I choose “Rosebud” for five reasons:
1. John has already exploited my time, my labor, and my love for my people. He has already exploited me financially. He has already exploited me sexually. Now he would like to associate my real name with his on the Internet in a way that will harm me and shame me for the rest of my life. “Rosebud” is my defense.
2. I am a professional. I work with clients and customers. I need to make an income to support myself and get my children through college. I am also a single mom. My children’s father will not help.
3. It is John — not me — who is engaging in public theatre and stirring up conflict. I understand that people are incentivized to use my experiences with him to call him to accountability. But I have moved on. It is not me who should pay the consequences for John’s public actions. I have not sought to deceive the public.
4. I love my name. It’s mine. I want to be able to use it without John’s spit all over it. I want the silly false narratives he shares about me off of his podcasts and my name out of his mouth. I only believed what John and I had was an “affair” while I was still under the influence of his manipulations. I have grown a lot in the last decade and now understand the me and the John of 2011 and 2012 much better.
5. I am now completely outside of Mormonism. I haven’t been to a Mormon meeting since 2009 or 2010. I am not interested in being associated with arguments about whether or not the Mormon church is “true.” The only Mormon work I am currently interested in is supporting victims of child sexual abuse and child sexual abuse prevention.
“Rosebud” is also important to me because I believe pseudonyms can empower other women who are sexually harassed by high-credibility, high-power, public-figure offenders. Such offenders have SEO power and followers. They have large online footprints. Under the current system, any woman who refuses to be silenced by one of these offenders must painfully and permanently associate her own name and identity with a man she most likely wants to have nothing more to do with.
In the Internet age, we have a new kind of power imbalance between public-figure offenders and their victims — a digital footprint power imbalance. While any people are concerned about offending men being “cancelled” by the current move towards the empowerment of women, what they forget is that most often, before a powerful man is ever “cancelled,” that powerful man has “cancelled” multiple women the way John “cancelled” me. And what they forget is that any woman who works to “cancel” one of these powerful offenders, must also — or again — cancel herself by associating her real name and identity with a man whose digital footprint is so great that a Google search of her name will associate her with that man for the rest of her life.
I don’t believe those who are sexually harassed by public figure offenders should be required by society to sacrifice so much to rid society of those who are both influential and deceitful. It is not our job. We have better things to do than go after these horrible men.
In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure no one listens.
- Judith Lewis Herman