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A Blogger I Know Was Outted

March 4, 2012

I’m going to keep the details vague, because I don’t want to participate in this outting, I just want to comment on the practice of revealing the “real” identities of bloggers who choose to write under pseudonyms.

There are a lot of reasons why bloggers chose to use pseudonyms: the freedom to express themselves without inadvertently hurting or antagonizing family members and friends, job security, privacy, etc, etc.

When I started this blog, I decided to use my real name. I had my personal reasons just like the people who use pseudonyms do. It doesn’t make me braver, it just means that I wanted this blog to become part of my resume, so to speak. I wanted to become a writer, and this blog is a platform I can use to get my name out there. To get other writing jobs.

Choosing to publish under your own name or a pseudonym both come with their own set of pros and cons. Sometimes, there are subjects I don’t write about, because they could hurt my family and friends. Sometimes, I wish I didn’t censor myself, and using a pseudonym would definitely do away with that problem. Using my real name also makes applying for certain jobs more difficult.

I was a substitute teacher there for a while, and the last thing I needed was some enterprising student or fellow teacher to google me. There are a lot of career paths that are no longer a possibility for me, because I write about sex. And although, I stick by my decision, it sucks that society puts these kinds of limits on us.

You’ve all heard the stories of people losing their jobs, of people having their lives turned upside down because their blogger identity was outed. I find it shitty that we live in a world where someone writing about sex workers rights will get fired from a teaching job because of it, and I find it sad that we live in a world where people are determined to out these people just to create havoc in their lives.

In this particular case, the blogger whose identity was outted is a very critical writer, in the sense that they are not shy about voicing their opinion and deconstructing other people’s writing. One of the writers this blogger often criticizes discovered their identity and outted them on Facebook. The comment thread that ensued disgusted me.

These people, feminists, sex writers, etc, obviously don’t agree or like this particular blogger, which is fine, whatever, but what disgusted me was how they attacked the way this person represents their gender and sexuality. One person even went so far as to figure out where this person works and threatened to call their employer in the hopes of getting them fired.

I find this kind of behavior very distressing. I just wanted to say that I think this outting of bloggers is really disgusting, and there’s no reason why we should participate in these kinds of personal attacks. Messing with other people’s lives in this way is just unconscionable. It’s one thing to criticize a persons politics, but it’s quite another to try to get them fired, because what they say upsets you.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. TemptingSweets99 permalink
    March 4, 2012 8:09 pm

    horrifying behavior.

  2. March 4, 2012 8:14 pm

    The writer who did the outting is a well-known anti-porn feminist who writes for a national paper. You’d think a “journalist” would know a little something about keeping people’s identities secret… with the all mighty importance of keeping sources secret and all that.

  3. March 4, 2012 8:17 pm

    It just sucks. Sex worker friends of mine have been outed my a mega-douche bag who publishes legal names alongside escort profiles. Who are these homophobic misogynists who gets off on policing women’s (everyone’s) behaviour, sexuality, and self expression? Probably sitting in his basement playing “Hot or Not” on TMZ. NEWS FLASH: You’re a miserable, oppressive person and no one wants to fuck you!

    Thanks for the rant.

  4. Gillian Colbert permalink
    March 4, 2012 10:11 pm

    I wish I could say unbelievable, but it’s all too believable in today’s world where imposing one’s own morality upon others is once again becoming commonplace.

  5. March 4, 2012 11:38 pm

    Debate and question ideas, not the validity of the person expressing them.

  6. March 5, 2012 1:19 am

    @NM: You’re welcome. And I feel just as passionate about people outting sex workers. That shit really pisses me off.

    @Gillian: I wish that weren’t true. It can be depressing to think about, but then I remember that there are people like all of you who are fighting against these kinds of things, and that makes me feel better.

    @Fruit Taster: I couldn’t agree more.

  7. March 5, 2012 3:00 am

    “The writer who did the outting is a well-known anti-porn feminist who writes for a national paper. ”

    When I read your post, I wasn’t sure if you were really talking about you-know-who, but after reading this, I realized that you were!

    Anyway, the most disgusting thing about this journalists behavior is her justification. She basically says that she was forced to out her to protect the world from this writer. And to put a crown on top of the shitpile, she is actually framing this as an act of benevolent feminism.

  8. March 5, 2012 3:09 am

    I tried to stay vague, but I guess I wasn’t vague enough, but yeah, I agree with you the worst part his how she justified the outting. The worst kind of justification there is. Ugh.

  9. March 5, 2012 3:10 am

    Its a coincidence, really.

    I was following the writers twitter and blog and noticed a couple of posts in my RSS feed that had disappeared in the meantime.

  10. March 5, 2012 3:14 am

    It’s a small world! Especially with Twitter and RSS feeds. I accidentally outted myself on twitter once. I went back and deleted it, but it’s still there if you google that specific thing, which I won’t mention.

