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It Happened to Me: Creepy Dudes Made Me Stop Fatshion Blogging
July 30, 2013 10:37 AM   Subscribe

"At this point, I feel like I need to warn women who are considering starting a blog that this is the stuff they will probably have to deal with" (SLxojane)
posted by box (241 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was really surprised and a bit horrified by this. Before I saw these forums, I saw blogging as a medium that was for women.

uhh
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:41 AM on July 30, 2013 [39 favorites]


This actually wasn't what I expected it to be about - I expected it to be about fat-shaming, I had never thought about it from the other side. I didn't even know that was a thing guys did, have masturbation blogs reblogged from other places.

I can see why it would really upset her, though. I'm not sure how you fix it, but I'm saddened that it's affected her blogging.
posted by corb at 10:42 AM on July 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's not just fashion blogs, though. My short-lived stint in Tumblr ended when a pretty ordinary, unsexy picture of me holding a newly-purchased record (I was wearing a tank top, like some kind of uberslut who lives in an apartment with no A/C in August...) suddenly started being reblogged by straight-up wank sites. Like, dozens.

And then, shortly afterward, my follower list was swamped by diaper fetishists who continually spammed me with pictures of their diapered asses.

Any woman who puts a picture of any sort in an accessible place on the internet should expect that creepy assholes will spread it to the whole world as jerkoff fodder.
posted by like_a_friend at 10:49 AM on July 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


Any woman who puts a picture of any sort in an accessible place on the internet should expect that creepy assholes will spread it to the whole world as jerkoff fodder.

Which may have been true enough even back in the USENET days, but at least then you wouldn't necessarily know about it.
posted by Gelatin at 10:53 AM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Men, I just don't get us sometimes.

Let's say you like looking at women doing things, be it jogging or wearing fashionable clothes or whatever, in person or on the internet. This is something that gives you pleasure. You like seeing it. (We'll set aside whether or not this in particular is creepy or not.)

So why in the hell do you do everything you can to make it uncomfortable for women to do things you like seeing them do? What the hell? Isn't this counterproductive to your goals?

Why do you holler at women who are running or biking by? Do you think that will make them more likely to keep doing it? Why do you offer up yourselves in creepy and disturbing ways to women on the internet? Why do you have to share with specificity, from the safety of your internet connection, what you would like to do to the body of a random stranger who has caught your eye? Do you really think that's going to help anything?

It just bewilders me.
posted by gauche at 10:53 AM on July 30, 2013 [78 favorites]


They think they are complimenting/honouring them.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:55 AM on July 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


At this point my hypothesis is that they cannot fathom the idea that their feedback would be unwelcome or taken as anything other than encouraging. Like, "Hey, I went out to the store and I got your favorite! That's right: A man's approval! Here you go, little darlin', don't spend it all in one place."
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:55 AM on July 30, 2013 [100 favorites]


Well, okay. But come on. She is entitled to feel the way she feels -- and to warn other women about what they'll have to deal with -- but in some ways I think she is perpetuating the notion that men who are attracted to larger women are creepy and should crawl into a hole and stay there.

There is an entire giant Tumblr culture of women and teenage girls who obsessively sexualize male teen idol types, famous and not. I think most people consider this inoffensive. There's certainly a difference between the male gaze and the female gaze (and more particularly what each suggests/threatens). But at the end of the day, they're both just sharing pictures on the internet.

Is there a moral obligation not to use images for sexual gratification that were not made with the intention of providing sexual gratification? To not do so publicly? To not let the person in the picture know about it? Where are we drawing the line, here?
posted by eugenen at 10:55 AM on July 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


They think they are complimenting/honouring them.

No, I don't think so. I don't think they care one way or another what the person in the photo feels about it. They want to jerk off to it, so they do, and there's no more self-reflection to it than that.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:57 AM on July 30, 2013 [20 favorites]


They think they are complimenting/honouring them.

No, it's a cry for sex, like that of a cicada

ERRRRRRRR WOOOOOO ERRRRR WOOOOOOO ERRRRRR WOOOOOOO
posted by dubusadus at 10:57 AM on July 30, 2013 [21 favorites]


They think they are complimenting/honouring them.

I mean, I guess, but I've never met a single woman who enjoys this kind of attention, or indeed, who, when it was brought up as a topic of conversation, failed to find it creepy and disgusting and even scary. So unless the hypothesis is that these men are literally incapable of paying attention to the women they are, supposedly, paying attention to, I'm not sure that's it.
posted by gauche at 11:00 AM on July 30, 2013


They want to jerk off to it, so they do, and there's no more self-reflection to it than that.

Which you can do without telling the other person about it, I'm fairly certain.
posted by gauche at 11:01 AM on July 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


but in some ways I think she is perpetuating the notion that men who are attracted to larger women like to non-consensually appropriate non-sexual images of women's bodies and then send explicitly sexual messages, also without consent, are creepy and should crawl into a hole and stay there.

FTFY
posted by like_a_friend at 11:01 AM on July 30, 2013 [44 favorites]


So unless the hypothesis is that these men are literally incapable of paying attention to the women they are, supposedly, paying attention to, I'm not sure that's it.

Well, when you're searching for a way to explain idiotic behavior, it's hard to eliminate "they're idiots."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:01 AM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Any woman who puts a picture of any sort in an accessible place on the internet should expect that creepy assholes will spread it to the whole world as jerkoff fodder.

It's not even just women. A couple years back I posted a picture of myself surfing at Malibu beach in L.A. on my own flickr. It was subsequently favorited by several people I didn't know, and when I clicked through to see who they were, it was clear I had just been added to the collections of several gay men with wetsuit fetishes. It's weird, but I don't know what you can do about it if you want the photos to be publicly available.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:02 AM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


So unless the hypothesis is that these men are literally incapable of paying attention to the women they are, supposedly, paying attention to, I'm not sure that's it.

That's exactly the hypothesis. The very idea that the moving pair of breasts across the street might have a response, and moreover that that response should matter to the catcalling dude in any way whatsoever, is unfathomable to them. Silly person! Breasts can't think!
posted by like_a_friend at 11:03 AM on July 30, 2013 [15 favorites]



Why do you holler at women who are running or biking by? Do you think that will make them more likely to keep doing it? Why do you offer up yourselves in creepy and disturbing ways to women on the internet? Why do you have to share with specificity, from the safety of your internet connection, what you would like to do to the body of a random stranger who has caught your eye?


Power. Only. Ever. It's not about complimenting women, or honoring them, or even sex. It's about saying, "you're a woman, and as a man I am entitled to comment on your body. You're an ornament to the world for men, not a full human."

That's why men say things like, "God Bless America," when women walk by.
posted by sweetkid at 11:04 AM on July 30, 2013 [111 favorites]


I got harassed by a dude once for writing a text post (no pictures!) about shopping for shoes as a woman who wears size 12s. As in persistent requests for pictures and videos of my feet.

I think there's an attitude of acceptance -- not "If you put these pictures out there it's fine for people to do whatever they want" but "If you put these pictures out there people are going to do whatever they want, it sucks but what are you going to do?" And... I don't have any utopian solutions for the way things should be; there's sometimes a fine line between reblogging pictures as fashion and reblogging pictures as porn and I don't know that I'd want to get the legal system involved in drawing that line.

It just sucks when you end up being circumscribed in talking about your life, in ways you never predicted, just because you have the temerity to be a woman on the internet.
posted by Jeanne at 11:06 AM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've just got to wonder, has the author ever participated in the exact same behavior regarding men? If she sees a Twilight poster at Hot Topic, and thinks about it all day, and goes home and writes fan fiction about what she'd like to see Jacob doing, and "blogs" about it by writing some fan fiction...is that unfair/intimidating to Taylor without his permission or approval? How does that make him feel as an actor or a model?

...and now, a dozen reasons why gender swapping the situation is irrelevant and this kind of question is inappropriate and meaningless. Go!
posted by trackofalljades at 11:06 AM on July 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


Any woman who puts a picture of any sort in an accessible place on the internet should expect that creepy assholes will spread it to the whole world as jerkoff fodder.
Which may have been true enough even back in the USENET days, but at least then you wouldn't necessarily know about it.


Absolutely. The Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr generation of Web use is all about oversharing, and thus both enables and exposes this kind of behavior, which has always been there, but not every woman had to walk past construction sites...
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:07 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Our idiotic society, almost exclusively controlled by idiotic men, keeps convincing young men to become, and stay idiots. It tries to shame the non-idiot males and get the idiots it has convinced to remain idiots to help in shaming us. It tries to convince women that idiot men are the attractive ones, produces media where the idiot men are loved by women and revered by non idiot men, and where these idiotic acts are normalized.
posted by cashman at 11:08 AM on July 30, 2013 [23 favorites]



So why in the hell do you do everything you can to make it uncomfortable for women to do things you like seeing them do? What the hell? Isn't this counterproductive to your goals?

Why do you holler at women who are running or biking by? Do you think that will make them more likely to keep doing it? Why do you offer up yourselves in creepy and disturbing ways to women on the internet? Why do you have to share with specificity, from the safety of your internet connection, what you would like to do to the body of a random stranger who has caught your eye? Do you really think that's going to help anything?

It just bewilders me.
posted by gauche at 1:53 PM on July 30

They think they are complimenting/honouring them.
posted by Bovine Love at 1:55 PM on July 30



I don't believe that's the case at all, at least for most of these guys. Because IME, if a man genuinely wants to compliment a woman, and he messes up when doing so, and the woman says to him "Hey, that was actually pretty creepy", he'll feel bad that he made her feel bad, and apologize.


I really believe that it's a power thing. Men who do this WANT to make the woman feel uncomfortable or frightened. And they WANT to know that they've accomplished this. These men WANT to know that they've been able to reach out from on high, like they're a god or something, and up-end this woman's life.

Ms Zigmond outlines it pretty well here:

... I do think there is a statement being made when a man adds a photo of me to their Flickr favorites or reblogs a photo of me to their Tumblr jerk-off blog. I think there is a reason they do this in a manner that makes me aware of it. (emphasis mine)

It would be easier to right click and save the photo into some folder on their computer where they could look at it all they wanted without me knowing about it. I feel that by making it known to me, they are saying something -– I consider you a sexual object who exists for my enjoyment, I don’t consider you as an equal human being, and I don’t care how you feel about this.


It's the same urge, I believe, that male flashers have when they approach women and start masturbating in front of them. They could masturbate just as well in their own home in front of a porn magazine, or with a willing partner online via streaming video, or at a strip club that allows such things, or any number of other options. But the true thrill for them comes from sexually threatening a woman. It comes from using sexuality to cause her distress and fear.

IMO, the men Ms. Zigmond is talking about are pretty much just rapists who are too lazy to go out.
posted by magstheaxe at 11:08 AM on July 30, 2013 [46 favorites]


I've just got to wonder, has the author ever participated in the exact same behavior regarding men? If she sees a Twilight poster at Hot Topic, and thinks about it all day, and goes home and writes fan fiction about what she'd like to see Jacob doing, and "blogs" about it by writing some fan fiction...is that unfair/intimidating to Taylor without his permission or approval? How does that make him feel as an actor or a model?

...and now, a dozen reasons why gender swapping the situation is irrelevant and this kind of question is inappropriate and meaningless. Go!


When women send unsolicited sexual messages directly to these actors, it IS creepy. In fact the actors have said as much, and the fact that women continue to do it sucks, and they ought to stop.

It's sure not as common as men doing it to women, though.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:10 AM on July 30, 2013 [32 favorites]



...and now, a dozen reasons why gender swapping the situation is irrelevant and this kind of question is inappropriate and meaningless. Go!


Or let's not, because you obviously won't be listening to them.
posted by sweetkid at 11:10 AM on July 30, 2013 [44 favorites]


...and now, a dozen reasons why gender swapping the situation is irrelevant and this kind of question is inappropriate and meaningless. Go!

Yes. That is exactly what you have done. This woman is Taylor Lautner in all ways other than her vagina.
posted by Etrigan at 11:14 AM on July 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


I'm sympathetic to this woman and hate to sound defeatist, but I'm not sure how behavior can be stopped. Stop random people you don't know from "favoriting" things? This woman's seems to be upset at the fact that these creeps' porn folders are set to "public" and that she can see herself in them. But many of the web's tools are built around *encouraging* favorites/retweets/reblogs (both giving and receiving). It sounds like she wants to be able to control every context that her photos are viewed within, and I think that's a pretty naive approach.
posted by antonymous at 11:14 AM on July 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Is it weird to see your pictures repurposed into porn? Sure. But are the people who repurpose it necessarily malicious? I don't think so. There is a difference between the dude who reposts your pic and the dude that sends you an email about how he would like to pleasure you. It seems odd to me that the author would assign maliciousness to the people that repost her pics, saying that they do it because they know she will find out.
posted by munchingzombie at 11:15 AM on July 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


trackofalljades, I think it's not really a gender difference as much as a fame/power difference. If people do the same thing with sexy pictures of Scarlet Johanssen or Megan Fox... I mean, I'm not thrilled about omnipresent objectification of women, but it doesn't strike me as being anywhere near as bad as what this blogger went through. I think you have an expectation of privacy as a regular person on Tumblr that you don't have as a movie star. I'm not saying there's any kind of legal bright line about this, but I am glad that fatshion bloggers exist, I like reading their blogs, and it would be a shame if harassment and sexualization drove them away.
posted by Jeanne at 11:16 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, as far as compliments go, there's a big difference between 'you look cute in that dress' and explicit raunch. And even if you're into explicit raunch, there's places online for that where everyone's consenting. Time and place for everything.
posted by jonmc at 11:17 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think that she is conflating a lot of issues here.

There is some stuff that is obviously creepy and over the line: Going to someone's blog to comment on what sorts of things you want to do to them. Ugh.

But then there is stuff that to me just seems like the kinds of things that people do on the internet: Collecting images that you find sexy and putting them in a place where 1.) they are easy to find, and 2.) people who share your same interests can also find them. If we are going to condemn the rebloggers, then what shall we do about say, Des Hommes et Des Chatons, or any number of Ryan Gosling Heyblrs?

The author claims that it would be "easier" to just save her images offline for "use" later on, but that would be copyright infringement on the one hand, and hitting "reblog" is _way_ easier on the other hand.

Finally, I think there is something awfully entitled to the belief that you can or should be able to control images that you put on public display. You can vetch about consent all you want, but there's nothing stopping a person on the street from taking a mental image of you and thinking about it while he/she is pleasuring themselves later.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:17 AM on July 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


There is a difference between the dude who reposts your pic and the dude that sends you an email about how he would like to pleasure you.

Ehhhh. I mean yes, theoretically. The former is potentially more benign than the latter. But generally speaking, in the world of Tumblr, these dudes are one and the same.

...and now, a dozen reasons why gender swapping the situation is irrelevant and this kind of question is inappropriate and meaningless. Go!

Uh because Taylor Lautner is handsomely paid for displaying his half-nude pictures. And he presumably signs release forms authorizing others to view and purchase said pictures. It's not actual gender-swapping you've done here, it's just throwing out a situation that is an exception.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:18 AM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]



It sounds like she wants to be able to control every context that her photos are viewed within, and I think that's a pretty naive approach.



Where does she say that? From my perspective, she wants to share her story and also let other women know something she didn't when she started:

At this point, I feel like I need to warn women who are considering starting a blog that this is the stuff they will probably have to deal with and the idea that I have to do that, to warn other women about this, makes me sick. The idea that we just have to deal with this and get used to adding people to our block lists on websites all the time, and factor in strange men on the Internet’s reactions when choosing an outfit, or not have blogs and not have photos of ourselves online is disgusting to me.

It's like, everytime we have a post like this, someone's all "well you can't control the INTERNET what are you going to DO ABOUT IT" when it's really about sharing experience.

That's also why it's frustrating when it becomes "what about the menz," also.
posted by sweetkid at 11:18 AM on July 30, 2013 [22 favorites]


I don't think men who treat women this way believe they are complimenting or honoring the women. In my experience, the men who treat women this way never once think of the women in those photos as human beings, so they don't think they're complimenting them. You don't compliment an object.

