The Difference Between Me On The Internet, And Women On The Internet

233 Responses

  1. tom says:

    Ken, I haven't seen any video's of you mincing around in cloths that show off your manboobs and cottage cheese thighs. You think maybe that's why you don't get comments about them? Make the video's, you'll get the comments. Or hide in you man cave and pretend it's because you're respected.

  2. Tarrou says:

    It's not that mysterious, Ken. Men and women are treated differently because they are different. If you want to hurt a man, you insult his competence, his masculinity, his pride. If you want a cheap shot at a woman, it's hard to beat going after their looks. We are all insecure about different things, but there are general patterns, including some gender patterns. We all learn this through socialization. We know where to stick the knife. Males don't get insulted about their bodies because men don't care as much about their bodies. It's just ineffective as trolling. You're a lawyer and a blogger, Ken, which gives you more of a twinge, the thought that others think you are ugly, or stupid? I laugh off being called ugly, my SO jokes about it all the time, while I would never comment disparagingly on her appearance. It doesn't bother me a bit, but it would devastate her. If I were a jackass trying to hurt the feelings of a random woman, yeah, straight to the fat jokes.

  3. You know you're just asking for it in the comments, right thunderthighs?

  4. Dan says:

    I agree with Ken. A lot of Internet culture is inherently misogynistic, or sex and gender based. For example, some of the most common insults are "fag" and "bitch". I've seen a lot of men's postings disputed on their merits, their arguments, or their disposition, but the majority of women's postings are disputed solely on the basis of their sex: "You're just a fucking bitch", "You're an ugly cunt, so your opinion doesn't matter", "Shut up, you dumb bitch, and get back in the kitchen and make me a sammich". Ever since my daughter was born, I've been worried as hell about what to tell her about this.

  5. Tali McPike says:

    the lust of reasons for me to hug you when I first meet you keep growing.

  6. Tali McPike says:

    list not lust! That was awkward…Damn autocorrect

  7. Lizard says:

    I disagree with nothing you have written above.

    The really hard part, though, is moving on to the next step: Stating that there's not much the can be done, in terms of laws, regulations, or other "solutions". It seems it is impossible for people to accept as valid the following concept:"This is a terrible, awful, unjust, and evil thing, and there is nothing meaningful that can be done about it." When confronted with this, people instantly try to argue that "No, it's not terrible or evil at all!" (from the usual apologists for misogyny) or "Of course there's something that can be done, we can pass all sorts of great laws that will totally stop this and have no unanticipated consequences at all!" (from the usual apologists for censorship).

    As a matter of law, YouTube can institute any kind of comments policy they wish. As a matter of practicality, they cannot meaningfully enforce it. Would you pay, say, 5.00 a month for a "premium" YouTube with human moderators who read each comment and decided if it met the terms or not? (I doubt enough people would to make it possible at that price, and the fewer people who are willing to pay, the more the price goes up to cover the expenses.) Automated systems are trivially abused and usually make hilarious (or not so hilarious, if you're the victim of them) errors.

    Social pressure? The kind of people who post these comments want only attention, even negative attention. Yes, outing a few of the most virulent and making them the target of the next Two Minutes Hate can stop them, but it's like killing a swarm of army ants by picking one up at a time and spending an hour killing it. Meanwhile, there's a billion more out there.

    Other solutions? Charge, say, a penny to post a comment, or a dime? Would anyone pay? Wouldn't this de facto silence the voices of the poorest — those who rely on public access terminals or who have limited capacity to register for micropayment services? Further, the opportunities for hackers to bankrupt someone by using their hacked accounts to spam with are obvious — and accounts will be hacked, that you can be sure of.

    Laws don't work.
    Social solutions are slow and dubious, because social approval is not the goal of the offenders.
    Technological solutions are probably possible, but they are costly and require considerable investment, but the return on that investment is dubious — I am not dissuaded from watching cat videos because someone in the comments threads is screeching some racist/sexist/homophobic rant about something not related to Grumpy Cat being Grumpy. I basically don't read YouTube comments at all; frankly, if they had no comment section, it wouldn't bug me — which would solve YouTube's problems, but the issue transcends any one service, and is endemic to all forms of online communication.

    So, what do you have as a suggestion? Not being snarky; I know I am much more inclined to see the dark cloud rather than the silver lining. My innate pessimism may keep me from seeing a workable solution.

  8. Ken White says:

    So, what do you have as a suggestion? Not being snarky; I know I am much more inclined to see the dark cloud rather than the silver lining.

    Supporting the targets; calling out, criticizing, mocking, excluding, shunning, and marginalizing the perpetrators.

  9. Tarrou says:

    @ Dan, you got any data to back up the claim that the "majority" of all disagreements with females are based on non-substantive gender-based insults? Are we talking about a specific site, the internet in general, or 4chan? It happens, and it happens more on sites frequented by young males, but somehow I doubt you can show that it constitutes a majority of all internet communication to women.

  10. Bill says:

    I think the operative lesson is that there's a lot of mean nasty stuff said on the internet and people go for low hanging fruit. I bet if you looked, you could find a few really horrific below the belt insults directed at you that are worse than what she got. If a Black/Hispanic/Asian/indian guy says something some deem offensive, you'll hear the racial and ethnic slurs immediately. You're a white guy who's shown he can laugh at himself so there's not much of an attack vector (being able to laugh at oneself is both a sign of coolness and strategic). Change your name to Ken Black or Blanco (Clark would hate the latter but he's pretty understanding) or hold yourself out as Gay and see if you don't start getting attacked with the same crap. There's no shortage or racism/sexism/homophobia out there but much of it is just going for the easy cheap shot banking on the fact that such slurs will immediately cause offense (there's also a game on the net to be the most 'edgy' which has the same result). I agree with the spirit of your post, but the sample size is a bit small and on the whole, not sure it fits. Sure, if you used Malkin, Coulter or Maddow you'd come to that conclusion, but take Maggie McNeill, Virginia Postrel or McCardle – they usually inspire a different type of insult b/c they don't get offended easily. Also, if you come off as a Feminist (whether or not you are) you can bank on the sexist insults – guaranteed.

  11. @tom Ken may not make his appearance public on a regular basis, but it's not hard to think of many highly controversial male celebrities who do – like say major politicians like Barack Obama. Outside of the more directly racist criticisms, he is criticised largely on the basis of his decisions and policies.

    Commenting on appearance is just one of the more obvious symptoms of misogyny on the web. Other common patterns are describing assertive women as "bitchy" or "bitches," referring to people who display masculine traits as lesbians, and of course, graphic unsolicited sexual advances.

    I'm not sure what the best way is to prepare young girls for the Internet – they need to develop a thick skin in order to participate, but at the same time they shouldn't be content with the unfortunate state of things. My first intuition is that you want to be there when they first encounter hateful messages so you can explain the issue and answer their questions. You might go so far as to select some illustrative comments and show them. Don't tell them that this is "just the way things are" – because it doesn't have to be – but do tell them that you want them to be ready.

  12. Dan says:

    @Tarrou: no, I don't have any evidence; it's anecdotal evidence, for all that's worth. It is, however, what I've witnessed. I've seen it on YouTube, on Facebook, and on LiveJournal. I know that's not actual evidence; anecdotal evidence is purely subjective, and not objective. I'm not so sure about 4chan; I've never visited there, and only seen posts from there on other websites.

  13. Lizard says:

    They want to be called out, mocked, and shunned, because it makes them the heroes of their own little dramas. (Also, as noted, it's hard to do this on the kind of scale needed to make any difference.)

    I alter my behavior, or restrain my opinions, or otherwise consider the Grand Social Consensus when people whose opinions *matter* to me make it clear that I'm being a bad monkey and that if I keep it up, I will not get any extra bananas and no one will help me when the tiger attacks. For example — I respect you. You've demonstrated to me, over and over, that you share many of my values and that you reach your conclusions based on a careful evaluation of data. So, when you say, "Dude, that's not cool.", I am strongly inclined to factor that in to my personal algorithm of "What a decent human being does, or does not, do." I will think, "Hmm. This is something I never thought of that way before. But Ken's been right about most other things. I'll consider that he may be correct about this, and I may be wrong, and reconsider my opinion."

    I am less inclined to consider, say, Pat Robertson's opinion on proper behavior. If Pat Robertson says, "Dude, that's not cool.", what I hear is "Dude! That is totally awesome super cool, and you should go do it right now!"

    Metaphorically.

    Shaming people for behavior *they're proud of* doesn't work.

    Excluding people who already think of themselves as put-upon victims just feeds their own delusional narrative. Shunning people who aren't part of the community that's shunning them deprives them of nothing. (It's like banning me from, I dunno, Sri Lanka. Never been to Sri Lanka, never plan to go to Sri Lanka. "Don't do this, or you'll be banned from Sri Lanka!" is a pretty empty threat to me. Likewise, "Don't be an asshole, or you'll be banned from the community of non-assholes!" doesn't work, since they don't WANT to be part of the community of non-assholes, and never WERE part of it.)

    It can work (I've seen it work) in smaller communities that are heavily moderated, and which offer sufficient value to the members that they're willing to play by the rules rather than risk exile. The larger the community, the harder it is to accomplish this. (Also, the harder it is to reach a consensus on just what is unacceptable behavior.)

    Convince me I'm wrong. (Again, not being snarky. I'd like to hear a convincing argument that this can work on any kind of scale. The sheer bulk of idiocy out there seems to defy any kind of "one asshole at a time" solution, at least to me.)

  14. Tarrou says:

    ITT, one can see the pack leader of the blog cast about for a foil on which to prove his dominance. As nothing presents itself, he thrashes an anonymous commenter from another website. The female of the blog species is quick to reward this display with a bit-hug and a Freudian slip. Lesser males are quick to add their voices to the chorus cheering the leader's conquest. This mock-battle and mating ritual will be repeated as necessary. It is a vital part of web-pack behavior.

