Street Harassment and Proportionality

bravehearthawaii-group-anti-street-harassment-week-4-7-13

Cat calling gets marches and campaigns.

There’s yet another post about street harassment doing the rounds on Facebook. While, of course, this kind of thing is deplorable and upsetting I never stop at virtue signalling with a quick thumbs up or reblog. I can’t help but start thinking about the why’s and wherefores, the context in which this occurs. I can’t help but compare it to the situation men face and to ask myself whether the panic over this is justified and why things are so gendered around this stuff.

Let’s drop a few facts first to contextualise things then.

  • A random street rape is the least likely scenario for women to be sexually assaulted. Most such attacks are by people the victim knows.
  • Catcalls are unpleasant, but there’s plenty in life that’s unpleasant.
  • Men are roughly twice as likely as women (3.8 vs 2.1%) to suffer violence of any kind (Crime Survey for England and Wales) and when it comes to random street violence are half-again as likely as women (150%) as likely to suffer random street violence.
  • In those incidents, men are far more likely to end up dead or injured than women.
  • Men also suffer street abuse, it just doesn’t tend to be sexual. Just more like ‘Wanker!’, road rage, random, nasty insults, challenges and attempts at violence.

In our society men suffer worse and more frequent random violence, yet this only concerns us in very general terms about the level of crime overall. We do not consider that a gendered issue, even though it far outweighs violence against women. We obsess and concern ourselves with ‘Hey beautiful!’ but not so much about fifty year old men given a fatal shoeing for challenging teenagers smoking pot in their driveway.

So me, being me – and believe me, this causes me more pain than it should and I don’t recommend it – I have to ask why? Why do we care more about women’s momentary discomfort than men’s deaths and injuries? Why is it that when you bring this up, seemingly because it involves men, it’s instantly dismissed and mocked?

I ask myself why women have what appears – from a male perspective – to be an irrational and phobic, disproportionate sense of fear and why men do not have that same fear. Should women be this afraid? Should men be more afraid? The statistics would seem to suggest at the very least that women should be less afraid (but then again, maybe their actions through fear are WHY there’s such a divide in incidence).

Are we really going to waste time and money criminalising people for saying ‘Hey baby!’ especially when this will end up being heavily concentrated in poor and ethnic communities where such actions are more common? Worse, are we going to let this spread to the internet with loose and poorly worded ‘anti-harassment’ regulations and even laws? That’s what people seem to want.

There is sexism here, but it’s in our disproportionately big and one-sided response to women’s problems, however trivial they are (or seem) and our minimal response to men’s issues, which after 50+ years of political concern over women’s issues have been left unaddressed and allowed to fester.

A particularly stark example of this dichotomy relates to another arena, with reference more directly to sexual violence. Men and women suffer almost the same amount of domestic violence (60% of victims are women, 40% are men – Parity, and other studies) yet while there’s thousands upon thousands of places of shelter and aid for women, there are less than 100, nationwide, for men and men’s charities dealing with male victims have been defunded (Mankind Initiative).

Our compulsion as a society and as individuals to help women is commendable. However, it also infantalises women, treats them as weak and incapable. It is a sexism of its own. The ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’ and it also hangs our society’s men out to dry.
Pointing this out, however calmly, however accurately, no matter the amount of data you present will only – ironically – get you abuse, wild, dismissing nonsense about ‘patriarchy’ conspiracy theories or the semantic atrocity that is the Orwellian misuse of the word ‘privilege’.

crime-scene-near-tescos-on-high-street

Shane Tunney being kicked to death gets police tape.

Unwanted attention is (or at least can be) bad, but if we have limited resources we have to practice some form of triage. What is more pressing, the much higher amount of violence and abuse that men face, or someone’s discomfort at being drunkenly asked for a blowjob?

Really. Honestly. Think. Put the same effort into thinking about this, contextually, as I have before you comment or answer.

I mean, seriously for once. What ABOUT the men?

Thanks.

Sex is Oppressive; To Men

imagesCAYKT4J6This is an exercise in satire and gender-bollocks in the form of ‘frog boiling’ by slow degrees of seemingly relatively sane propositions, building to an irrational whole. I was curious how easy it might be to make a lunatic case using the kind of nonsense I have run into reading blogs and papers on Gender Studies issues and this is the result. References are intentionally as poor or comedic as I have run across in serious works and while there’s some truths or half-truths presented here, it’s intended as an exercise in bullshitting.

