Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Staying In

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  • andin,

    Whatever you think about yourself, and if you are anything like me, it can go all over the place. (Roller coaster rides have nothing on my mind)
    You are an incredibly brave person

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1881 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    A 10-min clip from the September LATE at the Museum on "Lust", featuring Emma, turns out to have been languishing on YouTube for weeks now. It's germane to the discussion, I think.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    I’ve always really appreciated the added groundedness (was going to say “realness”, but that’s not quite the right word, is it?*) that your posts bring to a discussion because they’re posted under your real name, Emma. I know from my own limited experience that the juggling and self-censoring that can be involved is tricky, and I’m more than a little jealous at how easy you make it look.

    *-Rereading that sentence, I think I could have phrased that better. What I mean is that I don't think it would be right to call things posted under a pseudonym as less "real", just as less located in the context of a particular person's life.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    What I mean is that I don't think it would be right to call things posted under a pseudonym as less "real"

    Yeah, I'm really conscious here of not wanting to sound like I'm dissing people who do write under pseudonyms. Clarisse's post is the best demonstration of the very good reasons for doing so: that and the posts I haven't written. This is just about why I've made my particular individual decision.

    I think that sense of genuineness is stronger because people know that if I said something here that wasn't true, or was exaggerated or distorted, because people know who I am, someone would call me out on it. That makes me try even harder to be scrupulously fair.

    And of course, LATE is one of the things I couldn't have done if I wrote pseyudonymously. I miss the stuff that isn't in that clip - particularly David talking about Colin Craig, but it does show the enormous amount of fun we had doing it.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    I love the way the video starts with the obligatory: Emma Hart appears in this video so there is sexual content and adult language. You definitely have a reputation :)

    Although maybe I'm too blase, but none of it seemed risque to me. Did I just miss something, or is BDSM one of those secretly offensive words. Or am I, bob forbid, in the wrong demographic?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1198 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Good stuff, Emma. Yes, honesty is a very mixed bag. It's part of what makes your blogging powerful, and yet I know that it must also limit it a great deal too. It certainly has that effect on me. Limiting oneself to saying only honest things, one can find oneself without anything to say to anyone.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    Emma, a simple thanks seems a little inadequate as a response to this piece and many of your others also. I agree with the comments above, your writing and what you write about is fantastic and I appreciate the insight into how and why do you do it.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Another really important thing to do on Coming Out Day is do a bit of privilege-owning gratitude and remember there’s a metric fuckton of GLBT folks out there for whom being “out” (or outed) can quite literally be life-threatening.

    Which, for me anyway, makes it important to use that privilege for good. Or at least put the idea out there that being an out GLBT person AND a messy, flawed human being with a face and a name aren’t mutually contradictory states. Back in the day, I really could have done with that insight a lot earlier. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Emma Hart,

    t if I said something here that wasn't true, or was exaggerated or distorted, because people know who I am, someone would call me out on it. That makes me try even harder to be scrupulously fair.

    I'm not sure how true that is for many blogs. I think it's more of a continuum - some anon bloggers make huge efforts to keep secrets, others are "well, my employer doesn't officially know". Most pseudonymous bloggers seem to be out to at least some people, particularly partners. PerverseCowgirl has talked about how her various partners react to some of her posts, and how her main one only reads posts by invitation. So there is a feedback loop, even for what amounts to a public-facing private journal. At the bigger group blogs (Skeptifem, Jezebel) there's a whole bunch of peoiple who will be offended if you make stuff up.

    LATE is one of the things I couldn't have done if I wrote pseyudonymously

    That's the big one. Seeing your {ahem} face on the TV!

    Although even that doesn't spread as widely as you might think. Quite a number of people have seen me naked then in 3/4 profile fullscreen on my face, on the TV, but not made the connection to me as someone they know. It's possible that people read your posts but don't connect them to that nice Emma who brings her kids to school. Especially if they think of the author-you as some kind of drooling sex addict rather than a reasonable person who likes kinky sex.

    What did get me a lot of attention from undesirables was having my name and phone number published by a bought media outlet in a disparaging way. I got everything from death threats to denial of service attacks. So try very hard to avoid that. At least in NZ disposable SIM cards are cheap enough that you can probably afford to buy one every time some churnalist asks for your number.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1198 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Emma Hart,

    And of course, LATE is one of the things I couldn’t have done if I wrote pseudonymously.

