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On Blogging, Threats, and Silence

Content note: This post includes excerpts of threats and abusive language.

I got my first rape threat as a blogger when I was on Blogspot, so new that I still had the default theme up and hadn’t even added anything to the sidebar. I can’t even remember the pseudonym I was using then, and I probably had about 10 hits on a good day, seven of which were me compulsively loading the page just to make sure it still existed, and the other two of which were probably my friends. I wrote a post about some local political issue or another, expressing my misgivings, and a reader kindly took time out of his day to email me. 

‘You stupid cunt,’ he said, ‘all you need is a good fucking and then you’d be less uptight.’

I stared at it for a couple of minutes, too shocked to move. There it was on my screen, not going away. Someone really had thought it was appropriate not just to write this email to a complete stranger, a totally unknown person, but to send it. I deleted it, and spent another few minutes staring at the blank hole in my inbox where it had been before shaking it off and moving on.

It was harder with the next one, and the next, and the next, but by the time I’d clocked around 20 threats, and was up to around 30 readers, I’d learned the art of triage. The quick skim to find out if there was any actually personal threatening information, like identifying details, or if it was just your garden variety threat with no teeth behind it. I kept them all in a little file in case I needed them later, and forwarded the worst to the police department, not in the belief they would actually do anything, but in the hopes that information would be there, somewhere, in case it was needed someday.

‘I hope you get raped to death with a gorsebush,’ one email memorably began. I gave the letter writer some style points for creativity, but quickly deducted them when I noted he’d sent it from his work email, at a progressive organisation. I helpfully forwarded it to his supervisor, since I thought she might be interested to know what he was doing on company time. ‘Thanks,’ she wrote back, and I didn’t hear anything more about it. Several months later I attended a gala event the organisation was participating in and watched him sitting there on stage, confident and smug.

I thanked my stars that he had no idea who I was, that he didn’t know that the ‘stupid, fat bitch’ he’d emailed was sitting there in the audience, calmly staring back at him. Later, I wondered why I didn’t just turn around and walk out the minute I saw him. I certainly stopped donating and supporting, and I happily told people why.

He’s still there, and people tell me I’m not the only one who has received alarmingly graphic communiques from him for speaking my mind. His was the first of many emails so meticulously detailed that it felt like the uncomfortable realisation of a fantasy, and it only got worse when I changed platforms, to TypePad and then WordPress, accumulating more and more readers along the way, being more and more outspoken, being more and more open about who I was, finally writing under my own name, a calculated decision that exposes me to considerable risk, every day, a decision I cannot come back from. It is not a decision I regret, but it did bring home a new risk for me, that I had made it a lot easier for those electronic threats to become a reality.

I was careful in all the ways they tell you to be, to make it difficult to find my house, for example, and most of the rape threats, and the death threats, the casual verbal abuse from people who disagreed with my stances on subjects like rape being bad and abortion being a personal matter, weren’t really that threatening in that they didn’t pose a personal danger to me, and I was rarely concerned for my safety. That wasn’t the point, though, which is what I told a friend when she got her first rape threat and called me, sobbing. I wished she’d been spared that particular blogging rite of passage, but unfortunately she hadn’t been.

‘They want you to shut up,’ I explained. ‘That’s the point of a rape threat. They want to silence you. They want you to shrink down very small inside a box where you think they can’t find you.’

And it works. I see it happening all the time; blogs go dark, or disappear entirely, or stop covering certain subjects. People hop pseudonyms and addresses, trusting that regular readers can find and follow them, trying to stay one step ahead. Very few people openly discuss it because they feel like it’s feeding the trolls, giving them the attention they want. Some prominent bloggers and members of the tech community have been bold enough; Kathy Sierra, for example, spoke out about the threats that made her afraid to leave her own home. She’s not the only blogger who’s been presented not just with vicious, hateful verbal abuse, but very real evidence that people want to physically hurt her, a double-edged silencing tactic, a sustained campaign of terrorism that is, often, highly effective.

It took a few years to reach this point, but I finally have, the point where I do have concerns about my physical safety, and have had to reevaluate certain aspects of my life and work. I’ve gotten those emails that send a long chill down my spine and create a surging feeling of rage, mixed with helplessness. People have sent me my social security number, information about my family members, identifying details that make it very clear they know exactly how to find me. They  have politely provided details of exactly what they’d like to do to me and my family, they send me creepy things in the mail.

‘I’m glad your stupid cat died,’ someone wrote me last October. ‘You’re next, bitch,’ and followed up with my street address.

‘I’m in the process of moving,’ I told the officer who responded, ‘but it concerns me and I wanted you to know.’

I spent the remaining week almost entirely at the new house, working on the house during the day and slinking home late at night, leaving the lights off to make it look like I wasn’t home, leaving my distinctive and highly identifiable car parked at a distant location. My neighbours left their porch light on for me, illuminating the backyard in a wash of harsh, white light. I’d spent years seething about how it kept me up at night, but those nights, I was grateful for it, reading my book under the covers in the dim glow of a flashlight.

‘You must be worried about fans finding you,’ my landlords say, and I want to laugh it off, the idea that I have ‘fans’ who would be dedicated enough to come this far to find me.

‘It’s not the fans I worry about,’ I say, darkly.

It’s a good week, these days, if I only get 15-20 emails from people telling me how much they think I should die, or how much they hope I get raped, or how much they hope my cat dies or I lose my job or fall in a hole or get shot by police or any number of things people seem to think it’s urgently important to tell me in their quest to get me to shut up. We are not talking about disagreements, about calls for intersectionality, about differing approaches, about political variance, about lively debate and discussion that sometimes turns acrimonious and damaging. We are talking about sustained campaigns of hate from people who believe that we are inhuman and should be silenced; the misogynists, the ‘men’s rights activists,’ the anti-reproductive rights movement, the extreme conservatives, the fundamentalists. The haters.

Joss Whedon fans in particular seem to be especially creative, although Glee fans are running a close second; Glee fans tend to be more fond of sending me photoshopped pictures of myself covered in what I think is supposed to be cum, although it looks more like mashed potatoes, or possibly whipped cream. Joss fans prefer to say it in text, intimately, lingering over the details. And of course there’s the usual abuse from people who think that people like me are not human beings, and thus feel it’s entirely reasonable, even necessary, to assault us, the people who write about topics like reproductive justice, domestic violence, intersections between race and class and disability and gender and the social structures that contribute to continued oppression.

I don’t talk about it very often because I don’t really know what to say. I get rape and death threats. I get emails calling me cunt, r#tard, all the other epithets you can think of and then some. I get abusive phone calls, and sometimes have to unplug my landline for a few days. So do a lot of other bloggers. It never really stops, unless you stop, which means that every day you need to make a conscious decision. Do I keep doing this? Do I keep going? Or is this the day where I throw in the towel and decide it’s not worth it anymore?

Like a lot of bloggers in the same position, I have tried to balance a desire to not remain silent with the need for increasing caution; not, for example, making information about where I stay when on trips available, making it clear that the only place people will find me is at public events in locations where there’s a security presence, being careful about pictures I post of my house and neighbourhood to make it harder to find, making sure close friends have contact information for me and my neighbours in case of emergencies. Thinking carefully about the kinds of events I want to attend. Things that are second nature to me seem to disturb other people, but I’ve learned the hard way that this is what I need to do to be safe.

But I’m still not going to shut up, and not just because I am bullheaded and don’t take kindly to being told to be silent or die. I don’t shut up for all the people who were forced to shut up, for the ghosts who drift through the Internet, for the people too terrified to leave their homes at all, let alone try to coordinate safety concerns to attend events, for the people who ask friends to open and sort their email because they can’t handle the daily vitriol. I don’t shut up for all the people who have been silenced, who did throw in the towel because they just couldn’t take it anymore. Not because they were weak or not committed to the cause, but because they, and their families, were in danger.

When it became evident that I wasn’t going to shut up, that I wasn’t going to let threats from hateful assholes dictate what I chose to cover and not cover, the campaigns shifted; I still got rape and death threats, but then came the websites dedicated to hate and speculation, the harassing phone calls. Then came the commenters sowing insidious trails at sites that linked me or discussed my work, the emails to friends and colleagues, the attempts to discredit me.

