"Internet Famous"
January 5, 2015 5:02 AM   Subscribe

Visibility As Violence On Social Media

Wherein Shanley Kane (pre vi ou sly) further explores the question: How the fuck does your “meritocracy” explain this?
posted by young_son (281 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
“Maybe we should all think about how we’re allowing ourselves to be incentivized to keep quiet.”
posted by infini at 5:34 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


"The constant gendered harassment, stalking and boundary violation I receive is considered by many to be the natural exhaust of my visibility." Ouch. But the framing of "natural exhaust" is helpful.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:41 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Now that I've RTFCA, I find myself sympathetic to the plight of the main character while less inclined to empathise with the experiences of the interviewer.

While I couldn't pinpoint the exact paragraphs or offer you all a verifying citation, there's something in the interstitial spaces between the letters of the alphabet arranged properly in order that leads me to the conclusion I wrote in the sentence above summarizing my opinion on this FPP.
posted by infini at 5:55 AM on January 5, 2015


I had to stop reading when I saw "cishet" used an an unironic descriptor. I'm sure she makes plenty of sense, but you can't bitch about labels AND run with new ones.
posted by Hamadryad at 6:14 AM on January 5, 2015 [13 favorites]


Ah, I read the wrong article... the one on Matter/Medium linked to as Shanley Kane in the FPP is the one I'm still ruminating over - wish there such indepth thoughtful pieces on founders of other startups, such as uber perhaps, just for example.
posted by infini at 6:20 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


...but you can't bitch about labels AND run with new ones.
Oh, she runs with the wolves just fine, for a bitch.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 6:20 AM on January 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


I sympathize with her and as the father of a daughter about to strike out on her own accounts like this terrify me.

But, here's the thing, this brand of harassment has been going on forever. It cracks me up that recently this type of harassment has been discovered as a thing because it's been going on for as long as anyone can remember in the traditional media. Talk to any newspaper reporter, male or female, about the level of harassment they experience and they'll tell you it started the first day their name appeared in print. Before the internet it manifested itself as threatening letters and phone calls. A good friend of mine from my newspaper days was the media/ music critic and he used to play his voice mails on speaker so we could all hear the level of crazy that was being directed at him on a daly basis. As long as reporters have the audacity to simply do their jobs there will be nutters who will feel it's their right to challenge them. All the internet has done is provided the same wing nuts an easier way to level their attacks. Mediums like blogging and twitter have created an atmosphere of accessibility that seems to have motivated certain individuals to a level of stalking and harassment that wouldn't have been possible in the past. It's a symptom of ALL of us being more engaged with each other through things like social media, email, texts, etc.

If you define your job as speaking truth to power as the author does you're going to have to deal with harassment. I know she feels threatened and unsafe in public but the best way for her to confront her harassers is to live like they have no power over her. Easier said than done but what's the alternative? Allow them to silence her voice? That would be a travesty.
posted by photoslob at 6:21 AM on January 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


I had no idea that internet fame was a requirement for a career in tech. I feel like such a imposter now.
posted by 0 at 6:22 AM on January 5, 2015 [10 favorites]


I had to stop reading when...

Really? You had to?

Shanley Kane is over the top, but that's pretty clearly what the tech sector needs, because nice doesn't seem to have worked in the slightest. This is an industry that was pretty much born after feminism and is still somehow worse than anything from the beforedays.

So go ahead and throw your tone arguments and complain that Shanley Kane is just as bad as rampant institutionalized sexism. She's a fucking hero, and she at least needs to be listened to, not dismissed because she dares to punch up.
posted by Etrigan at 6:23 AM on January 5, 2015 [108 favorites]


I had to stop reading when I saw "cishet" used an an unironic descriptor.

Congratulations for reading three sentences into the article!
posted by joyceanmachine at 6:23 AM on January 5, 2015 [96 favorites]


I think her actual point about visibility being a path for attack is quite valid, and it's worth a discussion.

The way she personalizes it, though, presumes a premise I'm not so sure of: that the hatred she gets is because she's not a white cishet male. It may be, it may not be. Some surely is, how much? C.f. the unending debate of "How much of the hatred of Barack Obama is because he's black vs. how much hatred did Clinton get?"
posted by tyllwin at 6:28 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


The way she personalizes it, though, presumes a premise I'm not so sure of: that the hatred she gets is because she's not a white cishet male. It may be, it may not be. Some surely is, how much?

How much would assigning a number to either of those things really help?
posted by Etrigan at 6:29 AM on January 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


A crucible is, by definition, a transformative experience through which an individual comes to a new or an altered sense of identity. It is perhaps not surprising then that one of the most common types of crucibles we documented involves the experience of prejudice. Being a victim of prejudice is particularly traumatic because it forces an individual to confront a distorted picture of him- or herself, and it often unleashes profound feelings of anger, bewilderment, and even withdrawal. For all its trauma, however, the experience of prejudice is for some a clarifying event. Through it, they gain a clearer vision of who they are, the role they play, and their place in the world. Crucibles of Leadership, 2002
posted by infini at 6:31 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


But, here's the thing, this brand of harassment has been going on forever. It cracks me up that recently this type of harassment has been discovered as a thing because it's been going on for as long as anyone can remember in the traditional media.

Just because it's been "going on forever" doesn't mean it's acceptable that it has been.

What you're seeing lately is not people "only just now discovering this kind of harrassment is a thing". What you're seeing lately is people only just now deciding that they shouldn't HAVE to put up with it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:35 AM on January 5, 2015 [83 favorites]


But, here's the thing, this brand of harassment has been going on forever. It cracks me up that recently this type of harassment has been discovered as a thing because it's been going on for as long as anyone can remember in the traditional media. Talk to any newspaper reporter, male or female, about the level of harassment they experience and they'll tell you it started the first day their name appeared in print.

----------------------

The way she personalizes it, though, presumes a premise I'm not so sure of: that the hatred she gets is because she's not a white cishet male.


________________

Paging anildash to check in and let us know how many times he's been stalked, sexually harassed, or told he "needs a hug from a penis."

It's the difference between being hated and called names, and being hated and called names and having a noose hung on your door because you're also African American. And if you're one of the double digit percentage of women who have actually experienced gendered/sexualized violence, make that, "having a noose hung on your door when an angry white mob has already attempted to hang you in the past.""
posted by blue suede stockings at 6:40 AM on January 5, 2015 [20 favorites]


As a woman, as a bisexual woman, as a bisexual woman entering middle age, as a bisexual woman entering middle age who grew up with tech, as a bisexual woman entering middle age who grew up with tech in the Reagan era....

I'll go ahead and keep being annoyed with "cishet," and you guys can keep rehashing how horrible things are for women in tech and media.

And, my mistake, it was the SECOND "cishet" on which I gave up, this one:

'But while thoughtful, nuanced intellectual labor is an asset for many cishet white men in tech – who will be considered “edgy,” “provocative,” “brilliant,” and “visionary” – my growing visibility and “controversial” online activism exposing and condemning industry inequality made further achievement and even continued employment at all increasingly untenable.'

I went ahead and skimmed the rest.

I'm not disagreeing that it's horrible. Does this article add anything to the discussion? Is she saying anything we haven't seen written by dozens of other women making the same arguments and having the same problems over the last several years?

I spent three years in the '90s having people drive by my house screaming my name at random times of the night after 10pm because I was locally "BBS famous." The only reason it didn't go on longer is that we moved.

I know from real life harassment due to online activities.

What is she saying that hasn't been said before/linked on here a dozen times already? What new twist is she giving the problem? What solutions are being offered? Or is this just another article about the same thing for us to all agree is Horrible Stuff To Go Through, and pat ourselves on the back for still agreeing that Women In Tech Have It Rough?
posted by Hamadryad at 6:41 AM on January 5, 2015 [19 favorites]


I personally rate Shanley Kane quite a lot (not surprising since one of those previouslies is mine) but she does have that Silicon Valley aggressiveness that a) of course is always seen as much more aggressive if you're a woman and b) is normally not shown quite so openly. It's that's I'm right and if you don't agree with me 100 percent then you're an enemy and you need to be burned down to the ground mentality.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:41 AM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


What you're seeing lately is not people "only just now discovering this kind of harrassment is a thing". What you're seeing lately is people only just now deciding that they shouldn't HAVE to put up with it.

Quoting it because it rings so true. It has been like this for many years, for all kinds of internet famous people, but we can do better and we should expect better. I think in the wake of gamergate, this essay is a good wake-up call to not feeding into the dangerous culture that leads to harassment, but on the other hand, gamergate was so swift and strong of a reaction (calling what people had to endure a "strong reaction" seems like a ridiculous understatement) that I think none of these systems were designed to deal with, and it's worth re-examining them to see if what has been built can be better tweaked to prevent future runaway harassment.
posted by mathowie at 6:41 AM on January 5, 2015 [19 favorites]


Just because it's been "going on forever" doesn't mean it's acceptable that it has been.

I never said it's acceptable. But, shouting OMG CAN YOU BELIEVE ALL THE HARRASSMENT! rings as being really naive. I understand her piece is a way to confront her harassers but at some point she's going to have to ignore them so she can continue to do meaningful work. She also needs to stop engaging with them and just see them for what they are: sad, lonely and pathetic people.
posted by photoslob at 6:46 AM on January 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


Now reading the actual FPP. Just want to thank you for the existence of this front page post on moderated bean plating community like Metafilter where we are having this conversation.

misogynistic terrorism in technology

Just a minor tweak here would be to replace the word "in" with the word "leveraging"... of course she feels surveilled all the time by eyes accustomed to violence, torture and terror that might feel the need to silence anything that may impact the moneymaking side of her industry's global businesses...
posted by infini at 6:50 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


She also needs to stop engaging with them and just see them for what they are: sad, lonely and pathetic people.

You are in fact, saying the harassment IS acceptable. "Don't feed the trolls" is a bullshit concept, and has been for years.

What is needed is not some guy to come in and say "Tough it out", but revised comping policies and legislation.
posted by happyroach at 6:52 AM on January 5, 2015 [38 favorites]


But, shouting OMG CAN YOU BELIEVE ALL THE HARRASSMENT! rings as being really naive.

Then there's a shitload of naive people in the world, many of them men, who always seem happy to line up and express their disbelief that it could be this bad. We've seen people react exactly like this in metafilter threads (men can't believe that street harassment is really so frequent! can't believe women get told to smile by random dudes! etc.), though not, so far, in this one.
posted by rtha at 6:54 AM on January 5, 2015 [52 favorites]


I had no idea that internet fame was a requirement for a career in tech. I feel like such a imposter now.

I that sarcastic? I don't this person, nor do I know anything of the industry, but I was also struck by the statement that online visibility is a necessary element of success in tech. Are there no regulated (industry) standards by which performance can be measured? Or is this more specifically about running a website?

The consequences of publicly criticising your profession are always harsh, regardless of the the line of work. That's why most whistleblowers tell their tales on their way out. It's evidently a lot more vicious when it's in done online, which again comes back to the apparent lack of professionalism in this industry.

What you're seeing lately is people only just now deciding that they shouldn't HAVE to put up with it.

Did you read the articles? That's not the impression you get.

The visibility I receive is part of a public punishment of me. This public punishment draws more abusive visibility of me in a vicious cycle. It also isolates me from people – like other women in tech – who should be allied with me. However, they (wisely) attempt to distance themselves from me in order to avoid the punishment I am receiving, or to gain cishet white male approval by being amenable to, or outright participating in this punishment.


Again, I'm an outsider here, but it doesn't seem that Kane is getting much traction. She's been isolated. The second article gives you a similar impression.
posted by kisch mokusch at 6:55 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love the way she presents the idea of "public figure" as a label that lets us abuse or malign or harass people with impunity. It's something that makes no sense to me with entertainment celebrities, as well. It's always seemed to be code for "We don't respect you as someone who actually does work, so we're allowed to consume you in any way we see fit." I wonder if this is getting worse as the distinction between people's public/private selves is eroding, where social media and articles online are somehow always taken as a someone speaking as their "private self" rather than someone in their professional capacity.

And, of course, the sexist assumptions that women's work is somehow not ever "real" work would enhance the misogyny of the harassment.
posted by jaguar at 6:55 AM on January 5, 2015 [27 favorites]


Telling people to get over harassment and not talk about it is victim blaming and helps no one.

The more people talk about it and are on board with how shitty it is, the closer we are to helping combat it.

Talk to any newspaper reporter, male or female, about the level of harassment they experience and they'll tell you it started the first day their name appeared in print. Before the internet it manifested itself as threatening letters and phone calls.

New digital channels make it much, much easier for the volume of this harassment to increase and also for the attackers to make harassment that much more visible and humiliating. Harassment is different in kind now and needs to be talked about and understood if solutions are going to be found.
posted by Summer at 6:55 AM on January 5, 2015 [16 favorites]


I stopped reading at the SECOND 'cishet'

Why? It's just a word. Does this word make you feel uncomfortable? It describes a thing that exists in the world.

OMG CAN YOU BELIEVE ALL THE HARRASSMENT! rings as being really naive.

If someone assaults you because of your gender it's always a courageous thing to speak out about it. Men standing around laughing at women for being "naive" is precisely the sort of bullshit victim-blaming that we can finally start dealing with publicly, thanks to courageous folks like Shanley Kane.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:01 AM on January 5, 2015 [42 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: Are you honestly trying to propose that the fine people at Metafilter are missing the bigger issue at hand and that no one's even listening any more so nothing is fucking getting fixed because little ol' me was annoyed enough to post about a label...which is what I thought we were, as a society, trying to get away from? Or that the fine people at Metafilter haven't already perfected their feminist-friendly, tech-friendly, inclusion-friendly chops?
posted by Hamadryad at 7:02 AM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Harassment is different in kind now and needs to be talked about and understood if solutions are going to be found.

Yeah, and that makes me think of things like reddit and their mantras about a commitment to "free speech" and using that to say they wouldn't clamp down on user behavior, then we see what has taken place on their site and others over the last couple of years that eventually lead them to reevaluate their positions. It's good to talk about this stuff and to expect more from existing tools and talk about changes to future tools. It doesn't have to be like this, even if people think it always has been like this.
posted by mathowie at 7:05 AM on January 5, 2015 [23 favorites]


> "I understand her piece is a way to confront her harassers but at some point she's going to have to ignore them so she can continue to do meaningful work."

She has ACTUAL STALKERS. She mentions this in the piece. So to me, your advice sounds like a good way for her, or someone like her, to eventually get killed.

But even if she didn't have stalkers, no one should ever have to brush aside threats of rape and violence. And even if that, additionally, were somehow not true, it's not exactly easy for anyone to simply ignore threats of rape and violence, much less someone who is a survivor of rape and violence.
posted by kyrademon at 7:06 AM on January 5, 2015 [45 favorites]


Maybe the internet facilitates much more rapid gratification for the harassers than earlier public forums did, and thus engenders more vicious cycles of feedback?
posted by XMLicious at 7:06 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


[It's best to drop the "cishet" derail and stick to the larger issues in the article]
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:07 AM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm not remotely involved with the tech industry, and don't read much about it. I was genuinely, unironically shocked by this account. WTF?
posted by kozad at 7:09 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can see both sides of the debate. I'm introspecting right now, kind of like poking a sore tooth to see where and how exactly it hurts. I feel like there's a blurry gray area in the middle of the two sides of what people are saying and its not really all that black and white. Yet at the same time I acknowledge the fact that feeling silenced all your life is something that had begun to irk me recently and when I came across this post today and was introduced to Kane's tweets, I found myself feeling envious of her stance. This choice that you're asking her to make here:

I understand her piece is a way to confront her harassers but at some point she's going to have to ignore them so she can continue to do meaningful work. She also needs to stop engaging with them and just see them for what they are: sad, lonely and pathetic people.

is one that I found myself nodding to and thinking, just block the motherfuckers and don't engage, just like we're taught by our counsellors at the women's shelter when we're learning how to overcome the ptsd of abuse.

But she does indeed run with the wolves, as lazycomputerkids linked so very well above (I own both books btw) and her howling is making me whimper in response at the base of my throat in the cave where I've hidden myself, to lick my wounds in silence, afraid to lift my head over horizon.

I'm not disagreeing that it's horrible. Does this article add anything to the discussion? Is she saying anything we haven't seen written by dozens of other women making the same arguments and having the same problems over the last several years?


Oh yes. She's not saying anything we don't know, haven't experienced (public plagiarism and insinuations of crazyhood heh) or haven't read about just yesterday somewhere.

Its the WAY she's doing it.

She's putting the anger out there, unclothed and unbanked.

And for the rest of us socially conditioned, dependent on needing to earn money, silenced in terror and fear and trauma, her angry screams and ALL CAPs are what we wish we could do, if we had the guts to burn our bridges and streak like a flaming comet across the sky.

Why are WE trying to get her to TONE IT DOWN too?

Just yesterday I was wishing for a trust fund so I could speak my mind out loud without worrying about the goddamn rent check.

I don't think we should banhammer her.

I'd open the circle and add her to the GoodWeb bundle instead, if I really wanted to make the difference by a minor tweak. Its a start to feeling less like you're on the outside with your nose against the glass.
posted by infini at 7:12 AM on January 5, 2015 [26 favorites]


I agree with her points, and sympathize with her plight. Her writings stress me out and make me kinda sad I guess.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:30 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Talk to any newspaper reporter, male or female, about the level of harassment they experience and they'll tell you it started the first day their name appeared in print.

OK, now imagine for a moment you're getting harrassed not just because of what you write, but because of your gender, too.

"Harrassment happens to everyone, why are you so surprised?" is a red herring.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:31 AM on January 5, 2015 [25 favorites]


A good friend of mine from my newspaper days was the media/ music critic and he used to play his voice mails on speaker so we could all hear the level of crazy that was being directed at him on a daly basis.

That is a good reminder, for those who didn't really know the media world before the internet. Anyone with a byline at the local newspaper---hell, anyone who wrote a letter to the editor---used to get a number of crazy letters and calls. And yeah, for some inexplicable reason music was among the worst.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:32 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I understand her piece is a way to confront her harassers but at some point she's going to have to ignore them so she can continue to do meaningful work. She also needs to stop engaging with them and just see them for what they are: sad, lonely and pathetic people.

It would be awesome if that actually worked to make the trolls and jerkfaces go away, but seriously, it just makes them more virulent and vicious and makes you quite aware of just how little you mean as a woman IRL and online, no matter your profession.
posted by Kitteh at 7:32 AM on January 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm not remotely involved with the tech industry, and don't read much about it. I was genuinely, unironically shocked by this account. WTF?

I don't think people in the tech industry should have forgotten that the first high-level instance of misogynistic harassment of women in tech was Kathy Sierra's, back in '07. Previously in MeFi.

For what is worth, I think Joanna Russ should write a 33th anniversary edition of How to Suppress Women's Writing with an updated foreword. It's definitely still relevant.
posted by sukeban at 7:36 AM on January 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'm not disagreeing that it's horrible. Does this article add anything to the discussion? Is she saying anything we haven't seen written by dozens of other women making the same arguments and having the same problems over the last several years?

So I write a lot about mathematics for a general audience. And sometimes I want to make some mathematical point and I remember that either I or somebody else already wrote an article explaining the same point, and there's not much more to say about it. And I used to be like, well, I guess I can't cover this, the math is the math and there nothing to say about it that hasn't already been said. And then one day I realized, yes, somebody else has already written the article explaining this point, in fact, several other people have, but that doesn't change the fact that most people still don't grasp it, because it's actually difficult, and in order to actually do education you have to say the same thing again and again in many different venues and many different contexts, and you have to not worry too much about repeating yourself.
posted by escabeche at 7:37 AM on January 5, 2015 [64 favorites]


While there are, in any individual case, instances where block/ignore/etc is sound tactical advice, it can't serve as a blanket rule for any one person facing harassment and threats. Giving advice to ignore harassment, even when well-intended, can reinforce cultural norms that ignore and thereby perpetuate harassment.

As for Kane's essay itself, I thought it does well capturing the damned if you do/damned if you don't aspect of sexism here:
On one hand, white cishet men who are more prominent than me by any objective measure – Twitter followers, site traffic, mainstream press coverage – publicly plagiarize me, use ableist slurs like “crazy” and “insane” to discredit me, troll and gaslight me by expressing their “concern” for my mental health, call me “violent” and “angry” to their 200,000 followers (literally), and invest a significant amount of time and energy in inciting violence and ambient harassment against me. Many of these men will also use appeals to my own visibility, allowing them to both deny and exploit the profound gaps in visibility and power between us.