    Quite.

    I miss the stuff that isn’t in that clip – particularly David talking about Colin Craig, but it does show the enormous amount of fun we had doing it.

    Yeah, it does look and sound fun, doesn't it? I'm glad about that. Notwithstanding the slightly sulky note in the text about how "some" were disappointed that we didn't explore the wider theological dimensions of Lust. I dunno, we held the happy attention of 700 people (their biggest audience ever) for for an hour. That'll do me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Max Rose,

    There are pros and cons to anonymity. In my old blog I used my real name, with my photo and email address in the sidebar. That helped me make contacts and build trust, and in the end it helped me get a job. It may have got me a few dates along the way. Mind you, there was very little personal content, apart from the stunning revelation that I'm a bit of a lush, and the only downside of expressing my own opinions there was that a certain prominent businessman tried to get me fired for something I wrote several years ago.

    Now I use some pseudonyms that I hope will never be connected to my real name, primarily when I want to leave a comment that would run close to the wind regarding my employer's code of conduct. However, I have other online identities (such as this one and on Twitter) that I'm quite happy for my friends to know is me, but that I'd rather wouldn't come up in a Google search on my real name. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a promiscuous kinky drunkard, and that's fine. But I'd rather not have that come up as the first Google results from a prospective employer.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2011 • 83 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    It was a lie.

    This is the reason I comment using my name. Not dissing those who use a psuedonym, there are very good reason for people to use psuedonyms, and I'd rather hear their thoughts and experiences and not know their name, than not hear them at all.

    But for me, I can't feel I'm being honest with myself if I don't use my own name. Even though it makes my partner cringe sometimes, when I express my opinions or describe my experiences. Right or wrong, I am being honest. And here, I am comfortable enough to be wrong.

    It is that element of honesty that makes your posts, that much more compelling. Even if I don't agree with you, or even if what you describe makes me cringe and squirm as it stretches my perception of reality, I know you are being honest and that makes it worth listening.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Moz,

    some anon bloggers make huge efforts to keep secrets, others are "well, my employer doesn't officially know"

    Yeah, slightly frustrated now because one of the blogs I read did a great post after the outing of Brooke Magnanti about how much work it is to maintain an actually-secret identity, and I can't remember who or where it was. But keeping an identity literally and metaphorically firewalled from your real life takes enormous effort. Most of the pseudonymous bloggers I know are much more of the "open but hopefully ungoogleable secret" type. The defenses are made to pass casual scrutiny, and one of them is that people don't know to look.

    I do have, on another site, a one-way secret identity. People who know that pseudonym know it's me, but there are less than half a dozen of them. Nobody else knows it exists.

    Quite a number of people have seen me naked then in 3/4 profile fullscreen on my face, on the TV, but not made the connection to me as someone they know.

    I had some interesting reactions to a particular photo of me going out on the public net. Mildly incredulous "Are you sure you don't mind?" Which boggled me a bit, because even if I wasn't okay with it generally, and I am, I am completely unrecognisable in it. The more tattoos the harder that gets, of course.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    And I am generally shit at this, but I just want to say thank you for everyone's comments here. It's a two-way street, of course: it's your behaviour, your support and your trustworthiness, that makes it possible for me to do this.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi,

    Deleted long, rambly, self-centered post.

    Shorter me: having a real name as unusual as mine makes anonimity on the internet pretty tricky, but I've been really lucky and privileged.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    Aw, I thought it was good, man. Too harsh.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    where pseudonyms were the norm... many posters (particularly in the US) had a strong sense that ... linked to their real identities involved a real risk to their careers,

    It's as much about being allowed to see your kids as keeping your job, for many.

    This is still a problem in parts of NZ and Oz, depending on exactly what the topic is. These days gay/wiccan/trans probably won't get you in trouble, and BDSM is probably dropping away a bit, but polyamory is still frowned on by many. And the folk I know who are into suspension are mostly in out-there jobs or firmly closeted because it's regarded as quite freaky by many potential employers. And there's a degree of "why take the risk", especially when you're new in the job.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1198 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Not dissing those who use a psuedonym, there are very good reason for people to use psuedonyms,

    Or bad reasons. Mine? I'm a bottom of the heap nobody and I dont think anyone really cares about what I say. Still, I try to make sense.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1881 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Moz,

    where pseudonyms were the norm... many posters (particularly in the US) had a strong sense that ... linked to their real identities involved a real risk to their careers,

    Eh, I'm going to mention this anyway even though Andre's deleted his post. Tough noogies, Andre. I love the fact that being closeted for a Wiccan is called, at least in the US, "being in the broom closet". I've heard stories of really vile harassment campaigns against people outed as Wiccans in small US towns.

