Baby, Remember My Name

So Rebecca Traister has an interesting post up over at Broadsheet about the recent bloggy kerfuffle over the NYT’s coverage of BlogHer. There’s lots to talk about there, but I want to highlight one point that I don’t see discussed very often (although I might actually have mentioned it here before — I think that was in comments, not a post, but if I’m repeating myself, fuck it):

A blog about personal experience and illness certainly needn’t be named with an eye to political urgency, but what about starting from a place of self-regard and personal authority and naming it after yourself, like Kos, or Drudge, or one of the women who does get taken seriously online, Arianna Huffington? Think about how much easier it would be to get the respect that some of the BlogHer women crave if they started taking themselves more seriously.

I think it’s a bit of a leap to equate not naming your blog after yourself with not taking yourself seriously, especially when one of the primary reasons why so many women bloggers don’t name their blogs after themselves is because there are very real risks that go along with that. Even if your name is an open secret, there’s a difference between that and naming the blog after yourself. People refer to me as Kate Harding whenever they mention me, but they refer to The Rotund as The Rotund, for instance, even though she doesn’t hide her real identity. And Heather Armstrong has “I’m Heather B. Armstrong. This is my website” right at the top of the page, but how often do you hear other bloggers refer to her as anything but Dooce? Naming the blog after yourself, as opposed to merely blogging under your real name (or not hiding it) does make a real difference in terms of your online visibility — which can be a blessing and a curse.

That said, I did name this blog Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose — and decided to keep that name* even after the co-bloggers came along — for pretty much the reasons Traister is getting at. As much as I’d like to pretend I started blogging strictly out of the goodness of my heart, the fact is, I was not only a budding fat acceptance activist but a writer looking to establish a readership and brand myself. I could have called myself “Lucysol” (after the dogs), which was my online handle in the very few places I hung out online before I blogged, but that wasn’t the name I wanted people to remember if, ahem, I ever got a book contract or something. And honestly, what pushed me over the edge — apart from the fact that I was already using kateharding.net — was seeing blogs with men’s names show up on WordPress’s top blogs list every damned day. I don’t even know what any of those blogs were about, but I know those names were burned into my brain just from checking that list periodically. And I thought, hey, why the hell isn’t my name burned into people’s heads? (A little over a year later, Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose currently appears at number 18 on that list. Ahem again.)

Having said all that, I still struggle with feeling like keeping my name up there is too egotistical — conduct unbecoming a lady blogger! — especially when I’m not the only (or best) writer here. The fact that my co-bloggers don’t use their real names makes that somewhat less problematic, as it’s not like I’m inhibiting Filllyjonk’s or Sweet Machine’s efforts to brand themselves. And I did start this shit from scratch and blog all by my lonesome for some time, so I can justify it. But I can’t help feeling that if I were a guy, I wouldn’t even be thinking about justifying it. I wouldn’t be worrying that having my name up top might affect the community spirit or make FJ and SM feel unappreciated, or whatever the fuck. I’d just be thinking, “Yep, that’s my blog.”

Of course, any number of male-owned blogs, including some Traister mentions, aren’t named after their founders. But the fact remains, I can easily name a dozen eponymous male-owned blogs off the top of my head, and pretty much no female-owned ones other than this here blog and the HuffPo. (Help me out in comments, ’cause I’m sure I do know of other lady blogs named after the ladies, but I’m drawing a blank.) You almost never see Jane Doe’s X or Mary Smith’s Y, no matter how internet-famous Jane and Mary may be. And that’s exactly why I ultimately went with Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose, even though it felt a little oogy — because it fucking pissed me off that it did feel oogy. Why should it? It’s my goddamned blog.

I mean, of course it’s also Fillyjonk’s Shapely Prose and Sweet Machine’s Shapely Prose and — in a different and arguably even more important way –  Shapelings’ Shapely Prose. But I think (hope, anyway) all of that is quite clear even with my name at the top. Meanwhile, in less than eighteen months, I actually have achieved the goals I set for myself when I started this — a significant readership and paid writing opportunities that flowed from blogging. On one level, that still surprises the shit out of me. There was a whole lot of luck, good timing, and indeed privilege involved. But on another level, I do think it’s partly attributable to the fact that I took myself seriously and believed I was producing something valuable even when I had about 12 readers, 11 of whom I knew personally — and naming the blog after myself was a big symbol of that for me.

Of course, I’m nowhere near as internet-famous as a Heather Armstrong or an Allison Blass — the blogger whose title set Traister off on that train of thought — and I couldn’t live off of blogging or my checks from the book and Broadsheet. I feel like this has been a hugely successful project because I’ve exceeded my own wildest expectations — which weren’t actually all that wild — but by real-world standards, I’m still pretty much a starving no-name. So, you know, take all this with an entire salt lick.

But I’m still fascinated by the question of why so few women bloggers have eponymous blogs. What do you think about that, Shapelings?

*You might have noticed that the last couple of headers haven’t said “Kate Harding’s…” but that’s because I was putting my name elsewhere and felt stupid doing it twice. If you look up at the top of your browser, you’ll see KH’s SP remains the official blog title.

109 thoughts on “Baby, Remember My Name

  1. I am VERY glad you include your name, and this is not the first time I’ve thought so. I’m not in a position to do the same, professionally — heck, I’m already worried that a google search for my real name turns up something in which I’m quoted as saying “Holy crap” because that could conceivably give someone a reason not to hire me. (My mom told me this. She likes to give me things to worry about.) Also I’m frankly scared of online harassment.

    Anyway, I’ve thought of it before as your taking one for the team, because I know it exposes you to real harms and the possibility of serious danger, but you do it anyway. I’m grateful.

  2. Also I have the Fame song in my head now. But considering I inflicted “Total Eclipse of the Heart” on a bunch of people already this morning, I had it coming.

  3. I actually wrote the following email to Traister after reading that post, because it set off a little flurry in my head. None of this is to disagree with what you wrote, Kate, but to add a defense of pseudonymity as well:

    Dear Ms. Traister,

    My nom de blog is Sweet Machine, and I blog over at Shapely Prose with Kate Harding, who also writes for Broadsheet. I have read a lot of your writing at Salon, and I deeply appreciate the way you work to get feminist coverage of news, politics, and culture into the mainstream. In short, I’m a fan–which is why I’m writing to you in response to your recent post about BlogHer, Netroots Nation, and the relative newsworthiness of each.

    The following paragraphs struck me as papering over a larger issue in much the same way that PhysioProf criticizes the NYT for doing:

    But we can’t pretend that a title doesn’t affect how a blog is read and digested. And the fact is that the people over at Netroots are calling their blogs things like the Plank and the Page and First Read and Hotline, names that scream solidity and self-importance and power. A blog about personal experience and illness certainly needn’t be named with an eye to political urgency, but what about starting from a place of self-regard and personal authority and naming it after yourself, like Kos, or Drudge, or one of the women who does get taken seriously online, Arianna Huffington? Think about how much easier it would be to get the respect that some of the BlogHer women crave if they started taking themselves more seriously.

    This is a tricky argument to make, since there is nothing intrinsically wrong with giving a blog a cute name — or, for that matter, writing a blog about a feminized topic — be it motherhood or fashion or dating — that is destined for a niche audience. In an ideal world, of course, the experiences of parenthood and style and love wouldn’t even be marked as feminine, since they are all shared.

    But this is not an ideal world.

