Why it matters that the internet’s made by men

The amazing Soraya Chemaly has a piece up about the internet being made of bros and why that matters.

Tech’s institutionalised male dominance, and the sex segregation and hierarchies of its workforce, have serious and harmful effects globally on women’s safety and free expression.

This is what Soraya documents throughout the piece. From revenge porn to the kinds of abuse women face, that segregates it from the kind men receive.

[Read more…]

Bros are not happy with Men’s Magazines getting rid of pick-up artist bullshit

As surely as night follows day, men angered by having creepy behaviour questioned and criticised will stand proudly to defend such behaviour. I, for one, am glad to know who to avoid and inform my friends of. I feel compelled to send them Meninist hoodies, the poor things.

One such fellow is Christian McQueen who writes a blog for men dreaming of “living the playboy lifestyle”. His Twitter bio reads “I didn’t invent the playboy lifestyle. I just perfected it”, which is great and I am super happy for him. However, he doesn’t appear to be happy with my country’s Men’s Health’s recent decision to purge itself of pick-up artist bullshit.

There could be a good discussion on ethics policy: Is MH going too far? Are they not unecessarily removing content that’s proven to help and not harm? We can have those discussions, but I’m not certain Mr McQueen is interested in that, so much as yelling at “weak-kneed beta bitch boy editors”.

Let’s see what’s upset him. [Read more…]

Steve Jobs is anti-boner

This is quite an old little screencap and I saw it again today.

Here we can hear the lamentation of the boner, as it cries out against the wall of earbuds caging it in a blue kingdom. Woe to the boner that stands up but can find no release that women’s choice, decision and Steve Jobs hath design’d!

My favourite is how he misses everything:

“You can’t approach a woman with earbuds in her ears.”

Give the man a bells! Truly amazing. It’s almost… well, like woman intentionally wear earbuds to avoids creeps?

Now you may ask: But how will women know who are creeps and who are the nice guys, if they have their earbuds in? The answer is: If you are thwarted by earbuds, you’re a creep. If you feel that earbuds – and the subsequent intentional isolation they allow – are less important than you, you’re a creep. Indeed, the whole point is earbuds help identify who the creeps are, while simultaneously helping people not deal with them.

That’s their beauty.

And if you’re a dude who yanks earbuds out women’s ears or demands/requests they take them out so you can comment on their body, well I hope that Meninist Hoodie fits you nicely.

HT @ThatSabinGirl 

The ethics of fucking your father: It’s not about disgust

NYMag published Alexa Tsoulis-Reay’s interview with a woman who has been in a relationship with her father for many years – and, indeed, plans to get “married” and have kids with him. The important part is that she hadn’t seen her father for more than a decade, before she met him again as an adult. It is apparently a common enough occurrence that there’s an acronym.

In the late ’80s, the founder of a support group for adopted children who had recently reconnected with their biological relatives coined the term “Genetic Sexual Attraction” (GSA) to describe the intense romantic and sexual feelings that she observed occurring in many of these reunions. According to an article in The Guardian, experts estimate that these taboo feelings occur in about 50 percent of cases where estranged relatives are reunited as adults (GSA’s discoverer had herself become attracted to the son she’d adopted out when she met him 26 years later, but her feelings were not reciprocated).

Thus, this is not a case of an parent grooming his child into being his lover when she becomes an adult. There are other elements to be concerned about.

I’ve written about adult consensual incest before, pointing out that there are too many similarities in how homophobes react (“Ew! It’s wrong because it’s gross!”) that should make us concerned, if we push for calling such relationships always wrong. That doesn’t mean these relationships can’t be wrong – but they can be wrong for reasons other than the clickbaity “sharing more than Dad’s genes” part.

And this one has numerous problems. Please remember: I’m not convinced by blanket arguments against incest. But that doesn’t mean I support every case of adult incestuous relationships. And this is one of them.

First, the interview makes clear that this is a young lady inexperienced in relationships and indeed sexual encounters. She paints a rather troubled biography. Indeed, she had not had a male sexual partner before her father – only non-sexual boyfriend before.

Did you tell [your father] you were a virgin?
Yes. I told him I wanted him to be the first person I made love to. We talked about how it could be awkward if it didn’t end up working out. He also said that if I didn’t feel comfortable at any point I should tell him.

