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The Nature of the Allegation

Recent discussion on whether it's acceptable to sacrifice one man to false imprisonment in order to jail 50 rapists has inspired me to hunt down an old comment of mine that I think needs repeated.   

Originally, the comment was made in reply to a politician who asked about men's rights issues, and specifically mentioned false rape allegations. Given the history of my personal activism, false accusations are an issue which holds special significance to me, and that is what I chose to address. The comment hit a lot of points that ended up being brought up in that discussion, and also some points that were not, but which are frequently presented in similar discussions. In light of that, I've decided to publish it here. For additional thoughts on the subject, also see my previous post, The Seriousness of the Charge.

________________________________________________________________________



The first thing to understand about rape and false allegations is that we are never going to eliminate either the incidence of innocent people receiving jail time, or guilty people escaping the justice system, because rape cases can be subjective, lawyers can be sneaky, and mistakes can be made with any case.

What we can do is ensure that the reason innocent people sometimes go to jail is not because they were denied their right to a fair trial, and the reason guilty people sometimes get away is not because their initial conviction didn't have to be based on any real evidence and a deserved conviction was overturned because the system enabled poor effort by police and prosecutors in handling the case.

An individual should be convicted of rape when the charge has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The definition of the term Rape should be held to as strict of a standard as the definition of the term murder. The designation of an act of homicide as first degree murder requires that the perpetrator be sane, and that prosecution can show malice aforethought (prior intent) in the evidence presented. The designation of an act of homicide as second degree murder requires intent, but not necessarily prior intent. Homicide which was not intended by the perpetrator is still treated as a crime, but is not treated as murder.
 
Deliberately killing someone is considered a much more heinous act than unintentionally causing someone's death. Both have equal capacity for terrible consequences to the victim - death being the obvious, but also physical and mental suffering prior to death. Both have equal capacity for terrible consequences for the victim's community, leaving behind loss and mourning. The only reason the judicial and penal systems differentiate between murder and homicides that are not murder is that there is a difference in the nature of the perpetrator based on whether the victim's suffering and death were the goals of the actions that killed him or her, or whether they were just something the perpetrator was willing to risk.

Further, there are circumstances in which an individual may cause the death of another, but not be charged with a crime. For instance, if it is demonstrated that an individual had no access to information which would have prevented the action which lead to the death, and no other reason to not perform that action, the death may be ruled as accidental rather than homicide. A driver who hits a pedestrian illegally crossing the street in the dark, wearing nothing bright enough for the driver to see, would be able to argue that 1) if the pedestrian had not illegally crossed, he would not have been in the path of the vehicle, and 2) if the pedestrian had made himself more visible, the driver would have had a chance to avoid hitting him. In this type of case, even though the victim may suffer just as much as a victim of homicide or murder, the individual whose actions caused the victim's death is not equal to the perpetrators of those crimes, in that he or she neither intended to kill nor was willing to risk killing as a side effect of the actions which led to the death.

The terms of rape should be treated with equally strict standards with similar regard to other sex crime terms and standards. It is not strictly  the experience of the victim which should determine the nature of the of the charge. The intent of the accused must be taken into account when determining what charge should be made. The term rape should apply if there is evidence that the act was committed with intent to override the victim's right to refuse sexual advances (such as injuries from applied force, a weapon or coercion/blackmail used to force compliance, or an act performed on an obviously incapacitated victim.)

If evidence does not show that level of intent, then the term rape should not apply. Even though the victim may be able to demonstrate equal consequences (emotional and physical suffering, with possibility of diseases and pregnancy) there is a difference in the nature of the perpetrator  based on whether the victim's suffering and risks were the goals of the actions of the accused, or whether they were a result of lack of understanding, lack of communication, or other factors which caused the accused to fail to realize a conscious partner who declined to rebuff advances was not a willing participant.

The definition of the term Rape should apply equally to both sexes. It is no less heinous or depraved to deliberately override a man's right to refuse sexual advances than it is to deliberately override a woman's right, nor does being the same sex as the victim change the wrongness of the act. The choice to do so shows the same character flaw regardless of sex. The law and the legal system should not discriminate against any sex or sexuality by failing to penalize the act of violation on those bases.

The second thing to understand, the thing that those who argue in favor of compromising accused men's right to due process fail to understand, is that discussion on the issues of false allegations and due process is not a pit fight between the due process rights of the falsely accused, and the personal rights of existing or potential rape victims. Debaters often forget that the "falsely" in falsely accused refers to accused who did not commit the crime, not someone who is trying to get away with rape.

Imprisoning the falsely accused does not
  • prevent rape
  • undo rape
  • avenge the victim
  • act as a substitute for handling actual perpetrators
  • achieve justice
Imprisoning the falsely accused does
  • victimize an innocent person
  • create the risk of additional rape
  • damage the community's respect and trust for the justice system
  • damage the community's respect and trust for the law
  • damage the community's sympathy and trust for rape victims
Arguments in favor of lowering the burden of proof in rape cases are based on the assumed disposability of men (the majority of the accused) in that these arguments accept the fact of potentially destroying the accused's life for the satisfaction of the accuser regardless of whether the accusation has merit.
 
This leads to the third thing which really must be understood. Knowingly and willfully leveling a false allegation is a heinous act with potentially terrible consequences for the accused. Those consequences can range from emotional pain and suffering to whole life-altering destruction of reputation and relationships, to wrongful imprisonment.

The law and the legal system already have set ways in which methods of false allegation (false police reports, perjury, slander) are handled. Where criminal charges would apply if the false statements made were about any other matter, they should also apply in rape cases. The same standards of severity and consequence used to determine the seriousness of those charges in other cases should be used to determine the seriousness of the charges when the lie told involves rape. The standard for proof should also be the same.

Arguments against holding knowing and deliberate (proved) false accusers responsible for their actions are based on the assumed greater value of the rights of women (the majority of accusers) over the rights of men. It is an argument that although there is an authority response and legal process for handling the victimization of women, there should not be an equal response and process for handling the victimization of men, with the reason given being that having that response and process available to men might prevent women from using it.

These things really are the bottom line:

The stated experience of the alleged victim does not define the nature of the accused. We cannot permit compassion for the alleged victim and a quest for retribution for her alleged suffering to reduce our acknowledgement of and deference to the basic human rights of the accused. The choice to fall into that trap depends on treating the human existence of men, the group most often accused, as less than that of women, the group which most often accuses.

Due process rights cannot be compromised, and laws protecting them must be enforced. If we make that compromise, fail in our standards and our efforts because of how we feel about the nature of the allegation, then we are no more righteous, no more validated, no more upstanding, and no more rational than a lynch mob.

The food stamp challenge: highlighting issues with social services (3)

Back to the food stamp challenge:

The description in this story and on this facebook page show that the challenge assumes a monthly stipend of $150.00, or 75% of the maximum allowed for a single person. A single person working 30.5 hours a week at federal minimum wage, paying $550.00 in rent and $125.00 in utilities per month (the bottom end of the national average for a 1 bedroom apartment according to Numbero) or a single person receiving $315.00 a month in unearned income (like alimony) or $393.00 a month in earned income (13.5 hours a week at federal minimum wage, or three 4.5 hour shifts) and listing no expenses would receive this much.

