Blogging as Creating Safe Spaces

TW for mentions of misogynistic and rape-apologetic comments not published on this blog, just to be safe.

 

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had quite a few very negative and misogynistic comments in response to my writing, and it’s gotten me a bit down. I’m very busy lately; end of semester assignments, (one after the other) at uni, trying to organise moving house in the holidays, rushing to the library every time I need to use the internet because it’s taken three weeks for our new connection to be hooked up. Seeing comments waiting to be approved that make me squirm hasn’t been helping at all.

I’ve had several people asking me why I don’t trust people to realise that a joke with a sexist slur isn’t to be taken seriously in the real world, because obviously no one thinks that way. (Look around. People do.) I’ve had someone tell me that my saying “making sexist jokes is wrong” is the same as censorship in a dictatorship. In response to this post on sexual harassment, I’ve had someone send a long and detailed email asking “are you really so afraid that you can’t just deal with it yourself?” and saying “but I’ve been seduced by women who weren’t interested in me to start with” (ergo, your logic is faulty). Last week a comment on this post said that the rape survivors he knows are turned on by rape scenes on TV, so I shouldn’t make a fuss, and that there are enough instances where rape is ok to desensitise you to those scenes anyway.

Ever since I’ve started blogging I’ve been unsure of how to deal with these sorts of comments. They take me aback because I don’t expect to find them on my blog. I honestly don’t know why people expressing these opinions (especially the last few) even find my posts.

The question is: do I approve those comments in order to spend time and energy explaining the way I see the world to them in the hopes of educating them? Or do I decline to publish them, feel guilty for a while that I haven’t even tried to change their opinions, and then move on?

I’ve been reading some posts at Hoyden about Town on comment moderation and policies of declining to public unacceptable content, and it’s helped to think about what I want to do about this in the future. Obviously this is my private part of the internet, and I have the right to publish what I want to publish and get rid of things I find offensive or not useful. But I’ve also been thinking about other people visiting my blog, and my responsibility to them.

My readers, however few,  have the right to know that this is a feminist space, one that should be a safe space for explorations and diverse aspects of feminism and all its intersectionalities. It is a place for discussion and arguments of a respectful and feminist nature. If you don’t consider yourself a feminist, or have issues with the very basis of what I write about, then this is not a space for you, and I will not allow you do derail my arguments, challenge my fundamental beliefs or post misogynistic or otherwise unacceptable comments. Because in doing so, you are making this space uncomfortable and unsafe for women (and feminist-allied men) who may find my blog and feel welcome here. I deal with enough sexism and slut shaming and rape apologism (and racism and homophobia and fat shaming and and and…) out in the world. We all do. The least I can do is make this space safe from all that.

So in the future, I am deleting all unacceptable comments. I will ignore comments that backhandedly ask me to explain my views. I cannot educate everyone, and if you really want an answer, then you will search and find that answer elsewhere. I will not let you take my space from me.

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5 thoughts on “Blogging as Creating Safe Spaces

  1. Wow! I totally agree with you! It’s crazy what some people think is okay to say!
    Why don’t you think about somehow setting up a forum type thing. I don’t know if wordpress offers such a thing, but it might be good for facilitating discussion. Just a thought 🙂

  2. Jo, I’m the responsable for few of those comments.

    In no way I wanted to desrespect you or your space. The main objective was actually oposite to that. I’ve going through a hard time myself and felt the need to search for info on those subjects. On your blog I thought i might had find a place to finally interact to someone and go deeper on my thoughts and feelings.

    I do feel sad that you simply dismissed my comments as Inappropriate instead of giving me a peace of your space and time but thats your right and I´ll respect it.

    1. Daniel, thank you for understanding my point of view. The sorts of issues I write about – be they safety from sexual harassment or the implied meanings behind sexist jokes, are still very real to many women. The “empowered, have-it-all” life the media shows as available to women still greatly differs to the actual, lived experience of women. My blog is a voice for my lived experience – I write about what I see and hear, and no-one can rightly tell me that my experiences of the world aren’t accurate.

  3. I’ve had several people asking me why I don’t trust people to realise that a joke with a sexist slur isn’t to be taken seriously in the real world, because obviously no one thinks that way. (Look around. People do.)

    Yes! Why is this so hard for people to see?

  4. Hi Jo, I think it’s so great that you are recognising and addressing this issue. I know too many people for whom, writing, creating, facilitating communities etc o n the internet starts as a rewarding experience and ends up with them being attacked and bullied. It’s all too easy to get caught up in replying to inflammatory comments or repeatedly answering obvious questions which usually have already been addressed, and then something that had started as an inclusive, friendly, safe space becomes increasingly closed-off and defensive.

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