And, of course, the attacks on my readers. One of the reasons I was forced to close comments on my personal site was because people would stalk my readers to their own sites and harass them, and we had similar problems at FWD/Forward, and I see them here at Tiger Beatdown as well. Puzzled and upset readers sometimes forward the email they’re sent after they comment, or talk about something in a post, or attempt to participate in discussions; anti-abortion activists, for example, sending them hate screeds for being open about their abortions in what they thought was a safe space. Hateful people pick on people they assume are small and helpless, simply for voicing their opinions, or being present in a space, or being associated with the target of their hatred.

Then came the hackings, the repeated attempts to silence me in the crudest way possible.

This is something else people don’t talk about, very often; the fact of the matter is that if you run a feminist or social justice site, you will be hacked. Probably on multiple occasions, especially if you start to grow a large audience. Some of these hackings are just your usual cases of vandalism, people testing servers to see if they can do it, not with any specific malice directed at you. Others are more deliberate, more calculated, and they come with taunting and abuse.

Many feminist sites stay on services like Blogspot because of the higher security they may offer; people who host their own sites do so in awareness that if they aren’t very knowledgeable about technology, they need someone who is for when they get hacked, and it’s not if, but when. Readers often don’t notice because it flashes by, or it causes problems with the backend, the site management, not the front end. Sometimes they do, when hackers inject malicious code that changes the appearance of the front page, or attempts to load malware on the computers of visitors, or just takes the site down altogether, sometimes with a message making it clear that it’s personal.

Then your readers start screaming at you because the site isn’t working, and when you wade through your inbox it’s an even split between taunting messages from the hacker and readers demanding to know why the front page looks funny, yelling at you if you were asleep when it happened and didn’t have time to post an update somewhere to let people know what was going on for several hours.

You wake up every day wondering if your server is still up, and how much cleanup you may need to do to keep the site operational. That’s the reality. You wake up wondering what will be in your inbox, your moderation queue, your Twitter stream, and sometimes you lie in bed, staring at the ceiling, wondering if you really want to keep doing this. The reality is that when people recognise you in public spaces and shout your name, you tense; is this person going to harm you? You spend the first five minutes of your interaction fighting the flight instinct, not paying attention to a single word the person is saying. When someone emails to ask to meet you when you’re traveling, your first reaction is not ‘oh, it would be lovely to meet readers, yes, please, let’s hook up at that dark shady bar in a city I don’t know.’

It’s concerted, focused, and deliberate, the effort to silence people, especially women, but not always, as I can attest, and particularly feminists, though again, not always, as I can attest, online. The readers, the consumers, the fans, may not always notice it because people are silent about it. Because this is the strategy that has been adopted, to not feed the trolls, to grin and bear it, to shut up, to put your best foot forward and rise above it.  To open your email, take note of the morning’s contents, and then quickly shuttle them to the appropriate files for future reference or forwarding to the authorities. To check on the server, fix what needs fixing, and move on with your day. To skim the comments to see what needs to be deleted, to know that when you write a post like this one, you will have to delete a lot of heinous and ugly comments, because you want to protect your readers from the sheer, naked, hate that people carry for you. To weigh, carefully, the decision to approve a comment not because there’s a problem with the content, but because you worry that the reader may be stalked by someone who will tell her that she should die for having an opinion. And when it happens to people for the first time, they think they are alone, because they don’t realise how widespread and insidious it is.

All of the bloggers at Tiger Beatdown have received threats, not just in email but in comments, on Twitter, and in other media, and the site itself has been subject to hacking attempts as well. It’s grinding and relentless and we’re told collectively, as a community, to stay silent about it, but I’m not sure that’s the right answer, to remain silent in the face of silencing campaigns designed and calculated to drive us from not just the Internet, but public spaces in general. To compress us into small boxes somewhere and leave us there, to underscore that our kind are not wanted here, there, or anywhere.

*GAG GAG GLUCK* You have discovered the only vocables worth hearing from Sady’s cock-stuffed maw…die tr*nny whore…[slut walk] is a parade for people who suffer from Histrionic Personality Disorder aka Attention Whores…I know where you live, r#tard…why don’t you do the world a favour and jump off a bridge…Feminazi…

A small sampling of the kinds of things that show up in our inboxes, in comment threads, on attack websites, in things sent to our readers.

Rape threats happen. Death threats happen. People threaten friends, families, jobs, household pets. Stalkers go to considerable lengths to collect and exploit information. People who are open about this, who do talk about threats and stalking and danger, and they are out there, are punished for it. They get more abuse, they’re told that they’re making it all up, that it’s all in their heads, that they are exaggerating, entirely new hate sites spring up to speculate about them and talk about their ‘desperate ploys for attention.’ That’s what I have to look forward to for writing this piece, for laying out some of the costs of social participation for you, for openly discussing the thing which dare not speak its name, the brash, open hostility reserved for people who do not shut up.

This is a reality, and it doesn’t go away if we don’t talk about it.


  1. Annaham wrote:

    This is SUCH an important topic, and hits pretty close to home for me in some ways.

    There are days when I *wish* I could “rise above it” and be as active in blogging as I used to. But the thing is, this crap wears people down. And the sad part is that it just isn’t talked about, by and large, so people are left to wonder “Oh, whatever happened to [blogger]? I guess she just got lazy and/or found something new to complain about” when the reality is more complex.

    Thank you for writing this, s.e.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Permalink
  2. Kmtberry wrote:

    Thank you for writing about this! I am one of the silenced ones; my baby blog got it’s first rape and death threats within a week of starting. When the threats began to be about poisoning my dogs, I took my feminist blog down and restarted with an anonymous blog.

    This IS TERRORISM. Is it not? You can bet your bottom dollar that if Feminists were threatening to kill, instead of the other way around, Homeland Security would call it what it is. The way only CERTAIN types of Terrorism are addressed tells us all we need to know about our government.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink
  3. Molly wrote:

    I really find it so disgusting that people are okay with doing this sort of thing. Like, what do you seek to accomplish by threatening feminist bloggers?
    Behavior like this is a contributing factor to feminism even being around anymore.
    One thing, though, has there been any legal action against the people you’ve reported to the police? I know that’s another issue entirely.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink
  4. Your timing is uncanny. I’ve had a troll of my own since 2008, but he made the leap from annoying to scary when he made a SlutWalk-inspired post that was so menacing that I finally outed him. He resigned his position with the local Democratic Party once his identity became known, but after a month or so of hiding, he’s back. Now he’s decided to start harassing my women blogger friends, too.

    Thanks for starting the conversation.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Permalink
  5. Emma wrote:

    Thank you for not being quiet.
    Thank you for continuing to inspire us all with your bravery and tenacity.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink
  6. MikeP wrote:

    Annaham, and when it *is* talked about, like Kathy Sierra did, all it usually results in is a double helping of mockery and hate added on to a bunch of preening from people who are, for some reason, feeling the need to tell folks like Kathy that it’s good that they quit, if they can’t stand the heat they should … get back into the kitchen, I guess, is the appropriate take.

    And yeah, any blog site is going to get its share of driveby hacking attempts, but I’ve no doubt more controversial ones draw more concerted efforts.

    Thank you also, s.e.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Permalink
  7. Name withheld, obvs wrote:

    I’m not much of a blogger anymore. But one time I reposted something from another feminist’s blog, and a little while later while googling myself I found an entire blog entry with my full name and college, dedicated to what a slut I was, how I “read porn” on this feminist’s blog, etc. Eventually this faded in my search results, but now there’s a new thing with my name in it and another slur. Right at the top of my Google results. It’s not like that shit hurts my feelings, but I worry this is preventing me from getting a job. It’s not like I can do anything legally, because I don’t know who these people are. I’ve got a username for one guy and was able to find some things out about him, but not enough to get a name – and even if I got him, someone else would probably put the thing back up anyway. I guess I feel lucky that there are no threats yet, though.

    Thanks for writing this.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Permalink
  8. Kathy wrote:


    And the sad part is that it just isn’t talked about, by and large, so people are left to wonder “Oh, whatever happened to [blogger]? I guess she just got lazy and/or found something new to complain about” when the reality is more complex.

