Fangirls, mean girls – and that grand pastime of calling each other “ugly sluts”

“Everyone knows that bitch got knocked up by someone else and TRICKED him into marriage! Ugly slut! I hope they divorce!”

It sounds like a comment you would find on a Daily Mail article about some celebrity drama. But the poor man allegedly “TRICKED” into marriage is meant to be my husband. And the “ugly slut” is me. A friend who had written a blog entry about how my husband and I collaborated on a play together encountered these comments, and many more. She deleted them, but not before I had already read them. The friend was shocked, but I wasn’t. The same person who had posted those comments had already tweeted at me, left abusive comments on my site, and sent me detailed arguments as to why all of my much my pictures suck via Facebook. And she wouldn’t be the first to pursue this course of action.

Hi, my name is Natalia. My husband’s fangirls stalk me on the Internet.


Alexey is a film director, theater director and actor in Moscow. He’s part of a fairly small, yet intense subculture. And his latest project, “Winter, Go Away!”, which he collaborated on with ten other filmmakers (who, miraculously, did not come to blows as they put this hilarious look at the protest movement in Russia together), has been making waves and winning awards recently.

And Russians revere their directors like they revere their writers – which is great, until it suddenly isn’t so great.

The first person to harass me online with regard to my husband was a fairly well-known writer who started e-mailing me when my husband and I announced our decision to get married and circulated wedding invitations (we hadn’t really advertised our relationship to all and sundry, so there was the whole “ZOMG ALEXEY IS GETTING HITCHED” aspect to it). She wrote to tell me that she felt I was “trapping” my husband into marriage, that it was “obvious” that he was only marrying me to get a chance at a U.S. citizenship – oh, and that “marriage right now would hurt his career.” She’s a thoughtful, kind lady, as you can probably tell.

These bursts of activity are always random and always take me by surprise. Last year, at a festival, my husband acquired a new “number one fan.” Elvira (no relationship to the Mistress of the Dark, from what I can tell), a self-described “lost girl” with emo hair and make-up, saw him on the stage and, as she put it, “fell in love.” She bombarded him with e-mails before proceeding to contact a number of our friends, trying to find out the details of our relationship, whether or not “he’s happy or sad,” whether or not “he was prone to cheating.” Then she got a hold of my e-mail address, and wrote to me about my appearance, my weight and my intellect. As a harried working mother, I found myself suddenly feeling defensive. Blocking her was easy – getting rid of the shitty feeling that I was pathetic for letting her get to me was another story.

Alexey has a zillion exes, and while most of them are perfectly nice, a couple are somewhat, ah, interesting. I remember one party we went to a few months before the birth of our son. An ex-girlfriend he hadn’t seen in years went up to say hello – and proceeded to have an genuine freak-out when he said, “Hey, meet my wife.” “YOU GOT MARRIED? WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU GOT MARRIED? WHAT IS THIS? SHE’S HAVING A BABY? IS IT YOURS? I DON’T UNDERSTAND!” People began to stare. I had opened my mouth to say hi to her, and then had forgotten to close it. “Oh, don’t mind that, she always does this,” my husband laughed after she stormed off. “The hilarious part is – she dumped *me*.” A few days later, at another party, a friend of mine tapped me on the shoulder and asked who on earth was the woman who was standing in a corner, staring at me as if she wanted to rip my face off. “Oh, that’s just one of Alexey’s ex-girlfriends.” Now she keeps writing to Alexey and wishing him “all of the happiness in the world.” He doesn’t ask her if she means it, writing polite “thank you”‘s back.

This year, the “Natalia is an ugly slut who tricked Alexey into marriage” character suddenly appeared. Once again, I know the woman – she had originally commented on my site using her name, and has been a pathetic failure at hiding her IP address (well, now that I’ve banned her several times, I have to compliment her for learning how to use a proxy). She’s a quiet girl I’ve only met once and she would troll me sporadically – whenever I’ve forgotten about her existence, there she is again. “Just get used to it,” a colleague of my husband’s told me over a beer. “You married someone who’s in the public eye. And girls like him. That’s all there is to it.”

And yet the soap opera has begun to get to me. Facing stress at work and dealing with a desperate desire to lose the weight I had gained while breastfeeding, I completely lost when Alexey inadvertently invited another unpleasant character into our life. Performing at yet another out-of-town festival, he danced with a girl at one of the parties there. “It was just for fun,” he told me later. “They were playing oldies.” Unfortunately, the girl had friends who had pinned high hopes on Alexey, convinced that their friend, who hadn’t dated in a while, had met The One. And when he casually offered all of them free passes to his show, they became even more convinced. And then one of them saw a Facebook update from me where I joked that women were “lining up to dance with my husband like Soviets used to line up for bread” and went ape-shit. After having to delete a slew of hateful messages, I went nuclear on my husband, since there was no one else to nuclear on. “Why do you encourage them? Don’t you understand that I’m TIRED of this crap, I DON’T find it funny, I DON’T feel comfortable with this kind of attention?” I remembered that he and I had not danced in months, and yet some other chick got to do that. I told him that I hated him. I cried.

An angry Paul McCartney says: Look at that slut. I hope she dies.

Worst of all, I found myself sinking down to their level. I wanted to call them “bitches” and “whores” and “fat, ugly sluts” and “stupid cows.” I realized they were flinging sexist insults at me and generally harassing me because they didn’t know any better. I knew better, but here’s the thing – knowing wasn’t enough. I was The Wife in a culture where men cheated brazenly and women took on lovers on the sly. And though I trusted Alexey, I was worn out by the negative attention – so much so that all of the positive attention coming his way was eclipsed by this handful of maladjusted individuals. “I’m hurt by this – she hurt me,” I told him after I calmed down. “I’m not supposed to feel hurt – but there it is. Your fangirls can be horrible. And I’m becoming horrible too.” He poured me a glass of wine and we went to the bedroom and watched our son sleep. He promised to take me dancing.

