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Dec 15 2013

Attention whores deserve internet abuse… because reasons

Ophelia points out this excellent coverage of a horrible story. Ophelia summarises:

Lena Chen, as a freshman at Harvard, started a blog called Sex and the Ivy, where she wrote about her hookups, self-medication with alcohol, recovery from an eating disorder and crushing desire to be liked. All standard stuff for a college student. But then an ex-boyfriend posted naked pictures of her on the Internet.

Writes Claire Gordon in Al Jazeera:

“For some, this was righteous comeuppance for the campus harlot. For others it was just great gossip. Classmates and other titillated parties reposted the images around the Web, and comment threads exploded with colorful debate.”

Ophelia comments: “You know the kind of thing. Ugly, whore, disgusting, blah.”

Read the rest at Ophelia’s blog.

What struck me while reading the story on Al-Jazeera’s site was this delightful comment, which appears conjured from the streams of idiocy the article highlights and proves Lewis’ Law.

ughIt says:

“So let me get this straight… some chick posts about her intimate affairs online for everyone to see, takes nude pics of herself, and is then surprised when all of that blows up in her face? Cry more, over privileged dimwit. There is a word for people who behave this way, “attention whore”. Grow up and take responsibility for your own careless actions. If people who read your revealing blog, and view pictures that you took of yourself naked have the opinion that you are a “skank”, or anything else you find offensive, that is their opinion, and you put yourself out there to be judged. Deal with it.”

Victim-blame much?

So women, listen up: According to Lord Davidson, Minister of Internet Manners and Behaviour, you may not post anything about your intimate affairs, take nude pics and expect decent treatment as an adult. Surprisingly, Mr Davidson might discover that plenty of adults do this everyday and are responded to without horrific treatment as if they’re pariahs on society half-a-beat away from eating children. Instead, they’re ignored, respected, or treated in any number of ways that does not undermine their capacity to be part of human society.

What I “expect” is for adults to treat other adults in ways that align to decency and respect, unless they’ve done something worthy of no respect – such as murder or rape. No case is made or has been made to show that naked people, proudly sexual people and so forth deserve such horrific treatment.

As always I don’t understand what’s wrong with “whore” or “slut”: I’m not asking people to adopt these terms, only asking those who use them negatively to explain what’s wrong with behaviour that makes you namecall such people using these terms.

Oh no: A woman really likes having sex consensually with lots of people? Hellfire, brimstone, lakes of blood, dogs marrying cats! A person consensually exchanges money for sexual favours? Bring forth the torches and oil!

The victim-blaming is terrible, as always. No focus is given to the fact that she doesn’t deserve such comments. But what’s always “intrigued” me about such comments is how the victim-blamer expects the victim to control responses: what powers do they think women have to control the entire Internet in its treatment of women? Women have to just exist and make their presence known to be treated this way: adding the sexual element only gives them an added element.

My friend Caroline Criado-Perez fought to create more sex diversity on British bank-notes – and for that, she was treated in the most horrific ways: rape and death threats.

Would Mr Victim Blamer say: “Oh well what did she expect, campaigning for equal treatment and representation?” If he would not, what makes sex get a free moral pass to turn adults into lecherous monsters?

Either women have no power and so must be controlled or they appear to have infinite power in managing the responses of all the world, since they “bring it on themselves”.

I hate knowing that it appears to be mostly men saying and doing these things. It makes me ashamed to have any even vaguely similar characteristic to such people. But, disgustingly, it also makes me glad I’m not a woman on the Internet. I don’t think I’m strong enough to withstand such treatment.

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36 comments

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  1. 1
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    I recommend anyone visiting the AJ site where the article was posted immediately flag David Davidson’s post as inappropriate. It doesn’t require a sign-in.

  2. 2
    Flip the second

    I think the use of ‘slut’ might be an attemptto suggest betrayal in a monogomist society – a whistle that says “you can’t trust her, you never know which way she’ll turn next”. As for the nude pics, it’s always worthwhile remembering that it was taken and sent between two consenting adults and the release to the wider public was not something chosen, but forced upon her like so many others dealing with revenge porn. So victim blamers are also blaming her for what the ex did. Amazing how they can blame her, but completely overlook the invasions of privacy by the ex as well.

  3. 3
    closedmyaccount

    Another Tauriq Time Travel Travesty ?

    That blog in question was started in erhm.. 2006 and was abandonded in 2010 … why is anyone still talking about this ?

  4. 4
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    Tell us, Schmarmbarmy, what is the cutoff age of a story where it’s no longer applicable or relevant to broader discussion of ongoing phenomenon? Three years seems an awfully short time for it to have become culturally irrelevant, and any declaration of it as such is immediately suspect.

