Friday, 4 November 2011

Comment on the New Statesman

I tried to leave this comment on the New Statesman blog about abuse women bloggers receive.

But damn it! Something is wrong with the commenting! And it isn't appearing.

Here's the article:

So, will write it here instead:

I think sadly a lot of the comments on this blog prove the blog's point.

It reminds me of discussions on street harassment. Every woman i know has been harassed on the street, yet when it is discussed we are told it isn't that bad, it isn't a gender thing, men get harassed too...but do men regularly have women scream in their faces sexual threats and hate language?

Similarly on blogs. All the male bloggers i know who do get abusive comments say it is nothing compared to the systematic, endless sexually violent abuse that their women peers get.

It IS a gender thing. It simply is. It isn't 'it happens to men too' and it isn't 'it's not THAT bad'. It is about using sexual threats to silence and intimidate women.

I don't have too bad a time of it on my blog although it does happen. i've had threats and sexually aggressive language used against me, but for me the worst are the 'persistents' - the ones who know they're banned but come back over and over again to write nasty abusive messages, apparently taking glee in the fact that i will have to read at least part of it before i realise who it is and hit delete.

The worst i've experienced though is when i have written for unmoderated sites or been quoted in my local paper. In the latter, the abuse ranged from the usual - fat, hairy etc to men saying what they wanted to see happen to me, to eventually people writing abusive things about my family.

In fact, there are names on this comment thread who i have seen engaging in this sexist and abusive behaviour - writing sexually aggressive insults about women bloggers, writing posts abusing other bloggers and, in my own case, speculating about my sexuality and my sex life in a sneering and mocking (and uninformed!!) way, and suggesting i engage in certain sexual practices to 'prove' something.

It is silencing. After the worst bout of very sexualised aggressive comments on my blog i nearly shut it down.

But i didn't and i won't because i have a right to a voice, and they have no right to use their freedom of speech to threaten me with rape.

Hopefully this won't appear 4 times on the NS site and will try and post it there if it starts working...


Julian Morrison said...

I am coming to dislike the concept of free speech. People are not starting from equal social power, and so unmodified "free speech" intrinsically favors the powerful, the numerous, the same people who are enforcing unfree and oppressed conditions offline.

I have come to the opinion that moderators should be actively harder on men (and straight people, and white people, and cis people, and able-bodied people, and the rest of it) because they need to learn to listen, and that's not going to happen until they are told in no uncertain terms to shut up.

sian and crooked rib said...

I think there's a real confusion about free speech.

For example, online abuse that seeks to silence people by intimidating them off the web is actually denying other people their free speech. And that is not acceptable.

No one has the right to be abusive or to dominate a space and make that space unsafe. As Nat says on her blog, there's an entire internet where people can spout their unpleasant views, no one is shutting that down. All we're asking is for people to be respectful and non abusive.

I agree that a lot of mods could do with understanding privilege more and understand how privilege is used to silence others.

Thank you for your comment and your comments on the NS blog!

Elly said...

You moderate your blog. That is some kind of control.

I think I am 'silenced' by being banned from (mainly) feminist blogs and being endlessly blocked on twitter.

It's not *actual* silencing. I still blog and tweet but it is a form of censorious behaviour.

I am a woman and as Ally Fogg pointed out I don't get the kind of abuse you describe. Not much anyway. Maybe though partly that I don't count some sexual 'attention' as 'abuse'.

Even baring that in mind I don't get rape threats. But maybe I also don't go round making out all men are potential rapists. It's swings and roundabouts.