Blogging While Pseudonymous; Blogging While Female (UPDATED)

April 3, 2008

Zuska and Female Science Professor have both posted in the last few days on writing and blogging while pseudonymous. FSP had this to say about those who bitch and moan about it:

Some of the brave souls who rage against us Anonymous Ones say that we are damaging the public image of Academe. According to the anti-Anonymous writer in the Chronicle, Peter Plagens the Painter, we “skulk” (in fact, some of us simultaneously skulk and gripe, perhaps indicating a talent for multi-tasking?), we fear our stories might not “check out”, and those of us with tenure have “no excuse whatsoever”.

PhysioProf had some thoughts on this topic, which he posted over at FSP’s place, and which elicited some “interesting” reactions.

This is what I commented about pseudonymous writing and blogging:

I am convinced that those who rail against anonymity are weak-egoed credential-obsessed lickspittles who hate the fact that anonymous bloggers–and other writers–can develop tremendous influence and credibility in academia–and society at large–without relying on fancy credentials from fancy institutions. They are the kind of people who admire and tune their CVs on a daily basis, polish their framed diplomas, but who no one reads, listens to, or gives a flying fuck about. It drives them berserk that they are ignored despite their credentials, while many anonymous writers are respected, admired, and even loved.

One of the reasons FSP gave for her pseudonymous blogging was the following:

Every week I reject (delete) a number of obscene and/or threatening comments that are sent to me via this blog. I don’t delete comments that say that I am a selfish, exploitative, cheap, racist man-hater, as long as there is some content to those comments beyond the criticism and epithets. I delete only the truly obscene and hateful comments whose only purpose, as far as I can tell, is to demonstrate that there are immature and sick people out there.

And I expressed my sympathy with this point, and shame at its necessity:

And BTW, something you alluded to that makes me feel great shame is the phenomenon of “blogging while female”. Female bloggers, anonymous or otherwise, receive orders of magnitude more vicious, hateful, and threatening comments and e-mails than male bloggers, regardless of the content of their posts and solely for daring to speak publicly as a woman.

I am not exactly a milquetoast blogger, and I sharply criticize a lot public people, events, and things. But I am identifiable as male, and I never receive the kinds of comments and e-mails that you and other female bloggers do on a daily basis.

This is a disgrace, and it makes me sick, and sad, and ashamed, and you and every other female blogger out there–anonymous or otherwise–kick total fucking ass for not letting this patriarchal male garbage shut you up.

Well, some demented fucking wackaloon named Peter Plagens–who apparently wrote a piece in some academia-oriented pulp magazine decrying pseudonymous blogging and other writing–was not pleased with my eloquently stated opinion and showed up in the the comments to let everyone know:

Am I taking a risk in putting my real name on that piece because such people as “physioprof,” who thinks that I’m one of those “weak-egoed credential-obessed lickspittles” who indulges in “patriarchal male garbage” might be as threatening to me as some of your readers are to you?

As is patently obvious, Plagens is apparently so emotionally threatened and incensed by pseudonymous writing, that he loses all his reading comprehension when faced with it. It’s wackadoodle dipshits like him that are “weak-egoed credential-obsessed lickspittles”, while it’s another category of sick misogynistic scumbags who indulge in the “patriarchal male garbage” of harrassing women for “blogging while female”, pseudonymous or not.

One of FSP’s other commenters pointed this out:

Peter, you might want to brush up on your critical reading skills (and familiarity with women’s issues.)

“Patriarchal male garbage” refers to threatening “blogging while female” and not the kind of person with a 30 page CV.

Blogging while female also results in serious, graphic and generally overtly sexual threats being leveled for no obvious provocation. It’s pretty well documented; the trouble with the issue is men failing to understand why these sorts of ludicrous threats make women bloggers genuinely afraid.

Just to cap off his pathetic douchehoundery, Plagens ends his comment with a transparently infantile attempt at wit that just really speaks for itself:

Anyway, thanks again for giving the piece a few more readers.

The existence of weird creepy wackaloons like Plagens trolling around the Internet looking for people “criticizing” them proves exactly the point he seeks to debunk. Like I, or any other blogger, want some wacked out freak like that to know where I live? It’s exactly these kinds of loonie weirdos who are obsessed with knowing “who” everyone is that we need pseudonymy to avoid.