    Another way in which it is “not an ideal world” for women bloggers is that they frequently are on the receiving end of death threats, sexual harassment, and verbal abuse online. I’m sure you know this from personal experience, but this is the whole point of the Kathy Sierra debacle, too: women who use their real names online are taking on a risk that may make blogging a nightmare lesson in gender oppression rather than a platform for speech. When you say “but what about starting from a place of self-regard and personal authority and naming it after yourself, like Kos, or Drudge, or one of the women who does get taken seriously online, Arianna Huffington?”, you are missing the larger question, which is this: why does someone like Arianna Huffington get “taken seriously online” when so many women, many of whom do write under their own names, do not? Is it because of her money or her previous fame? It is because she focuses on politics? Is it because, yes, she named a site after herself, but she doesn’t actually do most of the writing on that site?

    Megalomania (seriously, “First Read?” does anyone really think his own blog is so breathtakingly important?) will not ward off vicious sexism. I’m pseudonymous in the blogosphere because I’ve been advised that any kind of blogging under my real name — whether about breaking news or cute kittens — could hurt my chances of getting an academic job in the future. But even as a pseudonymous blogger, I’ve seen my share of death threats, hate mail, and abuse. The real issue here is not why women aren’t as bold or brash as male bloggers; it’s why writing “from a place of self-regard and personal authority” is a near-impossible task for women, if your idea of self-regard includes not being subject to vicious abuse for daring to state your name.

    Kate Harding wrote a brilliant piece about this issue last year; you can find it here. I admire bloggers who write under their own name, and maybe your suggestion about names is more relevant for people who blog as a full-time career. But for those of us who blog for no pay, in addition to other jobs (for which, in general, we get less money and less job security), the gravitas supposedly leant by a name like DailyKos might not be worth the consequences.

    Thanks for reading my email — and again, thank you for the good work you do at Salon.
    Pseudonymously,
    Sweet Machine

  4. The real issue here is not why women aren’t as bold or brash as male bloggers; it’s why writing “from a place of self-regard and personal authority” is a near-impossible task for women, if your idea of self-regard includes not being subject to vicious abuse for daring to state your name.

    That’s an excellent question, SM, and one of the things I hoped to get at with this post. I’m sure you noticed my nod to your points in the post — we do indeed agree — but it’s really nice to see that angle fleshed out, since I was too lazy to do it myself.

    Also, how funny that we both had such a strong response to that section of Traister’s post. (I didn’t read the comments over there, if that’s where your letter went.)

  5. You know, my blog does not carry my name, but my prominently displayed profile announces both my name and face to the world. I might be interested in working more in academia in the future (part-time now). I had not considered the implications of this choice. Interesting that Kate saw it as an opportunity for advancement to have her name out there, and Sweet Machine has the opposite concern. Of course, there are other risks beyond the professional, but that’s what struck me.

  6. It’s funny – I started The Rotund and didn’t attach my name to it not because I lack self-regard but because, for once, my personal protection instincts kicked in; I think that indicates quite a lot of self-regard, actually. As the blog has progressed, and I’ve weathered my own batch of death threats and hate mail and whatnot, it has mattered less and less to me if people know my name because the threats piss me off instead of scare me – my personal protective instincts only carry me so far. Hell, I am putting my name on our book and I don’t hesitate to share it with the media.

    But, really, it’s because books and albums and whatnot named “Fancy Pant’s Writer’s Personal Fancy Pants” (a la, Wes Craven Presents Wes Cravens’ Whatever Scary Thing) have always struck me as kind of ridiculous. I started The Rotund before I started reading Kate’s Shapely Prose, and I like the boldness of that but didn’t feel the need to be all copy cat.

    Oh! Though, now, I could totally go all movie tagline and be Marianne Kirby IS The Rotund!

  7. I had not considered the implications of this choice. Interesting that Kate saw it as an opportunity for advancement to have her name out there, and Sweet Machine has the opposite concern.

    It definitely depends on your career goals. I was looking to establish myself as an independent writer and was starting from a position of not needing a clean Google profile professionally. SM is looking to become a professor, and until she gets tenure, she could be torpedoed by a lot less than this blog. So yeah, it is interesting how it can work both ways.

  8. my personal protection instincts kicked in; I think that indicates quite a lot of self-regard, actually.

    EXCELLENT point.

    But, really, it’s because books and albums and whatnot named “Fancy Pant’s Writer’s Personal Fancy Pants” (a la, Wes Craven Presents Wes Cravens’ Whatever Scary Thing) have always struck me as kind of ridiculous.

    Heh! Believe it or not, I totally agree with that. I once asked Al, “Does ‘Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose’ make me sound like Tyler Fucking Perry?” and he was all, “Yup.” But oh well. Baby, remember my name. (And I should add that I would probably have zero clue who Tyler Perry is if not for his habit of naming shit after himself, so… it does work.)

  9. I have taken some pains to be anonymous on my blog and elsewhere online (although any diligent psycho who cares that much can track me down without too much effort). I do this both to escape harassment issues and because, corporate drone that I am, I am moderately afraid that my employer might not take well to what I have to say or the fact that I frequently say it while at work (as now). It strikes me that I therefore rank high in self-regard and low in personal authority. Whatever. I can deal with that.

  10. . I once asked Al, “Does ‘Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose’ make me sound like Tyler Fucking Perry?” and he was all, “Yup.”

    Hah! I think I kind of love Al, in a strictly hands-off, funny-little-brother way.

  11. For, me, one of the things about reading this blog is that the level of writing is just so consistently high. Some of the topics resonate with me more than others, but I’d read any of you if you were writing about llamas. Anytimes someone says that the internet is making us “post-literate” I want to send them here. So, while I of course understand why FJ and SM don’t use their names (I’m a pre-tenure prof. whose Google profile scares me shitless), I’m happy that you do Kate, so I’ll be able to read you wherever your stuff shows up.

    Anna Fells has a great book called “Necessary Dreams” about women and ambition that speaks to these issues pretty well, I think.

  12. YES! Who the fuck is Tyler Perry and why does he keep naming stuff after himself???

    It’s an awesome self-promotion tool, obviously. *grin*

    *laugh* It’s also seriously indicative of my minor goals when I started The Rotund – I never figured I’d be reaping any rewards from it. It was just a place to talk about this stuff on a regular basis instead of clogging my livejournal up with it. I never meant for it to be any big thing.

  13. I have tried to remain anonymous because I started blogging about my experiences in the classroom, and that can be a bit irritating to future employers. Then I started a blog that focused on my life a bit more, and I kept anonymity because I had heard about the threats that many women bloggers were receiving.

    Now I wish I had guts, but I am glad that this is Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose.

  14. Tyler Perry is the dude who writes plays/movies/tv shows. In fact he is so self important he often writes, directs and then plays half the characters in his films including the female ‘Madea.” No me likey.

    I am big on anonymous blogging, I actually have totally separate contacts and accounts for my blogging identity than I do for my normal online identity. Not like someone can’t find me by my IP address, but at least they can’t google me! Don’t ask me why I am so paranoid, I do not know.

  15. I think there are two issues at stake for women with internet presence.

    1. Personal safety. Death & rape threats, ex-boyfirneds/girlfriends, etc etc pose considerable personal safety problems for women in a way that maybe men aren’t as concerned about (This is a hypothesis, as I haven’t seen any studies on gender bias in internet –> IRL stalking).