  15. Ken White says:

    ITT, one can see the pack leader of the blog cast about for a foil on which to prove his dominance. As nothing presents itself, he thrashes an anonymous commenter from another website. The female of the blog species is quick to reward this display with a bit-hug and a Freudian slip. Lesser males are quick to add their voices to the chorus cheering the leader's conquest. This mock-battle and mating ritual will be repeated as necessary. It is a vital part of web-pack behavior.

    This is about how many comments I expected before someone dropped the "white knight" routine, the favorite line of the MRA trash.

    Tarrou, why do you keep coming here? You clearly don't like it, you don't contribute anything of value, nobody wants you, and you're not welcome.

  16. That Anonymous Coward says:

    MOOBS OR GTFO!

    :D

    Feel better now?

    There is a perception that women are delicate and should be protected, and this leads to the insanity we face. They demand to be treated as equals… up until it offends someone (not necessarily the target).

    Shocking thing some of those with penii might not be aware of, women can be just as catty, evil, vile and foul as men. They use different terms (sometimes) but its there.

    Someone using cunt, is trying to rile people up… and it has great success. I'm not saying its wonderful they do it, but there seems to be a bit more drama about it. Maybe if the response to a woman being called a cunt wasn't instant 'support group response' but instead a good comeback, they'd give up using the word because the desired response isn't there.

    But my view is a bit different… no one suggests you sleep with animals, molest children, stab religious morons with AIDS tainted rings and have it accepted as fact, used as reasons to see you as less of a human. It annoys me, but I don't collapse into a heap on the floor in tears… I call them fscking assholes, other nice things and move on.

    On the internet no one knows your a dog.
    Lesson 1 'So you were called a *insert term here*'
    Why are you letting the words of 1 person who knows nothing about you dictate your entire self-image.
    Don't fall into the trap of those 'well meaning' people who want that term to have victimized you.
    If your not willing to stand up for yourself, why should anyone else?

    This is name calling on a playground, just because its on the internet makes it no different. If you stand up to the bully, they back off… if you fold they keep coming back to the well.
    If they have to put you down to feel better about themselves, you should pity them… and that pisses them off.

  17. jtf says:

    Ken, I really hope posting the article about Penny Arcade is implying that Gabe and Mike's doubling down on their tasteless dickwolves jokes are going around the bend, not the people who object to openly misogynistic asshattery. It's not clear from the context of your link whether you agree with the perspective of the article…

  18. Ken White says:

    Excluding people who already think of themselves as put-upon victims just feeds their own delusional narrative. Shunning people who aren't part of the community that's shunning them deprives them of nothing.

    Private communities can exercise their freedom of association to create groups they like. Places like Vox Day's blog and the Slymepit and other places where folks feel the culture is lacking if they can't have their value affirmed for saying "cunt" a lot can thrive with like minded folks. Places where people don't enjoy folks like that can make their own communities.

    In genuinely public spaces, robust free speech rights can let people speak as they wish, let people respond with the more speech remedy, and then folks can make more choices about how to order their private spaces based on how they see their peers behave in the public spaces.

  19. Ken White says:

    @jtf:

    Ken, I really hope posting the article about Penny Arcade is implying that Gabe and Mike's doubling down on their tasteless dickwolves jokes are going around the bend, not the people who object to openly misogynistic asshattery. It's not clear from the context of your link whether you agree with the perspective of the article…

    I didn't find the original comic offensive. But I found the indignantly entitled response to criticism from Team Dickwolf — the "how dare you bitches censor me by criticizing my speech" — to be completely unbalanced.

  20. Tarrou says:

    @ Dan,

    I think you'd find if you tried to read all comments on things females post, you'd find a lot of substantive disagreement along with the occasional inappropriate sexist insult. Really depends on the site. Youtube? Lotta kids, lotta bullshit. Guys are gonna get called fags, girls gonna get called cunts. You play in the sewer, you get stinky. Doesn't make it polite, or nice, or appropriate, but as Lizard is pointing out, it's pretty hard to do anything effective about it.

    Read Althouse, McArdle, Hoyt and check the comments. You'll see a lot of disagreement, some respectful, some not, but even the disrespect is aimed at intellect usually, not appearance. It's about the audience, not the speaker. And speakers don't always choose their audience.

  21. James Pollock says:

    I would agree that rhetorical (as opposed to physical) attacks made against women are different from those made against men. And you can probably substitute in any other categories you like, and still be correct about the types of attacks being different.

    When someone goes on the attack, they're trying to be hurtful. They're trying to be the most hurtful they can be, which means they try to attack you in the areas where you're weakest. How do they know where you're weakest? By the response they provoke. The bigger the response, the more likely someone who's trying to hurt you is going to return to that topic. Someone who's interested enough in you personally to probe your responses sufficiently to find your specific weaknesses will do that; most can't be bothered so they fall back on the old standbys.

    Of course, there's an argument to be made that insulting a woman by suggesting she isn't smart or capable doesn't work, because they hear that crap so often it barely registers anymore.

    There is a fundamental difference between the sexes. It's not universal, but it is generally true that men pursue and women choose. Therefore, an attack on appearance represents a double whammy… people of your reproductive plumbing are only good for one thing, and you individually are not even worth that.

    The problem isn't the exact mechanism by which people attempt to be hurtful, it's that they make the attempt at all. This is something that can be minimized somewhat, but the anonymity of the Internet and the personal distance between the players means that the Internet will remain a place where many, many hurtful things are said and done.
    Alas.

  22. Nettie says:

    @lizard I think a lot of what people want around this issue is just recognition that it IS an issue. For now it is a reality that women will face vitriolic comments when posting online, especially if on anything outside classically female topics, such as cooking and parenting blogs. That's not cool, but I think it will slowly change overall (most likely through generations as views about women keep changing overall) but what is useful now is just pointing out what's happening, as Ken is doing here. It will also change more quickly in certain mediums or sites as specific bloggers or conventions or whatever the forum choose to do the work to make it a safe space for dialogue etc, whether that's more effective and public harassment policies, comment moderation, or just social policies within certain groups where you are ostracized for this type of behavior. One of the most frustrating things I've experienced when trying to dialogue with friends and family about these sorts of issues is the idea that these sorts of discussions don't matter, that's this stuff is just being over-hyped, or that 'women and men are really already equal, look at how they can work whenever they want' that completely ignores the more subtle aspects of sexism that are so much harder to actually change, let alone the more blatant cases such as these. But just being aware of the ways in which it IS different and discussing them goes a long way in subtly changing our own behaviors and attitudes. Just because social change is slow does not mean that it won't be effective in the end. But we can also choose to speed it up in our own communities, at least, through how we handle situations like this that occur around us.

    Also @tom, I admit I'm not sure how much of your comment is being facetious, but if you think that the only reason that girl received comments like that is because she made a video where viewers could see her, then I think you missed the point of the post-this stuff most definitely happens to women who post articles or blog posts, whether or not they ever have images of themselves associated with those posts. Ex. Follow the link to the post about rebecca watson above. (Under the word 'talked'). And men making videos with man boobs showing ( may get a few comments about physical appearance, but it will not get linked to the validity of their arguments or be accompanied by the vitriol or rape threats as it so often does for women.

  23. Lizard says:

    @Ken: I may be communicating poorly, since it's well past my bedtime. You're discussing things that are effective when dealing with small-scale communities. I'm discussing things on the scale this post originally addressed YouTube and similar sites with millions or tens of millions of users and economic/technological restrictions that make any kind of real moderation infeasible.

    Let me try to summarize what I'm seeing as the key points. You can tell me which I'm wrong about.

    a)Women are more likely to be insulted on the basis of their gender than on their ideas. We are both in agreement that this is true, and, moreover, that this is wrongful behavior, and that those who engage in it are evil.

    b)The use of laws to prevent this is morally wrong, legally unfeasible, and pragmatically stupid.

    c)You are arguing that the use of "more speech" can alter the social equation to the degree that this behavior is pushed more and more to the fringe across most publicly-accessible spaces (not the same as "public spaces"), so that only communities set up to harbor and welcome reprobates will commonly see such posts.

    d)I am arguing that the larger the community, the harder it is to influence behavior in a positive way on any kind of scale. If one opposes both misogyny *and* censorship, one is placed in the position of saying "If you choose to use the sites with the largest possible reach to place your message, you implicitly accept an unjust, biased, and unfair response that cannot be meaningfully stopped, limited, or controlled. If you can't deal with that, use smaller communities which are better managed, and lose a good chunk of your audience." In the long term, concerted effort by people to regularly, constantly, and continuously say, "No! Bad monkey! The tribe rejects you!" to the misogynists may cause a social shift even in the largest public spaces, but this can take years or decades.

    Hopefully, I'm making some kind of sense. Apologies if I'm not. I may regret this in the morning.

  24. Nettie says:

    @james I get what you're saying, but I think I would disagree a little, at least from my point of view as a woman on the internet. This sort of stupid sexist response offends me less because the commenter does not think I'm pretty or something, and more because they act like my arguments are worth less than my appearance. So I would actually say it's even worse than someone just straight out saying 'your arguments are shit' since it's still implying that by apparently ignoring my arguments as not even worth responding too. If that makes sense :-) I could care less what a stranger on the internet actually thinks about my appearance, but I have a harder time with keeping a thick skin to the degrading of my mental capabilities.

  25. mythago says:

    @Lizard, "there is nothing that can be done about it" is untrue. The losers are proud of their behavior because they have so many supporters and enablers; I mean, look at this very thread where we have commenters insisting that such things don't really happen and even if they do, the bitches asked for it by not covering up appropriately.

    Whereas if the losers were treated to widespread shunning, shaming, bozofiltering and banning, they'd be forced to go find their community of anxious dudebros elsewhere, instead of clotting up the entire groudon Internet.

    BTW, like Ken, I didn't find the original PA strip terribly offensive (though I completely understand why some people did). The ongoing, childish refusal to let the matter rest because how dare you question the great Krahulik?! is the offensive part.

  26. Ken White says:

    @Lizard:

    Hopefully, I'm making some kind of sense. Apologies if I'm not. I may regret this in the morning.

    You're making sense.

