My blood is BOILING WITH RAGE from reading about the threats and extreme harassment that people made against Kathy Sierra.
And I wish I could ride in on my warhorse and help fix it, but I can't. I'm not even surprised at the threats and harassment. That stuff and real life acting out of it happens every minute of the day. The surprising thing is someone speaking up *in public* in her own voice, unmediated.
Kathy rocks for speaking up. She rocks for calling this out and exposing it on her blog. She rocks for calling the cops and the FBI, and for saying so. She wasn't shamed into silence or afraid of being called "too sensitive" or "humorless", two things which often stop women from speaking up. I admire Kathy's strength. I imagine the moment after she wrote that post, when she was looking at the "Publish" button and wondering whether to push it. I'm glad she did. I'm inspired, and I take her public response as a good example.
My immediate, visceral reaction is this:
You know what, jerks, bring it on. I'm not afraid and none of that shit will ever, ever, shut me up.
I really like what Dannie Jost said in Kathy's comments:
On the grand scale of things, this is very unfortunate and totally unacceptable, it is however necessary to continue the fight which is nothing more than a fight for human rights and dignity. Learn to deal with your fear, do not let them win...
Molly Holzschlag added in the same vein:
I've always believed this is a self-correcting community. Well folks, we need to correct this absolutely unacceptable, abusive, illegal and heinous behavior.
Kathy, your community is with you. Your abusers will not win this one, oh no, unless they are ready to take on the rest of us, who greatly outnumber these sick and twisted people who are obviously jealous of your success.
Keep being yourself, don't stop and let the bastards EVER win.
Thanks for those thoughts, Molly, I knew I liked you!
I'd like to link out further to reclusive leftist, who describes the exhaustion we experience as women bloggers:
Every time I read somebody saying that patriarchy doesn’t exist anymore, feminism’s won, etc., etc., I think, try being a feminist blogger for a while. Or if you already are a feminist blogger, wait a bit until the shit finds you. Or try doing online research on anything connected to feminism and find yourself shoulder-deep in a slime pit of woman-hating so toxic it makes you want to weep with fear and despair.
I do feel that fairly often -- but in this case, am more angry than despairing.
Some commenters mentioned a book called "The Gift of Fear" which sounds interesting but also maddening. I get the idea it's to tell women that if they start feeling afraid they should pay attention to that and get the hell out of dodge. SCREW THAT. Like we need any more "chilling effect"? How about a book called "The Gift of Total Rage" or "The Gift of Collective Action To Overthrow Patriarchy," suckers. To hell with fear.
Now let's kick some ass.
I'd like to make a call to action. When this kind of shit happens, we'll call it out and document it in public. Call it in the moment. Call it in front of your coworkers. Call it if it's major or if it's minor, it's all part of the same spectrum of misogynist behavior. How about just saying, once in a while, right in the moment if you can, "That's not funny," when it's really not. Say it crosses your boundaries. Say it's not acceptable to you. This takes practice, but with time, we can all do it and find strength in numbers.
Update: Really good post from Min Jung Kim, It's awful, yes. I'm happy to see people like Robert Scoble and Mike Arrington speaking up in support of Kathy, and considering the times they didn't speak up. So I hope they hear Min Jung's points about the pressures on women to be anonymous online, and in particular, Asian American women:
it is also important to be quite clear that this is not the first time this has happened.
It’s just the first time it’s happened to someone that you know.
You see, I’ve known several other women (specifically Asian American women bloggers - Comabound, BadGrrl, C., A., J.,N, etc) who have had to pull down their blogs, shuttle from one domain to another, remain utterly anonymous, password protect their sites, or give up their online communities altogether. The list is longer than I’d like.
Why? Oh yes, stalkers. Rape fantasies. Obsessed emails. Comment trolling.
Threatening notices. IM harassments. Flowers sent to your work office. Etc.
I’ve gotten them all too.
This is NOT NEW.
We could also do well to think about the reaction to this situation and what was the blogosphere-wide reaction to that dude who was harassing Lynne D. Johnson so bad a couple of years ago? (Here's some links on that incident: Hip Hop Hates Me; krispexgate; That damn lesbo; xxl mag online.
My own reaction at the time? Did I say anything? I can't remember. Makes you think doesn't it?