“Names are loaded, full of pitfalls and possibilities, and can prove obstacles to writing.” -Carmela Ciuraru
Belle de Jour didn’t invent the pseudonym. Concerned that his fantasy writings would reflect badly on his academic work, mathematician Charles Dodgson wrote under the name Lewis Carroll. As to not alert the neighbors that they were featured in their stories, the Bronte sisters published under pen names. C.L. Moore utilized her initials to disguise that she was a woman when writing science fiction, a male-dominated genre.
Google wants people to use their real names on Google Plus profiles and has threatened to delete profiles using pseudonyms. Their profile page forces you to enter a first and last name. I understand the desire to minimize the impact of the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory but anyone who reads I’m Not Racist But… is well aware that simply attaching a real name doesn’t prevent people from saying terribly offensive stuff.
Reducing anonymity may reduce the incidence of such behavior, but it also reduces the ability of people to speak freely. We all know employers Google potential employees. Companies have fired employees over personal blogs. Blogs have been used against parents in custody disputes. Threats are made against people who dare to write about atheism or feminism or sex. Hell, bloggers make use of pseudonyms to avoid having uncomfortable discussions with their parents. These complaints aren’t even in the same universe as the oppression faced by those who use anonymity on the internet to fight against unjust governments.
I have the privilege of not facing threats against my life for what I write about. However, I do worry about what an employer might think of my writings. And my parents. So to conform with Google Plus and generally make my life easier, I’ll be officially writing under the name Molly Rene.