Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Online and Female -- is that a problem?

I'm public, online, female, joining with thousands of others.  There are a few message boards I like to go onto occasionally.  I have online friends there, sometimes IRL friends, too.  Not chatrooms, though, as they all seem to be for quick sexual pickups.  And, I have this "blog."  It's public, viewable, open, and I'm a woman.   Is that an issue?  Does that put me at more risk?

I just got IM'd earlier.  His SN was similar to someone I know.  Approximately two  short and normal lines, then "what u wearing"  Seems I did NOT know him.  I asked him if I knew him, and that what I'm wearing wasn't for discussion / didn't matter.  "idk im horny"  As if that's MY problem?  What classy guy trolls that way, anyway?  He obviously hasn't read my stuff if he thinks I'm into that crude stuff with a stranger bit.  Annoyed at the disturbance, I wrote that he needs to find someone else, then, and to have a good evening.  What he wrote was laughably infantile and unprintable, and reported to aol.  Sadly, there are just enough jerks out there IM'g that type of crap too often, even if it's rare I have to report someone.  Typically, the guy will either stop IM'g, or apologize and move on. 

I've had at least two online stalkers that I know of.   One was more the desperately lonely type; he did not mean harm even if it started getting a mite spooky.  Another woman had (has?) evil intent.  I won't get into either, not publically on here.  Nor how I discovered a sick man using online methods to try to get to pre-pubescent girls primarily via their mothers. 

The overall online population probably roughly mimics general society as a whole, great people, harmless ones, some mild jerks, and those relishing the anonymity of it all so feels free to use it for perversion or violence and anger.  

I'm IM'g with an online male friend now, chatting about our kids, and even his girlfriend, whom I "know," too.  A lot of good, decent people online, many I'm happy to have "met" over the years.   A few I've even met IRL, from parenting boards to dance events, to a gathering for Thanksgiving after-dinner drinks one night with a few regulars.  There is good to be had in online communities, also.

Being visible online obviously provides people with more public exposure, and hence, subject them to more vulnerabilities and risks.   The immediacy and the anonymity of the internet contribute to the nastiness that can escalate and the types of threats.  What I've experienced has left me self-censoring in my journal, not expressing fully what I'd like to a lot of times, and of course, not mentioning things such as where my child or I may be in advance unless it's a huge event.  It keeps me from allowing my girlfriend to put a link in her blog, to mine, as we know someone who may know her blog, and he could misuse the information he finds in mine.  I'm a multi-faceted woman, like most are, yet I can't openly express all of that.  It has stopped others I know, or had them retreat to private blogs, and even switching SN's and creating new private blogs, to escape someone.   One female blogger seems to be walking on eggshells as she writes, sometimes deleting and /or rewriting her entries, afraid of further harrassment.   Sometimes bloggers get harrassed online without the sexual aspect, sometimes nasty comments or e-mails, sometimes judgements and assumptions made and expressed without knowing "the rest of the story," or sometimes, just being cruel.  

For me?  The threat against my personal security, and that of my daughter, has stifled me, stifled my public writing, but as yet, has not stopped me.  I like to believe that the good in the world, outweighs the bad. 

I'm surprised (Journals Editor) Joe hasn't mentioned this article yet, from yesterday's "The Washington Post," about how people, men and women but more so women, can feel stifled in their public blogs:   Sexual Threats Stifle Some Female Bloggers - washingtonpost.com

Please feel free to mention your thoughts and experiences on this, on the article, on blogging and personal security.   And, yes, I'm too well aware that men get harrassed and abused also (and that male victims of abuse are usually less likely to be believed even if they do get the courage to report it).

Update:  Joe's been preparing an entry on this article and topic since the article came out (and usually appreciates input).  And, for the record, I'm fine:)  Sometimes this crap can tick me off, as it should to any ofus.  Yes, I completely changed my SN's over a year ago, due to continued online bs and hackers, but not blog-related.  Right now?  Being cautious is prudent.  I'd like to say more sometimes.  But, really, I am fine.  Thanks, all!


  1. I agree with the    mimics general society   part. I am more than amazed when I read  someone who has posted 200 pics of their beautiful kids is now being stalked & wondering what to do.  HMMM. Delete the blog!  People are freaky.
    I have software that Don installed(for my consulting site, but used on my blog also) that shows me  some woman that has become recently 'interested' in me in a quite negative way, hits my journal over & over each day.  I can tell what her main account is.  So we can control that situation.
    I don't think man/woman matters.  Obsessive people will obsess, online & off.  My stalker woman is very sad & lonely & harmless, I suspect.  If I had kids I might not count on that though. ~ Mary

  2. yes, i believe being a female blogger can be a problem, but i've never really been stalked (could be because hardly anyone reads me ;-) ).  it's a shame we have to hold back so much.

    thanks for stopping by my journal.  :-)

  3. I get it to.  What I've found out over the years is that if you don't touch the hook they go fish in other waters.  ~ Mike

  4. Hmm..so far,the worst thing I have gotten is a comment that told me to "go to h-e-double toothpicks",and a lot of other general stuff that was in the 'death to Americans/infidels" kind of vein....but that was over on Yahoo 360, and I reported the person and they were shut down.

    On AOL IM, I tend to get the random 'come check out my pictures" IM, and on Yahoo IM, I'll get random "hi.....how are you"....and then "do you have a web cam?"
    So, I guess sometimes being a "Z-lister" blogger has it's advantages.
    Good post. And I missed the WaPo article, so thanks!! (did ya send it on to Joe?:)

  5. I havn't had this but if I get e. mails as such I deleat before reading as they usually come in through my spam folder.I agree with all you have said here.there will always  be someone out there to upset someones apple cart as the saying goes.I hope in the future this doesn't continue for you.Thanx for the info.Take care God Bless Kath
    Astoriasand http://journals.aol.co.uk/astoriasand/MYSIMPLERHYMES

  6. So...what were you wearing? That cute sweater from the Christmas pictures maybe? I like that one.

    No stalkers for yet. Nothing but nice people damn it.


  7. seraphoflove9001May 2, 2007 at 8:02 AM

    I do I relate! And yes it is scary! And no...not touching the bait doesn't work....they will use a different bait! That is what's still happening to me. My heart goes out to you. I am very surprised that Joe hasn't posted that article! I read it and I am going to send it to him. Thank you for posting it. :o)
    Hugs to you. ;o)

  8. I don't think the fact that you are female really makes a difference. I've had loads of strange requests and suggestions online from both sexes. Just remember, millions have access to the net, and that includes the nutters.