These individuals would also be eligible for other assistance programs (results based on first example - 30.5 hours/week at federal minimum wage, single person) and these services can be applied for simultaneously, reducing or even eliminating the strain on the individual's monetary income, so the treatment of food stamps as the sole available income for grocery spending is, in many cases, false or misleading.

Further, taking a single week out of context, and treating one's shopping budget as per-week with no holdover (as in the rule against using anything existing in your pantry) is a deceptively unfrugal method. This limits the participant from being able to use careful planning and conservative cooking habits to stretch a food budget, as we do at my house, a habit which allowed us to not use all of the budget the state allotted us. Purchasing meat products in larger sizes for a primary usage when they are on sale (a roast, a whole turkey, bulk ground meat) will result in a mass of leftovers which can be divided, frozen, and used in later recipes (soups and stews, casseroles, stir-fries and other mixed foods) is one method that only works if you measure your budget with a long-term approach instead of taking into account only the immediate future. Purchasing ingredients instead of ready-made items is another; cost-effective purchase of ingredients that keep (like flour, oil, rice, or dry beans) means buying more than you will use in a week. Take away that planning ability, and your challenge forces the participant to buy pre-packaged, ready-made foods, the immediate purchase of which is less expensive than the immediate total cost of bulk ingredients, but which will be much more rapidly used up.

One thing that participation in the challenge can demonstrate is the impact of small but repeated wasteful spending habits on a monthly food budget. Single-serve foods and beverages, pre-made foods, and unhealthy snacks can more than double grocery expenses. Another is the impact of shopping at the wrong place. Equidistant from my apartment is a grocery store and a convenience store. The convenience store carries some of the same products as the grocery, but the price difference is considerable, even sticking with just grocery items. A gallon of milk from the convenience store is double the price charged by the grocery. A loaf of bread is two and a half times as much. Delving into the snack and convenience item shelves, there are items which are triple the grocery store price. Worse, when I worked at that little store, we had customers asking if they could use food stamps to purchase fountain drinks, machine-made cappuccino, and roller-grill items (expensive as heck; compare spending $1.50 on one hot dog to $4.00 on a package of 8 at the grocery.) Had the store been able to accept food stamps, the answer would have unfortunately been yes.

I know the point of the exercise is showing that living on food stamps is hard. Of course it's hard. Living on any tight budget is hard. The problem is that Americans are starting to forget the difference between hard, and impossible. It has become too easy to fall back on the government for the answer to every little problem, and to not get back up from that safety net once you're down. It's all to easy too get comfortable extending one's budget on someone else's dollar.

The difficulty in remaining within a $35.00 weekly budget is not solely indicative of insufficient funding, insufficient provision, or callousness on the part of public servants for not finding ways to increase the stipend. It is in part indicative of the incomplete picture presented by the test itself, and more so of the level to which America has relaxed its standards of ingenuity, industriousness, diligence, and tenacity. The only remaining question is how hard will our economy have to crash before we figure that out?

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The food stamp challenge: highlighting issues with social services (2)

3) How does this affect the kids?
From the article Expenditures of single parents: how does gender figure in?
Single fathers are much more likely than single mothers to own their homes. In fact, the numbers are almost exactly opposite with regard to owning and renting: nearly two-thirds of single fathers (64 percent) own their homes, while nearly two-thirds of single mothers (63 percent) rent their homes. Like income, home ownership is an important measure of economic well-being. For example, because owners can build equity in their property, they have greater access to loans in case of emergency or even planned-for events, such as their children’s education.
From The Kids Are Not Really Alright, By W. Bradford Wilcox, Slate, Friday, July 20, 2012:
Take two contemporary social problems: teenage pregnancy and the incarceration of young males. Research by Sara McLanahan at Princeton University suggests that boys are significantly more likely to end up in jail or prison by the time they turn 30 if they are raised by a single mother.  
and
One study by Bruce Ellis of the University of Arizona found that about one-third of girls whose fathers left the home before they turned 6 ended up pregnant as teenagers, compared with just 5 percent of girls whose fathers were there throughout their childhood. This dramatic divide was narrowed a bit when Ellis controlled for parents’ socioeconomic background—but only by a few percentage points. The research on this topic suggests that girls raised by single mothers are less likely to be supervised, more likely to engage in early sex, and to end up pregnant compared with girls raised by their own married parents.
Prolonged family dependence on welfare can lead to a cyclical effect wherein the next generation is primed to trap themselves in the same pattern, rather than seeing improvement in their quality of life in adulthood.
A similar study by Mary Corcoran and Roger Gordon of the University of Michigan shows that receipt of welfare income has negative effects on the long-term employment and earnings capacity of young boys.

The study shows that, holding constant race, parental education, family structure, and a range of other social variables, higher non-welfare income obtained by the family during a boy's childhood was associated with higher earnings when the boy became an adult (over age 25). 6 However, welfare income had the opposite effect: The more welfare income received by a family while a boy was growing up, the lower the boy's earnings as an adult.17
and

The current welfare system may be conceptualized best as a system that offers each single mother with two children a "paycheck" of combined benefits worth an average of between $8,500 and $15,000, depending on the state. 12 The mother has a contract with the government: She will continue to receive her "paycheck" as long as she does not marry an employed man.
and

Daughters of single mothers are twice as likely to be single mothers themselves if they are black, and only slightly less so if they are white. 34 And boys living in a single-parent family are twice as likely to father a child out of wedlock as are boys from a two-parent home. 35 The TALENT study, noted earlier, already had found that children born to teenage parents are more likely to become teen parents themselves. 36
And
Research article: Does Father Absence Place Daughters at Special Risk for Early Sexual Activity and Teenage Pregnancy?
Bruce J. Ellis, John E. Bates, Kenneth A. Dodge, David M. Fergusson, L. John Horwood, Gregory S. Pettit, and Lianne Woodward
In conclusion, father absence was an overriding risk factor for early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy. Conversely, father presence was a major protective factor against early sexual outcomes, even if other risk factors were present. These findings may support social policies that encourage fathers to form and remain in families with their children (unless the marriage is highly conflictual or violent; Amato & Booth, 1997).
4) What does this mean for the national economy?
Based on the issues described following question 3, and the choice-based phenomenon described following question 1 versus the necessary adaptation described following question 2, we are faced with the problem of a self-perpetuating cycle of choice-based welfare dependency related to single motherhood. In other words, as long as it remains acceptable for courts to choose unemployed mothers over employed fathers for custody awards, the problem will continue, and in fact is likely to escalate.
This is not an indefinitely sustainable system.
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The food stamp challenge: highlighting issues with social services

Recent discussion I've seen on this topic has prompted me to write about it. And no, this isn't specifically, on its own, a men's rights or antifeminist issue. However, it is related in that women are disproportionately served by the Health and Human Services (welfare) department of the U.S. government, and in affording themselves of those benefits, they necessitate government pursuit of paternal child support.
This is not a complaint (well, maybe a little;)  but for purposes of this discussion, a statement of reality, based in the gender disparity in custody awards, and how that effects income and eligibility. There is also a difference in tendency to rely on social services for income assistance. This study is old and small, but it raises an interesting point and some interesting questions.
The point:
while single fathers report more income from employment (wages and salaries or self-employment) and savings and investment (interest, dividend, rental, and other property income), single mothers report much more income from assistance sources (for example, unemployment, workers’ compensation, public assistance, alimony, and child support).
The questions:

1) Why? Why is it that more custodial fathers work and support their families, while more custodial mothers rely on the government?
This question doesn't have a simple answer. It would be easy, as a woman, to attribute factors cited in feminist complaints as reasons why women need support; lack of education, unemployability, the difficulty of juggling single parenthood and a career... but reality does not back up those complaints. Women have been given boost after boost in the American education system. We have special funding for post-secondary education, special funding for business goals... even Walmart has gotten in on the "special initiatives for women" gig. With educational initiatives for women dating back to the 60s, and both government and private initiatives spanning all of that time, there must be another explanation for the discrepancy. When you eliminate lack of opportunity and lack of funding, you're left with choice as the obvious answer.