  5. 5
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    Even being generous and giving Scumbumbi the full 7 years since she started her blog, the fact remains that online harassment, misogyny, sexism, slut-shaming, revenge porn, et cetera, is still relevant to this day. So yeah, what was the real purpose of just outright dismissing this conversation as unnecessary, Scuzzypuppy?

  6. 6
    KRS

    Maybe Schlumbumbi should ask Al Jazeera this question, since their article is dated a couple of days ago. Or better yet, he could read the Al Jazeera article, which details the continuing harassment of Chen, her friends, family, and blog followers (even at her new blog) up to the present day. And of course, the victim blaming in Al Jazeera’s comment section happened within the last couple of days, indicating that the underlying phenomenon is still a problem.

  7. 7
    John Morales

    Schlumbumbi @3:

    Another Tauriq Time Travel Travesty ?

    That blog in question was started in erhm.. 2006 and was abandonded in 2010 … why is anyone still talking about this ?

    What?

    “My friend Caroline Criado-Perez fought to create more sex diversity on British bank-notes – and for that, she was treated in the most horrific ways: rape and death threats.”

    (The moral: read the entire OP before attempting snide, not just the first paragraph)

  8. 8
    Tauriq Moosa

    Do you think snark such as this helps convey your argument in a way that makes me or my readers want to listen or engage? I don’t even need a comment policy when others have shown up your comment for the fallacious assertion it is.

    Second, why make this comment at all? Should I begin coming to you for assessing the cut-off point of a social issue or topic? Perhaps you could tell me why Al-Jazeera was wrong to write about it, since I’m following on their story which was only published on 9th of this month? And, even if it is six year’s old or six million, I didn’t realise I needed your permission to write on it: No one is forcing you to read this or any blog with ancient stories of forgotten times.

    The other commenters have successfully pointed out what an incredibly silly comment this is, such that I barely need to say it violates my comment policy: by being not kind, charitable or unnecessary in its attack. No one is forcing you to read anything I or anyone writes.

  9. 9
    Tauriq Moosa

    Thanks. I like your thoughts on the slut insults.

  10. 10
    closedmyaccount

    Second, why make this comment at all?

    My argument? There is nothing to have an argument about. The topic is deader than dead. And that’s the 2nd time within a very short time span, that you went grave digging and present a “topic” as timely actual or relevant.

    C’mon, be honest – when you picked up the “topic” from Aljazeera, were you immediately aware that they were beating a dead horse ? Or were you under the same false impression I was under, when I started reading your article ?

    You can do it better than they did – put some yellow or red warning box at the top of the article, so people know what’s coming for them.

  11. 11
    closedmyaccount

    Oh, that’s an easy question – for pop culture topics like the one above, the cuttoff age is 1 week. If you insist on wringing the wet towel for your ideological purposes, I’ll give you 1 month. And that’s that. After that time, you’re just proving that you haven’t got anything real to talk about.

  12. 12
    closedmyaccount

    Well, IF you believe the topic is still timely actual or relevant, then WHY DON’T YOU USE A CONTEMPORARY EXAMPLE ?

    Maybe it’s because you’re a lazy fuck who can’t be assed to do some work before shitting out your thoughts ?

  13. 13
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    You talk a lot about proving but don’t provide any proof that a 1 week (or 1 month, how nice of you to allow that, btw) cutoff is rationally established. “And that’s that” doesn’t cut it.

  14. 14
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    A contemporary example? Christ almighty, but you are literally the stupidest person I’ve ever met. Are you denying that revenge porn, slut-shaming, misogyny, harassment, etc. are happening on the Internet? I mean, that’s the only conclusion one could draw from your insistence on a “contemporary” example. If it didn’t happen a week ago then it’s not a problem worth discussing because there is no one still alive who can remember the bygone era of 3 months ago… Jesus.

    Still, you want contemporary, here it is then: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/10/justice/california-revenge-porn-arrest/

  15. 15
    prodegtion

    Yes, don’t publish naked photos of them. Just publish unfounded third hand anonymous accusations that they are serial rapists instead.

  16. 16
    Sassafras

    So you definitely didn’t read the Al-Jazeera article, which points out that Chen and her boyfriend (and anyone loosely associated with them) have been receiving this harassment even still after 6 years, which led to her finally shutting down her blog this past April? Or that the example Tauriq used happened in July? I guess if you really think things can no longer be considered timely and relevant after a week, then you definitely lack the attention span to read an entire article.

  17. 17
    Sassafras

    I’m sorry, what you’re referring to happened well over a month ago, and therefore according to Schlumbumbi it is no longer relevant.

  18. 18
    Tauriq Moosa

    If you can’t make your point without swearing and insults, please don’t comment further.

  19. 19
    Tauriq Moosa

    While I appreciate you responding and your argument, please do try not namecalling. I would appreciate that greatly, as part of my comment policy.

  20. 20
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    I understand. I’m sorry I didn’t show proper respect to your comment policy, will not happen again.

