Tag Archives: MRA

Woman from Street Harassment Video Receives Rape Threats, No One is Surprised

30 Oct

Over the past few days a video documenting the degree to which women experience street harassment in New York City has been making the rounds on the internet. As of this moment, 11:49am on Thursday, October 30, 2014, the video has been viewed 15,831,699 times and that is only the official link from Hollaback!. The Hollaback! video was a small excerpt from a 10 hour long silent walk that Shoshana B. Roberts did, all the while being videotaped by Rob Bliss who walked in front of her, a camera hidden in his backpack. If you haven’t watched it, you should. This will either bring back memories of your own experience of street harassment, or give you a little taste of what it is like to be a woman walking the streets of New York, and, really, any other city.

Watch it. Because while there are some problems – as pointed out in this Slate article although the video claims that she was harassed by people of every background, the vast majority of the men featured in this video are either black or Latino – it makes a really great point of what it means to be female in public. Just yesterday, for example, on my walk home from the super market, a man in a truck honked at me, and then proceeded to park in the crosswalk I was about to enter in order to comment on my outfit and my legs. The only response when you’re on a relatively desolate street right near Hamilton Avenue? Keep your eyes straight ahead and walk on lest you are dealing with a person with anger management problems. And the thing about it, the thing that is so incredibly fucked up, is that that shit didn’t even phase me. I had already experienced 3 other men commenting on my legs, been “god blessed” about half a dozen times, been leered at, honked at, had cars slow down as they passed me, been wished a good day, and had someone tip his fucking hat at me. And it was only 4:30 pm. I had left the house at 1. This shit is so goddamn normal that I completely forgot about it until I came across an incredibly upsetting article.

Since the release of the video, Shoshana B. Roberts has been receiving rape threats on the internet. I would love to say that I am shocked by this but the reality? Not so much. This is completely and totally unsurprising. And I am not the only one to feel this way. Kelsey McKinney over at vox put it really well in her article on the subject, emphasis mine:

“Let’s lay this out in plain terms. Women are forced to feel uncomfortable and scared for walking down the damn street. Then, when one woman takes the time to show just how uncomfortable those interactions are, people threaten to physically assault her. If the video reminded us that women are constantly made to feel unsafe when they leave the house, the response is a reminder that women are constantly made to feel unsafe when they simply turn on their computer.”

And it is so true. I don’t know if you guys remember a few months back when I decided to poke the bear that is the Men’s Rights Movement. I wrote three different articles on the subject and I have to say I don’t think I have ever received so many comments, all of them negative. None of the comments were scary or violent in nature. They were just, well, stupid. They were written by angry people who have created for themselves some incredibly bizarre alternate reality within which they, American white men and their brain-washed white female supporters, are somehow the oppressed class. There is no reasoning with them. They live in a land where logic simply does not exist and all events can somehow be changed and manipulated in order to feed into their myth of the misandry of American culture spear-headed, of course, by the “feminist agenda.” They have been in the mix of people claiming that if Roberts were to have worn something less revealing then maybe she wouldn’t have been harassed so much. As David Futrelle from We Hunted the Mammoth said,

“Today I learned that wearing clothes that cover up most of your body is the same as going outside practically naked.”

Sadly I am reminded of this fact daily, whether I am wearing running clothes, a dress or a puffy fucking winter jacket. Back to the point. So after Day 3 of me fucking with a bunch of MRAs, my dad called me up and said, and I am paraphrasing here,

“I know this is going to make you mad but hear me out. I need you to lay off this stuff you’ve been writing about.”

