I’m glad Meena Kandasamy wrote this piece, and said as much — although I realise there are some difficulties in the manner in which she expressed it — because I do understand what she’s trying to get at at the bottom of it all.
The same issues — of privacy, persona, being a public target — have come up repeatedly in my conversations with other women writers. Some have stopped blogging, restricting their truly meaningful insights and anecdotes to mass emails and Facebook notes. Some turn off commenting on their blogs altogether (the fact that the vast majority of hateful comments come anonymously or under pseudonyms is extremely telling). I moved to WordPress last year because of the flood of virtually entirely anonymous hateful comments, death threats and frightening gestures I received in the aftermath of having spoken out about the Malaysian apartheid. I became painfully aware that there are people who in the non-virtual world would have tea with me, and then proceed to log on anonymously and try to tear me to shreds.
No one sums up more eloquently what it feels like to be a woman writing under her real name , putting herself out there as she really is and not as some Internet construct of self-portrayal, than my dear friend Petra Gimbad; I post an excerpt from her private note here with permission
“”But we make this choice because having our say is more important than all the fear in the world that assholes out there can create in us. Until you have experienced the fear of being stalked (which has happened), sexually harassed (yep), raped, criticised for being attention-seeking or being attacked personally for your political ideas, you have no fucking clue how scary it is to be a woman and to put yourself out there.”
So I think it’s about gender? Yes. I do.