    Yep. I’ve been blogging in some capacity, either on my own or as part of a group blog, and it happens more that I’d wish to admit.

    I’ve been lucky — really lucky — I’ve had no real threats made to me. But when back when I was part of a larger online community, and one of few women there, I was relatively naive and shocked how many men acted like they were owed information about my private life.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink
  9. Julie wrote:

    Thank you for not being quiet.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Permalink
  10. Sady wrote:

    @Name Withheld: Yeah. I think, when we were discussing this, I made the point that reading the “Sady Doyle is a stupid bitchwhore hack but I’d still bone her” comments doesn’t actually bother me that much any more. There’s an immediate, human reaction to being threatened or called names, and I kind of learned that I couldn’t afford to have that reaction if I wanted to keep doing my job without being damaged by it. What bothers me WAY more is when people go after readers — finding their Facebooks, or their home addresses, or whatever, and using that to threaten or humiliate them — which is something I can’t protect people from, and which makes me feel like other people are getting hurt because of my actions.

    That said: Do I worry that, on the job market, the various campaigns to discredit me or spread damaging lies about me might hurt my prospects? Sure I do. I’ve been very lucky, and I acknowledge that. But we shouldn’t ignore that making people unemployable is a part of what these campaigns are for. It’s not just about getting you off the Internet, it’s about making sure you have as many real-world consequences as possible for your politics, including unemployment.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Permalink
  11. Steph M. wrote:

    I’m horrified that fans of Joss Whedon and Glee do this. Are they not taking in at all the inclusive and progressive messages of the shows they claim to be fans of? I used to think our culture just has a massive reading comprehension problem, but when you don’t even understand the television program you’re watching, something is really wrong with your brain.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink
  12. Steph M. wrote:

    Not that Glee or Whedon are perfect; but they at least try to be progressive.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Permalink
  13. Annaham wrote:

    @Steph M: Not to make it all about me, but fans of “progressive” makers of pop culture pulling this sort of crap when bloggers say things that they don’t like about their idols is not a new thing.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink
  14. Chris Clarke wrote:

    Thanks for writing this, s.e. I’ll be sharing this post.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink
  15. Zweisatz wrote:

    Thanks to all of you who keep writing anyway and my heart goes out to those who felt it was more safe to remain silent.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink
  16. Chally wrote:

    Like Annaham, I’ve drastically cut back my blogging profile. I haven’t received a threat in a while now, but they do rather tend to stick in my head. Like you, s.e., I’ve had to take a number of measures to protect my safety. It takes up time, effort, and emotional space that it really shouldn’t have to.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink
  17. Thank you for sharing this incredibly powerful post; as Chris wrote, I will definitely be sharing this.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Permalink
  18. Catherine wrote:

    I abandoned an online community a few years ago for this exact reason. I could handle the usual online drama, but when I started receiving rape threats via other media, it just wasn’t worth it to my mental health to stick around.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Permalink
  19. Zweisatz wrote:

    Oh, and I wanted to add: no one likes the fact that it’s more likely to be harassed after commenting here, but I don’t feel you are responsible for my comment choices!
    I understand that you want to create a save space and it’s infuriating when your efforts are undermined, but still: you are not responsible for my choices. You don’t have to FEEL responsible for my choices. After all, you are not the one(s) writing hatefull shit.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Permalink
  20. Orla Hegarty wrote:

    My first email internet threat came in 1997. It was terrifying since the stranger had tracked down my address and other personal information.

    My phone call to police ended with me in tears since they made it clear that by giving out my first name and largish city location I made it too easy.

    It sure shut me up for a good long while.

    Thanks for writing about this. It sounds like we need a ‘take back the net’ campaign alongside a ‘take back the night’ campaign.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Permalink
  21. smadin wrote:

    re: Glee, Whedon, their fans, etc., I think the issue isn’t that they try to be progressive — it’s that the creators, and especially their fans, believe that they have succeeded in being progressive. They’re done, they get to feel like they’re good people, and then when anyone criticizes them, they think they’re being told “you’re NOT good people! you’re BAD people for liking this!”

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Permalink
  22. Ponytime wrote:

    Thank you for what you do. I’m going to treasure your words that much more from now on.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Permalink
  23. Foxipher Jones wrote:

    Thank you.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink
  24. Cruella wrote:

    I know EXACTLY what you go through. Have also had rape and death threats which included home address details. Police did NOTHING of course. Thanks for writing this.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Permalink
  25. Laughingrat wrote:

    Thank you for writing about this, and for continuing to blog.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Permalink
  26. Everett wrote:

    I am so angry I can barely type. I may be used to receiving threats and knowing people who’ve received threats, but I never come to understand what allows a person to feel so justified in threatening, and enacting violence against another person in this way. And I write this as someone who actually had a former friend attack a cat of mine. I certainly get that some issues can spark anger in people, but that wholly different from issuing a threat because some blogger has a critique of Glee. How out of proportion! I’m glad you keep writing, s.e., and I’m relieved you have some barriers in place for your protection, but this is just another instance of ideological silencing, like you say. Moreover, it’s a counter narrative to the idea that blogging and bloggers are no big deal, make no difference to society. If that were true nobody would write such awful letters to them.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Permalink
  27. mystrdat wrote:

    Haters gonna hate.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Permalink
  28. CathElliott wrote:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I wrote a piece recently about my (disastrous) attempt to deal with some of the online abuse I’ve been subjected to:

    And you’re right. I had a huge response, but a lot of it was along the lines of “don’t feed the trolls” and “you’re only encouraging them by writing about it”. But I think we do have to write about it; I think people need to understand the shit feminists have to deal with for simply having the nerve to be feminists on the Internet.

    As you say: “This is a reality, and it doesn’t go away if we don’t talk about it.” So please do keep talking about it, and exposing it, and standing up to it. Who knows, if enough if us do that maybe those who host these hate sites and others will stop ignoring us and actually do something about it.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Permalink
  29. Mara wrote:

    Don’t ever give up. I offer you this quote:

    “I give you this one rule of conduct. Do what you will, but speak out always. Be shunned, be hated, be ridiculed, be scared, be in doubt, but don’t be gagged. The time of trial is always. Now is the appointed
    time.” –John J. Chapman

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink
  30. Words fail me. As I read this, I felt myself contracting into a little ball, the tears are rolling down my face. I just can’t fathom…. I don’t even know what to say except that I feel such deep grief at what you have had to endure and such gratitude that you have the courage and inner resources to continue to write your wonderful posts. I read a similar post by the gluten-free girl a while back, and it utterly shocked me. I had read, at FWD, that you all received threats, but I had no idea of the scale. I feel grateful that I have not had these kinds of terrors in my comments box, and fear when that occurs. It’s particularly creepy because it did seem as if someone tried to get the password to one of my blogs last night. I think I will change them all.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Permalink
  31. Amy Jean wrote:

    I am so sorry that you are forced to deal with such disgusting and frightening people. I want you to know that I think your voice is the most true and on point voice in feminist blogging. You have inspired me personally many times, have made me laugh, have brought me to tears. I felt like now was a good time to mention that I appreciate what you do so very much. Keep fighting the good fight.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Permalink
  32. Liz wrote:

    Fight on s.e. (and everyone else)

    Kicking ass & brave, that’s how we do it!!

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Permalink
  33. tigtog wrote:

    Thanks for writing this, s.e. It is vital that we are not silent, and that those who have it happen to them for the first time do not think that they are alone.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Permalink
  34. Stephania wrote:

    Thank you for being brave.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Permalink
  35. Krissy wrote:

    I’m honestly surprised to hear that it is this prevalent. I’ve been blogging on one site or another since 2003 and I’ve never gotten anything worse than a rude comment. :-\ I’m really sorry. You are right to speak. That’s the only thing that can change anything.

    It’s hard to keep talking about things that other people want you to shut up about. I come from an incestuous family. Talk about dirty secrets. It’s really hard to exist in the world and feel like a real whole person when you are hiding bad experiences. It makes you feel invisible and unimportant. It’s horrible.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Permalink
  36. Adelia wrote:

    You are a hero. That’s all I can say. I don’t even want to think about what the world would be like without heroes like you.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Permalink
  37. KittyWrangler wrote:

    Thank you all for continuing to write. I am seriously impressed and grateful.