Introduction

Trigger Warning: This paper is concerned with heteronormative intercourse between cisgender individuals. Same-sex and trans intercourse is beyond the scope of this work.

There is a somewhat common conception that normative, heterosexual intercourse is necessarily an imposition on the woman and a matter of oppression.

Whether this comes from Dworkin’s ‘Violation is a synonym for intercourse'[1] or Lady Hillington’s ‘Lie back and think of England'[2] it seems that the two sides of the political spectrum, left and right, both agree that sex is an horrible ordeal and an unwanted imposition. While Dworkin’s words are often claimed to be misrepresented, at least some modern feminists agree with her radical statement, making this a subject worth investigating.[3]

While unwanted or duty-oriented sex may indeed be a momentary imposition oppression is defined as ‘prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or exercise of authority‘[4] which would require a much broader context than the mere act itself.

In this instance I argue that there is a much stronger case to be made that the act of sexual congress is an imposition and oppressive societal act upon men.

Approaching Intercourse

The oppression inherent in the pursuit and act of intercourse begins long before things might reach the bedroom. Men are expected to take all the risks and to make all the outlay.

Men are still expected to make the first move in approaching a potential partner[5].

Even in long term relationships men are expected to initiate the sex act[6].

The requirement for men to perform well (bring their partner to orgasm) and its precedence over other laudable qualities as a mate is a broadly accepted societal ‘meme’ or ‘trope’, even celebrated in pop culture[7].

The emotional risk at each step falls primarily upon the man. Incidental factors such as the cost of dates etc falling primarily upon the man[8] are also there. With that risk comes the possibility of emotional harm, loss of status, mockery and pain on par with physical harm[9].

It is not a stretch to consider this cruel, prolonged (lifelong) and an exercising of authority, as affirmative consent always lays with the woman, backed up by the power of the state[10].

The Act Itself

Should the man approach a potential partner successfully and initiate intercourse without rejection, his ordeal is not over because his pleasure and needs are almost entirely incidental to to act of physical love.

Male pleasure is devalued during intercourse via a combination of physical, social and relational impositions.

Physically, it typically takes a man 5-7 minutes to come to orgasm (intravaginally) while a woman generally takes at least 20 minutes of stimulation to achieve orgasm.[11][12]. Men have a refractory period of at least 15 minutes while women do not have a refractory period at all[13].

If sex were to be described as a game, then the ‘win state’ is the female orgasm and, for the majority of the period of intercourse the male orgasm would be considered a ‘fail state’ as it would bring an end to the act, and without having achieved the ‘win state’. After the female partner has achieved orgasm, the male orgasm – male pleasure – is virtually incidental and of much lesser value or concern.

The goal is almost never the male orgasm and this is reflected in media depictions which linger upon the cries and wild physical motions of a woman in the throes of ecstasy but which barely depict men’s pleasure, let alone ejaculation.

Even in pornography, a supposed misogynistic haven, whether acted or not the actors – and thus via transference the viewer – establish their virility and sexual worth by bringing their partners to (fake or genuine) orgasm.

This is even true at the more extreme end, of male-dominant BDSM and rough sex works which, though they would seem to be fixated upon male dominance and pleasure offers the same orgasmic female cues as mainstream erotic cinema and offers disclaimers in which the female performers assure the viewer (and presumably critics) that they enjoy what they’re doing wholeheartedly – returning the narrative to their pleasure and denying the viewer even the fantasy of being given primacy in the sex act[14].

Consequences

However safe one tries to be, sex can have consequences. The most consequential of these possible consequences is, of course, pregnancy and here again the oppressive tendency against men continues.

In the case of unexpected or unwanted pregnancy women have plenty of reproductive rights and options, across the western world. These run from abortions to adoptions to safe-haven abandonment laws[15].

In stark contrast men have absolutely no reproductive rights, whatsoever. They are held accountable for any offspring resulting from intercourse regardless of their wishes and even, in some cases, when their own sexual consent has been violated[16].

 

Conclusion

From initiation to conclusion and consequences, sex is an oppressive act against men. They are expected to expose themselves to rejection, dejection, loss of status, loss of partner, pain and harm in pursuing it. The cost of pursuit primarily falls upon them. During sex the man’s pleasure and comfort is deprecated in comparison to that of the woman – whose pleasure is paramount and not incidental. Should the sex result in an unwanted child the man has zero recourse and can be forced into indentured servitude in service of his sex partner and their child until the child achieves maturity. At every stage this is enforced by both social convention and the state and, given the innate physical nature of sexual performance differences between the genders it is hard not to see this oppression as gendered.

