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Opinionated women endure sexually charged personal attacks: Columnist

Opinionated women are attacked for their looks, their sexuality and their personalities. Men just get told they’re jerks.

Opinionated women are attacked for their looks, their sexuality and their personalities. Men just get told they’re jerks.

This is Heather Mallick’s theory. Scoff if you like, but she’s lived it: the CBC.ca columnist got a flood of hate e-mail after she denounced Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin as unqualified and called her supporters “white trash.”

Some angry replies included death threats. The worst insults are unprintable.

“I think women are always attacked personally. I’m always attacked because I’m a woman, and there are references to my breasts or my hair,” Mallick said in an interview with Metro Thursday.

“Men don’t get attacked because of their sex. Nobody says ‘You male bastard.’”

Mallick was in Halifax to speak to a Mount St. Vincent University audience Thursday night.

She believes it’s a select group of men — she’s dubbed them “Angry Pajamas” — who raise dissent to scream against columnists they dislike or in attacks posted online.

“When women e-mail me and they’re really angry, they say ‘I hate you,’ but they don’t say anything about my genitals, and they don’t wish to do me grievous physical harm. They just want me to know I’m a really big jerk,” Mallick said.

That’s not to say she hates men, she says, far from it.

“Normal, sane men are drowned out by the screamers, the Angry Pajamas. I’m sick of that.”

It is, she believes, a result of the backlash against 1980s feminism.

Both genders are to blame for it, she says: Women for being overly harsh on other women, and men, for helping to create a glass ceiling she says is lowering “right over your head.”

Bad economic times will make it harder for women in the workplace, she says, as people grow fearful for their livelihoods. The solution? Mallick says choose carefully what you get upset about.

“If you relax and accept there are parts of human nature that are ugly, then you bend with the blows, and you don’t break.”

 
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