The WaPo notices that people are sometimes rather rude to women who write online. They write in depth about the death threats against Kathy Sierra, and even make it around to mentioning Michelle’s unpleasant history of threats and slurs.

I really hate to sound like the guy for whom no apology is ever sufficient, and no story is ever accurate enough. But the WaPo’s summary of Michelle’s thoughts–while better than the Lone Wolf McQuade writeup she got in the WaPo last time–is bewildering:

Some female bloggers say their colleagues just need thicker skin. Columnist Michelle Malkin, who blogs about politics and culture, said she sympathizes with Sierra but has chided the bloggers expressing outrage now. “First, where have y’all been? For several years, the unhinged Internet underworld has been documented here,” she wrote, reposting a comment on her site that called for the “torture, rape, murder” of her family.

Report the serious threats to law enforcement, she urged. And above all: “Keep blogging. Don’t cut and run.”

But Herring said Malkin is in a minority. “There’s a whole bunch of women who are being intimidated,” she said. They include academics, professional programmers and other women normally unafraid to speak their minds.

Saying your colleagues “just need thicker skin” sounds a little brutal under the circumstances, and that’s not what Michelle said. “Expressing sympathy” for the victim and urging her to keep blogging is supportive, not dismissive. It doesn’t minimize the threat or Sierra’s reaction to it; the threats are outrageous and shouldn’t have to be tolerated by anyone.

Unless, of course, you’re conservative. Then no one cares. That’s when, apparently, you just need to grow thicker skin.

And then the other line–

“But [Indiana University professor] Herring said Malkin is in a minority”.


No, seriously, though, how is she in a minority? Herring says there is a whole group of women being harassed. Michelle, speaking from firsthand knowledge, agrees. I’m not sure if this is imprecise writing, or if they’re setting her up as a hardass/conservative foil to the mainstream response. In this case I actually suspect the former–that the piece was written under the impression that there was more disagreement between the Malkin response to harassment and the mainstream (or at least Herring) than there actually was, and the contrast was just not quite edited out. Maybe there were originally more quotes that supported the contrast that did get edited out. Who knows.

I know you will be glad to know that this sort of thing never happens at the Huffington Post:

Arianna Huffington, whose Huffington Post site is among the most prominent of blogs founded by women, said anonymity online has allowed “a lot of those dark prejudices towards women to surface.” Her site takes a “zero tolerance” policy toward abusive and excessively foul language, and employs moderators “24/7” to filter the comments, she said.

(draws rolled eyes.)

Tags: Indiana