27 April, 2007
The only thing in my mail cubby was a small piece of white paper, folded in half. I reached in and could see the dark ink of the handwritten not through the paper. I unfolded the paper and knew something was not quite right. In jagged handwriting dug deep into the fiber of the paper somewhat had left me a clear message.
"You f***ing c***. Keep you f***ing ugly pie hole shut. Shut your ugly f***ing face....You better watch the f*** out. Watch you f***ing back. If you don't keep that ugly c*** of a mouth shut I will slit you f***ing throat."
The note rambled on calling me all sorts of things and threatening me again and again to keep my mouth shut. I had obviously made an impression. I didn't know what to do. I just stared at the paper and at the letters scrawled angrily in black across the page. I stood in the student lounge, other students bustling around me, holding this note in my hand, and suddenly realized I was shaking. It wasn't the name calling. It was the threat of physical violence; this was completely foreign to me. I couldn't fathom what I'd done or to whom; couldn't think of anybody I had made this angry.
It was 1993 and I was in the second semester of my freshman year at college. I was attending Prescott College, a small liberal arts school with a reputation as a hippy school. As a freshman, I had been assigned to a peer group with five other new students and a faculty adviser. My group happened to be all guys and I took the note to our next meeting. Their overwhelming righteous indignation over it was somewhat comforting. They asked what if I wanted to take the issue to the administration; where I wanted to take it; said I had to take it to somebody because it was unacceptable. Ultimately I just let it go, but maybe I never really did if it's still that vivid all these years later.
This was pre-Internet (for most of us). I had never even heard of email at this point; wouldn't send my first for another year; my first blog post would come over ten years later. Now you can reach out and threaten somebody for what they say with even greater ease and anonymity. The mounting emotional and physical threats against certain female bloggers, often sexual in nature, are unacceptable. Period. Disagree with me. Debate me. Hate me. Fine. The people making these threats and worse, forcing some bloggers to shut down, have crossed a line. None of us should let things like this slide, whether it's a handwritten note or an organized campaign of intimidation. We all need to rally around these bloggers, these voices; we need to speak up ourselves and fight back.
Be sure to check out some of the other posts in the swarm, such as Blue Gal's, WebWeaver's, Netzkultur (in German), Essential Estrogen, Ladyfest Romania (English/Romanian), Clipped Wings, even the men are getting in on it. I look forward to reading the other posts throughout the day as they pop up.