As a feminist "lady blogger", I've come to realize how much shit we have to put up with--and it doesn't appear to be ending any time soon. I recently read an article about a rower (and blogger) named Jenn Gibbons. Gibbons set out to complete a solo voyage: the 1,500 mile perimeter of Lake Michigan. From her blog, it states:
Departing from Chicago and along the coast of Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana, she will be “stopping by” in port towns along the lake–bringing awareness to the vital tool that exercise plays in the fight against breast cancer.
A trip like this has never been done before. Jenn will be rowing 30 miles a day, stopping only to sleep and share the mission of ROW. She will consume 5,000 calories worth of dehydrated food a day, and sleep in her vessel, Liv.
Amazing, right? The thing is, about a week ago, Jenn was sexually assaulted on the shore of Lake Michigan. She decided to come out about this (even though she didn't have to) saying,
I know that I had a choice in telling people about the details of my attack, particularly that it was a sexual assault. To go through this at all, let alone publicly, is extremely difficult. I chose to talk about it in the hope that someone might be able to provide more information about the person who did this to me.
The police believe Jenn's attacker was someone who had been tracking her through her blog.
All of this makes me so upset. It feels like we, as women, can't do anything without the fear of being stalked, raped, killed, or all of the above. These perpetrators are attempting to take away our voices by making us too afraid to write--too afraid to be awake and alive in the public sphere.
After reading about Jenn's assault, I felt extremely unsettled about my own internet/real life/public presence. I started to question myself: Am I putting "too much" out there? Should I stop blogging? Should I delete everything on the internet that is tied to me? I don't want to. My blogging personality is my real personality, which puts me in a vulnerable position, and identifies me as someone attempting to reclaim space, which only ends up infuriating certain people.
To Jenn's credit, her experience has not silenced her. If anything, she seems to be even more vocal. Also, she now has a team in place to make sure she gets from point-to-point safely. She is still blogging.
As a woman online, I think we're all (too) used to the misogynist comments that come through like rapid-fire. For the most part, I laugh these comments off--or maybe I'm just too desensitized to them--I'm not sure. I have yet to receive a personally threatening comment (*knocks on wood*), but I feel like it's inevitable, and I would be lying if I said this didn't make me nervous.
Blogging while being a woman (or, really, being anyone who is part of an oppressed group) seems like such a simple thing, yet, because we are seen as "intruding" on white, heteronormative male space, the simple act of blogging has the potential to ignite violence. Some people out there don't seem to like the fact that we exist and resist.
I will make this promise to you (and myself), dear readers: I will continue doing what I love to do, which is write, and if I get attacked for this in any way, I will speak loud and clear about it, taking proper safety precautions as need be.
I can't stop writing.
Are there networks for this kind of thing? How can oppressed individuals feel safe while writing? If there isn't a network, maybe we should start one, because it's definitely needed. Do you blog? How do you stay "safe"? Share your pointers below!