And you know what? It did make me mad. Because I should be able to say whatever the fuck I want. I mean, everyone else does, right? I should be able to call people on their bullshit and tell people that there is nothing complimentary about having a man whisper in your ear as you walk down the street on your way to mail your cable bill, or have some assholes in a pick up truck comment on your clothing while they drive past, only to then run into them 20 minutes later in the super market. But my dad also had a point. The reality of the situation is that while the internet appears to be a safe place for the anonymous rape and death threats that men seem to feel entitled to hurl at women who speak their minds, the internet is very much not a safe place for those of us doing the speaking. Under our real names. Because we are responsible people who stand by our beliefs. I didn’t really see it at the time, probably because I am stubborn as shit and don’t like to be told what I should and should not discuss on my own personal website. And I also believe that I have a responsibility to myself, and to women in general, to say these things. We should be able to speak our minds, to design video games, to call out bullshit, to believe that we are deserving of respect and safety. And you know what? We shouldn’t have to fear our information being made public. We shouldn’t be bombarded with threats of violence. We shouldn’t be going into hiding. This is fucking ridiculous.

And the thing that makes it even more ridiculous is that all this shit does is prove the point that women, and our allies, are trying to make. That we are not safe. Anywhere. That we are not valued. That our opinions don’t matter. But guess what? We aren’t going anywhere. So bring it, mother fuckers.

Also, that video has now been viewed 16,451,646 times and counting. Let’s keep the conversation going and let Shoshana and the Hollaback! team know that they are supported and, hopefully, safe..

In-Your-Face Hyperbole is not Actually a Thing

11 Jun

Over the past few days I have been shocked by how active the women who are supportive of the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM) are.  I would say that the majority of comments on my blog and interactions on my normally silent Twitter account have been from women.  I knew they were out there but I didn’t know they were so chatty.  All the power to them but I just had no idea.  You really do learn something new every day.  There is one lady, named Suzy, who has been a very avid commenter on my blog the past few days and I was hoping to maybe engage with something that she sent me yesterday.  Also, I might engage with a few other comments.  Here goes.

On Monday I wrote a post all about the conference being organized by Paul Elam of A Voice for Men (AVfM) in Detroit and the protest that was organized by my friend Emma in an attempt to get the DoubleTree Hotel, where the conference is scheduled to happen, to cancel it.  One commenter was very upset by the goals of this protest and wrote me this:

obviously you don’t think this group has a right to their opinions if you’re shutting down attempts to express them. I don’t identify with men’s rights or any political group but I am 100% against the idea of shutting down a conference of speaker. You’re an asshole

I actually do think the group has the right to their opinions and I am pretty sure that I stated that clearly in both of the posts I wrote concerning this issue.  What this commenter is saying, it seems to me, is that the MRM has a right to their free expression of their opinions but I don’t have the right to speak out against them?  Am I getting this right?  So, maybe this commenter is actually only 95% against the idea of shutting down a “conference of speaker?” I know that my blog doesn’t qualify as a conference, per se, but I do think that my ability to speak out against the conference, and in support of my friend, is somewhat important.  I also think that the DoubleTree is a privately owned business and therefore can choose to not host things if they think it will put other guests at risk or, more realistically in this age of capitalism, if it will impact their bottom line which it very well might.  For what it’s worth I know I won’t be staying in any Hilton-owned properties any time soon.

Anyway, back to Suzy.  Yesterday she sent me this following comment in response to a response I made to another comment:

What you call “violent and hate-filled,” we call “in-your-face hyperbole.” Before Paul started using it, many people struggling to address men’s issues were silenced and ignored for DECADES. Now that we use it routinely the public is finally beginning to notice that the Men’s Human Rights Movement exists, so I think you are mistaken when you say, “The only thing it achieves, in my opinion, is to make the issue itself seem less important, less real.”

What it actually achieves, is to bring the issues out into public view where well-funded feminists can no longer control the discussion. If you sincerely care about gender equality, you would warmly welcome the honest perspective of the other half of the population, wouldn’t you?

I just… okay.  I don’t actually know how to proceed from here.  I have been trying very hard to stay even keeled and respectful and all that but this was honestly one of the most absurd things I have ever received.  It is partly absurd because it seems to me that Suzy did not actually read any of the things that I wrote but instead went into my posts with an idea of who I am and what I think and responded to that.  The other part of the absurdity is maybe more complex but an interesting thing, I think, and applies to people outside of the MRM.  It really boils down to this:

The idea that all publicity is good publicity is simply wrong.