    2. Professional / personal repercussions. This *may* impact women more than men, since as we all know, men can often “get away” with the same behaviors that women are judged (negatively) for. The judgments of employers, neighbors, friends, family & acquaintances could negatively impact a womans job & other positions, and her personal life.

    I don’t mean to suggest that these issues don’t influence men, I’m hypothesizing that the influence of patriarchal gender construction might mean than women are more attentive to such issues.

    I totally respect Kate for blogging with her real name and I totally respect SM & FJ for blogging pseudonymously. We all have to make the best decision for our own situations – I make an general attempt to keep my IRL internet presence fairly clean (for future career concerns).

  16. It seems to me that the people who fail to give you the respect you deserve because you, as a woman, did or did not put your name in the title of your blog overlaps greatly with the people who would not respect your blog anyway because you do not have an obviously male name to title it with.

    There are millions of people in the world for whom we cannot be smart enough, or pretty enough, or thin enough, or self-respectful enough to deserve respect because we started life as girls. Sadly, even the power of our collective wit and wisdom is sure not to sway them one bit.

  17. Also I have the Fame song in my head now.

    [indie superiority] I have the Kevin Gilbert song stuck in my head.

    Actually that’s not really indie so much as… obscure.

    One thing that I presume wasn’t considered in the piece is that some women are pseudonymous in order to protect other people. In my particular case, yeah, I’m protecting myself by going undercover, but I’m also protecting the credibility of my organization, which is officially nonpartisan and doesn’t need the Achilles heel of having a vocal progressive on staff. It’s selfish of me to blog anyway instead of just shutting up, but it would be a lot more selfish to blog under my own name. Maybe it’s a particularly male-in-a-patriarchy attribute to be capable of that level of selfishness, where you implicate not only yourself but those associated with you.

    It seems to me that the people who fail to give you the respect you deserve because you, as a woman, did or did not put your name in the title of your blog overlaps greatly with the people who would not respect your blog anyway because you do not have an obviously male name to title it with.

    Too right.

  18. The issue of anonymity in blogging reminded me of the ridiculous incident that happened a few months to the writer of Neuro Diversity (neurodiversity.com/weblog), who also blogs under her real name – Kathleen Seidel. She writes about any and all issues relating to autism, including her position that there is no connection between autism and vaccines. In April, she was subpoenaed by a lawyer trying a case in which the plaintiffs were suing Bayer (they are a vaccine manufacturer) for causing their child’s autism. The lawyer claimed that her coverage of the case indicated that she was being paid by the pharmaceutical companies, and the whole subpoena was basically just a big fishing expidition/conspiracy theory. You can read the subpoena, as well as her motion to quash, here:

    http://neurodiversity.com/weblog/article/150/

    The judge then ordered the lawyer to justify his subpoena, and it’s pretty much the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read. It’s also super offensive, claiming that the information she was able to uncover was much more than the “mere librarian and mother of an autistic child” should be able to find. In posting the response on her blog, Kathleen also makes some key phrases links to some very apt articles on wikipedia and such…it’s pretty hilarious to hover over each link and see where it leads. Here’s what what she says about topics related to the online community:

    “Elements that should be of particular interest to the online community include these assertions:
    • that a single individual (in this case, my “principal co-conspirator” and husband of 25 years, Dave Seidel) can exert covert control over Wikipedia;
    • that principled, non-violent criticism, advocacy, and sustained focus on complex, controversial topics should be legally defined as criminal harassment by those who object to one’s opinions;
    • that skill at using Internet search engines, publicly-available databases and other information sources should render one legally vulnerable to invasive scrutiny by hostile parties;
    • and that the only writers who should be entitled to benefit from the reporter’s privilege are those who ask no pointed questions, express no personal opinions, and reveal no embarrassing information about the subjects of their inquiry.”

    You can read the whole thing here:
    http://www.neurodiversity.com/weblog/article/157

    Thankfully, the judge quashed the subpoena and imposed sanctions on the lawyer, and the case has since been dropped. Still, it was a sucky reminder of the potential for harassment of non-anonymous bloggers. And I totally respect anyone’s decision to blog, whether anonymously or not – this comment is probably the longest thing I’ve typed on the internet, ever :)

  19. So basically, there are two good reasons for not using your name on Teh Interwebz: harassment (which apparently only women are afraid of) and future career considerations.

    Yep, that about nails why you’ll never see my last name attached to my first name on the internet. (And I have no problem using my first name because about 1 out of every 4 women my age is named Stephanie. Thank you, Hart to Hart and Remington Steele.) This is also why the whois for my website says “Private Registrant.” I wrote a book review that panned Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, and I don’t want any rabid fans to send me dead rats in the mail, or anything. (Joke. Mostly.)

    Let’s contrast that to my fiance, who has HIS HOME ADDRESS attached to his whois for his website. Of course, like Al, he’s in the computer biz, and figures that if anyone likes his website, they SHOULD be able to get into contact with him . . . but isn’t that what email addresses are for?

    But then again, The Fiance wasn’t told almost from birth (and certainly from the birth of the internet) that he absolutely had to keep his name off the internet or someone would find him and stalk him. My parents never told me that, but lo, Society did their work for them.

  20. I once asked Al, “Does ‘Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose’ make me sound like Tyler Fucking Perry?” and he was all, “Yup.”

    Maybe you should change the name of this blog to “Kate Harding’s House of Fat,” where the snark is on tap and baby-flavored donuts are always available on those silver platter trays.

  21. Huh. I don’t blog under a pseudo, but my blog has a title. Recently I yanked my last name off exactly because I’m beginning to attempt to sell writing, but the writing is fiction and the blog is essays. Not that fictional writing is apolitical; but it is less pointedly so. This is interesting to think about.

  22. This reminds me of my friends who have MAN HOUR in their IRC chats. Everyone changes their handles to uber man names like Large Dickerson and Dick McHugeballs. I’m occasionally tempted to use such a handle in internet debates to see how much more seriously all teh c00l gam3r dud3z take me.

  23. I’m pre-academia as well (grad school still), but I didn’t even think about that when I was debating whether or not to use my real name. Neither did my mother, who I asked for advice on this issue. She convinced me to use a pseudonym on the grounds of personal safety and not being stalked. But I never even considered naming the blog after myself…

    I now realize that (if I were doing a blog about, say, politics), I could have fun by using the name of my fictional twin (the male name that every single armed force got out of my hyphenated last name when I got a very high SAT score and they wanted to recruit me).

  24. Personal safety is a valid concern. As far as concern about a future employer finding what you’re saying and taking issue with it: I don’t think people should write stuff online they’re not afraid to say to their boss. Makes things a lot simpler.

    Just about everything I post is focused on things I want to show up in Google, things I want to share with the world, and things I want my potential next employer to see.

  25. I don’t think people should write stuff online they’re not afraid to say to their boss.

    Minus the double negative, I don’t. But I say a lot of stuff to my boss that I don’t want everyone who reads what I write under my own name to KNOW I say to my boss.

  26. Al, that might be true in an ideal situation, but academia is sooooo an old-boys network. You probably can do no *right* as a female blogger on political and social justice issues in that environment, but I don’t think that means SM should have to be quiet.

  27. This is an interesting topic. I only joined the blogging world very recently and didn’t really think to title my blog with my name; mostly because the title I DID want to use “I AM in shape, ROUND is a shape” didn’t really seem to flow with adding my name…though I suppose I could in the tag line.

