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This is important to me. I'm not sure what else to say.
[A brief note before I begin. It's possible that you may know the community that I reference here or the person that is being referenced. Please do not make comments about this community or this p...
Jessica Hammer's profile photoWade Lahoda's profile photoJeremiah McCoy's profile photoRJ Grady's profile photo
I want my nieces to have that freedom and priviledge when they grow up.
Doesn't the nature of the internet mean that a woman and a man are equal in the amount of physical danger they are in for having opinions? The point is the anonymity of distance, after all. That is why trolls exist, because they are safe. They are safe because no one will drive to their house and beat them up for saying the terrible things they say.

I freely admit there are people who are dismissive of women, degrade them, objectify them, ect... Those things happen. I also accept that there are people who don't know they shouldn't force their attentions on a woman. I am confused, however, how that translates to the notion that a woman is inherently less safe to post her thoughts online than a man. The same distance and anonymity that protects the trolls, is also blind to gender, isn't it. If you post something that offends me, the hundreds of miles between us is not somehow less due to your gender. The internet is the ultimate democratizing communication medium in that regard. I can speak to presidents and kings, rail against injustice, pretend to be a woman, black, or what have you. Why is it different, then, for a woman?

Am I missing something there?
Knowledge of the author's sex will in many cases bias people's reactions and opinions of a given piece for no other reason than simply gender bias.

For instance, if another woman wrote a reasoned, intellectual argument in support of wundergeek, there is absolutely a non-trivial percentage of the internet that will ignore the piece and instead simply rant about "How woman always stick together" etc etc. A male writing the same piece might get accused of white-knighting a bit, but the reaction probably wont' be straight out dismissive.
+Josh Hall Sure.I get that. I am not saying women do not get their opinion judged by their gender, and that is wrong. I am just wondering if it is a valid statement that they are less safe to make those opinions known than a man. The internet should be equal in how safe they are to have those opinions, even if society does apply different value to their opinions.
Am I missing something there?

In a word, yes. I'd suggest rereading the article as a different character, one who spent her entire life being told that she is responsible for how people react to her, one where people do follow you after an event or heck even a party with a larger group of friends to tell you how you were wrong for saying that, for not being nice, one who is told that if she says anything sexual and is then raped that she is at least partially responsible for that rape, one who says things similar to what the men say but yet she's the only one who gets the comments that she shouldn't say that.

You also missed the part where it was someone in the gaming community who said it, someone who is likely to be at GenCon, where she might run into the person. That might be why she's worried about her physical wellbeing.
+Jeremiah McCoy Yes, there are definite and known cases of women who say things online and then, when they are at some public event like GenCon, one of these trolls suddenly appears, and becomes a tangible threat. These kinds of things are unheard amongst men and only seem to happen to very very famous men. But it happens to not-so-famous women.

That, and what +Tracy Hurley said.
+Jeremiah McCoy The internet also allows you to find someone's personal address and phone number, Foursquare hangouts, gym, place of employment... Debates can and have devolved into personal attacks where information gets posted by trolls and jerks about how to find and harass people offline. That's often way more dangerous for a woman than it is for a man.
Jeremiah: What I'm talking about is the intersection of sexism and rape culture. Have you ever had a man react to something you said with anger and hostility and had your first reaction be fear that he might try to assault or rape you? Probably not, although that's not to say that men don't get victimized as well. It's not surprising that you feel like you're missing something, because rape culture is something a lot of men don't have to be viscerally aware of.

So there's that. And there's also the fact that female bloggers are routinely targetted in vicious harassment campaigns that often involve cyberstalking, real life stalking, threats to employment, threats to family, and even death threats. Read some of those articles I link to. Those are just the first 6 female bloggers I could think of that have been through notable instances of this. There are many, many, MANY more. There's a difference between trolling and ACTUAL STALKING AND DEATH THREATS. And the sad thing is that this is just an occupational hazard for female bloggers, whereas male bloggers almost never, ever have to deal with anything on this level.
Tracy, I am not saying, in anyway, that women do not get the short end of the stick from societal norms. Your response seems to show I was in someway disputing that. I am not. Nor am incapable of viewing those factors objectively. The post in question specifically posits that a woman is less safe online than men. She has not, and you have not, presented anything that supports that contention.

