“That’s because Louis’s behavior didn’t hurt the system. It maintained the system. It alienated women from careers in comedy and allowed everyone to continue to live in a world where they could believe that the table, the Official Council of American Funny, was a place only straight men were worthy of reaching.”

– Guy Branum: Tear Down the Boys’ Club That Protected Louis C.Kb

Melissa Harris-Perry Threatened by Stranger, Saved by Students

 Melissa Harris-Perry (Wake Forest University professor, MSNBC host) is a wonderful, inspiring person. Prof. Harris-Perry is someone who encounters a frightening situation – a strange man coming too close to her and mumbling vaguely threatening comments – and turns it into a chance to write beautifully about the importance of good teacher – student relationships and education: 

“Teaching is the great calling and privilege of my life. It has saved, redeemed, reset, and transformed me repeatedly through the decades. Looking for a path for a student, I have discovered new trails for myself. Hoping to stoke their enthusiasm, I have uncovered hidden joys. Students have challenged me because I was wrong and I have had to change. They have pushed me when I was exhausted and I have found new energy. They have been bored and I have had to innovate. They have succeeded beyond my imaginings; thus I share in the accomplishments of hundreds of lives and am not bound to the achievements of a single existence.”

You can read more about her experience (in Iowa, as a professor, and as a student of Maya Angelou) on the Anna Julia Cooper Center blog.

Schilling’s anger is so relatable. It would be hard for a parent to hear his description of Gabby’s day — thinking her college career was over before it began — and not be outraged. Yet here is what’s difficult about the reality many women face: Had an unknown 17-year-old called a university herself and contended that a student was harassing her online, would she have gotten the same attention? Would her troll or stalker been kicked off the team?

Schilling didn’t tell me the names and identities of the men he found, so it was impossible to verify that the correct perpetrator had been linked to a specific tweet. But someone wrote those words, and for Twitter and other Internet companies to treat the digital equivalent of “Fire!” in a movie house as protected speech, under the umbrella of free exchange of political thought, is disingenuous.

Violent speech on the Internet should be treated like threats made in any other manner, and it should be wrong across the board. If targets of abuse have to wait until every famous father has this issue intersect with his real life, that’s a long wait.




Sam Pepper Exposed. 

Laci Green and many other young women have placed themselves in an extremely vulnerable position to shed some light on sexual abuse in the Youtube community and some extremely disturbing incidents directly involving Sam Pepper. Please share this video to support Laci and the victims.

For fucks sake. This is horrible. Spread this around and take a stand in protecting each other.


I hadn’t heard of “Sam Pepper” until the day before yesterday, and I’d really prefer it if he could fall off the face of the world. What an asshat. Also, this isn’t the first “youtube community abuse” case. 

Also, his “defense” that “ the prank and subsequent videos are a social experiment to promote awareness of male victims of domestic abuse” is bullshit. For once, it’s obviously a way to maneuver his way out of this, and even if that was his plan from the start, he failed miserably at that. Harassing women to call attention to male victims of domestic abuse (even if staged) is a terrible idea, and it doesn’t work. The video, in context of his work, obviously makes light of street harassment. The only thing drawn attention to is his infamy. 

Content note: All kinds of abuse in the examples Laci Green gives in the video. 

The Internet Cesspool Threatens Emma Watson After Mild Feminism Speech

Emma Watson gave a speech on gender equality recently, making a pretty reasonable appeal to men and women to work towards equality. That is not radical at all. Still, Internet pricks decided that she needs to be harassed for it, just like every regular woman speaking out for feminism saying anything at all on the Internet. In the case of Emma Watson, they are threatening to release illegaly obtained nude photos of the popular actress, and want to make her (fictional) death a trending topic on twitter. As Robyn Pennacchia at Death and Taxes points out, these people are not only the worst, but also self-righteous in a really twisted, misogynist way:

The frightening thing is that, like most of their other campaigns against women, they truly see themselves as just warriors fighting for what’s right. They believe that this is what Emma Watson has coming to her for daring to speak up or identify as a feminist.