[1] Intercourse: A. Dworkin
[2] http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/close-your-eyes-and-think-of-england.html
[3] https://witchwind.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/piv-is-always-rape-ok/
[4] Oxford English Dictionary (online version)
[5] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-how-and-why-sex-differences/201104/why-dont-women-ask-men-out-first-dates
[6] http://www.today.com/health/ivillage-2013-married-sex-survey-results-1D80245229
[7] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUYaosyR4bE
[8] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2562054/Chivalry-not-dead-Most-men-pay-date-women-secretly-happy-do.html
[9] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/guy-winch-phd/this-is-your-brain-on-rej_b_3749885.html?utm_hp_ref=science
[10] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/02/education/edlife/affirmative-consent-are-students-really-asking.html
[11] Waldinger, M.D.; Quinn, P.; Dilleen, M.; Mundayat, R.; Schweitzer, D.H.; Boolell, M. (2005). “A Multinational Population Survey of Intravaginal Ejaculation Latency Time”. Journal of Sexual Medicine.
[12] http://www.webmd.boots.com/sex-relationships/guide/what-happens-to-body-during-sex
[13] “The Sexual Response Cycle”. University of California, Santa Barbara.
[14] http://www.sexandsubmission.com/site/?c=1
[15] http://worldabortionlaws.com/
[16] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/05/nick-olivas-alleged-rape-victim-_n_5773532.html

Mack, Cytheria, Stoya, Deen & Rape Culture

I’m often met with a blank, disbelieving stare or outright hostility (and subtweeting) when I tell someone that I don’t believe that ‘The West’ has a rape culture. There’s a variety of reasons for this but several of them can be illustrated by three relatively recent events, all relating to people working in pornography. The main thrust of this article is about the Stoya/Deen situation, but I wanted to place it into context with my reasoning on the rape culture issue, and these two other incidents as this all interrelates.

Christy Mack was beaten, raped and abused by her former boyfriend, an MMA wrestler going by the monicker ‘War Machine’. She was hurt so badly she had to have a bunch of surgeries and the trial for that assault and rape is now in progress. Unbelievably, part of ‘War Machine’s’ defence amounts to the idea that ‘you can’t rape a porn star’ (though put in more legalistic terms than that). The reaction to this has been near universal scorn, derision and horror that someone could even say such a thing. At least in the court of public opinion and the media – our culture – that’s not going to fly and it seems unlikely to fly with the judge either.

Mack’s case received reasonable media coverage, sadly – mostly – due to the involvement of an MMA fighter.

Cytheria suffered a home invasion and sexual assault by three men, who have been subsequently arrested. While Cytheria’s assault received little coverage, despite heroic efforts by fellow adult film star Mercedes Carrera, the authorities at least took it seriously and the trial is – last I heard – in progress.

Cytheria’s case received little publicity and assistance via crowdfunding etc to help her get past her problems and back on her feet. Aid only came via unconventional sources such as Gamergate and support from people like Mercedes, rather than from women’s groups. Her plight was little spread on social media.

Which brings us to Stoya versus James Deen. Over the weekend Stoya – an adult star and former girlfriend of James – tweeted out a two tweet accusation against Deen that he had raped her. In the wake of this Deen lost several positions in several organisations, work on podcasts and websites and fairly instantly became persona non-grata. Since then, others have come out to accuse him, others to support him, others simply to ask for calm, distance and for it to be taken to due process – innocent until proven guilty.

In this case we have nothing to go on but a couple of tweets. The issue may or may not end up in court either as a prosecution for rape, or as a prosecution for libel. Meantime it’s trial by social media.

Now, what’s interesting in each of these cases is that they have all been taken seriously, in Mack’s case by the authorities, media and the public. In Cytherea’s case by the authorities and in Stoya’s case, by the media and the public. This despite each case being different, one an assault within a relationship, one a stranger assault and the last being a social media accusation of a rape within a relationship.

Unlike the other two, there’s little or nothing to back up the claim when it comes to Stoya’s accusation. Just her word, which while it may be good enough for her friends – and I know some people who are her friends, which makes this awkward – is very likely not enough for a court case, or to establish that he really did do what he’s accused of.

