With time, I have grown increasingly tired of having to explain my, and others, experience as a woman on the internet, to men who demand explanation or clarification for your reasoning in a way that is too often aggressive and defensive. This mentality, this need for men who enter a conversation women are having about issues that generally affect women, and demand that we talk about men, that we clarify that we do not meet all men, as if all discussions are required to revolve around them.
I used to think of women who were afraid, or angry at men, as sad women, as pathetic, or even as dramatic. As radical. As extremists. But now that I have grown older, and so have continued to experience life as the woman that I am, I do not see these women as I used to see them. I, too, am angry, and sometimes afraid, of men, or rather, often, the concept of men. Although anyone could easily find a situation in which a woman or women as a whole have it much “worse” than me, I dislike the idea of people using these women’s (women they don’t even know, and often, from countries they’ve never been to and know nothing about) experiences to silence or undermine my own experiences.
Recently, a person came to the page of “A woman on the internet” and made a comment that still lingers within the walls of my mind. Something along the line of: “if you don’t want to be harassed for being a woman on the internet, just don’t say that you are a woman”. Now I’m not sure if this person realizes that women don’t go around online, in forums, or in a game, approaching people and going all “I’m a woman!” What women might be doing is, using their names, putting up a picture of themselves on their social media profiles and the such, choosing FEMALE and not MALE as the selectable sexes (I won’t get into how transphobic and queer erasure that is). I do think that what the person in question meant was “you shouldn’t let people know you are female” as well as “you should let people assume you are male”. Because, sadly, on the internet as well as within the literature community, you are assumed to be a white, heterosexual, cisgender, male unless you say otherwise.
But why is it that men aren’t asked to “not advertise that they are male”? Why are men not harassed or threatened when their sex or gender isn’t hidden, while women are?
I’d love to hear some thoughts on this, what other kind of nonsense or advice have you been given before?