The men who used these photos out of context, beyond their intent, don't do it because they think those women are anything at all. Those photos and the people in them are merely props, objects. Using a picture of woman that is offered for the purpose of showing off her shoes, or sharing her vacation with friends, or for goofing off on instagram for sexual gratification is nothing at all like telling someone you like her shoes or even that she's pretty. It's rejecting the humanity she has and replacing it with a function you've given her. It's disrespectful and I'm hard-pressed to believe these creeps truly believe it's a compliment. See the part when they are treating the people as the photos--that is to say, as something which is not a whole person.

It's like wedging yourself against someone in a crowd and grinding. It's not a complement; it's a very clear statement that the woman is less than human, just a prop with no agency, there for whatever use the grinder chooses.
posted by crush-onastick at 11:19 AM on July 30, 2013 [26 favorites]


Is there a moral obligation not to use images for sexual gratification that were not made with the intention of providing sexual gratification? To not do so publicly? To not let the person in the picture know about it? Where are we drawing the line, here?

I would say the space right between your first and second examples is the perfect place to draw that line, because morals or ethics (as opposed to laws) do indeed come into play wherever our actions affect other people.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:20 AM on July 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Is there a moral obligation not to use images for sexual gratification that were not made with the intention of providing sexual gratification?

Absolutely not.

To not do so publicly?

Less of a forceful no, but still a no. Anything said or done publicly should be done with the understanding that it can be seen by the public. If you say something about someone's body, there's every chance they will see it. I think there's a moral obligation to be aware of that, sure. The fact that most people don't care doesn't change that.

To not let the person in the picture know about it?

Honestly, yeah, I think so. Pretty much every single thing on the internet is masturbation fodder for someone, and that's kind of unavoidable. I mean, there's a reason why an innocuous video of an older couple documenting the wife's car getting stuck in the mud has over two thousand views (for comparison, a video where she's making cake pops has twenty-eight) and two comments which are really clearly from fetishists. If you put it online, someone will masturbate to it.

I really only think this becomes an issue when the masturbator in question decides to make it anyone else's problem. That's when it becomes creepy. And yeah, I do think there's a moral obligation to keep that shit to yourself.

Where are we drawing the line, here?

If I put a photo of myself online doing anything at all, I have to accept that someone out there is going to be turned on by it, for reasons I mostly can't fathom. For their part, they have to accept that that isn't why I put the picture up and that I'm not interested in hearing about what a stranger did with it. I draw the line at failure to respect that polite fiction.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:20 AM on July 30, 2013 [19 favorites]


A guy I friended on Facebook took a bunch of my photos and posted them to his Tumblr without my knowledge. I stumbled upon it by accident one day and it freaked me the fuck out.

As a guy, who is usually not accustomed to thinking of his image as something people are going to appropriate on the Internet, I find it kind of disgusting how frequently this happens. When it happens to you, it is super unsettling, and I by no means think that my reaction to having it happen was as severe as when a man is doing the same to images of women. The power dynamic there is more fraught as-is.

Is it weird to see your pictures repurposed into porn? Sure. But are the people who repurpose it necessarily malicious? I don't think so. There is a difference between the dude who reposts your pic and the dude that sends you an email about how he would like to pleasure you. It seems odd to me that the author would assign maliciousness to the people that repost her pics, saying that they do it because they know she will find out.

This assumes the image of a woman is somehow detached from that woman, as if publicly sharing it to a wankblog is going to send no message to her whatsoever.

Look, I hit my adolescence just as the Internet was hitting its stride; I am no stranger to being a lech on the Internet. But as gauche says above, it's one thing to do it in private and another entirely to do it in a way that sends a message literally directly back to the person who posted the photograph: people are looking at these pictures of you to jerk off. It's no less creepy than public masturbation.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:20 AM on July 30, 2013 [19 favorites]


It seems odd to me that the author would assign maliciousness to the people that repost her pics, saying that they do it because they know she will find out.

I think it's more like this: there are users whom she knows, whether by looking at what else they post, or because they have told her, are using her photos for porn or fetish purposes. I don't think she's reading each and every reblog as that, but rather that over time, she's more and more suspicious and tired of each reblog.

I think it's like how men will say "hi" to a woman on the subway or the bus or wherever and expect her to smile and toss her hair and flirt with him just because he's there. I suspect the first time, it might be fine, but the hundredth time this week she probably just wants to stab the guy, even though there's nothing wrong, in the abstract, with saying hi to a stranger on the bus or wherever.
posted by gauche at 11:21 AM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


If I put a photo of myself online doing anything at all, I have to accept that someone out there is going to be turned on by it, for reasons I mostly can't fathom. For their part, they have to accept that that isn't why I put the picture up and that I'm not interested in hearing about what a stranger did with it. I draw the line at failure to respect that polite fiction.

I'm fully on board with this. Okay, moral quandary resolved.
posted by eugenen at 11:22 AM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


If she sees a Twilight poster at Hot Topic, and thinks about it all day, and goes home and writes fan fiction about what she'd like to see Jacob doing

In your case the difference isn't gender, but the difference between candid shots of real people and a picture of an actor playing an imaginary character produced, to a large degree, for visual consumption. If you wanted to demonstrate that you have trouble distinguishing real life from fantasy you couldn't have chosen a better example.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:22 AM on July 30, 2013 [25 favorites]


I've just got to wonder, has the author ever participated in the exact same behavior regarding men? If she sees a Twilight poster at Hot Topic, and thinks about it all day, and goes home and writes fan fiction about what she'd like to see Jacob doing, and "blogs" about it by writing some fan fiction...is that unfair/intimidating to Taylor without his permission or approval?

Writing erotic fiction about Lautner (to the extent that anything involving him could actually be erotic) would be similar to what she experienced if:

(1) She and many other people also repeatedly sent sexually explicit email to Lautner's actual, personal account describing what they wished or intended to do to him.

(2) There existed a historical pattern, thousands of years old and continuing to this day, in which between one in six and one in four men had been raped by women.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:23 AM on July 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


If you wanted to demonstrate that you have trouble distinguishing real life from fantasy you couldn't have chosen a better example.

Moreover, you have demonstrated that even someone arguing in bad faith can't actually come up with something that huge numbers of women do which would be equivalently creepy and violating.

There are exceptions, of course, but largely this is a thing that men do, to women and (as Tylerkarazewski noted above) to other men.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:25 AM on July 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


So, for everyone who's saying this is totally fine and she should suck it up, I assume you've never had the pleasure of wondering what's up with all those favorites all of a sudden on a photo of a child on Flickr?

That's okay too? Because it's public?
posted by Lyn Never at 11:26 AM on July 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


So, for everyone who's saying this is totally fine and she should suck it up, I assume you've never had the pleasure of wondering what's up with all those favorites all of a sudden on a photo of a child on Flickr?

That's okay too? Because it's public?


That is a really gross false equivalence.
posted by eugenen at 11:27 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


what if the child was in Twilight?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:28 AM on July 30, 2013 [17 favorites]


When I worked at a liquor store with my SO, men would always tell her, "You look pretty today" or some such. She did not want to hear that. It stopped when I laid in to a man and told him you're not doing her any favors by telling her that and it is making both of us upset. His response was the classic "But I was just giving a compliment."

No.

No one asked for your opinion. No one wants to know what you think about how they look. You're not doing anyone any favors.

It was only in the last several years that I've been able to put words to the squicky feeling I would get growing up whenever some creep would start "admiring" a girl. I knew it wasn't right but I didn't know exactly how it wasn't or how to articulate it.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 11:29 AM on July 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


This happens everywhere on the internet. People have no boundaries and it is nasty. Are you a woman trying to sell shoes on eBay? Creepos will badger you to send them pictures of you wearing the shoes "to see how they look". Hint: That's not why they want the pictures. Post a picture of yourself where a tattoo on your ankle/top of your foot is barely visible? Creepos will be all "Hey that looks like a cool tattoo, can you post a picture where we can see it better?" Hint: They don't care much about the tattoo. Hell, even on Ask Me we just got a question from a creepo asking how to tell women their feet are getting him off (if in different words).

For some reason it mostly seems to be foot creepos. But maybe that's just some sort of bias where I notice it more because it squicks me out?
posted by Justinian at 11:29 AM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


No one asked for your opinion. No one wants to know what you think about how they look.

Well, but clearly women dress the way they do and try to look as attractive as possible for men, because mate selection, we're all just animals on the savanna, etc

/eyeroll.
posted by sweetkid at 11:32 AM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


... but the difference between candid shots of real people and a picture of an actor playing an imaginary character produced, to a large degree, for visual consumption. If you wanted to demonstrate that you have trouble distinguishing real life from fantasy you couldn't have chosen a better example.

The pictures in question here are not candid shots. I'll admit they aren't of an imaginary character, but they are absolutely posted "for visual consumption".

If you wanted to demonstrate that you have trouble distinguishing /r/creepshots from a woman who posts pictures so that people will look at them and then gets angry when people look at them the wrong way, you could couldn't have chosen a better example.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:32 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've always liked No Scrubs because of the line "hanging out the passenger side of his best friend's ride, trying to holler at me."

When I was in high school, I used to yell back "does that ever work for you?"

This reminds of that except there is an actual record of their hollering. It's just gross.
posted by sio42 at 11:33 AM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


...and now, a dozen reasons why gender swapping the situation is irrelevant and this kind of question is inappropriate and meaningless. Go!

This prediction-of-rebuke thing is a crappy rhetorical gambit that tends to derail threads as badly as any previous thoughts it's attached to in the first place. Please do not do this sort of thing.
posted by cortex at 11:34 AM on July 30, 2013 [38 favorites]


showbiz_liz: "When women send unsolicited sexual messages directly to these actors, it IS creepy. In fact the actors have said as much, and the fact that women continue to do it sucks, and they ought to stop.

It's sure not as common as men doing it to women, though.
"

I'm not convinced. Slashfic communities are filled with women (and men, but mostly women) who sexualize actors (and in a few cases underage actors) in the way you're describing.

There was a line in the article... "This is why I hate those jerk-off blogs and Flickr accounts and why I hate the men who run them. I honestly wonder if any of those tumblr blogs could conceivably be run by women.

All of these people are crossing a line between fan and creep. It is creepy as hell. It was creepy as hell when people were sexualizing 12 year old Harry Potter actors and it still is creepy as hell when the person being sexualized is an adult woman who doesn't consent to having her pictures used for someone's porny fantasties.
posted by zarq at 11:35 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


No one asked for your opinion. No one wants to know what you think about how they look. You're not doing anyone any favors.

It strikes me that this photo-creeping behavior is not too far off from when ten-year-olds write long love letters to people they like detailing all the wonderful things about them. And, then as now, it turns out that "I just wanted to help you appreciate all of the things that are beautiful about you!" is rarely desired by the person being so objectified.

The differences between that and this is that the one involves ten-year-olds becoming painfully aware of hormones and such, and the other involves grown men who have theoretically been given enough time to appreciate that women are, in fact, people.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:35 AM on July 30, 2013


Any woman who puts a picture of any sort in an accessible place on the internet should expect that creepy assholes will spread it to the whole world as jerkoff fodder.

Yes.

I really believe that it's a power thing. Men who do this WANT to make the woman feel uncomfortable or frightened. And they WANT to know that they've accomplished this. These men WANT to know that they've been able to reach out from on high, like they're a god or something, and up-end this woman's life.


I wouldn't attribute to malevolence what laziness equally well explains. It may be that people who actively comment on a blog post or email the author are experiencing some power fantasy. I don't think right clicking on something to save it to your personal spank bank necessarily entails that, which us all you're doing when you reblog something. People are rather short-sighted about the consequences of their actions in general, and incredibly so about those actions taken in grip of a powerful desire.

Is that dehumanising? Sure. But we all have that tendency in us.
posted by Diablevert at 11:35 AM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Lyn Never: "So, for everyone who's saying this is totally fine and she should suck it up, I assume you've never had the pleasure of wondering what's up with all those favorites all of a sudden on a photo of a child on Flickr?"

I'm biased, but I have cute children?
posted by zarq at 11:36 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


2 weird experiences I've had with photos getting loose on the internet:

1. A few years ago, my wife had this really, really rad otter costume for halloween (she borrowed it from a natural history museum where she was working). I took a picture of her in it, looking goofy, and that made it out to my Flickr feed, and it abruptly had thousands more views than anything else of mine. And when I thought about those implications, I was pretty weirded out.

2. ...but not as weirded out as when, a while later, my dog got stuck trying to go through a cat door and I took a picture of her back half sticking out of this tiny opening and the Flickr version of that suddenly got this weird spike in views.
posted by COBRA! at 11:37 AM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Publishing a photograph online seems to be exactly like laying an endless stack of copies of said photo on a flat surface in a highly accessible public space, for anyone to take and use as they see fit. It's a very cold world out there.

That said, you must have the carapace of a cockroach when you venture out into that world. If it gets to you when fringe types decide to use your photo for something that makes you uncomfortable, don't publish the photo online to begin with.

Oh, how I wish things were otherwise.
posted by kinnakeet at 11:38 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


All of these stories make me really glad I'm not popular on the internet.
posted by mfu at 11:38 AM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


The second one I would attribute more to the fact that dog butts/dogs stuck in cat doors are funny than to any kind of creepy bestial enjoyment.
posted by elizardbits at 11:39 AM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think everyone on Flickr has the experience of That One Picture With Way More Views Than It Ought To Have.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 11:40 AM on July 30, 2013 [19 favorites]


zarq: I was actually writing an essay just an hour ago about the gap between a person and their representative brands. Slashfic is responding to the image and concept of a celebrity, and is rarely a response directly to that person. It's not like an actor releases their own publicity photos or whatever; they often have very little connection to their own image.

While that's technically true of a style blog as well, in the case of a blog you are directly connected to the person whose images you're taking. In slashfic that's almost never true.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:41 AM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


So, for everyone who's saying this is totally fine and she should suck it up, I assume you've never had the pleasure of wondering what's up with all those favorites all of a sudden on a photo of a child on Flickr?

That's okay too? Because it's public?

That is a really gross false equivalence.


Why? Isn't it OK to be upset that non-sexual pictures--of oneself, of one's children--are re-appropriated by people who objectify the subject of the picture?

To the point: a friend of mine posted cute pictures of her toddler twins on her blog. They weren't unclothed or anything, just normal pictures of her kids playing. She later discovered that these pictures had been copied to the "back forum" of some photog site, where creepers were talking about how "delicious" her kids were. I think we'd all agree that this is not OK, right? It's not child porn, but it's still gross and disturbing and, mentally, I think we would equate it with child porn based on the intentions of the person misappropriating the photos. Now, I don't think it's as gross and disturbing when the subject of the picture isn't a 2 year old, but I do think it's still gross and disturbing, and it's OK to be upset about it.
posted by devinemissk at 11:41 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Laurie Penny (discussed here re I was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl) recently tweeted
Germaine Greer once wrote that women have no idea how much men hate them. Thanks to the internet, now we do.
posted by Zed at 11:42 AM on July 30, 2013 [39 favorites]


We're starting to get an idea of how much women hate men too.
posted by scrowdid at 11:43 AM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hey, can't we just say that people hate each other and leave it at that? Sheesh.
posted by kinnakeet at 11:44 AM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


probably the women hate the men because the men hate them enough to fuck up their daily lives for hundreds of years so like let's sure jump on that equivalency wagon as fast as we possibly can because all things are the same and context never matters because EQUALITY PEOPLE or something
posted by titus n. owl at 11:45 AM on July 30, 2013 [23 favorites]


Hell is other people.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:45 AM on July 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


We're starting to get an idea of how much women hate men too.

You mean from how so many men have been driven from public self-expression due to the death and rape threats from women? Yeah, horrible thing, that.
posted by Zed at 11:45 AM on July 30, 2013 [61 favorites]


We're starting to get an idea of how much women hate men too.

