Make the harassers own their misbehavior!

I’ve been thinking about the extreme harassment Kathy Sierra has gotten ever since Liz Henry brought it to my attention. It’s been burning up electrons on one of my mailing lists, and it’s made the technology blog of

My response to trolls in the past was honed in the Usenet days; it was best to fail to provide the responses they craved by refusing to engage them. However, things seem to have devolved to new lows. Amanda of Pandagon and Melissa of Shakespeare’s Sister came in for a whole dogpile of vitriol from so-called Christians and they ended up severing their connections with the John Edwards campaign. Bill also gave some more examples of women bloggers who are constantly dodging the dung flung at them; I find the attacks on Ginmar (here’s a recent example) especially disturbing because she’s a combat veteran, and I’d bet that most of her trolls are part of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders safe at home. Now, we’ve got a highly visible woman techblogger having to curtail her activities and call in law enforcement.

This cannot stand. I note that some male bloggers are speaking up about harassment they’ve experienced, but the really virulent attacks reeking of violent misogyny are saved for women who dare to be visible. Refusal to engage these harassers is not enough. They need to be identified and made to own these attacks; anonymity is not our friend. In addition, we need to be mindful of the words we send out; there’s a gradient that leads from snark to this kind of evil dreck.


  1. ginmar
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this. I find that a lot of the attacks on me come from little Pussycat Doll feminists, who find me disturbingly serious and claim I’m attacking them.

  2. Cynthia
    Posted April 1, 2007 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Re: 1) De nada, it’s the least I can do. So the little Pussycat Dolls find you disturbingly serious? Poor babies, their illusions are crushed. Welcome to the reality the rest of us live in and the one you have the courage to speak up about.

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