This next story is almost unbelievable: There existed, until earlier this week, a PR firm in Austin called Strange Fruit PR. You know, like the Billie Holiday song. The Billie Holiday song ABOUT LYNCHING. Apparently the founders of the firm (who were, of course, white) thought they could use the phrase t0 mean “someone who stood out in a crowd.”
As most of you no doubt know, the story that a UVA student known as “Jackie” told Rolling Stone of suffering a gang rape at a UVA fraternity is coming unraveled; a number of key details in the story appear to be false.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind, though:
1) After reluctantly speaking to journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely, Jackie asked to be removed from the story; Erdely and Rolling Stone refused to honor her wishes. Ultimately, Erderly and Rolling Stone are responsible for the story, and the story’s errors, not Jackie.
2) Friends of Jackie report that in the Fall of 2012, after the night in which the assaults allegedly took place, she displayed many of the symptoms of someone who had been sexually assaulted, growing withdrawn and depressed and ultimately returning home before the term was over. I still think it’s very likely she did indeed suffer some sort of sexual assault.
3) A right-wing “journalist” has doxxed Jackie, posting what he says is her real name and other personal details.
Here are some useful pieces on the whole sad mess:
I don’t do enough link posts. Or any, really. (I mean, I think I’ve done a few, but that was years ago.) Anyway, I’ve decided to remedy that. So here are some interesting and/or appalling recent stories I’ve run across. Add more in comments!
Inspired by the recent very tiny MRA rally in Toronto, this new Tumblr blog posts pictures of groups of people — and horses, and bees, and other things — that are larger than the group of people that the MRAs managed to attract to their little shindig.
Mike Booth, friend of Man Boobz and the guy behind mostly immobile internet cartoon sensation SomeGreyBloke and faux-MRA Dan Cardamon, presents an effective takedown of a recent video by infamous atheist asshole Thunderf00t.
Longtime Friend of Man Boobz Ozy Frantz, cofounder of the No Seriously What About teh Menz blog, is writing a book with fellow NSWATMer Noah Brand about men and feminism titled, naturally, What About the Men. The first chapter, written by Ozy, is up on the Good Men Project web site, NSWATM’s (sort of) new home. It’s even got footnotes, and illustrations by Barry Deutsch!
Ozy explains the book’s central aim:
We live in a sexist society, one where gender programming starts at birth (though the advent of the sonogram has allowed parents to get a head start by painting the nursery pink or blue and stocking up in advance on gendered toys and clothes) and is so pervasive as to be inescapable. Feminism has done an excellent job analyzing and challenging the ways that these assigned and enforced gender roles damage and deform the lives of women. The same tools of analysis can be applied to the damage and deformation that men suffer. And that damage, sad to say, is severe.
Meanwhile, over on The New Statesman, Helen Lewis looks at the continuing harassment of Anita Sarkeesian, the women who dared to ask people to donate money for a video series on sexism in video games and thereby unleashed a misogynistic shitstorm.
One of the most disturbing examples of harassment: an online game in which players are invited to “beat up Anita Sarkeesian.” Lewis censors some of the images, but not others, so let me just put a TRIGGER WARNING for depictions of violence against women, including a grotesquely photoshopped “beaten up” Sarkeesian. Anyone who thinks Sarkeesian and her supporters were making too big a deal of the harassment needs to go look at these images in Lewis’ article here. (The game itself, posted on Newgrounds.com, has now been removed.)
Again, this is all because Sarkeesian asked people to donate for a video project. If they felt like it was worthwhile. That’s all she did. And this is what she got in return: someone so angry that Sarkeesian was pointing out sexism in video games that he literally sat down and made a game inviting angry internetters to “beat this bitch up.” Irony doesn’t even begin to cover it.
[A]nyone who thinks that feminists who push back hard against online harassment are being oversensitive needs to understand that we’re all trying to keep ourselves from becoming Anita Sarkeesians. No matter how strong you are, and no matter how much support you have, this kind of concentrated campaign of harassment affects the targets of it. And the goal of these campaigns is to terrorize people into silence. It’s not disagreement. It’s not creative trolling. It’s deployment of a weapon.
But it’s just as important to point out that Sarkeesian wasn’t silenced; in addition to helping her raise much more money than she had originally asked for, those who attacked her simply reinforced (and helped to further publicize) the argument she was making — in the case of the “beat up Anita Sarkeesian” game, quite directly indeed. The cowards and assholes who try to shut down feminists online with this sort of harassment are not only losers — they’re losing.
North quotes me and Hugo Schwyzer on the topic. Here’s the extended remix of my remarks:
Unfortunately, in most cases, I don’t think it’s possible to talk someone out of a Men’s Rights obsession. For most of them, it seems to be driven not by facts — they’re happy to simply make up facts to fit their worldview — but by feelings, most obviously by rage at women. If they were driven by actual interest in issues, they probably would have accomplished something by now; in reality, only the overlapping but more politically focused Father’s Rights movement has actually had much of an effect on the real world, for better or worse. For most MRAs, the closest they come to activism is leaving angry comments everywhere online — or harassing individual women online in a manner similar to the ways abusers stalk the objects of their obsessions.
The one argument I think you can make to MRAs who are not too far gone is this: it’s not healthy for you to spend so much time stewing in your anger online. Instead of trying to help men work through their personal issues with women, the MRM encourages men to cultivate their rages and hatreds, to remain stuck. That’s not healthy for them, or for society at large.
North’s post was inspired by a recent Dear Prudence question on Slate from a girl whose dad had recently gone all MRA on her. (It’s here, scroll down a bit to the question that starts “Dad-Related Dilemma.:)
The guys at The Spearhead also had a whack at the Dear Prudence question here. Needless to say their perspective is a little different than mine or Hugo’s.
As far as I can tell from the badly Google-translated version of her blog, the Brazilian versions of Man Boobz (Homens Idiotas?) are pretty much identical to our Man Boobz, right on down to their obsessions with alphas and betas and all that crap.