"When Your Fat Pic Goes Viral as a Feminist Cautionary Tale"
January 6, 2016 7:53 AM   Subscribe

Writer Hale Goetz had just finished Christmas dinner with her family when she got the call: “A picture of you is on the front page of r/funny,” my friend told me. I’m not a regular Reddit user, but I know about r/funny—it’s a popular subpage, a place with a lot of cat pictures. Funny? Had I been funny? I traced back through the past week, wondering if I had finally made one of my 119 Twitter followers laugh, but then my stomach clenched as my friend explained my stardom wasn’t because I had been funny. It was because I had gotten fat.
posted by Room 641-A (72 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
Aah, Reddit being Reddit. Reminds me why I abandoned that site with prejudice. Why I always remember when someone called it "the trash fire of the internet". Why I'm sad every time someone links from this fine site to that mess.
posted by evilangela at 8:03 AM on January 6, 2016 [32 favorites]


Humanity is just the worst. I loved her thoughtful awesome response.
posted by Kitteh at 8:04 AM on January 6, 2016 [14 favorites]


I saw this. I truly envy her spirit and her equanimity; I'd be shaming the hell out of someone for this.

What was so horrible and affecting to me was how clear it was, anti-feminism blended with the new equation of virtue not with sex but with thinness. Try tumblr -- that is, feminism -- even once, and a woman will lose control of her body.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:04 AM on January 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


The casual cruelty is one of my least favorite things about anonymity online. She seems amazingly even keeled about the experience, but it was intended to be hurtful and shitty.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:05 AM on January 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


"The dead end was frustrating, because, as a fat feminist, I was hungry to find out who the original poster could be so I could then eat them."

I love this woman.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:06 AM on January 6, 2016 [175 favorites]


anti-feminism blended with the new equation of virtue not with sex but with thinness

Which is about fuckability. You're nothing if some guy's boner doesn't like you.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:16 AM on January 6, 2016 [50 favorites]


It's really bizarre how much grown adults are letting their politics be shaped by what I can't help but see as the 2010s version of a middle school clique battle (e.g. goths vs. "preps"). I don't mean to say that anti-feminism is something new, but rather this particular new flavor of it seems like it comes from teenagers newly exposed to social justice movements and critical theory wildly misusing it, while another group of equally clueless teenagers treats them as being emblematic of every form of social justice movement and every form of academic study of oppression.

You end up with grown adults shouting about "SJWs," buying into a debate whose terms are framed by those newest to it and least experienced with and studied on it. Maybe that's just because social media is a young person's game, but the fact that you could hold a mock election between candidates named only "The Reddit Candidate" and "The Tumblr Candidate" and people would generally project a consensus meaning on that makes me wonder how our politics got so damned dumb.
posted by shoe at 8:16 AM on January 6, 2016 [63 favorites]


So people remind me again why I want to be on Reddit? It's all, "You'll be able to ignore the skeevy parts of Reddit, really", wasn't it?
posted by happyroach at 8:17 AM on January 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


The Reddit aspect sucks and all, but I feel like if anything that's just the cesspool where this shit all ultimately drains to. The worse part, for me, is the genesis -- that we live in a culture where it would even occur to someone to go digging through their high school yearbook from 10 years ago so they could insult someone for having aged or changed.

It's yet another reminder to the women out there that there are people who probably barely knew you, who you may have spoken to once in your life, who you haven't interacted with in a decade, who nonetheless have Very Serious Opinions about how your body doesn't meet their standards.
posted by tocts at 8:19 AM on January 6, 2016 [65 favorites]


Yeah, while Reddit is 99% a cesspool (subreddits about historians and archives and librarians aren't), let's not lay this solely at their feet. There are shitty people out there all the time in every corner of the Internet where women have their personal deets, their photos dug up all so dudes can make fun of you and harass you. It's weird for me to think that at least she found out about it and that was better, rather than right now some dude could be nabbing my Instagram selfies and calling me names or making fun of what I believe or how I look.
posted by Kitteh at 8:23 AM on January 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


So people remind me again why I want to be on Reddit?

Quick answers to arcane technical questions and /r/askhistorians.
posted by Gin and Comics at 8:26 AM on January 6, 2016 [14 favorites]


That was great. I love her attitude.
“Well, they’re not wrong?” I said, shrugging on that last word, my inflection suggesting a question. They’re not wrong that I was skinny, and now I’m not anymore. So what?
She took away all their power and made them look like fools. "How perceptive that you have noticed this extremely obvious thing about me. Now, moving on...".
posted by The Gooch at 8:32 AM on January 6, 2016 [37 favorites]


I don't go "to reddit." I go to a specific part of reddit that someone trustworthy has told me is free of skeeviness, and even then only if it's something I really want to read (right now, that's pretty much just Steven Universe, which has a no-NSFW-stuff policy and sticks to obscure theories and plot points.)

