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Archive for October, 2012

The Real Misandry, Knights and Knaves

Posted in Editorials on October 30th, 2012

Sometime in 1994, I was an eleven year old girl at a sleepover. My best friend, and her younger sister, and I were curled up in our sleeping bags watching Labyrinth. I was filled with popcorn, soda, and more than a vague interest in what was under David Bowie’s leotard.

Labyrinth is a cultural touchstone for geek girls. And while the swooning over David Bowie is what we seem to remember most, there was also an introduction to a famous logic puzzle:

ALPH: You can only ask one of us.
RALPH: It’s in the rules. One of us always tells the truth, and one of us always lies. He always lies.
ALPH: I do not! I tell the truth!
RALPH: Oh, what a lie!
SARAH: All right. Answer yes or no. Would he [points to Ralph] tell me that this door leads to the castle?
ALPH: Uh… Yes.
SARAH: Then the other door leads to the castle, and this door leads to certain death…. I’ve figured it out! I think I’m getting smarter!

It’s also known as the “knights and knaves” puzzle and more than just an exercise in critical thinking, it reminds me of a dilemma women, especially straight women, are placed in every day.

Pervocracy calls it The Myth of the Boner Werewolf. Dudes on the internet are fond of insisting that “a hard dick has no conscience.” Men tell me every day that an attack on creepshots is an attack on male sexuality, as if it were always inherently predatory. And there’s also the ever present victim blaming brigade that ask assaulted women “What did you expect?” as if rape were a natural and unstoppable reflex, and not the conscious decision of the rapist.

Instead of knaves who always lie, we have rapists saying that all men are rapists. And some women believe them. Rather than of knights who always tell the truth, we have feminists and their allies who say that men are capable of decent behavior and there is nothing inherently evil about male sexuality.

The idea that men cannot control their sexuality is dehumanizing. Men do not face systematic oppression simply for being men. But our cultural myth that men are always precariously on the edge of raping a woman, or that we cannot expect otherwise is hateful toward men, and something I will never object to being labeled misandry.

Women embrace this lie about men out of self preservation, similar to the reasons women resort to victim-blaming. If you act as if men are not in control of their sexuality, you might save yourself from being assaulted, unlike those poor other girls who didn’t have the common sense not to trust men. But believing this does not make it true. This myth has been around for centuries and has not stopped a single man from raping a woman. Instead, it protects rapists as being helpless victims of circumstances rather than deliberately violent assailants.

Just as feminism calls for treating women as full and equal human beings, it also holds men accountable for their actions, and rejects the idea that they cannot help themselves simply because of who they are.

What Violentacrez/Michael Brutsch Taught Me About Evil

Posted in Editorials on October 19th, 2012

Last night, Anderson Cooper 360 featured an interview with Violentacrez:

My reaction was one of distant sadness and pity. I feel sorry for him a now. After watching the interview, he’s more human and less of the monstrous other that I had built up in my head.

Michael Brutsch is a pathetic person for what he’s done. I didn’t find his apology sincere, and I can’t really tell what’s going on inside his head. That’s one reason I feel sorry for him – because he does not feel remorse for his actions, he’s not even the kind of sorry that’s only sorry he got caught.

In my time on Reddit, I had built Violentacrez into this a kind of charismatic Jack Nicholson-esque movie villian. I thought you needed more chutzpah to do the kinds of terrible things that he did. I didn’t think the average Cheetos eating, sweatpants wearing neckbeard he appears to be was capable of anything but whiny stubbornness. Watching the interview was a lesson about the banality of evil and how I must not have been paying attention to the Milgram study or the Zimbardo prison experiment in psychology, even though I would have sworn I could explain them to you right up until I saw that video.

What’s disturbing is that Michael Brutsch really does understand it, at least on the surface level. It’s all there in his explanation of how he loved all of the attention and positive reinforcement we gave him. He’s a monster, but we helped create him. Everyone who revered him as a leader and who reviled him as some kind of super human villain built up the mythos that he used to exploit girls and women.

This is one of the many dangers of dehumanizing one’s enemies. If you are only looking out for Darth Vader or The Borg Queen, you miss the creepy dude next door.

The Problem With Creepshots Is Not That They’re Distasteful.

Posted in Editorials on October 18th, 2012

“We also think that if someday, in the far future, we do become a universal platform for human discourse, it would not do if in our youth, we decided to censor things simply because they were distasteful.”

-Yishan Wong, Reddit CEO

The problem with creepshots is not that they’re distasteful. It’s that they’re nonconsensual. Mr. Wong either doesn’t understand this or doesn’t care about women’s consent. But even so, Reddit does not allow, “sexually suggestive content featuring minors. This creates a big problem for Reddit’s administrators if they actually intend to enforce that rule. A creepshot is by definition a picture of someone you do not know, who does not know they are being photographed. So how can anyone know if the woman in the picture is over 18?