This choice is facilitated by a system designed to protect custodial mothers from poverty. Custodial parent-designated eligibility for a number of social programs (including medicaid insurance and WIC) begins during or may be enhanced by pregnancy, meaning that unwed mothers may become dependent upon social services for income assistance prior to the effects which child custody can have on ability to attend school or accept work. Income caps on these programs discourage initiative to step up from a welfare income to an independent source, particularly when doing so can result in a loss of "income" before it results in a financial gain.
2) Why is this not also happening with single fathers?
This may be partly explained in differences in the manner in which custody is determined. For mothers, custody begins at conception, as it obviously cannot be altered during gestation. Therefore, for the never-married single mother, maternal custody at birth is a given unless it is contested by, or conceded to the father. In the event of divorce, the default award is similar due to existing social standards.

Paternal custody in unwed circumstances, then will necessarily depend upon one of two things; either mutual choice by both parents, or evidence-based decision by a judge. The latter is dependent upon proof by the petitioning father that he is a fit parent, able to provide for the child, or that the mother is so unfit that by comparison he is the better choice.

The initial-custody gap (wherein the approach to paternal custody begins with a circumstance of maternal custody) promotes a secondary circumstance which has a direct effect on the father's employment status: Mandatory child support payments. In order to make those payments, the payer must have an income, which in most cases necessitates being employed. 

Social standards also contribute to the employment factor; It has been traditionally expected that fathers will be employed, whether single and noncustodial, or married. Though standards have recently begun to evolve to a more gender-neutral approach to parenting, Census bureau data between 1994 and 2010 shows that in the majority of married couple family groups with one stay-at-home parent, that parent has been the mother. This creates a gap in numbers, wherein custody determination begins with unemployed mothers more than with unemployed fathers.

Though food stamps are universally available based on income standards, an unemployed or underemployed single parent with residential custody will necessarily receive a larger stipend than a single individual, or a non-custodial parent.

Further, under federal rules, to be eligible for benefits a household's income and resources must meet three tests: Gross monthly income, Net income, and assets. The first test measures the applicant's gross income (before deductions) against the poverty level to determine eligibility. The second test measures the applicant's net (after deductions) against the poverty level to determine the size of the stipend. The third measures the applicant's available financial resources: households without an elderly or disabled member must have assets of $2,000 or less, and households with an elderly or disabled member must have assets of $3,250 or less, but in many cases, it is the first test which disqualifies a noncustodial father paying child support. In plain English: The first test counts the noncustodial parent's child support payments, often garnished before he receives his paycheck, against his eligibility for food stamps. A man may be assessed a high debt at a judge's whim (not because it's legal, but because once his pay has been confiscated, he can't afford a lawyer or even court costs to contest the ruling) and garnished at up to his state's percentage limit (60% in my state) of his income before other deductions... meaning that after that percentage is taken, the employer will also take out federally required deductions, state tax, and in many cases local taxes. 

On a personal level, I can report that for some years, this left my husband bringing home 15% of his gross pay. Though his net was far below the poverty level, his gross was just a few dollars per month above where the cut-off for food stamps would have been, were he single... just high enough to keep him from being eligible. Fortunately, our situation did not depend on one person's income. Doing 3 (and sometimes 4) different jobs in 3 (and sometimes several) different counties was not easy, but it kept us housed and fed - though I would also note that there have been times in our history when we have been eligible. Most of those times, we have not opted to apply, but sudden, unavoidable changes in employment have led to use of the food stamp system. Even then, we were eligible for more than we needed based on our household's consumption... I'll expand on this later.

The situation which would have been faced by my husband, were he single, is a reality for many men; income to which they never have access is counted against their eligibility for social programs, designating those with borderline-poor gross incomes as ineligible despite their being rendered impoverished by duel government mandate: They are required to work, in order to pay support, so they must accept whatever work they can get... and that percentage of their pay is confiscated regardless of the circumstances that creates, but still counts against their eligibility for government assistance. When your government can take 85% of your income for various reasons and still deny you assistance because on paper you "have" too much, you can't afford to rely on welfare for support.

Custodial parents, on the other hand, may base their eligibility on a larger household by virtue of that custody. There is no mandate requiring custodial parents to hold a paying job, and there are some programs available only to families with children (like the Healthy Start end of the medicaid system, and WIC, the name of which - Women, Infants, Children - is even gendered.) To a point, by qualifying for multiple programs, a single, unemployed or underemployed custodial parent can actually "earn" more through the health and human services department than a full-time worker brings home. While receipt of child support may reduce the dollar amount of services received, unlike for the payer, it does not do so based on income not received by the applicant. Aside from collected taxes (which may be returned as a refund later,) the custodial applicant actually has all of the money considered income for the purpose of determining eligibility. Further, the assessment of that income often divides it between one person more than the number of "earners" (the kids, plus one parent,) and the parent can claim dependent care (babysitting) costs against the income listed. In all, it is much easier for a low-income single parent - more often the mother - to qualify for assistance than for a noncustodial parent - more often the father. 

These combined factors lead to the prevalence of custodial fathers starting out ineligible for assistance due to existing employment circumstances, rather than starting out with the use of social services as a form of financial support.
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Yet another deceptive feminist marketing attempt?

I'm seeing the same pattern repeatedly presented in recent debate; two expansions on the NAFALT (Not All Feminists Are Like That) argument. One, I'm labeling NAFALT so FINTB (Feminism Is Not That Bad) and the other, an old one; I Am Not A Feminist but NAFALT often followed by some variation of "so MRAs should stop criticizing the feminist movement."

IANAF but NAFALT is normally easy to cut off by addressing the disparity in its logic: Regardless of whether all feminists are advocates for legislation and policy which mandates human rights violations against men, those feminists who have influence and power are. Active feminists whose advocacy is having real-world effects are like that.    
   
The causes of several men's issues are rooted in the activism of those feminists. Attempts to address those issues will necessarily include discussion of their causes and resistance to the feminist advocacy which led to those factors. This makes criticism of feminist anti-male rhetoric and response to feminist activism an inevitable part of the discussion of men's issues. This assertion, combined with evidence of said activism, usually ends the "quit criticizing" debate. However, recent IANAF but NAFALT debaters have taken the road of the NAFALT so FINTB debater.

NAFALT so FINTB is a slightly greasier group. The argument sounds nice, but is based on faulty logic. The existence of some decency within an oppressive group does not erase or excuse its oppressive nature, actions, or effects. Neither does the choice of some who claim decency to associate their claims with the group's name, no matter how badly they want to clean up its public image. Because the logic NAFALT so FINTB is faulty and so easily debunked, but the debaters asserting it are emotionally invested in wearing or defending the "feminist" label and associating that label with the Disney version they've made up for themselves, debate following it takes a wandering path through old and new territory, ending at a point of dissatisfaction for the FINTB debater, who then either abandons the conversation, or takes an unearned tone of snide and arrogant superiority.