    I understand what you mean about the larger vs. smaller communities. Larger communities will always be problematical. Trolls will always be problematical. But in the time I've been on the internet — pretty much constantly since college, in one form or another — I've seen racism be steadily more marginalized in the large spaces. That is, overt racists are more likely to be called out and treated with the disrespect they deserve, as opposed to just treated as normal participants and their conduct winked at. I think conduct like that demonstrated by the asshole featured in this post can slowly be treated that way as well. Trolls will always be trolls, but some people aren't exactly trolls — they want to be accepted and seen as cool and funny.

    Similarly, in the outside world, overt racism in public is much more likely to draw negative comment or shunning in public spaces than it did when I was a yout.

  27. James Pollock says:

    "men making videos with man boobs showing ( may get a few comments about physical appearance, but it will not get linked to the validity of their arguments or be accompanied by the vitriol or rape threats as it so often does for women."

    Or, it will, but not with nearly the same frequency.
    (Why? Because collectively men are not as sensitive on the subject of their boobs as women are. Hell, a significant number of them aren't even aware of them in any meaningful way.)

    More fundamentally, men and women get treated differently because men and women are different. On the one hand, the differences are not always relevant. On the other hand, they are always present.

    Tall people get treated differently than short people.
    Attractive people get treated differently than less-attractive people.
    Blondes get treated differently from brunettes get treated differently from redheads get treated differently from pink-, blue-, and/or green-haired people.
    Lefties get treated differently from righties

    The problem isn't people being treated differently from each other (individually or in classes), it's people being mean and hurtful to each other, on purpose. Call THAT out. Mock THAT. Shame and exclude the people who insist on doing THAT.

  28. Tarrou says:

    @ mythago,

    ("I mean, look at this very thread where we have commenters insisting that such things don't really happen and even if they do, the bitches asked for it by not covering up appropriately.")

    Who said that?

  29. Robert says:

    *I* call both men and women "cunts." Am I more enlightened than most?

  30. Nettie says:

    "The problem isn't people being treated differently from each other (individually or in classes), it's people being mean and hurtful to each other, on purpose. Call THAT out. Mock THAT. Shame and exclude the people who insist on doing THAT."

    Okay, I guess I don't get why I wouldn't call out the fact that someone being mean is stemming from a viewpoint that two groups are different rather than the actual situation? (ex. Here this girl really doesn't get why free speech is more important on a college campus than her bring protected from others views) Especially since I don't accept the premise that men and women are so fundamentally different. Yes, the core problem here is that people are being mean and ignoring the actual subject, and yes YouTube is notorious for that type of behavior, but no I'm not going to stop mentioning how this type of response disproportionately happens to women solely based on their gender. And yes I would choose to shame people for being assholes whether or not there were gender or racial or any other biases behind their stupid statements. But I'm not going to just accept differing treatment of genders or any group as okay or act like my disagreement with that is not a core part of my elevated annoyance in these type of situations.

  31. James Pollock says:

    "I get what you're saying, but I think I would disagree a little, at least from my point of view as a woman on the internet."

    Far be it for me to overstep by trying to tell you what you think and/or feel. I think I had it pretty close, though.

    Anyways, dudes can get some pretty rough treatment related to their physicality with regard to their electronic communications. Ask Andrew Weiner.

    As a comparison apropos of nothing, what percentage of all "racy" photos of men will draw a response of "ugh, nobody wants to see that", compared with the percentage of all "racy" photos of women?

  32. Ken White says:

    Anyways, dudes can get some pretty rough treatment related to their physicality with regard to their electronic communications. Ask Andrew Weiner.

    As a comparison apropos of nothing, what percentage of all "racy" photos of men will draw a response of "ugh, nobody wants to see that", compared with the percentage of all "racy" photos of women?

    I think comparing the reaction to Miley Cyrus and Anthony Weiner is useful. Both were rough, based on their use of physicality in an inappropriate manner.

    Also useful is a comparison of, say, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. Kerry gets some generalized caricature-making about his appearance, and occasional appearance-based insults, but it's nothing remotely close to the "ugh how ugly" Clinton gets.

  33. Tarrou says:

    @ Nettie,

    As Pollock and I have noted, insults differ by gender because of the differing general insecurity of the gender. For instance, a guy lashing out at a girl is likely to insult her appearance. A guy lashing out at a guy is likely to denigrate his masculinity. A girl lashing out at a guy is likely to focus on his sexual ability, to emasculate. From what I've seen, women don't often get accused of being bad in bed, or unable to get laid. That's a male insecurity, and such a deep one that males are actually less likely to use it on each other.

    I'm with you to the point of thinking that behavior like this is rude. But focusing on the difference seems a bit odd to me. Is it less offensive to be called a "dickless loser" than a "fat bitch"? It smacks of some chauvinist thinking, that men can "take" being insulted about their deepest insecurities, but it is somehow specially horrific if women are. The fact that we have different insecurities is not really the point.

  34. David says:

    Also useful is a comparison of, say, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. Kerry gets some generalized caricature-making about his appearance, and occasional appearance-based insults, but it's nothing remotely close to the "ugh how ugly" Clinton gets.

    Ah, but those who revile her are unwittingly playing into her hands. ;)

  35. Nettie says:

    @james in reading your comment I may have reacted a little more strongly than needed–let me adjust a little. the reason that I don't just condemn haters as haters in this sort of situation is actually coming out of something you said in passing: I'm offended not as much by the crass speech as by the fact that irrelevant differences between groups are being used to downplay her ideas, rather than actually arguing her flawed premise. So if someone ignored someone else's speech because they were a lefty and therefore probably closer to the devil, then it should provoke a similar response. It doesn't, however, because criticism is very rarely based on irrelevant differences between the other groups you mentioned, but it is commonly associated with downloading a woman's ideas. So I am and will continue to react stronger to sexist comments rather than leftist comments because they are a common thing today, and you don't see people criticized for getting to short or similar in today's world. But if I did it is fair to expect that I should be offended in that situation too.

  36. BC says:

    Dude, it's Youtube. The comments are almost always horrible. Racism and misogyny are par for the course.

  37. Dan says:

    @Tarrou: so, the insults differ on the what the sexes take as insulting. Does that make it any better? Does that make it less insulting? Both are insulting…but I do find more gender or sex based insults on the Internet to be more prevalent, in my personal experience.

  38. a_random_guy says:

    Tarrou nailed it. Women are trolled and insulted in different ways from men. Best shot at insulting a woman you don't know? Call her fat, ugly and slutty. Best shot at insulting a man you don't know? Call him gay, stupid, and cowardly. This happens often enough; surely you have seen it in trolling comments on Popehat.

    Another aspect of biology also plays into this: Men have a natural tendency to protect women. Hence, decent types are offended by needlessly insulting comments directed at women.

    We can too easily start believing that the world is a more hostile place for women than it really is. An example I ran across just yesterday, because Venus Williams was playing in the US open. It struck me that she was significantly overweight; you don't normally see overweight top athletes, aside from specific disciplines like shotput and discus. While watching the match, I surfed around a bit, to see if there was any information available.

    What I came across were vehement blog posts saying that it was crass to notice on her weight, that people were commenting on this only because she was a woman, that people would never make such comments about a man. This is simply not true. If I saw Rafael Nadal suddenly sporting a pot belly, I would have wondered exactly the same thing: what's going on, that a top athlete handicaps him- or herself by carrying around an extra 20 pounds.

    The point is: I think we jump to the defense of women, not because they are insulted more often than men, but because it is in our nature to do so.

  39. Erwin says:

    Yes. But, my wife would just laugh. And mention Obama was elected before Hillary. Societal norms in terms of race tend to be a couple of decades ahead of those in terms of sex. Not much to do about it – excepting killing the old people faster. Long-term, I hope your daughters will suffer less than you wife.

    But yah, women are judged on appearances far more than men are. It isn't fair. I'd even have to admit that I sometimes image search women who write blogs.

    Although, I wonder a bit. Nearly every female blogger puts her image up somewhere. I haven't found the same to be true of the men. Not sure why that it.

    –Erwin

  40. Nettie says:

    @tarrou actually I think you just hit on a good point, one that has annoyed me some in the discussion above: the insults falling along gender lines are fundamentally about the insecurities of the insult giver not the receiver. There's been a few comments that annoyed me because they seem to suggest that women complaining about being called a cunt or fat must be insecure about their appearance, when I actually find the offense to be that someone would comment on my appearance before engaging my argument. But what's actually reflected is not that I'm insecure by being annoyed but that the insult er is showing their insecurity by finding no better way to engage than through sexist comments. And in that sense any rhetoric that degrades to personal insult does this. So thanks that just opened my eyes a little to what was bothering me sbout some of the discussion.

  41. Ryan says:

    Ken's post is bang on, and is why racists, misogynists, and homophobes who use the Internet to anonymously spread their bullshit should be outed, mocked, and marginalized as much as possible by the rest of us.

    I am very fond of public shaming when it comes to that sort of behaviour. Guaranteed a lot of these Internet "tough guys" who attack people based on race/gender/orientation would be a lot less vocal in their parents' living room.

  42. James Pollock says:

    "I don't accept the premise that men and women are so fundamentally different."
    A simple visual inspection should suffice. Sometimes the fact that men and women are different matters, sometimes it doesn't. There are wildly varying opinions on which specific cases fit into each category, many of the different opinions are non-offensive and cultural, and some are just nuts. To see what I mean about varying opinions, some women prefer to be homemakers, and be married to someone who is the primary breadwinner, some prefer to be the breadwinner, some prefer co-equal roles, and some prefer to live independently and not have children. All of these are equally valid. Some prefer to REQUIRE others to choose one (or, even more often, require others to accord with THEIR choice); these are wrong.

    The notion that men and women are equal is ideal; they are not. Women who choose to have children carry them for nine months during which they are increasingly limited as to what else they may be doing; men who want to have children are not so limited, or at least, not by biology. Ripples spread from there… many career tracks require extensive dedication to professional development. Pregnancy affects that dedication. It may well be that a woman can do this job as well as a man can (that depends on exactly which men and which women are applying for it, God distributes talents and skills as He sees fit.) Even accepting that the pool of applicants contains both men and women who are fully capable of doing the job, it is statistically more likely that a woman will want to take time off to start a family, and if she does, it is likely to take longer for her to return to work. It's also statistically more likely that she decides not to return. So, in hiring someone, may I take that statistical difference into account? No, I may not ask about whether or not a woman job candidate plans to start or extend her family during her time of employment. So, consciously or unconsciously, I may be more likely to hire a man for the job, if it requires intensive dedication and single-minded devotion. Not every time, and not if there's a woman candidate who's clearly stronger than any of the male candidates, but it happens enough to show a statistical trend.