Between Metafilter, Tumblr and Twitter, plus a few blogs I follow, there's really not much extra that reddit can offer me (that I would have time to read, anyway) so I see no reason to wade through the muck in case I might find something good.

Also this writer is awesome and I am inspired by her.
posted by emjaybee at 8:34 AM on January 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Honestly, if I found out that a picture of a loved one turned up on the Internet in this manner, I'm not sure I'd tell them about it. Any opportunity to avoid a troll, or not even know about them, is a good one. (If there were actual accusations of wrongdoing being lobbed about that could cause the person harm to their livelihood, that would be different.)

Well-written piece, though.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 8:35 AM on January 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Dip Flash: "The casual cruelty is one of my least favorite things about anonymity online."

We live in a day & age where people use their real names & accounts to let you know they'll kill you.
posted by boo_radley at 8:39 AM on January 6, 2016 [29 favorites]


I have a handful of well-moderated subreddits that I look at. But honestly, I see this as a pandemic problem across all of the social media sites I've seen, with the possible exception of Google Plus, which no one uses.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:46 AM on January 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Reddit aspect sucks and all, but I feel like if anything that's just the cesspool where this shit all ultimately drains to. The worse part, for me, is the genesis -- that we live in a culture where it would even occur to someone to go digging through their high school yearbook from 10 years ago so they could insult someone for having aged or changed.

Yeah, every time I hear or see someone doing or saying something mind-numbingly sexist, racist, or whatever variety of horrible-ist they're into, the kicker is that I'm pretty sure that for each person who's happy to do it out in the open there are several more who do it behind closed doors.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:55 AM on January 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


So people remind me again why I want to be on Reddit? It's all, "You'll be able to ignore the skeevy parts of Reddit, really", wasn't it?

I have, at this precise moment, 11 Reddit tabs open - all of them for extremely niche gaming or game dev subreddits. I don't have an account, I don't consider myself to be "on Reddit" in any capacity, and there is nothing on any of those 11 tabs that could possibly be construed as sexist, racist, homophobic, or transphobic by anyone. Unless you somehow consider loot spreadsheets and shader code discriminatory.

I visit Reddit a dozen times a day and I have never been to /r/funny, and didn't even know it existed until this post.

Reddit is what you make of it, like pretty much anything that size. For some things it's the single best reference site on the Internet. For others it's the usual toxic IRC culture run amok. The more generic, the more popular your topic, the more likely you are to encounter standard Internet anonymous-login culture. That culture deserves the scorn everyone here is heaping on it, but to pretend like it's specific to one site or lament people linking to that site is to completely miss the point: this stuff isn't localized, it's everywhere. You're doing yourselves and everyone else a disservice by pretending like Reddit isn't just a microcosm for the Internet at this point.

I don't mean to say that anti-feminism is something new, but rather this particular new flavor of it seems like it comes from teenagers newly exposed to social justice movements and critical theory wildly misusing it, while another group of equally clueless teenagers treats them as being emblematic of every form of social justice movement and every form of academic study of oppression.

Twitter and Tumblr, for all the shit they get (and frequently deserve), have been invaluable tools for helping people who are discriminated against connect with peers for support. They've been invaluable tools for callouts and public shaming of media figures and personalities who deserve it, for calling attention to horrifying injustice on an almost daily basis.

But making those tools available to the most marginalized people also entails making them available to kids without the experience or perspective to distinguish between the mundane injustices that plague everyone and genuine systemic discrimination. There's no way to make these things useful to people who need them without also making them an outlet for facepalm-inducingly banal whining.

I don't know if there's a parallel or analogy to be made between this and the first half of my comment, but I suspect it would have to start with the fact that highly specialized knowledge is inextricable from the privilege that afforded people the opportunity to accumulate it in the first place.
posted by Ryvar at 8:55 AM on January 6, 2016 [17 favorites]


People are awful. Also, I want to know what color her lipstick in the after picture is, because it is perfect.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:57 AM on January 6, 2016 [10 favorites]


Tumblr gets treated like a zombie virus by those types.

"Ugh I swear this site is turning into tumblr these days." "Don't tell me, you're one of those types." If I were to hear this irl, do you think lurching towards them as a big guy groaning "feemminismm" would work?

Reddit is still uniquely shitty, but I've enjoyed that the types that panic, turn face, and flee, on the slightest site acknowledgement of systemic bias, have scampered to Voat or wherever. It's amazing how a single instance of not pandering drives people off. It still sucks that a large amount of interests have little activity outside Reddit.
posted by halifix at 8:58 AM on January 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Her response is really awesome.