A specific threat, is a thing not dependent the medium of transfer. It could be verbal, on tv, or in the mail. It is only expressly dangerous when the people in question are in proximity. That is assuming mail bombs are not a factor, which for the most part, they are not. Most of the ones sent int he mail were actually intended for men, anyway.

But that is beside the point. If you contend that women are less safe in person, such as a convention, then yes, I would say that is a valid statement. Violence against women is a well known thing. Online however, there is no threat of physical violence. I could threaten to set fire to someones head online, but that is not the same as a threat with physical proximity, because one can happen and the other can't.

A woman, in person, has more to worry about than a man in many regards, but the internet does not suffer from those threats. She may be disregarded, her opinions not given correct weight, but those are not matters of safety. Those are matters of importance, to be sure, but they are not safety.

If I created an identity online, which was female, no one would be any wiser. My safety as a female identity is not less or more as my identity as a male, and vice versa. If you made a male online identity, you could maybe show a difference in how your opinion was greeted, but your safety would be no greater or less.

Is there some special factor to the internet, specific to women, that effects their physical safety? I can't think of anything that meets that criteria. It would be like saying it is less safe for a woman to speak on the phone, use a pen, or receive mail, than it is for a man. The internet is a medium which is gender neutral. The opinions of the people on it are not, sadly, but the medium is neutral.
I should add that I am not as well known as some bloggers, but I have been in situations where I was certain my safety was in danger, for being bisexual, or being fat, or in one case, beaten for, I kid you not, looking jewish. I consider those to be issues of physical reality, not the internet though.

It is a valid point however, that had not occured to me, that the internet does make the info about you more easily available. That is a concern we all share, but it does facilitate those who would step beyond just verbal sparing, and that does happen with women more often. I am not sure that actually means the internet is less safe for women, but the point is well made.
So...if a woman is threatened at a convention because of something she said or is online, that's not related to her safety when she chooses to publish online?

So, yes. A woman is less physically safe when she posts online because it increases the chances that something will bleed over into 'real' life and cause her to be physically threatened.
Wow, that's a brilliant example of skimming a text, willfully ignoring huge chunks of it and pretending you read it, just to make your point.
Jeremiah, please read the post, its links, and the comments here, before going on.
Online however, there is no threat of physical violence.

Really? I bet if you read those other stories, you'd know that wasn't true. I have a friend who had an online stalker show up to her college dorm. I've heard many more stories like that, most of them centering on men who took exception with what a woman said and deciding to tell her about it in person.
Seriously. Please read the post. Please read the links. The systematic RL harassment of female bloggers is very, VERY well documented. Please educate yourself before you try to claim that it is a thing that doesn't exist.
I did actually read the article and links. I would appreciate people not confusing the points made on a different interpretation of those points, with being ignorant, sexist, or even being less than thorough. I have given no cause for that. My disagreement, in this case, has nothing to do with your or my gender. I was making a point based on the stated contention, not that the value based on gender roles. I never discounted that women are victimized far too often. My point is that the physical world is where things become problematic. All the hostility in the world, online, is not the same as a physical threat. I do concede the issue of information availability does directly translate, however, so that is something for me to consider.
+Jeremiah McCoy I'm sorry, but your reply does have things to do with gender even if you think it does not. It's not about your gender, or my gender, but it is about what many people think they can get away with because they are male and the subject of their ire is female. It has to do with how women are told that the reactions they get are completely their fault and that if they were just nicer, like women are supposed to be, it would all be fine. It's about stalkers and the creepy people who wait until your alone in a hallway after a talk to tell you what they really think of your talk, your blog, well, just about anything. It's the belief that hostility based on words doesn't have the same value or fear as hostility based on physical presence. That, itself, is pretty problematic.
This is the last thing I will say on the subject concerning any of your comments, because it's busy today and I don't like repeating myself.

