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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. 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
  2. Grigory V wrote:

    You’re just awesome. Thank you.

    Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Permalink
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. AJ wrote:

    Thank you.

    Monday, October 17, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. V.E. wrote:

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

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 3:15 am | Permalink
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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
  26. 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
  27. 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
  28. 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
  29. 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
  30. 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
  31. 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
  32. 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
  33. 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
  34. 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
  35. 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