UPDATE: Here are two outstanding posts by Dr. Crazy and Profgrrrrl about Plagens’s superficial dipshittery, and his ridiculous inability to distinguish pseudonymity from anonymity. It’s pretty obvious that what really bothers douchewheels like Plagens is the inability to satisfy their prurient curiosity about “who” pseudonymous academics are. I say, fuck Plagens and his weak-ass ilk.

38 Responses to “Blogging While Pseudonymous; Blogging While Female (UPDATED)”

  1. PalMD Says:

    While I agree in your assessment vis-a-vis the “demented fucking wackaloon”, I must point out that to we medical folks, dementia refers to a specific group of illnesses characterized by declining cognitive functions.

    Never mind, I think I get it now.

  2. Zuska Says:

    Right on, PP! That dude seriously lacks imaginative powers if he can’t think of any reasons why pseudonymous authorship is a good idea. And I mean, come on – it’s the Chronicles Career section. It’s not like people are submitting anonymous articles to academic journals.

  3. Barn Owl Says:

    They are the kind of people who admire and tune their CVs on a daily basis, polish their framed diplomas, but who no one reads, listens to, or gives a flying fuck about.

    LOL! We’re supposed to tune our electronic CVs every week, regardless of whether we’re going up for tenure or not. I just got scolded by an administrative assistant for failing to comply with this absurd dictate, after getting tenure.

    Thing is, if you roll your eyes at a person like that, who has a spiky venomous arthropod up his or her ass, he or she will find some other inane administrative channel through which you can be harassed. Rolling my eyes about the CV thus earned me dictates and threats about a defrosting a crappy freezer than some previous researcher left outside my lab.

  4. Cuttlefish Says:

    The right to be a cuttlefish
    And hide behind my ink
    May not appeal to everyone
    Despite what I may think.
    But having anonymity
    Is useful, you may note—
    That’s why we pull the curtain closed
    Before we cast our vote.
    The bully likes a public vote,
    Each person known by name,
    If someone feels intimidated
    Shame on them! For shame!
    They ought to have the strength to stand
    Behind the words they speak!
    (That way the votes go to the strong,
    And rarely to the weak.)
    Behind the voting curtain, though,
    The votes all weigh the same—
    Unless there’s something wrong with that,
    You need not know my name.

    And so I stand on principle
    For any nom de plume—
    A right to be anonymous
    Is one I will assume.
    I do not judge the reasons
    Why some like it out of sight;
    For me it is enough to say
    It is their perfect right.

  5. Cat Says:

    Wrong again – I thought I was bitter and twisted not skulking and griping. I suppose they are not mutually exclusive.


  6. Why am I not surprised Homo Erectus is still lurking in the basement of humanity?
    By the way, that ain’t a compliment for any anthropological neophytes.
    Some of the most kick ass bloggers out there are female and thank God for ‘em!
    Funny? Holy shit I have laughed until it hurt at some of the insights and snarky observations the ladies come up with!
    Why should it matter to me what sex a Blogger is anyway?
    Look at Digby, no one was sure about her chromosomal make up until she made a public speech, yet for a long time, all over Blogtopia you would see, “What Digby said”.
    As for the sexually derogatory statements and threats leveled against lady Bloggers, unfortunately it is all too real and way too frequent.
    I just can’t fathom the self loathing and completely fucked up thought processes that must be behind them.
    Anonyminity is necessary for some people who have high profile careers and are easily recognized who never the less have just as much right as anyone else to voice their opinion with the expectation that some jerk with a professional grudge or personal hard on about a perceived slight won’t be able to jeopardize their job, such as what happened to Duncan Black, I believe it was.
    My personal information is out there, all you have to do is look for it. I personally don’t give a flying fuck if people know my name or not.Then again, who am I?
    Nobody, that’s who, Joe Loudmouth Sixpack.I don’t have a high profile career and I am not a lady.
    People who threaten ladies over the internet piss me the fuck off, just like they do in everyday life.
    Don’t let me catch you at it, I will rock yer fucking world.