The main method I've seen employed among this type of debater is topic hopping. The debater states an assertion. The assertion is countered with an argument. The debater supports the assertion with additional opinion, unsupported rhetoric, an appeal to emotion, or some other logical fallacy. Evidence is presented for the counterargument. The debater ignores this and states a new assertion. Pattern established.   

Another is shaming. FINTB debaters equate feminism with being female and call criticism of feminism sexist. When that is countered, they equate it with women's rights, and call countering feminist advocacy an attack on them. That argument depends on begging the difference - the acceptance that each item on the feminist agenda represents a right, the advocacy for which is supported by all women, rather than just a concession feminists want made for the segment among women who want it. Countering the argument depends upon countering that assumption. The response to that is usually label-tossing (misogynist, rape-apologist, anti-woman, anti-choice, creep) and other sexism shaming. This could be taken through to a discussion on whether the feminist movement has the right to claim proprietary ownership of the desires, goals, philosophy, and ethics of all women... but FINTB debaters don't seem to be sophisticated enough to get past "If You Disagree With Feminism You Hate Women."  

The initial presentation starts with NAFALT, so FINTB. When presented with discussion explaining why NAFALT is not a valid argument (backed up as needed,) the debater goes on to the Waves argument, which essentially boils down to "because it's currently popular to treat the history of feminism as having included 3 separate, date-specific waves... NAFALT so FINTB."

This is countered by evidence that each wave of feminism was, in fact, Like That in various ways, and that the most recent one has demonstrated its Like That nature... recently. The debater's response is often to change the debate stance at this point from NAFALT to I Am Not Like That, with "I only identify with/believe in/support 'nice' feminism, so FINTB." IANLT so FINTB may continue through various points and counter-points on whether claiming association with a group makes one part of that group, whether the nature of a group is defined by what it does or what it claims to do, and whether the nature of a group is defined by its interaction with society, its history, and its rhetoric, or by the assertions of those who wish to see it in a positive light.

In debates where I've been engaged by one of these FINTB debaters, this is generally accompanied by either denial that I stated parts of previous statements I made, denial that outspoken and movement-shaping feminist leaders are leaders of the moment, denial that the movement's real-world actions and advocacy are what the movement is about, (both of which fall into That Is Not My Feminism... so FINTB) and the application of vague but authoritative sounding labels like "controversial" and "disputed" to presented evidence, without the presentation of counter-evidence or any other reason why those labels apply.
I call this "the emphatic 'Nuh-uh!' counter.

Imagine that counter used in defense of an inappropriate action.
Debater: Hey, you just punched me in the face!
Me: That assertion is controversial.
Debater: No it's not! My nose is bleeding!
Me: The bleeding of your nose is a subject of widespread dispute.
Debater: I think it's broken...
Me: Scholars have noted that self-assessment can be a wholly subjective experience.
Debater: I can see the part of the septum sticking out of the left side.
Me: Eyewitness accounts are considered unreliable.
       You Can't Prove Anything, so Face Punching Is Not That Bad.


I'm sure you get the picture (which can't be confirmed, because photographic evidence can be easily faked using graphic arts software.) The nature of such a debate style is less human rights activist and more seedy slick salesman.

This may be offered alongside appeals to emotion using feminist rhetoric on the historical roles of women, often including exaggerations, along with a contradictory combination of statements of gratitude toward feminism for fixing those problems, and assertions that those problems are not fixed: Women Once Had It Rough, so FINTB, Feminism Did Something I Like, so FINTB, and I need feminism because the problems I'm claiming that its advocacy has solved still exist.

Calling the FINTB debater out on the irrational nature of such arguments results in accusations of stubbornness and misogyny, further unfounded denials, and begging the difference by offering feminist rhetoric as if it is established fact. In some cases, the debater has straw-manned inaccurate paraphrasing of my previous statements for the purpose of shaping the argument into something easier to counter. Other debaters have descended into angry private messages, personal attacks, and childish demands for concession. None so far seem to be able to offer any measurable evidence to back up their previous assertions, and this is the point at which these conversations generally end.  
    
Ordinarily I'd think I had simply run into a few fringe kooks, dismiss the behavior, and move on... but the number of discussions which have fallen into this pattern, combined with the sudden, widespread opposition within men's rights discussion forums and social media to any criticism of feminism, indicates that the method may be based on a set of talking points, or on the opinions expressed in recent feminist writing. It almost seems organized. The similarity of various debaters' approaches doesn't necessarily indicate this as the next step in the feminist response to men's rights activism, but the existence of this pattern definitely makes the technique something to watch for and be ready to address.

All things being "equal"

My previous post, Effeminitions, Equal Work, made the assertion that the "equal pay for equal work" argument put forth by feminists was based on a fallacy; the equality of work performed between the sexes. The equal work claim is wrong in that it assumes equality in multiple factors; capability, expectations, attendance, effort, performance, toughness, and risk. The one I'm focusing on today is the feminist position on the presumption of equal capability, where it relates to performance in jobs which place high physical demands upon the worker. This is partly in response to a comment I received in reply to a statement I made on the pay debate; it was asserted that the only thing holding women back from having higher paid, high-risk, high-endurance, labor-intensive jobs was our own mindset. I disagree, because I disagree with the assertion of equal work. While I can agree wholeheartedly that it's not discrimination against us, it's lack of capability which keeps women out of these jobs, not lack of will.  
 
I see contradictory arguments presented by feminist supporters regarding this point in the debate.   
   
First, the claim of equal work rests on the implication of equal ability. You cannot have the former without the latter - if ability is unequal, then those with greater capability will surpass the lesser in job performance. In order to assert equal work as a determining factor in the discussion, feminism must assume that women on average have the physical traits to be able to perform every job related requirement at the same level of capability as men on average do... an assertion which would require women to possess equal physical strength and endurance to that of men.   
   
That assertion/assumption combination is contradicted by the assertion that women need extra legislation to protect us because we may be victimized by bigger and stronger men. That assertion rests on the assumption that we are made vulnerable to victimization by a lack of equal physical strength and endurance. The two feminist positions are not compatible. If our strength and endurance are such that we can and do offer the same job performance even on labor-intensive and endurance-demanding jobs, then our strength and endurance are such that we should be equally capable of defending ourselves should we be assaulted or otherwise abused by a man... at least enough that the same laws enacted to protect everyone should be enough to protect us. We should not need additional legislation, such as VAWA and rape shield laws. And certainly, we should not have an issue of being unable to communicate consent or refusal due to emotional overload at receiving the attention of a man, so if we want to claim equal capability, we cannot also claim emotion-induced paralysis as justification for demanding "only yes means yes" as a standard for sexual consent. Feminists claim a need for special accommodation in the legal arena for women being of lower physical strength and endurance, and inferior emotional toughness and willpower, yet attempt to also claim equal physical capacity, equal toughness, and equal reliability on the job.

