WWAC is always willing to post carnival submissions and guest posts pseudonymously and anonymously. This powerful post is a contribution to round four, Harassment In the Geek Blogosphere.
I wasn’t going to write about harassment in the geek blogophere because I don’t run into a lot of it and I didn’t feel I had much to say. I was wrong. When I thought about it, I realized I don’t run into online harassment very much because, just like in real life, I am hyper-aware of where I am, who is around me, and how what I say could bring unwanted attention.
Does that sound familiar? If you’re a woman or you’ve read about how women protect themselves when out in public it should, because this is the same strategy women use to protect themselves from sexual harassment and rape.
Take a moment for that to sink in. When I engage people online, I use the same strategies to avoid harassment that I do in real life. I shouldn’t have to employ those strategies either online or in real-life.
I only feel free to speak my mind when I’m in a space I know to be safe; my personal journal, with privacy settings locked down, and the occasional Web site that seems friendly towards women. Otherwise I feel I’m taking a risk on inviting harassment every time I post or comment publicly.
That isn’t to say I mind if someone disagrees with what I say and expresses that, but I have far too often witnessed online disagreement taking on the form of harassment. I shouldn’t have to worry about my privacy, about being reduced to my most basic biological functions, or my life being threatened just because I chose to express an opinion.
I’ve seen users online scoffing at the idea of trolling being equal to harassment, but I suspect most of those users don’t have a real-life fear of harassment drilled into them from birth framing the experience for them.
I could take a stand and speak up. I could put myself out there and stand against harassment with my head held high. I could, but I’m not going to. This opinion piece is being published anonymously because as much as I feel it is unjust for me to fear harassment, that fear is very real and I don’t want to deal with trolls.