Frequently Asked Questions About WHOA
- Why did WHOA change its name and what is it all about?
- Don't you support censorship with your actions?
- Hey, if I disagree with you does that mean I am harassing you?
- What about the rights of the accused?
- You don't really believe that words can hurt do you? Come on....are you saying that this is really a serious issue?
- Aren't these people just whiners?
- Will you just ignore me if I write you a letter of criticism or ask a question?
- I think you left out something important here - how do I ask you to change that?
We changed our name because we received feedback that people perceived us as a "women-only" organization, meaning we only help women who have been harassed online, which is not true. We found ourselves stereotyped to a certain degree due to this and felt that this was detrimental to what we're all about, which is:
Education, Information, Empowerment, and Communication.
See our mission statement for more information.
Absolutely not. Censorship implies that there are legal restrictions in place. We are not a lobbying organization, but an educational one. Even in the extreme case of a possible call for the boycott of a service due to severe harassment issues that they refuse to resolve, how is it any different from boycotting any product because you don't believe in what they are doing? Is it censorship to boycott XYZ Newspaper because they printed a negative article about you or to tell your friends to do the same? How is the use of consumer power ever censorship?
Certainly not! We welcome differing viewpoints. Disagreement is not harassment. Let me illustrate an example from my own email.
- Letter A is a lengthy dissertation about why WHOA is the worst thing ever to happen to civilization. Is that harassment? No.
- Letter B is a personal letter stating that WHOA is evil and that I personally deserve to be killed. I then ask the writer of Letter B to stop contact with me. He or she then sends me 14 more mails saying similar things but getting more graphic and threatening. THAT is harassment.
Our policy is never to contact the harasser. This does not mean that we judge the harasser without their testimony. We don't judge them at all. We contact the administrator of the system from which harassing messages appear to be originating, who can then investigate the matter according to the norms of their organization. Our standard of harassment also gives potential harassers the benefit of warning. If you have been asked to stop an activity that is deeply disturbing someone, then you are not a passive victim of someone's accusations if you continue.
You don't really believe that words can hurt do you? Come on....are you saying that this is really a serious issue?
Yes. Words can hurt. Words can be used to threaten. Words can be used to frighten. Words can be used to abuse. Words can be used to harass. If this were not true, then why would there be libel laws, to take one example. My words right now have the power to upset or comfort you, depending on your point of view.
First off, its only whining if you don't do something about it. Secondly, there is nothing weak about education and information. Thirdly, women and men are self-defining. Everyone is different and so is everyone's approach to life's challenges. WHOA hopes to provide a support for all manner of persons, and education for the entire Internet community. We don't think that harassment is a stubbed-toe problem in many cases, and we respect those women and men who fight back against the powerlessness that harassment tries to force upon them and others.
Every attempt will be made to answer all letters to WHOA so long as they are sent in the spirit of constructive argument. Mere smear letters will be considered rhetorical. However, we do welcome critical arguments and discussions about our policies and the information we provide. We want to create policies and information banks that are reflective of many different kinds of thinking. In fact, we welcome anyone who wishes to do so to join our discussion list.
If you have a question you would like to see added to the FAQ, please write contact us.