This post is for every person that has argued against pseudonyms online.

This was sent to me this morning via the ZDNet Contact Form on my most recent article suggesting what Google+ could do to fix this. I mentioned that G+ should allow pseudonyms for many reasons, including what I have witnessed in my work as an Advisory Board Member for Without My Consent. (And yes - I also mean pseudonyms that do not masquerade or "pass" as real names.)

I present this with the identifying information redacted, of course:


Hello,
I share this with you since you work with Without My Consent. Please feel free to use my story in whatever manner you feel it might assist.

When I was finishing my bachelors degree, I took a feminism class. We were discussing the issue of rape. I listened to two women explain how it could never happen to them, because they were trained in self defense. They were good intelligent women but I realized also naive. In a class of roughly 40 men and women, I explained I had extensive self defense training also. That I was a male in good condition, I was from a rough high school and generally knew how to look out for myself. I then told them of how I had been caught off guard when hitch-hiking, struck in the back of the head and regained consciousness being raped anally. I was affected by severe head trauma and unable to react. He finished shoved me into the car and was likely taking me somewhere to dispose of me. Fortunately traffic was somewhat heavy and I gradually regained function, and as he slowed at one point to perhaps 30 mph, I rolled out of the vehicle. He sped away. I called the police in the city where it occurred and was told by a bored police officer, that "they could not worry about every fag who had a tiff with his boyfriend." He then hung up.

I told this class of this experience in hopes of waking people to the fact that physical ability, gender, self defense training, awareness are meaningless, all it takes is one moment for something to bypass all of it. The two women, two other rape survivors, and one man who had never even considered that it could happen to males approached me afterward and we became good friends and a small support group for each other.

Sorry for the extended prologue. Also in that group was one male, anonymous then and now 30 years later. He stalked me for 10 years by phone, by typed notes on my vehicles, by notes in my mail box at the university. Vicious, hurtful phrases, names, suggestions and such. This would occur for weeks, then end only to start up again a month later. I was depressive then anyway, plus still very much in post traumatic stress from the rape. It pushed me to suicide attempts on several occasions, destroyed a marriage and a long term relationship. It did not end until I had moved twice and finally left the state. For years afterward I dreaded answering the phone, fearing he had again located me. Why did he do it? Who knows, reaction to events in his own life probably.

But the point being, that occurred within a class population of 40 people. What if I had posted that experience on-line in hopes of helping others and to come to grips with it myself, hoping for support from other victims? I get cold chills thinking how many people would have used identity information to do the same malicious things for whatever reason. There were times I regretted ever opening my mouth in that class. Would I do it again? Yes, because if it prevented one person from being sexually assaulted, then it was worth even the harassment.

I read with disgust some of the self-righteous crap from people in the Talkback section for the Google+ fiasco. Using a pseudonym is little enough in the way of protection, but at least it prevents all but the most determined retaliation. I wondered how many people would have been prevented by fear from takings stands on issues. How many would have been subject to retaliation ranging from loss of jobs to death had they been exposed by real name? I am sure there are some who would put themselves at risk regardless, and they have my admiration. But what about the risk to family members and friends who could also become targets.

If you can use any of my rambling to point out the need for anonymity on-line and such, feel free to use it. I no I have no need to worry about my identity with someone such as yourself. All the best, keep up your good work both in technical discussions and more importantly, at Without My Consent.
Shared publiclyView activity