Second, whenever I make that first point, the reply I get from feminists is the claim that feminists don't deny the biological differences between men and women. This is a denial made by members of the same group which asserts the claim of equal work - a claim which requires the listener to accept that men and women have equal performance ability in areas of strength and endurance... which in turn requires one to deny the biological differences between men and women. This leaves one of two possibilities. Either feminists are so unthinking or stupid that they spout their ideology without ever thinking about the basic meaning behind their terms, or they are liars who use verbal dodging and weaving in order to avoid admitting that their positions contradict each other.    
   
MRAs need to stop tolerating this. Feminist debaters need to see the demand for a consistent answer on the question of biology - are women so small, weak, and helpless that we cannot ever be counted upon to stand up for ourselves, and defend ourselves in tough situations, or are we strong enough and tough enough to work side by side with men on dangerous, labor-intensive, endurance-demanding jobs? We need to start pushing for answers which nail down a concrete position regarding which of these contradictory claims they feel justified in asking us to accept - and we need to not waver on the point that it cannot be both.  
   



Really?

Men have Movember. So, come on women, what have we got?
Well, apparently we've got whining and self-pity.
No, it's not the only thing I've read criticizing, dismissing, or otherwise belittling the Movember fundraiser. It's just one of the stupidest.
   
It is pitiful and sad to see the level of petty attention-mongering and resentment to which some women will sink. How can one look at a successful campaign, compare it to another successful campaign that gets much less exposure and community support, and seriously come up with jealousy as a response? Are women so insecure in our accomplishments that we cannot tolerate the existence of any others? Must we really turn an envious eye toward all things not our own? Do we have to make everything all about us? How shallow and whiny!      
    
Oh, teh poor wimminz! Our huge, well advertized and world famous save the boobies campaign isn't the center of attention during prostate cancer awareness month! What are we doing wrong? How can we get back into the spotlight?    
   
I know... let's belittle our own massive ad campaigns, the level of participation from multiple organizations, the creative attempts at reminder and increasing awareness, the general public interest, and the associated fundraising... because we just can't stand to know that right now, this month, the focus happens to be on a different group. That's far more mature than say, celebrating their cause side by side with ours, as they have done for years. We may look altruistic, but no way should we have to have the human decency to get excited about more than one good cause.

Of course, whining about the purely imagined discrepancy doesn't at all detract from the credibility and respectability of female activism, either. I mean, no one would ever connect that puerile, self-serving attention grab with an attachment to perpetual victim status and a craving for the power of sympathy, right? It's not that there are some women who go all out for any facet of female activism because it's an opportunity to tag along on the great wimmin'z train of victimhood. Nope, every single one is truly dedicated to the causes they embrace. That's why they get so upset about having to share the spotlight with other legitimate causes... because it's not about the attention. It's about the humanity.

Come on, ladies. Show us what you're made of here... how low can you go? Tell me why any given female writer can't just be supportive of the clever, fun, and highly effective fundraising idea that the Movember campaign is. 

Predditors, PayPal, and Privacy

On the 20th of October, I sent the following message through PayPal's Contact Us form

I am writing in regard to the use of your charity "donate" button on a page of questionable legality and definitely not charitable nature.  

http://predditors.tumblr.com/
  
Predditors is a page dedicated to slandering people the page's proprietor does not like, under the guise of protecting the public. Identifying photos and information of individuals are posted on that page in association with unproved allegations which could negatively impact reputations, including to the detriment of employment prospects and other private-life factors.

I am appalled to see PayPal's name associated with this, and I hope that association only exists because you don't yet know what you are supporting.

I request that you consider the potential negative impact of the association of your company name with this abusive behavior. If PayPal considers internet slap fighting and personal attacks using private information to be forms of charity, then perhaps it is unwise to trust PayPal with one's financial transactions, which by nature include information most folks do not want publicized. Further, the idea that PayPal might support the public leveling of unproved allegations as a form of vigilante justice would indicate a lack of judgement and reasonability which could translate into a lack of trust in your ability to reasonably handle customer disputes.

Given the possibilities, I expect that you would want to address this situation as quickly and completely as possible, which is why I chose to write to you about the problem, rather than simply ignore the blog.

Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.
I admit, while the issues addressed in the email were important, they were not the only reason why I wrote. First, the blog targeted only men, despite the existence of female-oriented forums for the same behavior she was targeting. However, given the overall lack of concern the general public has for sexism when it is female on male, I felt that it would be more productive to point out the slanderous nature of the blog, and the fact that the allegations were unproved. In fact, some of those profiles listed don't exist, and those that do don't all have images posted to them like the ones shown in the blog, so if the folks from PayPal's team check to see if the listed information is accurate, they'll find that at least currently, it is not. Tumblr.com had apparently at some point decided that the blog did not violate their policy. The blog had been taken down, but when the site determined that the information was gathered from other publicly available online profiles (i.e., stalking) they reinstated it.

Upon clicking "send," the page switches to the following confirmation:
"Thanks for the note, and we'll do our best to get back to you within 24 hours. It might take a bit longer (depending on the question), but we try hard not to keep you waiting longer than 72 hours"


On the 25th, I got this:

Dear Gloria Sass,

Thank you for contacting PayPal’s Compliance Department. We have received your email and will update you when your account has been reviewed.

You can check the status of your PayPal account at any time by logging into your account and visiting the Resolution Center.

We may try to call you about your account, so please make sure that the primary phone number on your PayPal account is correct. Here's how to update your phone number:
1. Log in to your PayPal account.
2. Click "Profile" near the top of the page.
3. Click "Update" beside Phone.
4. Select the phone number you want to change.
5. Click "Edit" and make your changes.
6. Click "Save."
Sincerely,
PayPal Compliance Department
PayPal, an eBay Company
Please do not reply to this email address as it is not monitored and we will not receive your response. You can get in touch with us by clicking "Contact Us" at the bottom of any PayPal page.
This was obviously a form letter that gets sent out to everyone who messages PayPal. It appeared that the company had yet to address the contents of the message I sent, or if they did, this reply is not in relation to that, considering I didn't message them from a paypal account, or mention having one of my own. I thought, maybe they're bogged down with other messages and issues, or maybe because I didn't connect the complaint to my account, they're ignoring it. Regardless, it seemed hypocritical that the same site which at one time took the donate button away from Regretsy when it was used for genuinely charitable reasons (don't fret - they made up for it) was allowing its use on a slander blog. I waited, hoping this was not the last communication I would receive.

On the 30th, I got my answer in another email with a partial form answer:

Dear Gloria Sass,

Thank you for contacting PayPal and reporting a possible violation of our Acceptable Use Policy.

We will thoroughly review the mentioned website and possible linked PayPal accounts and take further action as appropriate in this case.

Due to data protection we cannot provide details regarding the result of this review or its possible consequences and hope for your understanding in this regard. As a matter of course your information will be kept in confidence.
We thank you for your active support of PayPal and appreciate the information that you provided.

The complete Acceptable Use Policy can be found at the following URL:
https://cms.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/?cmd=_render-content&content_ID=ua/AcceptableUse_full&locale.x=en_US   
 
So... I visited the link to see if anything in that policy specifically applied to the activities of the Predditors blog. I've bolded the relevant text for emphasis.