I have an acquaintance whose boyfriend is the frontman for a rock band out on the West Coast – and having reconnected online, we have bonded over our experiences of the fan culture. She told me about an admirer of her husband’s who had sent her dead flowers. She told me about googling herself and discovering an entire thread in a forum where people were discussing whether or not she was “good enough” to be with the man of their dreams. “They’re immature. They connect with the music, or with a movie, or something – and suddenly, it’s like they ‘own’ the musician, or the actor,” she said. “It’s always worse for the big stars – but it’s also true that when you’re dealing with a kind of subculture, or an emerging subculture, where everyone is accessible, and it’s as if there are no boundaries.”

A lovely actor friend of mine, whose recent performance in a provocative Russian epic (ETA: taken off the trailer, to protect the actor’s privacy), has to deal with a former colleague who has gone as far as create social networking profiles in her name – and filled them with invitations for men to “give her a good raping”. “I wanted to hurt her back, of course,” the actor in question said. “In fact, I wanted to punch her in the head – because she listed my actual e-mail address, and I was getting scary messages from scary dudes because of her little stunt. But we work in an extreme industry – the competition is extreme, and so is the sexism. And all I ended up saying to her, at the end of the day, was that I hope that no one ever treats her like she treated me.”

It’s what I wrote to the Facebook fiend who had caused me to have a mini-meltdown last week, after she came back to troll me under a new identity. Well, almost. What I wrote to her was, “Lady, what goes around comes around. Enjoy!”

And then I put the smartphone down and we took our toddler for a walk in the park and watched him try and fail to chase the ducks – the perfect antidote to, well, pretty much everything.

135 comments for “Fangirls, mean girls – and that grand pastime of calling each other “ugly sluts”

  1. Shannon
    October 3, 2012 at 9:30 am

    I am so sorry, how horrible for you. I’m sure it’s not much comfort coming from an internet stranger, but the women who say these things aren’t really talking about you, even if their anger is directed toward you. They don’t know you and their hateful words come from their own insecurity and inability to find more fulfilling things to do with themselves. Thank you for sharing your experience and perspective.

    I think it sounds like you and your husband have a healthy relationship with lots of communication. Your family sounds lovely.

  2. EG
    October 3, 2012 at 9:30 am

    I’m glad you’re posting here, Natalia. I like your writing.

    I really don’t like what you’re being put through. I’m sorry.

  3. pheenobarbidoll
    October 3, 2012 at 9:50 am

    You’re handling it better than I would. By now I’d be on a seek and destroy mission.

    I’m pretty sure that one fangirl is guilty of internet stalking. Don’t delete anything and report her ass.

  4. October 3, 2012 at 10:18 am

    I’m sincerely sorry you have to go through all that to be with your husband. Sometimes, especially in a feminist community, we are all gifted with the ability to articulate these forces which cause insecurity or fear. Sometimes it feels like a burden to our partners, but I think we have healthier relationships for it. If your husband loves you, he’ll try to see the enormity of his fangirl’s…well, fanaticism, in your (and consequently his) life.
    And with utter, delightful self indulgence, always feel free to reach out to this community to receive support! After all, I think the online feminist community’s greatest purpose is to counterbalance all that harmful karma!


  5. SamBarge
    October 3, 2012 at 10:30 am

    “They’re immature. They connect with the music, or with a movie, or something – and suddenly, it’s like they ‘own’ the musician, or the actor,” she said. “It’s always worse for the big stars – but it’s also true that when you’re dealing with a kind of subculture, or an emerging subculture, where everyone is accessible, and it’s as if there are no boundaries.”

    This, right? Add in the validation of internet friends and it’s a volatile mix.

    I’ve seen this on a couple of sites for fans of musical groups that I’ve belonged to in the past, particularly groups or acts that are just emerging/are still accessible to fans. The message boards foster the idea that fans have some sort of personal relationship with the band members. If I had $1 for everytime I read a variation on “I was so depressed and thinking of suicide but their/his music saved me” well, I’d have a lot of dollars. I’m starting to get into Mumford and Sons but I won’t touch a fan board with a 10-foot virtual pole. I can only imagine.

    Anyway, I can’t imagine being the spouse or partner of a person who has online fans. I’ve been stalked/harassed by a woman who fixated on an ex-boyfriend* of mine and it was terrifying – before there was an internet. I can’t imagine what it would be like today.

    *My ex wasn’t famous or anything. It was just a woman who met him and decided that any woman he dated other than her must be Satan’s hand-maiden sent to Earth to keep their pure, Heaven-sent love from coming to its natural, orgasmic fruition.

    • October 3, 2012 at 1:39 pm

      Well, I know how it feels to be Satan’s hand-maiden! Awesome, isn’t it? *high five*

      • SamBarge
        October 3, 2012 at 2:47 pm

        We should totally get matching jackets and a secret handshake.

  6. October 3, 2012 at 10:31 am

    *sigh* See this a lot from the other side, having been involved in online fandom for the better part of a decade. Beloved male character has a female character wife/girlfriend? Slagged and demolished in (some of) the fan threads. Beloved male actor has a real-life girlfriend or wife? Slagged even worse. And inevitably someone breaks the code of separation and actually reaches out to push these harms on the actors and their families. And it’s just as bad or worse in the slash fandoms – a girlfriend getting in the way of the two male leads who are CLEARLY IN LOVE? Enemy number one.

    I’ve seen it go on and on, but never understood why. It’s repellent.

    I agree with pheeno – if you have the energy, document document document. Keep safe.

    • October 3, 2012 at 11:09 am

      Also: Beloved female character/object of fanlust has sex or a boyfriend? DIRTY SLUT WHY DID YOU LET ME DOWN BOZO-CHAN!?!?! *burns “hug” pillow and cries into a mug of Mountain Dew*

      • im
        October 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm

        After reading this I wonder whether that happens more or less than the famous guy’s wife getting slagged. The worst part is that I have recognized the feelings that lead to this in myself.

    • October 3, 2012 at 11:13 am

      Argh, this. This is half the reason I’ve never really left anime/manga as my fandom area; I can’t deal with the RL hate for fictional people. Fucking haet.

      • im
        October 7, 2012 at 9:37 pm

        Are you saying that it’s worse for things other than manga, or that it’s bad in manga and forced you out of the manga fandom?

