Phib’s asked me (and a couple other ladies) a question:

CDR Salamander – Misogynistic blogosphere?

Is there an undercurrent of misogynistic behavior in the blogosphere? One that the anonymity of the medium encourages? I would love to hear what FbL, Bookie, and ninme have to say about it.

Err, yes.

This is something I’ve thought about a lot, and brought up in a few conversations with you people (including, I think, Phib), but not something I bring up here. Mostly because it’s rather hard to write on with the code of dignity and decorous speech I’ve imposed on myself in this space (unlike, you see, the way I really talk).

Quoting the WaPo:

Sierra, whose recent case has attracted international attention, has suspended blogging. Other women have censored themselves, turned to private forums or closed comments on blogs. Many use gender-neutral pseudonyms. Some just gut it out. But the effect of repeated harassment, bloggers and experts interviewed said, is to make women reluctant to participate online — undercutting the promise of the Internet as an egalitarian forum. …

“The sad thing is, I’ve had thousands of messages from women saying, ‘You were a role model for me,’ ” Sierra said in an interview, describing communications she received after suspending her blog. Sierra was the first woman to deliver a keynote speech at a conference on the Linux operating system. Her blog was No. 23 in the Technorati.com Top 100 list of blogs, measured by the number of blogs that linked to her site.

Her Web site, Creating Passionate Users, was about “the most fluffy and nice things,” she said. Sierra occasionally got the random “comment troll,” she said, but a little over a month ago, the posts became more threatening. Someone typed a comment on her blog about slitting her throat and ejaculating. The noose photo appeared next, on a site that sprang up to harass her. On the site, someone contributed this comment: “the only thing Kathy has to offer me is that noose in her neck size.”

(First of all, the internet is egalitarian, because this is what people (not just men) are like, and the internet allows them, with equality of rights and opportunity, to act like themselves.)

See, the thing is, I’m never going to have this problem because I’m not big enough and I’m never going to be. I don’t have sites that spring up to harass me. I don’t deliver keynotes. Mostly because I have absolutely no speciality or expertise in any of the things I blog on (except costume history, kittens, and cooking, none of which I blog much on), but mostly because I’m anonymous. I don’t tell you who I am, and I sure as hell don’t put a picture on my About Me page that is in any way indicative of what I actually look like. I’m not an idiot. The WaPo article quotes Michelle Malkin. She’s had the most vile and disgusting things said about her for years (which has been completely ignored until now) and I think it’s because people know what she looks like. If people knew she was Filipino and people knew she was a woman, that’s one thing, but having it there in front of you crystalizes it and suddenly that’s what she is. You guys know I’m a girl but you don’t think of me as a girl (except those rare occasions when I’m talking about costume history, kittens, and cooking, perhaps). If you thought of me as a girl, trust me, the comments section here would be a) a lot busier and b) very, very different. People who are anonymous don’t get famous. Girls who don’t put their pictures up don’t get famous.

There’s a girl who has a blog on design and stuff that Peter used to check once in a while, and she’s got a picture of herself that’s only an incredibly highly-stylized illustration of a smokin’ hot blonde babe, and she gets a gazillion comments on every one of her inane, talent-free, completely unremarkable posts. Because everyone there associates what she writes with the smokin’ hot blonde babe. You guys don’t have a smokin’ hot red-headed babe to associate with my inane, talent-free rambles, so that entire segment of the internet doesn’t bother us, and leaves us in peace. And sure, that keeps me poor and obscure, but it also saves me [this sort of thing], and, being a redhead, this sort of thing, and this sort of thing.