    Interesting to think about though. I mean how much safety do I REALLY gain by not using my full name? It isn’t as though trolls stop leaving hateful comments if they know your real name. Hmm.

  28. I think that if my blog came from a more personal place on a more consistent basis, I might use my full name. The Colleen James who exists in the world doesn’t really care as much about fashion as the Colleen who writes Pretty Pear.

    (Well, ok, I really, really do but I mean that the “blog me” is more of an authority on that specific subject. Real life me is just real life me who also happens to care way too much about clothes.)

    I guess I’m trying to brand the blog in case it becomes something bigger than just ME. I guess. Who knows. I have been referred to as “Pretty Pear” personally but not much. I’m glad for that because the Pretty Pear in the name was never referring to ME personally.

    I’ve also been blogging for a super, crazy long time (since I was 19 or so, in 1999) and I’m just used to hiding my identity because blogging is weird! Not so much anymore.

    Or maybe I just need to (wo)man up and use my full name and claim my space as an authority on that particular subject and stop being a wuss about it.

  29. I don’t blog under my name, although my first name is on my blog. When I first started blogging, and getting trolls (before I moderated comments), one of them posted a nasty comment with my full name, complete home address, and my phone number. I deleted that comment, and have no freaking clue how they found out all that information (I had just gotten married and moved, and the address and phone number weren’t mine, they were DH’s and had been his for years, but he’s not online nearly to the extent that I am and have been for the last 11 years).
    I didn’t really care that they could find that information, I’m perfectly capable of defending myself in a physical altercation, should that arise (just ask the drunk asshole who tried to break into my house 27 years ago, he ended up with 15 stitches in his forehead from a length of pipe I kept behind my front door).
    But I wouldn’t put all that information on my blog, simply because it’s bad enough having to deal with the hate online. I don’t want to have to deal with it in person (not that level of hate, anyway).

  30. It’s not as simple as that, Al.

    I write book reviews of children’s books (and paranormal romance). I’m going to law school next year. I’m certainly not embarrassed to write reviews of children’s books (or paranormal romance), but I have this sneaking suspicion that someone who is looking to hire an IP lawyer (or whatever I go into) is not going to have exactly the same mentality about it.

    I would — and have — told people at the place I currently work, since they don’t care. But let’s face it — children’s books (and paranormal romance) are not Grand High Literature, and people who read them at the age of 25 or 30 are somewhat suspect, right? (Or, you know, romance novels at ALL.)

    I’d rather that people find out under MY control, when I want them to. Like when I’ve decided that they’re open-minded enough not to dismiss me as a ‘silly female’ for even reading children’s books and romance novels.

  31. Yeah, Al, I see your point, but I think people are right to bust you on it. In addition to the other points that have come up, there’s also the fact that you work in a field where having an online presence is normal, if not expected. This blog could easily tank my chances at any number of jobs I might want, even though I stand by everything I write here. As it turns out, I don’t want those jobs, hence using my real name. But wanting a job like Fillyjonk’s, for instance, wouldn’t necessarily stop me from wanting to blog, so…

    ETA: Also, I think this comes back to the issue of personal blogging perhaps being more of a female endeavor. Your public blogs, Al, deal only with professional stuff — while you friends-lock the good shit on your LJ. And while everyone doesn’t need to make their LJ public for this to be a free and just society, the fact is, blogs written from a personal perspective (including, to some extent this one) are important to a lot of people — who are most often women. And those are also the kinds of blogs most likely to get you into trouble, if only for making you appear frivolous and girly, as Stephanie points out. On the one hand, it’s common sense to minimize how exposed you are to potential employers, but on the other hand, it SUCKS ASS that something a lot of women do on their own time, and find really valuable, can be a liability — even if their writing about children’s books or romance novels or raising toddlers or whatever is top-notch. So there’s a tension here between wanting to protect yourself and wanting to stand against a society that marginalizes women’s interests and work.

  32. Besides the possible repercussions to hiring/reappointment committees, another real concern for academics is in how students view you. And their parents, possibly. I keep politics out of the classroom entirely, which is easy given that I teach science, but I’m the prototypical atheist leftist college professor. I do NOT NEED students looking for any possible angles to contest grades or my conduct, saying that I’m well-known to be a liberal and was penalizing them for saying anything conservative in class, etc. I don’t want anyone saying that they felt intimidated or coerced or anything else by my views that have nothing to do with the subject I teach. I also occasionally give them blog posts as information, and so it would be incredibly easy for them to spot me in comment sections as I have a very unusual name. I want to be able to mouth off on the internet as much as I care to without worrying that my students will be looking for dirt on me. Hence, the pseudonym.

  33. April D, the specific fear is not necessarily about trolls leaving hateful comments – it’s about those trolls posting your personal information so that negative, harassing actions can be taken in the real world, whether that be via email or a brick through your window or a phone call to your boss. Yeah, there are always going to be hateful comments but those have a much more limited range.

    Al, I can get behind that, mostly – especially for people in certain industries. But in more conservative fields, I think people are smart to keep a barrier between their off-the-clock selves and their employers. I put The Rotund on my resume these days, but that is because I am shooting for writing jobs. But I still had a moment of weirdness because I was writing about underpants and a person who was far more conservative than I realized (though he’d have been awesome to work for) checked out my blog as a writing sample.

  34. As far as concern about a future employer finding what you’re saying and taking issue with it: I don’t think people should write stuff online they’re not afraid to say to their boss

    But in some ways, in some places, the internet is like hanging out with your friends. (virtual pub, anyone? :) ) There’s a difference in the kinds of things I want to say to my boss and the things I want to say to my friends. I might simply not want my boss to know me in the same way my friends do. And sure, anyone including my boss can read the internet, but again, that’s why the pseudonym, so it’s not connected back to me IRL by the boss. I don’t want to live my entire life as if my boss is looking over my shoulder at every moment. The internet lets the boss look over everyone’s shoulder, but you can hide whose shoulder that is.

  35. oo, what brand of science, car?

    I think the question of anonymity in academics gets really interesting, actually, and not just about hiring, promotions, and tenure (more relevant to this post), but also on the topic of peer review. I’ve had some really interesting discussions with people about that one.

  36. Botany! And that’s as specific as I’ll get . ;)

    Oy, peer review lets open another can of worms entirely. For awhile I was totally behind pure transparency, especially after a few snarky comments in a review I got back, but then I agreed to review a paper and when I got it, found out that it was by one of the primo people in the field. And it had a lot of problems. I was completely happy (and relieved) to hide behind anonymity for that one. That was when I realized anonymous peer-review doesn’t just protect the jerks, it also protects the up-and-comers too.

  37. Oo I’m geoscience! Yay applied science. :)

    Right, that’s it in a nutshell. Anonymity protects reviewers against more powerful authors, while giving your name with your review (for journals that let you) protects the named authors from attacks without accountability. There doesn’t seem to be a solution to this one. Maybe we can require that you give your name with a review once you hit a certain level of fancy-pantsness!

  38. Also, there’s the in-between ground of having a consistent pseudonym identity. When I first started posting comments on blogs, I was really ultra-paranoid about it and used a different pseudonym for each one. Then I realized that there was a lot of poster/commenter overlap in the ones I ended up gravitating to and focusing on the most, and so it made more sense to keep the same name constant across all of those. But then, what to do with the old names? I wasn’t sure whether to start afresh as if I was someone new, comment once that I was changing my name knowing full well almost nobody would see it, or what? What happens to the old identity then? I’ve shed some of those blogs, so it’s not so much of a problem, but I still have a few other names hanging around. I kept a different name at TWOP so I wouldn’t lose my posting status, for instance. :)
    For the others, I kept the same email attached, so at least the moderators would realize I was the same person and not some noob. I did have my real name attached to the email I used, but I’ve since changed that to the same pseudonym so it all matches.

