Lowcarb Friends was a huge site, with lots of categories, recipes, tips, weight loss photos, a chat room, and private message feature. I enjoyed the interaction with other lowcarbers, and we were all there to support one another, as in the Somersize chat room. There was also a section called “The Playground”, reserved for off-topic discussions, socializing and just having fun. I decided to check that out, and one evening read a new topic where a woman had asked people’s opinions on strip clubs, if they thought it was okay for their husbands or partners to go to these places. The thread was fairly new, and I think the few who had posted said they didn’t care, that their husbands went and it didn’t bother them a bit. I was appalled. I said that I would never want to get involved with a man who would go to strip clubs. My husband would never go to such a place, I said, and neither do his friends. It is degrading for all involved. I just couldn’t imagine being married or involved with a guy who would put himself in an environment like that, a smoky, noisy room with men ogling scantily-clad or naked women who are gyrating around and doing heaven-knows-what. How could anybody do that? Wouldn’t a decent guy or woman feel terribly uncomfortable? And it is just plain wrong for a woman to be a stripper. We need to have a sense of modesty, not take our clothes off in front of strangers. Nobody raises their daughter to become a stripper. Couldn’t they see that? How could they approve of their husbands going to such places?

Soon I was bombarded with rebuttals, women coming out of the woodwork saying they thought nothing was wrong with this, that they themselves had gone to strip clubs, some even saying that if their daughter wanted to be a stripper, they would support her. They said how strippers make good money, it’s not degrading, and that they are in “control”. Some said they knew strippers who “got off” on what they were doing, and it boosted their self-esteem and made them feel sexy. Others said they didn’t mind if their husband went, “as long as he comes home to me.” I just couldn’t believe it. How could these women think this way? Some called me a prude. I remember one woman called me a “pious, sanctimonious nun.” I did not call anyone names or attack anyone personally. I only addressed the behavior.

This thread went on for quite a long time, with virtually everyone disagreeing with me. I was just so upset. I tried to appeal to their sense of morality. No parent raises their daughter to want to do this, I said. No little girl thinks, “I want to be a stripper when I grow up!” It’s fine to be proud of one’s body, but to stand up in front of strange men who are shoving money at you is just plain wrong, I said. And the women who say they enjoy this can’t really be enjoying it. They are only saying that to justify their actions. They know it’s wrong. They were once little girls, someone’s daughter, innocent and pure and never thinking they’d be up on stage or giving a lap dance. Couldn’t these nice lowcarb ladies see that? And if they or their husbands were going to strip clubs, they were just as bad, promoting this behavior. I tried to give examples of how Brownie and Girl Scout handbooks talk about different career choices for little girls when they grow up, and that there is no merit badge for learning the skills needed to become a stripper someday.

Several women responded that there is a difference between children’s and adult activities, and that’s why there is no stripper merit badge. But that didn’t make sense, I told them. It wasn’t because stripping is an adult activity, it’s because it’s just plain wrong! What parent or Girl Scout leader or teacher or ANYBODY would encourage a young girl to aspire to such a career?

I was near tears. I asked several times if there were any women out there who were on my side, to please post so I would not feel so alone. Finally one woman did, saying something about how she would not be attracted to a man who would go to a strip club. But her response was so short that I think it got lost in the shuffle.

After that, some of the women on that site began to pose other questions in order to “bait” me. Yes, Lowcarb Friends seemed to have their own group of “Tough Chicks”. And some of the nicer women warned me of this fact, through private messages. They told me to just ignore them, but I didn’t listen. I thought there was hope for them, if I just talked to them enough and stated my views as best I could, surely they would understand. I believe the next question was something about if you lost all the weight you wanted and had a “bodacious bod”, would you pose for Playboy? Again, the responses astonished me. So many women said yes. Some said they would but that their husbands wouldn’t let them. Others said they would only for a certain price. But they didn’t seem to think anything was wrong with this! (I told Jeannette what these women said, and she was as astonished as I was. “Wow, I wouldn’t do it for ANY price!” she said.) I of course expressed my shock and horror, going into “mother mode”. Again, I did not call anyone names or attack them personally. I addressed behavior only. One woman said she agreed with me, but that the way I expressed myself was too “preachy”. I even received a private message from one of the moderators asking me to tone down my preachiness. But I didn’t think I was preachy. I was just expressing my views in mother mode. I thought surely they would see where I was coming from. As long as I did not engage in name-calling or personal attacks, I thought it would be okay and they would grow to understand my “style”, that I was doing this out of love and concern, trying to talk some sense into them. The women on that site called me every name in the book and were as rude as could be. But I really tried to be nice. As with the marijuana issue, I tried to build people up and help them realize that they were too GOOD to be doing something like posing for Playboy or thinking it was okay to go to strip clubs or be a stripper.

Finally one woman came on and really let the others have it. She defended me, saying that I was not attacking anyone personally, just the behavior. She said that posing for pornography set women back, and went on to make a number of good points. She was very blunt and didn’t hold back at all. The Tough Chicks never said a word to her, yet they had all attacked me. This woman later sent me a private message to tell me she agreed with me. “Don’t EVER let anybody try to convince you that you’re wrong!” she said. It was such a relief to have someone like her come along.