  7. George Smiley Says:

    I don’t know who in the living fuck Plagens is, but I can say with near certainty that he has not and will never produce a body of work as vital or challenging or important as “Billmon” did during his (her?) few short years of blogging at Kos and Whiskey Bar.

    At least we do not have to mourn that Plagens is a waste of talent.

  8. Ate Says:

    I remember a few years ago someone writing a letter to the television guide section of the main paper in my state about how much she had enjoyed a documentary on animal habits and survival skills in africa that had screened the previous week.
    The next week there were many, many letters in the same paper responding to this woman and denouncing her for supporting cruelty to animals (as she had specifically mentioned that it was interesting seeing the way tigers or lions or some such hunted their prey).
    The following week the original writer, a female, wrote in again. I don’t remember the whole letter but there was one part that stood out to me. Apparently people hadn’t just felt so outraged by her original (totally non offensive, by the way) letter that they had settled for simply writing to the paper. In fact: several different people had looked at the name listed at the bottom of the letter and, through whatever processes, found out her phone number and CALLED HER to tell her what they thought about her letter and how EVIL she was.
    This was a letter about liking a documentary about animals. A letter about liking a documentary about animals. This was all it took for people to feel it was their right to harass this woman. Just writing a simple letter garnered this much rage from random members of the public.
    Can you imagine what would happen to female bloggers writing about sexual assault or feminism or anything else the patriarchy might not like or approve of if they DIDN’T keep their identities private?

  9. larue Says:

    I’d gladly gobsmack any mofo I can who puts themself upon the female bloggers, or non bloggers, for any harmful reason, be it verbal or physical.

    What a horrible thing that misguided males (and females) can attack and DO attack, the femibloggers. Foul mouthed or not. A HORRIBLE thing they are at risk to such a level as is being reported.

    I think, and worry, and am protective of, my wife of 24 years, and her 62 years on the planet.

    I’d like to think, I am the same for all female, and non-female folks, who are at risk or in harms way in our daily lives. From cowardly and predatory phucks who would attack in the dark, or at any time, when their prey is the most helpless.

    As I and my wife age, I become more and more protective, and willing to do things I never thought I would.

    If we all fight this, it has to get better.

    That’s my call to arms. Stand. And deliver. And protect. And honor. And serve. Regardless the cost. At any time this shit rears it’s head, blog wise, or in the streets, or in your office, school, or anywhere.

    Don’t let the cowards win. Evah.
    Question EVERY suspect comment. Always.
    Grant no quarter. Change demands we do this, all of us.
    Man, and woman, boy and girl. Stand.

    Harumph.

  10. MissPrism Says:

    Oops, I thought you were female. I stand corrected!

  11. PhysioProf Says:

    Can you imagine what would happen to female bloggers writing about sexual assault or feminism or anything else the patriarchy might not like or approve of if they DIDN’T keep their identities private?

    You don’t have to just imagine it. Non-pseudonymous Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon, Jill Filipovic of Feministe, and Jessica Valente of Feministing have described their horrible experiences with this shit in detail (as have, I am sure, other female bloggers, but these are the ones that conme to mind). They receive sick hateful violent misogynistic shit every single fucking day.

    All these sick-fuck cowardly right-wing bastard war-cheerleader bloggers talk about themselves as if they are courageous manly-men, cheering themselves hoarse railing against feminism, progressive politics, peace, and rationality from their parents’ basements covered in Cheeto-dust and surrounded by piles filthy semen-encrusted tube-socks as other people go to war and fucking die. Well, if there are any courageous bloggers out there, it sure as fuck ain’t these scumbags. It’s not a fucking coincidence that warmongering, misogyny, god-bothering, and racism go hand-in-hand with these motherfuckers.

    Rather, it is women who blog the truth about the sick depraved agenda of these filthy despicable traitors who hate women, hate America, and care only for their own comfort, privilege, and aggrandizement. These are one of the kinds of weak-kneed shitbags who despise pseudonymity, because it cuts off one of their major sources of satisfaction and power–the deployment of their privilege against the unprivileged.

    (This is not to say that there aren’t weak-kneed shitbags who are supposedly on the “left” who despise pseudonymity, but that is a slightly more subtle situation. As I understand it, the wacked-out motherfuckers who harrass female bloggers–pseudonymous or otherwise–are almost always carrying the entire package of right-wing sick-fuck shit: war-love, god-bothering, misogyny, and racism.)