    • konkonsn
      October 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm

      Yeah, I mostly have experience from this angle with the fictional lovers as I’ve always been more into fiction. And the funny thing is, it’s like, you can write the character however you want so he falls in love with you. He’s not a real person. So why do you need to piss all over the girl friend?

      Back when I was sixteen and into Andromeda, I do remember being a bit heartbroken after finding out Gordon Michael Woolvelt was married and having a child (because I might meet him at a con and we’d just have that connection, you know?). But maybe fifteen minutes later it was like, “You know, this guy is twice my age, has a child, and we’ve never met. Maybe we aren’t destined to be together?” And so I got over it and wrote a fanfic about Harper and Trance having a baby.

    • seisy
      October 5, 2012 at 5:31 pm

      Urgh, yes. Fandom can be fun and awesome and just when you let your guard down, you’re reminded about how utterly scary and just…unhinged it can be. Especially when it comes to the tinhatters.

  7. October 3, 2012 at 10:50 am

    At least they weren’t Bronies.

  8. October 3, 2012 at 11:03 am

    That is fucken terrible. I hope things settle down at some point.

  9. Lauren
    October 3, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Some months ago, there was a great article by the ex-wife of one of The Black Keys in Salon, and it touched on how damaging fame and fandom was for their marriage.

    It’s hard not to revert to sexism when someone is coming at your sideways — it’s the shorthand for conflict in our culture. Thanks for writing this, Natalia.

    • October 3, 2012 at 11:59 am

      Sounds like I should read that. Well, unless I get horribly depressed by it…

    • Kristen J.
      October 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm

      I am so sorry to hear that people are being such assholes to you. I hope the kharma fairies poop on their heads. I agree with Lauren that its hard to overcome internalized sexism when acting from instinct.

      • samanthab
        October 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm

        I don’t know that it’s necessary to wait for fairies. Anyone obsessing over someone they’re not intimately connected to is not in well place. It’s some fucked up projection shit. I remember when I was a recovering anorexic in my teen years, I used to say to myself that I’d be so much happier if I just lost weight. Post- teen years, I, ahem, grew up and came to the conclusion that there’s no one single thing that will make your life happier. And if you’re obsessed with a dude you’re not involved with, you have rendered a human being into a thing- a dudely object to be possessed rather than someone to share experiences with. I’m pretty sure them ladies is tortured in the here and now.

    • Dan_Brodribb
      October 3, 2012 at 1:03 pm

      That was a powerful article for me for a lot of reasons. Thanks for recommending it Lauren.

      Link is here:

      I also enjoy your writing, Natalia, and it sucks that this stuff has happened to you.

      I’m sorry you’ve had to go through that.

      • October 3, 2012 at 1:37 pm

        Yeah, that was a great read.

        Also, thank you.

      • October 6, 2012 at 9:38 pm

        The Black Keys have been my favorite band lately, and that was a heartbreaking and moving read. Thanks for posting the link.

  10. Henry
    October 3, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    The internet proves that there are just piles of horrible people out there. And if the entertainers go ballistic on their fans, they get blasted as being mean assholes. I’m more bothered by the behavior of others in the profession than the street trash anyone in the public eye invariably attracts.

  11. pheenobarbidoll
    October 3, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Sometimes (and just sometimes, of course) agreeing with them and running with it can take the wind out of their sails.


    ” No no, I didn’t trick him into marrying me, I sacrificed kittens under a full moon for 2 years and made a pact with Lucifer for him!!”

    or going vulgar

    ” Of course he married me, I can suck a golf ball through 5 miles of garden hose…n00b”

    Or (and this is best pulled off at a party when you can hand them a drink or snack)

    ” No, I didn’t trick him. I drugged him with a mind control substance”. (then hand them a glass and SMIIIILLLE, and act overly interested in them drinking it)

    These things are, of course, geared to alleviate your ick feelings via humor. I don’t have fangirls, but I do have a mother in law who believes I am a pill popping (someone took 2 of her tylenol 3 pills. Naturally it had to be me) son stealing, spawn of the Devil.

    I went Southern Polite on her ass though and now she refuses to speak to us. hehehehe

    • October 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      You’re beautiful.

    • Angie unduplicated
      October 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      PB, that only works until the fundamentalist websites get hold of that particular line, and take it seriously, and start up a blacklist or boycott.

      Natalia, stun guns are cheap and getting cheaper. As someone who has been accused of being the Beast of Revelations (a mark, yes, but not on the forehead or the palm of the hand) by ignoranti who can’t even read their own Alibibles, let me assure you that this stuff seldom dies down. Eagles fly solo, but vultures apparently have a limitless choice of companions, and they all will do whatever works to kill your relationship so She-Buzzard can dine on the leftovers. Take care of yourself, and please be alert.

    • zuzu
      October 7, 2012 at 2:29 pm

      Well, that’s freaky, Natalia.

      Have you read Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear? He has a lot of information on how to deal with stalkers and establish boundaries. Responding to them is not recommended.

      You may need to have Alexey read it, too.

  12. scrumby
    October 3, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    One of my more vivid moments of progressive enlightenment involved this subject. A friend had the good fortune to have met Neil Gaiman a few times and when she was telling me about it I had the classic fanperson response of ” That’s awesome. I love him so much, I’d totally marry him.” She cut me off “Don’t say that. I’ve met his wife and she’s great, and the idea of breaking up that awesome family makes me sad. That’s why I say I love Neil Gaiman’s work and want to marry his creative intellect instead.” It really impressed on me that the objects of my fan-affection are often human beings, entitled to the same respect for personal boundaries as any stranger on the street. No matter how much of a person is shared with the public, it’s not a claim ticket to every part of that individual’s life. It’s an idea I try and push in fandom to varying success. Fandom should be a fun give-and-take between creators/artists and audience; trying to play peanut-gallery puppet master with threats and abuse is just trolling and it ruins the experience for everyone.

    • October 3, 2012 at 12:46 pm


      My primary fandom (Saiyuki) is actually pretty good for this. The most I’ve ever said, or heard anyone say, is that they’d pet the mangaka’s brain, and I say that myself.

      >_> Or, on occasion, while listening to certain musicians, I might say that I wish their voice were a person so I could lick it a lot. *cough* Don’t judge me!