People aren’t talking about the MRM because they have been suddenly awoken from decades of ignorant slumber, but instead because a lot of the things said by the MRM are incredibly offensive and actually counter-productive to their movement.  Hyperbolically proclaiming that October be called “Bash a Violent Bitch Month” does not raise awareness about the very real issue of domestic violence against men, but instead calls attention to the misguided tactics of Elam and the MRM.  That was what I was saying when I wrote that “the only thing it achieves, in my opinion, is to make the issue itself seem less important, less real.”  And, if Suzy had really read my comment she would have seen that I expressed the fact that I think that same thing applies to feminists.  Making jokes in support of violence against anyone, men or women, does not advance the goals of your cause which is, supposedly, to end such violence.  All it does is distract people from the issue at hand and get them to dismiss your comments as the rantings of women-hating, misogynistic individuals.  And guess what?  That is precisely what has happened!

What I am trying to say is that the way in which people express things is actually important, it does actually matter for the outcome.  I think that you would find that there are more sympathetic ears out there than you may at first assume.  But when you approach an argument in what you call “in-your-face hyperbole” what you really end up doing is ending the conversation.  The second someone comes at me with some bullshit about “Bash a Violent Woman Month,” is the second I completely dismiss anything that person says afterwards. Period. End of story.  And that is one of the major reasons a lot of people are angry about this conference.  It isn’t that there is nothing to talk about, it isn’t about the content of a lot of the issues the MRM wants to discuss and bring to light, it is the social media and the insane number of hateful comments floating around the internet.  Not least of which was the comparison that Dean Esmay made of myself (or maybe Emma? I’m sort of confused.) to George Wallace.  I mean, please.

Just a Few Words on Doxxing

10 Jun

So over the past 24 hours or so I received quite a number of nice comments from my friends on the internet.  So thank you all for sharing your opinions with me.  A special thanks goes to the individual who sent me a link to this article about a woman in Washington who was diagnosed with PTSD after experiencing extensive online bullying.  This Twitter user was concerned about the effects of online bullying on my delicate psyche and advised me to be sure to get to a psychiatric hospital stat.  See?  (Mostly I was hoping to show off the fact that I learned how to embed a Tweet in my blog.  I still have a few kinks to work out, clearly.)

I just want to let @QuayBangz know that here in New York we have access to all sorts of top of the line medical facilities!  That being said, I think I will be okay but thanks so very much for your concern.

I also was hoping to address a comment I received from Jonathan Taylor of the website “A Voice for Male Students.”  He pointed out a few concerns he had about my post so I was hoping to address one of them in particular.  In his well-organized list of points* he said the following:

Emma’s email address and picture were all publicly available before the AVFMS article. Doxxing is when someone exposes private information that others have taken pains to hide. This is not the case here, where she voluntarily and of her own initiative provided all the information to the world. Gathering information together that another person has given you is not the same as doxxing.

Actually, according to a Wikipedia entry on doxxing,

Doxing (spelling variant Doxxing) is an abbreviation of document tracing, the Internet-based practice of researching and publishing personally identifiable information about an individual.  The methods employed in pursuit of this information range from searching publicly available databases and social media websites like Facebook to hacking and social engineering. It is closely related to cyber-vigilantism, hacktivism, and cyber-bullying.

And then here from the Economist:

The term “dox” (also spelt “doxx”, and short for “[dropping] documents”) first came into vogue as a verb around a decade ago, referring to malicious hackers’ habit of collecting personal and private information, including home addresses and national identity numbers. The data are often released publicly against a person’s wishes.

So, providing her photograph and email address, even though it could be easily found on the internet, does in fact fall under the umbrella of doxxing.