    I’m not very tech savvy but what if there was one site where bloggers could send in harassing emails including all possible information about the sender? Where you could search for similar handles, ip addresses and so on and group the incidences of harassment by perpetrator so that when the harasser applies for jobs and so forth their name comes up on the list?

    As people who have faced threats, what do y’all think of such a site?

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Permalink
  38. Katie wrote:

    This is beautiful. I hope you know that for every single rotten person out there, there’s many who appreciate the perspective and voice you bring.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Permalink
  39. Ashe Dryden wrote:

    Thank you for speaking up and thank you for doing what you do. I know the vast number of response you get from people is less than positive because the positive people don’t always speak up. Know that we are out here, we appreciate you, and we stand with you. <3

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Permalink
  40. Joyce wrote:

    I’ve been dealing with this type of harassment since 2008 and it all started not because I had a blog, but because I defended another female blogger. I’ve been posted about repeatedly on AutoAdmit and had blogs created Blogspot dedicated to calling me fat, ugly, stupid, an alcoholic, disease-ridden. I’ve had my grad school professors, coworkers and boss contacted in attempts to ruin my future career. I’ve gotten emails from anonymous remailers containing nothing but my and my parents’ addresses.

    I kept blogging for a long time, because I didn’t want them to win, but I’m done. Having your reputation destroyed online can beat you down and I’m tired of that. I’m tired of not being able to express my opinion without being called a “stupid whore.”

    I’m done. But I have so much respect for the people who keep going.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Permalink
  41. SherryH wrote:

    Thank you for writing this, s.e., and for not staying silent. It seems as though I’m hearing a lot more about stalking and threats against bloggers, and I hope it’s a good sign that more are speaking for it, rather than a sign that the instances are increasing. Stay safe, and stay strong, and know that your efforts are appreciated.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Permalink
  42. Roy wrote:

    It’s always so sad that people want to deny others their voice. And it’s so disturbing how they would go about it. Thanks for having the courage to share this.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Permalink
  43. James A Woods wrote:

    I found a link to this post while poking around Google+. I could not leave without commenting, although I am finding it difficult to express what I want to say. Hearing this makes me sad and angry to the point of tears.
    Anti-reproductive rights, extreme conservative, fundamentalist, hater — I well recognize these labels, having been called by all of them on occasion (a couple of them many times). But I cannot even begin to fathom how anyone could feel justified in making threats against people who hold different views from their own. Such behavior is immoral and deplorable. It’s beneath the most base and ignorant of people.
    Being a male blogger who generally covers non-controversial topics, I find it hard to imagine what it is like to receive threats. You’ve given my a greater appreciation for the challenges some bloggers face. I thank you, s.e., for showing courage and dignity in posting about this. I intend to share a link to this post with some friends who I believe will find it of value.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Permalink
  44. Adam DeCoste wrote:

    I like @KittyWrangler ‘s idea. seems the way these tactics work is by isolating and emotionally overwhelming people. seems to me a site like that could hold harassers accountable whilst the person being harassed feels less vulnerable and alone.

    btw: hadn’t known your blog before reading this article, @s.e.smith; you’ve got a new reader.. :-)

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Permalink
  45. Rick wrote:

    Thanks for having written this, and everything before this.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Permalink
  46. Grace wrote:

    Thank you for continuing to blog despite everything.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 12:35 am | Permalink
  47. curiouscliche wrote:

    I often tweet links under the hashtags #Anonymous and #Antisec, especially on the issues of feminism and homophobia, because I feel like those groups could use some serious education on these issues. This is exactly the type of post I would tweet like that, but now I’m thinking I should probably ask ahead of time, because it worries me that I might just be stirring up a hornet’s nest. So yeah, is it cool if I tweet a link to this post with the #Anonymous and #Antisec hashtags?

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 12:45 am | Permalink
  48. Marzipan wrote:

    Kittywrangler – I say we do it.

    SE – you know I love you.

    I don’t get the same level of shit that feminist bloggers get, but I get enough.

    I’ve chosen to (mostly) not talk about it openly because it’s my attempt to deny them the pleasure of existence in my world. And that makes me perversely happy.

    At some point, it may cross a line where that doesn’t work anymore, but I am lucky so far.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 1:40 am | Permalink
  49. Dick Jones wrote:

    I’ve been blogging since 2003, during which time I’ve made many contacts with fellow bloggers, some fleeting, some enduring. Staggeringly maybe I’ve never encountered anything quite like this before and (naively?) I’m shocked at the scope and scale of it. It saddens me too that the great majority of your commenters here are women. All power to you and thank you for this post.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 1:48 am | Permalink
  50. Octarin wrote:

    Hello from Greece and thanks for this much enlightening post. Be aware that not only you guys are not alone in this, but that the world is watching. We, on the outside, who have privacy concerns and see major corporations daily infringe on personal space, and have blogs where you simply cannot have enough troll-spray at hand, understand this sort of psychological warfare. It is sad to see this coming from the Land of the Free, where Freedom of Speech is supposed to be as constitutional as the Constitution itself. No matter what these uneducated creeps do or say, you are fighting the good fight. Not because of what you say, but because you have the UNEQUIVOCAL RIGHT to say whatever you damn well please. I think it was Rousseau who said “I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to death for your right to say it.” This I personally hold dear, and I will never abide by anyone who tries to silence others, to beat them down, to shut them up, to blindfold them and kill their words. Keep it up. All the best. [Oh and don't worry about me getting threats cause of this, unless your trolls can manage a very expensive intercontinental trip, in which case I'll buy them a beer just for the effort, I'm pretty safe :) ]

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 2:50 am | Permalink
  51. Octarin wrote:

    Oh, and, addendum, hell yeah I’ve been sharing this on G+, and Facebook, and Diaspora, and you name it.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 2:54 am | Permalink
  52. Zweisatz wrote:


    In my opinion, that’s what the police SHOULD’ve already been doing. :/

    I’m not sure about the laws in the U.S., but in my country it would probably be illegal –as hilarious as that sounds– because of privacy issues. It doesn’t matter that the people you are collecting information about are the ones who violated privacy in the first place (and much worse).
    So, if it would be somehow public, it wouldn’t be okay, I think.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 3:14 am | Permalink
  53. Loo wrote:

    Personally, I just threaten to find them and chop their cocks off. Amazing how many shut up immediately.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 3:19 am | Permalink
  54. Eneya wrote:

    This is a very stron post. I can’t make myself say it’s wondefrul, because the reasons it’s written are horrifying.

    Please don’t give up and please keep the good work.
    If we can help with anything… say the word.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 3:56 am | Permalink
  55. Matthew F wrote:

    Thank you for making this post, and for not backing down.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 4:18 am | Permalink
  56. Spiral wrote:

    This post is so sad, but very true.

    My blog is very small and although it is pretty much void of opinions, I’m still subjected to threats like this regularly.

    The worst abuse and threatening behaviour I encountered online was when I was a community manager for a large company. I had letters sent to my office, emails, comments on the forums, private messages and comments on twitter/facebook. It got so bad that I decided to change roles. The company I worked for were very, very supportive – we even traced one man and reported him to the police who were very helpful. My office address is in the public domain and I’d often be told “I’m going to wait for you after work and follow you home”. Empty threats, I’m sure, but no-less terrifying.

    It’s sad that I had to change my career, but I’m so much happier now without the constant insults and worrying about my safety. Hopefully my blogging wont suffer the same fate as I love being able to write and share things that make me happy.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 4:44 am | Permalink
  57. While online bullying isn’t purely directed at female bloggers, it would seem that it’s far more virulent when women are the victims.

    Bullying of any sort sickens me, and when those supposed to protect the innocent merely mouth variations of “you must have been asking for it” (which we have progressed enough for there to be an outcry when spoken to rape victims) just for writing about things *enshrined in law as a human right*, it is equally reprehensible in my eyes.

    The only thing to do is keep speaking out, and encourage others to continue. If you hide, whoever you are, whatever you are, you will continue to be trodden on and bullied. Alone, they’ll destroy you. United, the tide can be turned.