There’s something strange going on though. Those who aren’t immediately ‘listening and believing’ what she said, who are entering notes of caution and that people should be considered innocent until proven guilty are being vilified and attacked as though they were calling Stoya a liar or taking James’ side (as some have). While there have been a few people who have claimed she’s lying – something they can’t possibly know either – asking for due process and presumption of innocence is something different.

For those who know Stoya, her word might be enough to believe her – friendship brings trust, but that shouldn’t be enough for anyone else and it shouldn’t be enough for the kinds of consequences we’re seeing. When two tweets essentially ruin a man’s career on the basis of the mere suggestion that he has done something like this, we have a problem – and we don’t have a rape culture (one that excuses and even condones rape) if a mere accusation has such enormous consequences (loss of career, loss of income) then the pendulum may have swung too far the other way.

Arguing for due process and for the maintenance of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ as the standard should not be a controversial position, whether it’s a sex crime or any other sort of crime. We hold to it on the sound basis that we do not wish to punish anyone who is innocent and because of logical principles that also guide our work in science and many other arenas. We should not believe things until such time as we have true reason to believe them – solid evidence, and we should not punish people until we’re reasonably sure (beyond reasonable doubt) that they’ve done wrong.

Trial by social media, demanding that people ‘listen and believe’ when they have nothing to go on, ruining someone’s life before you’ve established their guilt. We’ve seen where that takes us with recent, high profile cases that didn’t turn out to be true (as per the Rolling Stone scandal). We don’t know what’s what in this case, I’m not suggesting it’s fake, nor that it’s true. I’m just pointing out the dangers and the lasting damage caused by hounding and ruining people on a basis that may not turn out to be correct.

And harassing someone to ‘confess’, doesn’t do any good either.

Step back, take a breath, leave it for the court and, otherwise, reserve judgement. It’s no bad thing and it’s not something to insult, harm or claim someone is a ‘rape apologist’ over.

Postscript

It’s also worth mentioning that the Stoya situation has been jumped upon by political opportunists in order to attack sex work, adult film work and BDSM. This has no bearing on the case, but it is worth noting that BDSM and film work have much stronger consent culture than the norm – including contracts in the case of film work. That someone works in, or prefers ‘hard’ sex scenes has no discernible bearing on them being more likely to be rapists than anyone else. The idea, seen repeated around social media some, that actual rape may be taking place on screen, is breathtakingly disgusting and opportunistic.

Aethics: Sexy Robots

CHERRY 2000, Pamela Gidley, David Andrews, 1987, (c) Orion

The BBC has an article up talking about a drive by a Kathleen Richardson (a robotics ethicist – yes, such a thing exists) to pre-emptively ban sexbots. If she gets her way, Cherry 2000 will never get to exist.

On the face of it, this seems silly, as silly as banning dildos or Fleshlights (or those rather creepy Real-dolls). What is a robot sex-doll other than a complicated dildo after all?

Richardson raises several concerns:

  1. That they are unnecessary.
  2. That they are undesirable.
  3. That they will reinforce traditional stereotypes of women.
  4. That they will encourage the idea that relationships need only be physical.
  5. That this will undermine relationships between real men and real women.

89e7dcd439aec524b2e23a5dcc97afabThere’s more, but it’s based around speculation on advances in artificial intelligence and so on. Let’s stick to what’s at the edge of feasible now. Physically realistic sex bots capable of limited interaction.

We know that there are already people who have ‘relationships’ with their inanimate sex-dolls, who fall in love with crude AI girlfriends on their handheld game systems. These are crude but they are representative of what we may see in the future. So are any of these concerns valid?

Are sex-bots unnecessary?

Many things are unnecessary, but desirable, so this is not necessarily a good argument in the first place. It’s not necessary to cook food, to have access to vehicles or to have a television, but these things bring comfort to our lives. Even if we take this argument at face value though, the situation in which we find ourselves may indeed make sex-bots necessary. There is a huge, building gender disparity in China with many more men than women. A powderkeg of frustrated male sexual desire that, with no outlet, may express itself in dangerous ways. Prison rape is a hideous problem in many countries, such as the US, also. Might access to sex-bots alleviate some of this? Might it not provide an outlet for sexual tension and might it not also – possible – contribute to a reduction in rape as some contend easier access to pornography has done? In that situation, sex-bots are not only desirable, but may be considered necessary.

1-robot-paintings-by-hajime-sorayamaAre sex-bots desirable?

