Blogging statistics fascinate me. Blogs on topics that I have researched for hours, that I have pondered for months, and I have spent days carefully crafting each sentence, often get only ten views. Alternately, my most popular blogs I wrote in less than an hour in a tizzy over something I have seen in the media. My most popular blog ever was not about a controversial subject or something that was splashed over the media or a story that I had ever thought about writing. It was about a simple, personal, childhood memory about lesson in hospitality that my mother taught me.
Blogging statistics not only show the number of views but also show how viewers find the blog by search terms. The majority of terms are blocked and either listed as “unknown” or “encrypted” and the few that are listed my stats are expected such as “Jessica Veldstra’s Blog” (although the number of people who know how to spell my last name is rather unexpected) or searches regarding chore wheels, CPS workers, Open Letters to Robin Thicke, and community living. Some are a little obscure such as “flower arrangements in Papua New Guinea” or “child songs based on the Dark Ages” and make me wonder what the viewer thought of stumbling upon a blog based on feminism, faith, and friendship when trying to arrange flowers or find the origins of Ring Around the Rosy.
By far the most disturbing term, one made me sick to my stomach and briefly consider quitting blogging was “jessica veldstra free nude pics”.
The best scenario that I can think of was someone was searching my name and the search engine filled in the free nude pics part. It’s a sad commentary on the state of our society that when any female name is imput into a search engine it will auto fill “free nude pics” behind it, as if every woman, regardless of her age, education, career, thoughts, or accomplishments can be expected to have nude pictures on the internet. It shows just how much women in our society are judged on their bodies and as objects of sex and their bodies seen as public domain.
After ensuring it was not my husband (or my roommates and close friends, who thought the “free” part of the search was hilarious and promised to fill my stats with incredibly “interesting” search terms), we came up with other possibilities, such as someone who was looking for ammunition to blackmail me (although this would be quite a stretch).
The thing is, if someone actually typed that search into a search engine, they knew how to spell my last name, and if they knew that, they probably knew something about my family or me. It creeps me out, that there is a possibility that somewhere out there, someone who knew me at least a little bit, was trying to find nude pictures of me, with either the intention of harming me by blackmail or by attempting to use my body as object. If it can happen to a married, quiet, chubby, feminist and faith blogger, it can happen to any woman.
The thought made me want to keep silent. To shut up, curl up, delete my online presence, and minimize my real life one.
Every time I write I feel like I expose myself a little bit. Sometimes as I see the statistics climbing, I start to panic. I worry about grammar and punctuation. I worry that I will offend someone who is marginalized already by saying the wrong thing. I worry that my logic has holes, my writing isn’t clear enough, or I haven’t gotten my point across. I worry that someone will use my words against me. As an introvert, telling my personal thoughts can be terrifying and exhausting. I look at Rachel Held Evan’s commentd on her CNN religion blog and I worry that someday something that I write will go viral and the commenters will ruthlessly attack me, even more so than RHE. Her writing is brilliant and clear and concise and gentle and look at what they do to her!
Blogging is also freeing, exhilarating, and necessary. I want to make sure people know they should report child abuse. I want people to think differently about what the Bible says about women. I want to combat sexism and homophobia in the small corner of my world. Some days I just want to tell a simple story about my childhood or our crazy, kooky household. So I will continue to speak, to write, and to be seen as a woman in this world.
And if anyone ever Googles my name and free nude pics again, I hope they find this blog.