No one called you sexist. They said that your privilege is making it hard for you to see the situation as it exists for women. There's a difference. Everyone has privilege. As a white cis woman, I have tons of it. Take that in the spirit in which it's offered and not as an attack.

Second of all, you can't tell me that my lived experience, and the lived experience of other female bloggers is wrong. My first reaction in that situation was to wonder WILL I GET ASSAULTED/RAPED. Other women who pre-read the post said they could identify. I'm sorry this doesn't fit into your view of How Things Are, but rape culture doesn't just affect women in meatspace. It affects women 24/7, online, meatspace, wherever.

(EDIT: for a stupid spelling mistake)
I have nothing to add to the ongoing conversation with Jeremiah, I just wanted to stop by and say thanks for the article/post.

My only comment is that Jade Raymond doesn't really fall into your category of people that "have opinions on the internet." She gets crap because she happens to work in video games and is who she is. Which, in a way, is even worse. I mean, there is this thing with geek culture where a lot of men in the culture get unfairly caricatured by people outside the culture as creepy pseudo-rapists. And then Mike Fahey, who should know better, should so know better of all people, goes and does his creepy "hubba-hubba" thing over at Kotaku.
+Jeremiah McCoy I think you're missing the point. The point is not that somehow the internet will allow someone to reach through a computer and assault women but not men. You're getting way too hung up on the medium of the internet rather than the real point: It is more dangerous for a woman to express her opinion publicly than it is for a man to do so. Regardless of medium. It's not really about the internet specifically, it's about expressing an opinion publicly. The internet is just where people do that these days.

Even if one does it through a pseudonym on the internet, there are still tangible threats, because some in our society may go out of their way to find/track down real life information and threaten someone. Yes this could and probably does happened to men too, but it's a much bigger problem for women.

And heaven forbid a woman wants to not have to hide her identity! Wants to actually maybe make public appearances, or try to make a living at writing.

Again, try not to get too caught up on the internet aspect of it. Look at the fact that women are frequently threatened for having opinions and expressing them publicly, regardless of medium.
+Stephen Brandon that is a valid point. My only issue was the base stated contention. The internet as medium. I never disputed the rest, but maybe that is an issue due to lack of clarity on my part.
I know it's an argument style, but the whole "valid point" wording feels a bit weird here as is trying to force something that is largely about feelings (feelings that are shared pretty darn often) into some sort of rigorous scientific analysis and quest for complete objectiveness in order for it to be discussed without being derailed.
+Tracy Hurley I would never argue someone did not have valid feelings. I will argue against what I see as rhetorical or logical error. That women feel unsafe more often than men, is something I can't and won't argue against. Validity of points made on a logical basis are all I tend to worry about in those kinds of issues.
Thank you for sharing this article. It address an issue near to my heart, and it frustrates me that discussions of it in the wild often devolve into 'us versus them'. I need to get better at communicating with other men about chauvanism.
+Jeremiah McCoy
First, not everything should or needs to be written about or discussed in a logical/rhetorical fashion.

Second, the logical error I believe you are making is that you seem to think the validity of women being more likely to be assaulted in real life after expressing their opinion on the Internet is important to her overall article.

What I am saying is that given this history, it is impossible for me not to be aware of the gendered overtones of this new incident, this personal attack in a reasonably public online space. I, a woman, said stuff on the internet that he, a man, did not like, and the reaction that was inspired was sufficiently rageful that my very first response was to fear for my safety.

