The Dude who publicly humiliated the child is the Biggest Areshole in this story

So, a kid went to The Tate Modern and climbed on a really, really, really expensive statue. The parents weren’t overly concerned so some Dude posted a video of this Most Horrific Event ever in a bid to uncover the identity of the horrible child and their nasty parents.

Now, I’ve got no idea what actually happened. If the parents did encourage their nine year old to climb the statue, then they are nincompoops with very bad manners. Regardless of whether or not the child climbed of her own volition or was encouraged by the parents, posting the video online in a bid to identify them is even more appalling. It’s nasty, vindictive and cruel. Children have the right to grow up and make mistakes without some asshole posting video online in order to name them.

Yeah, the parents aren’t exactly sympathetic characters. FGS, 9 year old aren’t ‘anti-establishment’ and suggestions that climbing over-priced art makes one ‘anti-establishment’ is beyond ridiculous.

But, seriously, posting a video online for the sole purpose of finding the names of a child to humiliate? That’s beyond poorly behaved children with nincompoops for parents. It’s cruel and vindictive. I’m appalled that anyone could think this was appropriate.

Why I Hate Humanity; Or, Jim Davidson won CBB

Jim Davidson, noted misogynist racist who admits to committing intimate partner violence, has won Celebrity Big Brother. Because, people actually voted for a man who brags about not raping women.

I’m sure tomorrow’s papers will be full of people excusing Davidson’s abusive behaviour and wondering how anyone voted for him. Or, babbling on about the downfall of humanity.

Here’s the thing: if you watched CBB you are complicit in this man winning. It doesn’t matter if you hate Davidson or voted against him, you helped him win by watching the program. Your viewing increased Endemol’s profits. Your viewing is what made them choose such an offensive man to be on the show.

Tomorrow, instead of expressing shock at Davidson winning or expressing faux outrage, make a pledge to stop watching this shit.

Stop watching reality TV.

Stop watching the public humiliation of vulnerable.

Stop pretending you’re better than those who visited Bedlam or circus freak shows.

Reality TV is nothing more than abuse as entertainment.

If you’re angry at Davidson winning, ask why you chose to watch.

Why did you want to watch an abusive man abuse women?

Davidson didn’t win because a gaggle of racist misogynists voted for him. He won because normal people think public humiliation is entertainment.

Reason #3456 that I am Feminist: Because Beyonce is a “Whore”

At least, that’s a headline the Metro is running today with the complaints from parents about Beyonce’s “inappropriate” behaviour on stage at the Grammys. Now, I’ve not actually bothered to watch the Grammys. I don’t watch any awards shows because they are almost always rich white dudes congratulating each other on being rich white dudes. They’re on my list of things which need to be destroyed come the Revolution.

I am in a fucking rage about this headline in the Metro:

BfDfQM3IQAAcIZx(image from @samuelpalin)

I’m not going to bother reading the article because the headline is deeply inappropriate. If the Metro wanted to run a discussion on the appropriateness of Beyonce’s performance before the watershed (in the US), then by all means go for it. I’m going to question the parenting of adults who think the Grammys are appropriate for small children. The Grammys’ have never been small child friendly. Why anyone would think different is beyond me.

So, Beyonce is a “whore” for her performance. I don’t see the Metro labelling her husband (the dude in the photo with her) a whore. I doubt very much the parents in the Metro article care about what her husband did or did not do.

This headline is pure misogyny (and racism) and is why I am a feminist.

No woman is a whore. Ever.

 

UPDATE: it turns out the article is actually worse than I thought. Lynn Schreiber has informed me that the story was clearly decided before tweets were found to defend it. So, a journalist has manufactured the ‘Beyonce is a whore’ statement without having evidence first.

It’s just not that simple: Consent, Coercion and the Reality of Male Violence

I read the New Statesman’s current “guide to sexual consent” written by pornography actress Stoya with interest. It was an interesting angle on consent but I wouldn’t want Stoya in a classroom teaching my child about sex and consent and not because of her employment. I wouldn’t want Stoya teaching my child about consent because her guide is far too simplistic. It fails to acknowledge the reality of coercion within relationships. It doesn’t account for asexuality or trauma.

Stoya has started from the position that sex is something everyone wants and should be having. In our culture, that inevitably means PIV (penis-in-vagina). If we want to start talking about consent, we need to start with babies teaching them bodily autonomy. We need to teach children that no one has the right to touch them without permission and that this includes being forced to kiss Grandad’s cheek, having their hair pulled by a classmate or being tickled. We need to start from the position that PIV is not sex and that it is not necessary to have PIV or PIA to have sex. Until we start teaching both of these, the construct of consent for sex remains focused solely on the male orgasm.

