A Woman’s Anonymity is a Must on the Internet

Some people don’t like it that bloggers remain anonymous on the internet. While some hide their identities in order to terrorize others, those of us who choose to remain anonymous hide our identities for our own protection. And by “us” I mean women. The Internet is a wonderful tool that allows all of us to express ourselves religiously, politically, or just for fun. But the fun can take a dark turn when you get predators looking for someone to terrorize, and blog comments are just the ticket. There are numerous examples of this (here, here) and numerous responses (here, here). But, the important point of this is that you must first and foremost protect yourself. Not every comment has to be allowed. It’s your blog! You have the right to allow or disallow any comment you are uncomfortable with. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Terrorism can also come in subtler forms. Patronizing and smarmy tones, ridicule about your right to write on certain topics, excessive posting in which the comments appear not to be addressing the issue at hand, an inordinate sense of proprietary “ownership”and criticism about what you post, and other tactics used to silence us. Abuse comes in a variety of manipulative guises and it’s up to us to make sure we recognize it when we see it.

Some women give up and quit blogging, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Stalkers are usually riddled with inadequacies of some kind. They were probably abused as children and they are usually those who’ve never matured past the “I want my way, even if it hurts you” stage of development. Stalkers are dangerous, don’t get me wrong, but if you are careful about your identity the most they can find out about you is where your ISP is located. If you get really threatening comments that won’t stop even when you delete them on a regular basis, then trace their ISP and alert not only your blog administrator, but the authorities. Never engage them in conversation! I don’t care how innocent their comments seem, if it makes you uncomfortable, it’s wrong. Always trust your instincts. After all, no one is looking out for you on the internet, but you!

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3 thoughts on “A Woman’s Anonymity is a Must on the Internet

  1. **Terrorism can also come in subtler forms. Patronizing and smarmy tones, ridicule about your right to write on certain topics, excessive posting in which the comments appear not to be addressing the issue at hand, an inordinate sense of proprietary “ownership”and criticism about what you post, and other tactics used to silence us.**

    I think this post is key, because I’ve encountered this previously in mild forms. Since the last comment in response to the nastiest comments coming from me, I’ve been contemplating my encounters — and you’re right (not that I didn’t think you were right before, but that was in general and now I’ve applied it).

    I’m not saying every male poster does this. Some who disagree with me are better-behaved than women posters who disagree with me. But it’s about even when comparing the nice posts. When comparing the rude posts, or the condescending ones, or anything like that, it’s always come from male bloggers.

    And you can see this in any highly-charged topic that involves women: take abortion. I’m not arguging for or against it here — I wish we had signifigantly less abortions world-wide. But in watching some of the arguments from the anti-abortion side, often what gets used is that the woman is deceived or simply does so as a method of birth control or convenience. Essentially, the woman has been reduced to either stupid or immoral. When I actually read studies of those who have had abortions, or the stories, very, very few did so because it was just like birth control or because the pregnancy interfered with her party life. Rather, they said it was the best thing to do for everyone, including the fetus. So even that is a form of terrorism, because it reduces the woman to a two-dimensional Barbie doll, almost, rather than seeing the complexity of the situation. However, by doing this, they have also attacked woman, because of what this says about women.

    My mother made a comment recently, when I told her of some of my blog encounters, and the reactions I’ve received. My name is feminine — if I were blogging anonymously, or had a male name, she said that the reactions would be very different, and they’d address my points, rather than me personally.

  2. Heather,
    You make good points with abortion as an analogy. These types of tactics are all about taking the minute or unsubstantiated and blowing it out of proportion to obscure the debate or turning the debate to the most obscure and unproven and forcing people to argue from there. In philosophy we call it “straw man.” It happens a lot, as you very well know, in debates about christianity or the bible.

    As for being female, I know exactly what you mean! I found that in one exchange with a man on his blog he “naturally” assumed I was male. When I made it known I was female, the conversation came to an abrupt halt. He couldn’t deal with the fact that I had a good philosophical idea because I was female.

    I think we need to know the tactics and be careful about everyone, but overwhelmingly the tactics have come from men. I do remember I had one very unbalanced fundie woman attack me when I first got my web site. It was very scary because she came on like gangbusters to refute every little thing I had to say. Finally, I just had to ignore her and edit/delete her posts.

    No one’s going to “protect” us here in the blogosphere but ourselves! Although, I do appreciate the great support and keen minds of women like you!!! 🙂

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