MISANDRY IS TOTES REALZ YOU GUYZ
posted by zombieflanders at 11:48 AM on July 30, 2013 [28 favorites]


We're starting to get an idea of how much women hate men too.

Over 60 comments before the first accusation of misandry is revealed? Hot damn! What about the menz?
posted by divined by radio at 11:48 AM on July 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


feminazi stole my ice creams
posted by elizardbits at 11:48 AM on July 30, 2013 [41 favorites]


I can't imagine why women would hate men when men constantly try to drag conversations about women's issues back to how really men are the victims. Boggles the mind.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:50 AM on July 30, 2013 [24 favorites]


Damn you, matriarchy! GIVE ME BACK MY BUTTER BRICKLE
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:50 AM on July 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


We're starting to get an idea of how much women hate men too.

What can I say? The wonderful thing about patriarchy is it ruins everything for everyone.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:50 AM on July 30, 2013 [17 favorites]


Would be totally okay to just plow ahead discussing subject of link instead of riding the ol' discursive canoe out into this particular oxbow again.
posted by cortex at 11:50 AM on July 30, 2013 [33 favorites]


As Lisa Simpson once passionately sang, "Just don't look!"
posted by sweetkid at 11:52 AM on July 30, 2013


cortex: "Would be totally okay to just plow ahead discussing subject of link instead of riding the ol' discursive canoe out into this particular oxbow again."

Thank you.
posted by zarq at 11:53 AM on July 30, 2013


That said, you must have the carapace of a cockroach when you venture out into that world. If it gets to you when fringe types decide to use your photo for something that makes you uncomfortable, don't publish the photo online to begin with.

Oh, how I wish things were otherwise.


I mean this generally and not you in particular, but telling people to just stay offline and wishing it were otherwise doesn't change anything.

If we tell people to just hide from the internet if they don't like assholes, then all we're going to end up having in this amazing medium of personal communication is.. assholes. What we need to do is exactly what this woman has done -- point it out and make it clear that this is not acceptable in polite society. Make it socially unacceptable for people to publicly declare that they are wanking it to material that was not intended for that purpose.

Not everyone needs to be "out there", but we need to support those folks, like this woman, who are willing to be public and take the crap. Just saying "Boy I sure wish things would change" is supporting the status quo by inaction.
posted by jess at 11:57 AM on July 30, 2013 [17 favorites]


this particular oxbow

I love this.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 11:58 AM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, it's a cry for sex, like that of a cicada
ERRRRRRRR WOOOOOO ERRRRR WOOOOOOO ERRRRRR WOOOOOOO


I thought for sure that was going to be a link to the Far Side cartoon.
posted by Longtime Listener at 12:06 PM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


The whole thing sucks, notably the creepy harassing emails and PM's. On the other hand, I would suggest that most celebrities have to go through this crap, and this blogger is a celebrity now. Why? Because, unlike the rest of us, she can't simply go in and lock down her photos in order to achieve "success" (success for most people sharing photos is making the photos available for a close circle of family and friends).

So I don't really know a way around it, except to perhaps embrace celebrity, and somehow prevent the creepy PM's coming in.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:07 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Laurie Penny (discussed here re I was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl) recently tweeted
Germaine Greer once wrote that women have no idea how much men hate them. Thanks to the internet, now we do.


My problem with this is that, as a dude, I do not hate women, and I do not think that any of the dudes I know hate women. Perhaps they do. What I would like to see is some kind of measure of scale. She was getting oodles of terrible emails, and finding out that her images were being republished to tumblrs. How many emailers? How many tumblrs? How big is this population? Because as much as I enjoy feminist rage at the awfulness of men, I would like to temper my requisite self-hatred-as-a-function-of-gender with a sense of scale. The internet has plenty of horrible freaks but how many of them exist in relation to the many better kinds of freaks out there? (& how much overlap is there between these guys and those people who say racist nonsense on Twitter, or other generally awful things about other topics?)

I think that if I could know this I'd be able to read this kind of thread land not come away feeling somehow indicted even though I have no connection to the content or activities described.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:08 PM on July 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


I would say that the inappropriate sharing of photos on Tumblr is a form of harassment, and it is possible to get Tumblr to pull the photos (happens quite a bit). And, now that Yahoo has taken over, Tumblr has even more motivation to get rid of this harassment as well as "creepshots." They should, anyway.

But the forum posts? How can you prevent that? Complain to an ISP?
posted by KokuRyu at 12:09 PM on July 30, 2013


If you wanted to demonstrate that you have trouble distinguishing /r/creepshots from a woman who posts pictures so that people will look at them and then gets angry when people look at them the wrong way, you could couldn't have chosen a better example.

In this case, I'll defer to your experience of /r/creepshots. But, having read the cited piece, I think it's a misreading to say that the author "gets angry when people look at them the wrong way." Her anger seems to be directed at people who want to tell her that they've looked at them "the wrong way."

And, while it's true that all images are produced for "visual consumption" there is a difference—obscure as it may be to some—between images produced commercially and images produced by a woman who wants to show her very non-prurient outfits. And, yes, the dick has its reasons of which the brain knows nothing, but no one really needs to know precisely to what you're jerkin' the gherkin.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:11 PM on July 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


I shouldn’t have to censor myself and my clothes in order to avoid being sexualized without my consent.

The difference between her and a conventionally attractive girl who posts the same kind of fashion blog is almost NIL.

They are both women who are confident (enough) with their bodies to post pictures on the internet. The difference is that Zigmond is JUST realizing that people would view her body as they would view the conventionally attractive girl. As if her body shape should have somehow prevented this from happening. I don't understand where she comes up with that.

Also, contrary to the "men whistling at me while I'm jogging" idea, its not just men who use the power of "we're in a group" to sexualize people who do NOT want to be sexualized.

Humans sucks. Not just the men.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:13 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, I agree. Masturbating to "spread beaver" pictures is the only acceptable way.
posted by telstar at 12:15 PM on July 30, 2013


You know, here's the thing. The more we don't talk about it because "whatcha gonna do" the more we say THIS IS OK. And it's NOT OK. The more we talk about it as something that's not OK, something that should be called out, the more it becomes something that people think twice about doing. The more we make a place for women to have faces and bodies that don't exist for men's pleasure, the better. The more we set the expectation that women be treated with respect. And that's something I am willing to do. I am willing to stand up and say "This is bad and gross and you should stop." Societal norms are a real thing. Creating them and shifting them for women to be able to exist without being wank fodder is something that's worth the effort.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:15 PM on July 30, 2013 [94 favorites]


so much word stoneweaver.
posted by sweetkid at 12:17 PM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


How many emailers? How many tumblrs? How big is this population?

Okay, so.. this seems to happen a lot. A woman complains about being harassed, and then a dude comes in and asks them to quantify it.

Why does it matter? What number do you need to hear to accept that this woman was harassed and it sucked? What percentage would make you accept that women are routinely harassed by dudes and it sucks? I ask this sincerely.
posted by jess at 12:17 PM on July 30, 2013 [67 favorites]


My problem with this is that, as a dude, I do not hate women, and I do not think that any of the dudes I know hate women.

Deleted my reply. This is a portage to nowhere.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:18 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Make it socially unacceptable for people to publicly declare that they are wanking it to material that was not intended for that purpose.

But they're not doing it publicly -- they're doing it pseudonymously. That's the crux. They're not announcing to the world, "I, Mike Jones, of 96 Privert Drive, have a thing for busty redheads and collect pictures of them to spooge over." They're a username on the other side of a blank screen. You cannot use public shaming to curb behaviour that isn't public. That's why the dawn of the Internet saw an explosion in porn to begin with ---- turned out there were a helluv a lot more people enjoyed porn when you didn't have to have to risk public exposure to obtain it.

Some might argue, Zuckerberg-like, for transforming the Internet into a real-name-only space to curb this. For myself I think that would be far too high a price to pay. But the price of that us that there's a lot more people willing to be creepy when there's no way to hold them accountable for their creepiness.
posted by Diablevert at 12:18 PM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


What I would like to see is some kind of measure of scale. She was getting oodles of terrible emails, and finding out that her images were being republished to tumblrs. How many emailers? How many tumblrs? How big is this population?

why do you care.

she doesn't have the obligation to tell you.

you do not have the right to know.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:20 PM on July 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yes, I agree. Masturbating to "spread beaver" pictures is the only acceptable way.

You stay away from the zoo!
posted by Going To Maine at 12:20 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


And once again, the discussion goes from "Societal, structural, historic context of thing" to "But I am not a bad dude and I like women really I do!" and so therefore there is no structural or historic context that can or should be considered because hey, that dude over there is a-okay.
posted by rtha at 12:22 PM on July 30, 2013 [29 favorites]


the men Ms. Zigmond is talking about are pretty much just rapists who are too lazy to go out

I think that if we go with that definition we are doing a disservice to victims of actual rape. Let's keep words meaning what they actually mean, just to keep things clear?

It's no less creepy than public masturbation.

Well it's a little less creepy. You don't see their wiener, and there is no chance at all that their semen will get on you.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:23 PM on July 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm going to don a helmet, then drive this post over the Grand Canyon. God bless, y'all.
posted by boo_radley at 12:23 PM on July 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


But they're not doing it publicly -- they're doing it pseudonymously.

Mmm, I disagree. I happen to run in an online community (gamers) where almost no one uses their real name, but we're still perfectly able to use social tools like shunning to discourage anti-social behavior.

"Public" on the internet means "where anyone can see it". There are many, many places for people to share sexual material in closed circles.
posted by jess at 12:24 PM on July 30, 2013


Going To Maine: "My problem with this is that, as a dude, I do not hate women, and I do not think that any of the dudes I know hate women. Perhaps they do."

I'm a dude. I do not hate women. I have known dudes who are misogynists. I've known dudes who have physically and emotionally abused women.

What I would like to see is some kind of measure of scale.

I'd definitely prefer to see quantifying words on some comments. "Many." "Most." "Some." etc.

But you know what? I don't really give a shit about scale. It offends me that there are men, ANY men who do this shit to women. It pisses the hell out of me that some men think it's acceptable to dehumanize specific women into nothing more than sexual objects without their consent.

I'd like to see them stop that shit. That's what I'd like to see. Because that sort of dehumanization of women creeps into everything. For some men, it makes it acceptable to catcall. Or treat women like second class citizens. Or act violently towards them. I'd like to see that shit stop a hell of a lot more than I need to defend my pride or gender. Would it be nice for people to be more careful with their condemnations? Sure. Is it more important than putting a stop to men acting like assholes to women? Hell, no.
posted by zarq at 12:24 PM on July 30, 2013 [27 favorites]


Eliminating the iternet porn mentality is a lot like eliminating our dependence on oil. We'd all love to have a massive sea change, but in the meantime, I hope she finds a way to cope with it without having to divest completely. The sea change won't happen if she's not out there actively trying to be what she wants to be.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:24 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


What I would like to see is some kind of measure of scale. She was getting oodles of terrible emails, and finding out that her images were being republished to tumblrs. How many emailers? How many tumblrs? How big is this population?

why do you care.

she doesn't have the obligation to tell you.

you do not have the right to know.


I'm not being specific to her. I'd be interested in something much more academic. I care, frankly, because as a dude I don't like feeling obligated to be skeeved out about my entire gender. And I don't like thinking of the Internet as being "that place where dudes go to do skeevy things". Some folks do, obviously, and some don't. I'd be absolutely delighted with a percentage. 5% of dudes? 90% of dudes?

I like measurement. Ain't nothing wrong with that.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:25 PM on July 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yeah, this is why my photo blogs (one for my hiking group to share pictures of our little outings, and one for my family to look at pictures of my kids) are both anonymous and hidden. The last thing I want is for some fetishist to grab a picture of me and put it on a HAWT BEAERDED MAHN web site (and if these do exist, please don't tell me). Or, God forbid, play a similar trick with pictures of my kids. (shudder).
posted by math at 12:28 PM on July 30, 2013


It's the same urge, I believe, that male flashers have when they approach women and start masturbating in front of them. They could masturbate just as well in their own home in front of a porn magazine, or with a willing partner online via streaming video, or at a strip club that allows such things, or any number of other options. But the true thrill for them comes from sexually threatening a woman. It comes from using sexuality to cause her distress and fear.

IMO, the men Ms. Zigmond is talking about are pretty much just rapists who are too lazy to go out.


I guess I am technically one of these creepy guys so I will say at least that for me it's not like that at all. For larger women specifically, there are not a ton of porn or porn-like options out there. I don't think I would like strip clubs in general, but no strip clubs that I know of near me advertise BBW performers. Movies and TV ads generally don't feature larger women in sexy or fanservicey situations. There are some porn companies that make BBW porn but it's a pretty small niche compared to the amount of porn overall. And porn producers that do exist are all mostly hardcore whereas I like more softcore. There are larger cam girls too but that has never really appealed to me. In terms of free sexy photos and videos of larger women, sites like tumblr and xhamster and forums like the ones alluded to in the article are the main options. It's a lot like MetaFilter in terms of it being a collaborative attempt to amass a lot of links to things to look at online, it just happens to be porn rather than YouTube videos of kittens or whatever.

I would prefer if there was some sort of filter to only allow content that was purposely produced by women for that sort of thing but there's not really any way to do that. I agree with the author of the article that consent is lacking in a lot of these sites and should be policed better. How that would actually work I have no idea. Even without the whole creepshots angle of sexualizing non-sexualized images, there's also a lot of content out there that was only intended to be private amongst the participants and not posted all over the Internet, and as a viewer there's no way to know if it was originally intended for the public to look at or not. Plus the popular sites for adult material tend to only get popular from having policies that don't promote the sort of policing that would help. Tumblr specifically is set up in such a way that reposting and re-contextualizing is extremely easy to do and I doubt they could or would put methods in place to cut down on it.
posted by Sexy, Sexy Anonymity at 12:29 PM on July 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


When I first met my now-wife, I put a few pictures of her up on my fotolog (remember fotolog?), so I could show my family and friends what she looked like. Within a day there were multiple comments across all of the pictures that said "does she have a nice pussy" and the equivalent. It was super depressing.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 12:30 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Going To Maine: "I like measurement. Ain't nothing wrong with that."

I get where you're coming from, but a lot of dudes (of which you are not one) use that kind of measurement to make statements like "hey, only 5/10/90/50 percent of dudes are weird skeeves on the internet, so there's not a problem."

Instead, maybe go back to the J Smooth, "it's not that you're a racist, but you said a racist thing". Argue the behavior and not the person.
posted by boo_radley at 12:33 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


This really at the end of the day, like I said before, a time and place issue. This lady wanted to blog about clothes for full figured women. Any compliment beyond "cute outfit," is inappropriate.

You wanna look at naked people and talk dirty? There are bazillions of places online explicitly designed for that. Go there. Otherwise you're being a jerk.
posted by jonmc at 12:34 PM on July 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


I don't think that anyone can or should stop people from looking at pictures that make them feel sexy, That genie is out of lotion bottle for good. But maybe at least the horndogs could stop pestering other individuals who don't want to be sexy with them. And maybe after that the horndogs could work on distinguishing between pictures that say "Hi, I'm just an ordinary person doing ordinary things" and pictures that say "Hi, I'm the totally imaginary perverted slut of your dreams. Give me your essence."
posted by octobersurprise at 12:34 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I guess I am technically one of these creepy guys ...
posted by Sexy, Sexy Anonymity


I was so sure this was going to be a joke account.
posted by gauche at 12:35 PM on July 30, 2013


I guess I am technically one of these creepy guys so I will say at least that for me it's not like that at all.

Here's the thing though- the problem this woman has doesn't end with "people think my photos are sexy." It's "people who think my photos are sexy are posting them all over porn sites and sending me harassing emails." Are you doing any of that? Because it doesn't particularly sound like it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:37 PM on July 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think that if I could know this I'd be able to read this kind of thread land not come away feeling somehow indicted even though I have no connection to the content or activities described.