      • October 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm

        Ha ha ha, I don’t get to watch anime as much as I used to because my supply dried up, but when I did I had exactly that feeling toward one of my favourite seiyu’s voices (Ryotaro Okiayu). :D Not weird at all. (Okay, weird, but not wrong!)

        But I would not, for instance, believe that entitled me to break up his marriage. 9__9

        The celebrity entitlement stuff (entitlement *to* celebrities, not entitlement *of* celebrities – that’s a whole ‘nother problem!) just blows my mind.

      • October 3, 2012 at 5:17 pm

        Ryotaro Okiayu has an amazing voice. My enduring love, however, remains Hiroata Hiraki. (And on the deliciously genderbending fence, Megumi Ogata.)

      • October 3, 2012 at 5:31 pm

        I’ve never seen the original (undubbed) Sailor Moon series, but I have a thing for Haruka anyway, so I suspect I would love her original voice actor too…

        Not a voice actor, but I just realized your original reference was to musicians anyway, so just gonna put it out there:

        Mai Yamane.

        I’ll be in my bunk. Missing anime like burning.

    • October 3, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      I’d just marry Neil Gaiman AND Amanda Palmer so as not to break their marriage up. Everybody wins.

      • scrumby
        October 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm

        Absorbing a loving couple into your corpulent, gelatinous form is not “keeping a marriage together.”

      • October 3, 2012 at 5:44 pm

        Different strokes for different semi-sentient space monsters.

  13. Liz L
    October 3, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Sorry, cause that sucks. And it is horrible how the impulse to really get down in the trenches and sling misogynist mud back is so powerful, because those are the words that really signify violence, rage, and dominance.

    On an infinitely more cheerful note, this post inspired me to do a bit of googling, leading to your blog. I loved your posts on Amman, (where I currently live, and yet I had never seen suberstar before), loved that you used to write for JO, and will definitely be following your adventures in Russia. Stay safe, because it’s a crazy bizarre world out there- and those fangirls are some interesting ladies!

    • bleh
      October 3, 2012 at 5:35 pm

      I also have found myself using those misogynist words – humbling me deeply – when another woman stalked my spouse. Seems like her uber-gendered behavior made it difficult for me to avoid uber-gendered slurs. I did not use them in public, but they undercut my belief in my own feminism and made the situation even more painful. Have others found a way out of this tendency.

      • scrumby
        October 4, 2012 at 1:36 am

        Sitting down and think up a label for people who behave like that that that doesn’t fall back on misogyny so if it ever comes up again you have something appropriate to respond with. It’s basically a matter of rewriting the code in your brain. For example: I used lame as a pejorative for a long time until I eventually read a compelling argument about it ableist connotations and crappy function as a descriptor for anything. So I’ve worked really hard on squashing down the reflex to use it every time I’m displeased with something and have come up with a host of other words to use instead. I don’t always succeed, but my behavior and thought process has been pretty well modifier by my effort. You got put in an unusual and extreme situation, and lacking any other way to express your anger and displeasure at this individual, you just fell back on what our shitty culture provides for tearing down women. It’s not a failure of feminism, just a reminder that we are all a product of a bigoted culture and overcoming that must be an active process.

      • October 5, 2012 at 9:34 am

        More and more I find myself loving the all encompassing usefulness of asshole as a perjorative.

    • October 5, 2012 at 9:04 am

      Thank you! Amman was an interesting experience for me – I ended up leaving because, well, lots of reasons, but it’s quite a beautiful town.

  14. Liz L
    October 3, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Also, anyone who is not reading captain awkward should commence immediately:

    • October 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      Thank you so much for that link!

      • October 4, 2012 at 12:32 pm

        Natalia, great post. Saying “I want to have 10,000 of his babies” ABOUT someone you admire might be totally fun, but saying it TO the person ticks all of my “Whoa, boundaries dude” boxes. You might also find this really relevant.

      • October 5, 2012 at 9:01 am

        Yes, it’s VERY relevant.

    • PrettyAmiable
      October 3, 2012 at 4:41 pm

      OMG quick note that one should read the comments to that article, because it’s full of happy endings. Thanks Liz.

  15. October 3, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Also, anyone who is not reading captain awkward should commence immediately:

    Seconded. Captain Awkward is the fucken best.

  16. Tonya
    October 3, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    this is terrible! I would be bringing up criminal charges against those who gave my real email address to possible sexual assaulters. There was a woman in the US who was actually raped when her address was given out and the guy who did it thankfully got a prison sentence.
    So sorry you have to go through this!

  17. October 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    I have to admit, until a few months ago, I didn’t know it was like this.

    I am a member of a Facebook page composed of fans (mostly women) of a middle-aged male TV star (not a “heartthrob”– by any means!) and recently the page-owner reprinted a photo of the TV star and his wife, taken at Coney Island. It was a pleasant photo of them having a nice afternoon out. The page-owner wrote,”Comments welcome, but no unkind comments about ___(wife’s name)___ please! They will be deleted!”

    I thought, wow, really? (This was my first heads-up on this kind of thing.)

    And mostly the comments stayed within the limits, although some hovered close to the line: “Well, I’d LIKE to say what I think of her, but I won’t!” “Since you cautioned us, I will refrain from saying what I really think of that… woman.”

    What? Huh?

    She is a perfectly nice person, from all I have seen and read of her. What the hell are they TALKING ABOUT?

    It’s just pure jealousy, Natalia. Plain and simple. It’s just so resoundingly AWFUL to see it in such naked, brazen, bold type. Like bacteria, it infects all that it touches. I am so sorry it has touched you.

  18. Anthea
    October 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm


    Seems like you want it both ways.

    You wanted to marry a cult figure – but now you say you don’t like the attention that very obviously comes with the territory.

    • PrettyAmiable
      October 3, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      I’m pretty sure she wanted to marry a specific person who also happened to be a cult figure.

    • Beatrice
      October 3, 2012 at 4:43 pm

      Most importantly, what PrettyAmiable said.

      In a more general sense (Natalia, slap my wrist if it’s too far off topic), why should we accept that this kind of treatment “comes with the territory”? Because it shouldn’t. And it’s something that our whole sensationalist culture should deal with, instead of blindly accepting it.