  12. Jane Doh Says:

    In the dawn of the Internet (and before I realized just how many misogynistic asshats there are in the world), I played Fantasy Baseball under my real name. I have loved baseball all my life, often discussed it with my (mostly) male peers, and played in coed pen and paper Fantasy leagues for years with no problems.

    But then I won my league and I realized my mistake. Thanks to the wonders of publishing with email addresses, some loser in my league freaked out about losing to a “girl” and sent me disgusting and frightening emails where he threatened to come to GradU (taken from my email address), to my office in GradLab (thanks to the online directory) with his loser friends and show me what real men they were in graphic detail.

    I’ve never played Fantasy Sports again under a gendered name, and I certainly understand why people blog anonymously! People who don’t understand this are usually white heterosexual Christian men (who hit the privilege lottery at birth) whose worst fear is public criticism, and who can’t IMAGINE that anyone else might have something else to worry about.

  13. PhysioProf Says:

    That kicks fucking ass that you won your roto baseball league!


  14. I think there is another aspect to the haters of anonymous blogging.
    There are many people who, when faced with logic, reason and truth, cannot respond intelligently to argue their case—whatever that may be. Such people generally resort to ad hominem attacks (this mentality/trait co-segregates with misogyny, BTW, so the frustration level is significantly ramped up for these sick fucks when they see that they are being pwned by a woman). I suppose it must be very frustrating for such shitheads when there is no identity to attack, but merely a pseudonym at which to aim their barrage of personal vitriol, threats etc. Intimidation is just not the same when the identity of the intimidatee is secret. Anonymity undercuts their only strategy for ‘argument'; no wonder they hate it.
    Ironically, most vicious commenters also comment anonymously. Putting down a name and leaving an email address means nothing, even when done. I could become Thomas J Wasperson (tjwasperson@emailpovider.com) or Haywood J, HaywoodJablome@provider.com) in a couple of minutes if I wanted to.


  15. Crap.
    Provider.com must be a real domain I guess as it generated a hyperlink. PP, please delete it or change that to something that won’t hyperlink, maybe emailprovider.com, as that seems to be innocuous.


  16. Re Plagens: Dear god, not another fucking >65-year-old man telling us what we younger faculty should and shouldn’t be doing with our writing. I almost excuse the curmudgeon simply because he seems unaware of the pervasive, viral nature of modern communications that did not exist in his day. It’s easy to be high and mighty at the end of one’s career, especially when apparently ignorant of the situations faced by today’s faculty. And that’s without even getting into the specific issues of women writing and blogging anonymously.

    Outside of the sciences, I need only point to the case of Kathy Sierra, the tech-business blogger who canceled all further speaking appearances in 2007 because of her receipt of death threats and images depicting her with a noose around her neck, etc.

    Scoble noted in this BBC article about the episode:
    “It’s this culture of attacking women that has especially got to stop. I really don’t care if you attack me. I take those attacks in my stride. But, whenever I post a video of a female technologist there invariably are snide remarks about body parts and other things that simply wouldn’t happen if the interviewee were a man,” he said.

    If women scientists were not out there feeling safe to blog, I would (sadly) be equally ignorant of the hostility they face in the academy and in larger society. I thought that our generation was past that but I have learned so much from people like FSP, MsPhD, Zuska, et al., that we have a long way to go in rehabilitating or eliminating fascist, racist, sexist men.


  17. Can I just say that I wish the sentences we had to diagram in 8th grade English were as interesting to parse as

    It’s wackadoodle dipshits like him that are “weak-egoed credential-obsessed lickspittles”, while it’s another category of sick misogynistic scumbags who indulge in the “patriarchal male garbage” of harrassing women for “blogging while female”, pseudonymous or not.

    I bet the class would’ve really snapped to attention.

    Bravo for standing up for women, and bravo for good attendant grammatical principles. Because if there is one thing I hate more than a sexist dickweed, it’s a sexist dickweed who doesn’t understand the proper placement of noun phrases.

