You can have a secret sex blog and still be ethical.

I’ve tried to write this post no less than three other times over the past year.  Each time I become overwhelmed with what I’m trying to say and nervous that I’ll come off as basically a fucking idiot.

I am not good at debate or rhetoric, certainly not at all well-versed with the legalities of libel, defamation, or internet privacy.  I thought I was doing all the right things until, well, I was told I most definitely was not.

Blissfully Ignorant

Three years ago I started this particular blog.  While registering, WP asked me all sorts of very personal information they said was required, but knowing I would be blogging about my sex life I fudged the WHOIS info a little and moved right along.

I also created a new email address not associated with my real identity, purchased Statcounter so I could track my visitors, and even purchased a VPN to further cloak my whereabouts.  I fuzzed out any identifying details about my lovers, spoke very little about my exhusband, never disclosed the sex of my child or my profession, and hid the location of my city and state.  I am even very shy about sharing my real first name with longtime blog friends.  I didn’t think I could be any more private on the internet if I tried.

BUT I HAD MADE A MISTAKE.

That very first day when I was entering in that required personal info for WP, I used a 10-year-old phone number and a year-and-a-half in, someone looking for a chink in my armor found it.  However, this person sat on the knowledge that I was vulnerable until a year later and only decided to share it with me once I had decided to tell The Neighbor about my secret sex blog.

Why did they wait a year, you ask?

I’m not sure they meant to tell me at all.  Plainly put, they were pissed that no one was angry at me for my lack of blogging ethics and therefore wanted to “invert the power dynamic” on me.  They left a comment on my blog using my real initials and then immediately after I received an email via my business website asking me how my clientele would feel about the ethics of talking about people anonymously online without telling them.  They called themselves “Jiminy Cricket.”

The Jig Is Up

I panicked.

I shut down comments while my hands trembled.  I briefly made the blog private, then un-privatized it.  I didn’t know what to do.  To say I freaked out is a complete understatement.  It’s possible that being outted as a sex blogger could ruin my career.  I’ve written many times that I understand the risk and I’m obviously willing to take it, but when faced with the actual possibility my heart stopped.  It’s one thing to theorize about it, entirely another to come face to face with it.

In the end this person engaged with me through my readers.  Through you all I discovered why they did what they did, that they were very knowledgeable about all sorts of litigious things, and that “they” were actually a “she” and an anonymous sex blogger herself.  The big difference between me and her?  She was ethical.  I was not.  She got the consent of everyone she wrote about.

The anger she felt towards me was due mainly because in an effort to show that it was typically a male, “bro” behavior to speak less than glowingly about sexual conquests online she Googled top sex blogs.  I popped up somehow and I blew her theory to smithereens.

Here I was, an intelligent, educated woman sharing my honest opinions about lovers who had definitely not given their consent to be written about.  I was no better than those fratboy asshats.

The law is pretty clear that if I were to speak my mind about a public figure I can say nearly anything I like, but when it comes to a private citizens — and they can prove some kind of harm done to them in a libelous way — then I could be in some hot water.  You might be wondering what I did wrong.  Being vulnerable is what I did wrong: I could be tracked via that WHOIS info and therefore my lovers could, too.

Should you disclose your secret sex blog?

So there I was, exposed, angry, and confused.  I had done literally everything I could think of to protect the men and women I wrote about, yet somehow I was still some kind of giant asshole because I was discoverable and I hadn’t gotten consent.

It was pure naiveté on my part that left them vulnerable: anyone with a will might be able to discover my identity and, in theory, thereby my lovers’.  Jiminey Cricket, or Sonofabitch as she was later named by The Neighbor and she seemed to like it, thought that because I put it on the internet then I was absolutely, unequivocally required to get consent first.  She said that’s how she did it and thus why she was ethical and I was not.

She also made it clear to me that she had not meant to make me feel threatened — though I’m not sure why she seemed surprised since when you email a secret sex blogger through her real life business website I’m not sure you can appear anymore more threatening if you tried.  Having said that, I believed her when she said she wasn’t out to hurt me or my ruin my life and set out to think about all the questions she’d brought up for me.

