Vaginal Discourse

[Trigger warning for rape, stalking, and other violence]

You might have heard that a cisgender attendee of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival posted pictures of trans women who attended this year’s festival, along with various personal tidbits that she was able to dig up. She also floated the idea of starting a website devoted to outing trans women at MichFest, along with suggesting that festival goers post pictures of trans women in order to be able to harass them.

I am so not going to wade into Ye Olde Michigan Wars any more than I already have. I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said.

What I am going to do is talk about the use of the Internet to threaten people. In this case, WordPress.com hosts the blog in question. WordPress makes all users agree to terms of service, including agreeing that:

“the content [of your blog will]… not contain threats or incite violence towards individuals or entities, and [shall] not violate the privacy or publicity rights of any third party”

The blog in question is clearly outing people as trans, thus violating the privacy rights of third parties. The blog also refers to trans women as “predatory males”, and calls for them to be escorted off the festival grounds. This is clearly a threat, and in the context of the post I’d say is fair to interpret as inciting violence.

WordPress has refused to remove the offending blog, despite its being in violation of the terms of service. As far as I know (feel free to fill in the details for a writer who’s busy hunting for textbooks), WordPress effectively requires someone to get a court order before they’ll remove content from a WordPress.com hosted blog. I see this as, um, problematic.

Permit me to talk about cyber-enabled violence, notably violence against women, and to spell out why WordPress.com’s inaction horrifies me. Read more…