Blogging While Female
Seriously, I'm kind of fed up with this crap.
I’ve probably posted about this before, at least I’ve alluded to things like this both here and at GeekGirlsRule.net, particularly referencing Jade Raymond or Kathy Sierra, but blogging ain’t easy when you identify as a woman. Particularly when you hold any opinions that piss off a certain percentage of the male population. Basically, when you call some guys on their bullshit, or criticize things those guys like, or if you intrude on “guy spaces,” like I often do at Geek Girls Rule. When this happens it is not unusual to receive death and rape threats. In my case, I’m talking about things as frivolous as suggesting that female superheroes should look like actual women, and come in a variety of body shapes apart from tall and willowy with huge boobs (white/Hispanic/African-American) or short and willowy with slightly less huge boobs (adolescent or Asian).
Yes, I have indeed received death and rape threats because of that very subject, as well as for discussing Penny Arcade and other such earth-shaking topics.
The latest round of internet jackassery involves the blog IttyBiz. Naomi and her husband Jamie run IttyBiz, which is a website about marketing for small or micro businesses. This seems like a fairly odd choice of blogger to attack, but apparently a blog post entitled “Getting More Jobs: Are you cocky or do you have balls?” is what set the anonymous internet masses off. The post itself is down because the blog has been hacked, but her response to what happened is here. So, I’m not entirely sure what set the troll brigades off, but set them off it did.
This is, sadly, not unusual. Most female bloggers heavily moderate comments on their blogs for just this reason. I had to start moderating all the comments at all my blogs, this one, Geek Girls Rule and my personal Livejournal because of attacks. Every time I post about rape, there’s an influx of rape apologists or rape denialists who show up to tell me that all women lie about rape all the time, and that they wish I would be raped to death to shut me up. Every time I post about Size Acceptance or Health At Every Size, scores of men show up to tell me how incredibly unfuckable I am, and how I should just die, offset just slightly by the people who are “concerned for my health.”
Honestly, the majority of the threats don’t bother me. They rarely get specific enough for me to suspect they actually know how to find me, and I’m well aware of the formula, “Instant asshole, just add internet,” otherwise illustrated as “Normal Guy + Anonymity + Audience = Asshole.” And honestly, since instituting my “draconian moderation policy” the number of threatening or otherwise shit-headed comments have really tapered off because I don’t give them an audience. I’m also really open about the fact that I pick up heavy things for fun, and have the extreme hyper-vigilance of a sexual assault survivor.
However, given the proliferation of bullshit like what happened to IttyBiz, where the attackers have actually started to get together and plan physical attacks, I’m going to have to start taking it seriously, which means keeping track of all the trolls, reporting them to the police and their ISPs, just in case one or more of them do take a giant leave of their good senses, in order to protect myself and my family. So, for those of you who are making me have to do extra work, fuck you. If I have to do the work, I will see it through to the bitter end.
I’m that kind of bitch.
And here’s a thought: When did this become acceptable? Anyone out there, you hear of someone pulling bullshit like this, call them out. Perhaps even rat them out, if you can contact the person they’re being a douche to. Seriously, we need to let these assholes know this is not OK.
ETA: More on blogging while female. (Thank you Rachel!!)
John Scalzi’s blog
Seanan McGuire on her troll experiences.
Food blogger Shauna Ahern
Yarn Harlot, a post from July 2009
More from IttyBiz on the genesis of it all.
Its because of this phenomenon that I hesitate to blog about political issues, or weight and health issues, because of the abuse ive witnessed on other sites. It sucks, but thats what they want, to silence us.
Its funny you post about this today, because today this very subject was discussed on Scalzi’s blog (http://whatever.scalzi.com/2011/08/31/the-sort-of-crap-i-dont-get/)
in response to this post by food blogger Shauna Ahern (http://glutenfreegirl.com/warm-brown-rice-and-grilled-vegetable-salad/)
I was just coming on here to link those very posts.
Yeah, it is kind of why I sometimes go quiet, because you don’t always feel like opening up an inbox full of expletives and death threats. And sometimes when I’m contemplating what to blog about, it does influence me. “Do I really feel like putting up with the jackholes today?”
I also get a fair number of, “But why are you so angry?” comments on my podcasts. “You shouldn’t be angry, you’re so much more pleasant to listen to when you’re happy.”
Way to miss the point, dude.
If it wasn’t for being angry, would we really have any decent music, art literature?
Yes, but almost every person who can be fitted into a group or stereotype of some sort is subject to abouse on the internet. Look at the comments after a blog or news article about gays, cyclists, or even motherhood & child care.
I was once subjected to abuse on an internet site becaue I said that I let my child play out & I wanted for my children the freedom I experienced when I was growing up. The commenter said that s/he was going to kidnap my child to prove it wasn’t safe for children to play outside!
Regardless of whatever other classification a blogger fits into, even most male bloggers admit, female bloggers get by far the most vituperative attacks. I’ve seen male bloggers gone after, but not like with women.
And yeah, female bloggers on all subjects get it. One of the women who commented on Scalzi’s blog writes about physics, and periodically gets attacked for that, usually when she’s writing about women in the sciences specifically.
And I think bloggers who happen to be mothers catch it even worse than the rest of us. I mean, I’M only selfish because I’m writing instead of putting out for my husband, right? You’re even more selfish for ignoring your children.
And heaven forbid you be a POC or Queer blogger (and with children, to create the triple threat).
And if you haven’t found it already, I recommend you to Lenore Skenazi’s blog “Free Range Kids.” I don’t have the url handy, but google her. And if you want to talk abuse… Gah!