    OK, well, the business world was well and truly infiltrated by gyno-Americans ever since WWII, and business adapted. OK, they adapted by adding "mommy-track" career tracks, to accomodate those women who wanted to "work/life balance" (many women who were willing to forego family life, of course, still succeeded in "total dedication" mode, as did those who had spouses secure enough to let her be focused on career. As I said, it wasn't a question of whether they had the skill or talent to do the job.) Then, over the last couple of decades, it turned out that men would take "mommy track" jobs, too, in pursuit of that work/life balance and time with their kids. You can do that if you aren't the sole breadwinner, as most families have two breadwinners today, this is financially workable for the non-ambitious.
    Does a "mommy-track" job lead to the top executive roles in American business? It does not. Those jobs continue to go to those people who spent an entire career in dedicated pursuit of advancement and were not distracted by things like kids or family.
    So. The fact that women gestate offspring within their bodies (if they choose to have them, of course) leads to the fact that very few large corporations are headed by women.

  43. Stephen H says:

    Wait, nobody's said anything to you about tiny members yet?

  44. Nettie says:

    @james I'm sorry that I'm not going to give you a long reply to your post, but this is really not the forum for this argument. All I will say is that the only fundamental difference you mentioned is the fact that a woman carries children for 9 months, and many of the results of that that you mentioned are not core to that fact but rather are reflections of long traditions that still play out in our culture even when we don't stick to the actual traditions. So yes those statistics are true but not all directly result from the 9 month gestation. And, as I mentioned in my second comment reply on this subject, the problem is mostly that irrelevent differences are used as rhetoric, rather than the differences themselves. So perhaps, to be true to my actual beliefs, I should start saying that I think there are no relevant differences between men and women (including the supposed way that differences in gendered insults relates to fundamental differences in genders rather than common insecurities that currently fall along gendered lines in our culture) rather than no fundamental differences. I will try to update my rhetoric on that point in the future.

  45. Vermin says:

    Several other commentors have already said it: You can't compare reactions to your writing, which are made almost exclusively by people who can read with the comments posted on Youtube, which are left largely by people who can't.

  46. Nettie says:

    @vermin lol, very true. Although this response type is not limited to YouTube

  47. Grifter says:

    @Ken:

    "I've thought about this more as I think about the experience my daughters will have on the internet. "

    Oh, I'm pretty sure between the goons you could immediately call to bear, and more specifically the IT goons you could immediately call to bear, you can rest relatively easy regarding your daughters. We'll fuck a dickweed up (a rhetorical flourish not intended to indicate anything that isn't within the bounds of the law at all times, of course).

    Which doesn't justify poor behavior, or the society which creates it, but is intended merely to point out that I wager the Popehat Community would be as effective a tool as the shotgun you'll undoubtedly casually bring out when they start dating.

  48. James Pollock says:

    This thread has brought to mind two punchlines:

    1) A woman has to be twice as smart as a man to be thought half as good. Fortunately, this is not difficult.

    2) The Calvin and Hobbes cartoon that ends with Susie saying something like "the thought of you groveling at some girl's feet asking for a date to the junior prom".

    Note that this brings up a point in support of my thesis… Watterson didn't catch any flak for all the sexist words he put in Calvin's mouth, because although CALVIN was certainly mean on the topic, Watterson wasn't.

  49. mud man says:

    You (guys) can't criticize a man's manly body because people would think you're a fag, or else homosexual. And that would be Wrong.

  50. Clark says:

    @Tarrou

    It's not that mysterious, Ken. Men and women are treated differently because they are different. If you want to hurt a man, you insult his competence, his masculinity, his pride. If you want a cheap shot at a woman, it's hard to beat going after their looks. We are all insecure about different things, but there are general patterns, including some gender patterns

    BAM. Debate won.

    Note that even women – and even feminists – follow this pattern.

  51. Clark says:

    @Tali McPike

    the lust of reasons for me to hug you when I first meet you keep growing.

    list not lust! That was awkward…Damn autocorrect

    You misspelled "Damn Freudian slip".

    ;-)

  52. Walter says:

    Was that a Sherlock Holmes reference?

  53. Clark says:

    Ryan

    Guaranteed a lot of these Internet "tough guys" who attack people based on race/gender/orientation would be a lot less vocal in their parents' living room.

    My favorite thing on the internet is the undercover cop who is the only one professional enough to handle a Glock.

    My second favorite thing on the internet is the Racist EMT Cries Like a Baby When Confronted About Being Racist

  54. grouch says:


    Not much to do about it – excepting killing the old people faster.
    – Erwin

    Watch it, pup. We're already racing to the grave.

    Trolling's trolling, whether the chosen bait is racism, sexism or other. Don't feed the trolls. They either die off or go chum more favorable waters. I suspect that ubiquitous Internet advice has played a significant role in the marginalization over time that Ken mentioned in a comment above. I think even Miss Manners would approve of the technique.

    P.S.: Please don't tell anyone I'm an old fat gay black transvestite leader of a Nazi satanic cult of Jewish furries. People can be so insensitive about eating disorders on the intartubes.

    P.P.S.: Racism is not tightly bound to age. Back when I was a white boy growing up in a tiny southern town, I watched in awe as a busload of Freedom Riders disembarked and crowded into my mother's little restaurant. Only about half would fit at a time. The one waitress employed there asked my mother, "What if there's trouble?" Mom said, "Well, if they don't start it, they won't have it", grabbed her notepad and started taking orders.

    Some of us old folks learned about the stupidity of racism from even older folks.

  55. Another Woman says:

    a_random_guy sed: "Best shot at insulting a woman you don't know? Call her fat, ugly and slutty. Best shot at insulting a man you don't know? Call him gay, stupid, and cowardly."

    The key word here is "insulting". WHY "insults" in the first place where there has been no dialogue first to-degenerate-into-from? What is this need to leap right in with nothing constructive AT ALL to say? I suppose that is yet another discussion about human nature…

  56. Troutwaxer says:

    Guys who make comments like "Shut up bitch and make me a sammich!" are merely compensating for their tiny penises.

  57. Mike says:

    Interesting… I've seen guys being told that they carry gun because they have a small penis, that they are a fag and a bitch, that they're a white-privileged nazi asshole, that prison rape is an entirely acceptable punishment for pretty much any crime, and that they are fat, slovenly neckbeards who could never impress a woman. Some of those I have been called personally…

    Also, you don't usually post videos of yourself, so there isn't much opportunity to critique your appearance.

    I don't disagree that there is plenty of horrible misogyny floating around the internet. I'm still not entirely convinced that your hate mail from people who are interested in reading law blog articles is a direct comparison to a woman's treatment on youtube.

  58. tom says:

    It's not just insults, it's stalking and the threats of physical violence and rape directed towards women that are rarely directed towards men. See this account by a woman who led a campaign to get more women (besides the Queen) portrayed on British currency.

  59. Tarrou says:

    @ Another Woman,

    Yes, we are kind of taking gratuitous insults for granted here in this discussion. Unfortunately, as John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad theory shows, normal people, plus an audience and anonymity equal gigantic douchebags sometimes.

    I actually think Ken's soft-Spanish-Inquisition plan has merit when applied to real life. Shame and social opprobrium are powerful motivators. On the internet, however, there is always a dank corner for offenders to go back to. There are always like-minded people to associate with and bolster one's freakish ideas, whether it's misogyny or auto-erotic furries. It's common for the denizens of some sites to "raid" another site, often picked nearly at random, and deluge it with the most inappropriate comments they can. It's like internet TPing. At the end of the day, I think it's impractical and a little self-righteous to try to police the interwubs.

    Nothing wrong with defending one's own space, if you have a site and don't want insane trolls, the banhammer is how to do that. But places like Youtube comments? It's just counterproductive and subject to abuse. How easy it is, once you get the ability to ban or marginalize "trolls" to begin to see "trolling" in every disagreement.

    Finally, I ask what is the most healthy way for both men and women to respond to insults like this? Shrieking outrage and riling up an internet "Two-Minutes-of-Hate" isn't really productive for the victims. This is not to excuse those who are rude enough to go directly to insults, and uncreative enough to use the crudest available. I just know from experience that getting butthurt over insults is a pretty good way to get insulted more. I'm sure this will be misinterpreted as "victim blaming", but it is not at all. It is meant to help, in all sincerity. The best way to not get insulted is to not be insulted. This is why I think all of this is counterproductive, because it encourages people to take internet trolls seriously, and to take a lot of offense. You can remove the sting of most insults by facing your insecurities. They only hurt to the degree you think they are true. Once that is done, the immature are easily dismissed.

  60. Bill says:

    All this commentary over free speech overshadows the REAL issue:

    Ken has man-boobs. ;)

  61. Doctor Duck says:

    I don't know how well it would work on a site as massive (and as infected) as YouTube, but community reputation systems — voting posts up/down and moving them higher or lower, down to invisibility, based on how the community sees them, seem to be effective on smaller sites.

    This of course presumes that the community disfavors the sort of trolling and gratuitous insults being discussed here. But — call me Pollyanna — I think most internet communities do, and would effectively shun the ones that try to poison the well.

  62. Dan says:

    But does Clark have man boobs?

    OK seriously. Obviously, like Ken, I deplore the response. That said, can we talk about how awful that freakin' video was? Was she trying to be ironic? "Opinions can be expressed anywhere," she says in disgust. She tears a petition out of someone's hand. It's just horrible.

  63. Jeremy says:

    I think you're full of shit on this topic Ken.