Should I have gotten consent from all those one-night stands?  What about the 4-night ones?  The two-month long fuckfests, too??  The only person I ever struggled with was The Neighbor and that wasn’t until it was clear he was sticking around.  I had begun to feel dishonest with the secret.  It had nothing to do with him allowing me to write about him or not.

I’ve had lots of chats and discussions with blogging friends about this.  Twice I’ve asked some form of the question, “Should anonymous sex bloggers get consent from their lovers (and all their subjects) prior to publishing their personal accounts?”  And each time everyone said: NO, not really.

Though some conduct their blogs openly and with consent, they do not think it is unethical to keep it secret so long as the writer is sharing his or her truth and taking careful means to protect their subjects.

It seemed for everyone that it’s one thing to be dangerously open by naming places, events, and being overly accurate in personal descriptions and another entirely to cover the tales in opacity while being transparent about one’s feelings.

If I go back and look at my archives I am proud of what I’ve written and I feel confident that no one is identifiable, even if you could figure out my identity like Sonofabitch did.  And let’s be honest: dating is a giant, exhausting, interminable clusterfuck.  You’re bound to get some incredible stories out of it from some pretty interesting peeps and you’re going to want to share them.

Sonofabitch claimed she knew who my central characters were without much effort on her part, but I don’t know who that’d be other than my exhusband whom I’ve gone out of my way to protect in my writing.  None of my friends knew who I was fucking — hell, I barely knew these men.  They came and went faster than my periods.

My real life girlfriends heard an occasional tale or two (all very vanilla versions, of course) and they learned all the real details — names, professions, backgrounds, etc. — and if anyone were sitting near me telling my bawdy tales then they would know more than if they’d read my anonymous and opaque, yet highly sexually detailed versions.

Which is worse?

Gentlemen’s agreement

What do we, as sex bloggers, do?  We have decided to share the most titillating, taboo things we do with an anonymous public.  Our affairs, feelings, embarrassing frailties, tits, love, anger, and quite literally everything else under the sun is for you to judge, consume, relate, and beat off to.  Therefore, we rely heavily on a gentleman’s agreement that goes something like this: we are judicious about identifying facts and yet share pictures and activities with you all that would never ordinarily be shown the light in polite society and in exchange we expect to be left alone.  No one deserves their lives to be ruined because they blog about sex and their lovers.

Blogging is much more than what it might seem to a non-blogger.  It’s community, it’s art, sometimes it’s a persona we create outside our real life roles of mothers, fathers, clergymen, teachers, librarians, journalists, engineers, sergeants, counselors, executives, programmers, professors, midwives, and sales people.  Our blogs are creative versions of the lives we’ve lived and are living.

They’re ours, not anyone else’s and if a blogger needs this forum to process, grow, and move forward through life, then so be it.  Everyone they ever rub elbows with is not entitled to know about it, nor is their consent required.

When it’s not a secret anymore

I’ll be honest, it’s been a tough year for me since The Neighbor found out about the blog.  Yes, I was about to tell him, but Sonofbitch forced my hand by about a week.  And despite him saying he had no interest in reading what seemed to him to be my online journal, the fact that he could read it changed how and what I wrote.  I’ve never disclosed too much detail about our relationship itself, all the interactions and little tweaks and struggles, and have instead always striven to describe a bigger picture that he might also find accurate.

Despite that built-in policy, knowing he could read it meant I had to think even harder about what to share.  I didn’t resent the gag, but it has changed the overall tone of this space.  I used to pour my broken heart out over the pages and now I am more distant.  Partly it’s because I have less of a broken heart, but I am also more responsible about its effects on TN.  I love the guy.

All the others were just collateral damage of my shredded heart.  They didn’t give two shits about me nor I them.  I liked to think that maybe I was the topic of interest in one of their secret sex blogs.  I certainly wouldn’t hold it against them.  And if they’d anonymously written that I was a fat cow and gave horrible head then I’d think they were entitled to their opinions and not lose a wink of sleep about it.  Because, after all, it’s their space to do as they choose and I can’t possibly control everyone around me.

Which, at the bottom of all of this, is what I think requiring consent is all about: controlling the story of others.