    Excuse me, I’m off to blog about AIDS. I’ll quite possibly get a fag-basher or two dropping by. What fun.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 4:56 am | Permalink
  58. Helen wrote:

    I applaud you for this and for continuing. I had no idea high profile bloggers experience so much hate.

    Have the police actually done anything?

    Which ‘progressive’ organisation was this?

    If I were his supervisor, as well as sacking him for hate speech and harrassment, I’d haul him over the coals for skiving during work hours and bringing the company / org into disrepute.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 5:07 am | Permalink
  59. Hi Sady,

    I’m not sure where you are but you can call the helpline for your local or national Rape Crisis Centre if you want to talk through the impact of this on you.

    Some of our callers are regulars who just sometimes need to help rationalising what has happened and their own reactions to it.

    It’s just a thought.

    Take care, Sarah.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 5:21 am | Permalink
  60. @Sarah, this post was written by s.e. smith. And ou lives in the US

    As a matter of fact, of all of us five editors, I am the only one who does not live in North America. For now, Amsterdam has agreed to have me ;)

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 5:25 am | Permalink
  61. Ennu wrote:

    It always shakes me up reading some of the atrocious things you guys read on a daily basis. Thanks so much for doing what you do in spite of the hate.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 6:37 am | Permalink
  62. Susan wrote:

    I’m so glad I’ve never had any of this (probably because I don’t write much and don’t have much of an audience). It’s one of the reasons I’m probably never going to blog under my “real” name, definitely not until I don’t need to look for work any more.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 7:16 am | Permalink
  63. Joseph Prisco wrote:

    If a Joss Whedon fan is threatening rape and hatred against someone standing up for women’s (i.e. human) rights, then that “fan” has missed the fucking point. Thank you for being strong.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 7:27 am | Permalink
  64. Fiona wrote:

    25 years ago I spoke in an oxford student debate about safety on campus. The student newspaper published a photograph of me with no report only a caption:would you rape this woman. it is only in the last year I have felt able to speak about this public ally because until recently I have just felt as if I was pinned to a dartboard and offered up as a target by that. I am so sorry that women are still being subject to this kind of terrorism.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 7:37 am | Permalink
  65. Sady wrote:

    @curiouscliche: My personal thought is that every time we’ve been linked to Anonymous, we get mega-trolled or have to deal with the hacking attempts? I think they know that they do this to people — for some of them, that’s the whole point — and they get a lot more vicious when you speak out against it. So I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 7:42 am | Permalink
  66. Fiona, the number of issues we are not “supposed” to talk about is heartbreaking. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this lately: how many subjects are taboo and how many different experiences are silenced because if we speak out we risk reputations, careers, credibility, etc. Rape and death threats are one of such subjects but certainly not the only one. Just out of the top of my head I can think of a few more like personal experiences with abortion, mental health struggles, past addictions, abuse, etc etc. The very same experiences that make us human and relatable are never to be discussed because there might be serious consequences for those who do so.

    And in the end, this silence is just another way to keep people under control, because if many of us speak up, others might realize that their experiences are/were not unique. Then we would establish commonalities and identify patterns. And we already know what happens next… we might all demand change.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 7:46 am | Permalink
  67. Tama wrote:

    Hi from Chile. I think this discussion is really needed and for that and and this post I thank you s.e.

    Is important to us, as readers and commenters to understand how much hate is out there from people who just don’t want to hear from you or us or anyone who disagrees with them, really.

    Is important because it makes me, and us as a community, I think, braver and bolder. It makes us speak up and think out loud and protest and it get us angry against the multiple ways in which we are oppressed.

    So, for that thank you. All of you awesome, awesome people.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 8:29 am | Permalink
  68. Thanks for fighting the good fight and refusing to be silenced. It’s not easy.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 8:43 am | Permalink
  69. EmilyBites wrote:

    I can’t imagine the shit you must have deleted from your regular haters just in the course of moderating this thread! So many people don’t know about this issue, or won’t believe it, so thank you for talking about it, and carrying on.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink
  70. Nick Parsons wrote:

    You make me feel guilty for being part of the silent majority, not realising the horrors you have to put up with.

    Never ceases to amaze me how badly some people behave.

    Keep up the good work and don’t let them silence you!

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 9:17 am | Permalink
  71. Interestingly, since I commented on this site, I decided to take another look at what my troll has been up to. On his blog, he’s started referring to me as “YM”SH” a label for “deceased enemies of the Jewish people.”

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink
  72. M wrote:

    I’m apologizing for society being an asshole to you. We’ll call this class “the dumb” or perhaps, “the ignorant”.

    I’m sad that the internet gives people a place to be both courageous and mindless at the same time.

    Stay safe and take care.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink
  73. James wrote:

    I admin a smallish site for atheists, have for a few years. I get threats, too. Nothing like the scale you’ve gotten, but a couple of them rattled me. I’m sorry things are so much worse for you.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve gotten some useful info on how to keep people from digging up personal from the books How To Be Invisible by J.J. Luna and How to Disappear by Frank M. Ahearn. Some of the suggestions are extreme, I haven’t used it all, but it helps. Nobody’s sent me pictures of my new home.

    Anyways. I love Tiger Beatdown. I hope you do well and keep safe, and we figure out how to unfuck things so we can stop looking over our shoulders.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink
  74. Thank you so much for your post and for engaging your readers in this important conversation. I am a law professor writing a book on cyber harassment, online bigotry, and cyber mobs (forthcoming Harvard University Press), and I so appreciate this conversation about how online harassment can be silencing, terrifying, and nothing like lulz for the victims. I would love to hear from individuals who have been targeted and others who feel the same seeing it happen. Much thanks, Danielle Citron

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 10:29 am | Permalink
  75. Tedra Osell wrote:

    My hope is that every man who reads a post like this and says “wow I had no idea” will start policing other men. Immediately.

    Guys, if you give a shit, say something. Often.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink
  76. Marzipan wrote:

    Fiona – that is one of the most awful things I have heard. I am so sorry that happened to you.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink
  77. JP Stevens wrote:

    I apologize for all men. Actually, the men who do this, they aren’t real men. And any who call themselves Progressives most certainly are NOT. Keep on keeping on, fight the good fight, “Mirab, with sails unfurled!”

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink
  78. Lori wrote:

    Thank you. Just – thank you for talking about it.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink
  79. smadin wrote:

    JP Stevens, while — believe me — I absolutely understand the impulse to read people who engage in online bullying, harassment, and/or terrorism campaigns like s.e. describes out of the definition of “manhood,” that’s actually a fairly pernicious way of thinking. It can tend to let those of us who both identify as men and abhor such behavior think that we don’t, ourselves, bear responsibility for stopping it, because it’s not “people like us” doing it.

    But it is. They are people like us, because we and they are shaped by the same (or at least overlapping) sets of privileges and cultural indoctrinations. We don’t get to say “they aren’t really men” any more than a right-wing evangelical Christian gets to say a person who believes in both Jesus and the legitimacy of same-sex marriage isn’t really a Christian.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Permalink
  80. Zweisatz wrote:



    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink
  81. ColdSnap wrote:

    JP Stevens and Smadin – I think excluding those men who do this sort of thing from the definition of “manhood” might also give people a false belief that it is easy to tell these people apart from everyone else. This is dangerous, because just like you cannot in reality tell a rapist apart from the general population (unless you know), the people who send this kind of hatemail might actually be people you or I would quite like and get along with in other contexts (unless we know). I agree with Smadin and think that as a culture we need to get past the idea that people who do awful things are nothing like us – sometimes they are exactly like us. Also JP Stevens I do not want it to feel like I am attacking you and apologize if I have created that impression. You just reminded me that I hear people say that kind of thing an awful lot.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Permalink
  82. jele wrote:

    I don’t blog. I do read a lot of blogs, and I comment only very, very rarely. I’m drawn to reading several feminist and body positivity blogs. I appreciate the openness and vulnerability with which the writers approach their subjects and their audience; I think they’re brave. Some of the blogs I read occasionally post selected hate mail. But I really had no idea how drastic the situation is. This is important! Thank you for speaking out and educating some of us who didn’t realize…. and I hope your work inspires more conversation about this issue, so that things may change.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Permalink
  83. smadin wrote:

    Agreed on all counts, Coldsnap.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink
  84. Phoenix wrote:

    Thank you for speaking out about this. Spreading as far as I can, and hoping that everyone I know will do the same.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink
  85. Sean wrote:

    I just wanna thank all you folks at Tiger Beatdown for braving these threats to publish my favorite blog. I consider myself a feminist but I am always challenged by what you write. I have walked away from my computer totally pissed off(yeah, I like Judd Apatow) but I’m always thankful that I’ve been forced to rethink my own assumptions. You guys make me a better feminist and, dare I say, a better man. Keep your chin up.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Permalink
  86. eden hemming wrote:

    Another way that this can be dealt with is for all of us who AREN’T harassers and trolls – all of us who support social justice ideals – is to tell bloggers how much we appreciate them and what they do, and as often and heartfelt as possible. Even as supportive commenters, we can sometimes not seem as supportive as we actually are because we read but don’t say anything, or the only thing we say is something adding to it or contradicting. A well-timed and well-written “good job” can go a long way.