    Number one, I don't think you often recreationally post comments or videos on Youtube (correct me if I'm wrong here, you just don't seem the type to make that your primary conversation zone). So you're likely comparing Youtube comments to comments on other serious-topic blogs. Youtube comments are known, and have been known for years to be just about the worst on the internet. They're poorly moderated and limited in character content. Worse still, lesser-educated people are often feeling the need to comment on 1,2, even 3 hour long videos with about 200 characters, with that mix of content disparity of course it's going to bring out the worst in ad hominem.

    Second, and don't think I haven't watched this series of posts of yours, women give it back just as bad as they get it. I've spent two decades on message boards, I've moderated game-specific message boards. I can tell you with no small amount of experience that I've seen women drive men nearly to suicide on the internet. I've witnessed it. And it still happens. What doesn't happen is media reporting on it when men swallow a barrel. The media is obsessed with the health and well-being of white women, so we *always* hear about it when some young girl embarrasses herself enough on the toobz to then tragically take her own life later. What is never discussed is anyone else being harmed with bullying.

    I would also argue that women tend to put much much greater value displaying their appearance online. This makes perfect sense when you think about it, since the greatest female power in society right now rests on their sex appeal. But when you put so much emphasis on displaying yourself as women do, you open yourself up to another side of disparaging comment entirely. When I watch Vlogs on Youtube, I see far far far far more women put their face in front of the camera and speak. There's TONS of men who make serious, cogent arguments, but NEVER display their appearance. Men instinctively know that it's better to avoid the whackos who will take offense at your cleft-lip rather than your words. Women seem to want to put their face out there (and I can't really blame them), but it invites comments like the one you point out. It invites them not because they are women, but because the women choose to put their face in front of the camera far more often.

    I don't think we'll ever agree on this Ken since you continue to insist on some kind of internet-wide conspiracy to treat the ladies like crap. I honestly think you have no idea what you're talking about on this topic.

  64. Ken White says:

    I don't think we'll ever agree on this Ken since you continue to insist on some kind of internet-wide conspiracy to treat the ladies like crap

    A conspiracy is an agreement by specific individuals. The situation would be significantly less disturbing and creepy if it were that, instead of a cultural phenomenon.

  65. Yes. But, my wife would just laugh. And mention Obama was elected before Hillary. Societal norms in terms of race tend to be a couple of decades ahead of those in terms of sex.

    I think this represents the sort of improper generalization that makes some people push back on this issue. You jump from "there's disturbingly mysoginistic comments on youtube" to "therefore people who didn't vote for Hillary Clinton were doing so because they're mysoginists too". After enough time getting blamed for other people's you tube comments, a lot of people just start tuning out whenever the topic comes up.

  66. Katie says:

    Um, everyone seems to have gravitated back towards people just calling a few bad names. I think there's a difference between troglodytes saying that you're stupid or should go back in the kitchen or whatever nonsense. Would I prefer that I never heard that and my daughters never did? Sure. I'm not going to melt in a little puddle — I mean, if you start valuing the opinions of idiots on the internet, you're going to have all sorts of issues in life. OTOH, people threatening violence on your kids? People are supposed to shrug that off? Uh, no! That's why calling people mean names is legal, and threatening them with violence *isn't*. It seems pretty clear to me.

  67. Ken White says:

    @Clark:

    My second favorite thing on the internet is the Racist EMT Cries Like a Baby When Confronted About Being Racist

    I liked that story too.

    But remember what happened to the female reporter on the story?

  68. Ken White says:

    Possibly relevant cultural interlude: internet pickup artist rhapsodizes about his "seed."

  69. Camilla Fox says:

    One thing to be done is to cultivate forums where gender cues are much scarcer than they are on youtube; if you come out as female after days of people assuming (uncorrected) that you are male, the trolls are somewhat deterred. Even better for a forum is to have men who tolerate being misgendered for a while before correcting it.

    I have one foot solidly in the real-name-identity-online world, but it amuses me to occasionally pass as male online (and much more rarely offline).

  70. Tarrou says:

    Brings an interesting conundrum about "confronting" people about racism/sexism/whatever. Is what they write on the internet more important than what they actually do in real life?

    Who sits in the moral high ground, someone who posts terrible things about X group, but helps save their lives, or someone who defends X group on the internet, and hounds the first person out of their job?

    I recall one girlfriend I had many moons ago, whose father was one of the more aggressively anti-black people I've met. He was a firefighter in downtown Detroit, spent forty years pulling various minorities from structure fires. Every award in the business, a for-real gold-plated hero. I daresay for all the objectionable things he said, I could never help as many black people as he did.

    A lot of people seem to be assuming that opinions (stipulating fallacious, hurtful and vile opinions) are the worst thing a person can do. But I've seen enough to think that actions matter a lot more. To be clear, this does not excuse bad opinions, only attempts to place them in context. Ultimately, it matters less to me what people say, or post, than what they do.

  71. Bryan Hann says:

    Ken says: "Tarrou, why do you keep coming here? You clearly don't like it, you don't contribute anything of value, nobody wants you, and you're not welcome."

    Nettie says: '[Tarrou,] actually I think you just hit on a good point, one that has annoyed me some in the discussion above … So thanks that just opened my eyes a little to what was bothering me sbout some of the discussion."

  72. Tarrou says:

    @ Katie,

    Right on, sister.

  73. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    Might I suggest that part of the difference is that while there are a few other blogs attempting rational analysis of legal issues there is a vast oversupply of privileged young white women whining about how other people's constitutional right aren't as important as their tender sensibilities. College campuses seem to breed them like cockroaches, and their self-important diatribes bring out the worst in people.

  74. David W says:

    I've mixed feelings on this one. On the one hand, I think Ken's mostly right about the topic. There's really only one place I see people insulted for being male, and that's feminist blogs. Most other places will insult you plenty, but they'll find something else to point to when they do it.

    On the other hand – I've literally never seen an insightful Youtube comment. Go to the effort of removing the trash, and you're left with just insipid and banal. It doesn't seem worth the effort. There's really only a few places on the internet where comments are worth reading at all. This is one of them, and that problem isn't particularly prevalent here. Most people here address actual ideas, rather than look for a convenient club to beat others with.

    I just can't get worked up over the trolls. There's too much else wrong with the world.

  75. sorrykb says:

    Tom (first commenter Tom, in case there are two Toms here) wrote:

    Ken, I haven't seen any video's of you mincing around in cloths that show off your manboobs and cottage cheese thighs.

    I'm hoping you're being facetious. It's hard to tell, though, because comments like this are said in earnest all the time. (I believe that's one of the points of Ken's post.)
    If not… If a man makes a video (even a video saying stupid things), it's highly unlikely people will suggest he deserves abuse because he's "mincing about" in revealing clothing.

  76. Lizard says:

    I haven't found the same to be true of the men. Not sure why that it.

    Speaking for myself, it's because I fear lawsuits caused by severe mental harm incurred upon seeing my visage, which is something a "reasonable man" should have foreseen, so that placing such images is almost certainly negligence on my part.

  77. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    "If you want to hurt a man, you insult his competence, his masculinity, his pride."

    Interesting premise.

    If it is asserted that men are more likely to use insults irrelevant to a topic than to engage that topic directly, the competence of those men in debate is called into question. Calling a man out for their use of the term "fatty" or similar to dismiss a woman's point on free speech is hurtful to the man – you have impugned his competence to debate that topic.

    Then you have masculinity. Toughness, competitiveness, "strength": all of these fall under the stereotypical connotations of what is "masculine". Therefore, if it is asserted that men show weakness by resorting to whining or name calling on the internet more than women, their masculinity is denigrated. If it is implied that they are less able to shrug off insult or personal attack than a woman, then the men appear weaker. If a woman does have it harder than a man on the internet then she is playing on the hardcore difficulty setting as opposed to the man's casual. Therefore his masculine, competitive feelings are hurt.

    Finally, if it is implied or directly argued that a man has it easier than another in a given situation – such as using the internet – you have ascribed that man to to the weaker position. His pride is hurt by saying he has an advantage. Stuff to be proud of (intelligence, wisdom, ability) is less necessary if one has an advantage given to them. If that man then "loses the internet" (competitiveness again) in a discussion he has lost despite an advantageous starting point which is more humiliating than a more balanced defeat. His pride has been butthurted.

    Take all that together and we have apparently solved any gender based hostility on the internet. If we assume, for the sake of argument, that the internet is a more inhospitable place for women than it is for men, then pointing out that situation to a man on the internet balances the gender specific hostility. After all -

    "If you want to hurt a man, you insult his competence, his masculinity, his pride."

    How tidy.

  78. pelican says:

    Ken, I'm wondering what you think of how John Scalzi has handled this on his blog Whatever? He's run into a few of the lovely little trolls you've mentioned. His responses have been pretty genius- asking his commentators to donate to RAINN every time the trolls or their sockpuppets commented (raised around $50k), "kittening" their comments, and supporting efforts to institute social consequences in real life, like getting a serial IRL harasser/troll expelled from an organization the troll valued. He's managed to keep the long-standing culture and flow of his blog going despite an aggressive attempted infestation.

    And, I too hope your best days of annoying people on the internet are still ahead of you.

  79. babaganusz says:

    Jeremy: "What is never discussed is anyone else being harmed with bullying."

    if your extensive internet experience leaves you that oblivious, no wonder you think Ken's post is "full of shit". project much?

    @Grifter: deliciously 'veiled' 'threat'.

    the greater internet fuckwad theory is crucial to grasp, and i'd almost thank Tarrou for bringing it up first.

    Ken's point that change, albeit incremental, is observable/possible (reminds one of a rare optimistic Glenn Greenwald post re: marriage equality) is even more crucial.

    and Clark jabs a cocky thumb at his perceived perceptive prowess re: ~feminists~ yet again. goody!

    if my bachelor party weren't starting three minutes ago, i'd get the hours in for depth and length *ahem*. hopefully tomorrow!

  80. Xenocles says:

    I come from a military community that almost prides itself on finding what pisses off each member the most and picking on that sore spot routinely. The only way out is to overcome and let it roll off your back, because if you reward your comrades with a response you ensure that you'll get more of the same. This is for the most part reasonably good-natured ball-busting, though it can break out into abuse from time to time.