There are ethical lines

At the time I began writing here, I didn’t feel being open about my blog was a viable option; why even have it in the first place if the people I’m writing about are reading it?  I was single and ravenous, hurting, and angry.  Other  bloggers who do have a consent policy seem to be in a much better place than I was.  They’re often linked personally to their blogs or don’t have much casual sex, or their long-term lovers are given occasional veto power over a certain post.  If I’m going to share anything particular about TN specifically I run it by him first and always get his approval for his photos.

I went through a brief period where I pridefully shared some amazingly beautiful photos of him, but was quickly seized with guilt.  It was too much and I knew that I had definitely crossed an ethical line and I wrote about my internal struggle and took them all down.  I knew I had power as author and publisher and had to be careful to keep what I wrote contained to my story, not anyone else’s.  That, to me is ethical.  It has less to do with consent than it does respect.

So, to all the would-be secret bloggers out there (sex or otherwise), I encourage you to think about your own moral and ethical codes.  Be honest, be diligent about protecting both yourself and your subjects, be clear about what you can objectively call your own and fuzzy on those that are not yours.  And above all else, allow for a learning curve.   It’s impossible to do this perfectly.  Just do whatever lets you sleep at night.

 

[Update: I woke up 6 hours after I posted this and worried, “What if Sonofabitch reads this?  What will she do?  Will I have pissed her off because I mis-quoted/mis-represented her?”   It’s important to me to be as fair as possible, especially now.  I cannot emphasize enough the power I know I have here: I must be careful with my words.

To counter-act my worry, you can read most of all her thoughts on this topic — save for the couple she sent me through my business website (which I’ve described) — here and here.  Mostly my readers publicly corresponded with her.

Secondly, I’d like to add that eventually she shared with me where my defenses were weak and I quickly moved to remedy it, hence the self-hosting.  It was the only way to make my info private.  I am currently as safe as I can be.]

 

45 thoughts on “You can have a secret sex blog and still be ethical.

  1. Bravo. This is an interesting subject and one that seems to crop up periodically, like a monsoon. You have given me good food for thought with respect to my own blog. And I thank you, once again, for having the courage to share your experience, to process it publicly, and to allow your readers the ability to learn from your experiences.

    • Like a monsoon? Ha, I like that! I’ve never seen it discussed before — and apparently neither had Sonofabitch. I’m nervous about processing it publicly, frankly. I’ve let a sleeping dragon lie for nearly year.

  2. I’m glad you wrote this, Hy. It’s definitely a complex topic and something for sex bloggers to think about, anonymous or not. I look forward to reading the comments.

    In your case, it doesn’t seem to me like you were being unethical since you did everything you could think of to protect your identity, and as you mentioned, even if someone figured out your identity, how would they figure out the identities of one night stands etc. when you didn’t post personal details? It seems highly unlikely. It’s not black and white though obviously, and I don’t know much about the legalities of it all either, so I’m interested in what others think about the situation as well.

    As for the person/sex blogger who found the chink in your armor…I think they could have gone about approaching you in a much better (perhaps more ethical?) way. For one, they didn’t tell you about the chink for a year. We’re a community, us sex bloggers, and we often stand up for each other and provide support when needed. Leaving another blogger open to vulnerability when you could easily tell them/warn them about it seems spiteful. Also, emailing you from your professional website? Not cool at all. And doing all of this in a threatening way, anonymously? Definitely not cool, and borderline scary. I’m glad the person didn’t actually attempt to out you, because that would most definitely be unethical.

    xxPenny
    Penny recently posted…Pink StripesMy Profile

    • Thanks, Penny. As you know I’ve wrestled with this topic for what seems like forever. I have no idea what this post will do as far as advancing the discussion, but it might ferret out some details. I don’t know. I doubt, however, that anyone who thinks I’m unethical (or was unethical) even reads my blog, so it might just be a bunch of us saying we’re all naturally ethical. haha However, having said that, I think we’re all a group of very sensitive, thoughtful people who do their best to get what they need from this platform while also protecting their subjects.

  3. Lovely Hy, what a thoughtful and thought provoking entry into the blog of your mind. I think you handled madam very well, and have been very generous in your acceptance of her reasoning behind ‘outing’ you. You do everything within your power to protect peoples identities and short of stopping your blog (which I sincerely hope you don’t), I say carry on regardless lovely lady.