What was it like?
There’s a reason I lost my virginity to him — because I’d never felt comfortable with any other man. It was insanely sensual. It lasted for about an hour and there was a lot of foreplay. We both had orgasms. We are so similar so it’s so easy to sexually please each other. For example, we both hate neck-biting. I’ve never been in a more passionate, loving, fulfilling situation.

Notice the key part: “I’d never felt comfortable with any other man.” Well. Yes. You were young. Are young.

Indeed, even her views about sex and relationship are rather naive (and/or conservative, ironically).

I told him I was saving myself for someone who I’d be committed to for the rest of my life. It was important for me to make it clear that if I made love to him he was in a relationship with me.

I’ve always hated talk of “virginity” being lost or taken and “saving yourself”, where sex is put on a pedestal. It’s troubling because we come to wrap life-changing moments and views around it: No sex before marriage, the creation of kids, sex with only one person. The more we wrap sex up in sanctity, the more distant from reality it becomes. It’s no wonder that people go from “sex” to “the only person I’ll ever be attracted to or ever want forever” (a concept I find unbelievable, judging by, for example, divorce stats) .

And that this is her father? Yeah. That’s actually soooooooort of secondary to the fact that, as a much more experienced person, the power dynamic can’t help but exist – knowing what “sex” means to this young woman, I can’t see his acquiescing as being anything but manipulative regardless of his intention. She admitted her complete vulnerability to him and his response was to go along with it. This part isn’t actually a matter of consent, so much as it is responsibility on the part of the older, more experienced man thinking maybe she needs to grow up. That maybe her decision isn’t as informed as she thinks.

Again: this doesn’t mean consenting adults can’t engage in successful relationships despite being related; but we can pin down our concern over her age, her inexperience, her troubled history, her juvenile views of sex and relationships and how a more experienced, older man responded. That he’s her father only adds to the power dynamic – and therefore responsibility – and it seems like he made the wrong choice.

Indeed, she was around 16 when it first started  – that is, her second decade of life (“Here, an 18-year-old woman from the Great Lakes region describes her romantic relationship of almost two years with the biological father she met after 12 years of estrangement.”)

We can’t ignore how none of us knew anything at this age – let alone whether getting involved with an older person, who is a parent, is a good idea despite consent.

I can’t help see her relationship views as being entirely created from Disney films: she, in so many words, goes with “the one” narrative, and it happens to be the first person she has sex with. And also her father. Notice, again, that it’s her father can be put last in terms of reasons to be concerned.

The interview continues:

How quickly did he end things with his girlfriend?
We made sure to move out of the girlfriend’s immediately because we knew we couldn’t be together there. Before her, he was with a woman for eight years and she’s now our roommate. Talk about awkward for the first three months!

So this seems to imply her father cheated on his then girlfriend. Again: nothing to do with incest and there we can see that it’s wrong.

You’re engaged?
I’m planning on a full-on wedding but it won’t be legally registered. And personally, I don’t believe you need a piece of paper to prove that you want to be with the person you love.

Remember what I said about Disney films?

And now we come to my main concern: Kids.

So would you have kids together, or would you adopt?
We’ll have kids together

Will you tell your kids that their father is your dad, and their grandfather?
We’ve decided that most likely we won’t. I don’t want to give them any problems.

Would you feel comfortable keeping such a big secret?
That’s something I’ll have to figure out. His mom and dad will want to spend time with the grandkids, so we will have to decide how everyone will be known.

Do you worry about the potential genetic problems associated with having kids with your biological father?
Nope. I wouldn’t risk having a kid if I thought it would be harmful. I’ve done my research. Everybody thinks that kids born in incestuous relationships will definitely have genetic problems, but that’s not true. That happens when there’s years of inbreeding, like with the royal family. Incest has been around as long as humans have. Everybody just needs to deal with it as long as nobody is getting hurt or getting pressured or forced.

There are so many people having kids who will be passing on health problems, people with diabetes or mental health issues, or AIDS. My mom was allowed to have kids and both her and her mom were bipolar. My research tells me that the only real genetic risk is high blood pressure, which is controllable. I think people only worry about it because they look to the genetic problems that occurred when incest was happening generation upon generation. They say, Well, look at King Henry VIII — but he was only a genetic mutant because they had kept it in the family for so long.