    That said, I have to add that Renee over at Womanist Musings posted about this topic awhile ago. (I can’t seem to find the post, so she may have taken it down.)

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Permalink
  87. Hank Single wrote:

    This is a desperately important article and I am really glad you wrote it.

    Here’s what I wrote around it on my wall, if you care to share it, great, if it’s too long, I understand. Stay Strong.

    This is such an important article. As someone who spends a disproportionate amount of time engaged in internet…’discussion’….with people whose ideals so diametrically oppose his own that a thin sheen of violence often condenses on the screen of my laptop, I realize how very little thought I had ever given to the relationship gender might play in something so seemingly benign as having a website.

    It takes so much effort to notice this thing – I’ve been curiously blessed being born male into a patriarchy, and it took me years to realize it; doubly blessed that I am not a small person – my concerns for my physical well being are minimal, I am comfortable walking in most places at most times and have rarely conceded to any feeling that I maybe shouldn’t say something to someone.

    There is a physical privilege at play, here, and this article highlighted the whole thing – the way in which people will not speak to me online, the avenues of insult they cannot pursue, how comparatively limited the threats available are. Who threatens to break into the home of a 6ft, 230 lb man over a disagreement about reproductive rights?

    No one, so far.

    It’s disheartening to put the supposition of one’s bravery onto gendered scales – I am less impressive for the stands I choose to take, simply because I fulfill several of the major criteria by which America at large assigns ‘a say’. This isn’t lost on me.

    I yearn, always, for media and art that helps bring the country into focus and I believe that this does.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink
  88. K wrote:

    Thank you so much s.e. for writing this. I have been working on starting up my own blog for the last month, and I had NO IDEA this sort of thing was such a problem. It never occurred to me that I could be putting my physical safety at risk simply by blogging. I’m going to do some deep thinking now about how to protect myself, and how much I am willing to risk.

    Just for the record: Obscuring the consequences of speaking out does not protect me. It denies me the right to make a fully informed decision about whether or not I am ready or willing to face the consequences. Come to think of it, interfering with my ability to make fully informed, autonomous decisions doesn’t strike me as very fucking feminist, eh?

    So thank you, s.e., for giving me some important information. Thank you to all the writers at Tiger Beatdown for continuing to speak in the face of such ugliness. Thank you to everyone who has spoken up and faced down the hate parade, for however long you could.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Permalink
  89. J wrote:

    Thank you for posting this. You are incredibly brave to have endured — not many would have had the courage to keep going, as you have well stated. You have so many supporters and I know I was shocked to discover how sick and twisted people can be to not only tell you what they feel you “deserve” but show you that they COULD.

    On a distant but related note, I’m ashamed of these rape-threat and hate perpetrators who identify with the fandoms of Joss Whedon and Glee. As a fan of both, these works celebrate gender equality, acceptance, creativity, and strength. How in the WORLD do these ideas (and many other positive, progressive thoughts) become disfigured to where they’re synonymous with rape-threats?

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink
  90. Eva wrote:

    Just wanted to say that I appreciate you, this article, and this blog. Thank you.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink
  91. Beth Mitchell wrote:

    Why are you reporting abuse to the police? Report it to your lawyer. If you feel you are in harm’s way, you have every right to pursue legal action to protect yourself. Your lawyer can initiate injunctions against the people who have threatened you. Even the “progressive org” guy.

    Please protect yourself with ALL means necessary, including legal representation. Good luck!

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Permalink
  92. Lori S. wrote:

    Thank you for this. You have my support and my appreciation always.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Permalink
  93. Joyce wrote:

    @Beth Mitchell

    Your comment wasn’t aimed at me, but I did report the harassment I’ve dealt with, both to police and to a lawyer (who has luckily taken me on pro bono – lawyers are EXPENSIVE). The police never figured out who was behind the postings and emails. Some people are good at using proxy IP addresses. And unfortunately, I the state I live in, the court system doesn’t like people filing “John Doe” lawsuits and have not allowed my lawyer to file, which means there are no subpoenas, no court orders, nothing. The legal system is broken when it comes to cyber harassment.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Permalink
  94. lindsay wrote:

    Thank you for writing this. I hope for every threat you receive from this post, you get a thank you as well.

    You’re on the front lines of this struggle and take an undue share of the shit and threats to make it a safe space, an enlightening space for the rest of us. It does not go unnoticed.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Permalink
  95. Carolyn wrote:

    It’s hard (impossible?) not to be rattled by people spewing hate, even before it reaches the level of credible threats. It helps to hear you name it: “They want you to shut up.” Thank you.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Permalink
  96. Val wrote:

    S. E….you are very brave. Flavia, Emily, Sady and Garland also. I don’t comment much, but I am reading. Sometimes agreeing wholeheartedly, sometimes questioning, but always impressed by the insight and eloquence you all bring to these posts. I’m sure there are many more like me out here…

    Stay safe…

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Permalink
  97. Aine wrote:

    Thank you… I’ve been wanting to start a blog for a couple of years (venting privately diary is cathartic but is pretty useless when it comes to actually combating the issues at hand) but I don’t have the thick skin (yet) to deal with this kind of viciousness. I’m glad you guys have more guts than me and please don’t shut up ;)

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 4:30 am | Permalink
  98. Jihad Punk wrote:

    I’m very sorry that you have been getting death and rape threats. I can’t imagine how scary and upsetting that is. I’ve received hate comments but never death threats or rape threats (thankfully). I’ve faced cyberbullying and harassment on the Internet, but I’ve never had anyone threatening to find me and rape me or kill me.

    I don’t allow comments on my blog and I don’t have a personal profile on Facebook anymore. It’s better to promote my works and not interact with strangers online.

    You are very brave for speaking out on feminism, race and gender issues, and social justice. I can’t believe that makes some people hateful with rage that they want to threaten you with rape. It makes me wonder what the f–k is wrong with people.

    Please keep speaking out. We’re here for you.


    Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 11:14 am | Permalink
  99. Cathy wrote:

    I have to agree with you. No good is done by sweeping this issue under the rug. Thank you for talking about this!

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 11:52 am | Permalink
  100. Ana wrote:

    I’m sorry you get such hate and violence. Please know you are greatly admired by many as well.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Permalink
  101. Chris wrote:

    I’ve never read this blog before, but I think it’s incredibly brave and informative of you to have shared this with the world.
    Thank you for not giving up, and I hope you can continue trying to spread your message despite the horrible threats :)

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink
  102. Kevin wrote:

    It’s a nasty world out there, and without a doubt, women are harassed both by those who wish to shut them up (or worse), and by those who have bizarre fantasies and delusions of grandeur (i.e. “I think you’re attractive and/or popular and/or smart, therefore, since I’m god’s gift to women, I expect you’ll be receptive to my constant weird attention.”). Creepy!

    How do you distinguish the run-of-the-mill sicko’s from the truly dangerous?

    For example, I worked on a suicide hotline, and some people found it entertaining to make prank calls. Some pull fire alarms for a laugh. Dangerous, yes, but often reformable behavior.

