On the internet, identity is fluid - and so choosing to adopt and pursue a female identity, or indeed any identity which deviates from white heteronormativity, is a statement with which makes a lot of people uncomfortable on a very basic level. Choosing to be proud of an identity that consciously others itself from the white, male consensus with which the internet, like so many other fiefdoms, emerged, is problematic. It can and does draw an horrific quantity of abuse, including on the pages of mainstream debate sites such as Comment Is Free, Lablist and even Libcon.
In 2009, the internet is big, it's really, really big. Big enough for safe, positive spaces to have developed for women, ethnic minorities, queers and their allies; big enough for communities to have formed which have taken the mold of global parochialism and smashed it to splinters. IRC channels, gaming communities, debate forums and messageboards are no longer populated by a self-referential community of mostly-white, mostly-middle-class males with ponytails and ketchup on their tshirts*. We've moved beyond global village territory. This is a global metropolis, and its streets are full of dissenters.
In the seven years I've been active online and the three years I've been blogging, I've seen a lot of my favourite bloggers hounded off the tubes, or simply withdrawing after months or years of snide bullying and sniping. But the reason for this blog, if there is any one reason, is a blogger called Biting Beaver, who I used to follow back in 2005-6.
At that time, let's just say that I wasn't getting out of my room much. I was in a state; the internet was safe. I discovered feminists writing online, and remembered that I used to be one. I remembered all that self-worth I used to have, all that hope. And then Biting Beaver - whose real name nobody needs to know - took the brave step to record her experience of being denied emergency contraception until it was too late. She fell pregnant. She had an abortion, recorded the experience - the first and bravest female journalist, because paid or unpaid the blog was journalism at its finest, to really do so. It made me - proud. It made me - sad, and angry, and hopeful, all at once. I remembered what it was like to feel like my body wasn't a prison. I remembered what it was like to know how to fight back, and to want to do it in any way I could.
Then, Biting Beaver received so many death threats that she was driven from the internet and disappeared.
And I thought: fuck you. Fuck all of you snide little losers and rednecks and toryboys spitting bile at keyboards in your sad little bedrooms. This is my internet too. I want it back.
Along with almost all female, feminist and ethnic minority bloggers, I have faced appalling verbal harrassment online. But we are no longer vulnerable to the sticks and stones of patriarchy: our technology has moved on. As long as a contingent of brave hyperpeople maintain an online presence despite the bullying and ridicule that we face, there is no way to stop minority politics playing a central part in the information revolution.
Saul Williams would say: 'Muthafuckers better realise. Now is the time to self-actualise'.
Morpheus would say: 'Buckle your seat-belt, Dorothy; because Kansas is going bye-bye'.
I say: the world is getting colder and meaner, and there are too many of us now for anybody to hold back the culture revolution that's coming. So bring it. Tell me I'm a slut, tell me I'm a joke, tell me I'm a stupid little girl, tell me I'm upsetting the natural order. We upset nothing. You, you with your wars and your big spending and your bigotry and your cruelty and your constant fucking lies, you broke it. Now sit the fuck down and see what we're going to build with the pieces.
*Not that I have any problem with individual people like this, refs: my dating history, 2004-2009.