    I don't believe the comments cited above are examples of good-natured anything; insulting strangers is fundamentally different from the sort of dynamic you see when you spend six months underwater with the same hundred people. But I bring this up because it suggests a parallel phenomenon, that people don't insult women the same way that they do men because they are playing the odds with respect to what will be most effective. If my mission is to troll someone, I would make an attempt to tailor my trolling for my audience. I don't see why I wouldn't do the same for gratuitous insults against a stranger (aside from not wanting to do it at all). None of this is to say that there isn't a contingent of internet goons who likes to dump on women. But even in those cases I think Tarrou has a bit of truth when he suggests that those goons are selecting the insults they use because they believe they will be the most effective against their targets.

    I also agree with James that the root problem is another level deeper; it's that people feel the need to gratuitously insult strangers. I further submit that the ultimate solution is not to try to shame the offenders – since you likely cannot make them feel shame for actions they are proud of; that is outside your control. What is more likely to be within your control is to investigate the nature of your reaction to the un- and anti-intellectual offerings of these people. If you can figure out why you react the way you do, you might be able to tame your emotional reaction. It's worked for me, anyway.

  81. Kat says:

    I think I'll just thank you and go on my merry way without reading the comments, Ken. :)

  82. sorrykb says:

    I wish I'd thought of Kat's idea.

  83. Vermin says:

    Nettie-

    Quite true, but I still think the disparate treatment of Ken and the woman he cites has more to do with format and venue than gender. Consider the case of Youtube personality Thunderf00t, whose likeness was edited into pornography in retaliation for his videos critical of creationism. Has THAT ever happened to Ken?

  84. wfgodbold says:

    @Pelican,

    The Vox Day-John Scalzi Internet Fight of 2012-13 (or whenever it started) doesn't seem like it would qualify as IRL harassment. The SFWA fights were (to my knowledge) likewise online.

    And from Vox's comments on the SFWA expulsion, it seems clear that Scalzi got Day expelled from an organization that Scalzi valued. Vox Day may be the racist, sexist, homophobic dipshit that Scalzi referred to him as for lo those many moons, but so far as I know those are not grounds for expulsion from the SFWA.

    Vox Day's response, if nothing else, makes it clear that he was one of several SFWA members behaving unprofessionally–and those other members were not expelled.

    I've read books by both Scalzi and Vox Day, and found both authors entertaining. I will only buy books by one of them from now on. Scalzi's passive-aggressiveness in this entire matter and the iron fist with which he crushes any deviation from his own views on Whatever have completely destroyed any desire I had to read more of his (increasingly derivative) fiction.

  85. It's not that mysterious, Ken. Men and women are treated differently because they are different. If you want to hurt a man, you insult his competence, his masculinity, his pride. If you want a cheap shot at a woman, it's hard to beat going after their looks. We are all insecure about different things, but there are general patterns, including some gender patterns

    BAM. Debate won.

    Note that even women – and even feminists – follow this pattern.—

    Bullshit

  86. —If you want to hurt a man, you insult his competence, his masculinity, his pride.—

    The reason for this, of course, is because of the automatic assumption on the part of misogynists that women are of course, incompetent, have nothing to be proud of, and of course, femininity is a bad thing. So naturally, yes, they go to the 'fat/slutty/ugly' lines. It says a lot more about the misogynists and how they see women than it says about the topics upon which women are more 'sensitive'.

  87. A Person (Probably?) says:

    Ken, I think you're touching on something pretty correct here, but there's something you haven't taken into account.

    You're talking about comments on a Youtube Video. Maybe there's some different treatment of men and women going on here, but if PopeHat was a Youtube Channel, the type of responses you'd be getting would be totally different.

  88. Ken White says:

    @A Person:

    It's true I used a YouTube comment as an example, and it's true that YouTube is a notorious pit.

    I wouldn't have used it if I didn't think that such comments are common at all sorts of internet locales.

  89. A Person (Probably?) says:

    As a followup to the comments (rather than the post): Really, people? Have you ever looked at the comments on a youtube channel? Women and Men unquestionably receive different treatment, but you have to consider the forum for the comments.

    If Ken were on Youtube he probably still would not receive comments like "We can see your fattits through your cheap shirt you unenlightened cunt." Instead he'd just be called a "F**got*". A lot. An with various modifiers.

  90. Xenocles says:

    @Withthisinmind-

    That is certainly a possible, and even likely, partial explanation. But look at the results – it seems to be working. People all over the internet are writing indignant columns about your insults? Mission accomplished, assuming the mission was to give as much offense as possible.

    Letting everyone know that it makes you (the general "you") feel bad to be called a fat slut will not deter anonymous assholes from calling you a fat slut.

  91. En Passant says:

    Doctor Duck wrote Sep 7, 2013 @6:32 am:

    I don't know how well it would work on a site as massive (and as infected) as YouTube, but community reputation systems — voting posts up/down and moving them higher or lower, down to invisibility, based on how the community sees them, seem to be effective on smaller sites.

    This.

    It works very well on larger sites too. Slashdot.org is a good example.

    You can read every comment readily by clicking on its subject header. You can also automatically display just the comment contents voted above various thresholds that you choose to set for your reading.

    What is really striking about /. is how few rancid attacks on women qua women there are, and how many self-identified women stand out with highly rated comments.

    Participants only have to register in order to vote in the rating system. Anonymous cowards can't vote, but some AC comments become highly rated.

    Although I think it can be a bit complicated to implement well. More server side programming for the comment system.

  92. mythago says:

    @wfgodbold, what an astonishingly disingenuous comment. VD was expelled from SFWA for intentionally misusing an official SFWA channel (meant for publicity of one's works, IIRC) to throw a bigoted tantrum regarding a presentation – not involving him – that another SFWA made at a convention. There was a full investigation, in which VD submitted a 20+ page written response, before he was expelled. Regarding the "fight" between VD and Scalzi, as has been pointed out ad nauseum, VD has a history of throwing red meat to fans such as yourself by picking fights with lefty male bloggers with big platforms. Before Scalzi it was Bad Astronomer, then PZ Meyers, and then Scalzi. By all means, exercise your right to criticize and/or spend your money as befits your views, but the head-shaking is a bit silly.

    @a_random_guy: no offense meant, but it is some doublethink to say that men have a 'natural instinct to protect women' in a discussion about men who apparently have an overwhelming need to attack women.

  93. Doctor Railgun says:

    Jeremy wrote: "I would also argue that women tend to put much much greater value displaying their appearance online. This makes perfect sense when you think about it, since the greatest female power in society right now rests on their sex appeal. But when you put so much emphasis on displaying yourself as women do, you open yourself up to another side of disparaging comment entirely. When I watch Vlogs on Youtube, I see far far far far more women put their face in front of the camera and speak. There's TONS of men who make serious, cogent arguments, but NEVER display their appearance. Men instinctively know that it's better to avoid the whackos who will take offense at your cleft-lip rather than your words. Women seem to want to put their face out there (and I can't really blame them), but it invites comments like the one you point out. It invites them not because they are women, but because the women choose to put their face in front of the camera far more often."

    I think you're wrong. I don't think the best way to insult a woman is to attack her appearance. That's what men THINK is the best way, but as you'll see from just the comments in this thread, that thought is mostly echoed by people whose other comments are misogynist as well.

    What I got from Ken's post was "Please stop being misogynist douchebags, even if it's easy to do so on the Intarweb tubes."

  94. Tarrou says:

    @ Doctor Railgun,

    The simple test for your implication that only misogynists think women care about their appearance is to check if women insult each other regarding their appearance. If yes, it's not about "misogyny".

  95. lunchstealer says:

    I assume others have pointed this out, but you are comparing comments on popehat to comments on YouTube. YouTube is where not-being-a-raging-asshole goes to die.

    I think your overall point is sound, but your examples are not super comparable.

  96. Tejas Richard says:

    @Tarrou

    Think about this: in order for a man to be insulted by being compared to a woman ( "dickless" ), he has to already have the opinion that women are inferior. Same goes for using words like fag or queer or homo. In order for these insults to even work, YOU already have to be part of the Problem! Yeah. Not gonna get a lot of sympathy from me, bro. You have some point when other aspects of masculinity are brought into the picture, like dick size…but how often does that even happen? I don't remember that last time I was in a political debate and someone questioned my ability to satisfy my lover. I'll even go out on a limb and say that it has never, in all my years on the internet, happened to me. But I see women marginalized based on nothing more than the equipment between their legs, on a daily basis.

  97. David says:

    @Bob

    All this commentary over free speech overshadows the REAL issue:

    Ken has man-boobs. ;)

    His preferred nomenclature is "equity partners".

  98. wfgodbold says:

    @Mythago,

    I included a link to VD's response above, in which he discusses the Twitter incident and SFWA's disclaimer of the Twitter account as an official channel until after he publicized a post using it. VD's discussion of the misuse of "official" SFWA channels is covered on pp. 2-7.

    The bigoted tantrum VD published was in response to another SFWA's presentation at a convention. It was written in response to that presentation because VD was indeed "involved." N.K. Jemisin's remarks at that convention are quoted in the post, and the bigoted tantrum was in response to Jemisin's personal attacks on VD.

    That said, I thought I remembered VD writing something about how he had accidentally marked that post for publication on the SFWA twitter feed, but I may be wrong.

    I don't agree with much of what VD says on his blog. I do know that SFWA is supposed to advocate for writers of science fiction, without regard for their personal or political beliefs. Scalzi himself has said so in the past (before he declined to renew his membership for no particular reason–a reason that just happened to disappear when VD was expelled).

    Instead, the organization is apparently now more concerned with enforcing politically correct groupthink on its members.

    VD may be a troll, but even troll clocks are right twice a day.

    Apart from the whole SFWA debacle, the VD-Scalzi dynamic is semi-relevant to the main point of this post. Scalzi could have ignored VD, but instead his reaction made it blindingly obvious exactly how VD could push his buttons. VD obliged by pushing those buttons, and Scalzi obliged VD by reacting.