Which is about fuckability. You're nothing if some guy's boner doesn't like you.

After a Metafilter discussion some months ago in which women were being dismissed as "unfuckable," I wanted to get myself a t-shirt that said FUCKABLE in great big letters. They could be great big letters because I am a great big person. And then on the back, like how band t-shirts list all the tour dates, could be something like this:

Weight: 200
Fucked 5 men, 13 Women

Weight: 250
Fucked 1 man (a lot over many years).

Weight: 300-ish
Fucked: 2 women, 2 men, 1 person who rejected the gender binary


A friend and I went to see the Mountain Goats last fall. We were among a handful of people John Darnielle's age in the audience. The rest were much younger. My friend was feeling kind of out-of-place. We were two fat middle-aged women who'd driven 7 hours to get to the show and hadn't had time to shower and change, in a crowd of young people who were dressed in that casual but very carefully-thought-out way that young people often dress for a night out. I said to my friend, "We fit here. We're fans, they're fans. If we talked to each other, we'd like each other. Hell, I bet if we stayed after for drinks in the bar, I could take home one of these boys. It would blow his mind and change him forever."
posted by not that girl at 9:04 AM on January 6, 2016 [72 favorites]


Count on reddit to put the garbage in the Internet of Garbage.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:06 AM on January 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Tumblr gets treated like a zombie virus by those types.

The feeling is pretty mutual; I use Tumblr in part to follow the work of pro and amateur artists, and at least one of them specifically forbids the reposting of her work on Reddit.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:06 AM on January 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


Oh, god. Yeah. People think "fat" is the literal worst thing you could call a woman. And whoo boy do they get pissed when you just don't care.

I remember I was with my then-girlfriend on the way to a back-yard wedding. As our street entered the neighborhood, the lanes merged from one to two. She was driving, and our car was practically in front of the truck in the lane next to us. She sped up a bit to put more distance between us, and the guy driving sped up too. She didn't back down, and because we were ahead to begin with, the asshole in the truck ended up having to brake.

We found the house, parked our car a block and a half down the road (not much parking), and started walking back. And, I kid you not, the asshole pulls up next to us and starts screaming from his truck. Talking about how he found us, we'll regret it, don't we dare ever put his kid in danger. All this with many, many more f-bombs. Now keep in mind-my girlfriend and are are about 22, in dresses and heels, walking in a quiet neighborhood, and this guy is 35, an obvious body builder in a monster truck going 5 mph so he can keep threatening us. We get to the cul-de-sac where the house is and I turn around to look at him and ask "Are you done yet?"
He tenses up and retorts "Shut up, you fat bitch". And I literally laughed right at him. You can see the rage flash across his face.
He tries again "You're fat!"
I laugh again and shrug "And?".
He's shaking at this point, completely and utterly dumbfounded that his sharp wit didn't send me crashing to my knees. I wait a few more seconds as his mind tries and fails to come up with anything more scathing than the insult he just hurled at me. I say "Alright then, keep it moving", and dismiss him by waving my hand. I walked away after that, to be honest at this point I was rather scared-big dude following you in a car is frightening, no matter how ridiculous the situation.
The exchange was worth it, though, to see the look on his face as I completely robbed him of any power he thought his insult had.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:07 AM on January 6, 2016 [127 favorites]


I see Reddit not as a single forum, but as a collection of thousands of sites each with their own topic of interest (some general, some very specific) and each with their own moderation style. It's very easy to find subreddits that aren't toxic, and also easy to avoid/unfollow the ones that are.
posted by rocket88 at 9:11 AM on January 6, 2016 [13 favorites]


I spent several months reporting abusive online behavior -- rather uselessly, as my Tumblr blog about comments that Facebook thought was fine demonstrates (warning, excruciatingly racist.)

I mean, the great advantage of the web is that it has given a massive number of people access to a platform to communicate their concerns and ideas. The downside is that it has also given a massive number of people quick and easy tools to try to harass them into silence. And all of these sites think try to take the easy way out -- they either ignore the abuse (Reddit) or seem to use some faulty algorithm to just delete a random selection of posts (Twitter, Facebook).

The only cure, as we have repeatedly seen, is an invested moderating staff that's actually responsive to complaints and concerns. But this is expensive and flies in the face of the privileged techno utopian libertarian fantasies of the designers and maintainers of much of the web.
posted by maxsparber at 9:13 AM on January 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Twitter and Tumblr, for all the shit they get (and frequently deserve), have been invaluable tools for helping people who are discriminated against connect with peers for support. They've been invaluable tools for callouts and public shaming of media figures and personalities who deserve it, for calling attention to horrifying injustice on an almost daily basis.

