yet more about pseudonymity

Reading over the many (59 last time I looked) comments at Leuschke.org in the discussion about pseudonymous blogs, I'm struck by what seems to me a certain smugness in tone from some of those bloggers who keep their blogs under their own name. For instance:
It seems to me that one of the main reasons why people keep anonymous blogs is so they are free to bitch and/or complain. This strikes me as a bad reason to keep a public blog in general, and perhaps a good reason to keep an old-fashioned journal or diary. Perhaps with a lock. link

I feel able to be completely honest on my own non-anonymous blog but at the same time, I admit that its non-anonymity means that there are some things which are interesting to me, that I think about, which relate to academia, which I do NOT feel I can talk about. Most of those it would be self-indulgent to talk about in the first place, and so the world need feel no sadness at being denied such petty self-absorption, but there are probably a few issues which would be interesting to a wider audience that I can’t talk about in a non-anonymous context. But at the same time, I don’t feel any less honest, forthright or self-confessional simply because the world knows it is me. link

What bothers me about these kind of remarks (and these are just examples from the discussion -- I don't know either of these particular individuals online or IRL) is that they replicate what I see as one of academe's most insidious structures: the attitude that if you criticize something, or if you have difficulty with something, then you must be either not smart enough, not working hard enough, or just plain not good enough in any of many different ways. The illusion of academia being a meritocracy tends to get more heavily invested in, the longer an individual's participation in it and/or the higher an individual's status within the institution.

I also don't think it's an accident that both of these writers are male, and that their choice of censorious adjectives (bitch, petty, self-indulgent, diary with lock) are often coded feminine, whereas "honest, forthright" sounds brave and masculine. Sure, "self-confessional" can go either way. But in the context of this larger discussion, the gender politics seem extremely important to me. What these writers seem to express is the institutionally sanctioned view: the only thing worth saying is something serious, non-personal, crafted for a public audience. The corollary to this is that if you feel alienated from the institution, or if the rituals and mythologies of that institution don't fit your own worldview, then you are crazy, insufficient, silly. (See, for instance, Paula Caplan's excellent book Lifting a Ton of Feathers .)

That's precisely why I've been so glad to see the arrival of several new blogs this summer which give voice to doubts, questions, problems within academic culture. Blogs offer space for alternative modes of discourse, kinds of speech -- and kinds of community -- that don't often exist within insitutional frameworks.