  39. Maybe we can require that you give your name with a review once you hit a certain level of fancy-pantsness!

    Hee. That might help, but in teensy fields even that can narrow it down to identifiability. Hmmm, this review’s anonymous, there are only 20 people untenured at the moment, only 8 of them work on this species, I know 3 of them are out of the country on post-docs right now and one of them is on maternity leave…

    Also, back to Al’s comment about the search engines – my name’s uncommon enough that in a Google search, the first 6 entire pages of hits are ME. That’s a bit disconcerting, to say the least, and again pushes towards anonymity for comfort of expression.

  40. Or maybe I just need to (wo)man up and use my full name and claim my space as an authority on that particular subject and stop being a wuss about it.

    You know, as I started reading your comment, I thought Ah-HAH. This right here is the problem…

    Claim your space as an authority on that subject.

    When I worked as a support tech, one of the things I noted most is that I’d have guys come in and just shoot the shit about tech and not know anything but act like they did. Guys who were ramming old hardware into new machines that didn’t have *slots that fit* – like seriously, Conaning stuff into places it shouldn’t go.Whereas I’d have women come in and act like utter n00bs when really their understanding was at least beginner and maybe intermediate. And a light went on for me. There’s a lot of fake it till you make it culture out there.

    SO OWN THE EXPERT SPACE. You are, it is, ta da.

  41. I self-censor a lot; less because of what people in the real world think and more because I want to feel like I can be a credit to the wonderful space that has been set up here.

    This is good, I think, because it helps raise the level of the debate. (And the level of the debate here is astronomical.)

  42. Back in ye olde days of Web 1.0 I knew someone who adopted a gender-neutral pseud because we had this guy in our online comm who was known for getting into flame wars with people and then pulling gender cards to try and close down his opponents (i.e. “You only think that because you’re a woman” or “You’re just responding like a typical guy”). This person remained officially gender-neutral for the lifespan of the community. We referred to this person as It.

    Digby, who lags just behind Glenn Greenwald as one of the supreme writers of the liberal blogosphere IMNSHO, also chose a gender-neutral name and ID and remained that way until very recently for many of the same reasons. On the one hand, I’m glad we can put her and her awesome writing into the “Yay girls can blog” column. On the other, I’m pretty sure the amount of vicious hate mail and trolling have gone off the charts since she was outed as having two fully functional X chromosomes.

    I think Traister is asking the wrong questions.

    (PS – I’m back! Finally. Moving sucks.)

    DRST

  43. I straight-up don’t want to be found. My name is hard to Google, being common, but nonetheless. I blog about school. I blog about sex. I gaze at my navel. I don’t mind sharing those things with people who know my internet handle as “tanglethis” – people who know me well, or don’t know me at all. But I have no interest in sharing those things with my students or my employers.
    So, privacy is my motivation.
    Copyright is another. Technically all your writing on this blog is your writing. But what, a colleague recently said to me, could prevent other people from lifting it for their own uses?

    That said, I admire the use of a real name and I do wish more women felt safe, comfortable, and justified in doing so.

  44. Arwen:

    I’m a huge fan of “fake it til you make it”, as long as it’s coupled with a little “Shut up and maybe you’ll learn something.”

  45. Not all of us have “professional” jobs.- I do service work & sales, so the range of things a boss could fire me for is wide and deep – politics, religion, opionions about customers, opinions about current or former workplaces, support for unions – basically, I put on some dress shoes and a skirt and a cone of silence every morning on my way to work.

    Add to that the likelihood of violence by random assholes, and my experiences with law enforcement…it’s not *that* hard to find out who I am, but there’s no reason to make it easier, either.

    p.s. I don’t quite get why fashion, health, parenting and self-acceptance politics are more “personal” than electoral politics, except that they’re considered women’s issues and women are, by tradition, not “the public” – we all wear clothes, we all have bodies, we all have selves, we all have parents. Not that many people are actually involved in “electoral politics”, but that’s not considered a small niche.

  46. Claim your space as an authority on that subject.

    Yes, this. I think that’s what I was getting at (and maybe what Traister was), setting aside the gazillion excellent reasons not to use your real name. Maybe it’s just because I have struggled with the ego issue from day one and am perhaps applying my own experience too widely, but I feel like there’s still something that keeps even women who do use their own names from going all-out in terms of self-promotion. And I think that’s the age-old thing of normal behavior for a man being unseemly in a woman.

  47. I don’t have my name up in the title of my blog for the same reason The Rotund gave — it generally strikes me as ridiculous too when others do it. Occasionally, though, it works, and Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose is one of those cases in which it works. Martha Stewart’s Living works too. Maybe it works when it’s about saying, “I started this forum, I direct it, etc.,” functioning simply as a marker and identifier, and not when it’s so redundant (as in famous author of writing titled with author’s name) that it’s clearly about nothing more than conceit.

    (FWIW, I’d like to see the heading changed back — it looks sort of naked without your name there.)

  48. Rosa: That is a very, very good point. Even “women’s health” as a subset of health should not really be a niche, considering that it is a subject that affects half of us.

    By the way, I forgot earlier to mention (in the context of blogging and academia) that I know someone getting her PhD in Rhetoric who has to write a blog as part of the PhD requirements that her department has set. (I mean for the whole department, not just her…)

  49. KH, seriously, I don’t know how deep this struggle against self promotion and ego goes for you, but DO IT. Just fuck it all.

    I know there’s a lot of “you’re great” – “no you are” – in female dialogue, and I think this is wonderful of us.

    But I want to use male gendered dialogue: you’re a philosopher and comic and leader all and you assembled an amazing team, and I know because I’m an expert on these things.

    So. I’ll eat your ego-shame with a side of baby donuts.

  50. Traister is usually a lot better at detecting her own internalized misogyny than this.

    How is “Daily Kos” a “better” or “stronger” name than “Pretty Pear” or “Pound”?

    By that logic, the “strongest” name for a blog would be ‘LOOK AT MY PENIS’.

  51. (For the record, I have nothing against the name Bubba, which is a fine old Anglo-Saxon name. I just was trying to come up with a stereotypically male name that wasn’t “Butch”, which is incidentally the name of a relative.)

  52. Arwen: I agree that men and women speak differently about their experience in a field of work. I used to organise regular meetings for photographers for about five years. Of the people attending, maybe 5 percent were female. A lot of the times I would go out, shaking my head, because some idiot just tried to tell me about his “many MANY experiences” with photography, while his photos were really just shite. Meanwhile, I sat there like a nice little girl, shutting up, while I knew that I have more talent in my pinky than that loudmouth. How stupid is that?
    It really took some time till I realised that when I was being modest, saying “oh, I don’t know, I don’t know much about cameras and lenses”, those guys took that at *face-value*! Holy crap!
    I have since stopped censoring myself, and luckily the feedback is very good, even when I (constructively) rip somebody else’s photos apart.

