We are currently focusing on conference and convention anti-harassment policies.
I can’t begin to express how proud I am of ReedPop and New York Comic Con. These signs are EVERYWHERE.
WHOA!!!!!! Good job, ReedPop!!
Super important! Big step! The sea change is happening, it really is.
I saw these on Facebook yesterday, and I wanted to hug Lance Fensterman personally.
REEDPOP is awesome. I love c2e2 and wish someday I can attend NYCC.
Later I learned that the first threat had nothing to do with what I actually made or said in my books, blog posts, articles, and conference presentations. The real problem — as my first harasser described — was that others were beginning to pay attention to me. He wrote as if mere exposure to my work was harming his world.
But here’s the key: it turned out he wasn’t outraged about my work. His rage was because, in his mind, my work didn’t deserve the attention. Spoiler alert: “deserve” and “attention” are at the heart.
A year later, I wrote a light-hearted article about “haters” (the quotes matter) and something I called The Koolaid Point. It wasn’t about harassment, abuse, or threats against people but about the kind of brand “trolls” you find in, say, Apple discussion forums. My wildly non-scientific theory was this: the most vocal trolling and “hate” for a brand kicks in HARD once a critical mass of brand fans/users are thought to have “drunk the Koolaid”. In other words, the hate wasn’t so much about the product/brand but that other people were falling for it.
I was delighted, a few weeks’ later, to see my little “Koolaid Point” in Wired’s Jargon Watch column.
The me of 2005 had no idea what was coming.
Less than two years later, I’d learn that my festive take on harmless brand trolling also applied to people. And it wasn’t festive. Or harmless. Especially for women.
Being a part of a counter-cultural community like alt lit, atheism or gaming does not give you a pass on misogyny.
Powerful article, spelling out something that obviously needs spelling out, at least for some men. Men who define themselves primarily against other men are by no means immune from being awful to women - and in fact (as the grim examples in this piece show) will find different ways to police women, in the apparent knowledge that maintaining the identity of the in-group will usually prove more important than ensuring the safety of people within it.
(And this is also, obviously, true of men - and let’s face it, I am one of these men - who enjoy feeling on some level more virtuous/humane/smart etc than alt-bros, tech-bros, dawk-bros etc. Negative self-definition is probably inevitable, even useful and healthy to some degree, but in itself it doesn’t make you a better person to the people around you.)
This is a really great article. I just want to pull out this little bit as well, because it highlights a lot of the issues I see (over and over) when we talk about sexism in the comics industry (emphasis mine):
I’m glad that more attention is being drawn to issues of assault, misogyny and sexism in these communities. It’s important. It’s also a lot harder than calling out Rush Limbaugh, because none of us have to live with Rush Limbaugh. I want to make these spaces safer for women, because we have as much right to them as men do.
It’s not just bros and jocks and finance dudes and yuppies and Christians and Republicans who are shitty to women. Being part of a counter-cultural or progressive community does not give you a free pass to be shitty to women without being called out on it. We need to hold our own communities to an even higher standard than we hold those in the opposition, we need to welcome criticism, and we to realize that the ones who call out shitty behavior in these communities are not the threat, but that those who protect it and shield it from criticism are.
Comics is certainly not a “progressive” community, though I like to think we’re working on that. Still, we have the same problem with the “outside world” already seeing us as “other”—entitled man-children who live in our parents’ basements, for example—so those who bring up legitimate issues of sexism, racism, and bullying inside our own community are often attacked. There’s this idea that we should be able to solve all our problems “in-house,” without exposing the dark, nasty underbelly to the rest of the world.
Well, fuck that. It clearly hasn’t been working, either in the comics-consuming or comics-creating communities, as several recent stories can attest. We have men how have long histories of sexual misconduct being lauded as “feminist," while the women who work with them have to tread lightly for fear of being labelled "difficult;" and creators and fans alike piling on a female fan for calling out the guy who told fans to “drown in hobo piss” because by god, he’s really a good guy, I swear!
So, yeah, this article may be about other communities, but it’s still applicable to ours. It’s hard to speak up, but I think it’s worth it so that in the future, there’s less to speak up about.
Scientists from MIT have designed a next-generation spacesuit that acts practically as a second skin, and could revolutionize the way future astronauts travel into space. (Photo : Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT)
Astronauts are used to climbing into conventional bulky, gas-pressurized spacesuits, but this new design could allow them to travel in style. Soon they may don a lightweight, skintight and stretchy garment lined with tiny, muscle-like coils. Essentially the new suit acts like a giant piece of shrink-wrap, in which the coils contract and tighten when plugged into a power supply, thereby creating a “second skin.”