    Xx
    Bigbuttbbw recently posted…Doing as I am told…My Profile

  4. Considering exposure is not a light subject at all. It tests our very truth doesn’t it? I do believe that the truth of a person comes out in the wash. Hopefully, grace plays a part in our actions here. All I can do is be as open as I feel comfortable while trusting the forum and people here. I have considered my entire family knowing what I write for a long time. I would choose that over truly ill-behavior any day of the week.

    • No, it’s not. We’ve seen our friends get taken down by exposure and it seems so senseless to me. I heard of a woman once whose blog was used against her in a divorce proceeding! Ugh, can you imagine?? I’m thinking you can since you just said you always consider your family while writing. For what it’s worth, I think you do a spectacular job of exactly what I try to do: clear on you, foggy on everyone else.

  5. So here’s my two cents on this – as someone who went from super-secret (and paranoid about being found out) to mostly secret (and a little less paranoid).

    The fact that this person DUG through information and searched high and low to find out information about you, presented it to you in any form (even with something like your own initials) on your own blog, and then emailed your business website says SO much more about their ethics than yours.

    The reality is that being online means that anyone who really, really wants to can figure us out. But, like that person, they have to REALLY REALLY want to. I’ve held onto that small (teeny-tiny) comfort for the past two and a half years to protect me. It’s a little naive, but I figure no one cares that much.

    That’s the first point. The second point is this…

    I write about my experience and life and yes, I live with and allow SSir to see what I write so I have full consent of whatever is posted about him. But I also write about old lovers and my ex-husband – and it’s not always flattering, let alone sexual and private. In the beginning I wrote about a lover who had no idea that I had a sex blog. Like you, I blurred the details, protected their identity, and wrote the part that matters – the feelings, the emotions, the thoughts, and yeah, the sex. I see nothing unethical in writing about those things without their consent because I never have and never will identify who they are – not with a physical detail, location, name, nothing.

    To me, the fact that we protect our subjects is part of the ethics of sex blogging. If I was out as a sex blogger and it was known to every one in my life, I might give them all the warning (from time to time): This could end up in my blog. And, like I do with SSir, I might even ask if a situation can be written about. But you, me, and countless others aren’t out – for the same basic reasons. We know that the world at large looks down on what we do here (even though many of them read it themselves) and our lives and careers would be altered forever if we were outed. But just like I don’t have to get consent to bitch about a shitty boss on an anonymous vanilla blog, I don’t have to get consent to tell the story of my own sexual escapades – especially when there’s NOTHING (or very little – in the case of TN’s pictures back in the day) to identify them.

    In this case, the only way your subjects might have been identified if someone went completely stalkerish on you, found out all the details about you, and then dug into your past. When you compare you talking about your sex life with actions like that, who’s lacking ethics?

    • And a valuable $.02 it is! What I find most interesting about what you write here is that like me there was also an evolution of disclosure. I often wonder what I’d do if TN and I ever end it. Will I tell every single dude I fuck about this blog? At what point would I tell knew beaus? The point I like to focus on is that it’s my choice so long as I’m being respectful. No one is owed the knowledge just because we see each other naked.

  6. I can’t help but think of several past sex bloggers who were found out by some stalker and called it quits. They lose the outlet they have for sharing their emotions anonymously and we as readers lose the enjoyment of their blog.

    While I hate the fact that your stalker pulled this stunt, your post certainly does give us all food for thought.
    jfbreak recently posted…The Cashier – Part 3My Profile

  7. I am so glad you persevered with this post – it is excellent. Like you, I have been very careful to protect the identity of the people I write about. Myself included, because of the possible impact to my profession. I agree fully with Kayla that this person went out of their way to find your identity…over and above a casual search.

    Intent is key here, in my opinion – your intention is to protect (as it should be for most of us who do not have consent, I believe). Nor were you cavalier. Occasionally I see bloggers who post pictures of their subjects without consent…and a simple “google image search” could have them and their subject found. That kind of thing in uncool.

    I really hope that your post will help people think a little bit more about their responsibilities – or at least maybe the impact of what they write, should it ever be tied to the real world. Brava on an excellent post.
    Ann St. Vincent recently posted…Sweet bloody hell. I’m your dating counselor now?My Profile

    • Intent is key, to a degree. Then it’s about execution. Yes, my intent was to protect my subjects, but I technically failed and therefor maybe I was culpable. I’ve fixed that particular problem and am not really faced with the same ethical dilemma of “should I or shouldn’t I tell him?” since I’m’ monogamous and he knows. Having said that, I feel reasonably confident that should I end up back out in the dating world I know how I feel about sharing this blog: I still wouldn’t get consent unless and until I felt they would become a part of my life. Passersby don’t need to know.