This is her argument. The same lack of respect for women that leads to real life abuse against women appears to be present in the online attack against her, in a public forum, of a very personal nature. But the public nature of the forum and the fact that it was a personal attack should have dissuaded the person from making the attack. Yet it didn't. Now, maybe in this one incident it has nothing to do with gender, but overall, this happens way to often for me to dismiss the possibility without proof.

Both she and the person are in the gaming community and are likely to both be at GenCon at the same time. This led her to fear about her physical safety the next time she is at GenCon because 1) she's apparently already had someone do something similar in real life at GenCon and 2) the person in the online forum already demonstrated a lack of respect possibly due to her gender. These continue to be true regardless of the validity of the point you are focused on.
+Jeremiah McCoy : Research shows that something as simple as having a female username on IRC means you get TWENTY FIVE TIMES as many hostile or malicious messages. The study was appropriately conducted (all users were identical bots, differing only in username) and if anything underestimates the negative experiences women have online.

Now, perhaps you're arguing that there are never, under any circumstances, connections between what happens on the Internet and what happens in "real life." In an era where employers are trying to get people to turn over their Facebook passwords, I find that laughable.

Perhaps you're saying that while online behavior can have an impact on the real world, that impact never results in physical harm? I suggest you look at the literature on stalking, including cyberstalking, if you believe that to be true.

I'll also add that I find the distinction between "real life" and "online life" to be facile and problematic. Our online selves are part of our real lives. Even if the kind of online harassment Anna describes never resulted in physical harm, if it destroyed a woman's ability to participate in online life, it would be doing real and serious damage.

I'm sure your first impulse will be to argue with the points I've made. That's fine, but I won't respond to you unless I get a thoughtful answer to one question: why is it so important to you, personally, to contest the idea that women face different risks to their safety than men do?
OK, I'll bite, +Jeremiah McCoy.

"There is no threat of physical violence on the internet."

So is the argument that because you've got the internet in one category, which contains things like print media, mass media, etc where physical violence is impossible because all interactions are mediated through impersonal channels there is no violence on the internet? I cannot get punched on the internet. It's impossible. That sort of thing?

And that's true, of course.

Read on its face, "there is no threat of physical violence on the internet" sounds like nonsense because a lot of us are reading it as, "there are no threats of physical violence made via the internet." What you mean to say, I think, is that "there is no possibility of violence happening on the internet." Right?

But, of course, what is categorically different than an anonymous death threat received in the mail than a functionally anonymous death threat made online? And should we really have to sit down and parse any differences (time of composition?)? Is that really necessary?

And the internet makes this all worse, not better, because there are crowds involved. If people post something horrible that they otherwise would be too afraid to do because of proximity or anonymity or both, that doesn't make the post less threatening. It also encourages those with similar positions to speak out. The meatspace stalker that spends all day obsessing over someone most likely knows that their behavior is deviant. On the internet, we give you corroboration.

Does that make sense?
Nearly everything can be discussed in a logical manner, and more things should be. Too often, emotion and belief have held sway about how people discuss issues. If there was more objective consideration in the world, then the world would be less of the problems we all agree we see.

As to your point, in my response, I never disputed those things she said about the feeling unsafe due to previous incidents or the cultural bias against women. I focused on one point, because, among other things, it makes it easier to discount the rest of what she says, because that point is logically shaky.

The same thing about showing a lack of respect to her in an online forum, for making personal threats, is also the aspect of the internet that allows people to criticize repressive regimes, allows you to call out someone no matter how imposing they may be in person. The inherent anonymity allows the speaker to have distance, a sense of security.

Now that women do not have a sense of security in everyday life is troubling. The fact that men will still make value judgement of their opinion online, based on their perceived gender, is also terrible. The rate of violence against women is historically, and currently abhorrent. I have not, nor will I ever dispute those.

I only point to what I saw as a logical error, women being inherently unsafe on the internet as compares to men. The medium is inherently anonymous and distant, which is what allows me to go to KKK website without getting shot, or for me to talk to celebrities that might make you to nervous to talk to in person. Now there was a valid point that the information available online is greater than people suspect, which can lead to a lack of safety. I concede that well made point.