"With conventional spacesuits, you’re essentially in a balloon of gas that’s providing you with the necessary one-third of an atmosphere [of pressure,] to keep you alive in the vacuum of space," lead researcher Dava Newman, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems at MIT, said in astatement.
"We want to achieve that same pressurization, but through mechanical counterpressure - applying the pressure directly to the skin, thus avoiding the gas pressure altogether. We combine passive elastics with active materials. … Ultimately, the big advantage is mobility, and a very lightweight suit for planetary exploration."
Newman, who has worked for the past decade on a design for the next-generation spacesuit, describes the new garment in detail in the journal IEEE/ASME: Transactions on Mechatronics.
The MIT BioSuit’s coils, which are a main feature of the outfit, are made from a shape-memory alloy (SMA). At a certain temperature, the material can “remember” and spring back to its engineered shape after being bent or misshapen.
Skintight suits are not a novel idea, but in the past scientists have always struggled with the question: how do you get in and out of a suit that is so tight? That’s where the SMAs come in, allowing the suit to contract only when heated, and subsequently stretched back to a looser shape when cooled.
Though the lightweight suit may not seem at first like it can withstand the harsh environment that is outer space, Newman and his colleagues are sure that the BioSuit would not only give astronauts much more freedom during planetary exploration, but it would also fully support these space explorers.
Newman and his team are not only working on how to keep the suit tight for long periods of time, but also believe their design could be applied to other attires, such as athletic wear or military uniforms.
"An integrated suit is exciting to think about to enhance human performance," Newman added. "We’re trying to keep our astronauts alive, safe, and mobile, but these designs are not just for use in space."
Scuse you, Dava Newman is a FEMALE professor at MIT.
(fyi, I passed out in a vacuum chamber wearing an earlier version of this suit. =D)
If women are the cookies of the Internet, then, they’re cookies that men never feel like they can’t have. Even the tersest of responses on OKCupid is still giving an aggressive user exactly what he wants: interaction. Men’s enjoyment of women—of their bodies, their words, and even their distress—is often so thorough and so adaptable that posting their messages or threatening to call out their behavior online has little to no effect. In the absence of meaningful consequences for misogynistic behavior, many men can afford to be cavalier and carefree about their online personas.
I just wrote something like this in an email to friends who told me the latest (I’m off twitter), which is apparently that Ed Champion made a suicidal gesture and is in Bellevue (not confirmed.)
I have a hard time even talking about how terrible the week that he published that rant was for me. A lot of people have tried to tell me that the net effect was positive for my book, but it put me in a position of talking about that rant instead of talking about the book. I hate that. I hate that that happened. I’ll never get that week or month or set of opportunities back; he poisoned them all. The worst part is that as cartoonishly evil and misogynistic and mentally ill as he is, there are still people who are like “well, it was a book review.” “Critics are allowed to call someone a bad writer.” Or worse, that it was a “subtweet war” or a “literary feud.” It was none of those things. It was an attack on women, meant to make us feel threatened and fundamentally unsafe in the online and physical spaces we inhabit. It is so bonkers that we even have to point that out or defend that point of view still, now, in 2014.
I felt fear doing events around publication. Not stage fright, fear for my physical safety. Instead of planning celebrations I was arranging with bookstores and my publisher for adequate security at events. I felt worried that the location of my apartment had been revealed in so many profiles. It’s not like I experienced physical trauma or was tortured but I felt under attack. This wasn’t something that “happened on the internet” or something that could have been avoided by “just unplugging.” Talking to readers, doing events, and promoting books online is my job.
I still haven’t sorted out what kind of damage was done.
Emma, you are probably sick of being thought of as Hermione, but you are basically fulfilling every headcanon of her social rights attitude and I can’t help but love you both for it.
I originally wrote this as my goodbye post on Ello, a new social network that has taken my queer/POC/performer/activist circles by storm due to Facebook’s crackdown on names. Feel free to share.
I know many of you joined Ello due to Facebook’s real name policy, which has shown to be a great risk to performers, trans people, and others who do not reveal their legal name for security or personal identity reasons. And everyone’s super fond of Ello now because they promise not to sell your information to advertisers.
However, there are specific elements of Ello’s privacy settings, deliberately designed, that make Ello actually way more unsafe than Facebook, Twitter, or other social media outlets and CMSes. And in our rush to embrace a Facebook replacement we need to be aware of what we are at risk for when using Ello.
Ello deliberately does not have any sort of personal privacy settings, and it does not have any sort of features to block or report individuals, nor any way to consent to being followed.
According to Ello’s @wtf section on privacy:
Ello is a platform built for posting and sharing public content. You should assume that anything you post on Ello other than private messages will be accessed by others. Search engines will be able to see the content you post. Content you post may be copied, shared, or re-posted on Ello and on other parts of the internet in ways that you and we cannot control.