Clearly they are. People are already buying all sorts of elaborate sex toys and customised sex dolls. There’s obviously a market for them amongst fantasists, those with social anxiety disorders and those with proclivities outside the norm. With men increasingly opting out of the dating and marriage options it seems that men and women alike may find a use for sex-bots as a masturbatory aid and source of relief while between relationships or while focussed on their careers. Whether you approve or not, there’s clearly a market for such things.

Will Sex-Bots reinforce Stereotypes of Women?

This is a hard one. People desire what they desire and the market tends to respond to what people want. I think many people have this relationship backwards, thinking the market tells people what they want. There are trends in desires which manifest in stereotypes but no two people have exactly the same tastes. The presumption seems to be, also, that only women would want sex-bots and only women need be concerned. Surely there would also be a market amongst women for sex-bots? Hung to their specified dimensions, armed with a six pack and the perfect amount of endurance. This doesn’t seem to me to be something that is only a concern for women, yet only women seem to be overtly concerned about the ‘competition’. People want what they want, if that’s uncomfortable perhaps it needs to be faced, but I think critics underestimate the value of a real, human relationship – or the role that sex-bots might play within relationships (an artificial, risk-free threesome for example).

RommieuniformWill they encourage ideas that relationships need only be physical?

Will a sexual relationship with a sex-bot be truly satisfying? Pornography and masturbation already offer physical relief and yet people still seek relationships. Why should this be any different with sex-bots? Until such bots are as good as people, and capable of relationships, I think there will still be a desire for more. Why shouldn’t some relationships be purely physical anyway? The BDSM scene has people who meet up, as friend, for play sessions. ‘Fuckbuddies’ is a thing. Hook up culture is a thing. We already have purely, or nearly purely, physical relationships and a sex-bot isn’t going to change that one way or another. Better to have sex with a nice clean sex-bot than to risk your health on one-night stands, no?

Will they undermine relationships between real men and women?

Possibly, but these already seem to be breaking if you look at the MGTOW and ‘Grazer’ movements in Japan and further afield. Despite mockery and derision they seem to be growing and marriages are now the minority in the UK and probably elsewhere. Can you undermine something that is already failing in modern society and should we necessarily mourn it? Might not sex-bots allow couples with mismatched desires to stay together, each having a robot lover they can turn to when their fleshly lover is no longer in the mood? Is that healthier than taking a flesh-and-blood lover or not? If you can’t compete with a sex-robot, should you be a relationship anyway?

IMG_1840Conclusion

There seem, to me, to be no moral or ethical reasons to deny people the development or ownership of sex-bots. The cost seems minimal or unrelated and the benefits in terms of personal pleasure and societal safety and security seem obvious. The concern also seems very sexist, assuming that only men would want or purchase sex bots when – surely – there’s as much of a market amongst women for a ‘perfect’ lover? It seems to me that the development of such devices would be of benefit to the species as a whole, including, potentially, helping with controlled population reduction.

bsg_boxy_muffySpeculation

Let us take this concept to some uncomfortable extremes though and see how that affects how you would think about this.

A sex-bot need not look normal. We already see this is Real-Dolls with unrealistic proportions or based on fantasy characters – models have been made to resemble characters from games and comics, for example. Why stop there though?

What if a paedophile wanted a realistic sex-bot that resembled an underage child? Our instant reaction is disgust, of course, but would it not be better that they wreak their desires upon a robot than upon a real child and might not the sex-bot give them a way to expend their frustration without resorting to rape?

What if a sexual sadist or predator could have access to a sex-bot that does the things that turn them on? What if they could ‘kill’ their sex-bot every night, consequence free, and have it back the next day. Might that not prevent them from enacting those desires in real life?

What if the sex-bot wasn’t even human? What if it could be made to resemble a dog, a sheep, a tentacle monster from someone’s perverted hentai fantasies?

Should we allow such things?

If not, why not?

If so, why?

Even without AI, the advent of realistic (or realistic enough) sex-bots raises some questions on these topics and challenges our views of human sexuality. Do we interfere in this most private and intimate of areas or do we say it’s nobody’s business but theirs? Why and how do we decide?

Food for thought.

#News Internet Reporting: Tyler the Creator Barred from Oz

A couple of days ago I made this video, a sort of ‘how-to- guide to avoid a great deal of the internet reporting mistakes that most news outlets slip into. By great fortune, an event fell into our collective lap to show how media fails to report on the internet, and how these guidelines might help.

