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Wed Aug 19, 2015, 09:58 AM

The Perilous Life of an Online Woman Writer

I have been blogging consistently since 2004 and I began getting paid for my written words in 2012. Though I have published a novel, have appeared in anthologies and journals, and speak publicly, most of my content appears online. My work has been featured in the digital spaces of publications like TIME, EBONY, Salon, Washington Post, BlogHer, and more.

Over the years, I have learned that being a woman writer means engaging in regular acts of defiance. Having a “voice” and being unafraid to use it, as a woman, is revolutionary. Still. In 2015. Feeling free enough to even engage oneself in independent thoughts, devoting the time and energy to articulate and formulate a cohesive piece, and finally being brave enough to share it with people all over the world are no small feats, regardless of gender identity. But being a woman who chooses to engage in this process means opening oneself up to specific backlash generally meant to silence you from ever speaking out again. It is discouraging, to say the least, and there are those of us who will not go down without fight while completely understanding why other simply walk away from it all.

In order to understand how far we have NOT progressed as a society, particularly when it comes to sexism, we can begin with looking at the treatment of women who write and publish their work online. There is no topic a woman can write about that will afford her refuge from the risks of backlash, so let us not focus on the content being the inspiration for the ire. A woman can write a recipe for brewing the best beer and if she publishes it online, there’s a good chance at least one person will have a negative, likely gender-based response, for example.

There are, in my opinion, four major responses/ reactions to women writers that I see happen to women of all ages, races, classes, religions, and sexual orientations. These are various methods of silencing women that are regularly employed in online spaces. Simply identifying as a woman makes one vulnerable to any one or combination of these:

Superficial, Aesthetic-Based Insults/Slurs
Intellectual Criticism
Threats/Wishes of Violence


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