I read men who feel like they have to identify with the men who are doing terrible things instead of just going ahead and sympathizing or empathizing with a woman being victimized exactly the same way as I read white people who immediately start making excuses whenever a person of color starts complaining about racism: as someone who is too caught up in their own privilege to actually accept a narrative of a marginalized person as true. So, yeah, your feelings about feeling indicted? Totally your problem, not the author's.
posted by NoraReed at 12:37 PM on July 30, 2013 [48 favorites]


Mmm, I disagree. I happen to run in an online community (gamers) where almost no one uses their real name, but we're still perfectly able to use social tools like shunning to discourage anti-social behavior.

Word. But there's a stake there, a mechanism to impose a group norm: "we are gamers and if you want to be a gamer and hang out with us, this is how we roll." I guess you could say that the creepy dude and the fashion blogger are both humans and Tumblr users, but that seems to be about it. I don't think using the mere "human" co-membership works as a lever --- too broad. I guess maybe there might be some leverage through the Tumblr identity. There might be some ways, technological and otherwise, to enforce some "this is not what Tumblr users do" standard. But it still seems pretty broad to me. And it still wouldn't solve the problem of independent forums ganking the photos and slavering over them.

Plus there's the scale problem. If we could imagine a world in which 99.5 percent of people are socially cognizent enough to not email bloggers they find attractive and tell them they enjoy jerkin' it over photos of their boobs, even in that world a blogger who's getting 10,000 visits a week is getting 50 creepers a week, enough to generate couple dozen creepy emails, I'd think.
posted by Diablevert at 12:40 PM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't think using the mere "human" co-membership works as a lever --- too broad.

Ah, okay, I see what you're saying now! I admit I personally tend to put a lot / too much hope on "shared humanity" as motivation, but in practical application I agree that it is a tough sell.
posted by jess at 12:47 PM on July 30, 2013


I don't think men who treat women this way believe they are complimenting or honoring the women. In my experience, the men who treat women this way never once think of the women in those photos as human beings, so they don't think they're complimenting them.

Has anyone tried asking them? That might be more effective than speculating.

people who think my photos are sexy are posting them all over porn sites and sending me harassing emails.

That is a very large "and".
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:47 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


You're right, we should consider the opinion of those awful men. Sheesh.
posted by agregoli at 12:49 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Feminism 101: Introduction Page for those interested. Good both for the newcomer and for a refresh. Keep an open mind, remember that a lot of your fellow human beings see truths in this theoretical framework, and happy reading. Learning is fun!

Anyway, I've been skimming some studies on PubMed. There's a number of small studies that argue for micro-level psychological distress as being a predictor for online pornography use (like this one and this one). I think it might be common sense to recognize that not all men are created equal. Some men have baggage, some men aren't well-educated, some men have never been in a good relationship, most American men have never been educated about the basics of sex, contraception, and the like, and so on and so forth. There might be some underlying biological principle to the preoccupation males have with reproduction but that, like many of our impulses, can be addressed with proper coping mechanisms instead of being allowed to turn toxic, as it often does.

It might be cathartic to reduce the whole lot of creeps into a mountain of bearded, globular monkeys but I don't think it helps in the long run to snark when someone advances an ignorant argument. Some of the weird anxieties and behaviors my male friends engage in, like in their objectification of women or treating feminism like it's a political ideology and not a valid branch of theory, were associated with highly religious backgrounds, failed relationships, and a lack of basic sex ed. It still feels weird to me but going out of my way to explain these things without calling them a douche bag at first bat is far more successful than just writing them off as an idiot. It's easy to know these things but it's much harder to be motivated to learn them. That takes patience.

Before my wonderful girlfriend went out of her way to sit me down and explain from step one things like ideal vs normal use of condoms, before she moved on to headier stuff like the male gaze in media and life, a lot of you would probably have considered me an asshole who wasn't really mindful of the role of agency in gender. And I wasn't. I'd run into a lot of real, justified anger online for some comments I had made and it was a lot easier for me to throw up a dismissive wall than to understand why that anger exists. It might just be that the discourse surrounding these issues has become too toxic and too political. But anger doesn't lead to converts and evangelism of any ideology, no matter how righteous, does far more harm than good.
posted by dubusadus at 12:52 PM on July 30, 2013 [19 favorites]


I'm sympathetic to this woman and hate to sound defeatist, but I'm not sure how behavior can be stopped.

You don't have to stop it, but what you can do (dudes especially) is not just shrug and go "Welp!" Point out that it's creepy when you see it pop up. De-friend people who participate in or approve of it. Believe women when they tell you it happened. Report abuse when there's a mechanism to do so and you see it occurring. Be an ally.

You will never get rid of all the creeps but you can make the world less creep-friendly.
posted by emjaybee at 12:53 PM on July 30, 2013 [18 favorites]


gauche: I've never met a single woman who enjoys this kind of attention

There are some women who say they enjoy, um, "street appreciation" of their looks, when it's done with polite words and tone and not accompanied by creepy behaviour like following or personal space invading.

So the logical thing for men to do, if they want to publicly express their appreciation at particular women and ensure that their compliments are welcome, is to check in with the women. Oh wait, certain men can't be bothered to check how their targets feel? Or there's no point because if they check & get "No" they'll ignore the "No" and do what they want anyway? They're assholes whose "compliments" are projections of narcissistic entitlement.

Good on Bronny Zigmond for sticking her neck out like this. I want a world where consent for sexualized whatevers is the default, not the exception. Writing about this stuff has a better chance of getting us there than going "What're ya gonna do, 'twas ever thus and ever will be."
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:56 PM on July 30, 2013


I don't think what the author is experiencing is "fine," because obviously it reflects on issues we have as a society...but as far as "sucking it up" I have to admit, that's definitely part of my reaction to this.

You cannot control what happens to content you post publicly to the Internet (or anywhere else, in any medium, really). You just can't. It doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman or a movie star or a random blogger. It doesn't even matter if you're a nearly omnipotent politician or one-percenter. If it's public, it's out, and people can copy it and reuse it forever. If you make a bunch of noise about them doing so, you're probably only inviting Streisand Effect.

I don't excuse any of the patriarchal problems we have in our society, and I don't think movie stars or fictional characters are equivalent to random bloggers, but I do think the idea that "omg someone is linking to the public images I put on the public Internet" is a ridiculous thing to get upset about and the degree to which it's ridiculous is exactly the same regarding images of men as images of women...or cats.

All that having been said, applauding or complaining about things that happen is basically what blogs are for...and the author has every right to use hers to broadcast her cautionary tale.
posted by trackofalljades at 1:00 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: If you put it online, someone will masturbate to it
posted by wcfields at 1:01 PM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


You wanna look at naked people and talk dirty? There are bazillions of places online explicitly designed for that. Go there. Otherwise you're being a jerk.

The types of forums she was talking about in the article (Chubby Parade is probably the most popular) are pretty much specifically for that. And I would guess that Tumblr is one of the most popular amateur porn sites on the Internet right now, it just happens to also have a lot of non-porn content on there as well.

Here's the thing though- the problem this woman has doesn't end with "people think my photos are sexy." It's "people who think my photos are sexy are posting them all over porn sites and sending me harassing emails." Are you doing any of that? Because it doesn't particularly sound like it.

No I'm not doing any of that but I'm one of the people who reads the blogs and forums where that kind of thing goes on so I'm pretty complicit in the whole thing. A typical Tumblr scenario would be this: a larger woman posts a "sexy" photo of herself on her own personal Tumblr blog (in most cases the sexiness is intentional), followers see it and one of them reposts it to their "sexybbwphotos" Tumblr blog (which takes 1 click), Tumblr gives the reposter an option to add a comment to the repost that will show up on the sexybbwphotos repost which could be a sexual comment, and then people like me follow sexybbwphotos and look at the posts and "like" them. So it's very easy for a photo without intentionally sexualized context to be reposted in a sexualized way, and Tumblr makes it very easy to trace the original post to all of the reblogged posts. The reposting inside of Tumblr is just a microcosm of the sorts of reposting that happens in forums and whatnot. The fact that Tumblr has a built-in Ask Me Anything button that a lot of people use to harass people is a whole other can of worms, although I personally have never sent anyone a sexual message through that.
posted by Sexy, Sexy Anonymity at 1:06 PM on July 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


It seems more and more, we keep hearing about these stories, whether it's the wretched hive of youtube comments, attacks on Phil Fish on Twitter, rape threats against female game designers, the so called "rationalist" Atheist community attacking a female blogger writing about her experience trapped in an elevator. Call of Duty game designers, game bloggers, just over and over and over...

I don't agree with Google's real-name policy, though I guess I am wondering if more and more the problem is the fact that it's all connected, and we no longer have a sense of community on sites (mefi, of course, excluded). Everything is trying to be as big as possible and this means aggregating as much content as you can, which means collecting all sorts of communities together, and unfortunately, this includes scraping up the bottom of the barrel into your big net.

How do you make a net that lets the filth slide out while retaining the good stuff?
posted by symbioid at 1:09 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Elementary Penguin: I think everyone on Flickr has the experience of That One Picture With Way More Views Than It Ought To Have.

One of mine is a photo of my friend skateboarding, because someone somehow found it and posted it to tumblr and a bunch of skateboarding blogs and also just other random people reblogged it. The other is a photo of me that got posted to some 16-year-old girl's blog that was filled with other photos of "cute scene boys" (which is strange because I never looked that way too much) and all the favorites on it are from other young girls. It had thousands of likes and reblogs. I am not so sure what that means.
posted by gucci mane at 1:20 PM on July 30, 2013



How do you make a net that lets the filth slide out while retaining the good stuff?


In my day*, you Doxxed creepy assholes. Do something over the line like reblog a normal photo that a woman posted with a gross statement attached and a brigade of angry ladies will detective your real name and find you and call your boss. But I guess that is out of favor now.

*by My Day I mean "In The Eumenides by Aeschylus"

posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:24 PM on July 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


> Any woman who puts a picture of any sort in an accessible place on the internet should expect that creepy assholes will spread it to the whole world as jerkoff fodder.

Here's a solution used by societies which hold the belief that the mere sight of women alone is enough to drive men to become lustful, lecherous creeps.
posted by elmwood at 1:25 PM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


but as far as "sucking it up" I have to admit, that's definitely part of my reaction to this.

So what does this look like? should she shut the fuck up? should she ignore it? should I?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:31 PM on July 30, 2013


Yeah, it would be awesome if the solution we take is more like "Men, you are expected to control yourselves like the adults you are." Instead of that. (And also, let's include nuns, orthodox Jews and a ton of other traditionalist societies instead of singling out Muslims. It's not just them, and they aren't particularly extremist as a whole.)
posted by stoneweaver at 1:31 PM on July 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


They think they are complimenting/honouring them.

Nah, they also want the woman to validate their wanking by acknowledging them. Fans that wants to interact with the hapless "star" that way are hoping for a reaction, although it may in their minds be as innocent as hoping (s)he will "smile" or have her day improved.

I say this as someone with a moderately successful femdom blog and naked pictures extant- I am okay with strangers seeing me naked but I don't want it linked to real me and I don't read the comments on the photographers page. Meanwhile I get a lot of feedback that's complimentary that is basically a request for attention. My presence is considered to be an invitation, and if it were known that I got nekkid, rather than being active in the kink community and writing erotica, hooboy, would I get bombared with entitlement.
posted by Phalene at 1:35 PM on July 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Here's a solution used by societies which hold the belief that the mere sight of women alone is enough to drive men to become lustful, lecherous creeps.

What are you even trying to say? That women should wear burqas or STFU? That asking men to not be creepy jerk assholes is the equivalent to making women wear burqas? You just randomly drive-by shitting in the punchbowl and trying to start some kind of anti-fundamentalist brouhaha?

Seriously. I have been thinking on it for some time now, and have absolutely no idea whatsoever you are trying to say with that comment.
posted by like_a_friend at 1:36 PM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Men, you are expected to control yourselves like the adults you are."

I do, I control myself all the time, but when I read stuff like this or have conversations with a couple of my old friends who try to pick up women all the time, I feel like going to a place populated exclusively with these sexist men who keep fucking shit up for everyone and emptying a few guns into the crowd, lashing out with a knife, tossing around a few hand grenades, and inevitably eating a bullet. Self control is a wonderful thing, I wish more men would try it. It would make things easier for all of us.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 1:36 PM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


...and now, a dozen reasons why gender swapping the situation is irrelevant and this kind of question is inappropriate and meaningless. Go!

In other words, you've heard those concerns before but you either didn't understand them or you didn't care.
posted by straight at 1:36 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everything is trying to be as big as possible and this means aggregating as much content as you can, which means collecting all sorts of communities together, and unfortunately, this includes scraping up the bottom of the barrel into your big net.

I don't think it's necessarily a bottom-of-the-barrell problem. I think it's more the erasure of scale, the way the Internet lets you tesseract between being a person and an icon, a face in the crowd and public figure. I have no guilt about cracking on Tom Cruise's appearance when he walks the red carpet, there's a gap between us that will never be bridged; he's less a person to me than an icon, an avatar of certain qualities our culture finds attractive which I feel free to embrace or criticise. It's the same with all sorts of public figures --- when the king walks onto the balcony, has anyone ever checked their laughter for fear he might hear?

The Internet feeds that distance, makes everyone into a public figure, an icon, a brand. But at the same time it gives you this direct link, this way of immediate contact which is instantly intimate, personal. An email address, a tweet: an earpiece in the king's ear where you can whisper anything you want. But somehow, I think we still feel a part of the crowd when we do --- anonymous and safe and free to say anything our hearts desire.
posted by Diablevert at 1:45 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Men, you are expected to control yourselves like the adults you are."

There's a lot of varying, vague, loaded, and conflicting definitions on what "acting like a man" is, and that's without throwing in how men are supposed to act in other cultures. It's easier to just say what not to do. Like don't send harassing messages to women, for example.
posted by FJT at 1:47 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hear what you're saying. But I also think we should normalize what is acceptable behavior for an adult in society. There are not different standards for "acting like a man" and "acting like an adult" (OK some people act like there totally are. But there isn't! They should be the same.)
posted by stoneweaver at 1:52 PM on July 30, 2013


here's a lot of varying, vague, loaded, and conflicting definitions on what "acting like a man" is

stoneweaver didn't say that. stoneweaver referenced acting like an adult. In North American culture at least, an adult is someone who doesn't make their sexual problems or likes or desires the burden of total, non-consenting strangers to work around, respond to, or gratify.
posted by rtha at 1:52 PM on July 30, 2013 [19 favorites]


Well, ideally.
posted by elizardbits at 1:53 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


How much more awesome would society be if a man would give a woman a dollar if he appreciated her sartorial choices?
posted by Renoroc at 1:56 PM on July 30, 2013


I just checked flickr because of this thread and found two more people to block. Later I'm going to go ahead and make everything friends and family only.
posted by vespabelle at 1:57 PM on July 30, 2013



we should consider the opinion of those awful men.


You don't need to consider their opinion as a guide to behavior. But if you're going to speculate about "I don't think men who treat women this way believe ...", then asking them what they believe will be more fruitful than speculating into a void.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 2:05 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sympathetic to this woman and hate to sound defeatist, but I'm not sure how behavior can be stopped.

Knife missiles stop behavior.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:05 PM on July 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


Did it stop Zakalwe? No.
posted by Justinian at 2:17 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


as a dude I don't like feeling obligated to be skeeved out about my entire gender.

This comment is interesting, but mostly for the total lack of awareness of other's subjectivity. As daughters, wives, sisters, girlfriends and mothers of sons, how much do you think we like feeling obligated to be skeeved out about a possible majority of your gender? With life and safety depending on maintaining necessary caution?
posted by glasseyes at 2:24 PM on July 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


I wonder if the reason why men do this is similar or identical to why they might like sending dick pics to women?

Though I can't say I understand any better from reading that article.
posted by discopolo at 2:31 PM on July 30, 2013


Since when is Hot Topic "fashion"?
posted by w0mbat at 2:32 PM on July 30, 2013


Metafilter: Did it stop Zakalwe? No.
posted by like_a_friend at 2:39 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is a weird sympathetic magic aspect to this in which we can't seem to help believing that a bad thing done to a representation of us harms us somehow.