    And yes, I benefit from having a reasonably common name. I'm not an artist, or that woman from the telly, or Nelson's mistress. I'll use my partner's first name because that's also fairly common. Whereas if you google my daughter's name, all the hits on the first page are for us. (As a measure of my paranoia, I've also googled the rest of my immediate family as "first name + my surname", and it's satisfactorily misleading in every case.)

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    a real name as unusual as mine

    Quite. Anonymity far easier for John Smith or Mei Ching, I imagine.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Emma Hart,

    one-way secret identity

    and

    two-way street

    - we can see where this is going, right? :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I love the fact that being closeted for a Wiccan is called, at least in the US, "being in the broom closet". I've heard stories of really vile harassment campaigns against people outed as Wiccans in small US towns.

    I still struggle with the scope of discrimination like this. The pagan Usenet groups were my first introduction to the "at will" employment laws in the US, when people I'd e-known for years would be suddenly without a job because of their religious beliefs or lifestyle, with absolutely no recourse. The even more extreme, often violent discrimination was much, much harder to comprehend, even when it happened to the same people.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    But for me, I can't feel I'm being honest with myself if I don't use my own name.

    +1. But like others, I've got a incredibly common name.

    Or bad reasons. Mine? I'm a bottom of the heap nobody and I dont think anyone really cares about what I say. Still, I try to make sense.

    I suspect I know what you mean, however one of the near unique features of this blog/community is the uniformly high quality of contributions making it worthwhile reading every comment, your's included.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I can't feel I'm being honest with myself if I don't use my own name. Even though it makes my partner cringe sometimes, when I express my opinions or describe my experiences.

    An ex-partner of mine used to blog (actually still does) under his own name, and it used to really piss me off sometimes the things he shared about our relationship. Mostly not sexy things, but just relationship stuff he was sharing with the internet that he wasn't talking about with me. He seemed to think best when writing stuff down and saw no reason why he shouldn't write it down in public. So I would find out what was on his mind at the same time as any random person reading his blog. I found that deeply humiliating.

    But if he'd been properly communicating with me I think I would have been quite OK with it.

    Maybe this is a bit off topic. But I think we're still learning how to integrate RL with online life. It's complicated.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Max Rose,

    One thing about Clarisse's post on Coming Out Day was that it made me think about whether BDSM was an aspect of my life that counted as "coming out".

    I can understand that sexual orientation and polyamory are things that have a public dimension: they're about who you have sex with and who you love, and that's something that spills over into marriage, property, children, and who you bring to the work Xmas do. BDSM is more about what you do with those people, and in most cases, that's essentially private. As far as most people are concerned, it's more along the lines of whether you prefer doggy style or reverse cowgirl: completely up to you, but TMI for afternoon tea.

    On the other hand, I can definitely see the wider advantages of "coming out" as kinky. It can increase societal awareness and help those struggling with their BDSM awareness realise that they're not the only one. I know for instance that it was Emma's "Take Strictly, as Directed" post that helped me realise that it was far from rare or strange for women to have submissive desires, and that my own inclinations were not misogynistic and dangerous. It can also avoid some dangerous misunderstandings among vanilla people, as another of Emma's posts (not sure whether it's here or on TLG) demonstrated. And it might be good to be able to answer a colleague's question about what you're doing at the weekend with "going to a ball" ... without nervously anticipating the question "what sort of ball?"

    Fundamentally, though, I don't feel as much of a personal tension about "coming out" to acquaintances as a kinkster as I do about nonmonogamy. It's much worse for women, of course, since women are supposed to be all about commitment and "one true love". I can get away with playing the rake, but it would be nice sometimes for people to realise that it's possible to be in love with more than one person at a time, and that the fact that I'm not looking for a life-long monogamous partnership doesn't make me "afraid of commitment", "emotionally unavailable", or some sort of heartless womanising bastard. And that's the main reason I keep this pseudonym.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2011 • 83 posts Report Reply

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