Stoya also seems to be starting from the position that a sexual partner will immediately respect a woman’s desire to stop, without consequence. This is simply not the reality in which many sexual relationships take place. Women are frequently placed in a position where refusing or changing their mind isn’t possible. Or, told that they are required to sexually service a male partner or it will be their fault if he has an affair. Dr Pamela Stephenson, who is the Guardian’s sexual relationships expert, recently told a woman that it was her duty to have PIV even if she didn’t like it or it hurt (brilliantly deconstructed by Ann Tagonist here). Victims of sexual violence who choose not to have PIV are told that there is something wrong with them.  Of course, men who insist on PIV with a female partner even when it causes her physical pain are not labelled weird or wrong. Men deserve PIV and its women’s duty to perform, even through physical pain.

I would have labeled Stoya as naive had it not been for these last two points:

7. If your sexual partner(s) express a limit or ask for something to stop and you do not respect it, you are stepping onto a scale that ranges from “jerk” to “full-on rapist”. Personally, I don’t want to be on that scale at all, and I don’t want to engage in sexual activity with anyone who does hang out on that scale.

8. If one of your sexual partners steps on to the jerk-to-full-on rapist scale, call them out on it. You have the right to end the sexual activity you are engaged in and to decline sexual activity with them in the future.

I’m at a loss for words here. No one should be forced to tolerate a jerk but insisting that it’s women’s responsibility to call out a sexual partner is quite dangerous and victim blaming. Sometimes women simply aren’t in a position to say no or to call out a partner. Making statements like this demonstrates a lack of understanding of the reality of sexual and domestic violence because it implies that women who don’t call out their partners are somehow at fault.

We need to start teaching consent to children but we need to acknowledge the reality of male violence and coercion. Consent isn’t as simple as yes and no; not when girls are raised from infancy to believe that their role is to be fucktoys for men.

Is Bjarne Melgaard ‘s chair racist?

Yes.

And, if you can’t see this, you need to learn some fucking history.

Because there is genuinely no other possible answer to this question. The image is racist and sexist. He can babble on about whatever it is he think’s he criticising but, fundamentally, this image is racist and misogynist. The original art piece Bjarne Melgaard claimed to be whatever-the-fuck-artists-think-they-are-doing-when-they-are-mostly-being-assholes is based on a piece by Allen Jones. Which was also deeply misogynistic.

Make no mistake neither piece is anything but the same old objectification of women that is replicated time and time again. It isn’t new. It isn’t exciting. It’s just the same old drivel by pretentious white dudes pretending they aren’t dickheads.

Melgaard’s just gone and added racism to the charge of misogyny with this image.

And, for fuck’s sake, Dasha Zhukova is a successful woman in her own right; not the possession of a man just because he’s a billionaire. If you’re going to write criticisms about the misogyny and racism of Melgaard’s work, start with not referring to Zhukova as a possession. After all, these types of racist and misogynist drivel wouldn’t pass as “art” if men stopped thinking about women as possessions.

I could rant for hours about this but there is only one answer to the question: Is Bjarne Melgaard ‘s chair racist? If you can’t see it, then you’re probably racist.

Child Eyes UK: Still not listening

I wrote 2 quick responses to the hashtag #rapemags used by Child Eyes UK which I submitted to the campaign group Ending Victimisation and Blame (Everyday Victim Blaming)

Child Eyes UK have responded to my two post by adding 3 more FAQs to my website, one of which still fails to understand the point of the complaint.

FAQ 1.  Should you use the hashtag #rapemags, we think it is triggering?

We sincerely apologise to any people who are triggered by the word rape or #rapemags. This is not our intention. We have the support of Rape Crisis England and Wales and would not have used the term if they felt it was not appropriate. We believe it is important in the context of the campaign to use the word rape as this is what we are campaigning about. The term “mags” is not meant to trivialise rape experience it is an abbreviation of magazines for use on Twitter. The term also highlights the way women’s mags sensationalise rape which is hugely inappropriate for children.

Considering their first response to the statement “we find the tag triggering” was :  “Sorry but we’re not going to stop using word ‘rape’ because it is triggering in a context helping stop sensationalist mags “, I’m going to question the level of support they have had. I find it highly doubtful that Rape Crisis England and Wales was asked their opinion of the tag before it was used and they most certainly would not support the outright dismissal of the feelings of a victim of rape. Child Eyes UK’s failure to understand the harm they did to a survivor with that tweet demonstrates their lack of understanding of sexual violence and it does make me question their campaign.

2. The magazines sensationalise rape. Aren’t you doing the same by using the term #rapemags?

The magazines sensationalise rape. We are campaigning against the magazines being exposed to children. Using the word rape within the context of a salacious magazine is not the same as using it within a very serious campaign against its sensationalisation being exposed to children. We have to use the word rape to campaign against its sensationalisation damaging children, otherwise it wouldn’t make sense or be effective.

Actually, you do not have to use the word rape unless you are campaigning against the way rape is written about within the magazines. You are campaigning against the sensationalised language of the magazines where children can read them. You could have easily used the term #endtabloidmags and your campaign would still have made sense without triggering survivors. It would have also encompassed more of your campaign goals.  You deliberately chose #rapemags because it was salacious. Not because it was accurate.

3. You are not experts in rape or have training in this area. You should not be campaigning about it.

No we are not experts in rape and we don’t have training. However we are all parents and we feel we have the right to voice our concerns about what our children are being exposed to and campaign to have this addressed. We are not campaigning to ban the magazines or about the content of the magazines. We are simply campaigning for retailers to display these titles appropriately in areas frequented by children.

You do need to have training in running a campaign like this. It isn’t like No More Page 3 or Let Toys be Toys which doesn’t require specialist knowledge. You are running a campaign on the sensationalisation of sexual violence in the media. You need to understand what it is before you can campaign against it. And, no, being a mother doesn’t imbue you with mystical knowledge.

The Obsession with perfection is violence against women

I love Jean Kilbourne. I can’t even remember when I first saw her work. I think it was in high school on a field trip to Toronto when we saw one of her recorded speeches. It does matter how many times I read her or watch her videos online.

The Obsession with perfection is violence against women: it is part of a continuum of male violence which teaches women that we simply aren’t good enough unless we pass the patriarchal fuckability test, which is impossible.

It’s well worth checking out some of her other videos:

Killing us Softly 3:

 

 

And, If you haven’t seen Miss Representation yet, do so now:

 

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Ethical Journalism, doxxing and the suicide of Dr. V

The first I read about the suicide of Dr. V was discussion on twitter about the ethics of doxxing the journalist Caleb Hannan.  I then read Melissa McEwan’s piece Careless, Cruel and Unaccountable and was troubled by this section:

There are already legions of defenders, who are keen to make arguments that Dr. V’s lies about her background are newsworthy, which is debatable, although I tend to agree that lying about her educational and professional history, which were apparently a central part of the pitch to investors and potential buyers, was unethical and worth reporting.

I decided to read the original piece by Caleb Hannan to see exactly what “lies” were told by Dr. V.  If it was covering up their identity as  a transwoman to prevent doxxing, then Hannan clearly crossed a line. Yet, this isn’t what is implied in McEwan’s statement. McEwan’s implying that their were numerous statements about Dr. V’s background which were not worth reporting. Hannan’s piece is difficult to respond to because there are so many conflicting problems within the article. The article itself is poorly written but I don’t agree with McEwan. There were statements made by Dr. V which did need to be made public knowledge.

Doxxing is a complicated issue and I don’t believe it’s always wrong to “doxx” someone, although I do think we are frequently talking at cross-purposes when using the term “doxx”. Publishing the personal information of anyone out of spite should be open to criminal investigation. However, there are situations where it is important to release personal details and that can involve revealing information that may be potentially harmful to the individual. The question is when is it appropriate to reveal this information. And, in this instance, was Hannan correct, in the article Dr. V’s Magical Putter, to reveal that Dr. V is a transwoman?

Contrary to it’s title,  Dr. V’s Magical Putter isn’t about Dr. V. It’s about Hannan, his love of golf, his love of himself and his inability to understand boundaries. It is perfectly normal for a journalist who loves a sport to use their position to investigate a new product that might revolutionise it. It’s also completely normal for journalists to ignore the boundaries set out by people in order to sell papers. This is not unique to Hannan and simply reflects our culture’s obsession with information and gossip regardless of the harm it causes. One only has to examine the coverage of school shootings to see evidence of this: images of traumatised children being led from schools does not add anything to the story. It does increase the trauma of the children and their families.

These three paragraphs set out the tone for the whole piece:

I wanted to know more about Dr. V, so I sent her an email and received one in return that confused the hell out of me. It was early April, and I was trying to set up an appointment to speak with her on the phone. First, however, she insisted that our discussion and any subsequent article about her putter focus on the science and not the scientist. The reason for this stipulation seemed dire.

“I have no issues as long as the following protocols are followed because of my association with classified documents,” she wrote. “Allow me to elucidate; I have the benefits under the freedom of information act the same privileges as federal judges, my anonymity is my security as well as my livelihood, since I do numerous active projects … If the aforementioned is agreeable to you, please respond to this communique at your convenience so we can schedule our lively nuncupative off the record collogue.”

The words caught my eye first. Communique! Nuncupative! Collogue! I hadn’t heard of any of them, and it wasn’t until I looked up their definitions that I understood what she was saying. Everything about her email suggested she might be a tough interview. So, instead of trying to get a straight answer out of Dr. V, I reached out to McCord. He’s the one who first told me how she came to build her putter.

Hannan seems genuinely surprised that Dr. V would refuse to participate in a personal interview, and at  the extent of Dr. V’s vocabulary . Last time I checked an extensive vocabulary wasn’t sufficient reason to write snide remarks about another person, but, apparently, this is now classed as journalism. The increasing refusal of individuals to do interviews is because of how intrusive they have become, particularly of celebrities by those desperate for a new angle. We have negated our right to privacy just for the act of being. What is very clear from these paragraphs is that Hannan wasn’t actually interested in the science behind Dr. V’s invention or what led them to invent the product. Instead, the focus remains on Hannan.

Much of the middle part of the article is a history of golf and quite irrelevant to the article itself. The information was presented more to prove what Hannan knows about the history of golf and the people within the sport rather than the invention of a new type of putter. I can understand, as a journalist, why Hannan wanted to investigate Dr. V’s qualifications and history: an acquaintance with Dan Quayle and working on the development of the Stealth Bomber are the kinds of stories that remain in public memory. It’s the kind of story that people mention at parties and well within the realm of an article on the science behind a new putter. Publishing this information is not doxxing. It should be within the public sphere because of laws on finance and company accountability. Naming the designer of a product produced by a company isn’t necessary, but, if you are representing the company as a designer and proprietor, particularly if raising investment funds, then your name should be public knowledge. The names of your children, family, your hobbies, and everything else aren’t but your qualifications to run a company are important.

Where Hannan crosses the line is in expecting that he has a right to demand answers from Dr. V out with those already deemed public record under laws governing business practise. It might make a great story to discover that a product was built in a bathroom by a man who was raising his nieces or by accidentally falling over a cat or crashing your car but that doesn’t mean the inventor has an obligation to share with a journalist.  Hannan’s insistence that Dr. V was obliged to answer all his questions speaks volumes about Hannan’s feelings of entitlement.

Hannan’s researching Dr. V’s qualifications himself is basic fact-checking and suggestions that this is doxxing demonstrates a poor understanding of journalistic practise. It is how Hannan wrote about his investigation into Dr.V’s qualifications which is poor journalistic practise. He has gone for a narrative best used in children’s adventure fiction than journalism:

 I contacted the registrar’s office at MIT. It had no record of anyone named Essay Anne Vanderbilt attending. The registrar at the University of Pennsylvania confirmed the same thing. Whatever Dr. V’s actual credentials, they didn’t include a business degree from Wharton, where she had supposedly gotten her MBA. This was significant but inconclusive. After all, Dr. V could have attended the schools under a different name. But why wouldn’t she have mentioned that?

The deeper I looked, the stranger things got. It seemed as if there was no record of Dr. V’s existence prior to the early 2000s. And what little I managed to find didn’t exactly align with the image she projected of a world-class scientist. I couldn’t find any record of her ever living in Boston. The same went for Washington, D.C. And when I contacted Walter Reed, I was told the hospital had no way to prove she had ever worked there.

 There are literally thousands of reasons that a person would change their name. Ignoring the whole witness protection program angle beloved in US mob dramas, they are:

  • women escaping domestic violence
  • adults survivors of familial child sexual abuse
  • children of people who achieved notoriety due to crime
  • their personal criminal behaviour
  • getting married

I’m always surprised by the number of times I’ve heard someone say “but X can’t have a degree because there is no one of that name at the university at that time” and it turns out they’ve forgotten the issue of marriage which is the number one reason people (and read that as women) change their names. It’s invariably a man who says it.

When investigating someone who has changed their name, it is important to recognise that fear of violence is a common reason. Depending on the story, it may be important to ascertain why a name change took place but not at the cost of the safety of the individual being investigated, unless the change in identity can be shown to be for purposes of fraud or deliberate misrepresentation.

It is difficult to tell from Hannan’s investigation whether or not Dr. V meant to commit fraud when deliberately misrepresenting their qualifications. It is most definitely unethical business practise to claim to have designed part of the Stealth Bomber, helped invent bluetooth technology and have worked for the Department of Defence. I would have serious concerns about investing money in a company where the director and designer made such outrageous claims. I believe this information was required public knowledge. Ethical business practises protect workers and consumers as well as those profiting from the company. If people invested in Yar based on lies, then I would suggest fraud is not an inappropriate term to use. It may not be the legal definition of fraud but it was an attempt to gain money through deception, even if that money was then used appropriately. Raising these issues is well within the rights of public discourse.

Deliberately misrepresenting one’s academic qualifications can be signs of poor health, unethical business practises or malicious attempts to defraud. If it’s true that Dr. V was only a trained mechanic, it hardly invalidates the product. Personally, I think it’s more amazing that a product which revolutionises a sport is created by someone who can’t play it and has no formal training in the science involved in aerodynamics. I’m assuming it has changed the sport considerably but it is hard to tell through Hannan’s self-aggrandising twaddle within the article.

Requiring a person to be honest about their academic qualifications when approaching investors doesn’t require stating other personal information, such as the fact that they are a transwoman. I am concerned that the two are being conflated within responses to Hannan’s article. I am equally concerned that Dr. V’s history of harassment complaints and evidence of being unwell is being ignored as people castigate Hannan for doxxing. Dr. V lied about academic qualifications, employment history, potential investors, had a documented history of harassment and a a civil suit with an $800 000 payout. These are not insignificant details and should not be minimised or ignored.

Do I believe Hannan crossed a line with this article? Absolutely. It’s poorly written, full of extraneous and unnecessary information about Hannan and is clearly an attempt to diminish Dr. V by painting them as mentally unstable. Equally, Dr. V’s behaviour was concerning: multiple harassment complaints is a sign of either a deeply disturbed person or a person with a serious potential for criminal activity; since harassment itself is a crime.

Was it necessary to identify Dr V as a transwoman? Well, I just don’t know because Hannan’s article is so poorly written that it’s hard to tell if the lies about qualifications and experience were a deliberate attempt at fraud or a case of unethical self-aggrandisement. If it were fraud, then it is possible that Dr V’s transitioning may have been relevant to the story.  Certainly, it was important to include Dr. V’s history of harassment and other inappropriate and potentially criminal behaviour. I’m just not sure.

I am very concerned about the suggestions that Hannan’s article caused Dr. V’s suicide. Dr. V was clearly unwell and unhappy but it is simply far too simplistic to suggest that potentially publishing this article caused their suicide. Hannan clearly lacks compassion for Dr. V and his behaviour during his investigations may have crossed journalist ethical standards but we need to be very careful when saying publishing caused Dr. V to commit suicide. It erases the totality of Dr. V’s experiences up to that point and minimises any distress that they felt during their life.

Journalists publish articles every day that people desperately do not want them too: whether it be investigations into major corporate fraud, police brutality or male violence. Suggesting that they shouldn’t publish a story because someone might get hurt fails to acknowledge the point of journalism. These stories need to be published but when they involve an individual in distress or trauma, they need to be written with compassion and kindness. Sometimes details need to be left out.

And, sometimes editors need to step in.

Response to criticisms:

It appears that I was not very clear with this piece so just to clarify.

1. My objections to the article are not because it was investigative journalism but rather because it was a very poor example of investigative journalism. Investigative journalism is about the subject; not the author. A couple of hundred words about how much the author knows about a peripheral subject, in this case golf, isn’t part of the investigation.

2. I am aware of the reasons why women change their names and refuse to give their old name. I was trying to express derision at Hannan’s “oh my goodness, why wouldn’t someone tell me their name” routine.

3. Dr. V’s personal history of harassment, bankruptcy and lying about his credentials to garner investors is the story that needed to be reported; not Hannan’s unnecessary history of golf as he knows it. I have no legal knowledge of business practice but, at best, Dr. V’s behaviour was unethical.

4. And, harassment is a crime for a reason. Multiple accusations of harassment suggest a pattern of criminal behaviour which also needed to be reported.

5. Publishing information which is in the public sphere due to court cases is not doxxing.

6. It is possible that the allegations of harassment against DR V were made maliciously due to transphobia. It is also likely that  there were multiple allegations because Dr. V was a serial harasser. It is possible to be an inventor and an abuser.