Why I’m Donating to The Family Place

Posted in Editorials, Links, Personal Essays on October 16th, 2012

Note: This is modified from my post in /r/RedditBomb

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past few weeks trying to clean up Reddit, but it’s important to make an impact in real life also. When I heard about Redditors making donations to Violent Acrez to help support his disabled wife after being fired because he was outed, I was shocked, but I knew that his supporters aren’t the only people who can make a difference.

We can have a debate about doxxing and whether or not what Adrian Chen’s article was appropriate (my take = doxxing bad, Chen = not doxxing = good). We even disagree with Violent Acrez employer’s decision to fire him for his online activities, or feel conflicted about how this article has impacted Michael Brutsch’s life (I’m kind of disturbed by the amount of schadenfreude I am experiencing) without also supporting the things he said and did on Reddit. The now defunct /r/jailbait (which he created), /r/creepshots (which, as he insists, he only moderated!) and the still going /r/beatingwomen (which he also created) contribute to a culture of misogyny and violence against women.

So as a symbol of my opposition to Violent Acrez’ legacy, I’m going to make a donation to The Family Place, a women’s shelter in Dallas, Texas – and I hope you will too. If you would like, send me a tweet, email, comment or PM on Reddit and let me know how much you donated so we can keep track of our collective impact.

The Family Place is the largest family violence service provider in the Dallas area reaching out to thousands of victims of family violence each year with award-winning programs that keep women and children safe. Since 1978, our mission to end the epidemic of family violence has remained constant. We believe that intervention, emergency shelter, and crisis counseling for all victims—women, children and men—will save lives and that transitional housing and case management will transform lives for the better.

In 2011, we provided 11,826 clients with more than 187,547 service hours. When families are in our care, we work to meet all of their needs. At our Safe Campus, we feed more than 50 kids every day, providing meals and after-school snacks—that’s 18,250 after-school snacks a year! We go through more than 3,000 tubes of toothpaste and 3,600 bottles of shampoo each year.

We couldn’t meet the great need without help from the entire community. Few things have the power to change the shape of our world more than the act of giving.

Donate Here

Project Panda: Updates

Posted in Links, Personal Essays on October 10th, 2012

Today was a huge day on Reddit.

Last night, a new Reddit Moderator had an extensive conversation with Shit Reddit Says members. Both on the thread announcing his new job, and over at the SRS Busines subreddit.

I woke up this morning to find that ViolentAcrez, creator of /r/jailbait and moderator of /r/CreepShots deleted his account. There is a rumor that this is because Gawker media is or was planning to write a story about him.

Around lunchtime (Eastern Standard Lunchtime) /r/Creepshots suddenly went private. There are claims that this happened because the subreddit’s creator “CreeperComforts” was coerced into doing so. I really don’t know what to make of this statement. It’s possible that it is exactly what it appears to be, or it could be a false flag attack.

Later in the afternoon, Jezebel published an article detailing the work of an anonymous women who is releasing personal information about men who posted to /r/creepshots. The website is a Tumblr called “Predditors.”

Then, sometime after I ate dinner and watched an episode of Doctor Who, /r/Creepshots was banned.

This doesn’t mean that Project Panda/Reddit Bomb is over. Reddit has not changed its policy to ban creepshots, and subreddits encouraging violence against women still exist. Already, many subreddits for creepshots have popped up and are filling up with posts and members.

The reason I’m a part of this project is because creep shots support rape culture. The men who are doing this say that there is nothing wrong with what they do, because if the woman is over 18, and they are not photographing her underwear, they are not breaking any laws. Furthermore, the argument goes, if a woman is out in public she should expect it.

It would be ridiculous to object to men looking at women, and I would never suggest it! I wouldn’t even object to men looking at pictures of beautiful sexy women on the internet! There’s dozens of places even on reddit itself where people post naked pictures of themselves for the whole world to admire. Go forth, and enjoy yourselves!

But, say the creepers,

“Creepshots are CANDID. If a person is posing for and/or aware that a picture is being taken, then it ceases to be candid and thus is no longer a creepshot. A creepshot captures the natural, raw sexiness of the subject without their vain attempts at putting on a show for the camera. That is the essence of the creepshot, that is what makes a true creepshot worth the effort and that is why this subreddit exists.

Actual text on now defunct /r/CreepShots sidebar.

To them, a woman’s consent is not wanted. Her participation spoils their fun. The entire creepshots mindset is the idea that a woman’s will means nothing, and that her body can and should be enjoyed without it. That’s rape culture. And that’s why I moderate /r/RedditBomb.

Update: This post has been edited since it was published. The “Predditors” Tumblr has been deleted.

Update 2: The Predditor Tumblr has been reinstated.

Update 3: A bunch of the creepshots subreddits have been shut down, but others still remain. Additionally, PIMA, who was a moderator of creepshots has been banned.

Update 4: Adrian Chen has published his piece revealing the identity of Violent Acrez.