Rapper ‘Tyler the Creator‘ has – allegedly (at time of writing this was not confirmed) been denied entry into Australia to do a show, largely due to the agitation of a feminist organisation called ‘Collective Shout’ and in particular one of their members Coralie Alison.

You already know you’re in for a bumpy ride when online feminism is concerned, but when you involve the rap community, a controversial rapper, and you account for the fact that Tyler is known to many people for this tweet…

cyber-bullying-tyler-the-creator

Then you know things are going to get extra interesting, wise as the tweet is.

So to recap, a rap performer has (allegedly) been denied a visa to perform in Australia, due to the intervention of a feminist group. How is this being reported?

Not very responsibly.

It’s being reported in terms of ‘misogynistic hate mobs’ attacking feminist activists, and the fact that they have successfully (it would seem) prevented an ‘undesirable person’ from entering their country to practice their free expression has been largely ignored. I mean, it’s obvious that the only reason anyone might be angry or upset is because these people are women, right? It couldn’t have anything to do with censorship, authoritarianism or lack of understanding of rap culture, could it?

Let’s apply the rules…

1. Am I being trolled?

Yes.

A huge amount of the abuse etc directed at Coralie and vice versa appears to be trolls. There are egg account, low volume accounts, brand new accounts and clearly dedicated trolling accounts all involved. Much of the ‘worst’ of the abuse can be dismissed as irrelevant trolling that isn’t representative of either side.

2. Understand what a troll is

In addition to the above, many of the angry people have genuine reasons to be angry. They’re not trolling or being abusive or harassing, but expressing their outrage and anger over what has happened. They have legitimate beef, as do the anti-censorship activists and others. Disagreement, however strongly, doesn’t make one a troll, abuser or harasser.

3. Understand online movements

Reaction here is organic. Individual people and existing networks of interested parties (such as anti-censorship groups) have latched on because the controversy fits their interests. This is very different to organised harassment, it’s emergent behaviour.

4. Understand Chan/Anon culture

Tyler’s tweet on cyberbullying virtually makes him a patron saint of anon/chan culture. So if he gets in trouble it’s going to draw them. Amongst the trolls you’ll find plenty of people expressing their anger in less-than-pc terms, but this still isn’t evidence of misogyny or other nasties, their anger is legitimate, they’re just not saying it in a way the general public is used to. A tech reporter should know better. What’s happened also plays into identity politics, which is the philosophical opposite to anon/chan.

5. Be Fair

The story is being reported in a one-sided fashioned, centred around the supposed misogynistic abuse of the people responsible for the censorship and visa denial (allegedly) and downplaying the fact that a huge act of artistic censorship has taken place. The other side of the story should be more important, especially since it plays into the motivation of those who have objected and explains their anger. It also annihilates the (pre-existing) ‘harassment of women online’ narrative by making it clear that what’s being hated is not women, but a specific group of feminists and one particular woman, because of something they have done. Not what genitals they have. This is not misogyny, but giving a woman or group of women a free pass when they do something wrong (like censor an artist) ‘because vagina’, is sexism.

6. Clickbait and Gonzo

Gonzo isn’t a problem here, but clickbait is. ‘WOMAN TARGETED BY SEXISTS!’ will draw attention, play into an existing culture war and cause comment battles, all of which means clicks. It’s not, however, an accurate reporting of the story. This may be made worse by the fact female journalists are the one female group that has been shown to get a bit more abuse online than the norm – which is fairly equal.

Conclusion

So what would a responsible and informed report look like?

Well, to hit the main points…

A controversial rapper has (apparently) been denied a visa to enter Australia and perform, thanks to the influence of a feminism pressure group. This censorship, enacted on their behalf by the Australian government has caused a significant online backlash on social media against the office of immigration and the feminist group, particularly Coralie. I would then compare this to the deportation of Islamic extremists or the barring of entry to the UK which was enacted on pick-up artist Julien Blanc.

The most important aspect here is the censorship and the angry reaction to it. It’s irresponsible to claim this is misogyny (hatred of women for being women) when there is a very clear and obvious cause and effect, and it’s irresponsible to lump those with legitimate anger and outrage in with obvious trolls or a fringe minority of genuine abusers.

What do you think?

Sarkeesian gets a Humanist Award? Uwotm8?

buddhist-palm

Ultimate Buddha face-palm

So Sarkeesian got a humanist award at Harvard. Fortunately it turns out this is just an independent Humanist society not properly affiliated with Harvard, but most people are going to look at the word ‘Harvard’ and think this is a prestigious award.