        • This is one of the most fascinating blog postings that I have read on WordPress. First off, I can’t imagine the what possesses a person to go to such an extent for personal gain (however that is perceived) on a sex blog. If monetizing is an element in the equation, then I could see that as a motivation (however underhanded it might be).

          The anonymity we have on our blogs and the personal risk that we take in order to do what we think and feel is right is nothing to take lightly. That another blogger went to such an extent to demonstrate that they can, at a whim, expose you is disheartening to say the very least.

          The last few days, my wife and I have been reassessing what we do in our blog space (our interaction more than our posts) and considering some changes. This post gives us more to consider. Thank you for taking the time to detail the events and your approach. While we don’t have any other people involved in our posts, the entire premise is reason for us to give us pause before we click the “publish” button.

          Thank you!
          Warm Creme recently posted…Kinky Subjectivity: Who Defines Kink?My Profile

          • Hey Will! Not sure what you mean by monetizing? Me or her? Huh? :). Sorry for being confused!

            As to the rest, it’s always important to know the risks and your own limits. Things can escalate quickly, otherwise. Things seemed to have settled down for me — but who knows?

  8. So grateful to this post, and I held my breath with so many others (including yourself) when the person came forward in what I can only perceive as a threat. I get the consent of those involved, but as the married sister, that’s not hard to do the majority of the time. I know my sister gets consent as well, as she’s quite open to those around her about the blog. I am the one who needs anonymity.
    I definitely write with the knowledge that my husband may read the blog (he doesn’t do this often, but sometimes), and I never want to offend him or paint him in a bad light. Yet, sometimes my heart hurts, or I’m angry, or the sex wasn’t satisfying and I’m hashing out the whys, so while I still write those posts, it takes me so much longer and carefully crafting the words to make sure I do as little negativity towards him as possible – and that’s frustrating at times.
    This is perhaps why I write a lot more fiction, whereas my sister doesn’t – it’s safer (not to mention a lot of the memes we participate in call for it).
    Cammies on the Floor recently posted…PinupMy Profile

    • Thanks, M. I’m still holding my breath, to be honest. I never know when it’s going to come back and bite me in the ass (my obstinacy or my sex blog). I’m hoping that we can all just move on from here.

      It seems you very much understand “the rub” when it comes to writing with consent and why I have chosen to write without it (or chose, as the case may be). It changes what and how you write and if you use the blog as a processing place, or even just a fun place, you can’t if you’re constantly thinking about what someone thinks. It’s a little like asking your mother for permission to have sex. She doesn’t need to know, but she can trust that you aren’t going to do anything that’ll get you arrested (maybe – ha!). But you get my drift. 🙂

  9. You handled this well. And I, too, think you’re being too generous to your potential-outer. Her behavior is NOT normal. Inverting the power dynamic just for the hell of it, to teach you a lesson or something? It just seems cruel.

    I’ve had two occasions when my anonymity was nearly blown – one you know about (because it was on here) and one when I forgot I was logged into WP before liking a blog post a relative wrote. The fear I felt was overwhelming.

    My blog began as a secret from its other main character, my husband. Now he’s the one wondering why I haven’t written in a while. (Probably the only one, ha!) I totally agree with your navigation of who to tell and when. Of course TN should know, now. I was glad you told him. But to track down one night stands, etc? Ridiculous.
    Anisa recently posted…already differentMy Profile

    • I don’t think she was saying I needed to do anything retroactively, just that I should have gotten consent, period. And since she didn’t reveal her online persona to me, I have no way of knowing what Im being compared to. The real issue here to me was that she found me unethical regarding consent. After many months of contemplation and discussion I’ve discovered my feelings remain mostly the same.

      PS: I still get heart palpitations for that slip up! Thank you for not hating me for that!!

