Saturday, April 28, 2007

Taking back the blog!

Take Back the Blog! April 28 2007. It's been few weeks since Kathy Sierra cancelled her speaking engagements and stopped blogging.

And a couple of weeks since Kos opened his mouth and really put his foot in it.

I wrote a pretty full-on post about it at the time, because I was shocked at the high level of ignorance demonstrated by some people, who appeared to either not understand or not believe that some women are subjected to serious sexual harrassment (and worse) online.

And now here we are, at Take Back The Blog! Blogswarm... support of the rights of women to participate fully in all aspects of our society, including specifically online in the world of blogging but indeed everywhere and at all times, day and night, without fear of harassment, intimidation, sexual harassment, online stalking and slander, predation or violence of any sort.

My original blog post about Kathy Sierra, misogyny on the web, and the Blogger's Code of Conduct was written as a response to Kos's insensitive comments, and it really made me think about how I interact with people online.

I'm finding this post particularly difficult to write (I've chucked it all out once already and started again), and I think it's because I just don't know how much personal information I should include.

I want to tell you about the fact that I'm webweaver (or variations thereof) all over the internets, and have been for a long time now. I want to talk about all the online communities I've been a part of over the years, and how I've never been harrassed on a single one of them.

I want to tell you about my blogging experiences and how I've never yet had to reject a single inappropriate comment. I blog about all sorts of subjects - including geeky web stuff, and American politics (and I'm pretty full-on in my loathing of George Bush), but I've never been given a hard time about what I write.

I work in a male-dominated industry (I'm a web developer), and although often I'm the only female coder in the office, my gender doesn't seem to have held me back at all. I'm in my dream job, working for the best web design company in the country. I think I'm doing OK.

And yet...and yet... the whole time I've been trying to compose this post I'm thinking that just because it hasn't happened to me yet doesn't mean it's not going to happen. I'm worrying about writing this as I write it because I'm afraid that even saying it hasn't happened is going to make it happen.

I do censor myself on my blog - and in other places too. I worry I'm giving away too much personal information sometimes. When I first meet someone who knows my screenname before I know them well enough to trust them, I worry. I worry that a simple Google search will lead them straight to my blog, and from there they'll be able to find out a whole lot about me that I'm not too sure I want them to know all at once.

And then I tell myself that it's my choice to have a blog, and it's my decision what I write on it. Which is true. But I guess most of you blokes out there don't worry about some woman you've only just met reading all about you on your blog. Sometimes I really wish I didn't have to always second-guess the consequences of my writing.

And more importantly just because it hasn't happened to me doesn't mean I don't believe the overwhelming evidence that misogyny is alive and well - both in the blogosphere and beyond. Take a look at my blog post about Kathy to see some pretty compelling examples of it all over the internets.

The reason why I'm taking part in this blogswarm is firstly to show solidarity with all the women out there who have experienced negative attention (and worse!) online, and secondly to admit that, yes, the fact that I am a woman does colour what I write and how much information I share online. I'm somewhat careful. Just in case. And I'm hoping like crazy that I'm not tempting fate by writing this post.

UPDATE 30/04/07: I just want to thank Bruce Godfrey at Crablaw's Maryland Weekly for making the blogswarm happen, and for including this post in the (now considerable) list of blogs taking part. It's a real honour to find myself in such great company. Company including: Tales of Taromeet, Majikthise, Real True Honest Love, Harvest Bird, wednesdayview, Fitness for the Occasion and Yellow Peril at Public Address (with awesome comments thread).

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Unknown said...

Thanks for the lovely post, WebWeaver. I hope you don't mind, but I linked to your post as part of my contribution to the swarm. If you do mind, simply let me know. I look forward to reading more of your work. Take care.

Span said...

Thanks for linking to this from PA, it's a very interesting post!

My partner blogs too (although he's been really slack lately) and you know none of this stuff ever occurs to him to worry about. But I worry about it too, as you do. I've got off reasonably lightly so far, on my own blog, but venturing elsewhere is not always so pleasant.

Span said...

Hey WW, you might be interested in this post, if you haven't seen it already:

webweaver said...

Hi Aicha,

Thanks so much for including a link to my post in yours - I really appreciate it! I thought your post was great - so honest and heartfelt. Thanks for writing it!

webweaver said...

Hi Span,

Glad you liked it! I've had a few visitors from Public Address today, which is great. I thought today's discussion was fantastic, actually.

Hey thanks heaps for adding me to your blogroll - and pointing me in the direction of your blog - it's a doozy! Love your footprints and photographs one too. Gorgeous.

webweaver said...

Wow that post at majikthise is pretty fascinating, Span - especially the comments. Very interesting. Kind of proves the point of Take Back the Blog, doesn't it?