This seems to have arisen in so many apparently independent cultures that I have a hard time believing it's not a sort of universal.
posted by jamjam at 2:39 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]



You don't need to consider their opinion as a guide to behavior. But if you're going to speculate about "I don't think men who treat women this way believe ...", then asking them what they believe will be more fruitful than speculating into a void.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard


I don't think it's helpful to ask assholes why they are assholes. How would one even start that conversation? Oh hello, guy who yelled at me on the street or sent me a nasty message online - can you please explain your motivations for doing so, or what you believe about women and how they respond to such things? I have no idea how what you're saying works in reality.
posted by agregoli at 3:16 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


How much more awesome would society be if a man would give a woman a dollar if he appreciated her sartorial choices?

This is called a strip club.
posted by GuyZero at 3:21 PM on July 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


I don't think it's helpful to ask assholes why they are assholes.

I'm going to phrase this very carefully. People don't spring onto the world as assholes (at least not entirely). Looking into how they got that way is not a worthless pursuit.
posted by jonmc at 3:23 PM on July 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


So you don't think it's helpful to ask assholes why they're assholes, but you think it's totally helpful to engage in evidence-free speculation about why they're assholes?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:27 PM on July 30, 2013


Uh-Huh. OK, wipe the point off the wall, it just flew over your head.

Goodbye.
posted by jonmc at 3:29 PM on July 30, 2013


So you don't think it's helpful to ask assholes why they're assholes, but you think it's totally helpful to engage in evidence-free speculation about why they're assholes?

A friend of mine is a blogger, and is kind of well-known in her sphere of blogging. She gets a lot of hate mail and nasty comments.

On occasion, when she has chosen to engage with those who are kind of on the line between "asshole" and "is maybe trying to communicate a point, but doing it not very well," the vast, vast, VAST majority of responses she's gotten (in response to questions from her like "Hey, what's the point you're trying to make" or other similar innocuous and genuine trying-to-engage questions) are along the lines of "Fuck you cunt I'm gonna rape you you bitch."

The next time you witness a guy catcall a woman on the street, or grab-ass some woman he doesn't know in a bar, please do go ask him about how he got to be such an asshole. Because you want to understand, right?
posted by rtha at 3:35 PM on July 30, 2013 [17 favorites]


rtha-I'm not asking victims of this kind of stuff to understand. I'm sayin g that like any other sort of crime, looking into root causes is something we should do, right?
posted by jonmc at 3:38 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Any man who is still feeling persecuted/confused/hurt/whatevs by any of this stuff can feel free to PM me with their derailish questions. As a fellow man who similar found these things confusing and has since been filled in, I have endless stores of patience for this stuff, in part because I am not hounded or harassed in my day-to-day life and thus have far less of a personal stake in these affairs.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:39 PM on July 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Maybe it would be better to find guys that weren't "assholes" and ask how they got that way.
posted by thorny at 3:41 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sayin g that like any other sort of crime, looking into root causes is something we should do, right?

1) This is probably not the place to do that.

2) Do we have to look into root causes? Do we have to show sympathy for guys who do creepy, shitty things? Can't we tell them that what they're doing is creepy and shitty, period? Is the lack of sympathy shown for creepy behavior costing people jobs, friends, respect, reputation, or anything other than their general indignation and hurt feelings?
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:42 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


as a dude I don't like feeling obligated to be skeeved out about my entire gender.

This comment is interesting, but mostly for the total lack of awareness of other's subjectivity. As daughters, wives, sisters, girlfriends and mothers of sons, how much do you think we like feeling obligated to be skeeved out about a possible majority of your gender? With life and safety depending on maintaining necessary caution?


I'm curious about your comment on my comment's lack of awareness of other's subjectivity. I would assume that most people don't want to feel skeeved out about an entire gender, so I'd assume that most people would want better numbers about this sort of thing. If I knew that only a small percentage of dudes were out there finding creepshots or sending women skeevy emails, I'd feel better. I'd like to think that a woman, putting herself out on the internet, would feel better knowing that the trolls who are harassing her are a small percentage of those who come online.

If you're really just sort of surprised that I only talked about this from my perspective as a guy, well, I guess I'm the kind of person who often posts from the perspective he has, and I often don't feel qualified to speak for other peoples' opinions.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:42 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


So you don't think it's helpful to ask assholes why they're assholes, but you think it's totally helpful to engage in evidence-free speculation about why they're assholes?

I didn't engage in any speculation at all in this thread, so I don't know what you're on about.

and

I don't think it's helpful to ask assholes why they are assholes.

I'm going to phrase this very carefully. People don't spring onto the world as assholes (at least not entirely). Looking into how they got that way is not a worthless pursuit.
posted by jonmc


Meh, I don't know, it's reading to me as "think of the mens" again. I don't feel like doing that kind of research. I'm sure someone is.
posted by agregoli at 3:44 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


thorny-is this coversation about who's the most morally superior person here, or how to make things better?
posted by jonmc at 3:44 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Meh, I don't know, it's reading to me as "think of the mens" again.

Well, I'm sorry to hear that, but like anything else, it dosen't fall out of the sky.
posted by jonmc at 3:46 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


What doesn't?!
posted by agregoli at 3:48 PM on July 30, 2013


is this coversation about who's the most morally superior person here, or how to make things better?

Neither?
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:50 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Forget it jonmc. These threads end up being just for venting.

Believe me I 100% get where you're coming from. I don't know when or where the solution threads appear, but this isn't it. These threads end up being for venting.

What doesn't?!

This problem. But these threads are never the place to solve the problem. They end up being for venting and sharing stories. I probably shouldn't have even dropped my "idiot society" comment because as rappers love to say at the beginning of a track "yall know what it is".
posted by cashman at 3:50 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Rory Marinich: "Do we have to look into root causes? Do we have to show sympathy for guys who do creepy, shitty things? Can't we tell them that what they're doing is creepy and shitty, period?"

Root Cause Analysis is the why behind the what. If you engage a creepy, shitty thing doing dude, it might be helpful to say "Hey, catcalling a lady is a shitty thing to do... because you're making her feel at risk/ in danger/ etc" rather than just "Hey, catcalling a lady is a shitty thing to do."

I guess I think it'd be hard to get people to be more empathetic without showing them a little empathy via explanation of their creepulent behaviors.
posted by boo_radley at 3:51 PM on July 30, 2013


No kidding. I'm not trying to win an argument here, I'm just saying that bad human behavior (of all kinds) is a mixture of nature and nutrure, Am I asking women who are victims of this stuff to be tolerant of it? No. Am I saying that maybe experts looking into how people get that way is in order? Yes.
posted by jonmc at 3:51 PM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


People don't spring onto the world as assholes

Apparently, about 3 percent to 7 percent do.
posted by grouse at 3:54 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Root Cause Analysis is the why behind the what. If you engage a creepy, shitty thing doing dude, it might be helpful to say "Hey, catcalling a lady is a shitty thing to do... because you're making her feel at risk/ in danger/ etc" rather than just "Hey, catcalling a lady is a shitty thing to do."

There's a difference between explaining to people why shitty/creepy behavior is shitty/creepy and asking ourselves to think deeply about why people might grow up to do shitty or creepy things.

A lot of posters here seem to want the latter; I don't think that would be very productive.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:57 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, experts! Because that wasn't clear from the comments above - ThatFuzzyBastard's comment was "has anyone tried asking them?" I thought we were talking about every day people addressing assholes about their behavior - which yes, we can still do, sometimes. But not so much towards the people who are behaving aggressively towards us at the moment, whether in real life or online. In fact, online harassment seems designed to evoke a response, so no response directly to the aggressor is usually best.
posted by agregoli at 3:59 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd like to think that a woman, putting herself out on the internet, would feel better knowing that the trolls who are harassing her are a small percentage of those who come online.

Why that would make me feel better? Like, I honestly don't get it.

As a woman who puts herself out on the internet in some way, a small portion of the feedback I get is unwanted creepy stuff from random dudes. It makes absolutely no difference at all from my perspective if it's just two crazy guys or every single guy who visits my website (which it is obviously not) -- that portion of the interaction I have with the internet makes me feel alienated and uncomfortable and frustrated and occasionally scared.

What would make me feel better is if dudes didn't tell me that a culture of objectification is Someone Else's Problem because, like, it's not them man.
posted by jess at 4:05 PM on July 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard's comment was in response to "I don't think men who treat women this way believe they are complimenting or honoring the women. In my experience, the men who treat women this way never once think of the women in those photos as human beings..."

That was a statement about what these men believe. I don't think one is under any particular obligation to ask why someone is doing something. But if you're going to speculate about what they are thinking, it's helpful to gather some evidence.

As for whether it's worth looking into the root causes: Do you think it's worth looking into the root causes of why people detonate suicide bombs in crowds of civilians? Do you think it's worth looking into the root causes of why people gather in a mob and burn down businesses? Do you think it's worth looking into the root causes of why people rob banks? If not, then it makes sense that you wouldn't be interested in the root causes of why people catcall. If so, then it's worth asking why you think root causes are of interest in all those situations and not this one.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 4:05 PM on July 30, 2013


Do you think it's worth looking into the root causes of why people detonate suicide bombs in crowds of civilians? Do you think it's worth looking into the root causes of why people gather in a mob and burn down businesses? Do you think it's worth looking into the root causes of why people rob banks?

Yes. And people do it all the time.
posted by jonmc at 4:11 PM on July 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


. They end up being for venting and sharing stories.

Yes, and that's a good thing. Building a support network based on shared experiences is a powerful tool. For instance I imagine reading stories from other women can give even more women the courage to stand up and say "hey this isn't cool." Hell, even just knowing that other people have experienced the same crap as them probably helps.

I mean, look the link is to a woman sharing her story. I can think of few more relevant things to talk about then similar stories women have had. Stories are powerful things, dismissing somebody telling their story is dismissing their experience. How about we let the people that have to deal with crap like people posting their pictures (without permission) in blogs and harassing them with unsolicited sexual e-mails the way that they want to. They've already had someone remove their agency in how and when they're exposed to sexual stuff, they shouldn't have to deal with people trying to remove it in how they deal with that violation.

Do you think it's worth looking into the root causes of why people detonate suicide bombs in crowds of civilians?

I think that it shows callousness to wonder aloud about it when people are telling how the explosion effected their life.
posted by Gygesringtone at 4:12 PM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'd like to think that a woman, putting herself out on the internet, would feel better knowing that the trolls who are harassing her are a small percentage of those who come online.

Why that would make me feel better? Like, I honestly don't get it.


It wouldn't make you fell better in any personal way - I can't imagine that it would make an offensive comment less offensive. It's more that it would hopefully make you feel better about that odds that some man whom you meet in a different context doesn't, when they go online, become a sleezeball. And I would like to think that quantification gets at some of the issues that seem to concern jonmc about identifying the systemic causes of this kind of behavior. (Though, if we only confined such inquiries to the online realm, it might just tell us that people who are members of /r/creepshots tend to be creeps, which isn't very helpful. I suppose it would be interesting to know if membership in certain porn sites is positively correlated with positive attitudes towards women. Another study that would be great to see done.)
posted by Going To Maine at 4:13 PM on July 30, 2013


I think that it shows callousness to wonder aloud about it when people are telling how the explosion effected their life.

Nope. Doesn't work. Many people in those situations would love to have someone figuring out how to stop it so it doesn't happen again. But analogies do not work here.

Forget the bombing, robbing banks thing, or comparing it to other situations. It doesn't work. It isn't the same. Those rules do not apply in this situation, because the people that are affected by these situations (the ones discussed in this thread) are not interested in that and have said so repeatedly. Forget about discussing a solution in these types of threads. My advice is just share a relevant story, or read the stories of others.
posted by cashman at 4:24 PM on July 30, 2013


There is a weird sympathetic magic aspect to this in which we can't seem to help believing that a bad thing done to a representation of us harms us somehow.

If that's a thing, I don't think it's relevant here. She acknowledged that when people quietly download a photo, she doesn't know about it, so it doesn't affect her.

The problem is when people do something public with her photo, or worse, contact her directly. It's not the photo that's the problem, it's the way the photo becomes an opportunity for someone to foist their unwelcome sexual fantasies onto her.

And worse, it creates the not-unreasonable fear, that someone who has latched onto her photo might try to make some more direct sexual harrasment, unwelcome advance, or worse.
posted by straight at 4:26 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd like to think that a woman, putting herself out on the internet, would feel better knowing that the trolls who are harassing her are a small percentage of those who come online.

There's 20 guys creeping on you and harassing you online? Look on the bright side, there are thousands, millions--billions!--of guys who aren't. Doesn't the thought of all those guys who aren't harassing you make you feel safer? (I probably better say straight out that this is meant sarcastically. )
posted by straight at 4:29 PM on July 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


The Internet is a double-edged sword.
posted by zscore at 4:35 PM on July 30, 2013


I think the whole objectification with picture thing can also be partially explained by the monkeysphere theory. Even with pictures that aren't pornographic, when people flip open a catalog and look at pictures of models within it, they usually don't imagine the lives of the people that inhabit the clothing or products they think of purchasing. They don't really give thought that the hands holding the electronics belong to a person that could be someone's wife or father or friend, etc. It's not because they don't want to, but it's because they can't.
posted by FJT at 4:36 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]



I think the whole objectification with picture thing can also be partially explained by the monkeysphere theory. Even with pictures that aren't pornographic, when people flip open a catalog and look at pictures of models within it, they usually don't imagine the lives of the people that inhabit the clothing or products they think of purchasing. They don't really give thought that the hands holding the electronics belong to a person that could be someone's wife or father or friend, etc. It's not because they don't want to, but it's because they can't.


I think even if you know the model personally, if they're placed into that sexualized/model context then they become a 'model', and its assumed models are sexualized

And that last picture on the linked blog could totally end up on a goth appreciation tumblr.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:39 PM on July 30, 2013



It's not just fashion blogs, though. My short-lived stint in Tumblr ended when a pretty ordinary, unsexy picture of me holding a newly-purchased record (I was wearing a tank top, like some kind of uberslut who lives in an apartment with no A/C in August...) suddenly started being reblogged by straight-up wank sites. Like, dozens.


Was it a vinyl record? 'cause hipster porn tumblrs are a thing
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:40 PM on July 30, 2013


I'm sayin g that like any other sort of crime, looking into root causes is something we should do, right?

The thing is that we already know the root cause of this particular assholery. So we don't need to re-invent the wheel here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:43 PM on July 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


The last thing I want is for some fetishist to grab a picture of me and put it on a HAWT BEAERDED MAHN web site (and if these do exist, please don't tell me).

Normally I'd respect your wishes, but its never a bad time to mention the time K$ha flew to Sydney, saw The Beards, and started a beard fetish tumblr.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:57 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Onion gets it
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:33 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard: ThatFuzzyBastard's comment was in response to "I don't think men who treat women this way believe they are complimenting or honoring the women. In my experience, the men who treat women this way never once think of the women in those photos as human beings..."

That was a statement about what these men believe. I don't think one is under any particular obligation to ask why someone is doing something. But if you're going to speculate about what they are thinking, it's helpful to gather some evidence.


Significant evidence is women's testimony of decades of experience with men who are assholes. Their experience comprising, eg, using various strategies and tones and word choices to directly address these men, and firsthand observation of these men's dismissive ("It's a compliment!"), hostile, or abusive responses to those strategies. Concluding that these men never once think of their targets as human beings is perfectly reasonable, to people who know these situations inside out from tedious experience.

