In Defense of Belle Jar: Sitting In The World’s Largest Pub (Internet Privacy and how there is NONE)

Welcome to Internet, the world’s largest pub.

Would you like a drink?  Our menu includes house drinks “The Banned Troll”, “Duckface Darling” or the “Selfie” (growing in popularity every year).  Or how about draught?  SInce I can pull from pretty much anywhere in the world the choices are endless.

Let me give you a tour.  Every table has a name.  Pinterest, Facebook, Yahoo, WordPress.  Sometimes the crowds at each table mingle to share pictures, ideas and social commentary.  There are people from all walks of life here – and all ages so play nice.

Please ignore the scurrying black shadows under the tables.  Sometimes they’ll pipe up with inappropriate or misleading comments into your conversation but when they get out of hand the group in the Guy Fawkes masks usually shine some light on the situation.

So welcome, here’s your drink, and you only have to remember one thing.  “There is no privacy here.”

Rosie over at Make Me A Sammich has issued a call to arms on behalf of our friend and brilliant blogger, The Belle Jar.

*trigger warning for talk of rape and rape culture*

You see, Belle broke a story about rape culture at the University of Ottawa.  Go and read her blog post about it – it’s ok, I’ll wait.

 Back?  Angry?  Good.  Here are a couple others you should also read on the story:  “So What IS Rape Culture, if not this?” and “Rape Culture at UofO, Come At Me Boys”  –  I don’t have anything else to add on rape culture and how horrible it is that these men felt it was alright to degrade their fellow leader the way that they did.  Belle, Matthew and Rosie have all covered that subject really, really well.  

The Belle Jar is, due to her post, receiving a lot of bullying and intimidation.  She’s also been included in the lawsuit against Anne Marie Roy by the men who degraded her for sharing and spreading the screencap of the conversation.  There have been comments defending the perpetrators and their behavior (boys will be boys BULLSHIT) and rape apologists (it wasn’t really a threat, an actual rape didn’t happen so it’s not as bad as you say) and other inane and asinine comments.  The one thing I’ve seen pop up over and over and over again is that it was a “private” conversation that no one but the guys should have had access to/

Ok people, let me tell you something about the internet.  Something the younger generation seems to have forgotten.  There is NO SUCH THING as privacy on here.  NONE.  If you are operating under the assumption that there is, you are sorely mistaken.  Accounts can be hacked.  Settings can be changed by providers.  Deleting conversations and pictures doesn’t work most of the time.  What you put out there can stay out there forever – some have likened it to a digital tattoo about yourself.

Not to mention that whatever you put on the internet you are PUTTING IN WRITING.  Which can then be screen capped.  And sent to people you don’t want to see it.  No matter what the laws are, no matter what kind of privacy you THINK you have, it won’t really matter when your nude selfie or admittance to a severe dislike of Doctor Who is out there for the world to see, will it?

I think my analogy above is pretty accurate.  We’re all hanging out in the world’s largest pub.  With the dim lights and tables in different sections it gives the illusion of privacy – but you always have to remember that at anytime, anywhere someone could be watching and listening to what you do.

I love this list “Top 10 Things Not To Share On Social Networking Sites”

“Social networking is all about sharing, so something you think is in confidence can easily be shared and then shared again, and before you know it, someone you don’t even know has access to something private. “When in doubt, leave it out” is a good motto to follow. And always remember that anything you share has the potential to be leaked in some way.”

I’m glad these guys were caught and that their conversation went public.  They were in a position of power within the University.  Over other students who would be younger and more vulnerable.  If this is the way they talk about someone they are supposed to work with what kind of behavior would have happened when other students pissed them off?  It’s been brought to light and now their actions have consequences.  With power comes responsibility.  (Yes, I semi-quoted Uncle Ben from Spiderman)

Since I’ve been working on this post there was an update and all four have resigned from their posts.

Oddly, I’m also able to tie this blog post into NaBloPoMo’s prompt for today.  “How is your writing voice like you? How does your writing voice differ from you?”  I have an inner voice who is dying to get out.  She’s angry at the world and wants to state her opinions loud and clear.  She wants to tackle the hard stuff and make a difference in this world.  To take controversial topics and add her voice to the others – to stand in solidarity with women like Rosie and Belle Jar.

But, truthfully, I’m frightened.  I’ve seen the shit-storm that comes down on women who are too loud, too opinionated and it frightens me.  I know, I know, it means “they’ve” won.  However, I’m not sure I could, emotionally, take it.  The bloggers that do – they are amazingly strong.  

So to answer the question, my writing voice is as safe as my speaking voice.  But it differs as here, in writing, I feel I’m able to be stronger.  Smarter.  Present myself with some intelligence.  

This post is that attempt.  I’m standing up for my friend who is being wrongly attacked.  I’m writing about a controversial topic and facing my fear of the trolls and haters.  Because even though they will be baby steps, someday I want to have a strong voice too.

I want to grow up to be Belle.  

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4 thoughts on “In Defense of Belle Jar: Sitting In The World’s Largest Pub (Internet Privacy and how there is NONE)

  1. Well done. 🙂 The Belle Jar a fantastic feminist blog and to think that these guys thought they had any grounds for a lawsuit would be funny if it wasn’t for the fact that it totally sucks to be threatened with a lawsuit.

    As for putting yourself out there, one of the most important things I’ve learned in the last year and a half is that you have to protect yourself and you don’t have to accept abuse or even lesser assholery. I used to let most comments through if they weren’t outright abusive even if they were basically trolls. My thinking was that a) I wanted people to see what kind of crap I got for speaking my mind, and b) it sometimes presented a chance for me or my readers to rebut misinformation (which then becomes a public service as other people stop by and learn even more new things!). But at some point you realize that you don’t have the mental energy to deal with it, and if you’re not going to reply, then it’s just sitting out there being ugly and stinking up the place. So I just updated my comment policy to basically one of zero tolerance for bullshit.

    You also don’t have to write about things just because they happen. Once I started writing about feminism, I felt like I had to write about everything I possibly could and not only was it exhausting, but each time it opened me up for attacks. You have to choose your battles, which goes back to protecting yourself. Self care is key.

    • Thank you, this is all wonderful advice! I have yet to deal with these types of comments but I’ve seen them in other places and…ick. I think you are completely right.

      I don’t feel I have to write about all the things (though I’m sure I will go through that phase) – but there are many things I want to write about but I don’t – out of fear. Either fear of the controversy, fear of looking “uneducated”…or fear that it will be read by someone I don’t want to read it. I’m working to get over those fears though cause I feel that until I do, people are only getting 15% of whatever I write and I want to share more. I want to stop being afraid! 🙂

  2. Pingback: Rape Culture at UofO: Come at Me, Bros | Make Me a Sammich

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