  10. You’re great at this stuff.
    Every time I write a “story” about my sex adventures or any of my adventures that involve someone else, I try to hide as much as I can. Using fake names, locations, blurring out faces in photos or anything I think may incriminate them or myself.
    I experienced my boss asking if I knew a lady by such and such a name. I think I stopped breathing, because it was ME. I had used a different name but used the same email addy for another website. It cross referenced us by email addresses. I asked him “Please if you could just ignore or block that account I would appreciate it.” He did. I then deactivated the acct on the site.
    When I do write the stories I always “freak” out thinking “what if…” Then I think well…fuck it. I only answer to one person and as long as he knows the truth & stands by my side I will risk losing those friends. Sounds cold, but I’ve always been on the outside circle of my RL family & friends.
    Another thing I think of when I share a post is writer’s write what they know and a person can’t believe every thing they read on the internet.
    Again this is a great topic. Always a good reminder of the “possible pitfalls” of being a sex blogger.
    SassyCat recently posted…Another Saturday with Him Pt 2 [BFMH2014]My Profile

    • I appreciate that I’m not the only one who is careful. We live in an odd world now where we can post our journals online. Ours happen to be of a sexual nature. If you’re going to those lengths to protect your subjects, then to me that’s ethical. I’d be careful with the pics though – even blurry – but that’s just me.

      And I can’t believe your boss figured you out!! Holy crap!! Glad it all worked it in the end 🙂

  11. Powerful stuff my friend. I’m glad you posted it. M and I have had or own concerns with anonymity, from both the side of she protecting her spouse and career, and it being a bit easier for me because I mostly write about the short flings.

    I think the person went about things the wrong way, like the rest of the comments. When we first start out blogging, we all flounder and try to figure things out. Mistakes get made. Luckily the majority of the time, the community helps us correct these oversights, I’m sorry your experience wasn’t as easy or painless!
    cammies on the floor recently posted…Sexual HangupsMy Profile

    • Thanks, A. I sometimes wonder how I’ll handle being single if that ever happens again and I happen to still be blogging. Would I tell them?? I don’t think so. I’d wait to see if they might stick around before I did that, because this isn’t “just a blog” to me. But that’s a different issue 🙂

  12. There is NOTHING unethical about this blog at all!

    How many TV shows, even those ripped from the headlines about real-life stories, have that caveat that states names, places, etc. have been changed to protect the innocent, and that any similarities to real life are purely coincidental. And these folks, cleared through their many lawyers, broadcast on public networks to millions of people!

    ROCK ON, and keep on blogging!!!

    P.S. Our hubby was a super spook with the gov’t for many years and is well connected…if you want the identity of ‘sonofabitch’ he could probably help with that!

    • Hy, I think you do a fantastic job. Don’t let anyone try to bully you or try to intimidate you. When I write about my times, I change names. I don’t ask permission. There’s no ethical issue for me because it’s my blog and my thoughts. I’m not doing a documentary or an NPR story so why would anyone need to sign off. My situation is different than yours though. I admire you taking the stance and what you think is best.

  13. When I meet a new guy and it looks promising, I tell him I have a blog. I don’t discuss the nature of the blog just that I have it. Most of the guys I’ve written about are transient so giving them access seems stupid. It’s impossible to know who I’m dating/sleeping with when on my blog. My best friend can’t keep track of who I’m dating and I say less on my blog.

    Ethics in anon sex blogging? I’m not naming names because doing so would expose me. That’s pretty damn ethical, if you ask me.
    Cara Thereon recently posted…#MM FailMy Profile

    • I think that’s how I’d do it if I ever found myself single again and still had this blog. I agree it’d be silly to give it to them access before I trusted them. My heart’s on the page, after all. And YES to the whole “keeping track” thing. My friends never knew who I was dating or what the hell I was doing.

  14. You know, once upon a time, long before you and I ever crossed paths on Twitter, I was the subject of some vicious attacks on someone’s blog. They had been a friend but disagreed with elements of my lifestyle & open marriage. As mean and hurtful as the multiple blog posts were, I never considered what they were doing as unethical.

    And there was the time a ‘helpful’ reader took bits and pieces from my blog and from Veronica’s (some posts were over a year apart), figured out our real identity, and emailed us with our full names and home and work addresses. Most definitely creepy, but again, whether it was ethical or not never crossed my mind.