On the other hand, men who take on anonymous identities leverage that gap in visibility – me as someone with a traceable and static online identity, who can be researched and attacked at a known location, and them as ephemeral, untraceable accounts with no community identity or accountability – to terrorize me.
In systems of privilege and oppression, merit on the substance of ideas is often lost among (and ignored in favor of) traditional hierarchies of prestige. Which is why narratives like Kane's (as well as those that take different rhetorical approaches for different audiences and purposes) need to be told and re-told continually (see Patricia Hill Collins on intersectional resistance and Michael Warner and Nancy Fraser on counterpublics).
posted by audi alteram partem at 7:42 AM on January 5, 2015 [16 favorites]


How the fuck does your “meritocracy” explain this?

"Open Source is meritocratic", and "many eyes make bugs shallow" are axiomatic theologies in the free software movement, and both statements are provably false. But let's not talk about that for a second, instead let's talk about the word "meritocracy". Fun fact: did you realize that the term "meritocracy" was the "Idiocracy" of its day?
"I have in the first part of this book reviewed the means by which our modern élite has been established, and what a splendid result it is! No longer is it just the brilliant individual who shines forth; the world beholds for the first time the spectacle of a brilliant class, the five percent of the nation who knows what five percent means."
That's a bit from Michael Young's "The Rise Of The Meritocracy”, written in 1958; Young coined the term "meritocracy", and not out of idealism or love. Meritocracy is a mental to let the people on top of whatever pile they're on to look a lot like the status quo, and that book is about as biting a piece of satire as you're likely to read. Unfortunately, in my experience asking the same free-software weenies who'll tell you to RTFM in a heartbeat to actually read a book is usually too much to ask.
posted by mhoye at 7:48 AM on January 5, 2015 [22 favorites]


I understand her piece is a way to confront her harassers

I don't think it is, actually. It seems pretty clear that her work is change in tech culture. Think about platforms like Twitter as cultural artifacts - products of tech culture.

Engaging about (rather than with) online harassers is well in line with influencing the members of tech culture to shape their platforms so as to deal with those harassers. It's the same sort of aim that seems to have motivated the appearance of platforms like Ello.
posted by topynate at 7:48 AM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


The way she personalizes it, though, presumes a premise I'm not so sure of: that the hatred she gets is because she's not a white cishet male. It may be, it may not be. Some surely is, how much?
I am not a famous person, but I have what I like to call microfame: in a particular, small technical discipline and its surrounding community, I am a well-known figure. I speak at a lot of conferences, I write articles, and I have a little over eight thousand Twitter followers (almost entirely from that technical community).

I get a lot of email, contact requests, tweets, and so on from random folks. I am also relatively outspoken on a lot of issues, from the best way to structure a CMS's content model to the problem of sexism in tech. Sometimes people disagree with me publicly, and on a few occasions they've been genuinely mean. In every one of those cases, the other members of the community defended me from the person being mean.

A friend of mine who moves in (roughly) the same community had* about half as many followers, and focuses more on the topics of sexism in tech than content modeling when she speaks, but she's also done a lot of research and written good material on that topic. She doesn't pick fights with shitty people, she just focuses on education and information.

A while back she shared a peek at her inbox, and I was blown away by the level of sustained, intense vitriol that the Internet casually heaps on her. She can filter it, obviously. She can skim subject lines and assume that "You Stupid Cunt" is not going to be a polite request for dialogue. She can choose to ignore the casual "for-the-lulz" public discussions about her weight, her face, her hair, and so on. She can chalk it up to chance when someone posts her home address online after she speaks about the need for safe spaces.

But Jesus Christ, dealing with that on a daily basis for weeks, months, years — even if nothing actively terrible happens beyond it, even if her email is never hacked, her site is never DDOS'd, her home is never SWATted, her employer is never harassed into firing her… the psychological weight of that on a daily basis is just staggering. Horrifying.

Having talked with a number of other women in the industry, that friend's experience is not uncommon. It is definitely on the high end—she does express public opinions about sexism, after all, and many other women I know choose not to for this reason. But when we idly ask, "Welllllll, is it because she's a woman or is it just because she's loud and famous?" we need to understand just what kind of a fucked up horror-show we are shrugging off, and how it compares to what guys with similar levels of visibility experience.

* I say that she "had" about half as many followers. She's had to cull it and move to a locked account after waves of trolls washed over her account. There's not really much that Twitter will do if you're targeted by distributed griefing campaigns.
posted by verb at 7:52 AM on January 5, 2015 [129 favorites]


I have no words to describe the shock I am feeling at this thread. Are y'all really so sheltered that reading a woman talking about this sort of abuse seems unbelievable? Because that is literally the nicest thing I can think up to explain this reaction. The alternative is that you think women should shut up and be nice about it so that we can get ahead. I submit that that tactic has not worked, and we are STILL being harassed and abused when we do well. That there is literally nothing on earth that anyone could do that would justly and rightly "provoke" the abuse described. Even if you find her to be a horrible woman who is wrong about literally everything, that in no way shape or form justifies what she suffers from.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:08 AM on January 5, 2015 [34 favorites]




I feel like there's a blurry gray area in the middle of the two sides of what people are saying and its not really all that black and white.

This is Metafilter. When it comes to certain issues, our minds viscerally expel the prospect of blurry gray areas like a body rejecting an organ.
posted by dephlogisticated at 8:11 AM on January 5, 2015 [10 favorites]


“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.” ― Virginia Woolf

On the "she's not saying anything new" thread: Just because this isn't a new critique doesn't mean it needs to stop being belabored. Yes, this is old news, and yet as some anonymous woman scrawled on a sign not too long ago "I can't believe [I/we/they] still have to protest this shit"
posted by illovich at 8:13 AM on January 5, 2015 [18 favorites]


Having talked with a number of other women in the industry, that friend's experience is not uncommon. It is definitely on the high end—she does express public opinions about sexism, after all, and many other women I know choose not to for this reason.

I'm a woman who chooses not to talk too much on the internet about sexism for this reason, and it feels really, really shitty. I talk about it on Metafilter because that's a relatively sheltered space and I know that anything truly terrible will get deleted, but being too cowardly to talk much about experiences I've had and my friends have had makes me feel weak and terrible.

These abusive techniques really do work because they teach me that as a woman I'm already a potential target and it's not even a matter of doing something wrong, it's a matter of appearing on someone's radar; I don't want to get threats or expose my family members to vitriol just for being related to me. I don't want to risk catching the eye of someone who would call up my dad to tell him how terrible I am or threaten me. No one should have to deal with that, but I'm actually afraid to talk about how no one should have to deal with that because then it might happen to me.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:14 AM on January 5, 2015 [54 favorites]


You know what, Metafilter's not actually like that. Its not like the rest of the internet as described in these women in tech cases.

It also lets you make that joke though.

And I think making that joke, here, in this thread, is kind of like shitting on all the hard work the moderators and mathowie do to keep this place as welcoming as it is. However it is, its much better than out there.

And we should acknowledge that sometimes, out loud where they can see it and read it.


/and I could have read the joke wrong fwiw
posted by infini at 8:18 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Telling people to "stop feeding/interacting with the bullies/trolls" is no only provably ineffective, what does one do when the bullies/trolls are coworkers, supervisors, the owner of the company, the thought leader in the field?
They're abusing someone they know. It mostly looks like fear of successful competitors. Afraid they can't "win" on their merits against the defined other.
Don't ask how I know.
Don't ask why I left tech.
posted by Dreidl at 8:23 AM on January 5, 2015 [24 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: What you're seeing lately is not people "only just now discovering this kind of harrassment is a thing". What you're seeing lately is people only just now deciding that they shouldn't HAVE to put up with it.
Actually, for those of us "with privilege"/who are not in the groups being attacked, the internet has EXPLODED our exposure to these issues. While one can choose not to engage or even accept the information (cue the "Do you want to know more?" voice), it's in our face.

My parents and grandparents in small-town MO and NE literally only saw black people on the 6 o'clock news with Walter Cronkite, the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and a few sitcoms. Today, you can't go online without seeing Ferguson MO, another African American killed by another policeman, and so on.

I'm using the example of race, because it's more obvious, but it's true for misogyny as well: the reason Bill Cosby's victims are coming out in 2014 is because they can; because the internet allows their stories to be told - or at the very least, for everyone to be aware their stories exist, even if it doesn't make the cut for the evening news.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:25 AM on January 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'm probably not the audience for this, but: she's basically one of those people who's famous for being famous, right? I mean, she comes from a PR background, started a PR magazine, and is now mostly known for having an abrasive personality. That's what I got from the "pre vi ou sly" links, and the (female) reporter's encounter with her. Am I wrong in this? Does she have a substantial body of work outside the flamefests?
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:39 AM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


No, she is not famous for being famous. She's not even famous. She's relatively good at her job, and gets negative attention because of how that intersects with her being outspoken. This is markedly different from how men are treated.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:45 AM on January 5, 2015 [20 favorites]


Why are people looking SO HARD for a reason to dismiss what this article is saying?
posted by stoneweaver at 8:46 AM on January 5, 2015 [34 favorites]


Why are people looking SO HARD for a reason to dismiss what this article is saying?

Misogyny.
posted by Coda at 8:49 AM on January 5, 2015 [47 favorites]


she comes from a PR background
started a PR magazine

I’m not sure what you think “PR” means, beyond “bad”.
posted by Coda at 8:54 AM on January 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


It mostly looks like fear of successful competitors. Afraid they can't "win" on their merits against the defined other.

Timely commentary because I came back in here (still reading that crucible article linked above somewhere in the mists) with this bit that struck me:

We didn’t interview lawyer and presidential adviser Vernon Jordan for this article, but he, too, offers a powerful reminder of how prejudice can prove transformational rather than debilitating. In Vernon Can Read! A Memoir (Public Affairs, 2001), Jordan describes the vicious baiting he was subjected to as a young man. The man who treated him in this offensive way was his employer, Robert F. Maddox. Jordan served the racist former mayor of Atlanta at dinner, in a white jacket, with a napkin over his arm. He also functioned as Maddox’s chauffeur. Whenever Maddox could, he would derisively announce, “Vernon can read!” as if the literacy of a young African-American were a source of wonderment.

Subjected to this type of abuse, a lesser man might have allowed Maddox to destroy him. But in his memoir, Jordan gives his own interpretation of Maddox’s sadistic heckling, a tale that empowered Jordan instead of embittering him. When he looked at Maddox through the rearview mirror, Jordan did not see a powerful member of Georgia’s ruling class. He saw a desperate anachronism, a person who lashed out because he knew his time was up. As Jordan writes about Maddox, “His half-mocking, half-serious comments about my education were the death rattle of his culture. When he saw that I was…crafting a life for myself that would make me a man in…ways he thought of as being a man, he was deeply unnerved.”


What we have here is the greater visibility and lower barriers to sharing your stories, like what IAmBroom describes, that technology provides, *and* the opportunity to use that tech to lash out and harass the voices. What we're seeing is something like a chain being wound up tighter and tighter, the wheels squeaking louder and louder, ironically in the industry and the businesses that provide the tech that provides the means of the cause and effect.

The question then is, what is it that those lashing out are threatened by and imagining themselves in danger of, that wasn't there before, like the situation described by the Vernon anecdote?

Or, is it that all of this was always there, but the panopticon the tech industry is immersed in just shines a very strong light at it all whilst providing the means for voice to be raised and heard?
posted by infini at 9:00 AM on January 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


I mean, she comes from a PR background, started a PR magazine, and is now mostly known for having an abrasive personality.
Model View Culture, the magazine she co-founded, is pretty much the opposite of 'PR' — it features regular essays and opinion pieces by a wide variety of writers on issues facing the software/startup world, with an emphasis on issues affecting woman and minorities. Shanley only really transitioned from "cog in the machine" to "highly visible personality" over the last couple of years, when she started publicly writing and speaking about the issues that she witnessed as someone working in the startup world.

Some of her earliest "viral" essays, like "What Company Culture Really Says," are worth reading: they come from a time when people didn't know of her in this context. Very quickly, public discussion about her essays started to focus on the fact that she was too angry, or not technical enough, or just attention-whoring, the way it always does. If Shanley is guilty of anything, she is guilty of refusing to become more conciliatory or deferential when attention focuses on her personality and tone.
posted by verb at 9:04 AM on January 5, 2015 [35 favorites]


> Why are people looking SO HARD for a reason to dismiss what this article is saying?

I don't see anyone disagreeing with anything substantive in the article. I think people are saying rather that this has been done to death, doesn't offer anything new, and is full of breathlessness and jargon. Certainly I was unable to finish reading it, even though I suspect I probably agree with the many of its conclusions.

In particular, I wonder who it's aimed at. The sorts of people who should read the article are going to be turned off in the first few lines.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:06 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why are people looking SO HARD for a reason to dismiss what this article is saying?

Because people are vested in the idea that their shit doesn't stink. The tech community has some real issues with communication and inclusion, as well as a really bad case of "shining light upon the hill" syndrome. So anything that points out that there might be problems is attacked on the grounds that it needs to be dismissed, lest the facade be torn down.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:08 AM on January 5, 2015 [23 favorites]


I'm still baffled by the idea that now, apparently, you can only write about a particular sociological point of view X number of times before we're to assume everyone who ever was and will be "gets it" and has fallen neatly onto one side or the other.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 9:12 AM on January 5, 2015 [21 favorites]


It bugs me that the notions keep getting batted around that (a) who the hell is she, and she must not be Someone Who Matters, so why should we care? and (b) she should just suck it up, realize that it's been going on eternally, and not engage with the Pathetic Mean Lonely Trolls. First of all, she spends a good amount of time talking about what it's like for a woman to be subjected to this treatment by people punching from above -- not only tech bosses, "influencers," etc., but blogs and other platforms that make a cottage industry out of framing and sensationalizing this sort of abuse. "They go at you from the top – people with vastly more visibility than you – and from the bottom – people with absolutely no visibility – squeezing you in the space in between until there is very little space for you at all."

Second of all, I'm not sure why, whether, or how it matters that she's someone who's "known for having an abrasive personality" (which of course she addresses in the piece), not in "traditional media," or someone who's reiterating what's been said before. She's saying it because it needs to be said, as many times as it needs to be said. What's so very complicated about that, I'm not sure, but it sure seems to rub people the wrong way in this thread, to the point that the dismissal "done to death" becomes done to death itself. "Done to death" in this context -- which is just the point that she's making -- becomes another means of silencing the voice: It's been done to death, so sit down and STFU unless you have "something new to add."

As she says, again very well: "And before you say that this is because I’m a bitch, a lunatic, hysterical, mean and that’s why this happens to me: you’re a fucking liar. These things happen to EVERY 'visible' marginalized person in tech that I have EVER met. For some it is better, and for some it is far, far worse."
posted by blucevalo at 9:17 AM on January 5, 2015 [15 favorites]


Given the speed of advances in science and technology, and the growing acceptance of the design process as a possible solution to an increasingly expansive range of economic, political and environmental challenges, other new disciplines should surface in the future. They may well be more accessible to female designers, who should also benefit from the liberating impact of digital technology on design practice. The possibility of raising investment from crowd funding, publicising work on social media and selling it online is enabling a new generation of designer-entrepreneurs to pursue their own objectives by operating independently. Empowering though this has been for men, it has proved even more liberating for women by allowing them to devise new ways of working, free from the constraints of old boys’ networks.

The irony of this showing up in my stream just now because this thread makes this paragraph a steaming pile of bullshit. You can't escape the technology. I think this is an important issue because its not really about women in tech so much as women at the gates, holding their spatulas. Because even your fancy new coffee machine will be txting your fridge soon, so we're all going to be women in tech.

Yes, I know I'm thread hogging.
posted by infini at 9:18 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


In particular, I wonder who it's aimed at. The sorts of people who should read the article are going to be turned off in the first few lines.

Oh, so it's not actually what she said, but the WAY she said it. It's a, whatchamacallit, "tone" problem. Just like it is with pretty much every other women in tech who points out the problem of systemic size and harassment.

Because by all means, Let us concentrate on how she's saying things wrong, and not consider what we can do about the problem.

What we need right now is legislation and other institutional reforms. To get there, can we just stop criticizing the messengers?
posted by happyroach at 9:20 AM on January 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


In particular, I wonder who it's aimed at. The sorts of people who should read the article are going to be turned off in the first few lines.

Putting the implied tone argument aside, the "sorts of people who should read the article" are numerous. Potential allies should read it, people who never thought about this issue seriously should read it (yes, I assure you, they exist, if my Newsfeed is any testament to the power of willfull ignorance), people who employ people who engage in this kind of harrassment should read it. A writer can have numerous audiences when bringing up a point such as this, yet for some reason the assumption is made that the article should only be aimed at the people harrassing her, and should be couched in such a way that they will read it and take it to heart, which is a really weird stance to take considering social criticism against oppression is usually not some heartfelt pleading appeal to the oppressors but a rallying/wake-up call to pretty much everyone else.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 9:22 AM on January 5, 2015 [14 favorites]


> "The question then is, what is it that those lashing out are threatened by and imagining themselves in danger of, that wasn't there before, like the situation described by the Vernon anecdote?"

One thought ... at least in the U.S., the percentage of women in many previously male dominated fields has grown reasonably steadily since the mid-60's. But one very notable exception is computer science. After rising steadily along with other fields until 1983, the percentage of women studying computer science took a downward turn, reversing two decades of regular increase. After peaking at around 37% in 1983, unlike many other fields the percentage has since then decreased steadily until it hit around 18% in 2008, since which time it has stayed flat and remains at roughly that level today -- not too much higher than where it was in 1965. (There have been various theories as to why, but one I've heard is that the original marketing of home computers as toys and tools for boys gave them an initial advantage over girls seeking to enter the field which was difficult to overcome.)

So, one possibility is that in many fields, while there may be entrenched sexism, the worst offenders might be on the older side; younger people in the field are much more likely to be used to seeing equal numbers of men and women in classes, etc. While there still is likely a great deal of power in the hands of those who have been in a field the longest, there may be a sense of "waiting for the dinosaurs to die", so to speak. And while there are likely to still be problems ranging from unconscious bias to maternity-based discrimination even among the younger set, the people actually outright saying "I don't think women should be in this field at all!" are more likely getting on in years.

But this isn't necessarily the case in computer sciences. There has never been gender parity, and someone who entered the field in 2000 will have seen *fewer* women in the classrooms, etc., than someone who entered it in 1979. It's never not been a boys' club, and that situation has actually been getting worse for four decades. The people who grew up, studied, and worked seeing barely any women in the field isn't a thing of the past, it's a thing of right now and always.

When change threatens an entrenched power structure, there is always pushback. In some fields, the change has happened and the biggest current pushback is the last gasp of a dying breed. In computer science, the change is still to come and it's possible that the pushback is therefore at its most intense.
posted by kyrademon at 9:36 AM on January 5, 2015 [18 favorites]


public discussion about her essays started to focus on the fact that she was too angry

It's worth mentioning that Shanley is in fact very angry, but she's angry about things reasonable people should be very angry about.
posted by mhoye at 9:37 AM on January 5, 2015 [39 favorites]


In particular, I wonder who it's aimed at. The sorts of people who should read the article are going to be turned off in the first few lines.

You're mis-reading, I think, the intended target of the article. Sure, there are plenty of jackasses out there who absolutely refuse to believe that sexism in tech is real, and this article will just be fodder for more jackass behavior.