What really bothered me was that I had talked to most of these women on the boards before and thought they were so nice. I had seen a lot of their pictures as well, and they looked so normal. I know everyone is different, but if I saw them on the street, I would think they were at least similar to me. Yet they weren’t at all. And this scared me. I talked to my friend Lori about this, remarking how you want to think that people are basically the same, that when you look around, you assume we all have somewhat similar morals and values, and judging from what I had seen on this lowcarb site, that was not the case at all. She agreed with me completely, citing her experience as a hairdresser where she had the opportunity to talk to women who had totally different values. It saddened us.

More “bait” questions followed (or what they openly called “snarking”), such as, “When did you lose your virginity?”, “When was your first orgasm?” and “Do you think marijuana should be legalized?” Sometimes I took the bait, sometimes I didn’t, but I really did try to be nice and sincere. I also joined in on a religious thread, answering some questions and concerns about my faith. I took this subject seriously and wanted to share information as nicely as possible. I joined in on some of the silly topics as well, posting fun stuff, and got acquainted with some of the nice women. I joked around with the Tough Chicks there, too, always trying to take the attitude that I knew we had different views, but that I liked them and cared about them.

One night in November, a woman I had talked to before named Amy started a post asking for hangover cures. The topic had just started, and since I knew her, I replied that I didn’t have any suggestions because I did not drink. I figured she would just kind of chuckle, thinking, “Oh, that’s Cindy for you, trying to get me to shape up.” Then I went away for a while, expecting others to contribute their cures, which was something I would not be interested in. When I came back, however, I saw that all heck had broken lose. People were just furious that I had posted I don’t drink. They thought I was attacking Amy, and said that I was condescending. That was not the case at all, I told them. Yes, it was true that I did not want her to drink. I don’t think drinking alcohol is good for anyone, and it’s surely not good to drink so much that you have a hangover and are sick the next day. But I did not mean to sound like I was better than her, or put her down. Amy and I had talked before, and she knew my views on drinking; one night a few weeks before, she and I had discussed this, and she knew that I would never want to go to a bar or nightclub. She had asked me what I did for fun, as if she couldn’t fathom having fun without drinking. I told her my hobbies, such as doll collecting, cake decorating, reading, sewing, and also that I like to go to garage sales, antique stores, doll shows and the like. I was just trying to help her see that you don’t have to go to BARS in order to have fun. She was such a nice, pretty young woman, and it saddened me to think of her doing this.

But apparently she was quite offended at what I posted on her hangover thread, innocent as it was. When I tried to defend myself against all the accusations, she said something to me, I can’t remember what, but it was something that I didn’t understand. So I asked her what she meant. She then came back and said I sounded “threatening”, as in “What do you MEAN by THAT???” Threatening?! I was not threatening her! I sincerely did not understand what she meant, and wanted her to clarify her question so that I could answer it properly! The attacks were so bad that at one point I was in tears. One woman said that she thought I was just horrible, and that she wanted to know the name of my bishop at church so that she could show him my posts. I was trying so hard to defend myself, trying to be nice, and they took everything wrong.

The next day, I found out that I had been banned from The Playground. It was quite a shock; I honestly did not think it would go that far. But I did receive several nice private messages, including this one:

“Cindy, I don’t know you, but I want to say that recent threads have been mean, sarcastic, and uncalled for. I tried to start a thread requesting more tolerance or the old, “If you can’t say something nice,” but the moderator pulled it. I have read past posts, and sometimes you come off a bit naïve, but that gives no one the right to ridicule you en mass. I for one am sorry for what you have endured, with grace. I don’t always agree with you, or most people on this board, but respect should be a RULE. I have lost respect for a lot of people I once admired over this. Again, please don’t respond to the bullies. It gives them ammo.”

I was so thankful to receive that letter, and I responded to her with my gratitude, adding that I agreed with her point about losing respect for a lot of those ladies.

“I really did try to be as nice as possible, never attacking the person but only the behavior,” I wrote. “I tried to use smiley faces and ‘lol’ and humor, yet they seemed to take everything wrong. Those ladies really were out to get me, posting subjects about “snarking” and starting threads to bait me. There was even one about “when was your first orgasm”, which I was glad to see pulled—that was really out of line. The one about posing for Playboy…no matter what I said, those ladies cut me down. Toward the end, a woman came in who agreed with me completely, defended me, and very directly stated her views, not holding back at all. Yet no one said a word to her. When I posted on the topic about hangover cures, I lightheartedly said that I don’t drink and so couldn’t help. I did this as sort of a joke, thinking they would laugh, and then later when I came back everyone was attacking me. The more I tried to defend myself, the worse it got. It makes me sad that those ladies think such things of me. And by banning me, it sends a message to them that by being mean and hurtful, they can run a nice woman off the board. I really don’t think it’s fair that I should be banned when the others can be so mean and insulting. Well anyway, thank you again for your note; if it weren’t for you and a few others, I would really have lost my faith in humanity. Take care and please feel free to keep in touch.”

As I said, moderated sites are the pits. And so, I was no longer allowed to talk to the lowcarb Tough Chicks. But I could still talk to those on Yahoo.

Chapter 6
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