Why is this an issue? Because it represents ignorance, stupidity and the worst kind of grand-standing, purely for social reasons. If a Harvard society is willing to back her nonsense, there’s real problems that now go far beyond media corruption and issues. Combine this with the currently push to put her non-academic material into the common core teaching material and we have an absolute failure of critical thinking on a potentially catastrophic scale.

The society state their values are: “Reason, compassion, creativity, justice, integrity, awareness, environmentalism, feminism, equality, science, progress, and pluralism.”

1. Her pronouncements are not based on reason. They are scaremongering moral panic and speculation without much of anything in the way of academic and scientific support. Indeed many assertions are directly contradicted by proper research.

2. She showed little compassion when she used incidents of violence such as school shootings to exploit for her own purposes and publicity.

3. She can hardly be considered to be for creativity when her entire oeuvre is about censoring and constricting how other people express themselves.

4. Her – and McIntosh’s statement are frequently anti-justice, especially when they dip into things like campus rape culture etc. Justice depends on innocent until proven guilty and not mob justice or inquisitorial systems.

5. Integrity? She’s a known con artist (never liked or knew about video games) with a background of links to dodgy telemarketing, pyramid schemes and handwriting analysis. Nor has she delivered on her Kickstarter – years late – and despite a huge amount of additional investment.

6. Awareness is too nebulous to comment on. She may have raised awareness, but of problems that either do not exist or which are being wildly overstated.

7. Environmentalism? No data.

8. Feminism? Not feminism in the sense of equality certainly. Modern pseudo-feminism perhaps, in all its authoritarian and censorious glory. That doesn’t seem to be something worth celebrating though.

9. Equality? See above.

10. Science? Again, her claims are not based on scientific or academic rigour. Nor does she open her work to proper peer review, will not debate it and doesn’t even allow criticism – characterising any such examination as harassment or misogyny.

11. Progress? This kind of puritanical, censorious attitude is a great leap backwards to the 1950s. It can hardly be characterised as progress.

12. Pluralism can mean many things. However with her absolute and total fixation upon the ‘first world problems’ of white, middle class, American pseudo-feminists she can hardly be considered a pluralist.

#Gamergate How GamerGate Was Hijacked

b5miliqccaeiqt5What Gamergate is Vs How Gamergate is Seen

Gamergate is a consumer revolt against problems in gaming media. This is primarily a concern about the ethical conduct of gaming journalists but extends to concerns about one-sided ideological propagandising within the dominant games media spaces and issues of censorship. Gamergate draws on a long tradition of resistance to interference from the out-culture, previously in regards to game addiction, game representations of violence and even earlier to issues in other spheres like comics and tabletop RPGs. The difference is that this time the attacks are coming – at least in part – from the in group.

If you limited yourself to the larger gaming sites and the mainstream media, you would think that Gamergate is actually a misogynistic hate group, a gang of reactionary hoodlums intent on keeping women out of gaming. You might even think that they are terrorists, behind SWATing, doxxing, death threats, rape threats and all sorts of awful behaviour.

How is it that the reality of Gamergate and the public image of it are so wildly different and who hijacked it, and how?

How did the Message get Hijacked?

There’s two parties at fault for hijacking Gamergate. One more organised and unified, the other as chaotic and leaderless as Gamergate itself.

The first party are those called – disparagingly – ‘Social Justice Warriors’ (which you could consider in relation to actual social justice, the way you might read Islamist as opposed to Muslim). The second party are the internet’s usual legion of trolls, abusive commentators and drama-creators.

Trolls hijacked Gamergate simply because it was a magnet for a lot of drama, involving a lot of people and types of people who are perfect trolling targets. This would include the aforementioned ‘social justice warriors’ and most especially feminists, who can all but be guaranteed to takes trolls seriously and to create the drama and upset that trolls love.

For sake of clarity as the term gets misused, I am using ‘troll’ to mean those people who deliberately stir up trouble and post provocative and offensive things (spuriously) in order to garner a negative reaction. Trolling is nasty, and a problem that bears discussion, but it’s not a direct Gamergate issue.

The ‘SJWs’ hijacked Gamergate by making it about their pet issues. This was somewhat facilitated by the fact that some of the first corruption issues that emerged involved other ‘SJWs’, women amongst them. This made it quite easy for them to pretend that the ethical issues were, in fact, misogyny.

