Showing posts with label hate groups. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hate groups. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

On Doxxing

Doxxing: a new word for a new social phenomenon.  I was just reading an interesting article about it.

My students are always amazed when I tell them of the "old days" (when I was their age), before the age of personal computers and the internet.  They simply cannot conceive that there was a time when people communicated by hand-written letters or expensive long-distance phone calls, when "self-publishing" involved mimeograph machines.

Who imagined back in the seventies that one day anyone could "publish" anything globally, instantaneously, and... anonymously?  

Because of this, it has always been hard for me to wrap my head around the way people take "anonymity" for granted nowadays.  I'm very ambivalent about it.  I'm not sure if it's a positive social element.  In fact, I've often sensed that, at least as it has been practiced on the internet recently, it can be downright pernicious.  The freedom to say anything one damn well pleases without the risk of social disapprobation brings out the most careless and cowardly behavior.  It divorces actions from consequences.  (And yeah, I'm including myself here.)

I believe public discourse probably functions better when opinions are attached to real people.

What would happen to the "manosphere" if everyone was simultaneously and forcibly "doxxed" as I have been?  How would they react if they had their names, their addresses and phone numbers, their work and sexual histories revealed and disseminated to the most hostile imaginable audience?  Would these tough-talking guys just slink back into the woodwork, or would their "movement" finally evolve into a reality-based force for change? We'll probably never know, but I find it amusing to speculate.

I once had a conversation with the writer Joanne Greenburg, who published her first and most successful book, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, under the pseudonym "Hannah Green" in order to protect her parents' privacy.  She told me that she regretted it, and that pseudonyms generally caused more trouble than they were worth.

If I were to do it over again, I must say that I would not have used a pseudonym.  Of course, that means I might have been a mite more circumspect about the personal information I revealed!  But on the other hand, maybe not.  Truth is, I'm just getting too old to be very self-protective of my "image" or to present myself as anything other than what I am.  Call me crazy, ugly, fat, old, barren (!) -- I really don't care, you're probably right, it just doesn't matter.  See, I have pretty much lost all my vanity.  There's a great deal of freedom, as well as time-honored patriarchal tradition, in becoming a shameless crone operating on the margins of polite society.  That freedom is, perhaps, the greatest consolation of age.  And it has ever been thus. 

*Standing ovation*
This post now comes up #4 in a search for her name.  The sad thing is I bet she is above-average looking compared to the other posters on manboobz.

Hmm...  "above average in appearance"... Am I damned by faint praise here?
Ruin my reputation?  I don't have a "reputation" to ruin.  In fact, I am so completely inconsequential, so utterly without influence or public recognition, that even if you littered the internet with slander about me, no one would care one bit.  I've been employed at the same institution for fifteen years, and the admin there already know I'm a mixed bag of nuts.  And contrary to what Forney may believe, critical thinkers do "consider the source".  Anyone whose opinion I care about is unlikely to give much weight to online attacks from noxious trolls. 

The real mystery is why Matt Forney et al care what I say.  After all, in their world, I have long outlived whatever usefulness I once served as a woman, and now hardly count as a human being at all.  I reckon I'm about as much a threat to Matt Forney as a mosquito. A mosquito with bad knees, a full-time job, and a mortgage.  Who lives on the opposite coast.

So life proceeds apace at Casa La Strega.  After a flurry of hits on my blog (though I suspect no one hung around long enough to read anything, unfortunately), and a handful of inane, anonymous comments, nothing much is different.  I awake each morning and find there are no flying monkeys circling my roof, after all. I go to school and plod, more or less cheerfully, through my daily grind, I make plans for Valentine's Day with my sweetie, I chuckle at the characterization of myself as "a dangerous narcissist" as I clean up dog poop, drive my neighbor's kids to school, pay utility bills.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Roosh Rallies the Troops! (And Bans Me Again)

Today, Roosh trumpets into the void: "It's time to start delivering death blows to feminists!" 

Ladies who tweet, beware: Roosh and his most fervent disciple Matt Forney are already all over you like flies on shit.  They post the most inflammatory crap they can summon in their overheated imaginations.  (The topic du jour was why girls with eating disorders make the best victims of "game").  Then they sit back and trawl Twitter to harvest the oh-so-predictable outrage.  Anyone who links to a Roosh's (or Matt Forney's) name or their sites gets immediately "retweeted" and perhaps even treated to a special in-person "appearance" from Roosh (or Forney) himself.  In Roosh's case, he will poke around in the girl's twitter account, blog, or whatever else he can find, post a picture of the girl if one is available, and then invite his readers to wank off to her image ("Would you fornicate?").  Classy, huh?  Of course, most of the victims could not care less and quickly disengage from (or block) their would-be tormenter.  I mean, being targeted by Roosh is kinda gross, kinda like stepping in dog feces, but a typical girl wipes her feet and soldiers on...  It's not like most women are unfamiliar with this sort of uninvited attention / abuse.