      These fans are engaging in harassment, some even stalking. Until they do something drastic (read:violent), their behavior is accepted as quirkiness of hard-core fans. They might be mocked, but they will rarely be taken as a serious threat until they become a physical threat.

      (don’t let me get started on paparazzi and media, and how they normalize all kinds of stalkerish behavior and harassment)

    • SamBarge
      October 3, 2012 at 4:58 pm

      Funny. I don’t recall Natalia saying that she wanted to marry a cult figure. Can you point to where in the post she says that or link us to any place she’s ever said that online?

      Because, if you can’t, then your fuckery is showing.

    • October 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm

      Yes. How silly of Natalia, not to know that wanting an intimate romantic partnership with someone is inevitably signing on for a slew of abuse from random others!

    • October 4, 2012 at 2:47 am

      Correction: I did not “want to marry a cult figure.” I wanted to marry Alexey.

    • tinfoil hattie
      October 4, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      Yeah, it’s always the b***h’s fault, right?

    • October 6, 2012 at 9:46 pm

      I am a really big fan of the author John Green. I pay attention to him by watching his videos, following him on tumblr, being part of the Nerdfighter community, and of course, reading his books. If I had something to say to him, I would send him a polite message. What I wouldn’t do is tell him I wanted to have his babies, or leave things on his porch (which has happened), or threaten his wife, or call his wife names, or degrade their marriage in any way. What kind of attention do you think is to be expected when someone marries someone famous?

  19. pheenobarbidoll
    October 3, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    You wanted to marry a cult figure – but now you say you don’t like the attention that very obviously comes with the territory.

    What the FUCK is that supposed to mean?

    Sounds like you’re saying she asked for it.

    And if that’s the case, fuck you and the horse you rode in on, fuckwit.

    • im
      October 7, 2012 at 9:49 pm

      Thats not the only thing it says!

      Jealousy maybe obviously comes with the territory. Absurd attempts to ruin relatioships do not, and it would be immoral to not attempt to control this part of the world and wipe out the shameful attacks.

  20. doberman
    October 3, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Seems like you want it both ways.

    You wanted to marry a cult figure – but now you say you don’t like the attention that very obviously comes with the territory.

    This is very much stretching the definition of ‘wanting it both ways’. I don’t think she married him because he was a cult figure (although I could be wrong).

    • im
      October 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm

      Of course people want it both ways. Good and moral people try to control their world rather than submitting to it’s arrayed shittyness.

  21. Geoarch
    October 3, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    I’m really sorry, Natalia. This sucks.

    Mr. Geoarch is a musician who’s played in several bands that have, over the years, achieved a bit of local success – nothing on the scale of your partner, but enough to where I’ve encountered a much smaller scale version of this. One was an ex of his who insisted that dating me was a terrible idea because I’m a scientist (I’m not kidding) – she’s a New Agey anti-science type. He ended that friendship when the petty catty-girl mean girl stuff started.

    The other was a fangirl type who’d finagled her way into doing some back up vocals for one of the bands he played in. She seemed a bit fixated on Mr. Geoarch; we both felt sorry for her and thought she was fairly harmless, until she started Facebook trolling. I deleted her after she made some misogynistic remarks on my page, and he did the same after she sent private messages to both of us that were off the charts creepy.

    Anyway, it’s nothing on the scale of what you’re dealing with, but I can imagine how upsetting it is, given how creeped out I was by my very minor brush with that stuff. I really respect the way in which you’ve managed to examine the way we can reflexively retreat into misogynistic invective when nasty crap like this happens.

    • October 4, 2012 at 3:37 am

      The finagling sounds very, very familiar.

      • Geoarch
        October 4, 2012 at 9:49 am

        Yep. I hate to generalize but it’s been my personal observation that the finaglers are usually potential creepy stalker fangirl/boy types.

        I think the vitriol goes back to the way we’re all taught on a basic level that as women, our status comes from the male to whom we’re attached. Blech. And that spurs a vicious competitive streak in some women who, for whatever reason, don’t have the self-awareness to understand what they’re doing by attacking their favorite artist’s/musician’s/director’s/actor’s/whatever’s female partner.

      • im
        October 7, 2012 at 9:55 pm

        … Makes me really wonder how the gender differences in this go.

        Incindentally, considering which segment of society PUA advice seems to be aimed at, I suspect that some amount of PUA horribleness has resulted from observing women who do this and then generalizing stupidly.

  22. October 3, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Like any form of brainwashing, I guess the fangirl program gets put in at an early age, perhaps around the same time the boys get the superhero program. Can’t say I’ve had this particular experience, but as an old spinster who knows what hell is, I promise there is always a way to WALK AWAY. But then, I’m not a sociable type and can easily avoid parties and facebook (which has its own perverse drawbacks, unfortunately). And I understand that witty responses usually create only more hostility. Shit. IBTP.

    • October 4, 2012 at 2:52 am

      It’s hard to walk away when both of our livelihoods depend on being so-called “public” people nowadays. I’m learning to get used to it.

  23. onetinythought
    October 3, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    I am sorry, Natalia. This bites, especially as you feel a bit more vulnerable having a young family.

    I agree with many of the above comments. There seems to be an ownership quality to fandom, and objectification of the celebrity by those fans.

    Ignore, stay in real life, and keep records of the scary ones.

  24. October 3, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    I too have a similar issue affecting my wife based on my public persona. Though I am hardly a magnet for fangirl crushed, like Natalia’s husband, I have at various times done current affairs based call-in radio shows and I have taken the kind of abuse for which the expression ‘you have to laugh or cry’ seems to have been invented, (especially now that every radio station has a blog or a forum and websites like digital spy have dedicated radio forums.) It’s a rather strange phenomenon, I’d say less that .01% of the people listening to a radio phone-in show at any given moment will call in, email or text the station. Of that small number of ‘dedicated fans’, 50% will hate your guts, 25% think you’re way smarter than you actually are, and 25% just like hearing themselves talk. This thankfully doesn’t happen when you’re spinning top 40 music like i’m doing now, but if you’re taking any sort of political or philosophical position (obviously in my case liberal/atheist,) you open yourself up to personal attacks. It’s a short step from a personal attack to attacking members of your family. And my wife’s not a public person, she doesn’t put herself out there as a known loudmouth like I do,

  25. October 4, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Also, Anthea?

    I’m a fan.