Since then, despite progress on the ethical and censorship issues, the dominant media narrative – in both games and mass media – has been misogyny, abuse, sexism and harassment, pinned on Gamergate, despite having nothing to do with Gamergate’s goals.

There’s synergy between the two hijacking parties because SJWs treat trolls as though they were part of Gamergate in addition to taking them seriously and treating them as though their threats and nonsense were not spurious. The SJWs get to smear their enemies, the trolls get to troll two parties for the price of one.

Why Was this so Effective?

It’s questionable whether it has been. Old media has lost a huge amount of influence, current games media has lost a lot of ground because nobody trusts it any longer. Still, it is distressing to see the public narrative so utterly skewed in both cases. On the other hand, this – in and of itself – is proof positive that there are issues of corruptions and ethical concerns and that they are serious.

To the extent that it has been effective, it has been effective in the following ways:

  1. Existing, dominant games media was always going to reject criticism of itself. D’uh.
  2. While Gamergate actions have exposed ‘wrong action’ by people of all kinds, the stories where women can be portrayed as victims are better press. Even if they’re corrupt (Sarkeesian) or have engaged in ghastly actions (Quinn, Alexander) there’s a psychological effect where women are seen as less villainous and more innocent than men that’s well known. Ironically the ‘damsel in distress’ is a trope that’s being taken advantage of here.
  3. Internet culture, and gaming culture, have existed for some time. Chan culture is an extreme that is often demonised, but not half as bad as it has been painted. Gamergate is just the latest in a long line of collisions between these cultures and a lot of problems are down to misunderstandings.
  4. Ideological corruption is harder to grasp than the more obvious financial corruption. While financial corruption issues have existed for years, it was ideological corruption that triggered Gamergate and has dominated much of the discussion (though the fixes for both kinds of ethical issues are broadly the same – disclosure and recusing).

Solutions & Consequences?

Are there any solutions to this? Nothing direct. The mainstream media is lazy and more interested in views (and viewers) than the truth these days. A sad consequence of the liberation of news sources and the ad/sponsorship driven model. The media can’t really be trusted to hold itself accountable, on any scale, for its own corruption and ethical issues. So far as mainstream and existing, dominant games media goes there’s only damage control and pressure.

A common complaint about Gamergate – from outside – is that it has no leaders. This has, in fact, been a huge advantage in making Gamergate more resilient and capable and has allowed it to survive internal drama and outside attacks. However, part of the reason there’s so little representation of ‘the other side’ in these media presentations is the lack of identifiable spokespeople. Gamergate doesn’t need leaders, but it does need spokespeople. It should be possible to find suitably eloquent, bullish and intelligent spokespeople that can be proposed and agreed to by a raw majority of Gamergate identifying voters in an online poll. Then you’d have people who are contactable for media appearances, to give the alternative point of view and to counter the kinds of nonsense that otherwise gets free rein on these reports.

The other solutions, beyond the successful pressure to tighten ethical policies, is to continue to act as a watchdog and to continue to promote alternative sites. Gamergate participants should also, in my opinion, strive to act well, represent the revolt well (I’m not saying mind your language, just to leave no suggestion of doxxing, no reasonable suspicion of harassment etc), and to concentrate on spreading the accurate message. Confounding the false narrative with charitable actions and NotYourShield also helps. Ultimately Gamergate wins out when people actually investigate and are pointed to the correct facts.

There are consequences to Gamergate that have deeply concerned me and I’d like to finish up by covering these and making an appeal to its enemies.

I, along with many Gamergate supporters, identify – or identified – as being on the left. We believe, passionately, in equality, justice and many of the other things that our enemies also believe in. Our differences with the other side come in when their demands come across as irrational, unscientific, unsupported, authoritarian or compromise other values – such as free expression – which we also hold dear.

My worry is that the extremists of the ‘SJW’ crowd and their hangers on, are driving a huge number of people to the right. The more right/libertarian media has been more sympathetic to Gamergate, due to their agreement on socially liberal concepts. This has earned those sources a great deal of sympathy and has meant people listen to them more, because they’ve proven themselves – at least on this topic – to be more honest and accurate.

I don’t want people to be biased in this way, by their bad experiences with a radical fringe and a corrupt media. I appeal to the opposing side to please, at least alongside everything else, to take the ethical concerns and issues seriously and to discuss those, at least, in good faith. Call Gamergate’s bluff, as PC Gamer did, by addressing the ethical concerns. The worst that can happen is that we all end up with better media and, hopefully, people will stop being pushed to the right.

Pax.