Interneting while female

Perhaps it’s just the spaces I frequent, but being a woman — and being unapologetic about it — seems a radical statement these days.

It took me a few days to distill the roiling rage I felt at seeing my beautiful, lovely friends — and strangers, too — being hit with these types of things, but I think I’ve got enough control now to talk about it without descending into a fiery hate monster that just spews f-bombs and other curses like napalm. We’ll see, though.

Sharing experiences on Twitter is apparently crime enough to get not just the not-all-men types to crawl out of their holes — the “ladies, please: not all guys are unsafe; look at me. I’m awesome” dudes who just can’t keep their mouths shut long enough to learn something (and, seriously, guy, this isn’t about you) — but death threats and rape threats. The former are bad enough but the latter — well, I can only hope there’s a special place in hell waiting for those who carelessly utter the latter.

So because it apparently needs to be said: This is not OK. It’s not all right to respond to something someone says with threats of violence. At all. There. Now you can’t say no one ever taught you this.

Being a woman in meat space means taking special precautions. When I work late (as I do), I pull my car as close to the door as I can. I walk those few steps cellphone in one hand poised to hit send on a call to 911 and my sharpest, strongest key shoved between my index and middle fingers because, honestly, something’s better than nothing, and a key to the face has to hurt. When I go to cover stories, I always make sure someone knows where I am, and I insist the people who report to me do the same. I do all this and a hundred other things because I know well enough the dangers I face simply from being born female, for identifying as female, for existing while female.

Few of these strategies work online.

I am too pragmatic to think I don’t need similar precautions on the Internet, though.

(And if you want to hear some people talk about this more eloquently than I do — well, one of them is eloquent; the other has lots of f-bombs — check this out. To see how quickly you can go from zero to #notallmen, have a look at Cassie’s post. I read the comments. It was a rookie mistake.)