Assuming that you don't stick your foot in your mouth and become a target of callouts, dogpilling, and harassment yourself. That didn't start on tumblr but has been a big problem there. Perhaps changes in the last six months have muted that a bit, but over the weekend I got linked to a ridiculous slapfight of identity policing and misgendering among feminist participants.

I left tumblr back in April because encountering different forms of biophobia on a regular basis was triggering me to a deeply unhealthy degree, and using the personal block list was playing wack-a-mole. Almost all of that was radical or progressive infighting.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:23 AM on January 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


That sucks, and you're awesome, kate.


The feeling is pretty mutual; I use Tumblr in part to follow the work of pro and amateur artists, and at least one of them specifically forbids the reposting of her work on Reddit.


Artists are allowed to suggest where they want their work displayed. But what gets treated as toxic is vastly different. A single comment arguing (often with good reasons) that no, microagressions and trigger warnings are actual terms and good to discuss? A sign of the Tumblr apocalypse. Meanwhile on another part of reddit, tfa happens.

Hate mobs are an issue everywhere on the internet, but the dismissal reflex (and the presence of opinions that silence by being extremely blithe and hurtful) really informs what a site's userbase allows to be discussed.
posted by halifix at 9:26 AM on January 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Goetz diligently kicks ass and is the only person worth noting in this story.

America is a broken society these days and out-and-out psychopathy has been all the rage for years now. Filter your sources, or drown in sewage. An open mind is not an asset in a cesspool.

I'm all over reddit and I never see stuff like this - though I do see some offensive stuff (it's pretty amazing how reactionary the posters are in r/nyc). Some fairly large chunk of my time there is just in technical groups. You select out all this shit in the first week.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:26 AM on January 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


After eschewing Reddit out of hand for some years, I spent about 6 months really digging in, finding some places that did have that oft-referred quality content you really can't get anywhere else (alas, /r/makeupaddiction). I said to myself, "it's not like I'm personally supporting the existence of child pornography or the harassment of women, even if the heads of Reddit are". My reading /r/xxketo wasn't hurting anybody, after all.

Over that six months, what I saw happen repeatedly - even in tiny little esoteric subs with a great culture and excellent moderation - was that everything would be fine until suddenly it wasn't. All of a sudden there would be downvoting campaigns, the sudden emergence of racist and misogynist comments, gross DMs to users who had mistakenly assumed they were in a safe space. It was a sort of low-key brigading, probably organized by the lesser hierarchies of mean kids trying it out before taking a run on a bigger sub. It brought the tone way down, made the noise far louder than the signal, and the waves of users who would leave or delete left gaps and made traditions hard to maintain.

And the only way to combat it is with tremendous amounts of free labor from moderators, who were taking egregious abuse the whole time. For free.

And I realized: Reddit is garbage and I am garbage for using it. I too tried to make the argument that it's just a platform, it's just like Usenet, but no, it's a centrally owned-and-administrated site that defends and protects gruesome, indefensible content. Brought to you by Conde Nast, which I think makes it even worse. This is what large publishing companies want, this garbage.

So now I don't anymore. I back out if I end up there from a click - I got caught up in that recycled bit from nosleep the other day and feel bad about it still.

This year, I'm going to start pulling my donations from organizations that actively engage with Reddit. This means pulling almost all of my podcast donations, some of which are a decent amount of coin and I've been donating for years. I haven't done it yet because I haven't wanted to do the research on who's actually participating and who's just having to live with a sub run by fans/haters, and because I intend to contact each one first and ask what their plan is before I stop my donations.

Reddit is garbage and using it gets stink on you, no matter how good your intentions.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:28 AM on January 6, 2016 [71 favorites]


You know, I used to be that guy who would say that "reddit has some decent groups and you can avoid the toxic nature as long as you unsubscribe from all the defaults" but a couple of things happened:

I realized that was kind of an absurd thing to say - it's like "reddit is fine as long as you ignore the overwhelming majority of it." Yes, there are pockets of civility, but that isn't what defines reddit.

I also started encountering the bad side of reddit - and holy shit. I had isolated myself from it pretty effectively, but there is definitely a horrible multi-headed reddit demon that will consume anything it puts its eyes on.

I got to see a small side of it in action when I was participating in the metal gear subreddit after the release of MGS5 - I could literally refresh and watch downvotes if I said anything remotely critical of the games treatment of women, and I saw others slienced the same way. And this was the relatively benign side of the demon in comparison to the rest.

I don't remember what I came across by accident that was off my quarantined section, but it was one of the more predominant or default reddits - maybe /r/news? Holy holy shit. I was literally horrified by the amount of racism and hatred that was not just given a voice, but amplified and supported. And this wasn't even remotely the worst that the site has to offer - this was on a relatively benign subreddit.