Scholarly research on internet harassment will take time to get published, but in the meantime, I don't think it's unreasonable to generalize from research on IRL harassment:
Social and cultural contexts play a role in facilitating the occurrence of sexually harassing behaviours, in conjunction with an individual's disposition for engaging in sexual harassment (see also Pina & Gannon, 2012). They found that this behaviour "is most likely to be perpetrated by men with individual proclivities for sexual harassment only under context where the situational norms are tolerant, ambiguous, or even supportive of such behavior" (Wesselmann & Kelly, 2010, p. 451). In contrast, where the situational norms were not supportive of sexual harassment, men with a proclivity for sexual harassment were no more likely to sexually harass than other men.
So, according to this research, one major reason for harassers to harass is their perception that their peers think it's not a big deal, it's harmless, it's unremarkable (as in, not deserving of discussion), it's perfectly OK. Therefore,
These findings suggest that evolving social and cultural norms in a manner that rejects sexual harassment, and encouraging bystander intervention when sexual harassment is occurring, may be viable and successful avenues for preventing and reducing the occurrence of sexual harassment.
Discouraging both IRL and online harassment is going to require, as one component, that harassers' more thoughtful buddies tell them that harassing behaviour isn't cool.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:42 PM on July 30, 2013 [24 favorites]


i disagreed with the OP until she got to the part about them commenting on her blog and sending her messages. up to that point i think it was ok.

...

when you start a sentence with "i hate it when blacks ..." you're just about to say something prejudice. when you start a sentence with "i hate it when women ..." you're just about to say something prejudice. when you start a sentence with "i hate it when men ..." you're just about to say something prejudice.
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:02 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]



when you start a sentence with "i hate it when blacks ..." you're just about to say something prejudice. when you start a sentence with "i hate it when women ..." you're just about to say something prejudice. when you start a sentence with "i hate it when men ..." you're just about to say something prejudice.


because men are just as marginalized as those other groups

and i gotta say, as a man, the more women who call men out for being creepy the more i'm able to change my behaviour to make it less creepy
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:07 PM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


because men are just as marginalized as those other groups

one's opinion about who is marginalized and who isn't is irrelevant.

and, in hindsight, i meant "prejudiced."
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:10 PM on July 30, 2013



one's opinion about who is marginalized and who isn't is irrelevant.


its not an opnion. women and African-Americans have suffered from millenia of instituzionalized discrimination, and they still suffer from it. Men don't.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:12 PM on July 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


because men are just as marginalized as those other groups

Bullshit. Your lazy generalizations are lazy generalizations despite whatever clever comfortable marginalization psuedoarguments you concoct.
posted by xmutex at 6:12 PM on July 30, 2013


I hate it when mefites fail to take into account the complex matrices of power and institutionalized misogyny when making blanket statements.
posted by NoraReed at 6:14 PM on July 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


if you look at the definition of prejudice it's pretty straight forward.

could you explain why it's ok to make broad, negative statements about a large group of people because they are not "marginalized"? this directly relates to the generalizations in the original link, and to much of the discussion in this thread and others like it.
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:18 PM on July 30, 2013


If it makes things any better I suspect she'd dislike people of either/any gender from adding her photos to their blogs of mastrubation material.
posted by GuyZero at 6:26 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because people take "bad apples" in marginalized groups to be representative of the group as a whole but don't with non-marginalized groups. It's the "girls suck at math" problem. This is why articles like the recently posted "White Culture of Lawlessness" read as patently absurd, but when you turn the tables and make them about marginalized groups they read as part of a narrative we've all heard before.
posted by NoraReed at 6:27 PM on July 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


Whenever I see replies along the lines of "women do the same objectification to Justin Bieber/the kid from Twilight with the forehead/the kid from Twilight who is allergic to shirts," I can't help but hear a whine in the back of head saying, "but what about teh menz???????" Yes, some women objectify men but not nearly as many as men who objectify women. I don't know what the answer is but pointing a finger and saying, "whatever, they do it, too," is not it.
posted by kat518 at 6:30 PM on July 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


The OP is a little confusing, because while sending creepy comments direct to her (or direct to her blog) is horrible behavior, reblogging doesn't really meet the aggressively creepy standard IMO. It's almost like she doesn't understand how it works. Do not post pictures of yourself on the internet if you do not want them re-posted out of context somewhere else. Tumblr isn't a personal journal, it's a magazine.

Maybe this is also an issue with tumblr itself, if you reblog a photo into another context, it seems like there should be an easy way to disconnect the comment stream.
posted by smidgen at 6:34 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


May I be optimistic here? When I began working where I work (20 years ago), we had a creepy guy who sexually harassed young women. We used to have to watch him and monitor the well-being of all the women who came into contact with him. Then an amazing thing happened: the next generation of women stopped putting up with his crap. They told him to knock it off or they'd report him. Obviously many women would like to stop harassment and can't change things as easily as these women did. However, I think as more and more women use the internet, they will have an impact on the online culture.
posted by acrasis at 6:35 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


cupcake1337: "one's opinion about who is marginalized and who isn't is irrelevant."

I'm going to print this up as a fortune cookie fortune and slip it into rotation at P.F. Changs.
posted by boo_radley at 7:08 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm going to go out on a limb here and not talk about gender issues, and instead focus on notions of privacy and image on the Internet.

For starters, I think it's entirely appropriate that we should have some control over our image and identity on the Net. I don't think it's cool this woman's pictures were reposted on other sites without her permission, and I don't think it would be okay even if those sites weren't porn sites.

It's true that, now, any photo posted anywhere -- and especially on open sites like blogs -- are considered public, I don't think that's quite right. I think we need to conceptualize new kinds of "public" that we hadn't needed before, and different gradations of behavior and rules that surround them.

It's naive to think we could enforce these rules. Instead I think we need to demand the tools that would enable them.

I'm gonna go way astray and connect this to the NSA and PRISM, which was met with general indifference largely because none of us who use the Net think we have any kind of privacy or right to keep our data and indentities to ourselves. It's the tradeoff we've made for using the Net, akin to submitting ourselves to ineffective and irritating screening in exchange for flying. We think people like this blogger are naive when they discover the cost of using the Internet, but, really, aren't they just expressing an ethic they value that we've put aside?

I don't think it has to be this way. I don't know the solution, exactly -- a Constittutional amendment on privacy, say? -- but it seems it could be done.
posted by touchstone033 at 7:19 PM on July 30, 2013


could you explain why it's ok to make broad, negative statements about a large group of people because they are not "marginalized"?

It's less bad when there's no larger pattern of marginalization. That doesn't make it "okay", but it makes it less actionable, because there is no social problem to be solved. If you think there aren't any actionable social problems wrt racism and sexism, I guess that's another thing.
posted by bleep-blop at 7:19 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I got into tumblr recently out of a desire for a way to easily mark tumblr things I might want to find later without bookmarking them, and I've found it's a wonderful way for me to reflect on my own unconscious labeling system and how I feel about objectification - and what I consider to be objectification (among other things; choosing tags has become a huge process of self-awareness for me).

One of the interesting things I found is that I prefer to not reblog headless models - male or female - even if I really like what the model is wearing. It feels creepy to me; I don't know how to tag it.

Within the community of fanfiction, Real Person Fanfic (RPF) is considered one of the creepiest - and despite knowing some wonderful and respectful ficcers of that ilk, in general I think the designation is a valid one.

One of the more consistent boundaries I've seen in regards to any fanfiction is to not make it a problem for any actual people involved: that is, if it's an author of a book, don't send it to them; if it's an actor, don't send it to them; if it's a person dear gods don't send it to them. Art falls into a slightly different category, but sexualize art tends to have the same boundary as most fanfic (and definitely as most sexualized fanfic did).

Fans often come off as creepy. Fans write guides about how not to be creepy. A lot of fans, and in fanfic in particular most of the movers and shakers are female; they/we can still be creepy as fuck. Often this involves objectification of the people involved; the remedy is usually to acknowledge the humanity of the people one is fans of (the rest of the time the remedy is to go away, now, do not wait, GO).

As fan culture becomes more sophisticated, I think a lot of the social pressure to decrease the creepitude is moving in, but it's been a while since I've been part of a rabid fangroup (and when I was, it was Gundam Wing and Final Fantasy) so I might not have an accurate assessment. Certainly the Hannibal / Teen Wolf / One Direction fandoms I've been vaguely near have seemed to be much more engaged in appreciation with matching acknowledgement that The Characters Are Not The Actors, Actors / Musicians Are People Too, etc... but I may have a rosy view of it due to distance.

What's weird to me is how conflated Liking a Person is with Sexualizing a Person in the comments responding to her article here. I think part of the disconnect for me is that it would never occur to me that I should Sexualize a Person without taking his engagement in the sexualization into account. I felt weird about the reblogs for Teen Wolf (and didn't participate) until I saw several interviews which clearly indicated that the actors didn't mind, and indeed enjoyed and played with the ideas of them as these Icons of Lust (and they are... man... they are such teases to the M/M fans) and also saw in the show how much it is, for lack of a better phrase, set up for the Female Gaze, always ending on the face of the actor being emotional.

And I think this is where my issue with headless models, however attractive, is. By removing the face, the objectification of the person is so much easier. Without the face, and the sense that these actors know what they're signing up for and are ok with being admired as they are, I was uncomfortable. With the face (and sometimes only the face; one interesting thing about fandom that is dominated by women that I've found is there is a LOT of face and emotion-focus, even if appreciation for a fantastic set of abs is also there) there is a person to engage with, too find attractive.

I don't think this is a genetic difference. There is enough visual stimulation for men which is focused on women's faces and women engaged with and enjoying the process to reassure me it isn't all men - or probably even most.

There is a subset of men, though (and likely women) for whom the lack-of-consent is part of their arousal, and the objectification of other people integral to their sexual expression. This approach toward women is a basic part of US culture; when people say "sex sells" they are almost always referring to a mostly naked female body next to something, ignoring the fact that a significant chunk of the population is uninterested in sex with women. Women's importance being primarily decorative is also cultural, as women are highly critiqued for being unattractive, and over time the margin for what is attractive in a woman is narrowing (see: people calling Scarlet Johansson too fat and thus no longer sexy). The idea that women need to be attractive in addition to everything else they do, or everything else they do can be dismissed is pervasive (see: Hilary Clinton is too ugly to be important and female republicans (mostly anchors and pendants) are more attractive than female democrats (mostly elected officials), so vote republican).

What this means is that men who wouldn't naturally be inclined to being aroused by a lack-of-consent may still have internalized a lack-of-consent and women-as-decoration-first as not an issue, whereas the same process is not true for women (indeed, many people find equally sexualized images of men creepy and degrading, including the women who you would assume were part of the target demographic; I know I do.). This is a cultural difference between the genders, and also a hit-or-miss one as individuals have differing levels of susceptibility, so a lot of variation is expected across the entire membership.
posted by Deoridhe at 7:21 PM on July 30, 2013 [11 favorites]



...
What's weird to me is how conflated Liking a Person is with Sexualizing a Person in the comments responding to her article here. I think part of the disconnect for me is that it would never occur to me that I should Sexualize a Person without taking his engagement in the sexualization into account.
...
By removing the face, the objectification of the person is so much easier. Without the face, and the sense that these actors know what they're signing up for and are ok with being admired as they are, I was uncomfortable.
...
What this means is that men who wouldn't naturally be inclined to being aroused by a lack-of-consent may still have internalized a lack-of-consent and women-as-decoration-first as not an issue, whereas the same process is not true for women (indeed, many people find equally sexualized images of men creepy and degrading, including the women who you would assume were part of the target demographic; I know I do.). This is a cultural difference between the genders, and also a hit-or-miss one as individuals have differing levels of susceptibility, so a lot of variation is expected across the entire membership.
...


I don't think, for most people, arousal requires consent. Action requires consent.. but mere arousal?

If I were adopt this viewpoint--I can't imagine how I would respectfully solicit someone else's feedback on my own internal processes or why I would even want to. This sounds so uncomfortable for everyone involved. Furthermore, if I don't actually ask, how can I be certain that I'm not projecting consent onto them solely because my fantasy requires it?

This is a completely foreign viewpoint for me. I don't understand how it's supposed to work.

Do many people believe that a person needs the consent of another person to even think about them in a sexual way? How does that work in practice? What is to be gained from this?
posted by yonega at 7:59 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


It seems like a lot of y'all are conflating the whole "sexualizing without consent" thing, which happens in your mind and is generally your own business, with "sexualizing without consent and then sharing that fantasy with the object of said fantasy, who did not solicit your creepy emails". Obviously the reblog thing is a greyer area, and it seems like there is area for discussion of how best to do that or whether to avoid it altogether. But the whole "arousal/consent" thing feels like a straw man to me, though you don't seem ill-intentioned in making it, yonega.
posted by NoraReed at 8:11 PM on July 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, what NoraReed said. If my earlier post contributed to the idea that merely thinking about someone in a sexual way is a problem, I apologize for expressing myself poorly.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 8:20 PM on July 30, 2013


Do many people believe that a person needs the consent of another person to even think about them in a sexual way? How does that work in practice? What is to be gained from this?
Nobody can see inside your head, but we set social boundaries on who and what it's not okay to *express* arousal about all the time. Kindergartners. Crocodiles. The Empire State Building. It's not much of a leap to say, yeah, okay, it's super-uncool to express your lust for someone who is not only a non-consenting stranger, but doesn't even have a reasonable expectation of being sexualized.

May I be optimistic here? When I began working where I work (20 years ago), we had a creepy guy who sexually harassed young women. We used to have to watch him and monitor the well-being of all the women who came into contact with him. Then an amazing thing happened: the next generation of women stopped putting up with his crap. They told him to knock it off or they'd report him. Obviously many women would like to stop harassment and can't change things as easily as these women did. However, I think as more and more women use the internet, they will have an impact on the online culture.
I get what you were going for here, I really do, but there's an element of holding women responsible for creepy male behavior that is a step in the wrong direction. It's great that women are feeling powerful enough to stand up for themselves and that the behavior is now recognized as unacceptable enough that they know what to do and there's a mechanism for reporting it, but that isn't attributable only to the women themselves, and it didn't happen in a vacuum - it came about through exactly the kind of social pressure we're talking about here.
posted by gingerest at 8:21 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


With Yahoo dividing Tumblr into SFW and "Adult" blogs, you'd think it wouldn't be difficult to let users have a setting to broadly disallow "Adult" blogs from reblogging their stuff (unless they're specifically whitelisted, i.e. through a friendlist, I guess).
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:31 PM on July 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


I really liked Heinlein's idea the images of the self are private property in the future. I wish we could make that so.
posted by _paegan_ at 8:42 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's 20 guys creeping on you and harassing you online? Look on the bright side, there are thousands, millions--billions!--of guys who aren't. Doesn't the thought of all those guys who aren't harassing you make you feel safer? (I probably better say straight out that this is meant sarcastically. )

I don't think it possible to get 100% compliance from any large group of people to any social norm. I'd be pretty happy with 99.5 percent of people not sending creepy emails to strangers about how they enjoy wanking over pictures of them. Which would still mean that a reasonably popular blog would be getting dozens of creepy emails a week, because the internet is huge.
posted by Diablevert at 8:43 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


My comment was a response to Deoridhe's, which addressed internal processes.

I wasn't building a straw man about the whole other thing.
The whole other thing is basically a copyright issue, isn't it?
posted by yonega at 8:44 PM on July 30, 2013


I wish that, instead of hiding the xxx accounts from search engines, tumblr had a checkbox where individuals could opt not to have individual posts (or their entire catalog) from being reblogged by porny tumblrs.

This wouldn't solve the societal issues or the issues of this same thing happening on the rest of Internet, but it would do a lot of good in the place where a lot of young bloggers are getting their start. I don't give much of a rat's ass about protecting kids. I think they all should grow that carapace of cynicism someone mentioned upthread, but I do want to encourage young folk to keep creating words and images, and to promote consent across the board.
posted by elr at 8:52 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


> I'm sympathetic to this woman and hate to sound defeatist, but I'm not sure how behavior can be stopped. Stop random people you don't know from "favoriting" things? This woman's seems to be upset at the fact that these creeps' porn folders are set to "public" and that she can see herself in them. But many of the web's tools are built around *encouraging* favorites/retweets/reblogs (both giving and receiving). It sounds like she wants to be able to control every context that her photos are viewed within, and I think that's a pretty naive approach.