  11. March 5, 2012 3:21 am

    Heh, so there are things you are keeping private? Between your Name and artsy pictures of your period? 😀

    Well, I guess people have different sensibilities.

  12. wayne w white permalink
    March 5, 2012 4:48 am

    I don’t know Olga, I’m going to have to at least partially disagree with you on this one.

    Yes, there are many valid reasons fro blogging under a pseudonym. If you are blogging about your views or beliefs on say Religion, Politics, divisive Social Issues, and so on and have a real fear that you will suffer or even be harmed if your identity becomes public then certainly.

    Some published Authors who are stepping outside of their normal bailiwick could also find a use for anonymity.

    However, you also state that this blogger is a very critical writer who often deconstructs the writing of the people, and that the person who outed him is often one of his targets or subjects.

    When a person uses anonymity to hide behind their criticism of others I see that as both cowardice and hypocracy.

    That is NOT to excuse personal attacks or slurs directed at him, that is never acceptable. But any writer who has had their work criticized publicly has the right to know who their critic is, as do the rest of the people who are reading the criticism.

  13. March 5, 2012 6:08 am

    @Tim: You have to wonder if I’m willing to post artsy pictures of my period, what do I consider worthy of privacy? Lol.

    @Wayne: You make some good points, and I agree that some people use the anonymity of the Internet to spew hateful vitriol at others, and that you should be accountable for what you say whether you use a pseudonym or not. But, in response to criticism from an anonymous source or someone who uses a pseudonym, I think it’s possible to engage with that person in relation to the identity they have chosen. Had I chosen to write this blog under a pseudonym, I don’t think that should have precluded me, for example, of being critical of a public figure’s politics, motivations, or personal brand of feminism. Maybe, I feel this way, because I happen to agree with the initial criticism brought against the aforementioned journalist who outted this blogger… I don’t know, maybe I would feel differently if someone outted a person whose actions and beliefs fill me with ire, like the douche bags who publish legal names along side escort profiles (as mentioned in an above comment). Maybe if it were those people being outted and brought to task my personal feelings would lean towards, “fuck yes, these cowards deserve it.” But in general whenever I hear of someone’s identity being outted on the Internet it usually falls under sensationalism, or wanting to kill someone’s voice. “We know who you are now, shut up, or else.” And in all the cases I’m familiar with it’s always been about shutting up women who don’t fit the norm or who are trying to change the status quo: sex workers, feminist, gay rights activists, women who are critical of feminism, sex positive writers, etc, etc.

    I think there’s a lot we could say about this particular subject. I mean, an argument could be brought forth that under the law everyone had the right to face their accusers, but then there are issues of free speech, privacy, how the Internet is changing the way we interact with one another… I mean, it could go on and on and on. I think these are important things to think about, I don’t have the answer, but I like to get people to think about all these things for themselves. To ask the questions that matter… Anyhow, I’m gonna stop now, because It’s 6:06am where I am right now, I just took a sleeping pill and I fear I’ve gone on a tangent that could go one forever. I maintain the original point, or at least expression of outrage I initially brushed upon in the original post. Good night all, ❤

  14. March 5, 2012 8:56 am

    This is disappointing and yet from experience, I am torn.
    I know a man who has experienced an online attack, where his full name, address, work address and email where published on a very popular blog all because his social view differed from the bloggers view. The posts were just hideous, calling into question his sexuality, his politics, his employment ridiculed, his personal life spoken about. This man’s name can be goggled and all of these things said about him are there for anyone to see. This spread to many other blogs, a few of them here on word press, all talking about a man they knew nothing about, from second hand made up material. Who knows who might believe them, hold them against him, refuse to employ him and yet none of it is true. This was done by a man who hides behind a made up name. He is saying such hideous things. His hate rants against women, against anyone different has to be read to believed. His anonymity preserves his privacy and perhaps his life, but he has no trouble giving out someone elses full details. It’s beyond my comprehension. He has no accountability. As I said, I am torn.

  15. March 5, 2012 1:37 pm

    Whoa, that’s horrible. I feel torn now too. I don’t think anyone should give out another person’s full details online, especially made-up things about them. That’s just plain wrong. But what does someone do against someone so intent on tearing someone else down? I suppose the person could be sued for harassment and libel. I’m sure cops could easily figure out this blogger’s real identity, but most people don’t want to go down that road and I don’t blame them. It doesn’t exactly fix things. It’s like high shcool bullying, only on a much larger scale. I’d love to hear solutions if anyone has any?!

  16. March 6, 2012 5:28 am

    So true. Bullying on a grand scale. He chose not to go down the legal road, but for a time it was a option, albeit a very expensive one. I like to think that people like this are rare…at least I hope so.

  17. March 6, 2012 4:11 pm

    Bullying definitely doesn’t stop after high school.

    It sucks that legal action for those who really need it is usually too expensive to bother with.

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