    More recently, a couple who has lost their dog, have spent thousands of dollars (and have been featured on national television as well as local newspapers) in an attempt to recover her. They get calls and e-mail from people who claim to have eaten dog, and other such nastiness. Do they really seek to physically harm this animal (or this couple) or do they just get their kicks from verbal abuse?

    What about political rhetoric, like Sarah Palin’s gun cross hairs on maps? Comments made on popular news programs? (I tend to recall attacks by the political right more than the political left, but there’s definitely been some “over the top” stuff from all camps.)

    On mailing lists that I belong to, there are some ugly insults, but generally no direct threats. Fortunately, I and others are usually responsive to such public bad behavior.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink
  103. Tucker Wolf wrote:

    I think there should be a website where the awful emails (perhaps even traced) get posted so the asshats know that the world knows, and it is not amused.

    I am done with people behaving like they are 11 year olds on a FPS game and can say whatever degrading thing they want and no one will call them on it. Freedom of speech has consequences.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Permalink
  104. Kita wrote:

    I’ve got a wee baby feminist blog, and I’m also a feminist on reddit. I get rape and death threats at least weekly. Sometimes they like to really get creative and threaten to rape me to death.

    Most of my friends think I should either tone done the rhetoric (aka be a “nicer feminist”) or stop posting online altogether because “boys will be boys” and you can’t stop the hivemind.

    Yeah, that argument doesn’t fly with me. Yes, it scares me, yes, I did have a near-miss when some angry “white rights” loons tried to find my home address. But I try to remember that if I’m making them this mad, I’m doing something right.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink
  105. Frogisis wrote:

    I loaded this into my text-to-speech news que last night and it just finally played, and I had to come right back and say I hope absolutely none of those nasty things happened to you, or actually at all in general, but especially not to thoughtful and insightful people who are put in the crosshairs for the apparently capital crime of not just lying down and taking it.
    I’ve only started following the feminist blogosphere in the last year, rotating in from the atheist one, and I’m more than a little incensed to learn that the fantastic writers from whom I’ve learned so much are attacked like this, even while adding courage to the list of qualities I admire about them.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink
  106. Grigory V wrote:

    You’re just awesome. Thank you.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Permalink
  107. Slaughtermatic Lover wrote:

    Add me to the list of people who want to say thank you for posting this. Keep your fists ready -we need fighters like you.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Permalink
  108. AJ wrote:

    I wanted to say that the posts on Tiger BeatDown and other feminist blogs have really made a difference to my life -not just in helping the way I think, but in making me feel less lonely when I realise there’s someone else who has the same values and ideals as me. So thank you to all you wonderful bloggers! Don’t let bad people get you down /fistshake

    Friday, October 14, 2011 at 5:16 am | Permalink
  109. OhNo wrote:

    I just don’t understand how anyone could write stuff like that and somehow make it OK in their heads. They are lacking a very important part of their humanity.

    Friday, October 14, 2011 at 9:06 am | Permalink
  110. Hel wrote:

    Thank you for not letting them shut you up. Thank you for speaking out about their attempts to shut you up. Thank you.

    Friday, October 14, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink
  111. Cassandra wrote:

    I’ve been a user of these fine Internets since the early 2000s, about a decade of my life, and I’ve been blogging for almost as long. In other words, I’ve read enough comment threads to know about the ubiquity of trolling. I’d review the comments, but I mostly subscribed to a “marketplace of ideas” philosophy when it came to the Internet. About a year ago, I also read some articles on Feministing on hatemail (I believe they also do a feature on Fridays where they highlight the winners (losers?) of the week, as it were).

    What shocked and saddened me about this piece was the degree to which death threats and threats to personal safety are systemic and curtail bloggers’ ability to live free of fear. I started to feel physically sick reading this, and realizing how systemic this is across the Internet. I wonder if there’s anything that can be done (since many of these threats are made anonymously). Are there any organizations that either make this a priority or are there spaces where conversations are being had about making this a priority?

    Friday, October 14, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink
  112. Friend, you should explore the corners of this here interwebz; there are folks out in the fringe who not only know how to deal with this kind of silliness, but can yank a fool’s faux-confidence up the digestive track and out their own nostrils fast enough to have them choke on their own laughter.

    I believe I have had precisely one person in my life make the mistake of actually setting forth an actionable threat; I suspect the fine and probation he got for it has kept his jets cooled these last fifteen years (to be sure I haven’t heard from him again and a quick scan just now doesn’t show a peep in the great, wide web).

    You don’t have to live in fear, you do have valid alternatives and there are many, many ways to demonstrate quite nicely and quicker than they EVER think possible just how foolish the choice to engage in such behavior.

    Familiarize yourself with the concept of the “john doe subpoena”, install and regularly archive the logs for your mail server and your domains, learn how to traceroute, ping, and look up DNS information, and familiarize yourself with the process of reporting abuse to the ISP/domain service provider as well as their upstream supplier.

    You’ll be pleasantly surprised how effective just this much can be, and I assure you, those who seek to intimidate or torment you will reap the karmic whirlwind; the fine folks who mind the rails on which we all travel here are pretty good guardians… and of more than most casual visitors to these parts ever know or realize.

    Happy to point you in a few directions if you like. Happier still to pick up the last few contacts with IP information or headers and show you how it’s done. (impish grin)

    Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 3:48 am | Permalink
  113. Pete wrote:

    A good decision to publish this – I’ve not read your stuff before but was linked here by Ed Yong pointing out what crap femme bloggers have to put up with.
    If you ever get to NZ we’ve got your back – first to give women the vote and take no bullshit.
    Stand up straight my friend – people believe in you.

    Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 7:30 am | Permalink
  114. marc roberts wrote:

    Such a depressing reality for you to have to deal with. Terrorism. I have no way of knowing what this must feel like, but just knowing that such sheer viciousness is resorted to so easily must require great philosophical reserves to deal with, let alone to transcend. I have folded under so much less.

    Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 11:53 am | Permalink
  115. Does this “progressive” organization, that is so complicit in letting rape apologists work for them, have a name? I don’t want to mistakenly give to them either. You can use the email I provided if need be.

    Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Permalink
  116. G.P. wrote:

    Oh, lovely! Just as I’m working on starting my new blog which–well, was SUPPOSED to–would (have)included a blub or two on feminist-related issues. As one reader previously responded, I too neither have the thick skin or emotional wherewithal to deal with such vitriol and will probably puss out on those arenas now. Or find some way to approach them in a method perhaps utilizing humor…..or just fucking stick with gardening, since, goddammit, it’s the 21st century and who do we wimmenz think we are to voice our opinions counter to (some) mens’? To the supportive guys who have posted here, I do NOT include you in the patriarchal-fucktard category, and bless you and much thanks for your kindness and support. S.E., God bless you for having the guts to stick it out and speak the truth–you are a MILLION times more brave than I will ever be! Keep up the great work, and peace to all.

    Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Permalink
  117. AJ wrote:

    Thank you.

    Monday, October 17, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink
  118. Courtney wrote:

    I myself have never been in this situation, but if I ever was I would be a lot more vindictive.

    I admire your strength.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink
  119. Margaret wrote:

    I am very disappointed to read that Joss Whedon and Glee fans behave so badly. That is NOT the message of those shows. Bad form people.

    Hang in there sister. :) *big hug*

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink
  120. maymay wrote:

    Thank you for writing this.

    I am reminded, endlessly, of the parallel of physical safety and cyber-safety in relation to gender issues.

    I am a man, and a technically-abled one at that (I am a former professional web developer), and as such I have a great amount of both male and techno-privilege to help protect me from abusive threats. And yet still my writings have forced me to seek the advice of attorneys as the threats affect my day-to-day existence to a degree many others simply do not acknowledge.

    I cannot fathom how much worse the threats are for those who lack male privilege—in exactly the same way as I cannot ever truly understand the lived experience of how much more dangerous it is to be walking down a physical-world street without the same privilege—and my heart goes out to all the courageous people who continue to do so, living their lives, rather than succumb to these despicable terrorists.

    So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing this up. This will surely be a post that I reference over and over again in the future.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Permalink
  121. V.E. wrote:

    Thank you for writing this. Thank you for speaking out.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 3:15 am | Permalink
  122. Alasdair wrote:

    I don’t have a blog (and perhaps more importantly, I’m male) so I don’t have any personal experience of this. I knew feminist bloggers get a lot of hate mail, but didn’t realise it was this bad. I’ve suddenly got a newfound respect for anyone who manages to put up with it.

