Hating the Hate Mail – as a woman opinion journalist

As a female opinion journalist, I’ve been called everything from bitch to whore to sweetie.


The psychic impact of hate mail is something female writers don’t often talk about in fear of appearing vulnerable in the male world of opinion writing. I believe women can take the heat of opinion journalism as well as any man; the problem is that the heat we take and the reasons why are very different.

Maureen Dowd of The New York Times discussed reactions to female opinion in her column last year. “While a man writing a column taking on the powerful may be seen as authoritative, a woman doing the same thing may be seen as castrating.” She went on to say she called Alan Dundes, a renowned folklorist, to ask about it. “Women are supposed to take it, not dish it out,” Dundes told her.

Hating the Hate Mail by Heidi Schnakenberg, part-time columnist for the Des Moines Register
May 25, 2006

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