    Which is all a long way of saying, in no way have I ever thought that a blogger, you or anyone else, writing anonymously about others is unethical. I also don’t think libel or slander applies, while I’m no legal scholar, those apply to false statements, your opinion is your opinion, they don’t have to like it.

    • Oh man, Hubman! That’s freaking ridiculous! If I ever pieced together someone’s identity I might let them know just in case they wanted to close the gaps, but even then that’d be hard to figure out. Re: writing anything awful about another human being on my blog, well, short of them being murderer or rapist, I’d be pretty hard pressed. There’s just so much more to write about!

      That’s my way of saying, Thank you for being in my corner (and everyone else’s). Libel is slippery, though, and according to Sonofabitch, I would fall prey to one of the criteria (which was that I wasn’t anonymous like I thought I was). In any case, it feels almost moot now… xx Hy

  15. It boggles the mind that this person could consider *you* the unethical one, after the lengths she went to to dig up your information. And then to contact you that way and try to present it as *not* a threat?? If wanting to “help” was this person’s true objective, it could have (should have) been done in a better (more ethical?), less threatening way.

    You have withstood this, and stood up to this, in an extremely ethical (and more than generous to her) way. I admire you for *not* running away, and for talking about it, here, now. I know this had to be difficult to do. My heart was in my throat all those months ago when it first happened, and I can’t say enough that I am glad you handled it the way you did, and that you are talking about it openly now. It’s an important situation for all of us out here to think about.

    • Well, that’s a matter of perspective, obviously. And I really, really, really wish that she had contacted me the minute she broke through. I was left wide open for an extra year+ because of her choice. It was bad enough it existed in the first place.

      I’m still quite nervous even today bringing it up. I’m kind of holding my breath for the other shoe to drop. Time will tell.

  16. It is reassuring to know that if I call someone a “Butt Head Astronomer” I cannot be held libel. 😉

    I’m really glad you powered through and wrote this. When all of this first started, I was beyond nervous and pissed off for you. I never felt that the way you went about writing and sharing on your blog was unethical and found the reverse true in how SOB went about notifying you and everyone else. In the end, you have managed to accomplish what was probably her intention to begin with and that is to educate us as to the risks involved in blogging when others are involved and that is because you did so with grace and humility instead of with the thoughtlessness. Brava Hy!
    ‘Tis recently posted…MotherhoodMy Profile

    • You can only do that if you’re thoroughly anonymous, though, so be careful who you’re calling Butt Head Astronomer! haha

      I’m glad that you and others have found me to be ethical, my peers. It makes me feel like I’m doing as good a job as I hope to be. 🙂 xx Hy

  17. I’m really annoyed that someone has gone so far out of their way to learn who you are. Oh sure, many of us are really curious, it’s part of you and your blog’s charm to want to know, but we don’t bother digging because we all appreciate secrecy and honesty. Two things that are nearly impossible to live together in a perfect balance.

    From a technical aspect, please don’t blow the “I could be tracked via that WHOIS info and therefore my lovers could, too.” out of proportion. Having YOUR number hardly equates to having detailed personal information about other people. That being said, this is a good lesson for ALL those who wish to keep such details private by using ‘private registration’ for domain names (Do your search, many web hosters offer this for free!).

    Recently I ran into the whole privacy issue with a friend of mine. We have been discussing very detailed things (not sex-things, relationship things) that we are both going through/have gone through. It helps to have a friend who bounce ideas off and get some advice from. When I heard that his significant other had browsed his device “just looking at pictures” creeped me out. First: The fact that someone else went through your own personal device is down-right wrong. There are limits to privacy, even between close people. Sure my friend ‘trusts’ their significant other but I do not. Trust has to be earned and that person has not earned it and if anything has pretty much proven that trust will most likely never be earned.

    Second: My friend should have thought about this. I talk about things that I want no one else to read about, or ‘accidentally’ click on. I was seriously upset over this. So now those conversations are back to ‘in person’ because I can no longer trust that his software is truly free from ‘accidental eyes’.