I'm certainly no stranger to seeing comments on news sites run racist/misogynistic, you see it all the time - It's not alarming that it's present on reddit, it's that it's supported and amplified to such a large degree.

Just because it's possible to filter out reddit to the point that it's no longer an abomination doesn't mean that the reddit effect isn't real, or that there isn't a highly toxic culture pervasive throughout the site - and rather distinct to it. It doesn't mean that you are a horrible person for participating in the more civil subreddits, and saying reddit is horrible isn't doing that either... but reddit as a collective mindset is a large enough entity to define the site fairly well - The civility is the exception, and by no means the norm.
posted by MysticMCJ at 9:29 AM on January 6, 2016 [32 favorites]


(I get harassing messages on Google+, too).
posted by ChuraChura at 9:30 AM on January 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


This is a bullet point of one, and I can't explain it, but the only people I know who actively fat shame women have been obese men. Some of them, obese gay men.

And I don't think any of them are on reddit, or even know what it is.
posted by kanewai at 9:54 AM on January 6, 2016


In re reddit: the white supremacist harassment of Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis (which led to actual shooting of protesters ) was partially planned on what I understand to be a closed subreddit. To my mind, the fact that the company doesn't shut this shit down is what puts me off of reddit - the mere nastiness is everywhere on the web and not reddit's fault, but the violence, open white supremacy, etc could be shut down if people were willing to do so. I often wonder if the Reddit administrators are scared of the people on those boards and hence afraid to shut things down - it seems to me like they've got a tiger by the tail.
posted by Frowner at 9:56 AM on January 6, 2016 [29 favorites]


Like one of the commenters up-thread, I'm not sure the friend who called did her a favor. Years ago, when I was working at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival and lovers with a trans man, one of my co-workers took me aside and said, "I think you need to know what people are saying about you." It was a bunch of transphobic, traitor-to-lesbians stuff, with an interesting admixture of the idea that I was a mole for Camp Trans.

The only way I ever knew people were saying this stuff was because my friend told me. I never could figure out what good it did me or anyone else for me to know it was being said. I think in a case like this, I'd be concerned that it would get back to my friend, but I'd be cautious at the same time, because if it didn't reach her, it might be better for her not to hear about it.

I did tell one of my friends, "By the way, don't ever google yourself." She's had very little on-line presence, and he only hits for her name were people expressing the wish that she, her wife, and their infant son would die in a fire. Fortunately since then someone with her name has become a famous interior designer and now you can't really find her at all.
posted by not that girl at 10:10 AM on January 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


There's also a diversionary argument of 'tumblr as totem for the ridiculous fringe of feminism' just as there's one for 'reddit as totem for mouthbreathing neckbeards' which ignores the fact that any community of a certain size will contain unpleasant or dangerous sects. Such activity can only be quashed by thoughtful global moderation (ahem, MeFi) — which neither reddit nor tumblr has.
posted by a halcyon day at 10:43 AM on January 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


[I realize that the link isn't totally separable from Reddit or anything, but it might be worth trying to focus the discussion more on at least the specific content of the link and the phenomena it discusses and less on another generic "reddit: y/n" roundtable.]
posted by cortex at 10:44 AM on January 6, 2016 [13 favorites]


Reddit is a goddamn toilet, but David Attenborough is doing an AMA in that toilet RIGHT NOW, so...
posted by louche mustachio at 10:44 AM on January 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


There's also a diversionary argument of 'tumblr as totem for the ridiculous fringe of feminism' just as there's one for 'reddit as totem for mouthbreathing neckbeards' which ignores the fact that any community of a certain size will contain unpleasant or dangerous sects. Such activity can only be quashed by thoughtful global moderation (ahem, MeFi) — which neither reddit nor tumblr has.

This is my view. Unmoderated frameworks all seem to fail in similar ways. For that matter, I think Metafilter fails on some key topics. I don't see an easy solution.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:50 AM on January 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


Funny article, the writer has a much more mature attitude than I would have had at her age.
I also have trouble understanding the idea behind the whole thing. Why would someone take the time and trouble? What exactly are they trying to say? The fact that a 16 year old girl is presented as the ideal says something about the people participating though.
posted by bongo_x at 10:51 AM on January 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


What exactly are they trying to say?

"Shut up."
posted by maxsparber at 10:55 AM on January 6, 2016 [39 favorites]


"We fit here. We're fans, they're fans. If we talked to each other, we'd like each other. Hell, I bet if we stayed after for drinks in the bar, I could take home one of these boys. It would blow his mind and change him forever."

