Don’t Feed the Trolls
“Gaming while female is enough to incur the wrath of the dude-bros, and they’ve come for me. Instead of fighting back, I’ve created an alternate account. Male name, male pronouns. And I’ve met this girl. I’ve always liked girls, and Laura’s adorable and smart and never gives up, and she likes me back. Or rather, she likes the man I’m pretending to be. But I can’t tell her I’m a woman without the mob coming after her too.
And besides: I might not be a woman, not really.
The truth is, I don’t know what I am anymore. I’ve spent my whole life being told how I’m supposed to act and what I’m supposed to be, but none of it feels right. And my lie is starting to feel truer than anything I’ve ever been.
There’s a convention coming up, but the closer it gets, the more I have to choose: lie or fight. But if I don’t stand my ground as a girl, am I letting the haters win?
Then again, those aren’t the only two ways to live.”
TW: Threats, online abuse, r*pe threats, physical violence
I’ll admit that after reading the synopsis of the story on Goodreads I was both curious and worried. I was curious how the author would do this but at the same time, I was worried it was going to be done badly. I’m so glad that I’m pleasantly surprised.
This story amazingly expresses the problems and abuse that someone can go through online (and sometimes offline). The abuse, the homophobia, the transphobia, the sexism, and it’s definitely not sugar-coated and it’s not expressed in a positive light (like it’s okay for people to do this kind of thing), it’s expressed as horrifically and disgustingly negative as it is in reality. The way that some men believe they can easily abuse and threaten women online, or people they perceive as women (maybe because of a gaming character).
Not only that but it shows how far some of them may go to out or abuse said person. For Daphnis, they end up being attacked, threatened and even physically hit by another character.
However it shows a positive side to things, it shows the love and care between friends. Both when Daphnis is trying to figure out who they are and also when being sent abuse, their friends are always there by their side to look out for them. And vice versa. When mentioning wanting to be a man, being seen as a man, their friend, Alain/Ivy, immediately comes up and helps change their image to something that is more comfortable, and both Alain and Jackie support them and start using gender neutral pronouns around them until they figure out who they are for sure.
In fact, moving onto the LGBTQ+ side of things, we have our characters, Daphnis who identifies as pansexual, and is literally said on-page (and possibly as genderqueer/transgender), Alain/Ivy who is a gay man and does drag, Jackie who identifies as a lesbian and Laura who identifies as bisexual, all of which is said on-page. On-page, people! These words, along with cis and trans, are used in this story. None of this “only man and woman” and only “gay or straight” business, it explores other identities, both gender and sexuality.
This will definitely, sadly, have triggers, but it does show realistic problems that need to be talked about and fixed.
Recommend? Yes, I would definitely recommend this to everyone.