On the other hand, Kane's pieces aren't really meant for them. Instead, I think they have three primary purposes, besides, y'know. General awareness.
  1. They help people like the multiple women in this thread who have said they dealt with shitty behavior in the tech industry, but didn't speak out because they were afraid or had to leave because they didn't want to deal. It's cathartic, and it fights loneliness and self-blaming and self-doubt.
  2. Kane is trying to move the needle on the language and tone it is OK to use in talking about these things. Kane is super-angry and unwilling to put up with shit, and by the sheer fact that she is so vocal, she is making it more acceptable for others be super-angry and unwilling to put up with shit.
  3. Kane's emotionally charged tone turns some people off, but it moves others who are closer to neutral, or it causes them to prioritize gender issues more highly. Specifically, I think the target is the guy who thinks of himself as being a good dude and pro-lady, but doesn't quite realize how harmful and shitty the industry norm is, or doesn't have an emotional connection to the harm that is occurring. Kane's article probably won't move him all the way to dancing in front of giant letters, but it might move him to be a little more supportive the next time a female work friend tells him about how she was treated shittily because of her gender. He might pay more attention to the next time he reads about shitty dudes behaving shitily on the Internet to a woman. He might notice, on his own, an instance or two of the low-key gendered bullshit that permeates workplace life.
tl;dr: not every piece about social oppression is meant for the people who are actively doing the oppressing.
posted by joyceanmachine at 9:42 AM on January 5, 2015 [33 favorites]


> Oh, so it's not actually what she said, but the WAY she said it. It's a, whatchamacallit, "tone" problem.

Actually, it's a "boringness" problem for me - I personally like a sharp tone but I couldn't get through the article.

But honestly, tone is a big issue if you don't want to just preach to the choir. And being non-boring is pretty well essential in all writing.

Step back from the material and say, "Why is the writer writing this article? What goals are to be accomplished? Will this article accomplish these goals?"
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:42 AM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hamadryad : What is she saying that hasn't been said before/linked on here a dozen times already?

Repetition may work for some people where individual nuanced explanations haven't.

What new twist is she giving the problem?

I don't see that there has to be a new twist. As you said, this has been going on forever. At some point it has to stop, and this is merely another vehicle to accomplish that end.

What solutions are being offered? Or is this just another article about the same thing for us to all agree is Horrible Stuff To Go Through, and pat ourselves on the back for still agreeing that Women In Tech Have It Rough?

I think that sometimes we need to have the Another Horrible Example of this Happening to remind us that it is still happening. As a straight white middle-aged male, it would be trivially easy for me to not notice problems like this, as they don't touch me personally. I could live my life academically knowing that gender discrimination and misogamy were still present on the Internet, but remaining totally oblivious to the kind, quality, and volume of what exists. Articles like this help remind hypothetical mes out there that this isn't a cold problem, but a hot, present, and deteriorating one.

I believe the value of this kind of voice is not unlike the repetition of police violence posts that we have been seeing of late. Everyone knows that there is police violence, everyone knows that there are "a-few-bad-apples" (always forgetting the second part of that phrase), but it's only when it is thrust in our faces over and over again that it becomes a part of the national discourse. I believe that this is analogous to that. I believe that there are huge swaths of the Internet userbase that are unaware of how awful this is. Or that engage in it, even in just the tacit giving hearts to something vile way. The more this becomes a point of discussion, the more opportunities people will have to point out, or come to realize about themselves that "hey, I didn't really think about it, but that wasn't cool."

And then it becomes a matter of incremental gains.

I've been using the Internet since the early 90s or so, and the Web, more or less, since the Web started. I remember having excited discussions with friends about how this new technology could change everything! The web was a democratizing agent, you didn't know if the person on the other side of the username was male, female, white, black... all you had to go on were their words, and that was going to help to create a generation of people that didn't see the world through color or gender, because their friends online were people they valued, regardless of gender or race.

We were obviously crazy fucking idealistic. And every time I read one of these, I'm saddened and reminded of the lost opportunity, and try to think of new ways of maybe getting something like it back one day.
posted by quin at 9:42 AM on January 5, 2015 [13 favorites]


Thank you kyrademon. Your comment started a conjectural train of thought.

I wonder if this decline in the computer sciences could correlate to increasing STEM candidates at the Masters & PhD levels from more patriarchal societies? Yes yes, I'm from one and did my engineering undergrad from one of the largest source locations. Other cites for observations available

And.... I wonder how many of the hidden harassers are from such places where misogyny is far worse and IRL women's daily life means coping with threat of rape etc. They dont even have to be in the same zipcode much less continent.

That might explain at the least the invisible bottom feeders squeezing her space with harassment, in wild mobs, having fun with a *chick* and why its gotten worse adn worse and nothing can stop it. They're everywhere in tech, they're in your call centers and your help desks and your cleaner uppers of goatse img tags and your spam commenters. They're the hordes arriving on the interwebs.

Just musing out loud...
posted by infini at 9:51 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


The tech community has some real issues with communication and inclusion, as well as a really bad case of "shining light upon the hill" syndrome.

The entire tech industry really has the look of a Potemkin utopia. It's all THE FUTURE and the lunch room at Google and early investors becoming zillionaires and being there when cool shit gets created. Nobody likes to think about the ageism at Google, the sexism everywhere, the contractors and H-1B visa holders getting screwed, the 80 hour weeks, the failed startups and stolen ideas and the cool shit that didn't work so well or flopped hard in the market.

Kind of like the idiots who don't want rich peoples' taxes to go up because one day they might be rich, a lot of tech people want to believe that one day they'll be shopping for a yacht of their own. Anything that undercuts that worldview is deeply and very personally threatening, including in classic crab-bucket style the idea that others at your own level of the biz are making a better shot at their future yacht shopping expedition than you are. Some men are primed to go ballistic particularly when such a threat comes from a woman, and the Internet is a force multiplier for such people to turn that urge into solid horrible action.
posted by localroger at 9:57 AM on January 5, 2015 [31 favorites]


> tl;dr: not every piece about social oppression is meant for the people who are actively doing the oppressing.

Preaching to the faithful is very important too - but this seems a pretty discouraging message.

There's a story I always remember about Keith Johnstone, the playwright and theorist. In his early days as a playreader, he was told that he was rejecting more plays about gay issues than the other readers were. He explained that because he was pro-gay, he didn't want to see plays where gays were inevitably crushed by society - instead, he wanted to see plays where gay characters triumphed over adversity and went on to live happy, productive lives. (This is btw just one of the many reasons I consider "Angels in America" to be the great play of our age...)

If you're preaching to the choir, you need to give them a reason to sing - a reason to act and move forward with strength.

And if you're trying to express your anger to the people who are oppressing you, you need to express it clearly in terms they will understand. Gil Scott-Heron's "Whitey on the Moon" springs to mind immediately. The tone is deliberately abrasive and jocular - you can't just brush it off as "whining", it pushes its complaints right in your face.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:57 AM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Or a present example of such clear rhetoric is localroger's comment above.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:58 AM on January 5, 2015


Actually, it's a "boringness" problem for me

I am so sorry that the fact that women are harassed out of tech spaces is BORING for you.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:58 AM on January 5, 2015 [44 favorites]


If you're preaching to the choir, you need to give them a reason to sing - a reason to act and move forward with strength.


That's why Pinkola-Estes' Women who Run with the Wolves is a worthwhile read. What Kane is doing is putting the anger out there in all its shining glory. Its preaching to a choir, and even if their throats are hoarse with too many cigarets and Laphroig, they resonate to the pitch and the tone of the song being sung out loud.

This type of anger is discomfiting. It makes you uncomfortable. We reject it because it goes against everything we "know". Here's a snippet:

"...But there is another aspect to mastery, and that is dealing with what can only be called women's rage. The release of that rage is required. Once women remember the origin of their rage, they feel they may never stop grinding their teeth. Ironically, we also feel very anxious to disperse our rage, for it feels distressing and noxious. We wish to hurry up and do away with it.

But repressing it will not work. It is like trying to put fire into a burlap bag"...

--"Women Who Run With the Wolves" by Clarissa Pinkola Estes


This presentation is a vocalization of that discomfort of the "Wild Woman", the one who breaks free of the shackles. localroger's version is excellent and provided me with an understanding of some things I'd been struggling to figure out.

But the value (and thus the purpose it serves) of Kane's wild song has been far better described by joyceanmachine's bullet points in the same comment quoted.

Maybe you gotta be part of the choir to hear the message whispered in the preacher's soft voice?
posted by infini at 10:14 AM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


I have no words to describe the shock I am feeling at this thread. Are y'all really so sheltered that reading a woman talking about this sort of abuse seems unbelievable?

Oh no. I just realized the actual reason, and it's worse. You are acclimated to this treatment of women, and you think it is normal. You think it should be unremarked because it is unremarkable. You think "It has always been thus, and it shall always be thus."
posted by stoneweaver at 10:19 AM on January 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


I know it's been mod-whistled, but I think it is important to examine and explain "cishet," because it's a bizarre point to object to. There is a perception that, as LGB and T people form communities online and redefine the language that describes them and their place in the world, they are walling themselves off from others and forming high-and-mighty Tumblr cliques or whatever. And that absolutely fuels harassment they receive online, because it feeds into the outmoded-but-still-very-active-like-a-shambling-corpse-that-can't-die concept that LGB and T people are all privileged, moneyed and enjoying a particular lifestyle rather than simply people of all (mostly lower!) classes struggling to life their life in any style. So, when a particularly visible LGB/T person agitates for basic rights, an angry internet mob inevitably forms to stop them from getting "special treatment."

The way this is framed is important. "Cishet" is just a shortened version of "cisgender hetereosexual/normative," and thus far less of a mouthful. It exists because LGB and (mostly) T people needed a way to describe people who are not-LGB/T. It doesn't exist for the sake of labeling or excluding anyone. It's about as fair and impartial as you can get; the etymologies are just oppositely poised homo- and trans-. Prior to its existence, people who are not LGB/T were "normal." That's why it's important to have these words, and to allow people to define the language used to describe their experience: the absence of that frames them as "not-normal," and often with hostility and aggression. That weird, totally wrong understanding that LGB/T people are spoiled, rich urbane layabouts who want "special treatment" is only possible when the agency of people to define their own lives is denied. If the language seems fluid, that's because for generations people have had limited or no influence on the vocabulary that defines them, and suddenly now the internet is changing that. Where the language shifts, it tends to shift away from words and phrases institutions have used to describe LGB/T people, and closer to words and phrases LGB/T people have agreed are closer to their lived experiences and carry less baggage and hostility. It can look arbitrary, but it is not.
posted by byanyothername at 10:19 AM on January 5, 2015 [55 favorites]


Preaching to the faithful is very important too - but this seems a pretty discouraging message.

Kane is doing a lot more than that. To extend the analogy using the church-y language you brought up, Kane's writing also wants to extend comfort to the downtrodden, create room for frank discourse, and bring the once-a-year, Christmas service attendee in for weekly service/can sorting duty at the food drive.

In stuff as complicated as misogyny and society and, the world isn't divided just the faithful and the un-faithful. It also isn't either preaching to the faithful or going out to convert the heathens.
posted by joyceanmachine at 10:19 AM on January 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


>Why are people looking SO HARD for a reason to dismiss what this article is saying?

Misogyny.


Myself, I would say "Patriarchy," the nebulous state of which wields misogyny as one of its pernicious tools. The thing about the Patriarchy is that, for most men, their status in it is never secure, so there is anxious need to insulate themselves from people "less well done by" than themselves*. So there's a lot of pressure for people, especially white middle-class cisgendered heterosexual men, to not see harassment and discrimination and to grab reflexively at any fig leaf when the subject comes up.

Note that I say this in a spirit of explanation, not excuse -- that urge is the pernicious result of lifetimes of indoctrination, and giving in to the urge is shoring up a system which benefits very very few (even here, on the better side of the Digital Divide).

I agree with sukeban that many of the commenters in this thread would do well to read (or reread) Russ's How to Suppress Women's Writing -- you can read some of the prologue here (you have to go to the tiny link marked "excerpts" toward the bottom of the page. It's a startling guide to the the many many seemingly reasonable arguments that are used to dismiss women as serious writers. I agree that it could use an update for the internet age, although, sadly, not from Russ herself.


*And, as I have said many times here, Patriarchy does not mean "rule by men" it means "rule by old rich men," and it has an insatiable need to use up surplus men, even nice white middle-class cisgendered heterosexual men.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:21 AM on January 5, 2015 [16 favorites]


> I am so sorry that the fact that women are harassed out of tech spaces is BORING for you.

No - this article is boring. The issue is not boring.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:30 AM on January 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


When I started that work, I had a career working in product, strategy and technical marketing at high-growth infrastructure companies. I managed teams, launched a lot of products, sold a lot of software, traveled the world, gave talks at many industry events. I made money and had decent titles, and I tolerated the neverending sexism in part for those things, in part because this was my dream.
Who exactly is it that dreams of a career in marketing and business strategy?

it must be difficult to be a raging, narcissistic, asshole... and a woman, getting put-down and professionally thwarted for the emotional skill-set which would take a man to the top.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:30 AM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think there is a lot of denial in this thread about just how often and viciously women are harassed online, and I think we do need to talk about it, because this is not just something that happens to outspoken female activists at all.

Cyber bullying starts young, and is actually a huge issue for young girls, often less prepared to deal with it emotionally. Girls may be targeted more in these cases because they are more active online socially and have a greater tendency to "overshare"-- by which I mean share personally identifying information, basically trusting others online too much.

So talking about harassment is important, because girls need to learn how to take steps to limit it--which, yes, may mean blocking, ignoring, and filtering out harassing communications, but that can lead to being "out of the loop" and social isolation, too--and also how to process it emotionally. Which is often tougher than we acknowledge--how many of us presumably more mature adults are upset by online interactions with complete strangers? Now, imagine that your IRL social group was also making your online life hell, cyberstalking you and insulting you, sending you ugly emails and texts round the clock. Consider 13 year old you--how well would you deal with that emotionally?

Even before Kathy Sierra, linked above, was notoriously harassed (with images of nooses sent to her, how ugly is that?!), a girl named Megan Meier was driven to suicide by online harassment when she was just 13 years old. She thought a young man named Josh was interested in her, then viciously dumped her. In fact, "Josh" was a fiction created by the Mother of one of her school friends.

That was in 2006, and led to changes in cyber bullying laws, yet young girls are still being harassed online. In 2013, I posted a thread about a girl who had been cyber bullied so badly--even after her mother got her psychological help and switched her to a new school--that after a year and a half of abuse she climbed to the top of a local construction tower and threw herself off. She was 12.

These are girls who are NOT choosing to speak as activists, but simply socializing online (in Megan's case, most of the harassment happened through MySpace, while Rebecca was harassed through apps on her cellphone ).

I know it has been a challenge to really get my own sons to understand how harassment can be so damaging to girls and women, because they saw cyber bullying as a non-issue. They don't take trolling seriously and have no problem ignoring it, and while I am glad they are able to shake it off so easily, I wanted them to know how bad it could get. It wasn't until they witnessed what their girl friends and their girlfriends experienced firsthand that they saw how rampant and ugly this harassment gets.

One aspect I don't see getting as much attention is how often the perpetrators are other girls and women, as Both Megan's and Rebecca's were. Just as it may be hard for boys and young men to believe that girls and women are targeted so often and so viciously, it can be difficult for us women to admit that sometimes the ugliest examples come from our own sex. It's understandable, but we need to speak out about harassment of women by women, too.

The way she personalizes it, though, presumes a premise I'm not so sure of: that the hatred she gets is because she's not a white cishet male. It may be, it may not be. Some surely is, how much?

What research I have seen indicates that what contributes most to the toxic culture of online harassment is groupthink, the same mentality that leads to cliques in high school. When people strongly associate with an "in group", they can get to a place of, for lack of a better descriptor, mob mentality. Basically, everyone outside that group is seen as an enemy. Gamergate is a textbook example of a group that saw itself as being persecuted because the members insulated themselves from others with opposing views, and justified the harassment of women to themselves through their "us against them" mentality.

What's frustrating is that it is possible that being a woman in tech like Shaney and speaking out about these issues to other women in tech DOES make her more likely to be a victim of harassment by the 'sexist men in tech' ingroup. Knowing that does not in any way help her to combat that sexism, though, because just shutting up is not going to make the sexusm go away.

I feel like there's a blurry gray area in the middle of the two sides of what people are saying and its not really all that black and white.

Yes. There is also truth to the observation (and even though we don't want it to be true I don't think Ignoring it helps anyone) that just as these women speaking out are more likely to become targets of harassment, they also form their own ingroup and are equally capable of succumbing to the mentality that leads to harassing the outgroup.

I don't know what the answer is, honestly, other than to continue to call out harassment wherever we see it (even when it is our own in group doing it), holding people accountable when possible (which is obviously complicated by online anonymity) and, I think most importantly, providing the education and support to help young people recognize toxic behavior online and not succumb to it, as victims or perpetrators, from the very first time they go online.
posted by misha at 10:31 AM on January 5, 2015 [11 favorites]


Anyway, I'm regretting bringing this up. As I said, I am generally on the same side, I felt the article was unfortunately ineffective - but of course I might be wrong. That point is made, I don't need to say any more...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:32 AM on January 5, 2015


Who exactly is it that dreams of a career in marketing and business strategy?

Me. Among other things. Its one of the critical parts of successful outcomes of my particular area of obsession.

I don't agree with the rest of your description, however that may be due to our particular personal subjective worldviews, experiences, industries and application areas, not to mention target continents, demographics, regional and socio-economic population segments.

Otoh, I can see how being a raging narcissistic asshole might be why so many fails happen so regularly. Never thought of it that way...
posted by infini at 10:42 AM on January 5, 2015


No - this article is boring. The issue is not boring.

Let me throw out this crazy idea that maybe, just maybe, the question of whether or not you're entertained is not the most important thing about this article.
posted by mhoye at 10:48 AM on January 5, 2015 [17 favorites]


I'm not part of "the tech community", which is why I said I might not be the audience for this.

I’m not sure what you think “PR” means, beyond “bad”.

To me it means something inherently without content, except insofar as it repackages other people's content. It means an endless search for attention, which I have in only limited amounts.

Kane's article seems to be a response to Elizabeth Spier's profile of Kane in Medium, which I think was a broadly sympathetic look at someone whom the reporter did not actually care for. Kane doesn't deny or attempt to refute Spier's article; she just throws abuse at "journalists using bullying and dishonest tactics to exploit my life and relationships for page views".

Kane gives no support for this assertion (presuming that I'm right about it being directed at Spiers). The exploitation of her "life and relationships for page views" would be an odd complaint to make about Spiers' article, which really doesn't touch on Kane's private life; none the less, Spiers reports that Kane sent "dozens of other tweets claiming that I was harassing her, contacting her friends and family against her will, and cyberstalking her". Spiers explicitly denies all of this, by the way; I think she implies that Kane was making a pre-emptive attempt to control the story.

So given that this article is primarily a response to a particular incident and not about the harassment of women in tech generally, what's left in the article of more general interest? Not much, I think, and what there is, is troubling. Kane says
[Internet fame] puts deep strains on all my relationships as I struggle with the anxiety and stress, with being “present” in physical space, with trusting the people around me. It makes me question the intentions of people who get close to me. It invites people into my life who seek only to use me for some scrap of the non-existent power and camaraderie they think “visibility” gives me, when really it is mainly powerlessness and loneliness that results. As personal “friends” turn my life into stories for the companies they work for, as one “journalist” recently did to me, and as people who stalk me begin to use increasingly complex techniques – like creating false identities and submitting pitches to my company under those identities – I become more fearful and unwilling to let anyone in.
Spiers might be lying about her interaction with Kane, and Kane may be conflating other events. None the less, this does not sound like the response of a healthy person. She cops to having mental illness; it's hard not to see her reactions in that light.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:57 AM on January 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


I found Spiers story first, and it was Kane's tweets there that caught my attention. Her own article, the main piece of the FPP is a rant.

As so many have said so often in this thread, we don't really care about the particular article per se or its literary quality.

Its the subject matter that needs discussion.

And misha, thank you so much for your comment, particularly the aspect that women can often be women's worst enemies, as well as the whole area of cyber bullying. I wasn't really aware of the latter element at all and that makes this topic all the more critical now, while we're still around to remember the days before the interwebs.
posted by infini at 11:04 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


This article made me think about our online interactions, and the structure of social networks and services like facebook and twitter.

Civilizations are pretty deeply invested in accountability. Humans living together in groups have had codes of expected behaviors, and have invested resources in punishing non-conformity, basically for ever. I think that's basically what civilization is, really. If you do the wrong thing, you might have your stuff taken away (fines, civil penalties), be forced to do a penance (community or military service), you might removed from the group temporarily (jail) or permanently (exile, execution).