Prohibited Activities
You may not use the PayPal service for activities that:
  1. violate any law, statute, ordinance or regulation.
  2. relate to transactions involving (a) narcotics, steroids, certain controlled substances or other products that present a risk to consumer safety, (b) drug paraphernalia, (c) items that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity, (d) stolen goods including digital and virtual goods (e) items that promote hate, violence, racial intolerance, or the financial exploitation of a crime, (f) items that are considered obscene, (g) items that infringe or violate any copyright, trademark, right of publicity or privacy or any other proprietary right under the laws of any jurisdiction, (h) certain sexually oriented materials or services, (i) ammunition, firearms, or certain firearm parts or accessories, or (j) ,certain weapons or knives regulated under applicable law.
  3. relate to transactions that (a) show the personal information of third parties in violation of applicable law, (b) support pyramid or ponzi schemes, matrix programs, other "get rich quick" schemes or certain multi-level marketing programs, (c) are associated with purchases of annuities or lottery contracts, lay-away systems, off-shore banking or transactions to finance or refinance debts funded by a credit card, (d) are for the sale of certain items before the seller has control or possession of the item, (e) are by payment processors to collect payments on behalf of merchants, (f), are associated with the sale of traveler's checks or money orders, (h) involve currency exchanges or check cashing businesses, or (i) involve certain credit repair, debt settlement services, credit transactions or insurance activities.
There is every possibility that despite their policy's wording, PayPal will do the same, deciding that it's acceptable for the owner of Predditors to continue to profit from her slanderous material. There is also the possibility that they will decide they do not want their name associated with such behavior. Whichever it is, we'll probably never know, as the mysterious tumblr predator who profits from pulling profiles has decided to take extra measures to protect her privacy:

Since I received that last message, the blog has gone private and requires a password to be seen.

Go figure.

Ohio girl suspended for long hair... oh, no, wait. Girls can have long hair. Ohio BOY suspended...

Sent to the home-site listed email address of
Kim Redmond, Superintendent
Canton Local Schools
(Staff Directory)
(Board of Education)

One of the first news stories to show up on my browser this morning offered an outsider from across the state a clear picture of the educational environment provided at Canton Local Schools.

Ohio Student Suspended for Growing Out Hair to Donate     

According to the story, Zachary Aufderheide (17) of Canton, Ohio, is growing his hair out for donation to cancer patients.   

The Canton local school district has a dress code which states that boys' hair (specifically boys' hair only) shall not be worn covering the eyes, in a ponytail, or extending beyond the bottom of the regular shirt collar. There is no mention of such a stipulation for girls.    
    
The school is so committed to its code that administrators were willing to deny the student the chance to expand his learning experiences beyond academics to maintaining a dedication to a charitable act; growing out ten inches of hair healthy enough to be accepted by Locks of Love. In other words, these administrators are so sexist, they're willing to deny the student the positive experience of benevolent activism in his community in order to enforce the gender stereotype that short hairstyles are the only hairstyles appropriate for men. As an added bonus, they get to to deny some kid with cancer the comfort that comes with having something to help him or herself look less sick and vulnerable while fighting the disease. What a great policy!

On one hand, the dress code must be very helpful in moderating student behavior.
As we all know from the Bible, read extensively in public schools, cutting a dude's hair takes away the source of the Sampson-like super-strength he might use for unruly behavior, right? Oh, public schools don't follow biblical doctrine, and that's not why?

Well then... as we all know from... uh, assumption, a dude's hair is an extension of his brain cells that can be corrupted if it grows too far beyond his scalp, causing irrational behavior and... no?

Well then... it must be because only sissies have long hair, like these total milquetoasts, for examp...  no, I guess that's not right either.

I know what it is. Guys with long hair are slackers who never amount to anything. Just take these hooligans, for examp... nope.

Darn... I can't think of any good reason why this rule either is merited, or is not sexist.  

At least the harsh punishment involved has had a controlling impact on Aufderheide's behavior. I mean, they did succeed in making him...

Oh. No, they didn't. He's still growing it out. He's attending in-school suspension, but he's not cutting his hair until it reaches the required length. That is a sure demonstration of the effectiveness of the policy. 

On the other hand Mr. Aufderheide can say the experience has been educational. In addition to gaining a deeper awareness of the value and personal reward which comes from using civil disobedience for the achievement of a positive goal, the young man is getting a first-hand lesson in the senseless, ineffective rigidity of bureaucratic adherence to an outdated, unnecessary and nonfunctional policy. Here's hoping he'll take his newfound insight on the power and stupidity of the stuffed shirt into a position of some leadership in his adult life, where he can be the guy who doesn't do something like this to somebody else.

In short, your administration is handing academic punishment (which could impact on the student's academic and employment future) in response to a student's heinous act of charitable giving, because he is a dude.

Yeah, that'll teach him! Congratulations to whatever Barney Fife wannabe made such a well-thought-out and even-handed decision. You should be very proud.

Sincerely,

Another Ohio Mom
  

Violentcensorz: The New Thought Police

According to the post, Wong's entire take on the issue revolves around the use of the term "free speech" to justify inaction on all points in the controversy (outside of that which keeps Reddit on the acceptable side of the law.) The administrators are expected to not ban what Wong refers to as "distasteful content," meaning that regardless of the stated motives of Gawker's writers and Reddit's "fempire," in the long run, their efforts (and in particular, the choice to dox) have accomplished nothing. Even with the violentacrez persona gone, there will continue to be content on reddit which the "fempire" finds offensive.

Except, well, that isn't entirely the case. The administrators have banned some distasteful content. Subreddits begun to replace r/creepshots have all disappeared within days of their creation, even though the content is not illegal, but merely distasteful. It appears that contrary to Wong's statement, at least some content is being censored on that basis. However, voyeur and porn subs with women as the target audience are still all up and running.

Chen also quotes Wong as coming out against the multi-mod boycott of Gawker, with reasons ranging from warning of bad public relations ("gawker exposes creepster; reddit engages in personal vendetta to defend pedophile," an assessment which glosses over the fact that while creepster may have accurate connotations, pedophile is not a fair description of violentacrez) to the assertion that the ban would have little impact on Gawker's traffic. Finally, Wong is quoted as further stating reddit's commitment to free speech, pointing out that "opponents have the right to write about us." He goes on to say that while reddit's administrators do consider doxxing a form of violence, and reddit enforces an anti-dox policy on site, "we can only affect the opinion of others outside of reddit via moral suasion and setting an example." He names journalism as a form of speech that reddit will not ban, and asks that mods explain if they disagree.

I disagree, not that journalism is a form of speech that deserves to be protected, but that Gawker's content can in any way be defined as journalism following this incident.

This occurred after Gawker hosted feminist blog Jezebel stirred up outrage by falsely inflating and demonizing the nature of subreddits which the writers and their feminist readers disapproved because they involved men looking at women and because women as a group were not in control of that behavior. The resulting brouhaha was rooted in a serious, compelling, and frequently discussed men's rights issue: The denigration of male sexuality. While not everything within the controversy can apply to every man, the pared down, unvarnished reality is that the basis for targeting creepshots and by extension violentacrez was that the target audience for the sub was men. There was no equal outrage (or any, that I saw) over similar subs with a female target-audience... and while some women of reddit may rationalize with statements as to how the lady-voyeur subreddits are nicer about it, when broken down to the bare truth those subreddits are still voyeur subs... which didn't even register on Gawker's radar.