    As for what you post here, I think you do more than enough to protect those you talk about from being unduly exposed. I do the same for my blog, even to the point of blurring gender from the context, at least as much as I can. Myself included. My blog is intended for letting out my deepest thoughts, emotions with very little to do about who I am but more of what goes on inside of me. Sure, some might think I am either male or female ‘based on what I write’ but I could care less. Guess away. Very, very few know who I am in reality and I’m good with that. Even if it does come out, I won’t be that upset. I’m comfortable with who I am but for conveniences sake, as well as professional sake, I would like to keep that separate. We all have our roles we play and rarely do the lines cross between our deepest beings and our daily lives.

    Thank you for your blog Hy!

    • Thanks for your thoughtful note. Just to be clear to your first point, I am not personally blowing it out of proportion, just passing on what I was told. One could use my old phone number to find out who I am and what I do and who I was married to and the names of some of my relatives (there are real and fake ones listed on all those people finder sites), but they would have to hire an investigator for more, interrogate my friends and even then only hope they knew half of what they were being asked (remember, basically none of them knew what the hell I was doing). So I know that was a bit hyperbolic.

      To your second point, I’m sorry that happened to you. It almost goes back to wishing we did more face-to-face in general. Things were just better then in lots of ways.

      I’m impressed with your attitude about all of this and with the opaqueness you’ve achieved in your writing. I would find that very freeing, actually!

  18. Is there a reason this sonofabitch is so obsessed with you Hy? He sure went through a lot of searching to find out who you were.
    He’s the one that has done something wrong here. Because Last I checked Blackmail was against the law. But writing a blog about your own life isn’t. If it was we would all be in trouble.
    Maybe this idiot feels left out because the stories you’re writing don’t have anything to do with him. Maybe he needs to get off the computer and get a life of his own to write about.
    Your blog is Great Hy! And TN is definitely a keeper. You have the right to write what ever you like. That’s what a blog is for. Hugs!!
    Annie recently posted…Smile For Me, Sexy Sunday # 44My Profile

    • Well, Sonofabitch is a woman and not the least bit obsessed, I’m sure. She stumbled on me while doing some research about anonymous blogging. But damn! I want you in my corner if I ever am stalked by some pervy dude! xx Hy

  19. Hi Hy, I’m a new reader – I discovered your blog through a Nov Boobday participant and have just finished reading your archive.

    I have a lot of problems with what Sonofabitch has said about ethics/morality and defamation and decided to put them into this epic first comment 😉

    (And her chosen pseudonym? Jiminy Cricket is Pinocchio’s “official conscience” – spare me.)

    She comments (on “I don’t feel safe”), “People think that ethics are opinions and feelings… Ethics are the real, accepted norms of human decency established through community affiliation and enforced by mutually-understood consequences, mediated by power.” That sounds like one possible definition, but it’s certainly not the only one.

    “Ethics” means “a system of moral principles” (i.e. of a culture) OR “the rules of conduct” that apply to a specific group OR the “moral principles” of an individual OR a “branch of philosophy” (definitions paraphrased from Dictionary.com). It is possible to have a strong and valid sense of right and wrong that differs from the views generally held in your community. Just because a community (a majority) holds a view (such as opposing same-sex marriage) doesn’t automatically make it morally correct.

    Ethics has nothing to do with defamation.

    Defamation is (1) a statement made about an individual (2) to others (3) that harms that individual’s reputation. Your blog contains statements about some individuals, and a blog entry is a statement made to others, so items 1 and 2 are satisfied.

    Have you harmed the individuals’ reputations? This is where the logical leaps start. First, the individuals would have to be reasonably identifiable. You didn’t give any last names. The first names you used may or may not be their real first names. If you had posted under *your* real name, then people who know you *might* be able to figure out who these individuals were. Maybe. The fact that one person has been able to figure out your identity doesn’t then make *your subjects* “reasonably” identifiable.

    Even if they were, did you say anything that would harm their reputations? Of the four blog posts that she cited (on “Love really does conquer all”), only #1 looks like it could be relevant to reputation (Casio was “obnoxiously bad in bed”). That’s pretty vague. Suing someone because they said you were bad in bed? Seems highly unlikely – and it would likely result in more bad press for him: truth is a defense so if you could prove he was bad in bed, you’d be OK. Assuming he ever found out about your statements in the first place.

    TL;DR – Don’t worry about the defamation stuff, and you can absolutely be ethical without accepting *her* particular set of moral principles.
    Zoe recently posted…I had an epiphanyMy Profile

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