My thoughts:

1. Why procreate and not adopt?

1. Why not adopt if you want to be parents?

1. Adoption is an option and there exist kids who need homes.

1. Why are you procreating and not adopting?

Ok those are the same, but that’s a key question (which anyone and everyone should be asking themselves, not just incestuous couples).

2. She says:

“We’ve decided that most likely we won’t [tell the kids their father is their grandfather]. I don’t want to give them any problems.”

Then don’t have them. The only way you won’t give your kids problems is if they remain non-existent. Considering how many people from your life already know, how exactly would your enforce this code of silence? The kids will more than likely discover this, given that they’ll be growing up in the internet age. How devastating will it be to them to be involved in a relationship they might not consent to?

You might say that’s society’s problem – and to some degree, yes. It is. But these kids still have to live in a society where it’s regarded as bad; there’s a reason she herself is hesitant about telling them! Maybe the fact that you don’t want to tell your kids about your relationship is exactly why you shouldn’t have kids – not why you should have secrets. It seems like an unnecessary harm that will shadow them for the rest of their lives, no matter how much you or I think incest isn’t as bad society makes it out to be.**

3. She raises a somewhat good response to the “what about kids from incest!” view. Again, if she wants to maximise the least harm, she should just not have them. And she can still be a parent, by adopting.

Anyway, this is a troubling case. But I hoped to try outline some reasons not premised on mere disgust that we can and should be concerned about it.

UPDATE:

** This is a shit argument and I can’t believe I made it. As Michael Brew points out in Comment #4: “This part sounds a bit too much like a similar argument against gay adoption or gay people with children having gay relationships.”

Tech support (bullies and creep)

After a DDoS attack, 8Chan has eventually been taken down because the domain was “seized”, due to it hosting child abuse images – as nauseatingly documented by Dan Olson. (Please call it abuse images, not “pornography”).

This happened due to numerous complaints sent to ‘the “pass-through” content delivery network that had been operating 8chan’s servers’, as Sam Machkovech describes it, called Cloudshare. The complaints highlighted 8Chan’s hosting of abuse images and called for them to cease hosting illegal, horrific content. However, Cloudshare did something really fucking disgusting.

Machkovech writes (my emphasis):

In accordance to Cloudflare’s abuse-report policy, the company responded to complaints by forwarding them back to 8chan’s administrative address—essentially telling an alleged offender who blew a whistle and how they did so. Brennan responded to those complaints by reposting them, complete with the complainants’ full names and e-mail addresses for 8chan and Twitter users to see. As a result, the complainant quoted above, who used his real name and e-mail address when writing to Cloudflare, was subsequently “doxxed” by imageboard users, and his personal and private contact details were posted on 8chan-friendly boards.

Cloudflare gave information, including details of identity, of people concerned about child abuse imagery to the very people hosting that content. This seems akin to telling an apartment block super that you dislike the loud metal from Apartment 34, then the super telling the thuggish gang that lives there you complained and your apartment number.

This is a wonderful example of internet culture catering to abusers and bullies, creating new targets and insulating the continued harassment of marginalised people. See creeps defending catcalling; see Gamergate; see online harassment of women.

The Internet is a pretty shitty space and we need better thinking when it comes to who we’re giving information to and how we think they’ll use it. Seriously, fuck Cloudflare.

EDIT: Wrote Cloudshare instead of Cloudshare, for some fucking reason. HT Comment #1.

EDIT2: Wrote Cloudshare twice in my correction Edit about writing Cloudshare instead of Cloudflare. I can brain.

I won’t treat Muslim people like children

But apparently Anjem Choudary will continue to.

I tweeted this in response to him yesterday

Plenty of people are discussing opposing Islam, the radical aspects of its tenets and community – and of course ex-Muslims are not being referred to or included. Regardless, I thought I’d respond to Choudary’s view that, for some reason, USA Today decided to host on its platform. There’s something to be said about providing “both” sides of the debate and one of those is give it to someone who isn’t himself spouting bigotry and undermines a whole group of people. [Read more…]

People have been murdered in Paris: This is what I don’t want to discuss…

Harmless people are dead. Gunned down in one of the most prosperous cities, in one of the most stable countries in the world. What we know is that the gunmen are scum and thugs, that Paris is on lockdown, that people are dead.

We know basically nothing else.

