I like cat pictures and cute pictures of animal antics. But I really love seeing baby pictures online. Often times I find myself avoiding Facebook, but something I’m truly grateful for Facebook is seeing photos and updates about the children of my friends and family.
Today I was glancing at some of the blogs whose authors follow this blog. One that had a lot of content interesting to me. I’d seen it before too, but I didn’t click follow—and I’m a promiscuous follower—because there were also pictures of the author’s children on the blog.
When I see baby pictures I can feel my face change as if I’m actually seeing a child in person. I think there’s something quite deeply set in people in our reactions to young children. Of course there are millions of things we have to learn, but in most of us there’s something of a built in program to interact with a young child. And that program is deeply connected with what any of us know about love.
It’s fundamental to being an adult to be there to protect children. And there are simply too many ways that as people in society we fail to.
At Tom Dispatch there’s an excerpt from Astra Taylor’s new book: The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age.
Taylor makes so many important points, and the depressingly obvious one is just how much misogyny there is online. I see it in my feed, women simply get—on average—more anonymous hate.
The posts that show up in my feed, even ones I’m not particularly interested in, are gifts. Some bloggers are simply so good it seems impossible not to feel gratitude. And then I see those very bloggers getting anonymous hate. It’s incredible, but hard to miss the predominance of that hatred is directed at women.
Raising children is very important for all of us, whether or not we have children of our own. I like it when men talk about their experiences in this endeavor and I like it when women do too. It really matters.
I felt a real tension trying to decide whether to follow a blog with baby pictures. I felt following might seem a bit creepy. Like I said, I really do believe that it’s one of my primary duties as a grown-up to make sure kids are safe. And, creepy guys are contrary to safe. On the other hand women who are primary care givers to young children don’t suddenly stop being interested in the myriad other topics and issues of living in the world today. Besides, raising children is a hell of an important topic on its own.
I don’t know how I can make online spaces safer, more fair, and inclusive for women. Surely not being a jerk is a good place to start. Still, I’m convinced that the ubiquitous misogyny online is a critical issue for everyone. Taylor’s “taking back power” means empowering women’s voices.
I just can’t shake how revealing trying to decide whether to follow back a person following this blog was: Of course the Internet isn’t safe for women. But that’s something we all should work to change.