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.

The Heat: Good Female Buddy Film; Shame about the Disablism

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I really, really wanted to love The Heat: a female cop buddy film starring two great actresses. And, it was really funny in places. The relationship between the two women was lovely but it was too dependent on stereotyped constructions of “good” and “bad” women. It was also full of fat jokes, comments about frigid dry cunts and liberal use of the fucktard.

Because it’s apparently completely impossible to make a film with a woman who does not meet Hollywood’s standards of acceptable without constant references to her weight and oh-so-hilarious clips of her getting stuck in cars.

And, really, fucktard? Do we really have to have disablist words to mark out a character as “low class”. Because that’s what Melissa McCarthy’s character represents: a fat, lazy, stupid, low class women. And, Bullock: a frigid bitch with a dried up cunt.

This is Hollywood’s version of a feel good buddy film: cliched stereotypes, misogyny and disablism.

Russell Brand and the “Perfection” of Feminism

I’ve seen a lot of criticism on Twitter today from feminists angry at feminists who believe Russell Brand’s No More Page 3 photo op is nothing more than a publicity stunt that will actively harm feminism. Apparently, requiring men to support feminism by taking personal responsibility for the  sexual assault and misogyny they have personally perpetrated is asking too much of them. We are “over-thinking” feminism and ruining it for the rest of feminism.  We are, in fact, being mean to Russell Brand.

Well, you know what? I don’t give a flying fuck if Russell Brand does think we’re being mean. The man prank-called a rape crisis hotline on his radio show for laughs. You know who else prank calls rape crisis hotlines? Rapists and porn-sick fucks who like to trigger victims of sexual violence. Ask a volunteer at any rape crisis hotline and they will tell you about the men who phone them wasting their precious time as well as committing sexual assault. Brand called a man live on a national radio show to publicly shame and humiliate the man’s granddaughter.  Having his photo taken with a NMP3 t-shirt doesn’t even begin to compensate for the abuse Brand has perpetrated.

This isn’t about demanding perfection from feminists. It’s about not including men who commit sexual violence within the movement just because they’ve bought a fucking t-shirt. I’m not exactly fond of men trying to pretend their feminists at the best of times; I’m certainly not including a dude who once sexually assaulted a female member of staff because he wanted to see her ‘tits’.

If that makes me a perfectionist or exclusionary feminist, then I’ll wear that t-shirt with pride because it means I’m not a hypocrite. NMP3 didn’t exactly have a choice in acknowledging Brand’s tweet once it was sent out. Personally, I wouldn’t have posted it on the website but that was their decision and it’s their campaign. However, I’m not willing to see women questioning the motives of a man who has a well-documented history of misogyny be derided by women desperate to claim Brand for feminism.

Brand isn’t a feminist. He just isn’t. Buying a t-shirt is a shit entry price for membership of a social justice movement. We are selling out feminists and feminist activism by pretending Brand’s t-shirt photo op is a real sign of change in behaviour.

It makes a mockery of feminism.

#CatsAgainstPeta : Because Cats are Awesome and PETA is not

Because who doesn’t love cats and hate PETA?

PETA doesn’t campaign to protect animals. It runs advertising campaigns glorifying male violence against women. How many of the celebrities involved in PETA’s campaigns wear leather? Use products which are tested on animals? Even know what PETA’s campaigns are about? How much does their intended audience care about animal rights? Who are their intended audience? Do they even know?

So #catsagainstpeta because I’d rather look at pictures of cats than stare at another image of a woman’s bruised and battered body that PETA thinks makes “edgy” advertising.

#catsagainstpeta storify now available!

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(Big thank you to Roweena for inspiring the tag!)

 

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These are links to some of PETA’s more disgraceful campaigns:

More Extremely Offensive Images from PETA

PETA and Racism

Has PETA gone too far? Sexism, Pornography and Advertising

Because Menstruation is Just Gross and Dirty

Try to Relate to Who’s On Your Plate

Eat Factory Farmed Chicken and Save Women: A Feminist Response to PETA

The “Angels”

Fur Trim is Unattractive 

The KFC is Animal Cruelty Campaign

I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur

That Superbowl Ad

Eat Factory Farmed Chicken and Save Women

Stay Firm and Fresh

Bunnies are More Important Than Women’s Rights

Women Are Just Pieces Of Meat

PETA Comes Out in Support of Domestic Violence

 

 

Russell Brand: I’m just not buying it

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So, Russell Brand‘s no longer a misogynist because of one image of him holding a t-shirt supporting No More Page 3. That’s all it takes nowadays to wipe out a lifetime of misogyny and homophobia: a photo with a feminist t-shirt.

Well, I’m not buying it. Anyone can pose with a t-shirt and claim they’ve changed their ways. This isn’t evidence that they actually have or that they actually even understand why their behaviour is disgraceful.

This is a brief snapshot of Brand’s ‘comedy’:

A man who thinks it’s funny to phone a rape crisis centre or phoning a man to, live on the radio, to sexually harass their granddaughter isn’t someone who understands that women are human too. Suggesting that “the love of a good woman” has cured him of sexism  actually proves that he’s still a sexist; that he still views women as not-quite-human.

Yeah, Brand can string a sentence together and he has a passing acquaintance with the word ‘revolution, although with a remarkable lack of understanding of the history of revolution, but so can lots of other people: people who don’t demand the right to sexually assault a female member of staff before they start work.

When Brand starts to publicly apologise for his previous behaviour, and really mean it, I might start to reconsider but tweeting a picture holding a feminist t-shirt isn’t proof of change. He can start by apologising to every single woman he has ever met who weren’t “good” enough for him to treat as human before this photo op.

Because, really, that’s all this is: a really good photo op for a man with a lifetime of misogyny.

 (Sequel: Brand and the “Perfection” of Feminism)

OMFG: Women AGE shocker

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It turns out women get OLD. Actually OLD. And look it. Even supermodels. Even Kate Moss!

Who the fuck saw this coming? Kate Moss looks different at 40 than she did at 14. I, for one, am shocked, boggled and in desperate need of a nap to recover from such an emotional roller coaster.

And, desperately happy that I’m not yet “paddling in the shallows of Old Lady Lake.”

Because if Kate Moss is decrepit at 40, the rest of women must be such mingers that we need to be, well, something.  They haven’t actually said women should be put down at 40 so as not to scare men but it was probably just an oversight on their part. Cut out because of the word count rather than anything else.

(Thank you to whoever first tweeted this image out!)

Ways in which Celebrity Big Brother and No More Page 3 aren’t the same.

I’ve had a couple of wiseacres responding to my piece on Racism, Misogyny and Celebrity Big Brother where I suggest we all need to stop watching bullying for entertainment  with the “ohhh, but don’t you say  it doesn’t work like that No More Page 3. That telling people to stop buying it does’t help.”  So, for those who are dim or bored trolls:

1. Places you see the Sun

  • cafes
  • the bus
  • the tube
  • the grocery store
  • some asshole in the school playground
  • and any other public place where you don’t want to see it.

2. Places where you see Celebrity Big Brother:

  • in your living room when you turn on the television

I would have thought the difference was patently obvious but I guess not.

So, once and for all, women can’t stop seeing The Sun in public because we have no choice. We can choose to stop watching Celebrity Big Brother in our own home [obviously, we haven’t got much choice with women’s magazines and TV guides, but, hey, if it’s not on TV, it’s not in the mags!]. We stop watching, Endemol stops airing homophobia, racism and misogyny as entertainment.

Misogyny, Racism and Celebrity Big Brother

I hate reality television. I watched one episode of one of the singing ones with my Nana a few years ago and was horrified at the very clear bullying by Simon whats-his-pickle of a teenager with mild learning difficulties who couldn’t sing and had only been brought before him for the prospects of “humorous” bullying. I’ve also sat through an entire series of Sweet Sixteen horrified at what passes for appropriate parenting. I believe that reality television is nothing more than the 21st century circus freak show. It is bullying. I get that lots of people enjoy it and it’s their ‘guilty pleasure’. I just can’t get over the image of that teenage girl sobbing her heart out on national television.

All this is to say, that I haven’t watched any of this series of Celebrity Big Brother. I caught the entry of Jim Davidson with disgust but not surprise. The Big Brother franchise isn’t noted for it’s women-friendly format. A contestant in Brazil was charged with raping a fellow housemate last year. This was the response:

 “Big Brother examined his behaviour without jumping to conclusions and with the utmost care. The images showed a breach of the rules of the programme.”

Raping a fellow contestant only constitutes a “breach of the rules”.  Accusations of sexual violence aren’t just confined to the Brazil edition; the South African edition faced a similar controversy. Even without the issue of sexual violence, the entire premise of Big Brother is to shove a group of people who wouldn’t like each other in real life, ply them with alcohol and torment them. Things aren’t supposed to be all happy bunnies knitting scarves for each other. The premise is to cause tension and let the contestants rip each other apart.

I disagree with the conclusions in Rebecca Reilly-Cooper’s article in the New Statesman. I don’t think our nation did a whole lot of soul-searching after the racism accusations during the previous edition of Celebrity Big Brother. I think a whole lot of people talked about racism to be seen talking about racism but nobody actually did anything. Well, except for everyone who promptly tuned into Celebrity Big Brother to watch the racism unfold increasing the profits of Endemol exponentially. Yeah, the female contestants involved weren’t evicted to huge crowds of people but that was part of the spectacle rater than actually caring about racism.

That’s all raising awareness of misogyny in this version of season of Celebrity Big Brother will do: it will increase the profits of those who deliberately chose this group of “celebrities” to create controversy. They don’t care about racism or misogyny or homophobia: they just care about profits. Ofcom may investigate the homophobic comments made by Holyfield but what will happen: a small fine? Nothing really in comparison to how much money Endemol makes pitting people against one another for the ‘entertainment’ of others.

If we want to actually challenge the culture of misogyny and racism (and disablism, classism, homophobia etc) in reality TV, we need to stop watching it. We need to take responsibility. Not just talk about racism and misogyny and homophobia but take responsibility for the fact it is the audience who keeps Celebrity Big Brother profitable.

No audience. No profit. That’s all Endemol cares about so hurt them where it actually hurts.

Dear Nick Clegg, We really need to talk about John Hemming

Dear Nick Clegg,

We really need to talk about John Hemming. I know the open letter is considered passé now but Hemming is still making troubling statements about child protection years after concerns were first raised with your party.

When are you going to take concerns about Hemming’s comments seriously? Are you waiting for a family to take a child overseas and that child be hurt or even killed by an abusive parent?

Don’t get me wrong. There are some serious problems within child protection; problems that have increased since your political party voted to cut services to families, communities, education, social services and health care. Your party voted to put more vulnerable children and families at risk. You’ve increased the likelihood that children will need to be removed from their homes by decimating programs to help families. Chronic under-funding leads to poor training and support for social workers and other working directly with families.  You’ve helped to flog the NHS to Cameron’s mates which will put more mothers at risk of post-natal depression and psychosis: which can increase the risk of child abuse. We continue to criminalise mothers instead of dealing with their mental health issues; putting women in prison for crimes of theft forces children into foster care. Support programs to help mothers with substance misuse problems are gone; as are programs to help women recovering from domestic and sexual violence.

The cuts your party voted for has increased the risk to vulnerable children; and this is without examining the cuts to services for children with disabilities and extra support needs within their families, schools and healthcare.

It’s not like I’m advocating the belief that Labour was a major improvement. I’m a radical feminist. I  believe a fundamental failure in our child protection laws is that we still view children as possessions of their fathers and refuse to acknowledge the gendered nature of violence and how children, young girls in particular, are groomed to view violence and male control as normal. Until child protection genuinely becomes child-centred, too many children will continue to suffer at the hands of their abusive fathers.

At least Labour tried to do something to help vulnerable families. It wasn’t good enough; not by a long shot but at least women got legal aid to help in cases of domestic violence. There was a basic recognition that the Welfare State and the NHS were the basis of a truly civilised society (even when the practice was a tad off).

But, Hemming’s statements  are truly concerning. This is from the BBC today:

John Hemming, MP for Birmingham Yardley, said the system is now unfair to parents. He has been contacted by hundreds of parents suspected of harming their children who are going through the family courts.

He said the process is so unfair that parents should leave the country to avoid social services and the family courts.

“All the cards are held by the local authority. It has large resources to fight the cases – it does all the assessments,” he said.

“My advice to people if they can afford it is just to go abroad. You can’t get a fair trial here, because you can’t rely on the evidence being fair.

“It’s best simply to go if you can, at the right time, lawfully.”

These are statements that Hemming has been making for years. Before his somewhat ignominious ejection from Mumsnet, Hemming could be guaranteed to show up on any thread referencing social services or adoption making these very statements. I am aware of at least one Mumsnetter working under the umbrella of child protection who made a formal complaint to you personally after Hemming made some deeply offensive statements about adoptive parents and social workers ‘stealing’ babies.  He has used his parliamentary privilege to name family members involved in a child protection and custody case despite children being given anonymity under the law.

Suggesting parents who are being investigated for child abuse flee the jurisdiction is not about protecting children. This appears to be nothing more than a vendetta by Hemming against social services after the mother of his child was briefly investigated whilst pregnant. In all the articles and Mumsnet threads I’ve read, I’ve never heard Hemming talk about the rights of a child. It is always about the parent. I find this frightening.

Louise

 

 

Baby Pacifiers: Porn Style

Seriously, people? This is what we’ve arrived at: pornified soothers for babies? Way to teach baby girls they have no right to bodily autonomy and that their only value is in how well they flirt. What the hell kind of creepazoid comes up with this product in the first place? And, who approves this shit? No one, at any point in the production or distribution, thought that sexualising babies might just a little bit creepy?

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There is a petition on change.org to have the product removed. Frankly, the dudes who came up with it should be thinking alternative employment as well.

The text of the petition by Owen Lloyd is below:

 Recently, my wife and I were looking around a Target store for shoes for our 13 month old daughter, Violet. In the process we came across many disturbing products on your shelves, one of the worst of these being “sexy” pacifiers for baby girls, one with a lipstick mark on it, the other with the word “flirt”. We find it repulsive that you would think it is appropriate to openly sell products that represent infant girls as sexual objects for men’s pleasure. 

More than that, we find it terrifying that you are selling products that normalize rape against children by selling products that send the message to abusers that little girls are sexually interested in men. Abusive men are constantly looking for ways to justify their abuse to themselves, and your product provides them such an opportunity.

Young girls like my daughter, seeing a product like this in a popular national chain store, are being told that it is appropriate and even expected that they engage in “sexy” behavior. And while you might think your product is just some quirky little harmless joke, girls who have survived assault are receiving the message that it is normal or even “funny” for men to abuse them.

Take these products off the market.