  53. I’m all for owning your awesomeness, whether you use your real name or not. We know shit, dammit!

    Car, I definitely went through the same thing with trying to create a consistent online presence. I left a few usernames in place where post counts, etc. actually mattered. And I just googled, and I’m pretty sure that my real name has never been linked to my pseudonym online–woohoo! Staying anonymous is probably in my best professional interest, but I’m certainly not going to give up my lolcats, rockerboys, and FA because of it.

  54. I used to use my full name but started getting more readers and pulled my last name. One could locate it but I, also working in science (medicine), and working on a writing career figured, better safe than sorry. Especially since some of the shit that I write is the proverbial grilled cheese sandwich (ok, not quite, but…)

    Also, Kate – Heather Corrina blogs as Heather Corrina: Pure as the Driven Slush (creator of scarleteen)

  55. Faith, this I find interesting. I started getting more readers, pulled my last name, and stopped linking back to myself.
    I guess, in some ways, I’m protecting a brand I’m not yet sure of. But I’m not sure this is the best strategy. Hmm.

  56. I have a friend who is a fellow academic and a fairly prominent political blogger and one of his colleagues said to me (in a bizarre interaction) that he wasn’t sure about how the blog was going to affect his tenure case–in part because of his politics in part because his colleague felt it wasn’t “serious” work. So blogging can impact your work life in a lot of ways sometimes not just what you blog about but that you blog at all.

    I have some concerns that others have had such as not wanting students to google me,not wanting random weirdos to be able to find me, and wanting to be able to talk about personal things that I might not want everyone in my life to know about.

  57. I’ve had some sort of on-line presence since 1998. The first two websites of my own and one I developed in collaboration with my then-boyfriend-now-husband had my real name all over them, and got a fair amount of traffic, which was great because I wanted to be internet famous/work in tech/be a writer. It almost worked, too, until it didn’t. Then I moved to a conservative southern town and decided that my radical politics and penchant for dropping frequent f-bombs were not conducive to finding gainful employment so I not only shut down both sites, but made sure to have them removed from google cache and the Way Back Machine and whatever else there was.

    I’ve had two anonymous blogs since. I kept my last name off the first one, but didn’t hide its existence from anybody or go to great lengths to shield my identity. A couple people from my past found me through that site, which was fine. I just didn’t want it to pop up when somebody searched for my full name. I eventually shut that down because too many people read it and I felt a certain pressure to not only update, but to update in a way that would make my readership happy. My public just asked too much of me, I guess.

    Now I have this one and I’m pretty cautious about preserving my identity. Very few people know I have the blog. I say I live in Chicago and I’ve mentioned my age and that I’m a lawyer. Even saying that much makes me very very nervous and as I type this, I am thinking about scrubbing a few details from the site. My reason for wanting to preserve my anonymity is pretty mundane: I don’t want any professional hassles and blogging would not further my career goals. I was maintaining a blogspot blog under my full, real name where I would post inoffensive life update stuff as a way to basically control my web presence, but a bunch of infuriatingly internet savvy relatives from whom I had hoped to never hear again were the only folks who read it and I got worried that even that small, controlled, inoffensive website might come back to haunt me professionally in some way.

    And thus I remain a very private otter. I hope.

  58. By that logic, the “strongest” name for a blog would be ‘LOOK AT MY PENIS’.

    LOLOLOL. I’m going to change my blog to COCK-O-MATIC right now.

  59. And I guess I should say that blogging anonymously is just fine with me now, because my reasons for blogging are different: I basically found the fatosphere and really wanted to play and make new friends.

  60. By that logic, the “strongest” name for a blog would be ‘LOOK AT MY PENIS’.

    JP, marry me.

    Claim your space as an authority on that subject.

    I totally agree. For me, though, the question is, in a world in which women by default have to work much harder to be granted authority, in which realm do you want to be considered an authority? For me, it’s more important to my career and my personal ambitions to be known as an authority on poetry than it is to be an authority on fat acceptance. That’s a choice I’ve made, and it has a lot of thought behind it — not just for the previous “shut up until you get tenure” thing, but also because my academic work involves feminist theory, and IMHO this blog contains some of my best writing on gender. I’ve made a decision to let that work be pseudonymous even though it could conceivably be an asset to my career as a certain kind of authority, because the other things I say here might be a detriment to that kind of authority.

    That’s the decision I’ve made. I know that even some men who greatly respect my opinion (like, say, my own dad) nonetheless feel the need to always be The Expert on anything, including poetry, when we talk. They’re trained to. I can totally see why someone would decide that in order to maintain a sense of authority in their offline lives, they need to be pseudonymous online. I can also see the exact reverse situation. It *is* about claiming authority, but sometimes one kind of authority can be seen to undermine another (e.g., Al Gore can’t be a good president because he’s too darn smart! circa 2000).

  61. I dunno. I have a very unique first name (anyone who’s seen my email attached to my comments know this), and if I ever email someone back from the blog email, they’ll see my full government.

    And if you Google me, I’m the only one there is (so far. Haven’t checked today.)

    So why don’t I just blog under my own name? Well, part of it is concern over job hunting. Part of it is wondering if it will reflect badly on me when I begin applying to graduate school (I’d like to hope it doesn’t, but it’s hard to be sure). Unfortunately, in this world, there is much one has to think about before putting personal info out there.

  62. I blog under my real name, but not my last name. I’m not even the only “juliafaye” out there – someone who isn’t me has a Flickr account under that name. I’m not actually particularly anonymous, even. I openly state that I live in Toronto and have posted a few pictures of myself. It’s not that I’m worried about potential employers finding my blog, but I don’t want some people I know IRL to find it. People I mostly consider friends, but people I haven’t “come out” to as a FA activist/believer/whatever. I don’t want to have to explain my choice to be active about this. Odd, isn’t it? It makes me a little ashamed. Ah, well.

  63. I will be reading it from my tiny DS-Lite sized phone-computer clutched in one hand while bike-commuting in silent, electric-car traffic, Sweet Machine.

    I hadn’t needed online FA since about 1997 (remember the wonderful Fat!So? site that opened with a page of naked asses?) but all my fat friends just hit their thirties and turned into dieters and it almost killed me before I found y’all.

  64. Personal safety is a valid concern. As far as concern about a future employer finding what you’re saying and taking issue with it: I don’t think people should write stuff online they’re not afraid to say to their boss. Makes things a lot simpler.

    I’m one of those net.dinosaurs (yes, I was posting to Usenet before the great renaming(1986)), and my rule has always been that I will not post anything to Usenet/internet/web/blogs/public space that I would not want my current boss to know about me right now.

    This has served me better than I ever anticipated, because Usenet back then was a cocktail party. A lot of small talk, some in depth discussions, the kind of stuff that’s fun in the moment but is supposed to be ephemeral. Who knew that 20 years later someone would actually keep all that drivel and post it where it could be found in perpetuity? I looked at my old postings and smiled – they were a bit naive, but then again, I was 20+ years younger.

    I do not post things under my real name except for very controlled circumstances where I want to be found because I have a relatively rare first and last name, and when put together I believe it is a unique combination.

  65. I had a personal blog where people had my full name, town, etc for more than 3 years. I had a pretty steady readership after the year mark – and had an incident where someone whom I knew IRL tracked me down and left less than helpful comments. So, I started over, anonymous. That gave me the freedom to share so much more, and I cherish that. It may mean I’ll never have a brand – and that’s okay.

    I don’t know why there’s a lack of equality in the blogging world. Why some men are credited and women are seen as either gossips, diary authors or gossips. It really isn’t fair.