  18. drugmonkey Says:

    when Abel says:
    I have learned so much from people like FSP, MsPhD, Zuska, et al., that we have a long way to go in rehabilitating or eliminating fascist, racist, sexist men.
    and Dr. Jekyll says:

    Bravo for standing up for women,

    I’m starting to get a little WTF myself. Is it really so rare for men to vocally stand up for women? rare for them to ask “wtf? where are the women on this symposium slate? why aren’t we interviewing any women?”. really so rare for them to say “um, colleague-dude, that comment really wasn’t cool.”

    is it really so rare?

  19. Cat Says:

    Drugmonkey:

    Yep.

  20. bikemonkey Says:

    The good news, DM, is that the bar is so fucking close to the floor that even you look feminist-friendly every once in awhile.

  21. Helen Says:

    “is it really so rare?”

    Well yeah. What planet are you on that this isn’t obvious?

  22. Dr. Cuba Libre Says:

    I’m so pleased to see you cursing. I was worried for a second there.

  23. drugmonkey Says:

    I live on planet man, naturally. It is a strange land…

  24. Cherish Says:

    I think Plagens wants to know who bloggers are so that he can find a way to ignore their arguments. If you know who someone is, it’s very easy to write them off. “So and so said this, but they don’t know anything because they’re only (female, an assistant prof, stupid).”

    It’s a lot harder to discredit the message when all you have to go on is the actual language. This is especially true if you 1 – don’t agree with the message and 2 – it’s posed in such a way that you’d look like an idiot to argue with the person. (i.e. if they’re a lot smarter than the person who doesn’t like what they’re saying) :-)

    And DM: definitely rare.

  25. kgotthardt Says:

    “They are the kind of people who admire and tune their CVs on a daily basis, polish their framed diplomas, but who no one reads, listens to, or gives a flying fuck about.”

    Being a female blogger who uses her name and has been threatened by wackos, I really need to respond to this. First, I’d like to testify that not only is my CV pretty much defunct at this point, I can’t even find the most updated version. Nor can I find copies of my diplomas, including one from a community college and one from a state college. So please understand the wording above represents a generalization that unfortunately describes a certain population which does not include yours truly.

    While I acknowledge there are practical reasons for using a pen name, I am furious that as a woman, I am not allowed to express myself because misogynistic wackos will harass me. Excuse me, are women not allowed to vote? Are we not allowed to own property? If Hillary has the right to run for President, by God, do I not have the right to blog under my own name? And do I not have the right to do so without being threatened?

    In case anyone missed it, the answers are all “yes.”

    This being said, I don’t think anonymous writers are necessarily skulking (I think the wackos are probably the more likely skulkers), nor are they all wimps. However, I do think those that can muster the courage to “come out” should do so because when we do, we are a more powerful writing community.

    Writing as ourselves means we declare that first amendment rights are important, that we will exercise them, and that we will defend them. The more we do this, the more the law and the trends will support us, and the more the wackos will leave us alone because they know they will be brought up on harassment charges if they do not.

    So please do not judge all of us irritated people who write under our own names. Some of us do so because we have been editorially, socially, and professionally run down. But as with anything else, this kind of oppression only yields more rebellion.

    What we need now is a revolution of identity. Feel free to join in.

  26. Beaker Says:

    Pseudonymity: good enough for Ben Franklin, good enough for me.

  27. Greg Laden Says:

    I don’t personally have a problem with anonymous blogging. I myself am an anonymous blogger with an identity so realistic that people do not realize that I’m anonymous.

    The problem I have is that human interactive modalities and methods developed (socioculturally) and evolved (maybe) in the context of face to face interactions. The internet is sufficiently non-face to face that this has generated problems, which are not that difficult to solve. But if we throw in the anonymous bit, it becomes ore level harder to have this work.

    Thus, in my view, anonymity produces both a risk and a responsibility that I’m not sure that all anonymous bloggers understand or address.

  28. Napoleon Dworkin Says:

    The best example of why blog censorship is the most wrong minded and fascist threat to freedom of speech that has existed for years–is the blog http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.wordpress.com/

    I particularly recomend the post about ‘white guys and asian girls’ because it clearly shows that the voice of the people is ‘just a voice’, not a hand grenade, or a distraction from the lofty, but biased and often hypocritical ideals of the Academe.