The point is, women are made unsafe by societal conditions, and not the medium itself.

The world is violent and unfair to women. The internet is not more so. The internet does give a damn about your gender. The world, unfortunately, does.
+Jessica Hammer If I had it to spend, I would. It looks very good. I may contribute to a lower amount, because I think it is a nifty idea, even if I am a starving college student. :)
+Jeremiah McCoy The issue you're missing is that gaming really is a pretty small world, especially when you narrow it down to people with any degree of notoriety who talk about it online. They go to the same conventions. There is in fact a Geek Social Calendar, and just like with the Social Calendars of old New York society (for example), the small cadre of people most active in the community end up seeing each other at the same events. There are roughly five dozen people I see three or four times a year at different cons and events. When you get tagged by ridiculous troll-rage it's annoying. When you get tagged by troll-rage from someone you a likely to see at a con in the next year, that crosses the line from annoying to worrying. I'm a six-foot dude who grew up in a town full of clam-diggers and lobstermen. If someone has a problem with me online and I'm likely to see them at a con, that doesn't scare me. They're free to discuss whatever they'd like with me in person. If my five-foot female friend from the suburbs gets harassing and vile message from someone she's going to see at a con in six weeks, I worry a hell of a lot more just how under control that schmuck's rage actually is.

Basically, you're right, we should discuss this all logically. Unfortunately, you just made a big logical leap when assuming geographical anonymity with online communications like the ones discussed in the linked post. I trust that you will now understand why your comments have provoked such a response, given the flawed underpinnings of your position.
+Jeremiah McCoy Stop trying to pretend that men are treated exactly the same way as women on the internet. The medium should be equal, but it isn't. As stated in one of the linked stories, if you sexually harass a woman on the street, you get negative responses by everyone.

But sexual harassment of women online is often rewarded and supported. There's a positive feedback loop that allows men to use the internet to harass women because they know that releasing personal life details and information makes women inherently less safe than men. Because they know that they'll get support from other guys in doing this. Because despite the fact that it shouldn't matter it still does. And the medium of the internet is still more friendly to men than women.
And also, I really worry about people who insist that we discuss inherently emotional topics (like being attacked in vile, disgraceful terms) "logically." Most humans are emotional creatures, and those emotions cannot be discounted. Discount emotions when discussing an emotional topic is like saying, "Look, if we just ignore revenue limits, it's actually quite easy to solve our financial problems." It's nuts, and it's an argument often used by people without the mental horsepower to actually take on challenging and important issues.
The point is, women are made unsafe by societal conditions.

Yes, that is the point. It's dangerous for women to express their opinions publicly. That includes doing so on the internet. This is a problem with society. That was the point that was being made.

You're still too caught up on the word internet.

The "internet" aspect isn't all that important to the actual point of the article except in that it's a place that opinions are generally public. The actual point is that societal conditions make it dangerous for women to express their opinions. Especially so in places where anyone else can see them. The internet is one place that happens these days. I thought that was pretty clear.

Just replace the phrase "on the internet' with "in public" and reread the article. The internet is just where one makes opinions public these days. Maybe the article could have worded things slightly more carefully, but frankly I think most reasonable people can see that the internet specifically wasn't the point and your intense focus on that one detail comes across as nitpicking.
Sometimes when a lot of people tell you you're wrong, it's because you're, you know, wrong.

Just saying.
Whenever somebody tries to break down a complex problem to show that it's really quite simple, I'm reminded of a great Mario Andretti quote about driving a race car: "If everything feels like it's under control, you're just not going fast enough." If you think this problem can be boiled down to simple logical points that show it's really not as big a deal as everyone thinks it is, you're just not thinking hard enough.
+Frederick Hurley sideways insults aside, you still use examples of physical safety being at risk when the internet is not medium. The internet as medium is the basis for my whole point. When ever you leave it behind, you have different issues.