Here’s what I don’t want to discuss:

  • How evil Islam is

I am an apostate. An ex-Muslim who, for many, deserves death for abandoning Islam. I know very well what Islam is, firsthand. I don’t want to talk about how evil you say Islam is, how terrible you think Muslims are, how dumb you think religion is. Talk among yourselves,  but don’t expect me to be alongside when I’m interested in conveying solidarity and waiting for more information.

  • Gamergate

Nope. Despite people wanting to draw me in. Nope.

  • Charlie Hebdo were asking for it, by being provocative.

I’m sure we’ll see plenty blame Charlie Hebdo for the attacks because of their decisions in publication: I’ll take that as seriously as blaming women’s clothes for their assault or Salman Rushdie for the fatwa against him.

Nope. Extremists and thugs, by definition, don’t need “a reason” – just as sexists, rapists, etc., don’t need “a reason”. This is easily undermined by the many who are dead by such hands who did nothing “provocative”.

Look: I’d rather we focus on standing against the murderers, supporting loved ones and friends and colleagues in media. A good way to fight terror is to show strength against this fear; a good way to fight terror is to support one another and show unity, not pointless debates and bickering, which only means we operate on the poison ground extremists want.

The paradox of rejecting entitled male/nerd culture

You’ve probably all seen this Laurie Penny piece, detailing the problems with geek/nerd culture, entitlement and so forth. I’ve long been a great admirer of Penny’s work and she’s done a lot for me in terms of understanding and combatting male entitlement and sexism.

One of the first responses I got when Tweeting Penny’s piece was a rando complaining it was yet another “white woman femsplaining” to men. I thought, as someone who is neither white nor a woman, I’d outline why I support Penny’s general position and want us to oppose nerd gatekeeping and general manosphere attitudes.

Like a cliche, I unfolded into puberty gripping a game controller, bullied, shy, and lonely. I had more interest in reading than I did in other people, despite desperately wanting to fit in. Yet, it seemed easier to complete Resident Evil’s ludicrous puzzles than speak to girls. Since I had a funny name and a strange accent, I didn’t fit in with any one group: non-Muslim friends couldn’t invite me out because of drinking and no pork products; Muslim kids didn’t like my boredom or open disdain for religion. And on it went, throughout almost all of my school years.

I was a shit to girls as a teenager, as I think almost all teenage guys probably are. All I really had were my fantasy books and games and alien shooters. My parents divorced, I had major health issues and so on.

More recently: Games themselves have been an essential way to combat chronic pain, after I found myself literally walking with a cane due to an illness no one really understands (it made my legs look like zombies had had a bit of fun). I literally earn my livelihood from writing about and studying games and games culture (among other things of course). I wrote a mini comic and one of my dreams is to do graphic novels.

I care about these cultures and they literally make my life. And the most dangerous and poisonous things to these cultures I live off, live in and that have shaped me have been those who gatekeep it. Not those putting up new walls, but those who’ve cemented themselves inside. Not those breaking barriers but those putting on locks.

I hate the term nerd and geek. Where once maybe it demarcated activities a select few were interested in and obsessive about, we live in a world of celebrity scientists and well-funded science shows; big comic book films topping the box office; the foolish and boring Star Wars franchise continuing to exist (blegh); video games making more money than a lot of Hollywood films. Nerd culture has blossomed and been amalgamated into general culture. It’s not strange to like Superman or play Dragon Age; it’s kind of expected.

Nonetheless, like someone who has great knowledge about cars or has a career in the automotive industry, some of us are more invested than others. But that investment gives no more legitimacy to deciding who may and may not participate than a footballer denying you entrance to a match because you can’t name every player for England (they’re a team right?).

Of course: I understand that “nerd culture” – or whatever – which we can loosely call games, comics, and film were the domain of the “outcast” or the “bullied”. But isolation from the rest of the world was a bug, not a feature of that culture. Now it’s bloomed into every day life of big budget Marvel films and billion dollar game industries.

And yet we still have people – mostly men – “defending” it, gatekeeping, testing women because “why would a woman I’m attracted to be interested in “nerdy” things – unless it was to get attention, to be a slut, or… something not really ever defined?”

Gatekeepers: You are not protecting “the culture” by deciding who may and may not participate, you’re poisoning it. When the barrier for entrance is correlated to your level of sexual interest, that’s both unfair and disgusting. This is the trajectory the arrow of “you’re too pretty to be a scientist/business person/etc.” flies and you’re putting up a new bullseye. You’re the child hugging a puppy who you love so much you strangle it; you’re the gardener who drowns his plants. What culture needs is expansion and growth, which comes from freedom. With freedom comes diversity.