  21. 21
    Tauriq Moosa

    >> “There is nothing to have an argument about”

    Clearly. People who are certain about things tend to be those we should be most worried about.

    >> “The topic is deader than dead.”

    Which? Women’s treatment? Women’s treatment online? Slut-shaming? Victim-blaming? Clearly these are not dead topics.

    >> “And that’s the 2nd time within a very short time span, that you went grave digging and present a “topic” as timely actual or relevant.”

    You’re confusing topic for case, probably, since the topics I focus on aren’t issues that cease. Second, even if I use a case thirty thousand years old, that doesn’t disprove the arguments or the problem – which in this case was an anonymous comment posted a few days ago. Days.

    >> “You can do it better than they did – put some yellow or red warning box at the top of the article, so people know what’s coming for them.”

    That might be the most ridiculous thing I’ve read. People are adults capable of reading and deciding for themselves. I don’t know what “warning” is needed for writing – but that it’s old according to your arbitrary definitions certainly isn’t one of them. Seriously: a “warning box”?

    As I say, no one is forcing you to read me or anyone. I’m not sure why you think we need your permission to write on cases you – and no one else here, including Chen herself and Al Jazeera – deem “old”. Old is not the same as closed.

  22. 22
    Tauriq Moosa

    @throwaway 5.1…. : I really appreciate your apology. Thank you. I am trying to create a certain, more safe space for all. I’m glad and hope you will be part of that.

  23. 23
    Jackie

    You don’t know what “unfounded” or “third hand” means. I’m not surprised.

  24. 24
    Jafafa Hots

    There are differences of opinion as to what constitutes “swearing.”
    Can we get a list of prohibited words?

  25. 25
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    In the interest of that, prodegtion @ 8 is attempting to bring outside drama to your blog, not sure if you were aware. It’s a reference to a post made on Pharyngula, the “grenade” thread.

    I mostly lurk and read what other minds have to say. There are so many brilliant people floating around FTB that they’ve already said what I’d wanted to say by the time I get there, but more betterer. ;)

  26. 26
    prodegtion

    says the non-scientist.

  27. 27
    prodegtion

    How can any blogger on “free”thoughtblogs be unaware of PZ Myers’s deplorable actions?

  28. 28
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    Your reference was ambiguous enough that it was possible to infer it had some tangential relation to the story at hand at first glance since it also involved accusations of rape. That was the reason for the “unaware” part of my comment.

  29. 29
    Jacob Schmidt

    But what’s always “intrigued” me about such comments is how the victim-blamer expects the victim to control responses: what powers do they think women have to control the entire Internet in its treatment of women?

    I think the reasoning is that, since women being harassed is a known risk, the woman must have consented to it (e.g. “What did you expect to happen?”). It’s the sort of reasoning that is selectively applied.

  30. 30
    Tauriq Moosa

    Thanks, that’s a good point. I’ll think on this.

  31. 31
    Tauriq Moosa

    Please see my comment policy about bringing in politics from elsewhere here. Please refrain from it, thanks. If you have an argument to make, please do so assuming we don’t know what you’re talking about and that it has actual relevance.

  32. 32
    Tauriq Moosa

    That is not an argument so much as namecalling. Please refrain from it.

  33. 33
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    This sort of internet bullying – whoever its aimed at – is appalling and needs to be stopped.

  34. 34
    Pen

    I think autonomous female sexuality feels very threatening to some men. It raises the possibility that they can be treated as discardable sex objects in a way that didn’t have to exist when they could believe women had a passive, receptive role and weren’t really that interested in sex unless they were in love and deeply admiring of their partner. Just the fact that they can no longer avoid the knowledge that they are also objects of sexual interest and attraction can feel destabilising. A ‘slut’ lets them know they’re about as important as kleenex in her eyes. A ‘whore’ not only regards them as kleenex but takes their money into the bargain (I’m not saying all ‘sluts’ or ‘whores’ think like that necessarily, I’m saying some men perceive the situation inherently as an assault on their self-esteem).

    Women with public power are even worse. They raise the possibility that men can be held to ransom sexually or otherwise for anything they want by women who are more powerful and senior than they are. In other words, they can be treated as women have traditionally been treated. Obviously, it would be futile to pretend that no woman would ever behave in such a way. So keeping women in their place starts to feel like a battle for survival to them. Some of them are still fighting to win by domination. At some point, I think a majority will swing round into a situation where they want mutual protections in place just as much as most women do.

  35. 35
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Oh, you’ll “Give us” a month, will you? How very charitable of you. Thank you, Oh Arbiter of T’Internet, for your mercy.

    You arrogant twerp.

  36. 36
    Tauriq Moosa

    That person has been banned from the threads. While I agree with you – as you can see from my responses above – I would ask you to please refrain from namecalling and such blatant insults as per my comment policy.

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