Also a lot of this goes on at a cultural level too. Like, if you violate the cultural norms of your group, you might be shunned. I'm not sure this is true but I wonder if the cultural-level "crimes" and punishments are essentially the way we deal with emotional violence, and that punishments also live in the realm of emotional violence or social status. Of course there is usually a loss of social status associated with being branded a criminal as well.

In many ways, the Internet is an un-civilized space. Like, literally, the services we use do not have a method of meaningfully punishing malefactors. You cannot keep a troll off of Twitter or email. You might have better luck with something like Facebook that tries very hard to maintain a 1:1 mapping of user accounts to actual people. Spaces like Reddit actually moderate against organized action, e.g. voting posts up/down en bloc. So Reddit is not just un-civilized, it's civilization-resistant!

I don't know if I have much of a conclusion except to recognize that there are economic and technical reasons for this void of civilization. It's cheaper to build a product without any kind of moderation or policing. It's technically more feasible to build the part that you know you want first, like the actually packet-routing and transmission systems that are the basis for the Internet, before deciding on how to deploy policies to manage those packets. It's potentially more flexible to have no rules at all, as you don't have to maintain different standards of moderation for e.g. Saudi Arabia vs. China vs. the USA. There's also definitely an anarchistic streak to engineering culture, which would probably argue that if you did impose civilizing rules on these un-civilized spaces, the rules would serve and reinforce the establishment, repressing rather than protecting the voices of the disenfranchised.

This is not to excuse this bad behavior either by the trolls, or by the service operators who enable the trolls. It's more about the shape of the problem, maybe.
posted by rustcrumb at 11:18 AM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


I’m not sure what you think “PR” means, beyond “bad”.

To me it means something inherently without content, except insofar as it repackages other people's content. It means an endless search for attention, which I have in only limited amounts.
If that is how you're using the word, then you are mistaken about both Shanley's career, her current work, and what the words "Public Relations" mean.

You seem to be describing a sort of visceral emotional reaction against high-profile linkbloggers.
posted by verb at 11:39 AM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: we don't really care about the particular article per se or its literary quality
posted by RogerB at 11:49 AM on January 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


Empowering though this has been for men, it has proved even more liberating for women by allowing them to devise new ways of working, free from the constraints of old boys’ networks.

The irony is, this is both true and not. The internet connects together people of similar ideas in such a way they can raise the volume and profile of an issue to levels where the mainstream media will pay attention to it due to shifts in the mainstream media where they rarely do their own reporting anymore. This can allow people who in the past would have been suppressed at far lower levels to affect more people.

It also allows increased contact between people of differing ideas, and there are two immediately obvious results. One is that peoples' beliefs get changed, and the other is that their beliefs get reinforced. In the former case, a person can shift to help raise the volume on issues - bonus points if they come with characteristics which will result in them being listened to. In the latter case, one can ignore the difference or one can become part of people fighting back against the different ideas - either through argument or through abuse.

So it's less like the original situation is unbalanced and shifted, and more like the intensity is turned up overall, and the people who don't like what you say have a host of lies most others will believe ready in case people listen to you.

So you have Anita Sarkeesian, who is one of the most measured and unemotional responders I've seen, described as shrill and hysterical. You have game developers like Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu dismissed because they should just make their own games instead of trying to steal games from men. You have people like Rebecca Watson accused of being an anti-skeptical man-hater. And I think it would be immeasurably worse if they were anything other than white, heterosexual-presenting, cis-presenting, and apparently able bodied.

I'm grateful for the link to Model View Culture, though. It looks like it's a fantastic place to get not only white women's perspectives, but also the perspectives of people of color. I'm highly impressed with the Author's List, and the front page of articles looks fascinating. Shanley Kane's A New, Open Source Funding Platform With Diversity At The Core looks like it's exactly what people were looking for in this thread as well, solution focused topic! For those seeking the positivity Kane isn't offering sufficiently in the topic of this thread, I suggest Five Good Things Happening in Venture Capital. For those wanting a problem and a solution, I suggest https://modelviewculture.com/pieces/lean-against-building-an-alternative-to-lean-in-within-tech.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:52 AM on January 5, 2015 [12 favorites]


There are definitely some classist vibes in the piece's braggy intro in which "professional" credentials (some of which sound like they do real social, ecological and economic harm) are trotted out. It is the kind of thing corporate men do all the time, and are rewarded for, while women who do it get punished for it. But it's not a good thing to aspire to, either. "Silicon Valley aggression" is a good description. There are good ideas worth talking about in the piece, though. The central premise is not weighed down by the SVA; online harassment really is worse than many want to imagine, and visibility is a giant magnifying glass held over that.
posted by byanyothername at 11:53 AM on January 5, 2015


I once got caught in the middle of a blinding snowstorm. It was BAD. This unfortunately, makes me a tad unable (unwilling), to entertain the notion that people who get caught in other types of inclemental weather have meaningful experiences, or have something worthy to add to the conversation. I mean, I lost a thumb to frostbite. This was very hard to type. Just sayin'.
posted by triage_lazarus at 12:11 PM on January 5, 2015


I love how the discussion of this topic always goes.

"Women are harassed in this way."

"Everyone gets harassed! Give it a rest."

"Women are harassed in this way to a degree that people who are not women are not harassed."

"I don't believe it's that bad."

"Here are several examples of women being harassed to a degree that people who are not women are not harassed."

"That's not because they're women; it's because they're angry, ranting, ignorant, hangers-on, and boring."

"Here are examples of people who are not women who have similar tone, levels of knowledge, insider experience, and interest levels, who are not being harassed the way these women are harassed."

"Well they should just ignore the harassment and carry on with their lives."

"Here are the specific ways in which ignoring this harassment is ineffective and untenable, because the harassment is pervasive and unending."

"UGH don't you have anything new to say? Why even bother talking about this at all? It's just the same old story."
posted by KathrynT at 12:14 PM on January 5, 2015 [136 favorites]


Kathryn T, can you just say this in all future conversations? It should be enshrined on a wall.
posted by triage_lazarus at 12:20 PM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


Somewhat related, my FAQ for many of these discussions.
posted by verb at 12:24 PM on January 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


You seem to be describing a sort of visceral emotional reaction against high-profile linkbloggers.

I don't have much patience with high-profile linkbloggers any more, no, but I wouldn't have thought she counts as one of them. I wouldn't have recognised her name without looking at the "pre vi ou sly" links, but I don't read much tech news and I'm pretty bad with names generally.

Elizabeth Spiers, on the other hand, must be very famous, because I recognised her name without looking it up. Truly, I am the measure of all things.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:29 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


byanyothername: "There are definitely some classist vibes in the piece's braggy intro in which "professional" credentials (some of which sound like they do real social, ecological and economic harm) are trotted out."

Maybe? I think it's worthwhile establishing your bona fides for an audience when you're talking about a subject like this.
posted by boo_radley at 12:30 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Being educated and having recognizable work experience being considered classist while referencing an article subtitled "How the fuck does your “meritocracy” explain this?" in a thread where meritocracy itself has been outed as satire is suddenly very delicious. Like chocolate icecream with fudge. Excuse me a moment... I'll brb.
posted by infini at 12:36 PM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


I spent five years at school having abuse screamed at me every time I went down town because I had an unusual name and looked like someone who should be screamed at, I guess. Got in a couple of fights. It sucked quite a lot; what'cha gonna do? 'Fame' sucks.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:37 PM on January 5, 2015


More on point; I think if you want to change the way people think, you have to be on some level an annoying dick. You have to do and say awkward things that make people uncomfortable, and then persist in saying those thing well past when a non-annoying-dick would stop. And because entrenched systems treat change as death and fight against it, you'll get vicious pushback as you become, from the viewpoint of those systems, ever more annoying and dicky. Suffragettes, and railings.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:49 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


There is a more recent example of violence via visibility being enacted on Shanley Kane that has not been mentioned yet (unless I missed it).

This is Kane's preferred link to an interview of her that MIT Technology Review published in December 2014. In the version on MIT's site, this question by the interviewer...

On Twitter, you blow the minds of people who’ve never seen a feminist critique before, especially one of technology. Can you explain this response? Male VCs and entrepreneurs seem riled that you don’t take their good intentions very seriously.

...links directly to Shanley Kane's Twitter account where it says "On Twitter." The version on Kane's site (linked above) does not include a link to her Twitter account. Instead, it includes a preface that criticizes the editor of MIT Technology Review for being "complicit in driving extreme online harassment and abuse by misogynist trolls towards" Shanley.

When a journalist says, hey people really hate how feminist you are on Twitter [link to your Twitter account], the journalist can intend whatever they want, but the result is a deluge of misogynist hostility at the subject. It's incredibly privileged, and ignorant, and harmful to just blithely inflict that on someone and shrug it off because they're a public figure with a following.

And then to have others say, Shanley darling are you sure journalists are harassing you or is that your mental illness talking? So condescending. Try to put yourself in her shoes. How would you feel if someone might at any time just randomly be like "hey gamergaters, [your username] doesn't like you" ... even if you really don't like gamergaters and maybe said as much somewhere online? Would you not fear becoming the next in the long series of Kathy Sierra, Anita Sarkeesian, Shanley Kane, so many others? If you wouldn't, then maybe you're not a woman and/or maybe you don't rely on social media as part of your job.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 12:49 PM on January 5, 2015 [18 favorites]


Her twitter account is "@herfirstname". It's a twitter account that's been in several high-profile spats in the last couple of years and is thus highly ranked in search engine results for her name. It's ridiculous to claim that Pontin's link to her twitter account was "deliberately compromis[ing] her safety" since that account was well-known long before last month. Is that really what she is referring to at the top of the MVC repost of the interview?
posted by 0 at 1:09 PM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Her twitter account is also on her MVC bio.
posted by 0 at 1:11 PM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's incredibly privileged, and ignorant, and harmful to just blithely inflict that on someone and shrug it off because they're a public figure with a following.

So MIT Tech Review should have refrained from linking to Kane's Twitter account?

Or linked instead via less problematic anchor text?
posted by notyou at 1:12 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't have much patience with high-profile linkbloggers any more, no, but I wouldn't have thought she counts as one of them. I wouldn't have recognised her name without looking at the "pre vi ou sly" links, but I don't read much tech news and I'm pretty bad with names generally.
I didn't mean that you confused her with a high profile link-blogger. What I mean is that your description of "Public Relations" is in fact the definition of link blogging. I'm not trying to be pedantic, I just think it's worth noting and paying attention to—mostly because "Oh, they're just in PR," "They're just looking for attention," and so on are all traditional responses to women who articulate any kind of public critique in the tech world.

'PR' in that context is not a description of job function. Rather, 'PR' (and sometimes 'Marketing') are used as tech-industry shorthand for, "This person is not an engineer and is thus insufficiently serious and talented. They can be ignored." In this example, Shanley's industry work isn't PR-related, and Model View Culture is in no way, shape, or form a PR publication.

Much like the "If they were really talented, they'd shut up about this shit and go make games" argument that pops up all the time in #GamerGate circles, "If she was really talented and smart she'd be talking about her new Scala library, not gendered harassment" is a common refrain. I'm not saying that you were making that argument, just that it's worth paying attention to due to its ubiquity.
posted by verb at 1:16 PM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


So in your neighbourhood, its stop and frisk, in airports around the world, its empty out your entire hand luggage and take your shoes off, and online, its this.

The form has changed, the function hasn't.
posted by infini at 1:17 PM on January 5, 2015


MIT Tech Review should have gotten Kane's consent for what they were going to publish about her, or else not publish it. And if she said "if you publish this, it will compromise my safety," they should believe her and not just be like, what this information? This information that's available here [link]? And here [link]? And here [link link link]? How could that possibly hurt you! That's ridiculous! And by the way, that information you asked us not to publish is also available here [link]!
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 1:24 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


So MIT Tech Review should have refrained from linking to Kane's Twitter account?

Yes. And it's not difficult to see why.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:25 PM on January 5, 2015


One ex of mine is a writer who has a history of trauma. She has been published since the '90s and has been involved in the local & national writing communities in various ways, but definitely a public figure as a writer for over two decades. She is well known in particular circles, and outside those circles not much at all, so fairly typical for a moderately successful writer.

She has endured continuous harassment and numerous real-life stalkers since day one, honestly before she had any notoriety as a writer. It often is worse for women who have a history of trauma like she did, as well as the author of TFA, which tends to attract the kind of stalker who targets and victimizes women who have been abused. It gets worse when someone is disabled in a visible way. Or if you're outspoken about anything that confronts misogyny or patriarchy.

It's horrifying to live this reality in the first place, and especially when trying to maintain any sort of visibility within most career-oriented communities (whether creative or in tech or otherwise), among other places. It robs so many people of their voice, their power and their humanity. I've been active in various communities on the internet since the early '90s, and I've had a few public-facing roles plus moderating online communities, and overall have endured plenty of trolling and straight up sociopathic behavior. I haven't come anywhere close to living the reality my ex lives with daily. Just seeing her email inbox is more than enough proof. Nobody deserves to be treated like that... nobody could be blamed for withdrawing and retreating in response, and the women who endure it, confront it publically and refuse to back down or keep quiet are incredibly courageous. There is no such thing as a perfect messenger. There is no chance of progress and lasting social change without empathy that comes about by hearing the lived reality of those who are suffering, and by confronting the uncomfortable truth that we're all culpable and responsible for the suffering we allow and help perpetuate, in big and small ways, systemically and personally. The only way to progress- the only sane way out- is compassion.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:39 PM on January 5, 2015 [15 favorites]


You're talking about a Twitter handle that is her name. Said Twitter handle is the top search result for her name on Google. It's hard not to see the proposition that a link to it is "incredibly privileged, and ignorant, and harmful to just blithely inflict" as a conversational aggression - a dare to challenge this and be damned as a sexist tool, that sort of thing.
posted by topynate at 1:44 PM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


After reading about verb's friend, I got the idea that being a female talking about sexism turns your interactions into real life ChatRoulette.

Now I can't get out of my head this horrible image of an email inbox full of dick pics, which I am sure is in among the general shitty dick-waving she's received. And sometimes, with particular luck, this happens even if you've "followed the rules"!

Goddammit.
posted by halifix at 1:56 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


You're talking about a Twitter handle that is her name. Said Twitter handle is the top search result for her name on Google. It's hard not to see the proposition that a link to it is "incredibly privileged, and ignorant, and harmful to just blithely inflict" as a conversational aggression - a dare to challenge this and be damned as a sexist tool, that sort of thing.

It's about lowering the bar of entry. A direct link means anyone who reads the article and at that moment gets pissed at her can go right to her twitter and respond. Not including a direct link means they must search for it, and a subset of the population will drop out even at that low bar of entry.

You see the same thing in this post. People are critiquing her for not doing things in this post that she does in other posts she's written - but how many of the people issuing the critique looked at her other posts? Or looked at the magazine she founded? Hel, in looking through the magazine, I found several posts I'd been linked to in the past that I read but never checked into where they were published; this sort of lazy mono-focus is common and even expected online.

It's about setting an even lower bar of harassment. Saying "people don't like you" connected directly up to "and here's where they can tell you why."
posted by Deoridhe at 2:02 PM on January 5, 2015 [20 favorites]


Let's say you send a mass email encouraging recipients to contact their representatives about an issue you discuss in the email message. Do you just write "please contact your representative" and leave it at that, because their representative's contact information is easy to find, I mean, just Google it, right? Or do you say "please type your name and ZIP code in this form, and the message below will automatically be emailed to your representative"? Which one will flood the representative's inbox? Small increments of ease of use result in massive differences in the outpouring of the response, and it is often the volume of the response that makes life difficult for recipients of social media harassment, not just the content.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 2:17 PM on January 5, 2015 [13 favorites]


I didn't mean that you confused her with a high profile link-blogger. What I mean is that your description of "Public Relations" is in fact the definition of link blogging.

I hope you weren't planning some sort of "gotcha", particularly since I have no idea what special meanings terms may have in the tech world. I took the "PR" term from the Medium article, but I don't think she was trying to insinuate anything either.

I'm not trying to be pedantic, I just think it's worth noting and paying attention to—mostly because "Oh, they're just in PR," "They're just looking for attention," and so on are all traditional responses to women who articulate any kind of public critique in the tech world.

That's actually the critique Kane (apparently) made of Spiers and all such criticisms are trivially true: Spiers needs readers, Kane needs readers, all people in journalism/PR need readers. Spiers' critique was more substantial: that Kane's earlier outburst against her was an attempt to control the content and the reception of Spiers' article. I don't see any need to invoke either reason for the existence of Kane's current article, though; I think it's exactly what it appears to be.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:28 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


MIT Tech Review should have gotten Kane's consent for what they were going to publish about her, or else not publish it.

No, they should not have. Elizabeth Spiers, linked in the FPP, explains why. If the resulting story is shit, or inaccurate, or incites violence, or whatever else, then the writers, editors, and publishers will have to face the consequences.

So MIT Tech Review should have refrained from linking to Kane's Twitter account?

Yes. And it's not difficult to see why.

The "why" MIT Tech Review was supposed to see (I think?) is that linking would drive lots of misogyny and brutishness to Kane's Twitter account, which behavior would be far in excess of the good the link might serve (steering fair minded readers to the account to judge for themselves; steering sympathetic readers to Kane's account, which they might then decide to follow), and so, on balance, better to not link?

And if she said "if you publish this, it will compromise my safety,"

It's a big "if," but yes, of course, if that's the case, MIT Tech Review should have respected her wishes.

Meanwhile, Editor-in-Chief Pontin appears to have gotten caught in the cross-fire between Breitbartian MRAs who were responding to a Breitbart story about Kane (which was critical, I guess -- haven't read it) that appeared a day after his Tech Review Q&A with her. Pontin's tweets mostly approve of Kane and MVC (the Breitbart reporter got Pontin to admit, for disclosure, that he'd contributed to MVC, and is a subscriber), although Pontin insists the Twitter accountshould be read as performance, much as infini and others have noted, above. I wonder if Kane and Morozov share the same playbook.

Sorry, no links (climb the bar, if you care).

On preview: Pontin's Twitter participation seems more likely to have stoked the fires, and perhaps this is the source of Kane's complaint more than the link in the Q&A.
posted by notyou at 2:38 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Being educated and having recognizable work experience being considered classist while referencing an article subtitled "How the fuck does your “meritocracy” explain this?" in a thread where meritocracy itself has been outed as satire is suddenly very delicious.

You know you could have asked me what I meant instead of being an asshole and mocking me for point scoring. I probably would have tried to explain. It is a very minor point and I admitted that and noted that it doesn't undermine the central thesis of the piece, but it is something I noticed and decided to mention noticing after a few other people kind of picked at it also. Posting this is probably a bad idea, but I really don't appreciate the meanness that flies around here, and this is a good example. It looks fine and almost friendly, but it stings more than a random insult because I know you're intelligent but you're choosing to deliberately misrepresent me as your personal stawman to be catty and mean to.

(PS: "Being educated and having recognizable work experience being considered classist" is not what I was doing or indicating, but thanks for the good faith.)
posted by byanyothername at 2:52 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


On the topic of what PR is, it is the rebranding of "propaganda" which in turn was the craft Edward Bernays invented of using psychological techniques to manipulate people into acting contrary to their own interests. A friend of mine who once worked in advertising and who now observes Native American and Wiccan ritual practices told me it's a definite example of magic that works -- evil magic, but definitely magic.

So all other stuff aside -- and admittedly the other stuff is the meat -- there is definitely room to look askance at the proud endorsement of PR as a career motif. J is kind of proud of her days in advertising too, but I think more in the sense that someone who used to mainline heroin is proud of surviving it and not doing it any more.
posted by localroger at 2:56 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


No, they should not have. Elizabeth Spiers, linked in the FPP, explains why. If the resulting story is shit, or inaccurate, or incites violence, or whatever else, then the writers, editors, and publishers will have to face the consequences.

What consequences would those be? Because from what I've seen, what usually happens is that the subject of the piece suffers the consequences, while the journalists rarely wind up facing any responsibility.

Call it "The First 48 Hours Effect".

And yes, I read Spiers' argument, and I don't find it terribly convincing. If someone says "leave my friends and family out of this", it's pretty shitty to hide behind your job to justify pushing the matter.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:00 PM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


If the resulting story is shit, or inaccurate, or incites violence, or whatever else, then the writers, editors, and publishers will have to face the consequences.