One of my best friends is big and 50-years-old and gets plenty of action. Way more than me at least. It's like people think you cease to exist in certain ways once you reach a certain age/weight threshold.
posted by brundlefly at 11:05 AM on January 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


"Shut up."

In a society where attention is currency, and with women it's further coded with certain kinds of attractiveness, this is dead on.

We all might want to think about why this post took a hard turn into Reddit Sucks Amirite when frankly, what happened to Goetz happens all over the Internet.
posted by gnomeloaf at 11:05 AM on January 6, 2016 [18 favorites]


...might want to think about why this post took a hard turn into Reddit Sucks Amirite when frankly, what happened to Goetz happens all over the Internet.

Not All Social Media Platforms
posted by FirstMateKate at 11:10 AM on January 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


We all might want to think about why this post took a hard turn into Reddit Sucks Amirite when frankly, what happened to Goetz happens all over the Internet.

There's not much to say about what happened to her, maybe, other than "They suck and she rules."

Like her, I am kind of morbidly curious about which old acquaintance dug up her yearbook photo and started the whole thing. Because how pathetic can you be?
posted by emjaybee at 11:11 AM on January 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


I've heard (but I don't dare research further) that there are indeed some racist/sexist/bigoted/hateful users/blogs on TUMBLR and it seems likely to me that the moment enough of the assholes realize that Tumblr isn't necessarily 'the enemy' but rather a resource that they can use as easily as Reddit, it'll be rapidly turning into 'another Reddit' because that's the way the Internet works now.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:25 AM on January 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


I also have trouble understanding the idea behind the whole thing. Why would someone take the time and trouble? What exactly are they trying to say?

You could ask this about literally any issue that falls under the misogyny banner. And, I know you don't mean it this way (at least I think you don't), but expressing surprise and asking those questions is a common way to diminish the problem: It insinuates that stupid shit like this is perpetuated by someone, an individual someone, with a) too much time on their hands, and b) a specific grudge, not an almost-universal truth that women face every single day from the world at large.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:41 AM on January 6, 2016 [19 favorites]


Good gods, her response is so fantastic. (Wait wait I thought women were supposed to be irrational and bad at comedy but here she is being both logical and funny...hmmmm.)
posted by desuetude at 11:48 AM on January 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


What exactly are they trying to say?

Reinforcing ideological in-group/out-group stereotypes is one function.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:03 PM on January 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've heard (but I don't dare research further) that there are indeed some racist/sexist/bigoted/hateful users/blogs on TUMBLR

Oh, definitely. Some are just straight-up trolling, some seem to be MRA-type shitlords who think that they're mounting a lonely, doomed resistance to SJWs or something.

and it seems likely to me that the moment enough of the assholes realize that Tumblr isn't necessarily 'the enemy' but rather a resource that they can use as easily as Reddit, it'll be rapidly turning into 'another Reddit' because that's the way the Internet works now.

mmm, not really. One of the problems with Reddit is downvoting, something that's not allowed on Tumblr (or here, for that matter), and that's used not just to punish individuals but control the conversation by, say, downvoting "rival" questions on Q&A-oriented subreddits so that your own get more prominence. Also, tumblrs are more individual-oriented than group-oriented; there are tumblrs that take submissions from others, but they have to be approved by the owner-moderator. I'm not saying that there aren't pile-ons or other types of problematic behavior on Tumblr, because they are, but they tend to be the exception.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:15 PM on January 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


From my personal POV, I'm not sure I'd be able to enjoy the well-run, non-toxic subreddits even if I never had any contact with the other ones. I'd still know that I and my fellow subreddit participants were enabling and standing up to be counted with the toxic whole.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:41 PM on January 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


So people remind me again why I want to be on Reddit? It's all, "You'll be able to ignore the skeevy parts of Reddit, really", wasn't it?

The technical and subject-focused subreddits are largely fine. The more technical and the more subject-focused the better. It's the political and humor ones that seem to spiral into 4chan style chaos.

(I remembered that I had made an earlier comment about this several months ago. Still applies, IMO.
posted by theorique at 1:08 PM on January 6, 2016


I just wish there were a Metafilter for Games. The game-specific subreddits are some of the ones where you'll be cruising along soaking up quality games content for a little while, then out of the blue there comes some cranky circlejerk that takes over the entire sub for the next six months and nobody can talk about anything without some highly-upvoted comment about "lol but witcher was better amirite" or "[female character x] is so annoying i want to kill/inflict obscene sexual violence on her" or whatever. Not to mention that any game with a female character will have multiple screenshots posted with her in "funny" sexual situations, or modded to be nude, or whatever. /r/tombraider and /r/dragonage are the only two exceptions I've seen to the latter rule.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:18 PM on January 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I just wish there were a Metafilter for Games.

i got you
posted by Sternmeyer at 1:27 PM on January 6, 2016 [10 favorites]


*tips Towering Pillar of Hats*
posted by tobascodagama at 1:36 PM on January 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


One thing I gotta say for this sort of things on-line is that it give awesome folks like her a voice to be an excellent example. Because before the internet I honestly thought that street harassment, bike harassment, fat harassment, etc that I've experienced in the real world was Just Me. And with examples like her awesome response, I can imagine responding with something other than my past ashamed silence.