The creepshots controversy was exacerbated and further escalated by feminist redditors both contributing and reacting to the initial posturing, largely within the context of their own sexist attitudes toward men.
Then, Gawker's Adrian Chen capitalized on that artificially inspired, Gawker-influinced, falsely inflated outrage by deliberately mischaracterizing the content of several of the subs VA modded (including those he did not even create) and associating that mischaracterization with VA's real name - simultaneously assassinating both VA's reputation and personal privacy for nothing more than page views, and the only reason Chen is getting any support for his actions is that his target was a man. The site used reddit's true sexism against its own members. The "fempire" and its fans got played big time by Gawker. Baker and Chen used the core ideology of feminism to fuel manufactured indignation over an inflated issue, manipulated them into an outraged frenzy of calls for doxxing. Gawker dramatized that, and then delivered... all to garner page views for ad revenue. And those pharisaical, fractious twits fell for it because they were more eager to be victorious than virtuous.

And while all of the creepshots-themed subreddits with their clothed photos of people in public are down... the "no-fusking" fusking sub is still active.

Whether intended to be so or not, the doxxing of violentacrez and several creepshots subscribers was a direct attack on the speech of redditors by Gawker's writers. In building, stoking, inflating, and exploiting the controversy over r/creepshots, violentacrez, and the other subs he moderated, culminating with the doxxing articles, Gawker's writers have communicated to redditors some very specific threats.

They have told us that they can manipulate public opinion unchecked by fact, because their readers do not bother to look for themselves. They have told us that they can lie about us and be believed, because those among our own fellow redditors who may disagree with us will repeat those lies until the lies become common "knowledge." They have told us that they can create distorted characterizations of us, and through promotion on their blogs, enforce those characterizations upon our reputations. They have told us they can raise lynch mobs against individuals they do not like.

They have told us that they're willing to use those capabilities to control our online activity. They have shown us they will use those methods to censor our speech to suit their approval.

Essentially, they have told us that Gawker will now be reddit's content editors; don't post anything the writers of Gawker disapprove, or you will be attacked, slandered, and publicly sacrificed, just like violentacrez. The site is now in position to act as Reddit's Inquisitor Haereticae Pravitatis with Chen waiting to jump into action at the behest of the "fempire's" hysterical finger-pointing... or the promise of web traffic... whichever comes first.

Now, I only wonder how long Gawker's bloggers are going to continue milk this controversy for "content."

1     2     3     4     5

Anatomy of a manufactured controversy (4)

And what was the response of reddit's feminist population to the change at r/creepshots? Was there a decision to celebrate the victory and move on to another subreddit, where further attention may be needed?

No.

The "fempire's" next  step was doxxing, or the publication of one's personal or identifying information online. A tumbler thread was launched for the purpose of compiling and publicizing information on posting members of Reddit's most hated forums, including their real names, other social network profile information, where they live, and any other information the thread's creator could obtain. Also included on the thread is one of Paypal's donate buttons. Doxxing for dollars - sounds like a great name for a new game show.

And of course, on October 10, another Jezebel post was published to cheer "Samantha," (not her real name) guaranteed to steer traffic to her thread.

Shut down creepshots... because now, it was no longer about real predatory behavior, no longer about images of underage girls. It was about control, and about punishing redditors for publishing content which "Samantha" and other reddit feminists do not approve, regardless of whether or not it was actually criminal. Baker's post also introduced a new element to the story - a direct threat to one of the subreddit's moderators - in a link to what appears to be a forwarded message containing a threat and demands.



Also linked in the article was a shitredditsays meta post reminding users that doxxing is bad and lamenting their sub's bad public relations problem.

Coincidentally, that same day, SRS celebrated the takeover of r/violentacrez, calling it "the Fempire's new sub dedicated to calling out reddit's many pedos and pedo apologists."

This combination made it very difficult for other redditors to accept the story that r/shitredditsays had nothing to do with the doxxing threat, or later the doxxing of violentacrez, even after we learned that the blackmail image was from a message sent to another mod, not violentacrez.

On October 12, Adrian Chen published a post on Gawker disclosing violentacrez's real name, the type of business for which he worked, and the state in which he lives. The post sensationalized and expanded every negative characteristic Chen could attribute to violentacrez, even going so far as to pair the image of his face in a red monotone alongside the zombified version of the reddit alien which violentacrez has been selling on t-shirts. The post was a combined biography and indictment of the persona and history of Reddit's violentacrez, with potshots taken at not just him, but also at reddit's administrators, and the overall moderation system.

Chen also described knowing the effect his decision was going to have on the life of the man behind violentacrez, stating that Brutsch told him that he'd lose his job, and that his wife was disabled. He pointed out that his enemies would "start attaching lies to his name because they simply don't like his views." Chen admits in the article that the conversation shook him up. However, it didn't stop him from going through with the dox. Buried in the depths of the article, near the end, he excuses his damaging, personal attack on Brutsch with references to creepshots and a questionable age reference, as if claiming an altruistic motive for the act.

Given Gawker's propensity for similar behavior, I highly doubt that is the case.

In a comment on Reddit, Brutsch offered a rebuttal of the false information contained in Chen's post. Turns out there were several details on which the "journalist" failed to stick to facts.

On October 15th, Chen published another post, in which he briefly reiterated his assertions about Brutsch, gloated over the fact that his original post had, in fact, resulted in job loss for Brutsch, and then went on to whine about the choice of a number of subreddit moderators to boycott Gawker over the dox.


On October 16th, Chen published another post containing a statement to reddit's moderators and administrators from Reddit CEO Yishan Wong, interspersed with some of Chen's own thoughts.


1     2     3     4     5


Anatomy of a manufactured controversy (3)


Reddit's administrators did not cater to the whims of the "fempire" by bringing the ban hammer down on everything they wanted gone. In response, r/shitredditsays went into overdrive with a little noticed and highly ineffective campaign against their parent site, complete with efforts to contact media outlets and even Reddit's advertisers. Another article appeared on Jezabel, this time praising the efforts of r/shitredditsays with the headline "Reddit Users Go Rogue, Revolt Against Sick Child Porn Forums." 

The first half of the post is dedicated to ridiculing reddit in general, followed by a list of the offending subreddits, and a description of the Project Panda effort to bring them all down. Highlighted in the story is a quote from one redditor encouraging others to contact and manipulate the members of churches and local parent-teacher associations, as well as administrators at universities, and to contact media outlets with the story. The quote finishes with an excited tone, "Do you know how BORING local news is? Can you imagine if your local news could run a "IS YOUR CHILD POSTING IN A PEDOPHILE WEBSITE? STATISTICALLY THERE'S AN 80% CHANCE!" story? Holy shitballs they'd be all over it."

Here, we have our first taste of ego-centric sensationalism in the story: redditors planning to use exaggerated to fictional scare tactics on parents and teachers as a means of attacking disapproved posting by fellow redditors.  

Up to this point, the effort was largely about censorship. The SRS outcry over voyeur subreddits included a mix of legitimate complaints and hyperbole. Images of teens in school were protested side by side with photographs of adults. The group tossed around descriptive words in discussion to associate negative connotations with the subreddits they disapprove. Subjective terms and phrases like creepy, sexualized, quazi-pornographic, predatory, and sexually suggestive were applied to photos of clothed people in ordinary circumstances, like this image from one of the demonized subs:
Mom! Reddit is staring at me again! Make it stop!
Reality check: Is it illegal for an adult to look at an ordinary, clothed photo of a teen? No. Was posting photos like the above illegal? No. Was the choice by some redditors to take photos at school and post them online something that should have been addressed in this manner? No. That is an issue for school administrators to address with the students directly, an action which would have followed a properly executed awareness campaign, had one been used.