    I wonder if there’s anything that could be done about these kinds of threats, beyond passing them on to the authorities. Maybe a public ‘name and shame’ blog, listing all the people out there who send abusive messages so the world knows who they are. Or would that just encourage them more, do you think?

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Permalink
  123. Arwyn wrote:

    So, interestingly enough I’ve not yet gotten death threats or rape threats per se, but since I blog a lot about parenting, what I get is commentary, and sometimes threats, about the removal of my child(ren) from my custody. The worst I’ve gotten have been statements that my kid(s) would be better off if I died, and “someone should call protective services”. And lots and lots of namecalling, of course.

    But I find this difference between my experience as an anti-kyriarchy parent and other SJ bloggers’ experiences with trolls and hate interesting. I hope to write about it sometime when I’m not typing one-handed, holding an obviously-traumatized sleeping baby.

    Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Permalink
  124. Helen wrote:

    What an amazing example of strength and bravery, well done for not being cowed. The anonymity of online society makes it easy for cowards. But if judges can imprison someone for posting ‘let’s riot’ messages on Facebook, I don’t understand why it’s not an obvious crime for someone to make a rape threat, if the person can be identified it should be straightforward for the police to arrest them shouldn’t it?

    Friday, October 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink
  125. NoName wrote:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I hesitate to comment on this (even anonymously), because I too have been the victim of online stalking and harassment. Not because I kept a blog or tried to speak out, but just because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and someone latched on to me and now will just not leave me alone. I think it is a huge problem on the internet, and there just isn’t any information out there about how to deal with it. I have responded by becoming increasingly anonymous online – shutting down my fledgling blogs on several occasions, avoiding friends who keep blogs online in their real name, leaving many social networking sites. This has had a huge impact on me because I am disabled and mostly confined to the house, so my one reliable source of social contact and support has been affected.

    I think it’s really important for people to speak out about this, and particularly the way that it, like real-world violence, disproportionately affects marginalized groups like women, people with disabilities, queer and trans folk. It’s important for us as a community to develop strategies to deal with it and to create resources and support for victims. Not talking about it is just not working anymore, and in the end we’re just doing what they want us to do: staying silent.

    Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 11:54 am | Permalink
  126. This breaks my heart to hear. But indeed, thank you for sharing. I’m definitely glad you haven’t shut up. I have not come across this blog before, but I do think I will be back.

    Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Permalink
  127. It’s an unfortunate fact for life for us bloggers that we get threats from random people who hide behind their anonymity. I get them all the time, but as a woman you can be subject to more creative threats including that ever present noun – bitch – for which there’s no equivalent for men.

    I personally believe in the right to remain anonymous if one chooses. But if you feel the trade off is worth it, implement a commenting system such as Facebook comments where people have to use their real names. That will weed out these sort of comments pretty quickly. But the downside is that lots of legitimate people don’t like to expose their personal names online.

    As usual, make sure you hide your details. Do a detailed Google search and see if you yourself can find out where you live. I see you have your own domain. So go to your domain records and put in some other address. I’ve had people try and find me that way and my natural hesitancy in putting my real world details online saved me.

    So take heart. These people speak like this only because of the power which comes with being anonymous. They would be too scared to ever carry out their threats…

    Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 11:12 am | Permalink
  128. Thank you so much for this authentic and brave post. I hear you. I applaud you. Pre-web, I was stalked by a fan of my newspaper column in the 80s who ended up killing someone else because I was not home. Now I get what I call “blog-bys” on my columns, posts, opeds. I had a strange fan appear at all my book signings on my first book. I called the police. I call supervisors. You are so right to be wary in your private life, about your home address, etc. I would suggest not having a land line. You are right to protect yourself. But most importantly, you are right to keep being the incredibly smart, insightful and courageous writer you are. Speak up for what you believe in. Keep the porch lights on. Carry a purse alarm. Just because a coward can type and threaten should not silence you. Just make sure you are physically safe. There is an army of us who support you. And we can type too.

    Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink
  129. Mikes wrote:

    And the question remains of how many of these hateful threatening messages are sent by paid trolls in a measured campaign of silencing dissenting views.

    Thursday, November 3, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink
  130. al capone junior wrote:

    Great blog. Thanks for telling it like it is and showing these people for what they are, which is cowards.

    Friday, November 4, 2011 at 6:11 am | Permalink
  131. SEan O Grady wrote:

    Reading this was very painful. The ugliness people so casually throw around is incredibly disturbing. My youngest son just started a blog and it makes me worry. I’m going to send this to him to read.
    I’m so sorry.

    Friday, November 4, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink
  132. Ariel Dougherty wrote:

    Bloggers S.E. et al– my deep appreciation that you work hard to keep feminist voices strong and dynamic in the public sphere. I am very distressed to learn of the horrific personal costs. This is not acceptable. Maybe as 16 Days of Activism to End Gender Violence begins Nov 25th more light can be shed on this issue and how we can work to change this situation. Keep writing, etc. We need your voices.

    Friday, November 4, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Permalink
  133. Dan wrote:

    This makes me so very, very disheartened in humanity. I haven’t, until today, really looked at the sort of thing available on the internet to read, have never been into blog reading in the slightest, yet to see the bright spark of culture that it entails, is marred somewhat by the truths entailed in this message. I guess in a population as large as humanity, with the tools for communication as abundant and easy to master as they are, the good the bad and the downright disgusting are all more present then anyone could imagine.
    *sad face*

    Saturday, November 5, 2011 at 6:35 am | Permalink
  134. widerborste wrote:

    wow, this is breathtaking in a negative sense. it’s horrifying – but not surprising.
    if it comes to feminist issues in left-wing or intellectuel german online-newspapers the commentary lines are full of hate-comments, on a level one wouldnt expect.
    that supports the insight that insecure male identity is inherently dependant on women-hate. as long as this is so, feminism is necessary and speaking-out is too! i think that (the insecure male identity) is also one reason why the threat of chopping off the balls functions quite well in some cases (as @loo proposed).
    But the idea of @KittyWrangler and others to put the comments on a website and compare them, and also to technically sue them, is important. It’s important to unite against cyber-harrassment.

    Monday, November 7, 2011 at 12:52 am | Permalink
  135. Susan wrote:

    I have recently read Anna Funder’s book, Stasiland. What is happening to feminist bloggers is a kind of Stasi stalking where the purpose is create an atmosphere of fear. I have a poetry blog and even that has prompted violent comments. Thank you so much for your article.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Permalink
  136. Max wrote:

    This was a very eye-opening article, thank you.

    Feminist blogs like this one changed my mind about a lot of things. Changed me generally as a person, come to think. Don’t give up the good fight.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Permalink
  137. Kathy Sierra wrote:

    Breaks my heart to see that things have steadily gotten worse, not better, since 2007. More threats, more acceptance of threats, and still more insistence that (as i was reminded yesterday) “no rational person would consider these things scary”. Meanwhile, the trolls/griefers/haters that attacked the epilepsy forums have shown us that not all online trolls are implicitly “people who’d never ACTUALLY hurt anyone”. In that example, it became possible for online harassment to cause someone’s death. Nobody DID die, but the number of online commenters cheering on those who carried out the attack should be enough to make anyone pause before assuming online harassment–especially threats–is nothing beyond “jokes in poor taste.”

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Permalink
  138. Matt wrote:

    Thank you for a remarkable piece of writing. The constant undercurrent of vitriol emanating from trolls is so pervasive that it threatens to become background radiation for all but the person threatened – and that is terribly, terribly wrong, as that behavior should NEVER be tolerated. It needs to be brought into the light and its practitioners shamed.

    Thanks for writing so often and so well about topics which must be exposed, and for doing so with humor and wit. It’s appreciated.

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Permalink
  139. Calvin wrote:

    Thanks for making this post.

    Inspired by it and the thoughtful discussion it provoked, I decided to make a place to collect all these stories in one place: “Taking Back the Net”

    Anonymous submissions are permitted. I hope people come forward.

    Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 1:51 am | Permalink