    You’re an asshole.

    Please don’t confuse the two.

  26. October 4, 2012 at 8:45 am

    I am trying to stick up for the fans.

    From fandom’s perspective, it’s the wife who is in a privileged position. She //has// what they really really //want//.

    I’m not sure that fans really need anyone to stick up for them. I think that fandom is tremendously important, and that artists should respect the people who support their work, but there are limits. When fans start harassing someone because they have the gal to be personally and romantically involved with the object of that fandom’s interest, they’ve crossed the line.

    Also: Hasn’t it sort of been established by now that just because you want something, doesn’t mean that someone else does? Fans often think they want to be romantically or sexually linked with someone famous (think… since most of them have never actually met the object of their fandom and know next to nothing about what they’re like as private people…), but if the famous person is interested in someone else, that’s too bad for the fan. Just because they’re fans doesn’t mean that their desire for attention needs to be met.

    Let’s face it, actor-types and musician-types don’t go for just anyone. Most regular women wouldn’t even have a shot at dating one of these people, let alone a shot at marriage.

    So? Even if this is true, why does that matter? We don’t have a right to expect “a shot” with someone just because we want one. Most people don’t go for “just anyone.” Most people have standards of some kind.

    Can the author acknowledge her privilege? Because she is swimming in it. Personal attacks are never OK, but she bagged a “prize”, sort of. Other women will have their own emotional responses to that. Should we just ignore them? Who gets to decide whose emotion is more important?

    That’s… not really what privilege means.
    Those other women are responsible for how they choose to deal with their feelings. There’s actually no “but” at the end of “personal attacks are never okay” in this situation. “I’m unhappy that the object of my infatuation is married. Personal attacks are never okay but…” Nope. Stop right there. That’s it. Personal attacks are never okay just because you’re infatuated and your object of lust isn’t interested.

    Sorry for the rotten situation, Natalia.

    • im
      October 7, 2012 at 10:00 pm

      While I agree with you, roymacIII, I would say that privilege has other meanings…

      Adoration and envy of this kind should be kept private.

      There is a particularly creepy form of this aimed at child actresses and actors who are almost but not quite 18.

  27. Dave W.
    October 4, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Natalia – I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this crap. If it’s anything, as a long-time reader of your blog, I tend to think of you as the cool internet celebrity who’s an incredibly talented writer, and your husband as the guy who was lucky enough to win your heart. He may be Mr. Incredible, but you are Elastigirl. Being temporarily slowed down by the demands of parenthood and work doesn’t change that. Best wishes for you both.

  28. Athenia
    October 4, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Oh my lord, I’m so sorry Natalia.

    Reading your post makes me realize how much these ladies must feel powerless in their lives. So powerless the only way for them to feel powerful is to harass someone else. To threaten violence against someone else. Like whoa. And heck, even if they did have your husband, they’d probably *still* feel powerless too! My lord.

  29. jrockford
    October 4, 2012 at 10:33 am

    It’s really kind of crazy that a commenter came along and actually proved the point of the post.

    Also, wow, weirdest definition of privilege ever.

    • im
      October 7, 2012 at 10:02 pm

      I suspect they were not attempting to use the social justice definition.

  30. SamBarge
    October 4, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    You know, reading through the post and comments has left me wondering how many people do this. I mean, I can honestly say that I don’t care who or what the artists I like are in to. I don’t care if they’re married or single, gay or straight, boxers or briefs. It just has no impact on my enjoyment of their art.

    I’m not claiming to be disinterested in popular culture, I just don’t give a damn about the private lives of pop stars/artists. I suppose I’d like to think that they’re happy but I don’t even really think of that. I guess I’m pretty self-absorbed but I have my own life to think about, why would I give a damn if Brad Pitt left Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie?

    This may be why I cannot get interested in reality tv like the Kardashians. All they offer is their private lives and I don’t give a damn.

    That being said, I totally want to know if they’re misogynist, racist, homophobic, etc. That actually would impact on my ability to enjoy their work (see Roman Polanski, Sean Penn).

    So, I guess the point of this comment is to ask, am I some sort of self-absorbed freak of nature? Am I the only person who just doesn’t go from “I like that person’s art/that artist is damn sexy” to “I want to know about and judge the people in their private lives” to “I am a better match for them than their spouse/significant other.”

    • Tamara
      October 4, 2012 at 9:46 pm

      Nope, you’re not. I have zero interest in the personal lives of artists, celebs and whatnot. That stuff just leaves me cold.

    • PrettyAmiable
      October 4, 2012 at 9:53 pm

      FWIW, sometimes if I’m really into a guy (see: my intense crush on Josh Ritter), I’ll hear he has a girlfriend (he does), and think, “aww.”

      But I’m like this with my only IRL crush as well – much to my chagrin, he has a girlfriend. While I genuinely think he might be interested in me if he were single, I like him enough to genuinely wish the best for them. Period.

      To bring it back to Alexey (e.g.), if these folks actually cared for him in any meaningful way, they wouldn’t subconsciously wish that Natalia were a jerk. They’d wish for him to be happy. Wishing anything else is unbearably selfish.

    • zuzu
      October 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm

      I had a roommate who was fairly normal in most things, but she was a Fan of the “He signed my Gumby keychain, therefore I must know everything about him and his life, because he is mine” sort. It was… very unsettling when I realized this about her. It eventually turned out she did this with a lot of men — athletes at our university, particularly, but also, like, the bartender at our local whose job it was to be friendly and whose nature was to be harmlessly flirty.

      Same thing with another friend, who went completely round the bend for Robert Plant after I made the mistake of introducing her to Led Zeppelin, whose existence she had somehow missed, during college.

  31. Cagey
    October 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    This gets a strange variation in slash fandoms, particularly ones involving the pairing of two men. Any female character that is seen to be “coming between” that pairing (regardless of whether that slash pairing has any real basis in canon) is dragged through the mud and met with the most vile sexism and hate. This can even translate over into real life, where the two actors playing the paired males have some fans who hate on their girlfriends for getting in the way. An odd fetishization of male-male relationships combined with a ton of misogyny aimed at all the women who are seen as getting in the way of it.