Their feature list does have an upcoming entry about reporting inappropriate content, but nothing about inappropriate people. And yes, so far it’s invite-only, but invites are flowing so fast that it’s actually breaking Ello servers. And once you are in the system, everyone’s accounts are at your disposal.
Whether they want you to find out or not.
I do not have my legal name on Facebook, or most other sites, mostly because I have had trouble with relatives finding me and spreading rumours. (Also I don’t want to be too easily found by the Malaysian government and be charged with sedition.) However, privacy filters and blocking settings on most other social media help me mitigate the most of this.
Even so, having my legal name on Facebook (or even other sites like Twitter or Tumblr), is less of a problem for me than having no option to filter my content or block/report specific people.
Because the people I most want to avoid know my aliases. They are friends with people I know on Ello. They might already be on Ello (I’d be surprised if they weren’t) and are totally open to following me, reading me, tagging me, commenting on my posts. Hell, they can even find me through our mutual friends - any mutual activity pops up on their Friends feed.
And, by the way Ello is currently set up, there is nothing I can do about it.
I already have had specific posts of mine on social media - even carefully filtered or private material - spun into false accusations that affect my personal and professional reputation. I have no illusions about any of my content being totally private; I’m already a pretty open book. But at least on other places I can do something about it.
On Facebook, Twitter (if made private), and LinkedIn, I can approve or deny friends and followers.
On Ello anyone can follow me, with or without my consent, and I have no way of knowing whether I am a Friend or Noise.
On Facebook and Flickr I can set differing privacy levels - making posts only viewable to certain groups of people, excluding specific people entirely, or making some posts visible to only me. (On Twitter I can make my entire timeline private.)
On Ello, if you can get on Ello itself, you can read anything. (And according to Ello’s “privacy” statement, so could the world.)
On almost all other social media avenues, and even on blogs and CMSes, I can block specific people, or report their profiles for abuse, or find some way of identifying them (such as an IP address) so I can bring the matter up with a different authority.
On Ello I cannot do any of that, leaving me vulnerable.
There’s probably more, if I gave it more thought. But what I’ve found disturbs me enough already to compel me to leave Ello.
I don’t mind companies selling to me. They never really get my details right anyway. But marketing doesn’t usually try to ruin my career, or spread personal rumours about me, or harass me about my race or gender or sexuality.
People in my specific social circles, many of whom have jumped onto Ello as their next Facebook replacement.
People for whom it’s trivial to use social engineering, or even just paying attention, to find me and make trouble for me.
It’s already happened anyway, and that’s with careful security measures. Here? What security?
Many of my abusers, stalkers, harassers, and general trouble makers come from similar social and professional circles to me. Some of them get protection due to their status. Others get protection because no matter how much I speak up about them, no one else is willing or interested in doing anything about it. (Or sometimes they try and they become the new target for abuse.)
Now that many of these specific social circles are signing up for Ello, I have become way more wide open for their harm. And, between the stats about abusers generally being people that you know or know of, and the fact that anybody can read you and add you on Ello without you being able to do much about it, this becomes a huge and more immediate safety risk.
Way more than having my legal name published online. It’s already out there anyway.
I will leave this post up here, but unless something drastically changes with Ello’s privacy policies, I am not likely to return. Especially not as a Facebook replacement, since I get pretty personal on there.
So Ello, I know it’s only been 2 days, but this is Goodbye.
[[I would like to thank Lynn Cyrin, whose comment on consent in social networks on Twitter made me really think about this. I would also like to give a shoutout to Doug, who is/was a Facebook friend of another friend, who had brought up privacy concerns but got immediately shouted down by everyone else because “hey, they don’t sell our data to companies!!”
Feel free to share, tag me or don’t tag me or make me anonymous or say you said it, doesn’t matter.]]
Emma Sulkowicz, who will not put her mattress down until her alleged rapist is expelled, is its new public face.
Editor’s Note: A few weeks ago our message board and general inbox were bombarded with demands we address something called the “GamerGate Scandal”, posts written with the urgency and rage one would associate with, say, discovering that Chipotle burritos are made entirely from the meat of human babies. It’s apparently a big deal in some circles, so we followed the links and read the piles of data presented, and had to stop and take a deep breath just to grasp it all. “Gentlemen,” we said amid the stunned silence, “do you realize that if what they’re saying is true, then this is still the most pointless fucking bullshit anyone has ever forced us to read?”
The “scandal” turned out to be an excuse for an Internet harassment campaign against a random indie game developer who, like many such targets, was a female and a feminist.