  66. I haven’t read all the comments yet (though I will), but I just wanted to say that for me, it’s about protecting myself. When I first started my blog, I didn’t feel strong enough to defend my FA stance if someone I knew happened across it. I’m feeling more and more like I could do it NOW, but at the time? No.

  67. I came up against a lot of this recently because I got a story published in a reasonably large magazine, so I took my ‘professional domain name’ out of mothballs and made a ‘professional’ website on it. I celebrated my success on my blog, but I felt hinky about naming the magazine or my story…and my friends thought I was irrational. I had an idea of what a fiction writer’s online presence would look like, and it was a lot more sedate than my kooky little blog. Eventually they convinced me that my five years of blogging might be an asset to my professional life as a writer, and I ended up linking the two more explicitly.

    I also started using my own name more extensively, because I do have more reason to promote myself and because I feel there’s a danger to feeling too comfortable under a pseudonym, especially one you’ve had for years — you could say more than you would under your own name AND have it come back to bite you because you weren’t as worried about anonymity at the beginning. My boyfriend also points out that the more you claim your name online, the more likely it is that something YOU do is going to be the top hit, not someone hating or slandering you. Of course, neither of us are in professions where we need to maintain extreme decorum — I think it’s a different world for a fiction-writer like me who needs to try to maintain likeability and authority than for a professor or lawyer.

    I’m really glad you guys are pointing this out. I’m in a lot of male-dominated hobbies and I’ve occasionally been ready to pull my hair out when guys say outright, “I don’t trust people who don’t use their real name online”. There are lots of things to be considered, including gender and profession, and making a flat statement like that assumes you know what’s best for everyone under the sun.

  68. It seems to me that the people who fail to give you the respect you deserve because you, as a woman, did or did not put your name in the title of your blog overlaps greatly with the people who would not respect your blog anyway because you do not have an obviously male name to title it with.

    Yup, that was my first thought too.

    Also, I find it interesting that Traister assumed PhysioProf was a woman – he is not, and it would have taken very little research to figure it out. But only women care about girl issues like feminism, right?

    By that logic, the “strongest” name for a blog would be ‘LOOK AT MY PENIS’.

    Ha! That made me laugh out loud at my desk =)

  69. Of course, Becky, Ms. Traister wouldn’t be the first to have assumed PhysioProf was a woman, because yeah, we men tend to care about sports and cars.

    And now thanks to JP I’m considering changing the name of my blog to “LOOK AT MY PENIS”.

  70. I wanted to join in the chorus of people responding to Al’s comment. I recently started a blog that bore my own name (mainly inspired by you, Kate, and the feeling of being completely unafraid of hateful comments or stalkers – or at least appearing that way). But I found I was editing myself a whole lot. I want to work at the State Dept eventually, and I think that my outspoken opinions on feminism, FA, etc would really hurt my chances of getting the job. As a Foreign Service Officer you are never supposed to publicly express dissent from the official policies of whatever administration is in control, and I think taht having writings that are linked to my real-life self would be a huge no-no. So I got a pseudonymous blog, and I feel really great about! So, while I might feel comfortable saying the things I write to my future boss, it would be a breach of policy to have them out there for public consumption.

  71. Also, I find it interesting that Traister assumed PhysioProf was a woman – he is not, and it would have taken very little research to figure it out.

    PhysioProf e-mailed about that right away, and I think it’s been changed in the post.

  72. By all means, take it Al. I used it but will probably change it back before the day is out because I don’t need the trouble at work that might result.

  73. I love this discussion. This is somewhat on the lines of Arwen’s comment, I guess- I’ve been blogging for nearly ten years now (seriously? wow…), and I protect my privacy like a maniac, and I don’t even really know why! (I’m even a little squeamish about posting in other people’s unlocked posts- it’s why I have a tendency to lurk.)

    For me, I think it comes down to liking to know who’s there in my space and whom I’m talking to, though pretty much anyone who’d want in is someone I’m happy to have there. I use LJ now, and I friends-lock everything (and woman-lock some things, and keep my ex out of most everything). And add me to the list of people who are ridiculously googleable with our real names: yay for Ellis Island transliteration screwups.

  74. I don’t need the trouble at work that might result.

    Heh, yeah, I went over to check it out and then closed it when it occured to me that having a blog open on my work computer called LOOK AT MY PENIS! might not be the best idea.

  75. I always thought the point of a website having a title was that you’d actually give it … a title? I mean, imagine Google being named “XY’s great big search engine” instead. o_O In the case of Shapely Prose it works well, but why should everyone else do the same? That would be boring.

    The reason why I don’t mention my real name most of the time is that it’s so terribly, terribly German. It just doesn’t go with an English text, seriously, I’d end up giggling all the time if I put it on the frontpage of my blog. But I don’t have a problem with anyone finding out, or else I wouldn’t have put up a picture.

  76. I’m about to rant, so be warned, please.

    First of all, genius throughout the ages has always been crushed, especially when it comes to the fairer sex. Just because we spent centuries doing mostly domestic duties–and some duties that are anything but (midwifing? killing your chickens to cook them?)–everyone expects us to be inferior. Hell, the African American community was given more freedom than women were, and that was when they were less liked than women (and I’m not being racist–I’m pointing out that people who were oppressed and loathed for centuries manage to gain their rights before women were). Sure, women could vote if they’re husbands were dead, they owned property, and there were no male heirs. And those male heirs didn’t even have to be your children. They could be your great aunt Flo’s sister’s cousin’s boy–twice removed–as long as they possessed a fucking Y chromosome.

    We gained rights in 1920, only to have it go right now the fucking drain because more women wanted to be objects than they did people. Even today, appearances fit more firmly into a woman’s worth than her brilliance of mind, position of power, or her opinion. And this especially funny when we think about the fact that privileged women who were bred to be objects were the ones to fight the Male Dominated World. That’s right. Those Barbara-Bush WASP women were the ones to gain our freedom, when they could have sat on their butts and relied on their husbands to handle the cash, because they knew it was wrong.

    But now, a good majority of women only want to be thought of as sexual objects to be desired, as the most beautiful, as the best dresser, as whatever it is they want to be! And because of that mostly-true gender-based stereotype, people don’t take women seriously at all. Whether its blogging, politics, or roofing, you can be guaranteed people will expect nothing but shit from you just because you’re a woman.

    From day one, I have been everything most girls my age aren’t (I’m only 15). I have one of the top ten highest IQs in my class, I care more for practicality than I do fashion (doesn’t mean I don’t try to look nice, but I know not to wear a skirt in 15 degree weather even if I want to impress hunky Blake), and I want to get to college and do something with my life. I am active in everything that I can do, be it Student Counsel or Crew, and I make sure the people who look at me and think of me as nothing but a ‘fat slob’ that I work my ass off and I am willing to do so for something I believe in. (I was on the Newspaper until I wrote an article contrary to the School’s belief on punishment for ‘group offenses’.) A lot of my teachers are both shocked and proud that I am such a go-to girl when I come off as something else.

    Either way, what I mean to say is that women don’t want to put their names out there for fear of not being taken seriously or embarrassing themselves. Many have been raised to be very conscious of their appearances and how people take them. By writing a blog under their real name, they run the risk of somebody they know finding it and bringing it to attention, and possibly in a bad light. I have a blog myself, part HAES and part teen-help, and I gave a very detailed description of my person but not my name, though I’m willing to admit that being under the age of 18, I was more worried about my safety and not what people may think.