  32. October 4, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    OK, I’ll admit it, I’ve made negative comments about some SOs before. I am not proud of it, and it’s something I am done with, but I know all about that impulse. Like I said, there is two sides to every story/coin.

    Yeah, maybe if the SO actually deserves criticism it’s an understandable impulse, but an admirer of a director calling his wife an ‘ugly slut’ purely because she had the audacity to be the person he fell in love with is not an understandable impulse. It’s not the same as, say, a Rihanna fan emails Chris Brown calling him out for his abusive behavior.

  33. Anthea
    October 5, 2012 at 4:53 am

    I’ve read all of the responses here, and I understand that I have touched a nerve.

    When I said that there are two sides to every story, I didn’t mean to imply that harassing someone is right.

    What I meant is that these people are clearly very sad. And lonely. Which doesn’t make their actions right.

    I also wasn’t trying to use the word “privilege” in a negative context, though saying that the author of this post is “swimming in privilege” probably took things too far.

    I think fandom is interesting. Beautiful, but also poisonous. The Internet has changed it, superstars don’t have nearly as big of an appeal anymore. Now the Internet allows for a deeper connection with your local band, or the actor who performs in a theater down the street. All of this makes fandom more intense. Sometimes that intensity becomes unhealthy.

    To fully own up, let me say that in my hometown (which will remain unnamed), I once developed a friendly connection with a musician. It wasn’t romantic in nature, especially since I was going through a really long and dragged out break-up at the time. But we really connected, and I found myself believing us to be friends.

    But when his girlfriend came back from a semester of studying abroad, things really changed. Nothing romantic going on with us at all, but she must have seen me as a threat of some kind. He was really polite and open about it and didn’t hide the fact that we couldn’t really spend as much time chatting as we used to. I was grateful for the honesty, but not grateful for the way in which she obviously decided I should be shunted aside (he wouldn’t confirm this, but it was obvious what really happened).

    So when I read about this girl in this post, Elvira, or the jealous ex, all I could think about was, “OK, but what about their side of the story?” Maybe they’re not monsters. I’m not saying their actions are correct, I’m just saying that maybe they had what they thought was a genuine connection, which made them overstep their boundaries.

    • Geoarch
      October 5, 2012 at 6:33 am

      I dunno, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that since you seem curiously invested in defending the women who’ve stalked, harassed, and slandered Natalia in the vilest, most misogynistic terms, your musician “friend’s” partner probably had ample reason to find your presence in his life objectionable.

      Taken with the attacks you’ve made here on Natalia, your obnoxious misappropriation of feminist language to describe her marriage as some sort of contest where women “win” their partners and thus have more “privilege” than the “losers”, and your inability to understand why people here find your arguments invalid, I’d say you’ve done a pretty thorough job of proving Natalia’s point.

    • SamBarge
      October 5, 2012 at 7:14 am

      So his career had nothing to do with your marriage, Natalia? I don’t believe that.

      And please explain how this comment is covered by your explanation. This sounds like nothing but a snarky jab at another woman for marrying a man who has enjoyed some career success.

      Are you saying that the budding friendship possibly squashed by a girlfriend is the reason you made that statement?

    • October 5, 2012 at 9:25 am

      Anthea, I don’t believe these women are monsters – and I never called them that. I do, however, believe that they have all crossed a line. As the target of their actions and words, I don’t believe I owe it to them to see “their side of the story.”

      I think you should re-read what Kristen J. has said to you. The “genuine connection” these people are making is with a fantasy. Especially in the case of someone like Elvira, who decided she was “in love” with my husband after seeing him on stage once.

      Plenty of people joke about wanting to have some celebrity’s baby, or whatever. I do it too! What I wouldn’t do is, say, dig up the e-mail address of Ewan McGregor’s wife and tell her that she’s “getting fat.” Or, say, harass Orlando Bloom’s wife, Miranda Kerr, by telling her “I KNOW that Flynn is not his real son!” (Yeah, I know the name of the offspring of Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr. And he’s *adorable*)

      A fantasy should be treated for what it is. It can be fun and enjoyable. But when it causes you to cross the line into stalking and harassment, then it’s probably time to seek help.

    • Skye
      October 5, 2012 at 6:29 pm

      It’s awfully telling that you assume his girlfriend’s jealousy is what made him put the friendship aside.

      The more likely reason is that HE wanted to spend most of his time with his girlfriend, his chosen partner and the person (we can assume) he loves and cares about the most.

      Does that suck a little? Maybe, but the correct response is to accept it and move on.

      Judging by your bitter response to Natalya, though, I think it’s a fair guess that you have more in common with her harrassers than you’d like to admit.

    • zuzu
      October 7, 2012 at 3:18 pm

      Anthea, are you editing your comments? Because I see people quoting things that I can’t find now.

      You don’t seem to understand that the musician most likely considers you a fan, not a friend. You attribute his spending less time with you after his girlfriend came back from being away as her taking him away from you because of her jealousy — rather than the more likely scenario, which is that he wants to spend time with her now that she’s back, and she has no interest in hanging around with his fans, so they’re not spending time with you.

      You’ve really bought into a lot of sexist tropes about female competition for male attention, haven’t you? Which of course means that Natalia and your musician’s girlfriend must be swimming in privilege because they’ve bagged what you want.

      • zuzu
        October 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm

        Oh, I see that the comments are not displaying chronologically. That’s weird.

      • im
        October 7, 2012 at 10:09 pm

        Comments here are displayed hierarchically. I don’t think that non-admins CAN edit.

  34. October 5, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    “privilege”? “privilege”?

    So, man-having is a “privilege” now? Or just “man-having a man that other women want”? Which is it? Do gay men have “man-having” privilege?

    Your thought process is creepy and inappropriate. People do not “have” other people. Nobody has a right to someone else’s time, attention, thoughts, body (okay, exception for people you’ve signed on to take care of).

    Creepy. The word keeps spilling out of my keyboard.