So here’s the thing about it.  Doxxing is not illegal, at the moment anyway.  The law is always a few years behind technology so it will be interesting to see how we deal with these sorts of issues in the coming years.  That being said, even if doxxing were illegal, I doubt that Mr. Taylor’s publishing of Emma’s photograph and email address would make waves considering the extreme ways other people doxx those who they are intimidated by.  But I also think that most of us on the internet, and especially intelligent individuals like Mr. Taylor seems to be, are able to follow the potential chain of events through to their logical conclusions.  If we have been blogging long enough, we are more or less aware of who our audience is.  I don’t have a very broad readership so most of the people who consistently read my blogs are people I know, or people who know people I know.  (Except for all the people who read this post about my dad which I am still super perplexed by.)  Even still, I try to err on the side of responsibility.  What I am trying to say is that Mr. Taylor is aware of who his readers are.  He has a very detailed Mission Statement and explains in detail The Nine Values that all posts associated with his site will adhere to.  This is part of the description of those Values:

The goal of advocacy is not to win per se, but rather to win over. We do so by demonstrating to the world in our words and actions how our values differ from those with whom we disagree, and how our values make the world a better place to live. To that end, for those officially affiliated with this website, these Nine Values are not suggestions which we may accept or dismiss as the mood suits us, but rather a code of conduct reflecting the high standards by which the quality and integrity of this website will be maintained and the degree to which we will be successful.

The thing is that I have spent only the better part of the last week scrolling through various MRA (or MHRA as some prefer to call it) websites and on just about all of them have encountered a lot of hateful words and misguided articles.  I would bet a fair sum of money that Mr. Taylor is perfectly aware of the tendency of the more radical people associated with his movement.  He knows they read him.  He knows the opinions that they have and the ways they express them.  I think it would be safe for me to assume that, by posting Emma’s email address on his own website, he would inspire less “principled” people to respond in kind and I think that was entirely irresponsible.  By Googling Emma, I discovered her email on various MRA websites calling her all sorts of names that I prefer not to repeat here.  It is all well and good to adhere to your own standards, but that sort of goes out the window when you let other people do your dirty work for you.

I don’t know.  We’re all adults here.  Mr. Taylor and his supporters, as I have said before, are welcome to their own opinions and the nonviolent expression of those opinions.  I am guaranteed this same thing, as is Emma and her co-activists in Detroit.  But I also think there should be a reasonable assumption that people won’t hit below the belt, as it were.  That being said, feel free to email me at franklyrebekah@gmail.com if you feel so inclined.  We can engage in an adult conversation there.  I might quote you here, but no matter how available your email address, home address, place of employment or photographs are, they will never appear on this site.

*This was not intended to be sarcastic in the least.  He sent me a comment with numbered points which I really appreciated.  I love listing things.

The term “dox” (also spelt “doxx”, and short for “[dropping] documents”) first came into vogue as a verb around a decade ago, referring to malicious hackers’ habit of collecting personal and private information, including home addresses and national identity numbers. The data are often released publicly against a person’s wishes. – See more at: http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/03/economist-explains-9#sthash.NJlPdAi

The Day I was Visited at Work by an MRA

9 Jan

The interaction described in this blog was actually worse than I have made out here but I just don’t have the energy to be sufficiently outraged right now.  (Also at a certain point I simply quit listening.)  So this watered-down version will have to do.

Right now I have a half marathon to train for which has been difficult considering that the weather has made Tuesday, my long run day, the day that it wants to express itself through snow and rain and polar vortexes.  I also have an article to write for an online magazine thing that I have known about for months and yet only just started because I love to procrastinate.  It is due on Saturday.  And I have to work tonight until 4am and I am going to visit my aunts in the Poconos for the weekend.  Obviously, all of this means that this is the perfect time for me to write a blog.

As it turns out, the weather doesn’t only like to arrive on my long run days, it also likes to rear its ugly head during my shifts.  I was working during the recent snow storm AND the night the polar vortex…vortexed.  My bar has high ceilings and not well reinforced windows and doors, so it gets a bit nippy in there when it’s cold out and there isn’t enough body heat to warm the room (AKA when I have barely any customers).  So, my bosses, being Nice People, texted me on Monday afternoon to tell me that if it was super slow and also insanely cold I could close early.  It was both of those things and so I did but not before I had a very annoying conversation with a customer who before I could care less about but now I actually think is a dipshit.