    If someone does something online that infuriates or hurts you, you don't have to respond. You certainly don't have to respond in a way that makes it even easier for that person to more effectively needle you. The one way to make sure that people will keep calling you that annoying/insulting nickname is to make a big deal about it every time it happens.

    Scalzi tried to retaliate against VD in kind–primarily by calling him a racist, sexist, homophobic dipshit–but VD never let on that this bothered him. Particularly not to the degree that VD's attacks on Scalzi obviously worked.

    Now, every time Scalzi passive-aggressively posts about something related to VD without using VD's name, VD wins. Vox Day is more like Voldemort than Beetlejuice. Saying his name won't summon him or give him power, and talking about someone without referring to them by name just makes you look ridiculous.

  99. lagaya says:

    Funny that a commenter on Clark's latest post above, calls Obama "Jug Ears" as if that makes his comment more intelligent. I hope your post has shamed him a little, too.

    The point is to keep to the point when commenting. Insults of any kind not related to the subject, just show ignorance.

  100. lagaya says:

    I'd also like to comment that to me, a woman, it can also be insulting if a man compliments a woman's appearance. "Nice boobs" or "I'd like some of that!" can be just as insulting as "fat, ugly". (Although with women crowding their plastic surgeon's office to get boob jobs, maybe most women don't agree with me. I imagine they get just the men they seek, though.) Thousands of sexual harassment claims are based on "compliments".

  101. Marconi Darwin says:

    Ken, thank you

  102. Tarrou says:

    @ Tejas Richard,

    I'll try my best here, but I'll admit to struggling a bit with your prose.

    Calling a man "dickless" isn't comparing him to a woman, it's emasculating him. Calling him a "bitch" compares him to a woman, as do most of the gay insults, indirectly. As I said before, a major avenue of insult is this whole "denigrate the masculine" vein.

    I'm not sure I understand what you mean stating that I am the problem. These insults are used when the insulter thinks that it will degrade the insultee. I stated in another post that evaluating your own insecurities is the best means of blunting any emotional impact from random people throwing insults about. I don't get hurt or angry if someone uses these insults on me. I'm confident in myself, what do I care if some internet troll calls me names? I encourage others to behave likewise. I'm not looking for sympathy, I'm not complaining at all. I'm merely making the point that there are stereotypical ways to insult people, and males differ from females. Ken's original thesis was that men aren't insulted about their bodies, which is largely true, but also largely irrelevant.

    As to never having been insulted, I can only say you are either extremely lucky or extremely insulated. On the internet I frequent, it's a rare day I'm not accused of being a Zionist shill, a Nazi (sometimes in the same thread!), a sexless neckbearded basement dweller (a long way of saying I'm bad at getting women). Now I can add "MRA trash" to the list. There will always be people who would rather sling names than play the debate game. I try to ignore them mostly. As should we all.

    Women should not be marginalized, but random internet trolls are incapable of doing so unless the women accede to their verbal bullying. On any reasonable website, the rest of the community will either disapprove or ignore. The argument I am against is that insulting women is specially loathsome. Insulting women is no different from insulting men. I have enough respect for women and their arguments to think they can probably ignore the same hooting imbeciles everyone else has to on these majestic intertrons without a virtual lynch mob slavering to avenge any slight against their womanhood. I'm progressive like that.

  103. TM says:

    @Tejas Richard

    In order for these insults to even work, YOU already have to be part of the Problem!

    I don't think this is true. One can be insulted by being called something, even if they don't think that thing is inferior.

    For example, almost any woman I know would be insulted if I started going around calling them "manish" or "butch" or other such terms referring to them being or having masculine (or traditionally masculine e.g. "hairy") traits. This isn't because they believe that men are inferior or that being "hairy" is somehow wrong or disgusting, but because these insults are directed at them as denials of their self image (as most insults basically are).

    Equally, I don't have to think italians are inferior or bad (and don't, given my heritage) to be offended if someone calls me a "grease ball" or a "goombah". Hell, they don't even need to use a slur, I can be plenty offended if someone just called me a "damn italian".

    Likewise, I don't have to think other cultures or races are inferior to be offended if someone starts calling me by other ethnic slurs.

    As a final example, consider the number of people who insult trans-gendered people by explicitly calling them by the incorrect pronoun. The transgendered person presumably does not find the opposite sex inferior, but none the less find themselves insulted.

  104. Dion starfire says:

    "I've seen racism be steadily more marginalized in the large spaces. That is, overt racists are more likely to be called out and treated with the disrespect they deserve, as oppose (…) Trolls will always be trolls, but some people aren't exactly trolls — they want to be accepted and seen as cool and funny.

    Racism (and similar values) can be suppressed because they're learned behaviors which means they can be unlearned by the same process (approval/praise for behavior 'x'). People don't automatically become racists (or whatever) unless they learn it from somebody.

    The mindset behind the comments you're talking about here is (in my experience) an inevitable stage of growth. Just as infants will pee themselves because it's convenient and they don't know better, so to will immature people make comments like this because it gets them attention and they don't know better. Most people outgrow that behavior as they learn to look beyond immediate gratification and start considering their enivironment/community.

  105. mythago says:

    @wfgodbold: Cool story, bro.

    @Tarrou: you think women cannot be misogynist? Do you also believe that because some black people use the N-word amongst themselves, that it is never racist for a white person to call a black person by that word? I mean, whatever one thinks of this issue, that's simply without logic.

    @Ken, you know, these discussions of the old 'goat ate the cabbage' defenses we learned about in law school (and that plaintiffs' attorneys still joke about). You know: My goat didn't eat your cabbage, because I don't own a goat; even if I own a goat it wasn't near your cabbage; if it was near your cabbage it didn't eat any; even if it ate some it didn't eat much; and anyway, it was your own fault, not mine, because your fence wasn't sufficiently goat-proof.

    The version in these discussions is that this kind of harassment of women doesn't really happen; if it does, it happens just the same (or at least in some mirror-image version) to men; if it happens differently/worse/more to women, it's only on certain horrible sites; even if it does happen elsewhere, women should just ignore it; and anyway, they probably invited it by being oversensitive, using an obviously female moniker or allowing their image to appear.

    I'm not sure why it's so important for so many people to believe this cascading line of denials. In some cases it's a desire to protect a subcommunity (comics, gaming) that they've got their identity wrapped up in; in some I suppose it's just a belief that women are spoiled bitches and so they can't possibly have anything genuinely negative to deal with. But it clearly is very important, or there wouldn't be so much energy devoted to vigorously ignoring evidence of the topic and any woman who discusses being on the receiving end of this.

  106. Dragonmum says:

    I think the conversation has strayed from Ken's original point. What will his daughters encounter as they try to find their authentic voices in Internet-land. I bet he's teaching them a healthy desire to question authority and think for themselves…

    While I appreciate the comments of the gentlemen, I think they mostly miss the point. As a mom who's helped her now-adult daughter navigate chat room stalkers and disgusting abusive comments, I find it's not "ugly bitch" that is so disturbing – it's the "shut up or I'll make you, D***-sucking slut" or "stupid cunt you Ima track you down and rape your a*s til it bleeds" – insulting comments that are intimidating physical threat and reduce women to a gaping sexual hole. Men, in general, have the physical strength to carry through those threats toward the average woman. I can't think of any equivalent credible threat a woman could make to a man. The "insult" crosses over to "threat" much more quickly.

    To her credit, my is-a-lawyer daughter now teaches workshops at various geek cons on 'net respect and how to avoid internet drama. This, as well as calm, rational response, and ignoring the idiot making the comments are our first line of defense. When things get more personal (threats to reporters, etc), police reports should be involved. We don't need new laws; communicating threats is communicating threats.

    As for me, I find "f- you a*shole" usually suffices.

    Ken, I'm sure you will be able to equip your kids with the tools they need. Something tells me your girls aren't fragile flowers…

  107. Tarrou says:

    @ mythago,

    Just trying to be objective about it. Do tell me, is there any evidence at all that could convince you that a specific hatred of women is not behind any generic insult? Hypotheses are tested by experiment, this is the scientific method. Everything else is bookkeeping.

  108. Castaigne says:

    @Tarrou: TT, one can see the pack leader of the blog cast about for a foil on which to prove his dominance. As nothing presents itself, he thrashes an anonymous commenter from another website. The female of the blog species is quick to reward this display with a bit-hug and a Freudian slip. Lesser males are quick to add their voices to the chorus cheering the leader's conquest. This mock-battle and mating ritual will be repeated as necessary. It is a vital part of web-pack behavior.

    Ahh, it is evident that we have an MRA here. Excellent. I was in the mood for some red meat and I just LOVE showing them what a true "alpha male" is.
    So which website do you hail from? The Spearhead? A Voice For Men? Please, enlighten me, beta male.

    Finally, I ask what is the most healthy way for both men and women to respond to insults like this?

    Why, to make use of the truth and make sure it's known. The MRA wishes to insult; very well – let them be doxxed. Give them the Violentacrez/Michael Brutsch treatment. Link such statements as the MRAs like to make like:

    "If you don’t know how to feel love, here is a trick that will work for some, if you let it. Men naturally feel paternal love. Women are neotenous. Evolution is accidental, however the coincidence is meaningful. Women are neotenous because that arouses men’s paternal love. Use that to your advantage. Consider her as YOUR child. This will open up a flood of love for her. It’s ok – it’s not real incest – don’t be an idiot. It’s a trick you are performing in order to commune more fully. To love her more. To enjoy for yourself the great rush of love. Also, I have a long history of doing this, again and again. It’s not just an accident in my distant past. It’s what I do. It’s what I did today. It’s a formula. It’s a formula that might very well work for you."

    with their real live selves and make sure the link-up copies are sent to their co-workers. And their neighbors. Show them that what they say online WILL be known to those who know them in real life.
    =====

    @Jeremy: I've spent two decades on message boards, I've moderated game-specific message boards. I can tell you with no small amount of experience that I've seen women drive men nearly to suicide on the internet. I've witnessed it. And it still happens. What doesn't happen is media reporting on it when men swallow a barrel.

