When I woke up today, I discovered a new Tumblr. By that, I mean I was notified of it in at least six different ways (I lost count) by people of varying opinions on it. The Tumblr seems to be an attempt to quickly put my post from yesterday into effect, to see names named. To that end, it allows anonymous submissions, like this one.
This is causing some consternation. Rightly so, but I’m less up in arms about the possibility than a lot of people. This isn’t what I would have done, but I think it may have been inevitable, and I’m not screaming about it. Here’s why.
- The people named are unlikely to be hurt by anonymous accusations. Right off the bat, I saw people I know and like saying, “Oh, I bet X is on there because of this innocuous thing.” They were corrected quite quickly by someone with more knowledge. But it goes to show where we–even people who takes these issues seriously–are on this topic. We collectively withhold judgment even when we don’t take that extra step to dismiss the idea.
- This Tumblr can’t do much to make the situation for people who have been harassed or assaulted worse. Things are pretty ugly here at the moment. There are still people trying to suggest that Rebecca Watson couldn’t have been propositioned in an elevator. We’ve seen the reactions of organizations to formal harassment charges lodged with them. This isn’t pretty.
- Targets of harassment stand to gain something from seeing that other people know and believe that their harassers harass and that they aren’t alone in what happened to them. For a lot of them, seeing that there is support out there will be a necessary step to speaking up. When they do, that is what will actually make a difference. Anonymous complaints can’t do it–shouldn’t do it. It takes people with faces and names, friends and reputations in our community to do that. At least it does when we don’t trust organizations to enforce their own policies.
So if you’re reading the Tumblr and that’s all the information you have, for fuck’s sake, don’t take any of it as the last word. It’s exactly the opposite.
If you want to stop the Tumblr, and you should whether you think it’s a good idea or not, give people better places to be heard about what’s happened to them.