That said, I have stuff to do today and letting a discussion end was never been my strong suit. I now wander off. Disagree or agree, it means little in the end. That there are still issues in society about our treatment if women is certainly not in doubt. I am sorry if I gave anyone offense. It was certainly not the intent.
+Jeremiah McCoy First of all, it wasn't a sideways insult. You're an idiot. Is that clearer?

Second, the only person hyper-focusing on the internet as the medium is you. My point is that you seem to be assuming that when you express your views online, you can maintain control of the medium. My point was that this is a hyper-focusing and wrong-ass way of viewing the situation. Do you go to cons? If so, there's a good chance we'll bump into each other at one. Are we going to act like this exchange never happened because it's compartmentalized in this little box in your brain labeled "internet interactions?" Fuck no! Because that's not how human interaction works! I'm going to know you're an idiot because you displayed that idiocy online, and I don't have this weird thing where I compartmentalize my human interactions by medium. So now that I know I can dismiss your views as irrelevant, I can do so regardless of the medium!

Now imagine that same dynamic, except pretend I'm a petite woman, and you called me a "stupid c*** who deserves to be [insert vile act here]." Since I don't have the handicap of compartmentalizing interactions by medium, and I supposed to NOT feel threatened should we meet in person at a con?

Alright, I'm done. Peace.
"The world is violent and unfair to women. The internet is not more so. The internet does*[n't]* give a damn about your gender. The world, unfortunately, does."

Part of the problem here is that we're being sloppy with the term, "the internet." The internet as a tool for communication is gender blind. The internet as media, is gender blind. I think we all agree on that.

The internet as a social group or collection of social groups, is not gender blind and you agree ("the world, unfortunately, does ['give a damn about your gender']:).

But the internet as a tool or as media isn't a book. It's uniquely positioned to permit crowds of people to interact with one another and some bit of content and the crowd part of it is what becomes problematic.

If a stalker snail mails a threateningly letter to a woman because of something she wrote online, then she has the letter and he's succeeded, most likely, in terrifying her. In this context, what she wrote might as easily have appeared in some other media than the internet.

If a stalker posts a threatening message on a woman's blog and other posts encourage him or mimic him, then he's not just succeeded in terrifying her, but he's also been encouraged. He's found a community (even if some of them would be horrified at the actual prospect of violence). This problem is more or less unique to the internet.

I'm ignoring all the stuff about how online threats translate into physical assault b/c that's being handled admirably by everyone else.
I think what +Jeremiah McCoy is saying boils down to, "It's perfectly safe to be a woman on the Internet, provided you pretend that you aren't one and never link anything you do to any kind of real-world identifying information about yourself."
I think it seems like +Jeremiah McCoy is essentially doing the "Guns don't kill people - bullets kill people" thing. It is certainly true that the internet is merely a medium of communication and is incapable of directly hurting anyone unless like a server rack falls on you or whatever, but that is a total distraction. +Pearce Shea nailed it pointing out the internet isn't just a technology, but also a collection of social groups.
I am school, but some of the vitriol does warrant returning for a moment. I was trying to argue an isolated point in the post. I tend to bite into a point and argue it beyond what I should, sometimes to the point of offending or hurting people. It appears that I have done that again, for that I am sorry. Maybe if I were better at communicating, then maybe..but that is not the point. I don't realize I have actually pissed off people most of the time, till I get called a name or the like. That is not excuse, but an explanation. My point got lost in the back and forth, which I suppose is the point several people made to me.

Again, I am sorry if my concentration on rhetoric and side points angered, hurt, or offended. The main take aways of the original post are valid, and I should have emphasized that more in my responses. I got carried away with a singular point, while ignoring the content. Please accept my apology.
As one human being to another, I just wanna say, don't ever stop rockin'. You are worthy.
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