In feminist utopia maybe, but not in this world. If the resulting story incites a stream of misogynist trolls toward the subject, it is the subject who faces those consequences.

And if she said "if you publish this, it will compromise my safety,"

It's a big "if," but yes, of course, if that's the case, MIT Tech Review should have respected her wishes.


Do they only owe her respect for her uncompromised safety "if" she tells them precisely how to do so, leaving the onus on her to predict how they might possibly compromise her safety? Or do they owe it to women everywhere to educate themselves about how their thoughtless actions might compromise women's safety, and be more thoughtful in the future, without having to be asked?
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 3:01 PM on January 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


There is no way to know if the MIT Tech Review contributed to the traffic of harassment Shanley received, and if so, how much. Just a few seconds of Googling show me that she linked to the MIT Tech story from her Twitter as well. It's not like she requested or expected anonymity.

It's a little ridiculous, and unfair, once a subject has agreed to be interviewed, to blame a reporter for the harassment others inflict after that story runs. If MIT Tech specifically incited others to harass her, then I would be more inclined to accept this argument had some merit, but that didn't happen. Shaney should be placing the blame with the harassers where it belongs, not MIT TEch.
posted by misha at 3:10 PM on January 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


I hope you weren't planning some sort of "gotcha", particularly since I have no idea what special meanings terms may have in the tech world. I took the "PR" term from the Medium article, but I don't think she was trying to insinuate anything either.
I wasn't planning anything, just trying to figure out what you meant when you described her past and present work as "PR." Neither the understood definition of "PR," nor the one you offered when I asked, are accurate descriptions of Shanley's current work.

You've said you don't know anything about the tech industry or what meanings words have inside of it—my intent wasn't to "catch you" in anything, just to get some clarity and perhaps shed light on why the engineering/business/marketing cultural signifiers are so fraught in that world.
posted by verb at 3:23 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


This thread is so inane even *i* couldn't read all of it. Please, invest in getting lives.
posted by shanley at 3:29 PM on January 5, 2015 [29 favorites]


It's a little ridiculous, and unfair, once a subject has agreed to be interviewed, to blame a reporter for the harassment others inflict after that story runs.

Why? I don't see why asking reporters to follow primum non nocere is a bad thing.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:46 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Kane's Twitter status that misha found in a few seconds of Googling is dated December 9. The preface to the article as posted on Model View Culture says that Partin directed the troll traffic to Kane on December 10. Like notyou, I now think it must have been Partin's tweets that stoked the fires. He apparently @mentioned her in his tweets where he also @mentioned gamergaters, and it was those links to her Twitter rather than the link in the article that were to blame, although the mechanism of directing troll traffic is essentially the same.

I'm sure Shanley does blame harassers for their harassment of her. But harassers also often have enablers and defenders and bystanders who say "we have no idea what happened" whenever a woman says what happened to her. By all means, let's keep picking apart the details of what happened in specific instances, and avoid learning any lessons that might result in changing one's own behavior. I say this as someone who had to learn a hard lesson about why some people might not want to be linked in some instances unless you ask first and make sure it's OK. The details were quite different than this situation, but I did grasp the general principle going forward, after being called out for it.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 3:49 PM on January 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


This thread is so inane even *i* couldn't read all of it.

MeFi's own!
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:05 PM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


A friend of mine who once worked in advertising and who now observes Native American and Wiccan ritual practices told me it's a definite example of magic that works -- evil magic, but definitely magic.

Oh for fucks sake. If you buy that shit, then your friend must be like the best adman I've ever heard of. Have him fly his broom over to my house and explain to me how all advertising is evil.

I worked in advertising, and in PR. Is there evil there? Yup, just like there's evil everywhere, in every occupation. But it's not all evil. And none of that has anything to do with this woman saying she's been threatened with felonious behavior.

You want clear rhetoric? Here ya go:

There is nothing any woman can do that should result in her receiving threats of rape. Nothing. I don't care what is on her resume. I don't care where she lives. I don't care what she says, or how she says it. I don't care what her job is. I don't care if she's a serial killer. Rape threats are not allowed. Anyone making those kinds of threats should be shut down.
posted by valkane at 4:11 PM on January 5, 2015 [18 favorites]


It's a little ridiculous, and unfair, once a subject has agreed to be interviewed, to blame a reporter for the harassment others inflict after that story runs.

Why? I don't see why asking reporters to follow primum non nocere is a bad thing.

I could get into how that would stop reporters from doing their jobs - a mixed bag, for sure - but really it comes down to: that's the deal. You don't have to be interviewed, they don't have to interview you, but if you agree to give them your words then they get the right to make them public. Just like how part of the deal on Twitter is that if you have a public Twitter feed, the world can see your tweets, or for that matter the deal on Metafilter, which I've always preferred. If the deal was something else, then reporting wouldn't be reporting, Twitter wouldn't be Twitter, and Metafilter wouldn't be Metafilter.

And maybe they should be different, but in the case of platforms like Twitter and the World Wide Web (specifically hypertext links), the technology embodies a social contract, something which by the way is 100% necessary in order to scale beyond the one to one reporter-interviewee level to the billions of us out there, and that contract cannot be modified without modifying the technology. It's not possible, and the attempt often turns whole topics radioactive. So, I try to be careful in what I wish for when it comes to social platforms, because I like being able to link without the world coming down on my head, I like beanplating on Metafilter, and while Twitter isn't always my cup of tea, that's fine too.
posted by topynate at 4:20 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


>This thread is so inane even *i* couldn't read all of it. Please, invest in getting lives.
posted by shanley at 3:29 PM on January 5

10/10 drive-by. I'll patreon you (or whatever) the $5 mefi tax for posting that. I had posted hoping for much better discussion. its a seriously great piece and i hope you at least got some new readers from here.

The thread seems to keep spiraling back on tone argument nonsense, which is idiotic by definition but also completely incorrect: i am as white male cishet tech scum as it gets and everything written there reads true and clear to even what my pampered privileged ass can observe. if i can get something from it, anyone else can.

things need to change and the only way its going to happen is by people confronting the situation and stomping it into the ground with all the righteousness and fury that it deserves. i still maintain some hope that a lot of the male obliviousness is just from people not knowing how bad it really is, and if thsts the case and its not mal-intent then pieces like this are essential.
posted by young_son at 4:24 PM on January 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


This thread is so inane even *i* couldn't read all of it. Please, invest in getting lives.

lol
posted by Sebmojo at 4:27 PM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


When you're reporting, you don't have carte Blanche for everything though. Generally with someone who is vulnerable, effort is made to keep their location and less newsworthy details out of the story. There was a serial killer in Hong Kong whose ex-girlfriend the Daily Mail dug up a photograph to put on the front page as "the beauty who broke his heart and triggered a murder spree" which was just inviting blame and with her full name, age, job and country where she lived made her trivially easy to identify. I didn't see her mentioned in any other coverage with so much detail because as an ex of a serial killer, likely a victim of his abuse too, the meagre news value of her personal details was outweighed by the vulnerability of making those details broadly public.

Actually that makes a good guide: would only the Daily Mail print this?
posted by viggorlijah at 4:34 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


that's the deal. You don't have to be interviewed, they don't have to interview you, but if you agree to give them your words then they get the right to make them public.

It's not that cut-and-dried. The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics explicitly includes the duty to "minimize harm" to sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public.
posted by Lexica at 4:39 PM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh so it's about ethics in journalism, you say? Note that Kane included @jason's twitter info in her piece.
posted by 0 at 4:45 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


You don't have to be interviewed...

Maybe you do have to be interviewed in order to have the benefits of visibility ("With visibility is supposed to come admiration, respect, access, affluence – and for most of such men, it delivers.") while "harassment, stalking, threats, loss of career opportunity and mobility, constant public humiliation, emotional and sometimes physical violence," are only part of the deal for a select few.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 4:51 PM on January 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


Have him fly his broom over to my house and explain to me how all advertising is evil.

It's a her. She recently completed her Ph.D. in Native American studies and is teaching college nowadays.

Advertising is evil for the same reason hacking can be evil; it turns your own methods of self-actualization against you. It manipulates universal weaknesses in human priority evaluation to get people to buy product that isn't needed or is even bad instead of making decisions that are actually personally beneficial.

And no, a history in advertising does not earn one a bunch of rape threats. But it will cause you to get some hairy eyeballs, and for good reason.
posted by localroger at 4:52 PM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Advertising is evil for the same reason hacking can be evil

I'm curious why advertising gets the absolute "is" here, while hacking gets the "can be." Certainly there is good hacking (e.g. suberting the "Great Firewall") but isn't there also good advertising?
posted by tonycpsu at 4:57 PM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm curious why advertising gets the absolute "is" here, while hacking gets the "can be."

Because hacking has a good side. While there are hackers who write malware and create disruptive shit for the hell of it, the same skills are sometimes used by people who just want to genuinely increase knowledge, improve their own skills, and perhaps educate people as to how to improve their security.

I have yet to see that side of any advertisers. For the most part even PSA's seem to be smoke screens for various entities to use as fig leafs as they do other much more nefarious shit.
posted by localroger at 5:03 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, more to the point, it is J who worked in advertising who used "is." She's quite adamant about it.
posted by localroger at 5:04 PM on January 5, 2015


isn't there also good advertising?

Yep. Advertising serves to disseminate information, and that effect is documented. It most assuredly *can* be bad, but things are worse without it.
posted by mordax at 5:04 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well mordex that gets us to a distinction -- there is propaganda or "public relations" and then there is advertising, which is mostly the practical application of propaganda/PR. It is possible to have advertising without PR, e.g. posting your prices so they can be compared. But 99% of the time there is much more to advertising than simple posting of information and prices, and that's the part that is a problem.
posted by localroger at 5:08 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I think maybe it's time for the advertising derail to go away. It was a point that needed to be made, but not pounded into the ground to this extent.
posted by localroger at 5:09 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Note that Kane included @jason's twitter info in her piece.

Note that Kane did not provide a link to his Twitter account. It was the link that I took issue with for the reasons stated above--lowering the barrier for the massive number of trolls who just want to click through to spew. (But then I realized--and admitted upthread--that it was actually the links in Twitter @mentions, not the link in the article itself that created the issue here. I'll say it clearer: I was wrong.)

Also note that Kane's inclusion of @jason's twitter info is attached to his tweet in which he states that anyone with more than 10K twitter followers should not be given the opportunity to consent. He has more than 200K twitter followers, which to me sounds like he has specifically asked not to be asked whether he wants his twitter info included, and that Kane is respecting that.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 5:11 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


which to me sounds like he has specifically asked not to be asked whether he wants his twitter info included, and that Kane is respecting that.

It sounds to me like he isn't saying anything specifically about twitter, but I haven't seen the conversation. I'd appreciate a link if you have one.

Agreed, though, that Kane's usage was fine. I think we differ on the significance of a link versus an image. Putting someone's picture next to a bolded "Visibility as A Justification for Violence" headline seems to be a bigger invitation to go harass somebody than a link to one's twitter account in a softball question about said account. They're both fine mostly.
posted by 0 at 5:42 PM on January 5, 2015


If you went out and intentionally tried to design a platform to enable mass harassment, you would have a hard time doing 'better' than Twitter. When Kane says that the first thing she would change if she had a "magic wand" is Twitter, she's spot on.
posted by Pyry at 5:48 PM on January 5, 2015 [10 favorites]


And maybe they should be different, but in the case of platforms like Twitter and the World Wide Web (specifically hypertext links), the technology embodies a social contract, something which by the way is 100% necessary in order to scale beyond the one to one reporter-interviewee level to the billions of us out there, and that contract cannot be modified without modifying the technology.

Sorry, but no. We control technology. Not vice versa.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:56 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


It sounds to me like he isn't saying anything specifically about twitter,

I'm referring to the same tweet you are, as quoted by Kane in the FPP, where he says "i would say over 10k twitter followers), you don't get to consent"

I think we differ on the significance of a link versus an image. ...

Oh hell no. That is not what I am saying at all. This is bigger than some generalized rule about links or images. It's way bigger than the gotcha game you are playing where you try to equate the behaviors of both sides.

My position is that the subject of exposure should get the opportunity to consent to that exposure, or to choose not to be exposed in that way. In whatever way. As the (metaphorical) journalist, that could just as well mean asking your subject "would it be OK if I link to your work?" as "would it be OK if I include your photo?" Either way, it is the subject/target of that exposure who should get to decide, subjectively. It should not be you or I or any other supposedly objective observer who is nice and safe (thanks to Mefi mods!) and who doesn't really understand what that particular exposure might mean to someone who doesn't share a particular set of privileges and vulnerabilities. Of course I recognize that the world in general does not operate that way, but it should.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 6:04 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Seems like an argument for (as I heard the other day) "15 megabytes of fame instead of 15 minutes of fame".

There is much to be said for invisibility (as many 'lucky' Hollyfood figures have discovered to their dismay). Many creatives have accomplished some of their best work in that state. When they are "propelled upward" (like bubbles in water) by acclaim, they have something they have to maintain.

So yeah, you can plug into visibility when you're young, and you become fodder for (lots of) somebody else's dreams. (And the envy of those who think they want that.) Older folk recognize the cost of that, and struggle to regain invisibility. Being a wholly-owned subsidiary can be the darkest of prisons. Internet exposure is (in kind if not degree) nothing new.
posted by Twang at 6:06 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


As I've always thought when her stuff comes up, Kane seems incredibly obnoxious and pretty much on target all of the time. Lesson being, I suppose, is the value in being obnoxious.
posted by xmutex at 6:09 PM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


"The difference between a top-flight creative man and the hack is his ability to express powerful meanings indirectly."

-Vance Packard
posted by clavdivs at 6:59 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


"But no creative man am I! You look upon a woman."

-Éowyn, daughter of Éomund
posted by I-Write-Essays at 7:25 PM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


byanyothername, you're right. I apologize. I let the tenor of the thread carry me away on a stream of random driveby snark that wasn't meant to be personal.
posted by infini at 7:41 PM on January 5, 2015


> No - this article is boring. The issue is not boring.

> As I've always thought when her stuff comes up, Kane seems incredibly obnoxious and pretty much on target all of the time. Lesson being, I suppose, is the value in being obnoxious.

Soooo perfect. Way to go, team. Those two comments right there perfectly illustrate the bigger problem. (And by that, I mean the problem that is bigger than a post like this appearing on Metafilter.)

"I'm not going to listen to what you have to say, no matter how relevant it is. It's too boring!"

"I'm not going to listen to what you have to say, even though you're usually right. You're too obnoxious, and that's the only reason people listen to you!"

FUCK. THAT.

Women. Can. Not. Win.

Is this reaction to be expected? Yes! We know it's going to happen! Is it to be accepted? Hell no! Have you read complaints/essays like this before? Probably! On Metafilter, even? Most definitely!

Does that mean people here should stop talking about it? No! Does it mean that people here should have some sort of ESP about how you personally think the discussion should be approached or framed? Or that people shouldn't repeat parts of arguments you've already heard, because it insults your intelligence? Or that because you're bored already *yawn* with all this talk about how women generally have to deal with this stuff on a daily fucking basis, and because their complaining about being shouted down when they try to speak up about it is getting kind of old, it should cease being a topic of discussion -- here, or anywhere? You seriously have to ask that question?

To state that you, as an individual, are bored or put off by the tone of any news article/blog post/op ed about any of this is not only irrelevant, it's so incredibly self-centered that it makes my jaw drop. So you've heard it all before, and this one doesn't do it for you. GREAT. You are an individual of superior awareness and intelligence.

You know what, though? What Shanley Kane wrote, this idea of things being tough for women in this certain sector, will be encountered for the first time by somebody. There are people who will be confronted by her boring and obnoxious words and who will think "Huh. I never realized that." And for you -- the general you -- to be offended that you had to come across it fucking again, and that it was obnoxious to boot -- that is the absolute, very definition of privilege, and you need to get over yourself.

Everyone who speaks up about shit like this will be heard by someone. Even if it doesn't enlighten you, or even if it doesn't thrill you with its poetry, these are words that are worth writing.

Saying they're not is absolutely being part of the problem, and I would hope that folks would consider that before flecking their monitors with spittle and fondling their keyboards with this pitiable outrage.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:58 PM on January 5, 2015 [19 favorites]


Why I support Metafilter:

"The difference between a top-flight creative man and the hack is his ability to express powerful meanings indirectly."

-Vance Packard
posted by clavdivs at 6:59 PM on January 5 [−] Favorite added! [!]


"But no creative man am I! You look upon a woman."

-Éowyn, daughter of Éomund
posted by I-Write-Essays at 7:25 PM on January 5 [−] Favorite added! [!]

posted by infini at 8:00 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


That's why we call you the engineer.
posted by clavdivs at 8:06 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


And for you -- the general you -- to be offended that you had to come across it fucking again, and that it was obnoxious to boot -- that is the absolute, very definition of privilege, and you need to get over yourself.

Right, I mean, narratives about men aren't considered cliche as much as they're considered templates for great work, and I don't think I've ever heard anyone say, "Gah, this story about a young man having a hard time coming to terms with the adult world presented in a way that criticizes what we consider 'adult' is just like the thousand other stories about young men coming to terms with the adult world presented in a way that criticizes what we consider 'adult,'" despite a huge portion of the Western canon being stories about young men having a hard time coming to terms with the adult world presented in a way that criticizes what we consider "adult". Maybe just consider "Woman gets horribly harassed and/or assaulted, is justifiably upset about it" as the female equivalent of a Bildungsroman.
posted by jaguar at 8:12 PM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ok, 1. I'm ugly enough to read as to cogencies efficacy, I dig Augers. But try not to use F$V@ every 49th word...to the angry article person.
posted by clavdivs at 8:12 PM on January 5, 2015


Soooo perfect. Way to go, team. Those two comments right there perfectly illustrate the bigger problem. (And by that, I mean the problem that is bigger than a post like this appearing on Metafilter.)

My comment illustrated she was obnoxious, which she is, and that she's usually right, which is she is. The latter point indicating that I did indeed listen to what she had to say, and have done so for a while. But yay for your reading comprehension? That might be a larger problem than your post.
posted by xmutex at 8:14 PM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't think I've ever heard anyone say, "Gah, this story about a young man having a hard time coming to terms with the adult world presented in a way that criticizes what we consider 'adult' is just like the thousand other stories about young men coming to terms with the adult world presented in a way that criticizes what we consider 'adult,'" despite a huge portion of the Western canon being stories about young men having a hard time coming to terms with the adult world presented in a way that criticizes what we consider "adult".

If you need someone to tell you that 150 years of whiny male literature from Werther to Kerouac to Salinger to Roth to Wallace, et al is a load of bullshit, pm me (NB: am cishet/neurotypical, so I get to speak from a place of particular knowledge).
posted by 99_ at 8:26 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Now we're at saying male literature is bullshit and throwing out Roth and Wallace.

See ya internet, you've been amusing.
posted by xmutex at 8:27 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, I stick Wallace in there because he's the Internet's boyfriend. But Roth is some pretty easy pickings most times. I like Wallace as a litmus test of OH NOES REAL LITERACHUR for people who normally throw out Mailer for the easy score.
posted by 99_ at 8:31 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


This thread has been invigorating and very very timely. Now granny will get all schmoopy with y'all so I'll stop this nonsense here.
posted by infini at 8:43 PM on January 5, 2015


Jack was whiny. Catholism and booze, sure. But I still get the tableau of Wittgenstein vs. Billy the kid sensation. Don't quite know what he might say next like some bliss-clink angst sciolist whistle flag...
I like Jack.
posted by clavdivs at 8:46 PM on January 5, 2015


The Heroine's Journey will become the meta narrative of emerging from the crucible of abuse and harassment with sound mind and body, still able to pay the rent.

/might be hamburger, can't say for sure
posted by infini at 9:02 PM on January 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


Personally, I feel like I have been well served by disabusing myself of the notion that a conceptual challenge to an aspect of my identity represents any sort of genuine threat to my actual self. In that spirit, even when I may not totally 'get' posts about instances of oppression where I'm in an unoppressed class, such as this one, when I come across them, I try think about them with my own worst moments in mind. Because, clearly the words carry the weight of someone else's worst moments.

