Wednesday, May 02, 2007


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.


belledame222 said...

she had a sayonara post, which you can read cached here. (with commentary).

reading between the blustery threats, it looks like backpedalling and BS to me. not that i'm at all sorry for taking it seriously enough to write about, but...

yeah, i dunno. seriously reality-challenged, whatever else. that's got both its advantages and its disadvantages when it comes to attacking the more conventionally-metaphysic'd.
that and the whole "dumber than a truck full of chickens going to town" thing and i wouldn't probably lose -too- much sleep over it; doesn't make her any less vile of course.

"it's the thought that counts"

Anonymous said...

I thought "taking someone out" meant that you want to kill them. How do you take someone out online? Lol.
Pf, does this really surprise you? So much of feminism is saturated with anger and sarcasm, that it's inevitable that a physical threat towards someone will happen.
Why do these women think you aren't a good enough feminist? Does being married and having a child have anything to do with it?

Plain(s)feminist said...

I don't know anyone in particular who thinks I'm not a good enough feminist. Wait, I take that back - about 10 years ago, I knew several feminists in my Women's Studies program who challenged my even calling myself a feminist because I said that I wasn't anti-porn and because I said that I thought we needed to tell college freshwomen that they shouldn't get drunk at frat parties because frats deliberately tried to get them drunk so they could rape them.

My point was more that I don't give a fig what some random internet person or persons think about my politics. They do not determine who I am or what labels I attach to myself. And so there is no point in getting into arguments with people who are essentially one-trick political ponies who are motivated only by their own ideology. There's just nothing to be gained from that.

Pf, does this really surprise you? So much of feminism is saturated with anger and sarcasm, that it's inevitable that a physical threat towards someone will happen.

This is not the feminism I see on a daily basis. This is the feminism I find in some corners on the net, sure, and I suppose it doesn't surprise me that the threat came from the person it came from (though I would have expected it from one or two others, first). But this is not feminism. It's what happens when feminism breaks down.

Renegade Evolution said...

Thanks for the support, PF.

Cassandra Says said...

It almost goes without saying that this is manipulative bullshit, not feminism.
It does worry me who else might have seen that and thought "hey, person X has really been pissing me off recently, why don't I try that on her?".
What worries me most, though, is all the people on that thread who either cheered Stormy on or passively went along with it.

andi said...

I have no words. I am sorry that folks still have to deal with this kind of crap in this day and age.
Posting personal info of any sort, for any reason is scary stuff.
And outing someone just smacks of immaturity.

Anonymous said...

"I'm sure, and call me all kinds of names and challenge my commitment to feminism."

This is what I was talking about. I just couldn't remember the exact words you used, and didn't want to scroll back and loose what I already wrote. I wondered who challenged your commitment, and why.

Plain(s)feminist said...

Cassandra - I was disturbed by that, as well. The cheering on was less surprising, actually, given some of those who did it. The passivity - I wonder if that actually was supportive or just "I really don't want to get into the middle of this shit storm." I suspect it may be the latter, in fact.

And Danielle - I knew what you were responding to; I didn't mean that I knew of anyone in particular who had a problem with me. I was more trying to make the point that a lot of people seem to care a lot what other "established" (or just outspoken) feminists think of their feminism. I don't. Hence my comment - I'm sure people could, and perhaps do, take issue with me, but you know, not my problem. And yes, they could take issue with me because I'm married and have a child, though it would be more likely that they'd take issue with me because I occasionally wear lipstick and heels. Or maybe because I'll be voting for Obama rather than Hillary - I don't know. It totally depends on which feminists we're talking about.

(Just to be fair, the same exact issues are present in any political group. It's hardly a feminist thing. I just tend to expect better from feminists than, say, Democrats.)

belledame222 said...

i dunno. i don't particularly expect any better of any loose grouping over another, first of all. in general i think that when you get crazy ugly shit like this, for the most part you will get a resounding chorus of -crickets- from the peanut gallery, for a whole bunch of reasons mostly having to do with self-preservation, sure.

besides that--in this case i'm not even sure it's really a political group per se as some sort of wack online psychodrama cum croquet game played with flamingos. anyway, while there's been some fucked up shit in the rest of the feminist world (online and off), this lot always seems to be the most...intense about it? anyway i don't know of any other branch of feminism that puts so much energy into determining who is and isn't part of the chosen circle, who gets to bear the sacred name, who's utterly beyond the pale; and how -for some reason- everyone's out to get them.

you know, the handful of only a few dozen people with no power whatsoever (as they keep insisting), who are nonetheless somehow going to lead us to Revolution (as they also keep insisting)...