Because laughter is Such a better response, mainly for how it makes the harassed feel empowered.
posted by ldthomps at 1:47 PM on January 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


Unmoderated frameworks all seem to fail in similar ways. For that matter, I think Metafilter fails on some key topics. I don't see an easy solution.

The tragedy here, I think, is that the mythos of the Internet -- one of great, self-regulating openness, a great equalizer enabling many-to-many communication -- all developed before the Eternal September put a lie to the stories the techies told each other. (Early Usenet, so far as I can tell, was largely unmoderated. It was also about as open and easily accessible as small town Americana. It's relatively easy to establish community norms when most people are regulars and newcomers are rare. It's impossible when newcomers can outnumber you in minutes.) As it turns out, the only things that like large, publicly accessible, unmoderated groups are spambots and trolls (and, occasionally, bullies).

That said, to turn to the subject at hand, insensitivity about an abstract subject is very different (IMHO) from targeting a specific individual. Preventing a heated conversation from turning into a flamewar is far harder than preventing someone from posting pictures of one particular person.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 2:47 PM on January 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


I kind of do and don't get the reddit hate. It seems like people think that it's a cesspit of the worst people, but I think it's far too mainstream for that and is probably closer to being a window into how/what people actually think; an unvarnished view of our actual society, not the dregs of our society.

Thoughts that people consider but decide are not prudent to say in person - those thoughts still shape their actions, and I like having a better glimpse of how people (and our culture) genuinely are.

It's not undistorted - it does act as an amplifier, and that is especially gruesome with the amount of hate that gets amplified, but it also amplifies little universal human things that we never even knew were universal human things until they got amplified. Reddit reveals things about humanity and being human that centuries of literature and science and art failed to notice, or could not possibly have been equipped to notice. (I was interested by OKtrends for vaguely similar reasons, though it's a completely different kind of thing)
posted by anonymisc at 2:50 PM on January 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's really bizarre how much grown adults are letting their politics be shaped by what I can't help but see as the 2010s version of a middle school clique battle

It's almost as if a site built specifically to facilitate high-school posing, bragging and point-scoring had gone global and become the first place most people visit on opening their web browsers.
posted by flabdablet at 3:52 PM on January 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's not undistorted - it does act as an amplifier, and that is especially gruesome with the amount of hate that gets amplified, but it also amplifies little universal human things that we never even knew were universal human things until they got amplified. Reddit reveals things about humanity and being human that centuries of literature and science and art failed to notice, or could not possibly have been equipped to notice.

That's one of the things that seems to drive people crazy about Reddit.

You can rant all you like about how toxic it is, but at times it actually does illuminate and elevate something very poignant and human and beautiful.

And you can wax poetic about how the "best" of Reddit is poignant and human and beautiful, but that doesn't mean that there aren't some parts of it that are very nasty and negative (including, but not limited to, the current example).

It's complex because it's made up of people and people are complex and both kind and terrible.
posted by theorique at 4:14 PM on January 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think she is totally adorable. Love her hair and that lipstick rocks.

Has it ever occurred to some of these fat shamers that some of us have significant others that prefer the curves? I want to lose some weight for health reasons but Ralph is happy with me appearance wise. People have differing tastes, and why should that be an issue? Like what you like and leave the others be.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:15 PM on January 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, they have some pretty unpleasant words for those SOs too, especially if they are men.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:20 PM on January 6, 2016


I'm officially old. I have no desire to live my life in the Internet's public eye. My first thought upon reading this was that I don't care what interesting social or political study this could make, I wouldn't want my picture out there. According to her story, the image was taken by her or her fiance. They own the copyright. Send DMCA take-down notices for wherever the picture can be found and be done with it. Otherwise ignore Reddit, which is a good piece of advice in general. Sure, weirdo trolls could backlash against the take-down - but really only in the tiny swimming pool that is Reddit (and yeah, I know it has a lot of visitors, but no, in the context of the world it is a fleeting spec of dung on the world's lapel that has the longevity of less than a heartbeat in time).
posted by Muddler at 4:44 PM on January 6, 2016


If I was her friend I would tell her, and if something like this happened to me I would want people to alert me to it. Sure, it's depressing to find out shit like this is happening to you, but is ignorance really so blissful? Do you really not want to know you've become a meme and idiots are ridiculing you? If she didn't know, she couldn't respond. She couldn't fight back. Then the dipshits could do whatever they wanted, without fear of reprisal. She couldn't have written this article, if she didn't know this thing was happening.