I'm really disappointed in the total failure of empathy on display in this thread and basically everywhere else in the human-populated universe. I can't even fucking imagine how I'd feel if I weren't a white male programmer.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:03 PM on January 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


If you need someone to tell you that 150 years of whiny male literature from Werther to Kerouac to Salinger to Roth to Wallace, et al is a load of bullshit, pm me (NB: am cishet/neurotypical, so I get to speak from a place of particular knowledge).

My bachelor's degree is in English from an Ivy League university. I am fully aware of the male focus of most of the canon, thanks -- and I'd actually take my comment almost all the way back to include Shakespeare. (Probably earlier, too, but I didn't study that enough to make pronouncements.)

And the thing is, I love most of that literature. But it's generally recognized that stories have something-less-than-a-dozen templates, and we all seem to assume that extremely minor variations on those templates, when men or boys are the protagonists, are important and interesting, while we punish women for repetition and bulldoze over the particulars.
posted by jaguar at 9:07 PM on January 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


My bachelor was in Lit from a non-Ivy, so I guess I don't get to play? I'm honestly amaze when people trot out the strawman of 'well, all these boys and their Bukowski' when talking about lit. I finished my degree 20 years ago, and if you are hanging out with people who are yammering on about Ham on Rye, it definitely isn't in a Lit program of any repute (unless you went to Cornell, I guess)? I'm not trying to discount the failings of 50 years ago, but I couldn't find people (faculty) who were interested in my thesis on DeLillo (which was a reach even on my part, and in retrospect I'm glad it got pushed aside) in 1990. I was hardest of hardcore lit crit for going on ten years, and I honestly don't know where people are living with this notion that people still give the least fuck about dick swingers from the early 20c or later. The world I knew was if you didn't know Judith Butler forwards and back, then the door was that way (and this was a position I was perfectly fine with -- it just seems so intellectually thin to pretend this isn't the stock in trade in most programs; that's not to say there aren't any number of new battles to fight, but I just thought we buried a lot of these bodies in 1985).

This is a real question: is there a 20 year old alive who thinks they need to read Roth? Anywhere? If you tell me Yale, then haysoos christo, what have they been doing since de Man? [some joke about onanism goes here].
posted by 99_ at 9:48 PM on January 5, 2015


Canon. I am talking about canon. I do not think the canon is the extent of all English-language literature. I do believe that "white men talk about the difficulties of being white men" is an accepted and highly lauded literary trope, and that it's therefore ridiculous when anyone dismisses women for chronicling our own struggles.
posted by jaguar at 9:52 PM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Sorry, but no. We control technology. Not vice versa.

Yes, you can alter Twitter - or rather, Twitter can alter Twitter, and you can influence them. You could add a 'communities' feature, add community moderators, etc. - the structure is labile. What I'm saying is that you can't treat a platform as an unstructured space. Like "is it ok if I link to your work?" isn't something that one can reasonably require as part of interaction on the internet, because the Web was explicitly designed to support free-linking, and we have – quite naturally – already internalized the idea that that's ok. If you now started agitating to change that norm, without changing how hypertext works, then it wouldn't work - the scale of your action wouldn't correspond to the scale of the internet, and in fact the Web makes it much easier to create a link than to remove it, so the imbalance would be even more severe.
posted by topynate at 2:13 AM on January 6, 2015


yeah but this is about a specific journalistic/editorial decision that didn't appear out of nowhere

~information wants to be free~ is an excuse for irresponsible journalistic/editorial behavior like the efficient market hypothesis is an excuse for capitalism's horrors.
posted by thug unicorn at 2:26 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was too caught up in my thoughts, and as I have continued to reflect on that experience some months after, I realise that I as an African have been trapped in two very paralysing emotions with regard to the way the world sees and treats us. Anger and shame. Anger at the fact that we have been oppressed, abused, belittled, patronised, cheated, turned against each other and then blamed for our “savagery” against each other. Anger that we have not been allowed and have not allowed ourselves to reflect publicly on what this has meant for our psyches, both historical and current. Anger at the fact that when we do, at least when I do reflect publicly, there is this ever so polite but defiant dismissal that reminds me that it is not safe to dwell on the injustices of the past, which still affect us today, in case I upset white power/bite the hand that feeds me/upset the network/make people who matter uncomfortable. Anger that I am not allowed to self-actualise. I should remain childlike in form.

The shame comes as a reaction to hearing the same negative stereotypes charged against my people at each turn. I have heard the following — Africans are lazy/they are incapable of governing/they are unevolved/they are unemployable/they take up too many resources to upskill/they require careful monitoring/they cannot be allowed free will/they are too simple — so often that at some point I have to acknowledge that a very subtle and unconscious sense that Africans are a burden to themselves and to the world influenced the way in which I took up space in the world. Actually I should say the way I did not take up space. The unconscious apology that I have given for being what and who I am. And so often I am reminded through racialised and classist commentary that I am not like “the other Africans” because I am smarter, brighter, more capable. And yet when it comes to that boardroom conversation or that team-building exercise where my peculiar viewpoint is once again dismissed (at best) or ignored (at worst), I am reminded that I am not smarter, brighter, more capable. I am token.

posted by infini at 2:43 AM on January 6, 2015


That's my point - the decision to link or not to link is culturally conditioned, the culture is highly influenced by the technology. Regarding the EMH conspiracy theory - I don't buy it, but I don't see the relevance anyway.
posted by topynate at 2:44 AM on January 6, 2015


That's my point - the decision to link or not to link is culturally conditioned, the culture is highly influenced by the technology.

Sorry, but "technology made me do it!" just doesn't fly with me. There is a vast, vast difference between capability, permission, and justification, and the way we have been conflating the two is rather dangerous. Arguing that the structure of the Internet means we don't need to consider the repercussions of our actions is a large part of why we keep having these problems.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:33 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Like "is it ok if I link to your work?" isn't something that one can reasonably require as part of interaction on the internet,

I didn't suggest requiring it. I invited individuals to choose to be more thoughtful about asking permission before exposing someone's work to visibility that may be unwanted for reasons the individuals may not be aware of.

This idea that it's just too much trouble to get consent before linking, because how would that even internet, is analogous to the idea that it's just too much trouble to get consent for all kinds of interactions, including romantic/sexual ones because then how would dating or mating ever even happen at all. That is just really sad to me that if consent is added to the mix, you think the whole system would break down. If you're right, then the system should break down and be replaced with something that allows for consent. But I think you're wrong, because it takes less effort to ask someone whether she wants the visibility you're about to inflict on her than it does to sit here and argue that you shouldn't have to bear that responsibility because technology.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 5:14 AM on January 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


My position is that the subject of exposure should get the opportunity to consent to that exposure, or to choose not to be exposed in that way. In whatever way. As the (metaphorical) journalist, that could just as well mean asking your subject "would it be OK if I link to your work?" as "would it be OK if I include your photo?" Either way, it is the subject/target of that exposure who should get to decide, subjectively. It should not be you or I or any other supposedly objective observer who is nice and safe (thanks to Mefi mods!) and who doesn't really understand what that particular exposure might mean to someone who doesn't share a particular set of privileges and vulnerabilities. Of course I recognize that the world in general does not operate that way, but it should.

This goes against pretty much every fundamental tenant of the way media works in a free society.

This idea that it's just too much trouble to get consent before linking, because how would that even internet, is analogous to the idea that it's just too much trouble to get consent for all kinds of interactions, including romantic/sexual ones because then how would dating or mating ever even happen at all.

Comparing what's really just journalism 101 to rape is really gross.
posted by empath at 6:35 AM on January 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


Of course I recognize that the world in general does not operate that way, but it should.

This goes against pretty much every fundamental tenant of the way media works in a free society.


Of course I recognize that the world in general does not operate that way, but it should.

Comparing what's really just journalism 101 to rape is really gross.

Asserting that journalism doesn't work if you have to get consent from your subject is way more gross.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 6:42 AM on January 6, 2015


Do you need me to enumerate all the stories that we'd have never heard about if we had to get the consent of the subjects to report on them? Have you ever actually read a newspaper?
posted by empath at 7:11 AM on January 6, 2015 [12 favorites]


Is there any middle ground between (a) no newspapers nor journalism nor free society and (b) I soon realized that calling me a “public figure” had nothing to do with describing my impact on the industry or recognizing my achievements within it. Rather, the term “public figure” is solely ascribed to me as part of justifying abuse, harassment, humiliation, boundary violations and invasion of my privacy by anyone — from journalists to anonymous trolls to professional peers. When I protest journalists using bullying and dishonest tactics to exploit my life and relationships for page views, I’m a “public figure” and thus not allowed any privacy or boundaries, or to defend myself in any way. When my experiences and words are twisted, taken out of context and used against me as attacks; when months of my tweets are dug through to find a scrap of something to attack me with: “well you live your life in public!”

Do you want to help look for that middle ground or not?
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 7:18 AM on January 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


When you engage in the public sphere, people are free to use your own words against you. Them's the breaks. She has 15,000 twitter followers. Surely, she understands that people are actually reading her twitter feed.
posted by empath at 7:33 AM on January 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Bentobox Humperdinck: Of course I recognize that the world in general does not operate that way, but it should.

This goes against pretty much every fundamental tenant of the way media works in a free society.

Of course I recognize that the world in general does not operate that way, but it should.
Every dictator in the history of the world agrees with you.

No one honored in history as an activist for democracy does, but don't let that stop you.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:39 AM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


She doesn't mind that people are reading it. She just wants to be safe from harassment. Are you going come up with some approaches to help her, or keep arguing that she doesn't deserve safety?
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 7:40 AM on January 6, 2015


Bentobox Humperdinck: Comparing what's really just journalism 101 to rape is really gross.

Asserting that journalism doesn't work if you have to get consent from your subject is way more gross.
Really? Bernstein and Woodward's expose of Watergate is way more gross than rape. Wow.

There's no middle ground possible with someone who starts out with opinions like that.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:41 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


So now Shanley Kane is a dictator?
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 7:41 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Now Shanley Kane is Nixon? The goalposts keep moving, you guys. I can't keep up. I guess women's safety isn't that important after all, you win.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 7:42 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


This thread has been an example of what the article was talking about. (Who am I kidding? It started that way.) We've taken a woman's visibility and used it against her. People are literally saying that because she has 15,000 twitter followers she should accept that people will use her words against her.

No! That is the entire point of the article! She should NOT have to accept that. It should not be part of the package. Equating visibility to Open Season is exactly the problem. We should not be excusing the people in this thread making personal attacks, even if they are being couched in plausible deniability. None of us should accept that.
posted by stoneweaver at 7:57 AM on January 6, 2015 [15 favorites]


When you engage in the public sphere, people are free to use your own words against you. Them's the breaks. She has 15,000 twitter followers. Surely, she understands that people are actually reading her twitter feed.

So, if someone places themselves into the public sphere, it's open season? There's no need to consider the repercussions of how reporting on them may affect the individual in their personal life?

You'll pardon me if I find that a step too far. I don't think that saying "hey, if you put a link to her Twitter account in your piece, you'll lower the barrier to people who intend to harass and intimidate her, so you should avoid doing so" is an unreasonable argument to make, and paeans to the freedom of the press aren't really any sort of rebuttal to the point.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:59 AM on January 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


The author of the article in Medium alleges that Kane's claims of harassment against her were unfounded and that they only arose after she asked Kane "to suggest people I could talk to, people who would be familiar with both the site and with her". This request came after a series of interviews; it didn't come out of thin air. The author declined to consent to Kane's request that the author refrain from talking to other people, after which
[Kane] posted pieces of our email exchange to Twitter, along with dozens of other tweets claiming that I was harassing her, contacting her friends and family against her will, and cyberstalking her. In all caps she tweeted, “LEAVE. ME. ALONE.”
I acknowledge that public scrutiny may be unwelcome and intrusive, and there's may be an argument that people should have some protection against it. But that's apparently not what happened in this case, and to the extent that Kane's article (which is very short on specifics) gives that impression, it's deceptive.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:04 AM on January 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


But this article wasn't about a particular incident. It's about how this happens to women NO MATTER WHAT. Every single incident can be broken down into "But she deserved it." There is always a justification.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:09 AM on January 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


But that's apparently not what happened in this case, and to the extent that Kane's article (which is very short on specifics) gives that impression, it's deceptive.

So you don't know what really happened any more than the rest of us commenters do, you just know she's lying? Neat trick.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 8:09 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


So you don't know what really happened any more than the rest of us commenters do, you just know she's lying?

According to that article she was lying, or at least exaggerating about harassment on that occasion. I suppose it's hypothetically possible that Kane's article ignores the events of the article in Medium and that she's talking about a different occasion when she actually was harassed in a way that is similar to her allegations against Elizabeth Spiers - but (a) that seems unlikely; (b) she would owe it to her readers to distnguish between the real- and not-real events; and (c) it still doesn't excuse her odd reaction to Elizabeth Spiers' request.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:22 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I really didn't like the way that article was written and said so in the 3rd comment in this thread. There's a way of writing that leaves a lot out yet manages to say much more. I didn't like it.
posted by infini at 8:25 AM on January 6, 2015


I guess we can't call it he-said she-said when they are both women. But when Spiers and Kane's accounts differ, you know for certain that whichever one was claiming harassment is lying? And a refusal to bare all details to public scrutiny, such as exposing all personal emails on the topic, is definitely in order to cover up a lie, and not because the person who claims her privacy is being violated wants to maintain some shred of said privacy?
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 8:26 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Talk to any newspaper reporter, male or female, about the level of harassment they experience and they'll tell you it started the first day their name appeared in print.

15 year journalist here, belatedly. I was never harassed in any way. Any way at all.
posted by maxsparber at 8:30 AM on January 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


The thing is, Joe - Spiers isn't exactly a disinterested party. Your whole argument is predicated on taking her at face value, but gives no reason as to why we should do so.

And I don't see Kane's request as all that terribly odd. We've seen (over and over and over) that people who want to attack someone who they see in the public sphere are more than willing to drag their friends and family into the mess. I can easily see Kane's request as being "I have seen articles on myself become lighting rods for harassment, and I do not want my friends and family caught in the blast." And considering that, Spiers' continued insistence on contacting Kane's friends and family does not come across as all that ethical.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:38 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


All the people that Shanley blogs and tweets about could say the same thing about being harassed, I'm sure. Does she get their consent first?
posted by empath at 8:42 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


If someone has complained about Shanley imposing unwanted visibility on them, that would certainly be something to bring up.

In the meantime, let's all wait until a human provides a flawless example of how to behave in every situation before any of us considers any baby step toward improving own behavior.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 8:53 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Does she get their consent first?

lol those are white cishet male nerds and their enablers. totally different
posted by 0 at 8:57 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't *want* journalists to 'improve their behavior' in the way you describe, nor would I want Shanley to tone down her criticisms of people that deserve it. They wouldn't be doing their jobs if they did that.
posted by empath at 8:59 AM on January 6, 2015


I'm not really sure how to articulate this, because I do believe you are responsible for what you say on the internet, and if you are saying them to in a public sphere like Twitter, you should expect some people to voice disagreement.

On the other hand, I obviously also believe that that voice of disagreement should never include threats, harassment, stalking, and in a more ideal world, misogyny, sexism, racism, or a whole host of other vile behaviors that people now freely engage in. I think that the former should be an enforceable legal matter and should be enforced. And the latter should be... I don't know, blocked by an ISPs acceptable use policy or something? Though I can see that also opening a whole ugly can of worms.

Threats aren't protected by the first amendment, but being a douchebag unfortunately is. Behavior that is clearly illegal in real life should be just as illegal on the internet, so intimidation and other kinds of harassment should be treated as the threat they are.

But unfortunately, I don't see a technical solution to people being misogynist or racist or just generally shitty in the way she's describing her interactions with certain people. That's going to require a shift in the way other people interact with them, and I just don't see that happening unless loud and vocal anti-voices start inhabiting the echo-chambers that make this kind of thing seem reasonable, and that would be a really awful hobby.

It is going to take someone smarter than me to fix this. But I'll keep slapping it down on an individual basis when I see it. I just don't think that is going to make a difference to the anti-woman culture at large.
posted by quin at 9:03 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't *want* journalists to 'improve their behavior' in the way you describe,

You mean in the way you have misread me.

I don't understand why you keep arguing in favor of thoughtlessly harassing people.

All I'm saying is stop and think about whether you are exposing someone to harassment.

Whether you're a journalist, or you're Shanley, or you're a commenter on Metafilter, consider the possible impact on the person. Just think it through, consider the harm to the individual, consider asking, consider refraining. Use good judgment.

Or maybe I'm saying let's burn down newsrooms and reelect Nixon and never criticize dictators. I know I've been terribly unclear.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 9:15 AM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Actually, for those of us "with privilege"/who are not in the groups being attacked, the internet has EXPLODED our exposure to these issues. While one can choose not to engage or even accept the information (cue the "Do you want to know more?" voice), it's in our face.

My parents and grandparents in small-town MO and NE literally only saw black people on the 6 o'clock news with Walter Cronkite, the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and a few sitcoms. Today, you can't go online without seeing Ferguson MO, another African American killed by another policeman, and so on.

I'm using the example of race, because it's more obvious, but it's true for misogyny as well


I wonder if it's also true for misogyny as it is for race: it turns out that when white people are exposed to the fact of the system's racism, the less likely they are to support changing it. Is the exposure to these stories of women being mistreated making people overall more okay with the behavior? It's an idea I find boggling but I feel the same way about the prison acceptance study. [I don't have access to the full paper, just the abstract; perhaps someone else could tell whether it seem like something that might track]
posted by phearlez at 10:01 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


[Couple comments removed; please cool it a little, folks.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:21 AM on January 6, 2015


Collapsing the distance between the behavior of gamergate asshats and a pretty highly credentialed journalist obscures that she's making a good point about harassment. I'm admit some bias because I know one party and not the other.

But I don't think the language of consent works here, particularly since a direct link enables some efficiency in terms of douchebag behavior, but it's like it would be that hard to find her Twitter account by other means. The technology is not a passive vessel, but it's also a bit of a derail to grind down into the minutiae of what a link is (and I don't think there's a useful endpoint to that discussion that satisfies either position).

We do have issues of privacy and the scale of the Internet shifting the ground of what it means to live in public, but these aren't new issues, and I don't really see lot of guidance from previous iterations of technology. But I do think the idea of cuts both ways -- as a relatively unknown person, I do wish some public figures would be less public in the concentric spheres of social media I engage. Deciding to promote yourself, your work, is a demand of sorts, and the only real option we are given is pretty much in the same form as 'don't read the comments' (change the channel, unfollow, block, etc.) so there's not much there as a viewer/lurker/etc.

There isn't an real framework socially for the notion gaining consent to speak and people listening respectfully when strangers are involved. I've traveled the edges of a variety of intentional communities in my life and honestly the solutions I've seen there have always been a little brittle and overly controlling.

But I do think it's worth discussing that framework of interaction inherent in the technology of Twitter is actually retrograde and potentially toxic and the sooner we can jettison the entire mechanism (or radically alter it), the better off we all will be.
posted by 99_ at 11:06 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is the exposure to these stories of women being mistreated making people overall more okay with the behavior?

Even if it were, women still deserve to tell about their mistreatment.

I think the message of the race studies you cite is that when white people think "I might go to jail [for too long] [for too little reason]," which is sort of a default assumption for laws of general applicability, they oppose the law. But when it occurs to them that the law won't really be enforced on them in that way; the brunt of it will fall on black people instead, they breathe a sigh of relief and they're like "oh yes I need to be protected from the criminal element, the law is good."

The same thing does apply to internet visibility, I'm sure. It's easy for anyone to say "oh yes please visibility, I'd love some, and here's some for you too, I assume you want it as much as I do" when they know that their inbox isn't going to fill up with rape threats as a result; that only happens to women.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 11:28 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Greta Christina has a post today on the meta topic of the term "radical," which goes along with some of the points raised in this thread about voices being perceived as too extreme.

