You may perhaps recall the Take Back the Night marches from your college or community. Or may be considering attending one this year. If you are not familiar with the term, it refers to organized marches and rallies to support women's moral right to be free from threat, violence, sexual predation, intimidation and homicide 24 hours a day, including in the night when many women avoid going out alone. Typically, these marches are held in March or April. A Virtual Take Back the Blog March is also needed now, and indeed timely, so that women's right to be free online to write and to participate fully - free from sexual predation, death threats and all other illegal or predatory conduct - will be taken seriously, starting in our own community.
I have written my thoughts elsewhere about both the Kathy Sierra case and the meta-topic of how bloggers are responding and should respond. My goal is not to resurrect the dead diary of the day on that specific topic.
Rather, we should be thinking forward and positively to stand up for what it right. Who will stand for the MORAL and LEGAL right of women to full, not second-class, cyber-citizenship, not just when they have a male chaperone, as it were? Who, on this matter of principle, will follow the words of Thomas Jefferson and stand like a rock? How? And if not now, when?
The answer of how we liberals, civil libertarians, progressives handle this issue is a big deal. We saw the drumming out of two shining stars of the blogosphere from the Edwards campaign not from the highly controversial comments each had made a while back on an unrelated topic, but from the debilitating organized terrorism fostered by a faithful Roman Catholic activist and media assassin in midtown Manhattan. In fairness, Bill Donohue did not threaten Amanda Marcotte or Melissa McEwen with predation, rape, and death; he merely smiled and enjoyed the financial, membership and PR gains from the army of online predators who did. To those great bloggers and amazingly brave and dignified women, I say I AM SPARTACUS and wish you the best, still now.
We have seen the radical silencing of a technology expert who, knowing both the technological realities of her medium as an experienced professional and the unbelievably vile, sickening and sexually predatory nature of the online assault against her - replete with a noose for her head and face made out of panties courtesy of one as yet unidentified sick, predatory fuck - brought in federal law enforcement, cancelled her speaking engagements and shut down her blog. Now a sexist view would be that she is a stupid woman whose views about threats against her are surely hysterical. A realistic view is that she is an experienced professional who knows her medium like farmers know grain and lawyers know law, knows the technology and tech business worlds like a champ and knows that she is under the severest of assaults, requiring big guns. While she was not a voice of the liberal blogosphere, she could have been, and could as easily been dismissed as hysterical.
Of course, which sick panty-noose photoshopping cyberstalker fuck is Teh Loser Masturbating in Mom's Garage and which is John Hinckley or Mark Chapman is a hard call to make. The FBI trains people in making that sort of call. But in either case, the intimidation is unjust, immoral - not "immoral" like Ted Haggard claiming homosexuality immoral, immoral as in murder and rape = and women and men who care about justice and morality will not sit back.
Cyberspace is the night. In someways, it's the ultimate night, with a lot of beauty and a lot of potential terror, with visitors ducking in and out of the shadows, all wearing masks, many wearing multiple masks.
A lot of people make a lot of noise about net neutrality legislation, worried that the net will start favoring some voices over others procedurally. But the first requirement to have an effective voice is the confidence to say what the fuck you intend to say without life-threatening consequences for you and your family from cyberpredators. This harm, like many harms, disproportionately damages women, because many, many men hate women - especially successful, outspoken women - and will use unspeakable means to silence them for the gratification of their own miserable lives. "Misogyny" does not do justice to what these people are and do; "pathologically predatory hatred" gets closer to it. So the pressure that women feel not to speak the truth, not to speak of their lives from the standpoint of stone-ass reality, not to tell it like it truly is, can get perversely magnified in cyberspace. Where women should be safest to speak - in their homes, at their workstations or wherever - they get silenced in fear by yet one more fucking lunatic. THAT'S the net neutrality we should work on NOW and every day.
What is the remedy to this? The remedy is that women bloggers - especially our own liberal, progressive sisters - should know always that we've always got their backs, as they say. All of us - men and women - should have their backs. When the next Kathy Sierra or Amanda Marcotte or Melissa McEwen gets 100 rape and murder threats from 100 sick fucks filled with insane hatred, we will not tell them to ignore their fears, shut the fuck up or shut the fuck down. We will tell them, "OUR SISTER, YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE OUR SUPPORT, 100% NOW AND FORWARD!!"
As noted above, April is a traditional month for the Take Back the Night marches. The four TBTN marches I attended at Princeton over 15 years ago were very important events in my life and who I became as a person. In a previous diary I blogged about the impact of those marches on my personal and professional life. I learned more from those experiences than from all except perhaps two of the 30 courses I took while I was there. So I am announcing the first annual Take Back The Blog March, a blogswarm in defense of women's right to be left alone in peace at night, including in the night of cyberspace, to be published on April 28, 2007.
If you care about women's dignity as people and as FULL participants in this community - not the Daily Kos community but rather the community of all liberal and progressive bloggers - I hope you will consider contributing. I will maintain the swarm list of links for Take Back the Blog March at my own site, Crablaw Maryland Weekly, and will prepare a link logo in the next few days for that purpose (or if you have a good logo, please contribute.) Contributions will be welcomed that stand up for the dignity, privacy, sovereignty, self-determination and freedom of women against all forms of predation - in the blogosphere, in cyberspace generally, and in regular life.
If you want change, be that change. Your sister deserves to know that she absolutely has your support, 100% now and forward. Thank you in advance for any support you can extend.