Okay, that’s not exactly accurate.  I started thinking he was a dipshit about a month ago when my boss told me that he had pulled her aside and said that he was very upset because he drinks at the bar all the time and never gets a buyback.

……… <—- Those dots refer to what happened in my brain after she told me that.

In case you forgot about how fucked it is to ask for a buyback, I refer you to my first tip on how to properly drink in a bar.  Anyway, he went on about how he owns a business and yadda yadda yadda he is a good customer and he doesn’t really care but he just felt like he should say something.  Well, here’s the thing about that.  Dude doesn’t ever really talk to us, he’s a little snippy, he generally only has three drinks and when I buy someone a drink I generally do their fourth, and actually I HAVE given him buybacks.  At least 1/2 dozen times.  Just out of courtesy because he comes in often.  Obviously he just never noticed despite the fact that when I give buybacks I always say “I got that one for you.”  So, whatever.  He is never getting another buyback because obviously he doesn’t appreciate it.  So, resulting from that conversation I thought he was sort of a dipshit.  But then he came in on Monday feeling chatty and now I can never look at him the same.

This past Monday was the Auburn vs FSU football game for some championship or another.  Honestly, I don’t really know from football.  It involved a lot of someone passing the ball and then observers thinking one team was going to win then all of a sudden someone got the ball and ran for a really long time and TOUCHDOWN!  Anyway, after the game ended and all my other customers cleared out except for this one guy he asked me what I thought about the game.  I told him I didn’t really think much about it at all except that I had a hard time getting behind an FSU win considering Jameis Winston was the star quarterback and that watching him get interviewed on TV after the win, when he was never interviewed after he was accused of raping a classmate, made me kind of sick.  I know, I know, I shouldn’t have said anything.  I should have just kept my mouth shut and just said I could care less about college football.  I should have because I know all too well that there are people sneaking around among us who immediately assume that every single rape accusation against a beloved sports figure or a respected businessman/politician is clearly bullshit, or that the woman’s sexual history made a rape impossible.  Obviously the first thing that he brought up, the first thing that all fucking people bring up, is that false rape allegation against the Duke lacrosse team back in 2006.  Seriously, as if it wasn’t hard enough for women already, Crystal Gail Mangum had to go and give people a well-publicized example of how sinister women are.  When he brought that story up I was pretty sure I was in for it.  I told him that false rape accusations are incredibly rare and although I feel badly that those three lacrosse players got caught up in that whole thing and had their names smeared the result has not been for me to assume that every subsequent rape accusation I hear about is bullshit.  He then asked me if I was a feminist.  He said the word feminist as if he had just accidentally eaten his own feces.  I said that I was.  He then went into a whole long diatribe about how he thinks feminism is bullshit because he hates that women think they are equal to men and blah blah blah.  He was SO mad about the word “equal.”  So I said in my best ‘I am trying not to poke you in the eye with this drink straw’ voice,

“Listen, do I understand that men and women have different physical qualities?  Yes.  Does that mean that I don’t think that men and women should be treated equally under the law?  Should have access to the same opportunities?  Should be equally respected within society?  Should be held to the same standards of humanity?  No.  Me having a vagina and you having a penis does not mean that I should somehow be considered lesser by the law or society or anything.”

That didn’t really do the trick.  He kept spitting the word “equal” at me and making “what about the men” type comments.  I started reorganizing the napkin caddy.  Sometimes, people are so bullheaded that is just isn’t worth it.  Sometimes, you would just rather close the bar and tell your friend the new cheesy joke your dad texted you that very morning.

What does the baby computer call its father?

Happy Thursday, everyone.  Now it’s back to writing or running or procrastinating.  Here’s to hoping I don’t get anymore visits from buyback-requesting men’s rights activists.