But Roosh, at least, has wearied of this particular game.  After one female student in the UK blew him off on twitter last night, he spent several hours composing a new screed, this time upping the stakes in the Battle of the Sexes that he and his flying monkeys are fighting (entirely in their own minds).

"We have reached a level of influence that ignoring us is no longer an effective means of attack.  By leaving us alone for so long, they gave us the needed time to carefully optimize our belief system and recruit committed soldiers to the cause."

Well, uhm, actually, I think the problem may be that people have not yet figured out that the "manosphere" is one big trolling operation, and that leaving these trolls alone is probably the only way to shut them up.  Most people are more bemused than alarmed when Roosh pops out of their twitter woodwork.  Once they've figured out who he is, he is summarily blocked:  Ah! a person of no importance at all to anyone.

I have no idea what it means "to carefully optimize our belief system."  And frankly, after a day of marking student essays, my brain is too fried to even try to decipher this.

"An attack last year from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a formidable adversary with millions of dollars in resources, strengthened us more than hurt. We overcame them like a dog scratching away a flea."

Well, it's true the SPLC took some heat for its creation of a list of "misogynists" to keep an eye on; some folks thought they were trivializing their mission by bothering to include rape-apologists like Roosh and Paul Elam.  Personally, I am reassured that at least one social justice group (mostly thanks to the unflagging efforts of  David Futrelle) are monitoring these guys.  Personally, I consider these guys and their followers to be hate groups, pure 'n' simple, straight up.  And it's no coincidence that manosphere blogs tend to be fertile ground for racists, homophobes, and conspiracy nuts of all stripes.

(Also, forgive me, but Roosh is seriously underestimating the power of fleas.  As the owner of four dogs, I can attest that none of them has been able to "scratch away" the problem, and at this point I should seriously consider investing in Frontline or Advantage stocks.)

"Even when they cherry pick quotes of [sic] context, the intelligent man (who I cater to) can easily see through the distortions by doing his own research.  He's just a couple of clicks away from learning that media portrayals are dishonest and one-sided."

Cherry pick what quotes?  Distortions of what?  Media portrayals of what?  And if idle googling is your idea of "research"....  Well, suffice to say there is a reason we uptight academics don't allow students to use wikipedia as a legitimate source for academic papers.

Actually, the saddest bit of the passage above is Roosh's cynical claim that he "caters to the intelligent man."  Even Roosh knows, on some level, that his followers are a horde of sub-literates whom he manipulates and exploits in an attempt to maintain his own pathetic "lifestyle" -- a lifestyle that consists primarily of living in cheap sublets, hanging out in internet coffee bars, and preying on Ukrainian teenagers.

"We won't change the minds of most women, and we won't convert the most die-hard of white knights, but the most powerful of their upcoming attacks will have the main result of converting more men over to our side."

OK, women are, what -- like, 52% of the U.S. population?  Now add in the "die hard white knights" (I assume this will include most of the husbands, fathers, brothers, lovers, sons, friends, allies, and colleagues of said women?)  What are you left with now?  A veritable handful of pathetic sods and wankers who can't get girlfriends because they are socially inept?  Wow, I'm quaking in my boots, man!

"They're damned if they come after us and damned if they don't, due to the antifragile construction of our network. This suggests that a tipping point has been reached and it no longer matters what they do, because our ideas have already pollinated mainstream society."

Oh, dear.  When Nessim Talib recently complimented Roosh's summary of his book (via Twitter), I knew it was gonna go to poor Roosh's head.  (And the fact that Talib was roundly laughed at by his Twitter cronies as a result seems to have escaped Roosh entirely). 

And as for the word "pollinated"... yuck, can this idiot produce one single post that doesn't reference his own spooge? 

"We're at the point where we have enough musculature that we can pick up the big stone off the ground... through one simple action:  holding our enemies responsible for their words."

As evidence, Roosh points to the fact that many "mainstream outlets" have chosen to kill comments sections entirely rather than host streams of feminist outrage vs. anti-feminist rhetoric. And yeah, I'm impressed with your new "musculature."  Now, instead of looking like "a noodle-armed terrorist," you look like "a defined biceps-armed terrorist."

