Fleshing out the silence

It seems more than ever that Twitter, the place where I now tell my stories instead of here, dolloping them out in 140 characters at a time instead of the long drunken screeds that Hubris used to be home to (though make no mistake, those tweets are pretty drunken too – moreso even because of the ease at which they can be posted. I am amazed that I used to be able to write in Notepad and then work an FTP programme) has become a place where the people who I love online no longer feel safe. And I hate that. It is exhausting being a female online. I learned this when I was 13 and first signed on to a bulletin board system at ASIJ because Beth was doing it, and Simon Darby, who I had a tremendous crush on, was doing it. I used the username Beelzebub, because everyone had demonic usernames, and then older boys on the board talked about how they could prove I was female if they took my clothes off. Yet the sysops only interupted my emails to Beth if I used bad words about teachers. You learn these things. And this is why I have returned to Hubris. Not because I am fleeing twitter. Oh no. But because I refuse to be shut down. I will always be here, fat, queer, loud, angry – and hopefully also just talking about boobs and cats and periods and all those other things that make me who I am as well. My voice is important too.

So the other day, as part of my New Year’s Resolution to keep Hubris up to date, I wrote a list of what I want to write about that, and talking about Twitter was top of that list. And now I have done that, I can move on to the next thing about being a woman on the internet – this comment that I got on my post about getting date raped. When I first read it, I wondered for a second – did I write that? The comment I mean. It was just too perfect a summation of every single cliche. Stop lying. You enjoyed it. You were asking for it. Why didn’t you do {x} differently? And that’s why I allowed the comment through moderation. It was horrible, and it made me feel all kinds of bad, but for anyone who ever doubts what it is like to be female, and be on the internet, there it is. I didn’t respond, although the amazing strong and wonderful QoT did. However, what I did do was look up the IP address of the commentator, and discover they were posting from a Telstra Clear account. That’s when I got in touch with Vodafone. Let me be lazy and cut and paste an email I sent to them afterwards.

I’d to thank Dylan from your Twitter team for his response to my complaint. He was absolutely amazing and went way above and beyond what I was expecting.

If you’ll allow me a little backstory, (because there’s always backstory!), a while ago I wrote on my blog about how I was raped. It wasn’t a fun thing to write, but it was important to me, and I thought it would be useful for other people to read too, because unfortunately it’s a thing that happens to a lot of people. I got a lot of great feedback about it, and it helped me, and I think it helped other people too. Of course, putting something like that out on the internet is always super risky, but people responded really well. Until they didn’t.

Last Wednesday I received a comment that told me I had clearly actually enjoyed being raped, and that it would happen to me again (http://t.co/SS95L7BYMN). I hope you can only imagine how horrible that feels. I could have not published that comment, it’s true, but it still existed, someone had still decided that they could say that to another human being, so I decided I would share it with the world. But that wasn’t an okay thing to say, so I looked up the IP of the commentator, and discovered it was on an ihug IP. This is where the backstory stops, and where Vodafone comes in.

I sent a tweet to the @vodafonenz to check if iHug IP addresses were all under the Vodafone banner now to see if that was how I could make a complaint. I was expecting a “yes they are” and maybe a link to a page on your site about how to make a complaint. Instead, when I replied with a link to the nasty comment, I got a call five minutes later from Dylan.

Not only did he check that now was an okay time to talk, but he also was very sensitive, sympathetic, and honest about how he didn’t know exactly what Vodafone would be able to do. He gave me a timeline for when he would have answers, and did indeed call me back the next afternoon after the complaints team meeting, and was absolutely lovely.

I really appreciate how seriously Vodafone has taken my complaint, and that you have been able to send a warning letter to the asshole who left that comment on my site. Hopefully this will make them think twice before saying such horrible things again, and if not, at least it has established a precedence that will make it easier for the next complainant.

I’m already a Vodafone customer, but if I wasn’t, this experience would be enough to make me switch over. Thank you for making a really horrible thing much better. And please let Dylan know just what a great job he did.