This isn't an internet problem, it's a human behavior problem. You don't stop it by focusing on the minutiae of how people use the current technologies, you stop it by reducing the social acceptability of the objectification and the sense of entitlement that fuels it.
posted by desuetude at 11:31 PM on July 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


What this means is that men who wouldn't naturally be inclined to being aroused by a lack-of-consent may still have internalized a lack-of-consent and women-as-decoration-first as not an issue, whereas the same process is not true for women (indeed, many people find equally sexualized images of men creepy and degrading, including the women who you would assume were part of the target demographic; I know I do.). This is a cultural difference between the genders, and also a hit-or-miss one as individuals have differing levels of susceptibility, so a lot of variation is expected across the entire membership.

As a gay person, I decided to check out pornographic anime fanart, which I think is also broadly dominated by young women. Thinking about your proposed difference between men and women, I have encountered exceptions both numerous and profound. There's fanart of some rather extreme, sometimes fatal stuff done to adult and young male bodies, and a lot of has established taxonomies and connoisseurs. I should add that "lack of consent" and related terminology features very prominently in the activity of many (apparently female) fan artists.
posted by Nomyte at 11:33 PM on July 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


(TW: Abstract discussion of sexual assault and rape in the context of fanfiction, fanart and fiction in general.) The whole fanart/fanfiction scene with "noncon" (rape) fanstuff is generally about fictional characters, though, it is fictionalized. There are women in fan communities who do similar harassing type stuff to men or to other women as the kind of harassment Zigmond suffered, but I don't think fandom as a whole really supports that kind of thing.

I don't venture much into the real person slash communities, but I've spent half my life in fandom-- I remember when there were less than 600 fanfics on FFN for Harry Potter and porn was an anomaly-- and I've spent time looking at a lot of fanart Tumblrs, DeviantArt galleries, oekaki boards and LiveJournals-- and I haven't seen any harassing content at any of them. I've also never stumbled into rape fantasy material accidentally because most fanfic writers and fanartists that I've seen are pretty good about clearly labeling content and a lot of them include trigger warnings. Maybe the fandoms I've been in are exceptionally good; I've really just spent time in a handful of niche ones.

I think that part of the reason that "lack of consent" comes into play is that artists and writers in fandom are encouraged to clearly label that so that people who aren't interested in it don't read it. In that way it's a lot better than a lot of mainstream fiction, where (generally female) characters are sexually assaulted pretty regularly. (*coughGameOfThronescough*)

Fandom is also generally good at labeling stuff pretty specifically so that people who want something very niche, rather sexual or not, can find it. I remember when "angst" as a genre got added to FFN because so many of us were just writing sort of depressing teenage emotional cutscenes and seeking out the same; a lot of this is rooted in a sort of teenage "emotional junkie" culture (the same one in which emo music speaks to your soul). So a lot of the stuff I've seen in the "noncon" category has been in the "rape/comfort" subgenre, which is pretty much what it says on the tin, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of those writers were using that to work through issues of their own, either related to their own sexual assaults or other life problems or personal issues. And a lot of them are doing it to explore their own sexuality, because a lot of them are fairly young.

So while I could see fandom writers and artists creating situations like Zigmond's with real person slash or actors/actresses/creators (particularly in fandoms that tend to attract the young, the alienated and the socially inept-- I pity Jhonen Vasquez), I don't think that the way that they use rape is nearly as likely to harm people as the people archiving fatshion blog photos on wank sites is. Which isn't to say that there aren't problematic aspects to it, but those aspects are a whole different ball game than the whole entitlement to women as sexual objects, fetishization of fat women, and validation-seeking weirdness that happened in the original article.
posted by NoraReed at 12:13 AM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


My comment was strictly in response to Deoridhe's generalization. I am also strictly speaking about stuff involving fictional characters. The questions that interest me are "who draws this" and "what do they get out of it," not "who do they draw."

Needless to say, no one who fetishizes Zigmond's photos should actually be contacting her. She seems very uncomfortable with people eroticizing the images she posted, but that's a complicated topic I am afraid to approach.

I have no interest in exploring straight porn, but my Tumblr browsing hasn't shown much evidence of fanart for the hetero male gaze or fanart mostly made by hetero men. Even at cons, I see a ton of yaoi-themed pins in dealer booths and no hentai-themed pins. So I can't say there is no fanart of female characters in frankly grotesque noncon situations, but there's certainly a heck of a lot of noncon stuff with male characters that is made by women. Please correct me.

Here's the potentially provocative bit. The noncon stuff (along with, uh, vore, mpreg, alien mpreg, etc.) doesn't really faze me, but that could be peculiar to me. If I saw gender-swapped versions of the same, I would definitely be fazed, although a big chunk of that is me again. But I really think that noncon stuff involving female characters would be generally perceived as more disturbing (for example, on MetaFilter).

The fact that female fan artists can and do take their male characters to stratospheric extremes has actually fascinated me for a while. Maybe it's functionally different from the hypothetical man-made stuff, maybe it's culturally different. We're all embedded in the same, uh, sexual landscape. Maybe the female fan artists are working through tropes inherited from the patriarchy. It's probably complicated, but that's why it interests me.

But it's damn hard for a guy to look for answers to this kind of question without running afoul of boundaries and microculture conventions.
posted by Nomyte at 12:50 AM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


But speaking of real-person stuff, I do find Green Day yaoi fanart to be conceptually cute.
posted by Nomyte at 1:02 AM on July 31, 2013


I'm curious about your comment on my comment's lack of awareness of other's subjectivity. I would assume that most people don't want to feel skeeved out about an entire gender, so I'd assume that most people would want better numbers about this sort of thing. If I knew that only a small percentage of dudes were out there finding creepshots or sending women skeevy emails, I'd feel better.

See, I certainly do understand how it's possible to see someone excoriating a group that consists entirely of men (or a group in which the percentage of women is so statistically negotiable that it's not really wrong to say the group is all men), and take away from that the idea that men are being attacked or that it's being claimed that all men are bad. I get that. I do.

But here is what I believe to be a better way to think about it: It's not that men are a terrible group as a whole; it's not that all men do these shitty things. It's that all of the people doing these shitty things, almost without exception, are men.

And those are the ones that get remembered. There are millions and millions of men she will never take notice of, because they aren't sending her creepy comments. They don't factor into this for her.

I'd like to think that a woman, putting herself out on the internet, would feel better knowing that the trolls who are harassing her are a small percentage of those who come online.

I mean, she already knows that. It's not about percentages. Knowing that three and a half billion men are the rule, and that the exceptions are the couple dozen who write to her about "I love you're (sic) sexy curvey (sic) ass" - it's not really helpful to her. And yeah, even knowing that doesn't change the fact that suddenly you realize how many of these people there are, and these are only the ones who bother to let you know about it, and you realize that these people could be anyone. It's fucked up.

And if you feel indicted by that, if it gets you feeling defensive, all I can suggest is to try to remind yourself that very few people actually think all men are like this, but quite a few people have observed that there are a lot of people who are like this, and just about all of them are men.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:21 AM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


It seems like a lot of y'all are conflating the whole "sexualizing without consent" thing, which happens in your mind and is generally your own business, with "sexualizing without consent and then sharing that fantasy with the object of said fantasy, who did not solicit your creepy emails".

But so's the OP, and the author of the article! She repeatedly conflates reblogging with harassing emails, and lumps them into the same "creepy stuff that people should stop" box. There's three different behaviors that the author is angry about: wanking to photos from her blog; reposting photos from her Tumblr to wank sites; sending her sexualized e-mails. I think a lot of people here find #1 to be not harassment, #2 to be questionable but mostly not harassment, and #3 to be punishable harassment. But the author refuses to make that distinction, and that's what's frustrating.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:02 AM on July 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think a lot of people here find #1 to be not harassment, #2 to be questionable but mostly not harassment, and #3 to be punishable harassment. But the author refuses to make that distinction, and that's what's frustrating.

I, personally, don't think it needs to be 'punishable harassment' for it to be unwelcome behavior.

Basically... in this particular case, this women has put up images which she intended to be used for fashion advice, and she discovered they were being used for wanking, and that made her uncomfortable and creeped her out and she decided to stop blogging because of it.

What those guys did might not have bothered another person, and it's not a crime, and I'm not sure anything external ought to be done about it. But the fact that it made her uncomfortable enough to stop blogging is a fact, and perhaps being made aware of that fact might make some men think twice about their actions, similar to how some people will now only watch indie porn so as to have less of a chance of funding exploitative practices.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:09 AM on July 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think a lot of people here find #1 to be not harassment, #2 to be questionable but mostly not harassment, and #3 to be punishable harassment. But the author refuses to make that distinction, and that's what's frustrating.

Well, I suppose it is from the I-don't-care-to-be-lumped-in-with-harassers perspective. But the chick is entitled to find all of it equally creepy, and to give voice to that feeling, and to warn other chick that they'll face this possibility if they do what she did. Being creeped out does not require intent to creep out on the part of the wanker. Nobody gets to control what other people feel. Of course, the last sentence cuts both ways.
posted by Diablevert at 9:17 AM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


gauche: I've never met a single woman who enjoys this kind of attention

How is that possible? I can go on Facebook and find a dozen women, between work and school and general life, who enjoy and encourage this very much. This includes professional women who only seem to post photos of themselves in bikinis at the beach, backs arched like they're in a soft porn shoot. One coworker in particular comes to mind ... women in our office have tried to talk to her about the image she's projecting, but it hasn't worked.

To be clear, I don't think that excuses or justifies the harassment that this woman experienced in any way shape or form. I just don't think it adds to the discussion to say that no women like this.

On a similar note, a friend wrote a political newspaper column a few years back, and she said the big surprise was how much unsolicited email she got just from being a semi-public figure. Some were creepy, and once she considered a TRO, but most of it was more innocent - men (always men) looking for advice, looking for counseling, and often looking to discuss her column over dinner.
posted by kanewai at 10:54 AM on July 31, 2013


edit: upon reflection, this might be a regional difference. I don't recall this in Michigan or DC, but sometimes in Honolulu I feel like I'm in the land that feminism forgot.
posted by kanewai at 11:11 AM on July 31, 2013


My story, then. And I'm doing it under a handle that'll quickly lead you to my full name, because.

Some eight-ten years ago I kept a blog that was well-visited, fairly well-linked and my blog subject was quite niche in an intellectual manner. The blog had nothing to do with gender politics, sexuality or appearances - it was all brain and no body. I didn't use my name, I didn't state my location, and I sure as heck didn't post any photos of myself. However, I stated I was a female and left it at that.

And I ended having to contact the police after a guy started harassing me based entirely upon the fact I was female. He began fantasising about me having a peg-leg and he'd send me explicit comments (and soon after explicit emails) about the peg-leg.

Peg-leg? Funny, right? Funny no. It was a clear case of erotomania - as I said it was based entirely upon my gender - and it turned bloody scary after the guy then started doing WhoIs searches, got into government databases and found my home address. He followed me around and eventually turned up on my doorstep with a marriage proposal.

The police? They said that I shouldn't have started a blog. They said I should be flattered somebody was flirting with me. They said that I looked cute and should expect things like this to happen. It wasn't until I shoved a pile of printed out emails under their noses - emails about peg-leg fantasies and his "I want you to have a breakdown so I can take care of you" letters - that they started taking me seriously. Up until that point I was a girl and I should regard a man's harassment as a compliment.

I stayed at friends' places until the police got in touch with the guy. The guy said we were lovers. All I had done was being a blogger who openly stated I was female.

The way I see it is this: some jerk loser decided to stalk me just because I was female and that gave me two options. I could either go completely to ground and delete everything I did online - or I could take back my online identity. I post pictures of myself now. I use my real name now. I blog about how it feels to be a woman. I refuse - I absolutely refuse - to let other people define what I can or cannot do.

Sure, I have no control over what people do to my content (I am looking at you Russian crafters lifting my crochet pattern without my permission) but I feel a lot more in control now.
posted by kariebookish at 2:05 PM on July 31, 2013 [32 favorites]


I just learned this afternoon that sometimes you don't even need to have posted a picture for someone out there to get the WAY wrong idea....

Six years ago I contributed to/was the main poster on a blog created for a theater company that was rehearsing a play about Pennsylvania in the early 1930's; they set it up so I could give the cast a central info source for things relating to the play - vaudeville, Mafia activity, bootleggers, and prostitution in particular. Other people could comment on it and access it, though, but outside info was rare.

Today I was surprised to see that the post about prostitution got a comment - from a guy asking me out. I'm more amused than freaked out, and this is really minor, but....bwuh?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:24 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think, for most people, arousal requires consent. Action requires consent.. but mere arousal?

I get turned off by signs, even non-verbal ones, of lack of engagement (which is a broader category than lack of consent, but I think engulfs it). I don't expect everyone does, but I personally do - even in men I would otherwise find attractive. It's a peculiarity I noticed in my sole interaction with strippers, where despite being straight I was turned off by the male stripper because his affect and body-language was of a disassociated person who didn't want to be there, and as fit and my type as he might be physically I ended up finding the experience creepy, with me as the creeper. (The female stripper was a lot more fun, but totally not my type. It was a weird experience.) I don't even fantasize about actual people most of the time.

I differentiate between attraction, "He looks attractive and I like to look at him" and arousal, "I want to have sex now," though. Not all people might, in fact I suspect a lot don't. This might also be part of what my rape left me, too - I had found my rapist arousing beforehand and afterward I found him repulsive, so this might be scar tissue.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:09 PM on July 31, 2013


karie, I'm sorry that happened to you.

Most of my harassment has been offline or the relatively minor "I secks u now? no the secks? u bitch" version that's barely worth mentioning, and one fun death threat.

Nomyte: My comment was strictly in response to Deoridhe's generalization. I am also strictly speaking about stuff involving fictional characters. The questions that interest me are "who draws this" and "what do they get out of it," not "who do they draw."

You jumped rather quickly away from my discussion of objectification / arousal at non-consent to "characters in pain / non-consent in the fic", in a manner which is a bit confusing to me, personally.

Most of the time, hurt-and-comfort fanfiction is explicitly about the emotional realities, responses and importance of the (primarily male, if we want to focus on yaoi, which is where I think a lot of it shows up) personalities and experiences of the male characters. This is kind of explicitly not objectification, but rather heightened subjectification (to coin a phrase), where the individual experience of trauma is then soothed in the desired pairing of the two characters.

It's not my kink, but I can totally understand it and have brushed the edges around it now and then (I'm much more focused on genre and perspective retellings).

In my wall-of-text above, I was primarily focusing not on the experiences of the characters/people, but rather on how the creator interacts with the characters/people; that is, I was focusing on whether the creator is interested in getting into the subjective experience of the person in a fundamental way, or if they are objectifying them.

I think the difference between male socialization and female socialization is that women are - through having a dearth of female characters to identify with - overwhelmingly capable of identifying as male and taking his experience as subjective, while men have a much easier time avoiding any genre which requires them to self-identify as female.

This doesn't mean that women are somehow "gentler" or anything like that, it's a difference in how gendered people react to other gendered people due to enculturation (and as such also largely excludes a lot of trans peoples experiences, as well as intersexed, androgynous, and gender queer, where the gender socialization can end up seriously bent). It also is necessarily false in a large number of cases, as I said, because I'm generalizing between two enormous groups - all of the evidence I've seen is that individual differences outweigh differences between groups in terms of gender.

Women can express very violent tendencies through our characters, and indeed most of us do since it's easier to be violent when one is within the skin of a man (metaphorically speaking), but I personally believe she is more likely to identify with the man while she is doing it - that is the pain is a personal, subjective pain and the man is not objectified - while men have more room and ease to objectify women, and a subset find objectified women actually arousing (it is, like I said above, also highly probable there is a similar group within the subset "women" who have been socialized to conceal it more than men have to, since objectification of women is common in US culture and media).