I also noted this sentence (emphasis added):
Lore Sjöberg recently posted this on Facebook (reprinted here with permission, not linked to by his request)
Clearly people can link to whatever they wish to, but that choice can lead to a greater amount of abuse than a citation without link as has been described above. These discussions are sites of incredibly complex interactions of power, privilege, discourse, violence and resistance. Just because linking can be seen as unremarkable best practices within journalism doesn't mean that those practices haven't developed within (and at times help perpetuate) systemic injustices. A link can be seen as appropriate from one perspective and harmful from another.
posted by audi alteram partem at 11:38 AM on January 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


I really didn't like the way that article was written and said so in the 3rd comment in this thread. There's a way of writing that leaves a lot out yet manages to say much more. I didn't like it.

Okay, you didn't like it, and neither did Shanley Kane. What you both want, I think, is a press release type of thing that talks about how awesome in every way Shanley Kane is. Kane used to be a PR person. She can write press releases for herself, and you know, she probably does.

It's not a journalist's job to do a fluff piece and make the subject look good, it is a journalist'so job to report on the subject. If I wrote a report on Nixon, I couldn't leave the Watergate tapes out because they might embarrass him. I either put that in, or I don't do the story.

As far as linking to her Twitter goes, Twitter needs to seriously ramp up the way it deals with harassment (which right now consists of mostly ignoring the problem). One thing you can do, though, as a Twitter user, is choose to protect your tweets at any time. Kane has done this at least once, and she has deleted lots of comments and posts on Twitter and on the web, too--like I said, she understands PR. Any Twitter user can turn off and turn back on this feature at will.

When an article is about to come out, the reporter notifies the subject. If Kane, who has experience with these situations, didn't see the need to protect her tweets once she was notified the article was going up, I think it is a bit much to suggest that the reporter should have 1) anticipated that Kane would be harassed and 2) realized that linking to her Twitter might make that easier for potential harassers to find Kane, and 3) contacted Kane--who by this time was already publicly trashing the reporter on her Twitter--to get her consent to link to that same public feed.

That's a completely specious standard to expect here. Again, go after the harassers. Don't blame Kane for being harassed. But don't blame MIT Tech Review, either. Leave this reporter alone.

Also, anyone jumping on MIT Tech Review might want to look into other media outlets' experiences with Kane. In case this has not been linked before, this is not the first time Kane has blamed the media for making her look bad.
posted by misha at 12:45 PM on January 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


The thing is, Joe - Spiers isn't exactly a disinterested party. Your whole argument is predicated on taking her at face value, but gives no reason as to why we should do so.


Even leaving the stylistic differences aside - that one is a sober, generally-sympathetic profile and the other is a confusing rant - there are external reasons to prefer one over the other. Spiers' story was commissioned by a named person, Bobbie Johnson, who supports her account. Spiers publicly thanked Medium's owner, Evan Williams, for standing by despite (what she describes as) Kane's "completely untrue" assertions. And the story itself was fact-checked by a third named person. So it's not a matter of conflicting unsupported narratives; there really is a body of evidence on one side.

Leaving all this aside - do you really believe that Elizabeth Spiers stalked Kane's friends and family? It just seems a monumentally unlikely assertion, but one that should have been easy to prove.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:58 PM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Every once in a while, I check out Shanley's twitter feed and am delighted to see her getting her feminist rage on out in the open. Also, there are often pictures of bunnies.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:03 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Leave this reporter alone.

No one in this thread is bothering the reporter. Not linking to him. Not sending harassment his way. But we are discussing the fact that he (presumably unintentionally, just thoughtlessly) invited gamergate to attack Shanley.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 1:07 PM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


So the person who commissioned the story, the person who wrote the story, and the person who fact-checked the story, all say there's nothing wrong with the story?

When one side has a body of evidence which consists of all of them patting themselves and each other on the back for being so ethical on a shared project, while the other side says "leave me alone; I need privacy" it is unreasonable to expect a sacrifice of the very privacy she's trying to protect, in order for you to get enough information about the specifics so that you can discern to your satisfaction whether her privacy was in fact objectively violated. Her subjective experience counts for something in my book.

I don't know any more than you do what happened in that instance, but I can imagine. For example, they may have contacted her stalker for comment, but she doesn't want to say publicly which person in her life the stalker is, because that will only invite more activity from the stalker. For example, they may have contacted someone else in her life who is being stalked, and she doesn't want to have to say "this person close to me is extremely vulnerable in this particular way, please stop hurting her." Because it never works. It never stops. Someone is going to have to be this year's Kathy Sierra, and next year's, and next year's.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 1:33 PM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


invited gamergate to attack Shanley.

Well, crap, if we're going there... this is the breitbart article referenced in Bentobox's link above. It was that article that likely sent the most recent wave of trolls her way... they didn't come directly from the MIT tech link. But again, it's not like nobody had ever heard of her before that article.

Misha, google whitacre+shanley sometime. To be fair, medium.com has as much financial interest in flaming this nerd/feminist fight as MVC does.
posted by 0 at 1:36 PM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Her subjective experience counts for something in my book.

Well, it's good that she has supporters. But I think you can appreciate that a responsible reporter goes with verifiable facts, rather than subjective accounts. No one wants to make the Rolling Stone's mistake of not fact-checking enough.
posted by misha at 1:44 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying print something unverified. I'm saying when she begs to back out, don't print anything.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 2:13 PM on January 6, 2015


That would destroy journalism as a profession, and all you would have is puff-pieces. I'm sorry, but even people who are below the level of congresspeople are deserving of honest scrutiny.
posted by empath at 2:21 PM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's just amazing how all I'm trying to do is protect a woman's safety, but you keep reading me as trying to destroy journalism.

But as was said above, the piece that Kane objected to was supportive of Kane. What Watergate-level expose was at stake there? Or might it have merely been one woman's personal safety at stake, with just another ho-hum essay at stake on the other side?

So let's say you really think the only way to have legit journalism continue in the internet age is to continue having one Kathy Sierra after another. Does that bother you enough that you try to come up with the sort of nuanced guideline that would allow for Watergate reporting while protecting Shanley Kane from harassment? Do you want to just keep shooting down my suggestions as unworkable, or make an effort to come up with a workable solution yourself?
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 2:32 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


So let's say you really think the only way to have legit journalism continue in the internet age is to continue having one Kathy Sierra after another.

No, let's not, because that's a strawman of titanic proportions.
posted by misha at 2:38 PM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


[I feel like this is kind of just going in circles at this point; if you're finding yourselves disagreeing with each other after several exchanges and not really getting on board with any collectively agreed-upon direction forward with the conversation, maybe just everyone take a break from it in here or talk about a different aspect of the post.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:44 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Okay, cortex.

I think considering how to best protect women from harassment is worth discussing. My general suggestions would be:

Fix Twitter (as Kane suggests)
If subjects ask for anonymity, protect their anonymity.
Do not print personally identifiable information that is not publicly accessible without consent.
Alert the subject when an article about them is due to be printed.
Fact check, or preferably have a third party, fact-check any media before publication.
Prosecute harassers to the fullest extent of the law.

Those middle four are the responsibility of journalists.

My suggestions to women with an online presence concerned about harassment:
Strongly consider a VPN if you have a public online presence.
Use Twitter tools and third-party scripts to block known harassers, protect your Tweets or just avoid Twitter altogether.
Moderate comments on your blog.
Turn off location services for any photos you post.
Report harassment to the proper authorities.

Suggestions for anyone thinking of granting an interview who is concerned about personal safety and/or harassment:
Research the reporter's reputation and credentials.
Allow only vague descriptions of your location and no geotagging of images.
If you have any specific concerns, ask for whatever measures you feel are necessary to protect your personal safety before granting the interview.
Get agreements in writing before answering any questions.
posted by misha at 3:11 PM on January 6, 2015


So go ahead and throw your tone arguments and complain that Shanley Kane is just as bad as rampant institutionalized sexism. She's a fucking hero, and she at least needs to be listened to, not dismissed because she dares to punch up.

So let's see if I have this correct, Shanley is dismissive of the entire metafilter userbase, accuses everyone here of being anti-intellectual misogynists, joins metafilter to engage in a non-goodfaith manner, disregards all existing site norms and culture, resorts to swearing and name calling offsite, and blocks those who are defending her? She's her own worst enemy.

I'm not sure hero is the word I would use, but I do agree rampant institutionalized sexism is worse.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:19 PM on January 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


The thread has veered a bit away from the "newspaper writers get harassment as a matter of course" thing by now, but I wanted to share something about my dad, who writes for a local paper and also is a sort of big fish in the small pond of people who write about a specialized topic, and I wanted to make sure it was okay to share this anecdote first.

So my dad is on a mailing list for people interested in one of the topics he covers, and there's this one dude on it with a weird fixation on him; he keeps nitpicking dad's points and posting (wrongly) about mistakes dad supposedly made, stuff like that. And he was talking to me about inbox management, and how he just started redirecting all that guy's stuff to the trash because it wasn't worth his time dealing with just one disgruntled member of the public who can't actually be satisfied.

And I was shocked that he could do that. Google would delete it FOREVER! What if he needed it? And I realized that as a woman who writes about her experiences as a woman on the internet-- not even in a paid way, just on some blogs sometimes and on here and on Twitter-- I have to save EVERYTHING LIKE THAT in an "in case it escalates" folder to be used as evidence. But it's really unlikely, as a man, that dad will have anything worse than this guy maybe showing up at a talk and asking obnoxious questions, and having to keep track of it in case he ever needs to build a case just isn't something that occurs to him, both because a) it's unlikely this guy will ever do anything like that and b) as a white, middle-class man, it is likely that if something did the cops would listen to him even if he didn't come with a prepared presentation about what was happening, because crimes like that don't get ignored in the way that crimes against women such as harassment and stalking do.

This isn't to say that writing for the newspaper isn't draining-- it really can be for him; dealing with people who are mad at him all the time, even if they're just people whose shit he's called, can really suck. But it's orders of magnitude different from the shit women get just for existing in the public sphere, let alone speaking vocally in a way that violates gender norms about what's wrong with the status quo.
posted by NoraReed at 4:25 PM on January 6, 2015 [16 favorites]


Well, she did all that after I lionized her, but yeah, I'd still say she's a hero, albeit not a perfect one. She doesn't owe us friendship just because we're on her side in this one thing.
posted by Etrigan at 4:27 PM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Misha, google whitacre+shanley sometime.

Yeah, well --- whitacre is a tad over sensitive, but if you look at how this started . shanley does not come out looking very good --- as usual. I think he was entirely correct, she was/is a bully.
posted by smidgen at 4:40 PM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


This isn't to say that writing for the newspaper isn't draining-- it really can be for him; dealing with people who are mad at him all the time, even if they're just people whose shit he's called, can really suck. But it's orders of magnitude different from the shit women get just for existing in the public sphere, let alone speaking vocally in a way that violates gender norms about what's wrong with the status quo.

Thank you for this. I worked as a journalist (still do, albeit less actively) for about ten years now, writing mostly about politics on a national level, immigration issues and general social criticism, in the form of news articles and columns alike. In that time, I've had my writing picked apart by pedants, had all kinds of strawmen thrown my way over the points I was making, and have received angry emails from people in power who took issue with being written about.

And that is nothing compared to what my female colleagues had to put up with. Holy shit. Stuff as innocuous as restaurant reviews will bring out some really neolithic ugliness in people if they see a woman's name in the byline. They have to work three times as hard, be three times as careful, dot every I and cross every T to exacting detail in order to reduce the firehose of clearly gendered insults from life threatening to horrible. They produce amazing work, but always through a continuous and unfortunate process of self-censorship and having to weigh the importance of what they want to say against the backlash they know they will get.

This is why I said waaay upthread that everyone in journalism might experience harrassment, but if you're a woman, you'll have to deal with harrassment for being a journalist and for being a woman. Not just from readers, but from their colleagues, too (a lot of your old school lions of journalism are unrepentant misogynists). I have a lot of admiration for the women who I've worked with, especially those who are able to soldier on despite it all, but they sure as hell shouldn't have to. And yet every time they speak up to say "this is something that happens", so many people are completely incredulous. The mind boggles.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:10 PM on January 6, 2015 [12 favorites]


A friend of mine is a journalist with brown skin and a foreign sounding last name (yeah, I know, like Jorgensen is indigenous). I think he's hispanic, but honestly I never asked. Anyway, every time he writes something about immigration or international politics he gets several emails and online comments questioning his ties to terrorism or telling him to go back to his country.

I guarantee even he'd say he doesn't have it as bad as women.

A lot of journalists decorate their personal spaces with the physical letters they get. Usually these are up there for the lulz like the sports writer who had a fan letter asking for Danica Patrick's address because the reader was convinced she'd date him if only the reporter would part with her address (note: the reporter probably didn't have it either). Or the letters from the prisoners upset about their treatment. One letter was covered in headstone drawings with reporters' names on them (note: not a way to get sympathy for your cause). Many are funny, most are on the other side of the crazy line, some are creepy, and on super rare occasions the police are involved.

I worked IT at a paper for over a decade. I've sat in every chair in the building, often for extended periods of boredom, with nothing to amuse me but the trinkets people keep at their desks. I've read dozens and dozens of these letters. I can't say the men never got letters that weirded me out, and I can't say the women were the only ones with the letters that were truly disconcerting, but I can say, I'm fairly certain every woman in the newsroom had gotten at least one creepy letter.

It got worse once comments went online.

The men aren't immune, but more often than not, what they got was something everyone laughed about. The letters to the women were the ones where people had to debate whether the threat was credible and whether to involve law enforcement.

I don't want to give the impression these letters were some kind of constant refrain. Often they were accumulated over decades and some might have even predated the reporter sitting in the chair, but chalk this one up as anecdotal evidence women get scarier responses to what they write than the men.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:49 PM on January 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Leaving all this aside - do you really believe that Elizabeth Spiers stalked Kane's friends and family?
I believe that Spiers contacted Kane's friends and family after Kane requested that she not. Kane calls that "stalking" and Spiers calls that "reporting." I don't think that either word captures the complexity of what's going on, and that complexity is at the heart of Kane's piece linked at the beginning of this thread.

The "it's just reporting" argument is driven entirely by the idea that one Shanley Kane, by writing publicly, became a public figure and sacrificed any claim to privacy for her and/or her family and/or her friends. "Is this information relevant to the public interest?" is a question journalists have always been encouraged to ask, especially before they bring the power of the press to bear on an individual. It's one of the things that's been lost in the "everyone is the paparazzi" world we now find ourselves in, too.
posted by verb at 7:31 PM on January 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


I believe that Spiers contacted Kane's friends and family after Kane requested that she not.

Spiers directly refutes that claim in a recent piece about Chris Hughes:

One of Medium’s biggest controversies last year was my Shanley Kane piece for Matter/Medium because the subject claimed on Twitter that i had violated her privacy and contacted her friends and family for the profile, which was completely untrue.
posted by 99_ at 10:38 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


The web was a democratizing agent, you didn't know if the person on the other side of the username was male, female, white, black... all you had to go on were their words, and that was going to help to create a generation of people that didn't see the world through color or gender, because their friends online were people they valued, regardless of gender or race.

And now literally every single thing about you can be found online, you are constantly being tracked by everyone, and anonymity is dead.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:44 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was shocked seeing in Second Life, how the offline prejudices continued unabated, and new prejudices (against people with non-human or non-adult avatars) was introduced.

I think the idea that people wouldn't discriminate, given the chance, was naive.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:40 AM on January 7, 2015


One of Medium’s biggest controversies last year was my Shanley Kane piece for Matter/Medium because the subject claimed on Twitter that i had violated her privacy and contacted her friends and family for the profile, which was completely untrue.
Aha, that's an excellent piece of information. Thanks for posting.

I'm curious if she means that she "didn't contact friends or family," or "didn't violate her privacy, because contacting friends and family wouldn't have been violating her privacy." I suspect it's the first given the statement.

It is interesting that she apparently wouldn't tell Kane that she wasn't going to contact friends and family. Given the fact that it was a relatively simple profile piece, not a work of investigative journalism, I'm curious why the assurance couldn't have been offered.

Also, and this is something that I'd forgotten since the piece ran a while back, I'm not sure how I feel about the conflation of "Journalism" and "Medium.com paying people to write really good posts on Medium.com so that other people will choose to host their blogs on Medium.com, thus making it the next Twitter, thus ensuring the founders more VC money." I don't want to imply that I'm shifting goalposts, and I think Spiers definitely approached the piece as a journalistic endeavor, but the fact that it was a sponsored Medium.com post definitely gives Kane's "this was all about the clicks" critique more weight. Medium.com literally is all about eyeballs—it's a blogging platform, not a news organization. That's one of the things that makes the story even weirder.
posted by verb at 5:47 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Spiers is a bit vague about whether she tried to contact Kane's family, although she does say that she doesn't know anything about them other than what Kane told her. I think Spiers' expressed position is that "journalists—ethical ones, at least—don’t allow the subject to dictate who they speak to, or what they ask." This blew up after a series of extended interviews, and Spiers says that
Not only had we talked about it several times, but her professional background included a stint in a PR firm. So it seemed disingenuous at best, and manipulative at worst, to feign ignorance of the fact that profiling her would involve talking to other people.
Kane reportedly didn't want Spiers to talk to anyone about her, which seems weird and possibly manipulative to me.

Also, and this is something that I'd forgotten since the piece ran a while back, I'm not sure how I feel about the conflation of "Journalism" and "Medium.com paying people to write really good posts on Medium.com so that other people will choose to host their blogs on Medium.com, thus making it the next Twitter, thus ensuring the founders more VC money." I don't want to imply that I'm shifting goalposts, and I think Spiers definitely approached the piece as a journalistic endeavor, but the fact that it was a sponsored Medium.com post definitely gives Kane's "this was all about the clicks" critique more weight.

I will raise my right hand and testify that Spiers' Internet work is indeed "all about the clicks", and so is Kane's, and so is Mathowie's, and mine, and yours. At least if we're going to be reductionist about it. Metafilter wouldn't exist without an audience, after all.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:46 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I will raise my right hand and testify that Spiers' Internet work is indeed "all about the clicks", and so is Kane's, and so is Mathowie's, and mine, and yours. At least if we're going to be reductionist about it. Metafilter wouldn't exist without an audience, after all.

Well, I think it's important to not go too far into this reductionism. Of course media outlets want to be read, and have their links clicked. But I think the distinction between journalism and clickbait is important.

Remember that Esquire piece about how social media ruined journalism? I hated this piece, because I thought it identified the right problem for exactly backwards reasons. The structure of social media did not twist journalism's arm into creating more headlines that end with question marks, or to stop verifying claims, or to write in a more breathless style in fewer words. Instead, many media sites chose to imitate - rather than utilize - social media. I use social media all the time to be able to track down contacts, verify information and delegate tasks. It can be a great tool (one of many, though, I should add) in journalism. Straight-up imitating Upworthy headlines and eschewing fact-checking for FIRST hurts journalism, and I don't think social media should be blamed for it.

I mean yeah, of course any media outlet with a website wants readers to click on them. That's a given. But there's a distinction between "all about the clicks" and actual journalism that's worth making.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:08 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Plus, something isn't journalism or not based on where it runs or what it's printed on. It's journalism when someone commits journalism. Just like something isn't journalism because of who prints it. See Steven Glass or Charlie Krauthammer.
posted by phearlez at 7:17 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


There seem to be double standards when it comes to empathising the situation of "visibility begatting violence" via public media.
posted by infini at 10:12 AM on January 7, 2015


I don't want to imply that I'm shifting goalposts, and I think Spiers definitely approached the piece as a journalistic endeavor, but the fact that it was a sponsored Medium.com post definitely gives Kane's "this was all about the clicks" critique more weight.

If you do reporting, you're a journalist. It doesn't matter why you're doing it, or who you're doing it for.
posted by empath at 10:26 AM on January 7, 2015


This thread is being discussed at the tail end of this MeTa, fyi.
posted by posyblue at 11:44 AM on January 7, 2015


I will raise my right hand and testify that Spiers' Internet work is indeed "all about the clicks", and so is Kane's, and so is Mathowie's, and mine, and yours. At least if we're going to be reductionist about it. Metafilter wouldn't exist without an audience, after all.
I think you misunderstand my meaning. Obviously people who write for public consumption want their work to be read. The "reductionist" approach you describe, however, would mean that there is no difference in intent or purpose between whitehouse.gov and pornhub.com.

