Back when blogs were new Tom Matrullo called blogs loci amoeni: safe, idyllic, enclosed gardens where heros of literature would recover and wax lyrical. Today a post at New Game Plus reminded me of this:

I didnít realize until reading this that I began speaking about feminism and video games online because my blog created a space where I wasnít vulnerable. Here, Iím not going to have a dozen angry posters calling a PC feminazi or telling me Iím overreacting for discussing video games and feminism as I might for bringing it up on a message board or IRC channel. This is another point in the case for more online communities for geeky women. (New Game Plus)

Certainly there can be flame wars in the comment fields of blogs, but, you know, the simple power to decide what goes on the front page, and even to delete comments, belongs to the blogger and that is important. It reminds me of T.L. Taylor’s note on womens’ pleasure in exploring online games:

While men and women alike can enjoy traversing these spaces, women are afforded an experience they are likely not to have had offline. While both the landscape and its creatures might threaten the explorer, in the game space this threat is not based upon gender. Unlike the offline world in which gender often plays a significant role in not only the perception of safety but its actuality, in Everquest women may travel knowing they are no more threatened by the creatures of the world than their male counterparts are. While this may seem an odd reassurance, it is far from minor. (Play Between Worlds, page 98)

Now a woman expressing opinions about feminism is not safe in most online spaces – as anyone who has tried knows, there are unlimited numbers of anonymous commenters waiting to pull out all the tiredest lines about sex and women and feminazis and so on – but you can ban them from your blog. You can’t ban the bullying boys from fourth grade (though you band up with the other girls to ignore and try to avoid them), you can’t ban the boys who talk over you in seminars or the men who don’t hear your comments in meetings, you can’t install a spam filter to stop being afraid when you walk home at night. You can ban them from your blog.

Blogs are brilliant.

6 thoughts on “blogs as safe spaces

  1. Aeryn Athene

    Hear, hear! Particularly the examples of how you can’t ban/filter out harassment in RL like you can on-line. One of the things that is most appealing about having an on-line space is the freedom it gives me to restrict who I’m forced to interact with. That is, I’m not actually forced to interact with anyone, I get to choose. And that is just heavenly.

  2. CW

    Hi from a longtime lurker! Thanks for this – I hadn’t thought of blogging in these terms before, but you are absolutely right, and I’m realising I’m slowly getting used to the idea that I can say what I think on my blog (part of my fear of writing is fear of expressing myself, I think)!

  3. CW

    By the way, that link to New Game Plus doesn’t seem to be working…

  4. Jill

    Fixed the link. And yeah!

  5. JosÈ Angel

    Yeah but. There is no clear-cut line between safety and non-safety. Of course you want to keep away from trolls on and offline, but whenever there is a space for interaction there is miscommunication, disagreement, things your’re happy with and things you’re unhappy with. And you are not going to make your blog so safe that there is no place for disagreement, right? That might be overprotective…

  6. Games! Games! Games!

    Safe Spaces…

    A post on feminism, online games, and blogs…….

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