(I actually have a running theory that part of the attraction of two male characters for a lot of women is that it's a place for women to express and explore a lot of mixed messages and confusion about gender identity, their behavior and their gender role, etc..., especially since misogyny is such a huge part of the female fan yaoi community even while transforming characters into being very effeminate is common. I'm an inveterate navel gazer, so I've spent years thinking about the gender politics and peculiarities of fandom, especially since I'm such a fan of the female characters as well - try being a Relena fan in the Gundam Wing fandom - and so I really noticed the misogyny early on.)

And interesting place to explore the differences between objectification of women and exploration of women's subjective experience is on the Erotic Mind Control Archive under male dominant & straight - I'd say it divides about fifty/fifty stories where the consent of the woman being mind controlled is integral to the story, and stories where the consent of the woman is explicitly not desired, with a subset of "she thinks she's so smart and good and capable, but I can turn her unto my personal blow-job doll and degrade her forever" revenge fics in the latter half.

Yup... I navel gaze over my porn. I am a sad, sad human being. Hee hee.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:35 PM on July 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


> How is that possible? I can go on Facebook and find a dozen women, between work and school and general life, who enjoy and encourage this very much. This includes professional women who only seem to post photos of themselves in bikinis at the beach, backs arched like they're in a soft porn shoot. One coworker in particular comes to mind ... women in our office have tried to talk to her about the image she's projecting, but it hasn't worked.

Putting up ill-advisedly sexy pictures to be viewed by friends and family and even friends-of-friends does not mean a woman is inviting complete strangers to send her unsolicited emails apropos of nothing, where the opening salvo is pornographic description of exactly how they would fuck her and why she's obviously asking for it.

If you see a pretty girl walking down the street dressed in sexy clothing, do you walk right up to her and describe a pornographic scenario of exactly how you'd like to fuck her?
posted by desuetude at 7:11 PM on July 31, 2013 [12 favorites]


Deoridhe,

I find your comment really interesting and a little hard to follow.

I'm having a having a hard time grokking the subject/object dichotomy you're setting up with regard to fictional narratives.

It seems obvious to me that in any discussion of my experience I am always the subject and everyone and everything else are always the objects. No matter how much I believe I am identifying with another person... Well, there it is.. right there in "I believe." I think there's an implicit 'I' that can't really be gotten around--even in works of fiction.

Don't the characters in any sexual fantasy only take on whatever attributes the dreamer chooses to imbue them with?

I'm a non-fan of emotional porn but.. (I'm going to take the long way around here.) If there are a dearth of women characters for women to identify with, aren't there also a death of women characters for men to identify with? While it may be interesting for women dreamers to identify with the man characters.. how is that that anything but a projection? How can a woman, as a woman, explore the subjective experience of being a man and not actually be exploring the subjective reality of a woman imagining the subjective experience of being a man? (or vice versa)

I think writers ride this dual line between claiming to actually truly understand other people and admitting the whole thing is a puppet show. I wonder if the desire for specific emotional content in fantasy is also a puppet show.

If the subject of the fantasy wants whatever the dreamer needs them to want... consent in fantasy (and with it consent TO fantasy) aren't really moral questions then... are they? If I, as the dreamer, require the character to consent.. then no matter what signals may be present otherwise--they're secretly loving it. And conversely, if I require the character to not consent, then no matter how much they're clearly enjoying themselves I can tell myself it's all a show and they secretly hate this terrible thing I've imagined for them. Both scenarios seem, to me, to be entirely about my feelings about myself.

So.. going back to the headless model. Isn't that space where the dreamer can project anything they want? And, regardless of what's there, if the dreamer can see it wouldn't they project what they need to see there anyway?

And from the headless model to the blogger posting her pictures. She gave her pictures to the world why should anyone who looked at them see anything but what they want to?

And from the blogger posting to the harassing emailers, stalkers, and other criminals.. why are these people acting out their fantasies? Isn't that crazy?
posted by yonega at 11:35 PM on July 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Are you a woman trying to sell shoes on eBay? Creepos will badger you to send them pictures of you wearing the shoes "to see how they look"

Indeed. That happened to me when I sold a pair of decades-old Moon Boots on eBay. I'm sort of tempted to see if the one photo (my legs from the knees down, in the Moon Boots) has made it to Moon Boot fetish sites, but that would require looking at Moon Boot fetish sites.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:34 AM on August 1, 2013


Are you a woman trying to sell shoes on eBay? Creepos will badger you to send them pictures of you wearing the shoes "to see how they look".

I liked this response to that issue. And part 2.
posted by grouse at 10:06 AM on August 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


There is a time and a place for detached, rational examination of underlying causes that result in actual living harm to other humans.

That place is academia.

When I see someone come into one of these conversations and calmly, cooly render an "objective" opinion about root causes and such, I can never forget that the "data" they're talking about is made up of the living bodies of women.

The definition of privilege is being able to talk about women's lives as if they didn't have women attached to them.

Women who are, at every turn, given the message that their bodies are the property of others. That their sexuality is the property of others. That their work is less worthy than that of men. That despite being 51% of the population, they are uniformly underrepresented in the instruments and organs of power.

If you want to talk about rape as an epidemiological phenomenon, you go right ahead. But you should probably not be surprised if a bunch of us inconvenience you by pointing out at every available opportunity that there is a broken, bleeding woman behind every single datapoint.
posted by scrump at 5:32 PM on August 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


My intention wasn't to dismiss the lived experiences of women nor was it to trivialize the emotional impact of rape and the trauma that comes from having to deal with it in everyday situations. Frankly, some of the stories in this thread have been really eye-opening. The extent of some of the behavior on display is repulsive. It's made even moreso to know that this sort of thing happens so frequently.

I do think there is room for those in the middle who are don't want to commit such serious violations of agency but who simply don't understand why this kind of lived experience is important to understand. Root causes, like those explored by the social sciences, are also important in justifying policy changes at the upper echelon. They illuminate a path to affecting serious change at the upper level while providing a narrative for us to follow on the ground. Don't get me wrong, though. The sympathy here does not belong to men and it especially does not belong to those who abuse others. It belongs to those who are brutalized everyday by mindlessness and ignorance. My only intent was to provide a narrative for those looking to take active and meaningful steps towards educating their friends and their family because it's in my opinion that starting from a place of compassion results in change far more often than starting from a place of anger.

If you don't think this way then you are entirely justified in doing so. You would have to be a saint to exhibit that level of generosity. If you want me to remove myself from this thread then you are well within your rights to ask. It's not my place to tell you what to think and I apologize for my arrogance in wanting to do so.
posted by dubusadus at 6:24 PM on August 1, 2013


When I see someone come into one of these conversations and calmly, cooly render an "objective" opinion about root causes and such, I can never forget that the "data" they're talking about is made up of the living bodies of women.

When people talk about the "root causes" of terrorism, there is a broken, bleeding body of a victim of sucidie bombing (or usually several) behind every data point. When people talk about the "root causes" of inner-city violence, there is a broken, bleeding body of a person shot dead behind every data point. Do you get similarly enraged when rage over 9/11 turns into people cooly talking about the history of imperialism, or when angry venting about crime turns into an acknowledgement of the despair of poverty? Or is it just one this one particular issue that you think such discussion shouldn't happen outside of academia? Does that make you more or less sympathetic to people who don't wanna hear about the history of the Middle East, they just want the evildoers punished?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:13 PM on August 1, 2013


I can't speak for scrump, but I think I understand her perspective. As a woman, I sometimes feel very frustrated when I see men treating "women's issues" that are very personal and important to me and my well-being as if the main goal of the discussion is to have a fun debate, a rhetorical exercise to while away the hours.
While there are undoubtedly some people reading and writing here to whom terrorism, inner-city violence, and 9/11 are central to their own well-being, at least half of the people in the world have had to think, personally, about strategies to avoid becoming a victim of violence directed at them solely because of their gender.
I hope that when I'm having what's, to me, an academic discussion about "root causes" of specific kinds of violence with another person who's lived through that sort of violence, I would be sympathetic, respectful, and cautious in my assertions. My work is all about counting people, but if those people say I've got it wrong, I owe it to them to listen.
posted by gingerest at 10:38 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard, you may not have intended it but your contributions in this thread are coming across very much as "UR ALL DOIN IT ALL RONG." Your assertion that above assessments of harassers' motivations were "evidence-free" and "speculation" was an egregious example of this. It ignored the ginormous amount of lived experience that grounds those assessments.

Women who share their shitty experiences regarding asshole men always get UR DOIN IT RONG comments from well-meaning men, comments that are pointed at ways in which the women's behaviour or presentation or words or tones could and should be done "better"..."better" in quotes because it's not really better. The suggestions are things that we do sometimes depending on the context but just not right now, or they don't actually work IRL and people who have to live the experiences have figured this out already, and frequently, different men judgmentally suggest ("Why don't you / didn't you just do xxx?") diametrically opposed courses of action all of which combined equal WOMEN, WHATEVER YOU DO, UR DOIN IT WRONG.

There'd be less friction if you pointed those good intentions and problem-solving skills at, specifically, other men and what men can and should do and how men can bring up topics like this with their buddies. Seeing as particular asshole men are, fundamentally, the root causes of the kinds of problems discussed in the OP. Them, and their buddies who won't say anything to them about their shitty behaviour.

The number of FPPs focused on topics that even vaguely touch on, eg, what does "being a man" mean, how do you teach boys to be men, etc, is vanishingly rare. It's like some men really want to contribute on this but it only occurs to them to do it in threads about women's experiences because these threads' topics come the closest to a venue for it. It's like there's some mental barrier against men creating their own spaces for honest thoughtful conversations with other men about this shit.

That's a shame. I love finding out about what and how men wrestle with trying to be their ideal man or whatever, and then I bring up points I've learned with my husband and say "Did you experience this thing I read about at metafilter because it never occurred to me that that would be a problem and damn it's fascinating and do you talk about it with your guy friends oh ok that's too bad that you don't." The guys in my life that I've asked, they talk about serious life stuff with their female friends which is great and also incomplete. More men need to talk to each other about this shit.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:54 PM on August 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Or is it just one this one particular issue that you think such discussion shouldn't happen outside of academia?

I don't think anyone here is advocating that this should never happen outside of academia. You seem to think that anyone/everyone in this thread who's told stories ought to not only want to explore the root causes right here and now, and in a way that you deem appropriate, but that they should also....I'm not sure. Ask their harassers about their relationship with their mothers? Survey their harassers about why they do what they do? Is that the kind of "evidence"-gathering you think we should be doing?

Go to google scholar and put in sexism and catcalling; these are things that are being studied. A lot of us read papers like that, or books that come out of those papers, or even research and publish papers like that. I don't need to know the exact root causes of my personal harasser's* reasons for harassing - I'm not his therapist or his mom or his wife or his probation officer. I just need him to stop.

If you're so interested in the root causes, and think it's important to investigate them (outside an academic context), there are a ton of blogs out there written by women or are about women where the comment sections fill up with harassing comments (threatening ones as well as I-love-you-please-send-me-pix-of-your-feet ones), and you could go there yourself and ask them directly.

*This is a purely hypothetical personal harasser; I do not actually have one at this time
posted by rtha at 6:14 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think anyone here is advocating that this should never happen outside of academia. -Aug 2


There is a time and a place for detached, rational examination of underlying causes that result in actual living harm to other humans.

That place is academia.
-Aug 1

If you want to tell stories rather than explore root causes, that's fine. What gets me is the hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty of people who want to insist that discussion of root causes is itself vile, an insistence that MeFites would never make for any other crime (as every discussion of the Boston bombing has shown). And worse yet, those who insist that it's valid to speculate about other peoples' motives and character based on their own experience; your experience is important, but it tells you as much about other people's motives as Victor Davis Hanson's tells him about black teenagers. To speculate about whether street harassers hate women, really really hate women, or are sick in the head, without ever looking at any evidence, is simply an invitation to a 2-Minutes Hate thinly disguised as thinking.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:50 AM on August 2, 2013


And worse yet, those who insist that it's valid to speculate about other peoples' motives and character based on their own experience;

Why do you assume we're speculating? Or are you insisting that we are obligated to explore the root causes of harassment of every individual who harasses? Because there's really not a lack of knowledge about why men harass women; there may be unknowns when it comes to why [this particular guy] harasses women, but so what?

If a black family wakes up one morning to find that someone has burned a cross on their lawn, are they going to be wrong in thinking that the person who did it is very likely a racist asshole?

The root cause of (some) men feeling it's okay to harass women is sexism. It's privilege. It's the fucking patriarchy. It's a bath of societal acceptance of this kind of behavior that we're all bathed in from the minute we're born. It's not a mystery.

Also? Every. Fucking. Time. we have one of these discussions, at least one someone comes along who wants to just make sure that we're considering the idea that maybe the harasser is just socially awkward! Maybe he means well! Maybe it didn't really happen the way she said! Like we've never heard that before. Like we can't tell the difference between awkward and asshole. Like unless we psychoanalyze some guy we've never even met, we have no right to say anything about his motives because speculation is horrible.

If you want to make a post about the Root Causes of Why Some Men Harass Women, here's a google scholar search to get you started.
posted by rtha at 8:14 AM on August 2, 2013 [17 favorites]


Also, it's very much easier to discuss the root causes of something in an objective/academic way if it's something you pretty much never have to live with. Imperialism? Not an ongoing immediate problem in my life. Likewise, very few mefites are going to be coming at the subject of terrorist attacks from the position of having to live with that threat in a daily sense. Sexism and harassment? Not as rare an experience. You don't even have to leave your house to be a victim of it.
posted by rtha at 8:35 AM on August 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


those who insist that it's valid to speculate about other peoples' motives and character based on their own experience; your experience is important, but it tells you as much about other people's motives as Victor Davis Hanson's tells him about black teenagers.


If you're talking about his "Facing Facts About Race" essay, VDH specifies that he has a whole 5 incidences with black teenagers to base his assertions on. For you to bring this up as a valid comparison here shows that you have no realistic idea about the scale or frequency of harassment that too may women experience from childhood onwards.

To speculate about whether street harassers hate women, really really hate women, or are sick in the head, without ever looking at any evidence

If that's directed at me, I've actually looked up a fair bit of research on harassment over the years. Authors talked about, for example, how it's done for male group bonding, as performance for their male peers to one-up each other in Being A Manly Man, and as a way of expressing social dominance / power over perceived inferiors (women). All of which informed my personal conclusion above that it's an expression of narcissistic entitlement.

Also, even your first comment (Has anyone tried asking them? That might be more effective than speculating.) in this thread had UR DOIN IT RONG all over it. There are ways to contribute without telling people that what they're doing is shamefully inadequate. Something like "I disagree. I'll go ask the next harasser I see what he's thinking" would have gone over better. Instead, your first comment put the burden of "Why don't you try asking the harassers?" onto the targets, who already risk verbal and physical abuse just by having had the bad luck to catch a harasser's eye.

Seriously, if it's so important to you, what's stopping you from going and asking a harasser yourself?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:18 AM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


*This is a purely hypothetical personal harasser; I do not actually have one at this time
I know it's not a harasser, exactly, but if you're taking applications for someone to critique your personal choices and/or suggest which pants you should wear with that top, I have my resume right here.

in crayon
posted by scrump at 12:08 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't speak for scrump, but I think I understand her perspective.
I am terribly sorry, but I am in fact a large hairy male person.
posted by scrump at 12:12 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, that's nothing to apologize for! Evidently I didn't understand your perspective. Good thing I disclaimered.
posted by gingerest at 8:40 PM on August 2, 2013


eh, there are many things i find annoying, maybe i should write a blog about them.
posted by cupcake1337 at 10:28 PM on August 2, 2013


cupcake1337: "eh, there are many things i find annoying, maybe i should write a blog about them."

I encourage you to do that.
posted by moody cow at 6:14 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I said: If you're talking about his "Facing Facts About Race" essay

And because I didn't have the wits to write out what else is wrong with that comparison, here is a comment from Bunny Ultramod that goes into it.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:09 PM on August 7, 2013


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