loads of goodies, chocolates of all kinds pastries with cream fillings and a hug. Life. Ain’t it great.

    September 11, 2014 at 4:12 pm
  • Tina De Suza
    Reply

    Wow … I am shocked that there are so many haters out there :o(

    The other posters above have said everything that I would have said, so I just say this …

    LOVE YOU LONG TIME!!!

    Don’t ever stop what you do – your work and your writing make the world a better place!

    Xxxxxx

    September 11, 2014 at 6:48 pm
  • As the students like to say “Haters gonna hate.” 😉 Hold your head up high, mama, and pray for those people. You saw a glimpse of how hateful that person/those folks can be, now imagine living your whole life inside of that kind of darkness. They need our prayers!

    And another thing: Cyril Connolly said, “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than write for the public and have no self.” People will say what they say. Write anyway. <3

    September 11, 2014 at 8:45 pm
  • Dora
    Reply

    Sorry to hear that you’ve been going through all of that in the span of a few weeks. No one deserves to be treated that way regardless of what other people think! Although I have yet to read your renowned books, but I can say that I do enjoy reading your blogs and twitter posts. I cannot apologize for those haters in general, but I do offer words of encouragement for you. Being and staying positive can be a challenge, but not impossible. For your supporters (including myself), we’ve got your back and you’re always in our prayers. Chin up and keep doing what you do best: INSPIRE!

    September 11, 2014 at 9:48 pm

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