I suppose I shouldn't be shocked any longer by things I find online, but this struck me as so bizarre and so disturbing that I can't even come up with a title for this post.
In short, one former blogger and frequent blog commenter has essentially blackmailed another blogger into not writing about radical feminists or radical feminism. The threat: to "out" her online. (As if there aren't already enough people who think feminists are nasty and vicious - now there's more fuel for that particular fire. Thanks for that.)
(I actually wasn't going to post much myself because Belledame did such a great job with her post. But then I got going...)
I have commented a few times on others' posts relating to the feminist blogwars, and I've written a couple of my own, but in general, I've tried to stay out of it. Why? Because there is no point. There are people with whom I know I can have a rational conversation, and people with whom I know I can't. There are people out there who blog about people like me, I'm sure, and call me all kinds of names and challenge my commitment to feminism. So what? I really don't care. I don't have the time or inclination to make a habit out of justifying myself. I'm getting close to 40. I wasted a lot of time in my twenties trying to gain the approval of certain feminists and lesbians because I so desperately needed to be validated. I don't need that anymore. I'm validated all on my own. I'd prefer to stick to the rational conversation, for the most part, and to leave those who feed off of discord to starve.
But threatening to expose someone is beyond the pale - of feminism, of the bloggers' code, of the law. And threatening to do so unless a blogger desists from certain topics, language, attitude, whatever, is not only all of these things, but it's also naive as hell. First of all, the internet is public. Whatever information is on it is public, whether it be on a "private" or "locked" board or not - because putting it on the internet is a means of publishing it (and legally, this is pretty much where it stands, as I understand it: if you don't want people to know it or talk about it, don't put it out there.). Emails, bulletin boards, blogs, whatever - it's all out there, permanently. People take down posts and think it's over - nuh uh. It's retrievable (you know that "cached" option in Google?). And second of all, the nature of public discussion is that people talk about the issues they're thinking about, which may be ideas and arguments they've read on a blog or discussion board. The convention is not that folks *won't* talk about these things, whether they are criticizing or praising, but that they *will.* Again, if you aren't comfortable with that, then don't put it on the web.
Ironically, that someone who calls herself a radical feminist would use blackmail (what was that about "the master's tools," again?) to prevent Renegade Evolution from bashing radical feminists - and would even attempt, as well, to hold her responsible for what her readers (or her so-called "posse") might say - that right there just did more to hurt the image of radical feminism than anything Ren or anyone else ever posted. When people say hateful things on their blogs, as a reader, you have to assume that there are other issues going on. When people repeatedly go after particular individuals, after a while, you think, "man, why bother? Why not just stay away? This person must be looking for a fight." (And there are people on both sides of the aisle who do this.)
Blog readers, I suspect, see through a lot of the bullshit and posturing for what it is, and they don't get quite as bent out of shape about a nasty comment here and there (especially, I'd bet, the ones who don't post). They don't automatically assume, "oh, she said this about pros/antis - she must be right."
But most people find blackmail to be distasteful. Even the blackmailer herself apologized for resorting to such low tactics - which tells us something.
Thing is, she did this in an environment in which a few feminist bloggers have recently had their personal information strewn all over the net (by antifeminists, by the way). She's upped the ante, and it's not something she can take back: she's changed the whole nature of the dialogue. Now, others will figure, "hey, Stormy's blackmail worked - I can do this!"
How long will it be until Stormy becomes the target of what she's spawned? And no, that's not a threat, nor is it suggestion: I oppose outing in almost every circumstance (exceptions would include someone whose online anonymity is allowing them to put others at *real* (not internet drama) risk, and by that I mean, for example, that one is in danger of having this person stalk them in real life). It's an honest question. The dialogue has changed, and I only hope that no one else will decide to follow Stormy's path. Because any and every one of us could be next.
Other than that, with regard to Belledame's post (linked above): what she said.