Last year after Amanda Billingsly was brave and courageous, this douchebag rightwing blogger wrote a piece about how wasn’t it just a strange coincidence that the victim of an attempted rape was also a feminist (huh?) and had worked with Rape Crisis or some such before (given that 1 in 4 women will experience assault, no, I don’t think that’s a strange coincidence at all) and I saw from the screenshot of that post (because I won’t give them the clicks) that there was a Vodafone ad alongside it. I sent them an email about this, citing my previous excellent experience, and then a couple of weeks later I got a phonecall telling me that behind the scenes, they had been reconfiguring their google ads so they wouldn’t appear on the Oily one’s site anymore, because their staff were equally disgusted. I felt pretty great about that.

Around the same time, there was a bunch of disgust at Cannon for sponsoring the award that went to Oily for best blog, and as my twitter account was protected at the time, I used my profeshish twitter to add my voice to the outcry. Then I got this email – sent, by the way, not to my profesh-ish address, but rather to one that had no actual association with that twitter account, so the person had clearly done some stalking on me, as a “I know who you are, you need to shut up now” message:

picture of an email from an anoymous dickhead

Strangely enough, I never got a reply from them, and google didn’t turn up anything either. That’s when I opened my Twitter up again, because I will not be silenced. No. Not this time. Not ever. Keyboard social justice warrior, that’s me. And you say that like it’s a bad thing? Oh, and let’s let XKCD have the last word on free speech here too .

This is the thing that happens when you don’t write in over a year. You have so many stories to tell. This post is going to be epically long, but you will take it and you will like it, just because.

I’m back in the public service again now. I am part of a large comms team. I work in an area I believe in. I like that when I take off my lanyard at night, I don’t have to think about work anymore so much.

A little over a year ago, I looked at my Kiwisaver account and did some calculations and realised I had over $20k in it if we were to include the $5k first home buyer subsidy, and I was paying $375 a week for my flat in Mt Victoria, so I talked to my parents. On a Tuesday they agreed to help me put together a deposit, and by the following Wednesday, I had put a conditional offer on a house and had it accepted. I now live in half a cottage in Thorndon. Yes, I know, Thorndon. It is gorgeous and lovely and I share my garden with a dog who greets me more enthusiastically than I have ever been greeted in my life, and the best part is she belongs to the neighbours so I have all the love and none of the responsibility. The cats have adjusted really well too, except a couple of months ago, Seb disappeared for two and a half horrible days and reappeared in severe pain with a wrenched leg. He’s still limping and is arthritic and on painkillers every day. That sucks. Luckily Tasman Street Vet are the greatest people ever since I am spending so much money with them.

Speaking of money, I get that I am exceptionally lucky to have parents to help me buy a house, and family to help me with unexpected vet bills. After the election I realised that I needed to do more to help the most vulnerable in our society (ie: I needed to do something with all my fucking priviledge) so I trained as a Refugee Volunteer Support Worker with the Red Cross. After a whole bunch of night classes, me and another lovely woman team mate filled a house with donated goods and now we’re working with an Afghan woman and her daughter , who I will refer to as B and N. Because Claire is available during the day, she goes to WINZ appointments and stuff like that with them, and I take them to the things that can be done outside of work hours, like supermarket shopping. It can be absolutely exhausting, and it can also be the most amazing thing ever when there are tiny victories like getting B’s phone to work so she could call family back in Afganistan, being able to tune in the Hindi TV channel for them, or even just how happy and determined tiny little B & N looked behind Justin’s enormous loud lawnmower. I am extremely grateful that my friends and family are supporting me in supporting them – like Raena helping me set up their house, heaps of people donating things, and even just being able to go over to Demelza’s after two long hours in the supermarket and stress-cry on her shoulder.

Xmas holidays are over and I did nothing but bingewatch How To Get Away With Murder and The Good Wife, take two naps a day, get some sunshine, make out with my pashfriend some and host really great Orphans’ Xmas Brunch and New Year’s Eve parties. Oh, and spend quite a bit of time out with the refugees of course. It was nice surrendering to doing nothing and mostly not feeling guilty about it. I resolved to keep Hubris updated though, along with stop playing Kardashian Hollywood (which I have deleted), organise a #BESTGIRLS reunion (i might talk about that in my next update) and to dance every week. I throw some mad shapes to ‘Yellow Flickr Beat’. You should dance with me some time, then you’ll see.

One response to “Fleshing out the silence”

  1. YOU RULE. I am looking forward to #bestgirls


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