Were there aspects of these subs which deserved Project Panda's attention?

Absolutely. 


This was actually worth addressing. As the originator of this post, SpencerTracyMorgan (creep shamer extraordinaire, according to the flair that shows up on r/shitredditsays) says in the text, Weagleweaglewde was in position of power - a teacher, in charge of classrooms. Publishing photos of his students online was an abuse of that power. Those involved in Project Panda were right to hone in on that lead and pursue it.

The situation came to a head when a student at a Georgia high school recognized fellow students, figured out who was posting, and alerted school administrators, leading to the teacher's subsequent firing as well as a criminal investigation. A rule on r/creepshots was posted stating that no photos of minors were to be posted; only images of adults were acceptable, and another moderator was brought in to ensure the content was limited to legal images which fit within that rule.

That sounds like a victory. The concerned citizens of Reddit addressed a legitimate issue within the community and inspired a shady subreddit to clean up its act. Time to move on to the next target, possibly to address Reddit's serious fusking problem, right?

Well, no. Not exactly.

Jezebel's post on the successful removal of the creep-shot teacher was more of a complaint about the continued existence of the forum. As if the distinction of legality were irrelevant, author Erin Gloria Ryan blazed past the victory into a feminist rant insinuating that the admonition that public places are public equals an assertion that women are public property.



1     2     3     4     5

Anatomy of a manufactured controversy (2)

Project Panda, SRS's greatest celebration of itself as Reddit's thought police, appears to be an all-out war on the posting of voyeuristic images on reddit.

Announcement of attack on Reddit's Revenue for purposes of imposing the "fempire's" will upon the community.






Call to action with list of Reddit's advertisers, continuing the effort.

Comment from a thread discussing "voyeur" subreddits; an early indication that r/creepshots would bear the brunt of the attack


Since r/creepshots is down, there is no way to judge for yourself how benign or pervy these photos are, right? I mean, you can't see any of them, so how would you know? Well, you can see one. Jezebel was kind enough to highlight teen_in_grocery_store in a post, and clicking on it still leads to the imgur file.
Quick! Naked legs! Avert thine eyes, oh chaste reader!
Oh, the horror, that one's exposed legs might be seen by people when one wanders through areas open to the public while wearing shorts! Such an abuse must not be tolerated. To arms! To arms! Er, or legs. Whatever.

While this is not the most offensive image r/creepshots had to offer (or even offensive at all,) it is fairly representative of what I found upon checking out the thread to see what the big deal was. I learned that apparently, the big deal is that feminists treat looking at people as a form of sexual assault.

The compiled list of disapproved subs was fairly long, including everything from subreddits dedicated to candid shots in public areas to subreddits dedicated to specific sports (because women should be encouraged to participate in sports, but dear God, no one should ever watch us compete!) On the list was the subreddit dedicated to the secret harvesting of nude photos from unsuspecting photobucket users. Also included was the notorious (due to much exaggeration) r/creepshots. Conspicuously absent from that list was any subreddit dedicated to female voyeurism of males.

In other words, guys... the "fempire" says you can't look at us, but we're allowed to creep on you all we want. Nya, nya, nya, dudes. And that's not sexist at all, right? (Do I really need an /s here?)

Included in the lament was the complaint that some forums "are hidden and invite only which makes it impossible to know how many actually exist." Oh, poor SRS - so disheartened by the knowledge that something you abhor might exist online and you don't have the opportunity to seek it out whine about seeing it.

Project Panda continued, with SRS members and the rest of reddit's self-titled  "fempire" compiling lists of disapproved redditors and subreddits, and generally raising a huge fuss over their offense at the knowledge that some people guys might be looking at other people gals without permission. Much attention was garnered by the effort within the gender-attentive parts of the reddit community... so why wasn't this huge movement mentioned in Jezebel's initial article?

Simple. The article predates the outrage at r/shitredditsays. The majority of members hadn't even noticed the voyeur  subreddits until after Jezebel had an article about it. In fact, you can see from Andy Manly's comment that the first attempt to even address the issue occurred on the same day as the first Jezebel article was published.


1     2     3     4     5

Anatomy of a manufactured controversy

Max Read was the first Gawker writer to point out reddit's big fusking problem.

Wow, 8000... that's like, .0001% of the world's estimated population!

The story, published on August 8, 2012, explained how the crafty fuskers in one particular subreddit were harvesting nude images which women had posted of themselves on Photobucket, where they assumed the images would be private. Of course, if the user actually set her album to private, the image will not show on Reddit, and the sub's fusking users would not be able to see it... but that is beside the point.

Photobucket's administrators did not put up with the association of their name with this shady fusking practice. A takedown notice was sent, and the subreddit was removed. Problem solved, right?  
 
Well, no. Not exactly. The users figured out that the effective objection was the use of Photobucket's name. The sub returned, with a new name excluding the word Photobucket, and the practice of surreptitious posting from photobucket albums continued, though now with a new rule dictating the posters go the "no fusking" way. The difference? Well, possibly none, really. How would the moderators actually know, unless they are told?

What an interesting and catchy headline!
While many individuals may immediately shake their heads and point out that anyone who cares whether nude images of themselves might leak onto the open web and be seen by others could and should simply refrain from creating them and sharing them online, for a short time, Gawker's writers decided the practice was a big fusking deal... at least enough for a second story, within which the CEO of Photobucket is quoted as stating that some 50 private accounts had been fusking violated. While reddit isn't directly blamed for that, the statement is placed in conjunction with the only mention the new sub's No Fusking rule.     

Needless to say, the outrage against this fusking invasion of privacy was huge, with Reddit's self-proclaimed "fempire" throwing its weight into protecting the poor, victimized girls of photobucket from their own naivety, successfully taking down the new subreddit in the effort known as project...

project... uh...

Nothing. Nada. Kaput. There was no specific project, little effort, bare outrage. In a conspicuous inaction I think I'll call Fusk You, Photobuckettes, the femosphere seems to have gone strangely silent on the sub... and nothing was done about its existence.

So what were the Thought Police of Reddit and Jezebel working on that was more important than addressing the surreptitious pilfering of private nude photos for public display? What was a bigger deal than that? What idea was more upsetting to the denizens of the  "fempire?"

For that we have to go back in time a bit... to an article posted by Jezebel's Katie J.M. Baker.
The article laments the ability of individuals with camera phones to photograph (clothed) people in public places and share those photos on reddit without anyone's permission. While it is grudgingly acknowledged in the fifth paragraph that the activities of the subreddit's photographers weren't illegal, Baker spends the rest of the article decrying the practice with emphasis on images focusing on body parts, and shots from "strategic angles" which show undergarments... kinda like those shown in Gawker writer Writer Maureen O'Connor's Upskirt post chronicling the deliberate and accidental nudity of Lindsay Lohan... because apparently, it's only okay when Gawker does it. It is interesting (but inconclusive of anything) to note that Baker cites r/feminism, r/feminisms, and r/girlsinyogapants as having complained about r/creepshots, but does not mention r/shitredditsays, the subreddit's most vehement and outspoken group of opponents and their anti-voyeur movement, Project Panda.

  

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