Spot the Misogyny: My ex-friend Wim Soetaerts

“No one is born a bigot.  Hate is learned.”

This is a old childhood picture of someone who used to be my friend.  This cute little boy, smiling so brightly, surely deserved to be happy and loved.

But W. was viciously bullied.  He wasn’t athletic and the other kids constantly made fun of him.  Home wasn’t much of a comfort either, because his mother would punish him for trivial things by sending him to his room.  He spent much of his childhood immersed in comic books.

He grew up believing that people in general were just cruel to one another.  This cruelty affected him to his core: inwardly he aligned himself with the bullies and learned to take pleasure in other people’s suffering, and call it humor.  But you wouldn’t see it if you know him only casually, because on the surface he can be very kind, generous with gifts and time.  You might think he has a dark, twisted sense of humor, but you’d probably overlook it because he seems so good in other ways and is devoted to his friends.

He seems like a nice guy – as long as you don’t get too close.

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