Not hilarious

Nerd gatekeeper humour = hilarious

It’s not even a moral goal anymore, since gatekeepers need only face reality: games, films, comics are no longer their domain. It’s everyone’s. Thus, when gatekeeping, they’re not only being willfully ignorant – by not facing reality – but as with many acts done out of ignorance, damaging. Many, of course, don’t believe they’re harming – almost no one believes his actions are harmful or bad, otherwise he wouldn’t act that way. But again: such a view is due to ignorance – willful perhaps – in which case it’s intentional in a by proxy sort of way.

Many would attempt to convey sympathy. That there’s something that unites us or that we should find some common ground to understand these poor gatekeepers. But we’ve seen what such people do. We know how invested they are in maintaining a status quo, in deciding who is and is not welcome to be part of their culture. But, as I previously highlighted, when you make something so central to your identity, you can’t help but become a gatekeeper and arbiter of whoever else decides to use it, too.

Yet this is description, not justification.

And it doesn’t matter if they’re a minority, what matters is their passion and investment. And that’s where this gets weird…

See, we often use the term nerd and geek to also describe deep investment and knowledge about these cultures, not just the culture themselves. That’s why the bizarre fake geek girl nonsense involves testing female humans* with the smallest details of arcane knowledge… to see whether they warrant a nerd/geek cred (they never do, but that’s cos they’re icky girls). But the attitude matters too –  that investment, that time, that passion. As I’ve indicated, I have that for games – but I also have it for ethics and media and other things (I don’t have much of a social life).

But what we witness with gatekeepers and Gamergate and MRAs and other entitled men raging on the Internet at women is the same attitude: They’re nerds about entitlement, they’re geeks of poisonous causes. How are we supposed to match that? Heating up hollow causes and feeding off the misplaced outrage is a system we’ve long witnessed. So often, we’re dealing with obviously utter nonsense – men are the most oppressed, white people are under threat of representation in media, etc. – but it still requires time to respond, and response is required due to the very real consquences.

We can think Gamergate, for example, is nonsense but we still have to deal with consequences of harassment. Gatekeeping is a feature of entitlement and entitlement is very real, even if its justification is not. This is why in order to respond we need to keep propping up the goals worth fighting for: inclusion, tolerance, acceptance, support. Yet, we must also operate by dipping our feet into the rushing waters of nonsense that brings these waves crashing to the shores of the real world. It doesn’t matter whether games truly are in danger of the feminists; what matters is those feminists getting bomb threats and being chased out their homes.

When people ask why I care about gatekeeping – even though I’m not often “prevented” from entering; or care about Gamergate – even though I think it’s nonsense; or care about MRAs – even though I’m a man, I need to always point to these goals: security, freedom, safety, properties I want to see on the Internet, which means the world. I don’t want any space I have some impact on to be one where others feel unsafe because they’re not the “right” race, gender, etc. We fight for safety in many ways – but one I’m less certain of is silence and ignoring. This isn’t a call to arms or anything so noble, it’s an outline of my own reasoning for dealing so often with people my Followers shake their head at, for those so obviously wrong.

Their views are worth ignoring; the impact their actions have for harmless people is not.

UPDATED:

Added a sentenced related to this Tweet.

* Also known as "women".

“The only reason @theLindywest defends men is because men eventually started to whine like victims the way feminists do.”

This was in reference to Lindy West being a decent human being and conveying support for Shia Labeouf, due to his rape allegations.

Notice Mr RP Philosophy characterises “I was raped” as a “whine”.

Notice that a man alleging that he got raped is him sounding like a feminist or a victim – because apparently men can’t be either or both (spoiler: they can) and apparently both are bad.

Notice it can’t be that Lindy thinks defending people who are possible victims is a moral thing to do.

Notice the silence that has fallen on the manosphere when a man has been allegedly raped and feminists are the ones conveying support. Because, hey, maybe the feminists have a point about how to be decent that dudes who threaten women and support rape… don’t? Amazing.

It seems to me that if you’re going to call yourself “activists” the one thing you could do for men is support them. One thing. #YouHadOneJob

At least this continues to confirm my view that one of the worst things for men is the men’s rights movement.