    Not only is it brilliant in that it allows even absolute idiots to speak–but it also allows for the response to their idiocy–which has apparently given the bloggers a book deal.

    “damaging the public image of Academe” hardy-har-har. As if the academic douchedrinker-filters need help with that?

    So Physio, despite the fact that I have been deleted from your blog under other credentials( or perhaps just found my way to your spam filter), I wholeheartedly agree with you when you say

    “I am convinced that those who rail against anonymity are weak-egoed credential-obsessed lickspittles who hate the fact that anonymous bloggers–and other writers–can develop tremendous influence and credibility in academia–and society at large–without relying on fancy credentials from fancy institutions.”

    Viv le resistance! Wei Ren Min Fuwu! Viva los gentes!

  29. Anonymous and proud Says:

    Greg,
    How do you resolve your statment above that you “don’t personally have a problem with anonymous blogging.” (although it comes with problems “which are not that difficult to solve”) with this one:

    “I have some serious problems with anonymous blogging, frankly. Same with anonymous commenting.”

    which comes from a comment you made at your own blog?

  30. Nigel Tufnel Says:

    “On the internet, no one knows you’re a dog”

    one of the many positive aspects of anonymity has been protection / security knowing wackadoos or department heads couldn’t find you and dismiss you ad-hominem or otherwise, that the words stood unto themselves, as Anonymoustache pointed out in the above comments.
    One of the things I love about pseudononymooooose writing is that it unleashes Teh Beast in some particularly talented folk-rs.

    Anonymity means being able to read in plain layperson speak what some really really heavy hittin thinkers really think without having to filter their thoughts to please or appease the petty office/academic politics. Sure, any nutbag with an opinion can blog, but some bloggers have shown exceptional talent for stirring the pot, better than any Ph.D sans degree (I know he used his real name online, but props to Steve Gilliard, ya’ll!)

    But nowadays anonymity is as easily broken by just pulling back an ISP address / curtain, or the frequency of personal detail inserted into any writing. Even if you’ve got super-uuper-duuper encryption capabilities and proxy servers, you can be ‘uncovered’ if someone really takes the time.

    My own confession is that I used to get really pissed off at trolls/warmongers/misogynist/doucherattles and I was damn good at discovering their identities in real life. But posting these IDs in the threads was considered a more serious infraction than the said douchrattles venomous screeds. The lesson was Fight ‘em with words, wit, and wisdom, or get the F out, because Outting isn’t acceptable on any level (plus it’s easier to count every grain of sand at the beach than ID every troll). But my prurient interest in knowing who people are wasn’t limited to trolls, so I occasionally signaled Dr.So-n-So or Ms.YoDood in a friendly manner that despite their best efforts to be anonymous their proverbial Blog Barn Door was hanging open. This wasn’t always welcomed, as well, so I quit doing it altogether. Ain’t nunna my biz, let the chips fall where they may.

    Suffice it to say; If your writing is really provocative, and really good, you’ll get attention. If you’re anonymous, someone will find out who/where/what you are (if only for the challenge). But only a real doucherattle will out someone else against their wishes.


  31. […] while others assert that pseudonymous blogging KICK TOTAL FUCKING ASS. PhysioProf has opined on this topic previously: I am convinced that those who rail against anonymity are weak-egoed credential-obsessed […]


  32. […] irrepressible PhysioProf had a recent post pointing out, among other things, that women had motivation to blog pseudonymously in part because […]


  33. […] pitch in? I guess that I would be nice if there were more of “that guy“. The one that calls the old white d00ds out when they are being asshats*. There is only so much that I can do myself, because of limited energy […]


  34. […] post originally appeared April 28, 2008. __ The irrepressible PhysioProf had a recent post pointing out, among other things, that women had motivation to blog pseudonymously in part because […]

  35. Anon. Says:

    You hit the nail on the head with that one.
    Peter Plagens is full of hot air. A very insecure person who emotionally abused his son.
    He likes to argue because he is a bully & a narcissist & as a narcissist he thinks about one thing & one thing only all day every day, himself.
    He is a very yucky person.

  36. Anon. Says:

    And yes to the comment that he wants to know who everyone is so he can discredit them. He is very concerned with being able to size one up, always judging. A very superficial person himself, masquerading his insecurities as a profession.


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