I say this as somebody who was horribly harassed online some years back, getting attacked in some really disgusting, invasive, transphobic ways on a couple of message boards. The pin-dicks who went after me are the same sort of pin-dicks who went after this woman. This stuff isn't academic to me. I fought back hard, and I'm glad I had the opportunity.

After a Metafilter discussion some months ago in which women were being dismissed as "unfuckable,"

I doubt that there was a thread on Metafilter where women were being dismissed as unfuckable, because it would be wildly out of character for the site and would be swiftly banned anyhow. And I really hope you weren't talking about this thread, because that is so not what was happening there. (If that is the discussion you were referencing, I'd direct you to my response from 11 months ago. The phrase "conventional fuckabilty" was not meant as an endorsement of Hollywood's ageist, fat-shame-y BS. Please watch the Amy Schumer bit about the "last fuckable day". The people talking about "fuckability" in that thread meant it like that.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:59 PM on January 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


I am totally impressed with the writer, Hale Goetz, for being honest, smart and feminist. She gives me faith in the future.
posted by theora55 at 6:35 PM on January 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


And, I know you don't mean it this way (at least I think you don't), but expressing surprise and asking those questions is a common way to diminish the problem:

Yeah, I didn’t mean it that way, but I wasn't expressing surprise either. Not "what an odd, rare occurrence", or "I can’t believe such a thing would happen", it’s simply that I don’t understand it.
posted by bongo_x at 12:57 AM on January 7, 2016


A while back, something got me thinking about what it would be like if we women would refuse to care about the patriarchy's shitty opinions about our bodies and appearances. And I realized it would be a revolution. Reading the OP gave me a thrill: this person is a revolutionary, and now let's all join her. We can do this!
posted by sively at 1:38 AM on January 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


I sympathize with the general sentiment about Reddit expressed here. It was far better 5 or 6 years ago. But compared to some other places on the Internet, Reddit these days is positively chirpy.
posted by iffthen at 6:10 AM on January 7, 2016


After years of talking about it, I was inspired to finally participate in my local New Years Day polar bear swim* and not give a shit how I looked in the bathing suit. For a few hours, anyway. It's hard. I was a little surprised I didn't see this here already.

There's not much to say about what happened to her, maybe, other than "They suck and she rules."

Because the article isn't really about what happened to her, it's about what she happened unto others. This thread is full of interesting comments.

The numbers make it unsurprising that Reddit is involved but it could have been FailBlog or countless other viral outlets. In fact, it seems Facebook is also a major source of horrible crap and had a much more mainstream reach.

*The shorter 120m swim is really more like a very cold, very bouncy walk.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:19 AM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Facebook feels different from something like Reddit if only because of the conceit that the people whose content you're seeing are friends. Or, if not friends exactly, a list of people you have consciously chosen to see content from, rather than a list of topics you want to see content about.

So while Facebook content is about as toxic as content anywhere else, it's easier to be isolated from the bad parts. Not so with Reddit, because nothing prevents users from posting both to, say, /r/racistmemes and /r/nichegameilike and cross-pollinating images from the former subreddit to the latter.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:31 AM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well, nothing except vigilant moderation, which Reddit culture as a whole really dislikes (zomg censorship!) even though it's responsible for the growth of the site via the few tolerable bastions of good content like /r/AMA and /r/askscience.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:33 AM on January 7, 2016


Facebook feels different from something like Reddit if only because of the conceit that the people whose content you're seeing are friends. Or, if not friends exactly, a list of people you have consciously chosen to see content from, rather than a list of topics you want to see content about.

That's a good point. For Facebook, the primary axis of organization and linkage is the user account, whereas for Reddit, the primary axis is the subreddit / group.

Unsurprisingly, creating new Facebook accounts (whether serious, sockpuppet, or whatever), while not difficult, costs slightly more effort than creating new Reddit accounts.

On Facebook when a specific person (or account) is repeatedly posting content that is objectionable or triggering or whatever, you can personally cease contact with that person without ceasing discussion on that topic. (Except in cases where, e.g., you have many friends in common or participate in multiple groups in common.)

In fact, the Facebook Groups function is where things get closer to Reddit functionality. But Reddit appears to be far ahead of Facebook in this realm, at least in terms of abundance and popularity.
posted by theorique at 8:04 AM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


« Older Accent and Sentiment   |   344 Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments