18 April 2007

Codes of conduct and my new influx of hate spam

By now, anyone who reads blogs with any sort of regularity has surely read this (Kathy Sierra's public statement about online harassment), this (the NY Times article) about this (the call for a blogging code of conduct), and maybe even this (a helpful overview of the situation from one of my favorite bloggers).

You've also probably heard, underneath the Virgina Tech cacophony, that the Duke rape case was thrown out last week due to a lack of evidence.

From the time that news broke, it took about an hour for the hate spam to start up here again.

(I hadn't posted anything new about it.)

I'm pretty sure most people, even my friends and colleagues, don't read this blog with any kind of regularity. I don't even blog regularly, mostly because I'm having an inward period and I don't feel like dissecting issues publicly just so people can argue about it. I'm busy, I've been sick, and honestly, I'm tired of defending a label ("feminist") that has always been common sense for me and represented a hope for equality across (if not an end to) all binaries, gendered or otherwise.

And maybe I've never come right out and said it: I quit blogging and videoblogging with the frequency I once maintained both here and elsewhere because I not only got random hateful comments about a year ago for saying videobloggers are a bunch of white men (which, in addition to still being overwhelmingly true, I continue to maintain is a fairly innocuous thing to say, even in anger - let's own our privilege and find ways to understand & use it to move forward towards a better, egalitarian world); for my supposed outburst, I got some of the most harmful, disgusting feedback from the so-called community I was addressing. Maybe that's to be expected, but I decided being vulnerable, as part of my message, wasn't really worth it after that.

I had open comments here - everywhere - until I couldn't take it anymore. I read january one's post contemplating a day of unmoderated feedback, and honestly thought it sounded masochistic. I welcome constructive criticism much like she does, but both in my past life as a weekly newspaper columnist (which came with weekly hate mail, usually from known parties with whom I had to interact in real life) and in my life today, I'm not really interested in being told I'm a "dyke with a tampon up my ass". That isn't criticism, nor is that reality. I have friends who don't agree with me on a variety of things (I even cohabit with some of them), but we maintain a level of respect for our backgrounds and experiences. When I occasionally have a friend who does not do those things, that friend may go by the wayside. Same should be true, in my opinion, for an open forum you have created where you and your viewpoints are being disrespected. People abusing your space? Keep them out. Pretty simple.

Do I - does anyone - want to spend time moderating comments? Hell no. But it comes with the territory. Sometimes the anonymous comments (which I never publish, as I say right there on the right) are particularly amusing, like this one that showed up in the middle of drafting this post:
Hello, can you talk about how women don't like dorky guys or nerds and instead go for the bad boys? It's sad when no one is attracted to you because you are a nice guy.
Yes, I suppose that is sad (albeit an errant assumption). But a lot of things are sad, sir.

I think it's sad that instead of addressing the violent nature of the rape culture in which we live, we cry foul when some young privileged men aren't better protected by the legal system. I think it's sad that we publicly disparage women who have to make difficult choices about the intersections of sex and money. I think it's sad - and sick - that we constantly question the legitimacy of rape charges when only 2-4% of rape reports are unfounded.

And it's personally sad that some of the worst comments I've received along the way have come from people I know: people who I see at conferences and pretend it never happened, people who think that spewing hatred on a listserv isn't destructive, people who don't seem to care if they disclose your personal information without consent. That's my name, dude, and I don't reveal it here for a reason. You know who I am? Bully for you (pun intended).

I don't suppose much will change. Haters will go on publishing personal information - from Kathy Sierra to the Duke lacrosse accuser - and we'll go on moderating comments. And we'll continue to lose valuable writers, videographers, and insight. A code of conduct won't do shit, in my opinion, and I wouldn't adopt it if a hierarchy of bloggers spits one out. Some brave women will continue to speak out and many of us will not. The risk remains too great, and the Duke case further cements that. I'm less afraid online than I am in public space, but I know that's not the case for many these days, and that too makes me sad.

But it's real.


This blog has been closed since this post was written. Some older videos of interest remain in their original locations:

Outfitted in Urban
Me & my HPV vaccine
It isn't a show
Social Potlucks
Dating 2.0

You can also visit my personal website for information about upcoming and ongoing projects, possibly or maybe not at all related to the feminist struggle.


Anonymous phil chapter said...

Your article is without bias to any social, gender, racial... differences. I think the variety is good, differences are corrupt.
The differences are mainly created artificially, sometimes even in agreement with victims themselves, they playing with the common rules of society.
Today's community doesn't confess that discrimination, or prejudices exist, but are being expressed these latently.
If community could get rid of advantages(seems harmless) for sth. not deserved inborn "attributes", which are being used from individuals themselves willingly and aptly, next could come the end for prejudices and discriminations, but I see no end…
Wicked latent discrimination is a worse thing that ever had happened.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Marj aka Thriver said...

I think we gotta just keep on moderating those comments. I've had my share of hatred spewed my way recently. The worst of it was via e-mail. I hate feeling alone with it sometimes, but I just felt I didn't want to spread the hatred around by letting it show up in the comments section.

It kinda sucks that I maintain a blog carnival so people who want to be cruel (who pretended to be thoughtful and aware in the past) can attack me that way. Oh well, at least they don't have my private e-mail. I can gear myself up for the onslaught before I read my web e-mail.

I'm speaking my truth, and that's what matters to me. I can't let myself get too sucked in by people who feel all threatened when my experience doesn't match theirs (like I would want to live in that kind of boring world).

In the end, I realize I've really gotten more insights, support and validation than hatred and attacks. So, I keep on blogging (sometimes more regularly than others). I hope you do the same.

1:13 PM  
Anonymous April said...

Damn good post.

1:00 AM  
Anonymous Rita said...

Honestly, I think moderating comments comes with the territory. For all intents and purposes you are making yourself a limited-purpose public figure, as you're entering the public sphere through the Internet.

What happened to Kathty Sierra was terrible, but unfortunately that's the risk you take when you write for a wide audience,especially when you're a woman talking about "man things" like technology or someone talking about feminism without being a stereotype: an angry, crazy lesbian.

I do think you touched on something amazing — the anonymous nature of the Web and how colleagues of yours will say hateful things and then act like nothing happened at conferences.

That's the Internet.

For some reason that I cannot understand, people will go off here in a way they wouldn't in real life, and they don't seem to think about the consequences if they even believe there are any. Even if you think you're only writing for a handful of people, there's still the potential that millions could reach your blog. That concept seems to be lost on too many.

That's just my two cents.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried to open your profile to learn a little bit more about who is blogging here. I know, I know,...just read the posts. Still it is nice to know where you are and a few personals, just to see what else we have in common.

I was surfing around Technorati and found you via your placement of our childfree blog on your blogroll.

For the record, I do moderate all comments. I do not hold any comments for approval, but I read them all and have some guidelines in the sidebar. I can still count on one hand the number of times I have had to delete a comment in two years of blogging.

Recently one anonymous commenter resorted to base name-calling. I left it only to reiterate that it is not acceptable, and thusly I republished our original Ground Rules and closed the comments.

I will share with you that I stopped writing a personal blog 69 days ago (according to Technorati) due to a very scary, completely unrelated to the topic of my post, 4,000-word comment. I have a new personal blog that is members only -- just friends and family. Not as much fun.

Just wanted to say thanks for the link. I often feel that childfree women are unwitting feminists. Many of us do not identify with the label, or with the term childfree, even though we certainly are.

10:30 AM  
Blogger armchair activist said...

I think it is important to speak out. Reading recently I found some studies that illustrated the imbalance of notions of genders in rape cases. For example, in one study 90% of rape cases where the female was a virgins resulted in convictions compared to less that 40% where the woman was not a virgin (implying the age-old assumption that a woman who has sex at any point with anyone send out a message of "asking for it"). Another told of how woman are questioned and judged on their sexual history whereas the accused men are only asked about their profession and social standing. However, as a social constructivist, I think we all come with bias, and so long as we acknowledge it rather than hiding behind a facade of "objectivity" we are entitled, if not obligated, to express our perspective on social issues. I too have a blog that includes some thoughts on feminism, should you be interested: http://armchair-activism.blogspot.com/

6:56 AM  
Blogger Princess Pointful said...

Although issues like this have always caught my attention, it is only recently that I have started getting better versed in feminist issues again. And what depresses me almost as much as the content of some of these articles (for instance, the piece posted on feministing yesterday about a woman and member of the Air Force who decided not to testify against those who assaulted her, and then got charged with something like indecent behaviour, assumming the act was therefore consensual- arghhhh!), is people's reactions to them. I get so dismayed at the cruelty thrown around the second anyone brings up the word feminism.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

You've been added to my blogroll at The Peeled Apple.

Thanks for some great work!

5:56 PM  
Blogger hello, my name is FABULOUS! said...

love your blog! can i link it in mine? i don't think anyone reads my blog, either, even though i regularly post on it. i guess i just do it more for myself--and other feminists out there who may happen upon it.

9:40 PM  

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