"Seeing these comments is a good sign, but it doesn't go far enough.  The next step is to hold them responsible for the rest of their lives." 

 Roosh proceeds to hatch his diabolic, moustache-twirling scheme of world domination by explaining how the "manospherians" can ruin (ruin, I tell you!) the lives of "feminists" by tweaking Google searches.  In other words, make sure any search for a "man-hating" blogger or journalist results in a link to some manosphere blogger's evisceration of her "reputation."  There, that will teach 'em a lesson!

"The views of every female hatemonger must be preserved in Google" so that "future employers... know of her belief system."

Projection, much? I mean, here is a guy who has admitted that, if he were to do it all over again, would NOT have revealed his true identity online.  I am sure James C. Weidmann (aka "Roissy") who was unwillingly outed (and subsequently terminated from his job) would concur.  Old farts Paul Elam, a former "addictions counselor" and Bill Price (whom who I understand is a former car salesman) had little in the way of "careers" to lose to start out with. 

"It's fun to lash out at them on Twitter, [but] we must also choose a more permanent and Google-able medium to create a historical record of their behavior." 

Well, I'm not sure what is more pathetic here:  Roosh's idea that "Google" will some day stand as the "historical record," or that any person who stands up against hate groups has anything to fear from either future employers or history itself.  

Seriously.  I use a pseudonym for my blogging and online activity, not because I fear being outed to my employer (whom I am fairly certain could not care less about anything I have ever posted), but because I am just a teensy bit paranoid of nut jobs (like the partially hinged, moronic commentators of Roosh's blogs) showing up at my doorstep or workplace unannounced, AK-7s in hand.

If the sort of "activism" that Roosh is promoting ( = inflammatory posts followed by online harassment) succeeds at anything, it is convincing many people that there continues to be a need for "feminism" at all... 

Because here is the thing:  Until recently, I would not have identified myself first and foremost as a "feminist."  That is to say, until the past couple of years, I took feminism for granted.  Of course, I supported the principles of feminism: equal opportunity, equal responsibility, regardless of gender.  I just figured that those principles had become so deeply embedded and interwoven into the fabric of western culture that I no longer had to pay attention.  The battles had been fought and won by the generation who came of age a decade before me, and my "job" was to just carry these on.  

Frankly, the emergence of the New Misogynists changed all that.  I am no longer complacent, and suddenly the historical struggles of feminism -- all the way back to Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin -- have become fresh, compelling, and relevant to me.  And for that, I suppose, I can thank the gentlemen of the "manosphere."

Friday, November 8, 2013

It's the Stupid, Stupid

I have been reprimanded more than once over at manboobz for using "ablist" language by referring to some of the manosphere writers as "lunatics" or wishing that they would climb out of their basements and get "real jobs."  And today I note, with some chagrin, that someone on the bluepill reddit was offended that I dismissed the redpill boys as "morons" instead of more kindly conceding that they are "misled."  Well, in fact, I think they are both.  Morons are, after all, easily misled.

When I am in another forum, such as manboobz, I try to conform to the rules of that culture.  As a visitor, I show respect to the community over there by parsing my thoughts in ways that do not offend other members.  In my blog, I write exactly as I please, and I try to express myself as truthfully as I can.  Similarly, when I was in the middle east, I wore "hijab" out of respect to the mores of the culture that was hosting me, and did not consider myself a hypocrite in doing so.  In my own home, I am not obligated to avoid offense; I am obligated to live and speak my truth.  And I wear whatever I damn well please.  (Which today means a t-shirt covered in bird poop and riddled with cigarette burns, so there!)

Granted, my "truth" is based on my own life experience, on what I have been exposed to through reading, observing, reflecting, and just plain hanging out (as a white, bisexual middle-class woman) on this planet for nearly sixty years.  

And truthfully, I do believe that many of the New Misogynists suffer from personality disorders.  And I truthfully believe -- based on reading many, many, many comments -- that their followers are not only poorly educated, but suffer from real intellectual deficits.  

And, yes, I am somewhat contemptuous of people who do not try to better themselves.  Ignorance is not a sin, but willful ignorance is the greatest sin in my book.  If someone tells me I am wrong, and explains why, I try to exercise enough humility to consider that he/she might be right, even if that means I must (gasp!) be wrong.  Because experience tells me that when I am feeling most defensive is when I am most likely to be encountering an important learning opportunity. 

People who cling to ideas that are not only wrong, but also harmful to others, in the face of all evidence to the contrary (whether this is creationism, misogyny, denial of privilege, denial of climate change, or transphobia) are ignorant.  And that ignorance is either stemming from (1) some willfulness on their part, (2) pathological delusion, or else (3) plain old garden-variety stupidity.  