    TH, I love it when we’re on the same page (well, I hate it when we’re not)

    There is a difference between being fortunate and being privileged. The truth is that most all of us on here are privileged to varying extents.

    It’s weird commenting on a relationship I know nothing about, but one can assume that Natalia is pretty much Alexey’s ideal of beauty/intelligence/personality/whathaveyou. That makes her fortunate, not privileged.

  35. im
    October 7, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    gah. Posts seem not to be threading right.

  36. chava
    October 8, 2012 at 2:01 am

    There is a particularly disturbing set of fanfiction that deals with the ACTORS who play the characters, rather than the characters themselves. A disturbing amount of that subset deals in how the Mary Sue of an author-insert “wins” the actor from the EVIL &^%$ WIFE and has him forever and ever.

    I really dislike fanfic that uses real actors, anyway, but that subset is just…creepy. On so many levels.

  37. Katerina
    October 8, 2012 at 5:52 am

    Geez, that’s awful. As an (emigrated) Russian-Ukrainean myself, I wish I could claim with certainty that it’s just people being assholes and not a cultural thing, but it really has gone downhill there in the past twenty years or so. Funny, really – when my parents were growing up there, you did not generally tend to have that kind of shallow, petty, backstabbing mentality there, but now it’s every person for themselves and the whole culture’s gone basketcase.

    Still, it sounds like you have some resentment against Russians – which isn’t surprising, since at least some of the conflict here stems from a culture-based antagonism on both sides. Nevertheless, “And Russians revere their directors like they revere their writers – which is great, until it suddenly isn’t so great.” seems a very odd thing to say when it was quite clearly a case of resentful/clingy asshole exes and not much else, certainly everything to do with general dysfunctional people who get overly-attached to idols and not much with Russia in particularly. And the comment about Soviets lining up for bread was in particularly bad taste, especially coming from an American. It smacks of Cold War-era propaganda and ignorance, given that lining up for rationing only really happened in the USSR during and immediately after the World Wars, and is generally what tends to happen when a country has to fight a war on their own soil – which, not to put too fine a point on it, hasn’t happened in the USA in decades, and certainly not in the scope Europe experienced. So yeah, it’s kind of a douchey thing to say, even in jest, when the people in your husband’s culture probably still have parents and grandparents who remember the war that cost the country twenty million lives and, yeah, ravaged it to the point of rationing being necessary, which I imagine sounds rather fairytail-esque to someone from the USA but tends to go hand-in-hand with war.

    Sorry to go on a racial tangent on a feminist site, but yeah – as a Russian, this kind of subtle prejudice was rather upsetting to see on a social justice site where I can usually go without feeling, for once, that the people there hate me for who I am. But while Russia is subject to very upsetting social constructs at the moment – the materialism and the view of marriage as ‘hitching’ being among them – they’re not terribly different from the systemic problems in the USA, so hopefully you can keep yourself from actually holding it against the individual people and the rest of the culture.

    I’m sorry you have to put up with all that harassment and hope that you and your husband will find a solution for it soon. And I think you’re right to criticise him for encouraging them, or failing to discourage them.

    • October 8, 2012 at 6:11 am

      I’m from the USSR. So I believe myself entitled to make as many jokes about lines as I please. Having stood in them and all.

      I also don’t believe that things have gone downhill in Russia, as it were – the mentality that suggests that men are precious resources to be fought over was cemented after WWII and the mass casualties of that period.

      I think Russian culture today does emphasize the hyper-feminine and the hyper-masculine – but this society is also much more open and relaxed about everything from child-rearing to, say, BDSM. It’s an interesting mix of social liberalism and conservatism.

      And as someone who works in the film industry part time, I do think that directors and writers (of either gender) get much more attention here than the do in the U.S. Though their work is largely invisible to the public – they are very much public figures. Like I said – it’s great. But not always. Saying that is not a reflection on Russian culture, it’s an acknowledgment of the fact that being in the public eye has its very obvious downsides.

  38. yazikus
    October 13, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    My husband is a very social man, I however, after a recent personal tragedy am not. He is also very attractive. This has led to several discussions about appropriate behavior with people who are interested in him. I’m cool with him going out, while I cannot. I’m not cool with women texting him after, or wanting to meet. It is a super personal and difficult area to enter as a couple. Natalia, you are totally in the right putting these stalkers off. I’m sorry you had such a shitty experience. In a small town it can get intense. I’ll get a text from someone I don’t know well letting me know that my partner is out and about (when I know he is) in a negative manor.

  39. KAY
    October 16, 2012 at 11:42 am

    I’ll never forget when a country star : I think it was Tim McGraw was performing live at a show and this random woman from no where tackled him on the stage… grabbing his crotch area. His wife ( Faith Hill) happened to be there and she called the woman out in front of everyone. She wasn’t nasty about it or called her names but she did make it clear that the woman was out of line and that put an end to it… guess its easier said than done in some cases.,2933,291600,00.html

  40. Rav
    October 26, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Thanks for writing this article, it was all beautifully said. Though I’ve never experienced that type of bile on a personal level, I’ve certainly been witness to it, and it gets soul-crushing.

    Worst of all, I found myself sinking down to their level. I wanted to call them “bitches” and “whores” and “fat, ugly sluts” and “stupid cows.” I realized they were flinging sexist insults at me and generally harassing me because they didn’t know any better. I knew better, but here’s the thing – knowing wasn’t enough.

    This rang so true. It’s all very well to say “I won’t sink to their level” when every instinct in your body wants nothing more than to sock them in the face. And the real frustrating thing is that it’s impossible to properly confront them considering they’re sitting safely behind the anonymity that the internet affords them: giving them the “courage” to behave as badly as they want, whilst simultaneously making you feel helpless.

    Where and when do girls pick up this competitive/jealous/resentful mentality toward other women? I don’t want to generalize, but saddest thing is that this particular type of hate seems to be the sole province of women.

    • Rav
      October 26, 2012 at 10:12 pm

      Actually, I worded that last bit wrong. Harrassing people on-line is hardly the sole province of women, but I haven’t heard of that many men who relentlessly harrass male celebrities for the crime of: “you stole my imaginary girlfriend!”

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