    (I apologize for the really long post, but this sort of thing just gets my goat. I happened to admit not being sure of my sexuality the other day, and this girl pretty much shrieked at me ‘Don’t flirt with me, kthnx, cause like, that would be awkward!’ I wanted to smack her upside the head and tell her to get over herself. [Stereotypes piss me off, is what I'm trying to say in a really big, long, sort of way of explaining myself...])

  77. We gained rights in 1920, only to have it go right now the fucking drain because more women wanted to be objects than they did people.

    You might want to consider that women were and are afraid of losing what they have (a definite place within the protection racket that is the patriarchy) for a nebulous future which may cost them what love, respect, protection, status, and prosperity they have.

  78. I understand that–my point of the matter was that we didn’t get our rights until the 20th century, and only a few decades later, it was like we hadn’t fought at all.

    It’s pretty much like my (favorite) quote from the Dark Knight. ‘I’m like a dog chasing cars! If I ever got my hands on one, I wouldn’t know what to do with it.’

    Women gained their rights, and just as quickly lost interest.

  79. Hell, the African American community was given more freedom than women were, and that was when they were less liked than women (and I’m not being racist–I’m pointing out that people who were oppressed and loathed for centuries manage to gain their rights before women were)

    You’re also completely ignoring African-American women with that statement.

  80. :| Damn right I did. I apologize.

    All women of any race or persuasion lacked their rights up until the early 20th century.*

  81. Women gained their rights, and just as quickly lost interest.

    Simply not true. I’m sorry, but you need to do some research before you make these assertions. All civil rights movements have had peaks and valleys, but they’ve never been abandoned.

    Also, what Kate said about African-American women. Women of colour are and historically have been deeply involved with civil rights movements, including feminism. They’ve also generally gained the least from our political/social/cultural systems and have never been content with that. Poor women of all colours have agitated for higher standards of living for themselves and their families. And to give them their due, many educated, wealthy women who could have settled for comfort have tried to improve the world because they felt it was the right thing to do.

    You say you’re 15, so without wishing to condescend, I suggest you do some more reading on women’s history. There are feminist 101 blogs and book lists all over the net. I’m sorry if this comes across as preachy. I’m a teacher – I can’t help it.

  82. Thanks, BeccaBoo. We also need to remember, though, that “rights” on paper are a lot different than the rights people are actually afforded in society, and institutional racism has continued to thrive, right alongside institutional sexism. I’m as outraged as you are about the historical and current treatment of women, but playing “Who has it worse?” is never useful.

    And as Sniper said, blaming women for not fighting hard enough for their rights, or taking them for granted, isn’t very cool, either. While I don’t want to sound condescending, either — and do truly appreciate that you’re passionate and thinking hard about these things — at 15, you’re probably just starting to put a lot of things together about oppression, and there’s a LOT to learn. (There’s a lot for all of us, at any age, to learn.)

  83. at 15, you’re probably just starting to put a lot of things together about oppression, and there’s a LOT to learn.

    And if you’re already here at 15, you’re way ahead of the game. But I do seriously recommend more reading. Have you looked at, Lies My Teacher Taught Me? I think you’d like it.

  84. OT from where the conversation has gone, I know, but wow, I just read this NYTimes piece about a woman who has been stalked for years (and her upcoming book about it.)

    this-
    No matter how many times Ms. Brennan changed the locks, she writes, her apartment was entered and subtly rearranged. “I find a bar of soap from the second-floor bathroom on the third-floor kitchen counter,” she writes. “A teaspoon from a kitchen drawer lies on the middle of my bed.”

    and this-
    “I think it’s a game for him,” she said. “Much more fun to just mess with me and spoil my life in this way and constantly remind me I can’t get rid of him, that he’s got control over me.”

    Her hope, she said, is to outlive her stalker.

    “The only way that I’ll know the stalking will stop,” she said, “is if he’s dead.”

  85. Tricia, on August 1st, 2008 at 3:08 am Said:
    And the story is in “Fashion & Style” — *headdesk* :-(

    Good god. Insane. Just insane. The casual contempt of it is maddening.

  86. As Traister actually pointed out in the very post discussed in this one, sometimes, stuff ends up in Style just because the writer happens to be on staff at that section — and in a way, it’s a good thing that the editors there are willing to cover more than fluff. Having said that, if they’re going to keep using that section as the repository of women’s news, they really fucking need to change the name, because filing an article about stalking under “Style” is incredibly offensive. As I was saying to Liss and Zuzu when we discussed this this morning, “Life” is still code for “Silly, boring girl shit” at a lot of papers, but at least if they called it that, I wouldn’t get stabby every time a serious piece about women is stuck there.

  87. Very interesting discussion.

    Just to answer the question in the post, the reason I don’t use my real name (and I’d love to! I’ve also wanted to be a writer since I was little, but I appear to be taking the very scenic route) is because fat acceptance is too risky for someone in my field. If people I worked for found out this is what I believe in — I’m not sure I’d ever get another job. Until I am safely out of school with those damn letters stuck behind my name, I’ve got to remain at least pseudo-anonymous.

    (Also, I admit I am terrified of harassment. I’ve endured enough of it in person, that I certainly don’t wish to re-experience it online.)

  88. Sweet Machine, I’ll look at your naked photos as I get my full-sleeve tattoos!

    Which means: I’m also pseudonymous (sort of), and hope to one day get tenure. Classics is very much still an old-boys’-club environment at a lot of places, and I’m already marginalized enough as a woman of color. I really don’t want to screw up my chances, so I use a nickname and various pseuds across the web.

  89. I was thinking about this post all yesterday in so many ways – than I woke up this morning and thought “Pam’s House Blend!” – A blog named for the female owner y’all probably know and read, that does some of the best in-depth coverage of gay rights around, though that’s far from her only topic.

    Now, see, naming your blog for coffee so I’ll think of it first thing in the morning? Marketing genius, right there.

  90. I woke up this morning and thought “Pam’s House Blend!” – A blog named for the female owner y’all probably know and read,

    Oh, duh! Of course! I knew there were some I wasn’t thinking of!

  91. And the story is in “Fashion & Style” — *headdesk* :-(

    FUCKING HELL!!!! I HATE THESE PEOPLE!

    Why don’t they cover the Iraq war in sports and see how that’s received?

  92. Why don’t they cover the Iraq war in sports and see how that’s received?

    That’s a great fucking question, A Sarah.

  93. I don’t blog, I read and comment. I’d never thought of googling my pseudonym until I read this thread. I got 11,000 hits and none of it was me except one link on the second or third page. This experience has made me realize that I should probably state somewhere that I’m not the OlderThanDirt that has a lawn care blog, nor do I have anything to do with FreeRepublic (shiver).

    This happened to me a few years ago when I googled my real name and for about three months told everyone I met that I wasn’t the “My Name” that blogged constantly about all her ferrets.

  94. Now that’s not funny, that’s really scary. I’d be afraid of vigilantes with poor info skills. Which kind of goes without saying.

  95. … I have so many names I use online that many people are sure they’ve penetrated my real identity and are still completely wrong.

    … Emmy isn’t my name either. *sheepish*

    It’s not really about fear of stalkers, I have some very bizarre social phobias that lead me to suspect that everyone will hate me and be mad at me for the things I say. (And sometimes that’s true.) It’s less upsetting to me to have people say that FakeName is a stupid bitch, so I hide behind countless new identities.

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