People who are not stupid, but who take advantage of others' stupidity in an attempt to gain power or prestige, are, on the other hand, bad. (Think Karl Rove / Dick Cheney and Bush Jr.)  One of the things I find most despicable about "Roosh" is that he appears to have started out in life with the requisite number of brain cells and support to have done something useful (he has a B.S. in microbiology), but he squandered his gifts because his need to be perceived as a "leader of men" (an alpha among betas) trumped his willingness to achieve success through hard work and self-discipline.  He's a very bad person who chooses to treat women badly and who encourages stupid men to follow their worst (most base) impulses.

There is so much cognitive dissonance in the manosphere, it makes my head hurt.  Sometimes I wonder if these leaders (i.e., Paul Elam) really started out believing the crap they now spew, or if they simply, over time, have acquiesced to their own lies.  Of course, in the hot house environments of manosphere blogs, where no received wisdom is challenged or examined, everyone's mind becomes duller, even the most critical (hostile) reader's. 

Look, I'm no brainiac either.  The worst thing about aging is that every day, I feel myself slipping, cognitively.  I struggle to keep abreast of the information and skills I need just to do my job, for example, and joke (?) that as soon as I retire, I will refuse to adapt to one more technological change.  Every day I am aware that I have less control over my future, so no wonder I find myself looking backwards.  I need to exercise more, both physically and mentally, just to maintain basic function.

If there's one reason I will quit following the manosphere, it is because I cannot afford to expose my already-deteriorating faculties to so much Stupid.  Ditto watching television.  In the same vein, if there's one reason I hate teaching remedial English, it is because exposing myself to so much bad writing is eroding my own writing skills.  Sometimes I find myself embroiled in some internal argument with, say, Bill Price's wife, or recoiling from some new horror from Matt Forney or JudgyBitch, and I wonder what the hell I am doing.  I should be taking a physics class or learning to crochet instead.

That's just how this tired old lady sees it on a cold, cloudy Friday morning. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Erasing Hate

A few months ago, I decided to have my tattoo removed.  It is on my forearm, so it's quite visible during the warmer months, and I was tired of dealing with other people's reactions to it.  When I had it done, almost thirty years ago, it seemed a beautiful and daring form of self-expression, and I enjoyed the attention it got.  Now I am older, in many ways a different persona person who no longer wants to wear her heart, literally, on her sleeve.

I underwent three laser sessions at a total cost of nearly $1000.  Laser treatment is so excruciating that I cracked a molar gritting my teeth.  The only mercy is that it doesn't take long.  Unfortunately, although the outline faded a bit, the image didn't budge.  The doctor told me I was wasting my money to continueBecause the ink had probably been adulterated with silicone, it was impervious to the laser.  I was disappointed, but not surprised.  In truth, I was relieved that I didn't have to undergo the pain or expense anymore. So me and my tattoowe're pretty much stuck with each other, at least until the technology advances.

That's partly why "Erasing Hate," which depicts a former skinhead's odyssey back into Society, moved me on a visceral level.  When Bryan Widner is offered a chance to have his racist facial, neck and hand tattoos removed courtesy of the SPLC, he undergoes eighteen months of literal torture.  (Although he is under general anesthesia for each session, it is still an extremely painful process.) 

The transformation is jaw-dropping, as Widner goes from menacing freak to an ordinarily handsome man. 

The long, slow process: Byron Widner was determined to erase the traces of his skinhead past by removing all of the facial tattoos that he had accumulated

What the documentary fails to explain is exactly why Widner, once known as "The Pitbull" of the Vinlanders Social Club, decided to let go of his racist identity.  He credits his new responsibilities and joys as a husband and father.  His wife, a former white nationalist herself, suggests the couple became disillusioned by the violent misogyny of the white supremacist subculture.  The family is shown attending a Baptist church, but there doesn't seem to have been any one great spiritual epiphany.

I am left with the impression that the Widners just got tired of pretending that they believed in something they no longer believed in.  Like many of us, they got smarter as they got older, and were hungry to live with greater integrity, and in greater harmony with the rest of their species.

Hate takes a lot out of a person without much return.

It's understandable that estranged adolescents will be attracted to hate groups, cults, and radical political activism, which seem to offer all the answers and solutions to Why Life Sucks.  What I would like to know more about is how former members like the Widners manage to walk away.  That question is not really explored in any satisfying depth in "Erasing Hate," but the story of one family's "redemption" makes this the ultimate "feel good" movie.