Female bloggers: Should I come out as a woman on my blog?
February 1, 2015 4:03 PM   Subscribe

I have a blog that I've kept for a while without talking about my gender. I'm wondering about the consequences of coming out as a woman on a not-at-all well-read blog.

I have been posting anonymously on a blog for a few months mostly about my personal experiences in a particular field. It has received little to no attention, which is fine with me. I'm considering making reference to my gender because I want to write about things that are at least partly about being a woman. I'm nervous about "coming out" in this way because of so many women on the internet undeservedly catching a major load of bullshit for being women. The issues I want to write about relate to some disturbing experiences involving a rape (not my own) and a murder. I don't think I could handle death threats or disturbing imagery from harassers, I would probably stop writing the minute I received anything like it. However I have the luxury of having few if any readers. So is it worth it to begin to write "as a woman"? Is there any hope of getting away unscathed?
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If you believe the story you have to tell is less credible because the readers don't know if you're a man or a woman, and if you can maintain your anonymity, I think revealing your gender may actually be a good thing.

As to the possibility of hate mail - just turn comments off and don't provide an email link. It's obvious that you blog for you since you state you don't have many readers (I blog for ME as well and I don't care of I have any readers, though my blog is not anonymous).
posted by brownrd at 4:52 PM on February 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm a woman with a blog and have made no bones about the fact that I'm a woman. I also have written about gender politics.

People have said precisely zilch to me about it. The post of mine that got the most comments was about canning tomatoes, and the act that got me the most attention was saying something funny on The Bloggess' site and she linked to me for a day.

It's not like if you out yourself as a female blogger, that it triggers some alarm service in 8-chan or anything. You'd probably have to be way more visible for them to even notice you.

I think you'll be fine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:28 PM on February 1, 2015

I have blogged since before there was blogging software, and have blogged extensively about sexuality, pornography, and feminism. I have always blogged under my own name, and my contact details have always been public. I have been through all the permutations of less visible, more visible, and highly visible, and while I can't say I've had zero harassment, it has been rare and none of it has been the things you say would particularly disturb you.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:50 PM on February 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's not like if you out yourself as a female blogger, that it triggers some alarm service in 8-chan or anything

Yep - because that's Twitter. I think you can do what you like on your niche-readership blog, but you may not want to post links to Twitter. There are, for real, people who just search on feminism/female/rape-related hashtags to enjoy some light harassment. But without that ease of search I doubt anyone is going to do it to find your blog.
posted by Miko at 7:10 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I wrote a popular blog for a few years, and was always out as a woman (including a photo of me). I didn't receive a single creepily gendered comment, as far as I recall.

I wasn't writing about feminist issues. I was writing humor, and some people think women shouldn't do that, either.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:03 PM on February 1, 2015

The sad truth is that you'll probably have a hard time being noticed at all, no matter your gender. Unless you work really hard at promoting your blog, odds are nobody will ever find you or care.

If you haven't "outed" yourself as a woman already, I'm assuming you're writing under a pen name. In that case, you've got another level of shielding between you and any potential harassers. Go ahead and reveal that you're a woman, and don't worry about it. The worst you're likely to get is some Ayn Rand fan with a Santa Claus beard and a leather hat, who posts one crabby comment and then goes away.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:35 PM on February 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm a female blogger and I get harassed a lot in the comments, on twitter, and through e-mails. I blog about a "controversial" topic that is known to have many trolls - so I don't think it's a gender thing, per se. I agree that if you don't want to deal with harassment, then close down comments, don't tweet and don't have your e-mail easily accessible or an online form for people to reach you through. Then just share with friends and others who will be genuinely interested.
posted by Toddles at 10:51 PM on February 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

It really depends on the subject matter to gauge whether you might be likely to be on the receiving end of gross comments and threats. Although the internet is full of "internet tough guys" who are willing to be the worst versions of themselves, I still don't think merely being a woman will open you up to negative comments. If the audience you are writing for is a thoughtful, intelligent or otherwise decent type of human being, I'm not sure why anyone would take issue.

If you mention it in a post but otherwise no one can tell, people would have to really be reading your stuff and paying close attention to it to notice and/or care. If you feel honesty is important, reveal your gender. You don't need to reveal anything else they helps identify who you are.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:54 PM on February 1, 2015

I happily don't have any blogs that have become super popular. Whew. I think as long as you don't "hit the big time" you're golden, but these days you never know what Internet bigwig might tweet your post and then here come the haters.

I think it boils down to the following: don't provide any way for people to engage with/discuss with you. Hide your e-mail, shut off comments, do not post your stuff to social media. Do not facilitate discussion in any way, do not make it easy for people to talk to you. I haven't gotten any "ur so ugly" comments in years! And it probably helps to keep pictures of yourself to few or none. And... I would avoid talking about gaming these days.

But seriously, as long as you don't become well known, you are probably fine.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:33 PM on February 2, 2015

I am a lady who blogs under my real name (and photo) on a subject matter that is currently a large vector for harassment, although I don't write specifically about controversial issues. I've gotten very little harassment directly through my blog. What I have received has mostly been insults about my appearance or mental faculties, and not the violent stuff you're worried about.

I *have* gotten the violent stuff over Twitter. As others have said above, social media in general and Twitter in particular seems to be where assholes will find you. However, in my experience it is also where the readers will find you, so it's a weird fine line to walk. I don't think you'd be immediately flooded with harassment if you used a feminine pen name on Twitter or anything, but it's more likely to happen there.
posted by jess at 10:31 AM on February 3, 2015

I don't know about harassment, but what you may experience is something similar to this comic written by a trans woman: http://themanicpixienightmaregirl.tumblr.com/image/109324519057
posted by Promethea at 8:14 AM on February 6, 2015

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