This is primarily because they firmly believe that any woman who speaks up on women’s issues is completely disingenuous and only doing it for the purposes of crass, self-serving, self-promotion, and that any man who does is looking to get laid, because they actually cannot possibly imagine a scenario in which someone would genuinely give a shit about women.

That article also quotes some of the threats made in the cesspool, if you’re interested in reading that kind of thing. (Don’t.)

(hat tip to Franca on facebook)

Trolls, Public and Private Space, And the Need to Stop Being Dicks

I have to comment on this passage from a Salon interview with law professor Danielle Citron, discussing the difference between trolling and cyber harassment:

My book truly deals with actionable harassment, not abuse that cannot be regulated (often called “trolling,” a loose term). Consider one of the earliest cases, of game developer and blogger […], where there are repeated credible threats of rape, doctored photographs of her being strangled, and lies about her. Then, a cybermob posted her Social Security number and home address, as well as defamatory lies about her. Whoever was responsible for those actions, even just some of them, would be treading on legal grounds –we can regulate true threats, defamation and certain privacy disclosures such as the disclosure of SSNs (which is like publishing your bank account number). To be sure, some of the folks who doxxed [the tech blogger] and published her SSN were self-proclaimed trolls, but nonetheless they engaged in unprotected activity by spreading defamatory lies and publishing her SSN.

By contrast, there the case of Zelda Williams. The person who repeatedly told her her father was ashamed of her may be called a troll, but that person is engaging in protected speech. So, too, the person who posted pictures of dead bodies. Even if that person did it repeatedly, it might not even amount to regulable intentional infliction of emotional distress, because Robin Williams’ death could be said to constitute a matter of public importance, rather than a purely private matter.


(I can recommend the interview in full.) I have no doubt in her assessment of the legality here. I just finished her book, Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, and liked it a lot, I might write a review of it soon. But the situation she describes above is similar to the situations that got me interested in the topic of hateful speech on the Internet. It really irks me.

For once, I personally think it is perverse that the death of a man, husband and father is considered a “matter of public importance” in this context. It is interesting to the public, without a doubt. I, like many others, was deeply affected by it. But not in the way the people who actually shared their lives with him are affected. I fail to understand why this harassment needs to be protected by the U.S. constitution: For Zelda Williams, it is a private matter. What kind of public discourse, what truth is improved by sending a young woman pictures of corpses and telling her her dad was ashamed of her?

Personally I think people who “troll” a grieving person in this manner can go and have their  CPUs overheat. But I think this story shows more than one problem facing us in the digital 21st century. With (social) media technology becoming ubiquitous the the lines between public and private spheres are blurring, and the form/degree of access to individuals for anyone is changing.  While this can be great, the new possibilities challenge our understanding of concepts like “public” and “private.” Years ago, no one would have sought out the postal address of a celebrity’s daughter to send her manipulated photos. Almost no one would’ve yelled such horrendous things at her in bars, schools, streets, .. public places.

Many will easily dismiss what happened to Zelda Williams (and countless others pushed out of social media) as it did not happen “in real life” and she only quit twitter. Honestly: For me, that would feel like not being able to walk through a part of my neighborhood, close to my home, filled with neighbors I like, because of aggressive strangers. For me, this is hypothetical, a mental excercise I can easily engage in.  Add the cyber harassment to the daily (street) harassment women* experience, and the world just got a whole lot narrower.

I’m not against these Internet-mediated changes in interpersonal communication, wonderful things are happening thanks to social media. But I do think that we need to find a way to use the amazing possibilities of teh Interweb and promote free speech while not being such colossal dicks to people. That way might not lead us through the legal or legislative system, but we need to find one. I cannot accept that this vicious form of “trolling” is something “we” can’t regulate. 


just to be clear – a woman who created a hashtag meant to convey the message “no, not all may be sexual aggressors but yes, all women have experienced sexism to some degree” shut down her account after repeated harassment. she wasn’t generalizing men. she wasn’t making broad, sweeping statements that people claim are the problem with women’s movements. she was only opening a conversation centered around personal stories. what is anyone supposed to take from this except that many people are simply not interested in hearing these stories at all, as sugarcoated as they may be, as tactfully they may be put? not without redirecting the conversation to focus away from women, at any rate.