You’ve also got privilege.
You’ve got the privilege of being a person in a career, in a social position, in a financial situation, which mean that stating your personal political biases for the world to see doesn’t pose you any risk.
You get to get up in the morning and sit at your computer and type whatever you darn well please into the text field.I'm generally in agreement with QoT on the issue of pseudonymity (and I do love that word). You build up a reputation under a pseudonym just as you do under the name on your official paperwork, and there is accountability in that. Quite apart from the the fact that your real name could well be completely fictitious and the reader wouldn't necessarily know (
What I do want to do is expand some more on the theme of real-name privilege. I write under my real-name, although I have shortened it to just my first name on my Blogger profile. My real name is easily discovered, is in some of the posts I have written, and is mentioned by other bloggers here in posts they have written. I'm open about the fact that I am "Julie from THM" on my Facebook and twitter accounts, and in personal interactions.
For a long time, in the first few years of this blog, I operated much as if I had a kind of real-name privilege that was almost the reverse of what QoT outlines. It was more that I was such a minor player in the Game of Life that no one would care what I wrote really. However that more and more became an impossible position, particularly amongst the feminist community where I was starting to find that things I might write flippantly were being taken more seriously than I intended. The fault was with my writing, not the reading of others, and I took stock and reviewed that. What I write does matter, and that's one of the reasons I write less now, because I feel a sense of responsibility to craft my posts very carefully, and that takes time and effort that I often don't have to spare these days.
I've avoided blogging about the area covered by my day job (education unionism, particularly early childhood and primary school until about two years ago, now special education). It's not that I don't care about it, don't see these subjects as relevant to feminism, or have no thoughts. I don't write about them because I don't want anyone to erroneously think that my witterings here are constructed under instruction from my employer.
But politics, oh beautiful wondrous politics, of the New Zealand national and local variety, I thought I could write about those beloved topics without anyone deciding my thoughts, blogged here, were in fact those of another. They've got my real name on them after all, how could anyone give the credit to anyone else! Then this happened (TL;DR Herald on Sunday journo assumes I am my husband's appendage). And now I write even less than I did before, certainly far less frequently than I would like to and about far less than I would like to.
There is definitely a gendered element to this, for me, which is why I chose the Groucho Marx glasses, nose and moustache picture to illustrate this post. It's a disguise many women would struggle to carry off, yet it is the first Google image result for "disguise". As a woman with Views I face more difficulties than many of my male peers. I am more likely to have them ascribed to other people in my life ("that must be what her husband thinks", "she's just writing that because her boss told her to", "that'll be what Labour wants her to say"). I am more likely to suffer abuse as a result of sharing my Views. I have many male friends who blog. None have had threats of rape, threats against their children, or many of the other not so lovely comments I've had here. The phrase "Uppity Man" doesn't parse.
Writing under my real name has also opened up new opportunities that a pseudonym couldn't have; in particular the chance to be on Citizen A, spread my ideas about feminist issues in other media, and make friends with other feministy types without fear if we meet up.
And writing under my real name has curtailed what I write about significantly, as outlined above, in a way that is a major chilling effect for me. Maybe one day I'll have the level of privilege that Brian Edwards has, when I use my real name. But I doubt it.
Apologies to Brett, I have him confused with someone else whose pseudonym escapes me. If I remember I'll rewrite this to accurately reflect that. Oops!