What "It's all about the clicks" really means when someone throws it around is simple: "That person is motivated by a desire for attention rather than any higher principle."
posted by verb at 8:41 PM on January 7, 2015


I don't think you can really know what motivates journalists. There are plenty of 'professional' journalists working for 'real' newspapers who report for reasons that have little to do with some higher principle-- like to gain and maintain access to people with power and money, or for some partisan political purpose.
posted by empath at 6:57 AM on January 8, 2015


I don't think you can really know what motivates journalists.

For instance, most of the journalism majors I knew back in college were pretty much mourned by access to alcohol. Sure, am expose bringing down the University administration would be nice, but not if it got in the way of the Friday night post-publishing boozefest.
posted by happyroach at 9:36 AM on January 8, 2015




In peripherally related news, infamous shitheel weev has doxxed shanley and sent nude photos of her to Model View Culture's investors. Apparently it's been known, but I wasn't aware that she dated weev for a few months years ago, before she decided that she wanted to fight the Valley/Startup culture's problems. Her response to the new attack is pretty gripping reading, even for those who have expressed distaste for her tone.

Realizing that she's had personal contact with weev really makes a lot of things click into place for me, but it does leave me wondering how she became such a moderate.
posted by verb at 8:12 AM on January 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


That's a lot of useful background information, and goes a long way into explaining why she freaked out about the reporter who was basically doing standard journalism. I wonder why absolutely none of that came out in her interviews with the reporter before she shut the profile down, though.
posted by empath at 8:24 AM on January 20, 2015


Man what is with her relentless abusing people for not being young?
posted by phearlez at 11:23 AM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wow, I can't imagine what it must be like to be under that degree of an attack - your entire family and anyone who speaks out to support you doxxed? Terrifying.

Model View Culture, her company, is actually pretty awesome. I've added it to my regular reads and have learned a lot. Really a diversity of opinions and information.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:14 PM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Her response to the new attack is pretty gripping reading, even for those who have expressed distaste for her tone.

I found some irony in there as she alienates her allies. She has a shitload of people who would be supporters of hers on metafilter, but you get "This thread is so inane even *i* couldn't read all of it. Please, invest in getting lives," and she throws a shitfit for having the reference comment deleted. She even references having her comments removed, but doesn't cite metafilter directly. I would say that essay reads like an angry paranoid individual, but she says that herself.

As far as manifestos go this was the most rational I've read, but she's obviously in need of some mental health care.

No one should be subjected to this level of crap, and I guess more power to her, but at some point you have to remove yourself from such toxic environments even if it means the bastards win. Life's too short to have a shitty one.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:36 PM on January 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


"What it was like to co-found Model View Culture with Shanley Kane" by Amelia Greenhall.

Huh. I didn't even realize Model View Culture had a co-founder.
posted by grouse at 6:18 PM on January 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


Huh. I didn't even realize Model View Culture had a co-founder.

I did, and as I have said here previously, when Greenhall walked away I expected MVC to flame out relatively quickly. I'm very much on record in that thread, and I stand by everything I said then. MVC's still going, which I didn't expect (though I didn't expect the G*m*rG*t* shithead shitstorm either). The pieces that are published online and in print are valuable. I want to see that kind of work continue.

As Erin Kissane tweeted today: "So, I'm not a fan of Shanley Kane's tweets. But you know what? You didn't go start @ModelViewMedia, and neither did I. She did." (Though I'd revise and extend to include Amelia Greenhall's work.)

I renewed my subscription this weekend after the Milo Andreas Wagner incident. Like I said last July, if you truly support the issues that Model View Culture addresses but think Shanley is not the figurehead and lightning-rod you'd choose, then that's two thirds of a syllogism.
posted by holgate at 7:59 PM on January 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Eh, sometimes the messenger is the message.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:05 AM on January 21, 2015


I disagree with Erin (who I like very much) that it really much matters that SK was a part of creating MVC. Its creation and continuation is a good thing but it's not a get-out-of-basic-humanity free pass The cult of personality is no less toxic when a woman is at the helm and I don't want to see us continue on into the 21st century simply expanding out this attitude that it's okay to excuse shittyness because someone does other good unrelated things off to the side.

Maybe Kane is the chemotherapy our society needs right now, with her awfulness being mixed up with the good she does and causing more harm to the misogynist cancer in our society than she does to bystanders or allies. But I can think it's bullshit that society praises traits in men that it condemns in women and think that those traits fucking suck no matter who has them. That's not anti-feminist, it's anti-asshole. I will wholeheartedly support women getting to be just as successful and influential as men while wishing with all my heart that so many of these things we associate with being successful in our culture would fucking disappear forever.

tl;dr: there's plenty of room to think Kane is a totally horrible person, a positive force for female equality, disliked for good reason, and disliked and persecuted for bad reasons.
posted by phearlez at 9:02 AM on January 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Huh, I didn't know she was an actual out-and-out racist until I read that weev article, that's actually kinda surprising. Her response contains all kinds of ugly.
posted by amorphatist at 10:34 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can dislike a person, like some of what they create with other people, and think that harassing them and their entire family is wrong. Weev has a history of encouraging those who admire him to target women (Kathy Sierra, for example) and isn't exactly not-racist himself.

There is no perfect poster child for "how to react when sent thousands of death and rape threats every day after your address has been published", there is no "perfect victim", and I find the shift in focus to "OMG this woman being harassed is a BAD PERSON" (especially while ignoring that the guy who harassed her is bad in similar ways) to be really disingenuous.
posted by Deoridhe at 10:50 AM on January 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure Weev is a reputable source here.
posted by maxsparber at 12:29 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure Weev is a reputable source here.

Of course anything he says needs to be taken with the contents of a small siberian salt mine, but in her response she admits she's a racist etc, so there's that.
posted by amorphatist at 12:36 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


tl;dr: there's plenty of room to think Kane is a totally horrible person, a positive force for female equality, disliked for good reason, and disliked and persecuted for bad reasons.

And we can hope for nice people with the emotional resilience of an asbestos battleship to show up and be figureheads, and hope that nice people don't decide to say 'fuck it' and spend more time with their beautiful ponies, but that hoping is its own kind of privilege.

in her response she admits she's a racist etc

That's an interesting use of the present tense etc.
posted by holgate at 12:45 PM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


That's an interesting use of the present tense etc.

Did she stop being a racist at some point?
posted by amorphatist at 12:58 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Amorphatist, I think it's useful to follow the distinction between "is a racist" and "did racist things". I think she actually denies being a racist ("I do not, and have never shared Andrew's views") and the worst thing she cops to in this context is where she says
While it wasn't a big part of our brief-lived (four month) relationship, he often made comments that were racist, homophobic, anti-semitic, misogynist and transphobic. I alternated between being like "hahahaha", “satiring” back to him (including making similar comments), and telling him to knock it the fuck off.
Yes, that wasn't good at all. On the other hand, she recognises that this was wrong; she enumerates a lot of other bad stuff; and she says that she regrets it all. She explicitly does not ask to be your role model. I, personally, would keep the hell away rather than be drawn into the swirling morass of negative emotions that surround her, but in herself she doesn't represent a social problem. In contrast, the patriarchal tech culture that reportedly enabled and protected her attackers is a huge problem. If her statements are true (if they were false they would be easy to refute) then merely to survive is heroic.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:05 PM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


amorphatist: Huh, I didn't know she was an actual out-and-out racist until I read that weev article, that's actually kinda surprising. Her response contains all kinds of ugly.
That's AMAZINGLY misleading.

A more correct statement would be, "Huh, I didn't know she had been an actual out-and-out racist ..., and is deeply apologetic and regretful about that racism, now, as she says over and over again in her response."
posted by IAmBroom at 1:20 PM on January 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think it's useful to follow the distinction between "is a racist" and "did racist things"

One does not accidentally date a white supremacist for months, I would think.
posted by amorphatist at 1:31 PM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I inadvertently lived with skinheads for four months. Sometimes you wind up in situations that are far more extreme than you expected.
posted by maxsparber at 1:33 PM on January 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


One does not accidentally date a white supremacist for months, I would think.

One of the main issues with ironic racism is that it gives plausible cover for people who are making non-ironic racist statements.
posted by jaguar at 1:40 PM on January 21, 2015 [12 favorites]


One of the main issues with ironic racism is that it gives plausible cover for people who are making non-ironic racist statements.

Particularly in the context of Bay Area tech culture, which takes us in a grand and bumpy circle back to where we started.
posted by holgate at 2:27 PM on January 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


One does not accidentally date a white supremacist for months, I would think.

I think being a white supremacist is actually worse than dating one, so I'm finding the censure of her in particular ...depressing.
posted by Deoridhe at 3:50 PM on January 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


And we can hope for nice people with the emotional resilience of an asbestos battleship to show up and be figureheads, and hope that nice people don't decide to say 'fuck it' and spend more time with their beautiful ponies, but that hoping is its own kind of privilege.

Wat?
posted by phearlez at 8:27 PM on January 21, 2015


This and this.
posted by holgate at 8:37 PM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I understand the reference. I just don't understand the dichotomy you seem to set up, or perhaps it's an assertion that we can only hope for so much quality of humanity in certain positions? That certainly seems to be a line of thought - powerful men who do works we consider good get a pass on awful behaviour all the time.

You can accept that if you like. I reject it. I do not accept that we cannot hope for more in our CEOs and Presidents and civil rights leaders. I do not accept that I have to think SK's behavior cannot be criticized because she's unfairly beset upon for other things, just as I do not accept that someone has to be a Perfect Victim before injustice can be addressed.
posted by phearlez at 8:47 AM on January 22, 2015


I do not accept that we cannot hope for more in our CEOs and Presidents and civil rights leaders.

I think hope can be selfish. You want somebody to take on an issue that will ruin their life and expose their family to the mob, but you'd also like them to have a little more "quality of humanity"? Well, that would be nice, wouldn't it?

This is not giving Shanley Kane a pass on her abrasiveness or her hair-trigger for fights with allies. It is saying that you relinquish much of the right to yearn for better figureheads when you're a safe, privileged spectator, and I include myself in that category.
posted by holgate at 9:24 AM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just rediscovered this thread thanks to the deleted post... Apparently the editor of the MIT Tech Review is buds with Milo? Yuck.

(Also, fuck Dan Lyons, now and forever.)
posted by kmz at 10:04 AM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


From the deleted thread.
posted by josher71 at 10:17 AM on January 22, 2015


I have the unfortunate feeling that there's a lot of overlap in character between Shanley Kane & RequiresHate. Different milieu, same tactics.
posted by pharm at 12:56 PM on January 22, 2015


I just don't understand the dichotomy you seem to set up, or perhaps it's an assertion that we can only hope for so much quality of humanity in certain positions? That certainly seems to be a line of thought - powerful men who do works we consider good get a pass on awful behaviour all the time.

For me, it's about the difference in standards and the fact that we use the critique against those who are more disadvantaged as a way to leverage the fact that they are more disadvantaged to keep them disadvantaged. Women are overwhelmingly punished for being as aggressive as men are, while simultaneously being blamed for our lack of success due to our lack of aggression (see also: the Lean In phenomena).

This is something that is intra-gender as well as extra-gender and I honestly don't know a way to re-calibrate in any meaningful manner except by paying a lot of attention to differing standards; in this case, male public figures are all but lionized for being demanding, aggressive, and cruel (see: Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Mike Krahulik, Richard Dawkins) and their style is credited with their ability to succeed where others have failed, whereas a woman with a lower level of influence is critiqued for it (even if she doesn't actually do anything - Anita Sarkeesian and Rebecca Watson stand out as non-aggressive women who are portrayed by those who dislike them as aggressive and horrible) and her right to be a public figure is questioned because of it.

Likewise, people admire "great" men who do horrible things to women, but in this very thread the description of a relationship by an admitted racist were privileged over a woman's because she had briefly dated him and tolerated his racism - there is a double standard simply within the example of this one relationship and how the two individuals that were in it are treated in this current conversation.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:34 PM on January 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


but in this very thread the description of a relationship by an admitted racist were privileged over a woman's because she had briefly dated him and tolerated his racism - there is a double standard simply within the example of this one relationship and how the two individuals that were in it are treated in this current conversation.

I can't speak for anyone else but the difference in how I view SK and weev is based on the fact that my opinion of weev couldn't possibly fall any farther. He is human garbage and, to my eye, has contributed nothing of value to the world in the past and makes it worse by continuing to exist. At best he - purely accidentally - illustrated some idiocy in play in federal computer crime law and prosecutor shenanigans. If the world were to hew to my idea of justice that case would have been drummed out of court and weev released immediately so that he could step outside the courthouse and be immediately struck and killed by a giant chunk of blue poop-filled ice that had fallen off a plane. Preferably an El Al flight.

So when something shitty comes to light about him, eh, it's just confirming my feelings. To discover that someone fighting to make the world better - no matter how flawed I might find her - has been cavorting with him, not all that far in the past? That's depressing. There's room for me to be disappointed in SK. That's not a distinction in gender standards, it's just expecting more from the frog than the scorpion.
posted by phearlez at 9:17 AM on January 23, 2015



"What it was like to co-found Model View Culture with Shanley Kane" by Amelia Greenhall.

Huh. I didn't even realize Model View Culture had a co-founder.
posted by grouse at 6:18 PM on January 20 [4 favorites +] [!]


from the article:

Shanley has since erased me from Model View Culture’s history. Fighting erasure of work is a feminist issue, and also one that Shanley is aware of and has specifically addressed in the past. Yet the publication did not announce that I had left, and quietly took me off the about page, though it has continued to refer to itself as “we.” Shanley credits herself as “Founder” not “co-founder.” In telling the story of founding the company in press, she does not mention that I was there unless specifically asked about it.

posted by Bwithh at 3:15 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I concur with Elissa Shevinsky: Shanley’s approach combines half-truths, lies, harassment and online mobbing in a manner that mirrors Weev’s style, and with the same willingness to do harm. We don’t need to take Weev at his word when he says that he taught Shanley how to troll. Her leadership of twitter mobs aiming to harass and chill speech is sufficient proof.

I’ve been speaking with various thoughtful people who are wondering out loud how they much they should support Shanley. I don’t support Shanley because I would like to build new systems and repair our existing ones. Her work introduces mistrust, anarchy and hate into the ecosystem. She tears down to destroy.

Along with most of the feminists that I’ve met, I’m here to build.

posted by Bwithh at 3:25 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]




Betteridge's Law applies.

(If Dan Lyons' job at Valleywag is to make people miss Sam Biddle, he's succeeding.)
posted by holgate at 8:33 AM on February 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ugh, that article is masterful at Just Asking Questions to try to insult Kane over and over again under the guise of plausible deniability.
posted by Deoridhe at 10:42 AM on February 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Deoridhe, his question is: is Kane sincerely a hateful person who unleashes hordes of followers against her enemies, or does she merely play the role of a hateful person? Because the fact that she does this is pretty well undisputed, and the author says it was done to him, too:
I got dragged into this because I wrote a piece on Valleywag about the Torvalds kerfuffle. Suddenly I too was the enemy — just for writing a post! Now I was coming under attack by Kane and her acolytes. The Kane stuff was an order of magnitude more intense than any flame attack I've ever experienced. Moreover, other people seized on the Kane attacks to write their own articles about how I was a misogynist pig bastard piece of shit loser asshole with a dead career. My Twitter feed filled up with people I've never met smearing me and attacking me and telling me I was a woman hater who was harming women — simply because I'd written a post about a fight between Shanley and Torvalds. Breathtaking stuff!

A friend of mine wrote to me: "Oh now you have DONE IT. You've taken on SHANLEY KANE. Nice knowing you."

The whole thing was so exaggerated, so blown out of proportion, that I started to wonder if it was all just an act.
This appears to be the post mentioning Kane and Torvalds.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:47 PM on February 3, 2015


Does Shanley Kane have a one-year history of being a hair-trigger flamethrower on social media? Yes.

Does Dan Lyons have a multi-year history of being a tone-deaf arsehole who trolls for pageviews? Yes.

Lyons' brief tenure at Valleywag reads like someone wandering in from, say, 2010, glancing around, and not bothering to ask if anything's changed. ("I did something like this back when I was writing the Fake Steve Jobs blog." No, you fucking didn't.)

If we're doing deep, dumb analysis here, we could equally ask whether Lyons' posture of being Very Serious and Above All This is its own troll, and get better purchase from it. It's trolls all the way down. After all, the "no more 'who's fucking who'" mission statement for the Lyons-era Valleywag lasted about a fortnight, which suggests that it was only made to troll us. Who are we to judge whether Nick Denton only hired him as performance art?
posted by holgate at 4:58 PM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Kane stuff was an order of magnitude more intense than any flame attack I've ever experienced...misogynist pig bastard piece of shit loser asshole with a dead career...telling me I was a woman hater who was harming women

This is an interesting statement in the context of his post, given he was talking about a woman who has been attacked with rape and death threats and had the addresses of herself and her family published, in addition to the more standard 'you're a bitch and fat and ugly and worthless.'

The whole thing was so exaggerated, so blown out of proportion, that I started to wonder if it was all just an act.

The top google autofill I got for Shanley Kane is "is crazy". The home addresses of her entire immediate family were published and she received thousands of abusive messages, many of them not insulting her but rather threatening to rape and kill her or telling her she should be dead. This is normal for women who gain enough online prominence, including women who have had pizzas ordered "cash on delivery" to old addresses, who have had men drive to their house to "race" them only to be stopped because the man flipped his car, who have talked about a history of suicide ideation and so are told they should kill themselves, who have had over a year of detailed bomb and school shooting threats sent to any venue they were going to speak at.

I have no doubt Dan Lyons has gotten more negative feedback than he's used to, and it's unpleasant, and if he's been threatened or had his home address published or been told he should be murdered or raped it is wrong and the people making those threats should be punished. However, I seriously doubt he's gotten a fraction of the negative feedback (and death threats, and rape threats, and people trying to set up circumstances in which one could be murdered or raped) that Shanley Kane has gotten.

And that's what this keeps coming down to for me. Women are trying to figure out how seriously they should take the latest death threat and men are being told they're women haters who hurt women, and these are described by more people than I'm comfortable with as if what's happening to the man is unacceptable and what's happening to the woman is kind of understandable because REASONS. And if the women start to act erratically or if they are very suspicious or if they have knee-jerk reactions to people, then that is used as evidence that they shouldn't be taken seriously.

And frankly, watching this go on online has made me doubt the wisdom of talking about it even on MetaFilter, because if I get the attention of the wrong man he could make my life a living hell. I have already done a lot of the recommended locking down of personal information; I wonder how many men have done the same.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:26 PM on February 3, 2015 [11 favorites]


The worst thing about Shanley Kane, if she is in fact a troll, is that what she is doing will tend to discredit other women who aren't trolls. I have no investment in this whatsoever but I have to say that, personally, I am starting to lean more toward thinking she is trolling. I'm willing to be persuaded otherwise; in fact, I'd kind of like someone to do that. But I was on the wrong end of the stick a bit too many times on kuro5hin to be able to ignore some of the warning signs. Her attack on Linus in fact smells very strongly of Robotslave's attempt to cast me as a fascist, and the last gasp taking of a sentence out of context from my novel to cast me as a pedophile. It's a simple and reliable recipe. I suppose it's possible she's just earnest and enthusiastic but the whole thing is smelling very wrong.
posted by localroger at 8:18 PM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


The worst thing about Shanley Kane, if she is in fact a troll, is that what she is doing will tend to discredit other women who aren't trolls.

If you believe there is a circumstance under which it's ok to publish someone's address or addresses of family online in coordination with death and rape threats, then you are wrong.

If you think that because one woman deserves prolonged abuse and insults because she "might be trolling" this means that all the other woman - who might or might not be trolling, who can tell amirite women - are somehow tainted, then you are wrong.

If you think one woman behaving badly discredits all other women... well, by now the parallels should be obvious.

Part of sexism is holding all women accountable for all women. Part of sexism is also seeking out ways to dismiss women and women's concerns and then talking about those discreditations, focusing on them. This thread has demonstrated how common it is for people to do this; before she was crazy, now she's a troll - anything to not take her seriously and claim other peoples' abuse was her own fault.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:21 PM on February 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'd tried to reply to that comment over the last few days too, Deoridhe. I'd had real trouble articulating why it was frustrating to me and I gave up a few times when I just couldn't find a good, clear way. But your post captures it exactly, thank you for writing it.
posted by pseudonymph at 12:57 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


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