    Been on the internet since 1993 and I haven't seen that happen hardly at all. You got some dox on this subject? Screenshots? Something a bit more than your say-so. I ask because you didn't see this on Usenet back in the day and I've not heard of it happening on anywhere near a frequent basis now. The last time I heard of a man suciding because an internet woman (women) ganged up on him was somwhere around 2004-2005 – and that was in the Potter fandom.
    =====

  109. Castaigne says:

    @wfgodbold: Vox Day's response, if nothing else, makes it clear that he was one of several SFWA members behaving unprofessionally–and those other members were not expelled.

    Not to put too fine a point on it – you know that whole response was a bunch of bullshit, right?

    First, Theodore Beale/Vox Day is the whitest whitey that ever whited about. He is not multi-racial; he has no Hispanic or Asian heritage at all, though he is related to Hispanics and Asians by marriage. But his own genetic makeup is purely Caucasian. (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/14/Vox_Day_by_Tracy_White_promo_pic.jpg) He likes to claim otherwise, but it's so he can put a good spin on his white supremacist beliefs.

    What white supremacist beliefs, you ask? Well, there was his blog post where he opened with "It is absurd to imagine that there is absolutely no link between race and intelligence." and then went on to comment on how The Bell Curve is absolutely correct and how the Negroid races are in African are doomed because they cannot possibly understand and assimilate white culture on their own, thus requiring the "gentle guiding of Western civilization to lead them along a route they can't comprehend."

    Secondly, he was expelled from the SFWA for making the following extremely racist attack on N K Jemisin, an African-American, and then tweeting it to the SFWAuthors Twitter feed, which is used only to promote works and not make personal screeds. Excerpts from his attack follow [1]:

    "…it is not that I, and others, do not view [Jemisin] as human, (although genetic science presently suggests that we are not equally homo sapiens sapiens), it is that we simply do not view her as being fully civilized for the obvious historical reason that she is not."

    "The laws are not there to let whites “just shoot people like me, without consequence, as long as they feel threatened by my presence”, those self-defense laws have been put in place to let whites defend their lives and their property from people, like her, who are half-savages engaged in attacking them."

    "Unlike the white males she excoriates, there is no evidence to be found anywhere on the planet that a society of NK Jemisins is capable of building an advanced civilization, or even successfully maintaining one without significant external support from those white males."

    Of course, then there are his viewpoints on women:

    "Because they are the intellectual driving force of humanity, men will be fine… It is written that women ruin everything" [2]

    "First, there is no such thing as marital rape. Once consent is formally given in public ceremony, it cannot be revoked… If a woman believes in the concept of marital rape, absolutely do not marry her!" [3]

    Frankly, he is as batshit fucking racist misogynist crazy as his fucking father, who tried to have a judge assassinated. [4]

    Now, let me be blunt: You believe Vox Day's statements over Scalzi's. Should I take that to mean that you also believe Vox Day's beliefs over Scalzi? That you would rather buy and support Vox Day's batshittery over Scalzi? Just asking. I happen to find that the supporters of an author often share the same beliefs of the author.

    I don't agree with much of what VD says on his blog.

    Funny how I don't believe you. I mean, I read his blog daily, because reading it and Free Republic and Rapture Ready and so on remind me just exactly how filthy the majority of humanity are, how disgusting and corrupt, how deserving of a cleansing flame. Everyone else who reads his blog? Does so because they are on the Good Ship Vox.

    Scalzi himself has said so in the past (before he declined to renew his membership for no particular reason–a reason that just happened to disappear when VD was expelled).

    The reason, as Scalzi said so himself, was that he preferred not to be associated with the likes of Vox Day.

    Instead, the organization is apparently now more concerned with enforcing politically correct groupthink on its members.

    That's one viewpoint. Mine is that they are successfully ridding themselves of the "You little bitches with your womanly ways don't understand science fiction." contingent of SF authors that really should have retired a decade ago. There's no room in the SFWA for that deadwood, just like there's no room in any political party today for the KKK.

    VD may be a troll, but even troll clocks are right twice a day.

    Nah, that's just false. VD has never been right, ever. Just like his father after his father went off the deep end. Shit, he was never right even when he was in the industrial band Psychosonik back in the day.

    If someone does something online that infuriates or hurts you, you don't have to respond.

    Why not?

    You certainly don't have to respond in a way that makes it even easier for that person to more effectively needle you.

    Freedom of speech, bro.

    Scalzi tried to retaliate against VD in kind–primarily by calling him a racist, sexist, homophobic dipshit–but VD never let on that this bothered him. Particularly not to the degree that VD's attacks on Scalzi obviously worked. Now, every time Scalzi passive-aggressively posts about something related to VD without using VD's name, VD wins.

    I disagree entirely. Vox is losing and losing badly. His sales of books have fallen. He's becoming a pariah amongst authors. Publishing houses are quietly file-13ing his requests. He's losing his livlihood and having to rely more and more on the World Net Daily foobars. It's not looking good for him. Scalzi's attacks, which you think are PA, have been greatly EFFECTIVE in showing the real Vox Day.

    =====

    [1] Screenshotted in its entirety before deletion here: http://amalelmohtar.com/2013/06/13/calling-for-the-expulsion-of-theodore-beale-from-sfwa/

    [2] http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=58449

    [3] http://voxday.blogspot.com/2009/08/there-is-no-marital-rape.html

    [4] http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Robert_Beale

  110. Ken White says:

    @Castaigne:

    I think the most Vox Day-ish Vox Day post I have read was the one where he explained the logistics of the Holocaust prove America could control illegal immigration. That was back when he was writing for WorldNetDaily, if memory serves.

    I celebrate living in a country that gives him the freedom to be a freak.

  111. AlphaCentauri says:

    @Jeremy,

    I would also argue that women tend to put much much greater value displaying their appearance online. This makes perfect sense when you think about it, since the greatest female power in society right now rests on their sex appeal. But when you put so much emphasis on displaying yourself as women do, you open yourself up to another side of disparaging comment entirely. When I watch Vlogs on Youtube, I see far far far far more women put their face in front of the camera and speak. There's TONS of men who make serious, cogent arguments, but NEVER display their appearance.

    Apparently, no one let you in on the secret. Many women try to avoid revealing their gender on the internet. All those guys who don't show their physical appearance? A lot of them are women.

    On the internet no one knows you're a dog. And no one has to know you're a guy. If you want to research gender on the internet, it's easy. Create an online persona and start to live in it. Choose a female name and a gender neutral avatar and start posting in the threads by the popular social media people on Google+. Or post comments on other sites you regularly frequent where things can get contentious. You can even leave "gender" blank in your profile. Express your real opinions and be yourself, other than the name/avatar. Stick with it a year or two and be a frequent contributor. See how you can say the same things you did when you had a male or unspecified persona, but all of a sudden you're not taken seriously by a lot of people, and your supposed gender is used as the reason. See how many people start making lewd comments if your profile is public.

    Many women go to a lot of trouble to avoid mentioning anything that will let people know their gender. I don't know of any men who feel the need to do that. I think that says it all.

  112. Lee says:

    @Lizard: Thank you for telling each and every one of those venom-spewing rabid weasels that you fully support them in what they do. YOU are a bigger part of the problem than they are, because they couldn't do what they do without the support of thousands of people just like you.

  113. Tarrou says:

    @ Castaigne,

    I consider myself literate, but I have no idea what you are talking about. I mean, the words are English, I recognize them, they just don't make any sense the way you put them together. Just gonna smile and keep drinking.

  114. Xenocles says:

    @Lee-

    I just read every one of Lizard's comments in this thread. Unless Ken is an example of the venom-spewing rabid weasels in your mind I can't make any sense of your comment to him, and if that's the case your comment is an entirely different but no less intense sort of weird. Did you have someone else in mind?

  115. Ken White says:

    Unless Ken is an example of the venom-spewing rabid weasels in your mind

    I'm more of a chincilla.

  116. rsteinmetz70112 says:

    While most of the comments here are concerned with the gender based insults to a commentator on the LSU Free Speech Alley. I think that some perspective on what the original complaint was about.

    As an LSU graduate and student during a time closely following the establishment of the free speech alley. It was not ever during that time nearly 40 years ago perceived as an abridgment of free speech but rather as an enablement for the expression of disparate views.

    The "alley" was the space between the Student Union and the immediately adjacent theater. It was and I believe remains one of the most traveled paths on campus. On average I would pass through this are area 2-4 times at day. In my time one of the most prolific speakers in the area was David Duke who often appeared flanked by two of his followers in Nazi Party uniforms. At other times speakers included SDS, Black activists, CHristians and others. At no time during my time were students prohibited from handing out leaflets, posting notices on bulletin boards or assembling peaceably elsewhere.

    This may have changed in the ensuing 40 years.

    I think it is fairly settled well that public demonstrations may be restricted in time and place to prevent disruption to other's legitimate pursuits. In this case LSU specifically designated a prominent well traveled location for public discourse to enable others to peaceably pursue educational activities in other locations.

    I do not know what group interest prompted the challenge to the Free Speech Alley, but should a student subjected to coordinated anti-abortion or pro-abortion leaflets forced on you every time you left a classroom?

  117. David says:

    @rsteinmetz70112:

    I think it is fairly settled well that public demonstrations may be restricted in time and place to prevent disruption to other's legitimate pursuits.

    Yes, but there's a difference between saying "you can't chant slogans during class" and "this spot is the ONLY place on campus for free speech." There is no legitimate reason to designate this spot and only this spot.

    but should a student subjected to coordinated anti-abortion or pro-abortion leaflets forced on you every time you left a classroom?

    Forced on you? You're free to not take them, you know. And if that was really a problem, you could design a less drastic time/place restriction, like saying they have to stay at least 10 feet away from the door. I seem to remember something to the effect of, time/place restrictions on speech are supposed to be narrowly tailored to meet their purpose. A campuswide ban with one exception is not narrowly tailored.

  118. InnocentBystander says:

    There are hateful people that like to spew venom anonymously on the internet. These people are not interested in engaging in a meaningful way, but get pleasure in the act of hurting others. Since they are socially stunted, their hate often takes the form of crude stereotypes. Women are stereotyped as vain, so they often attack a women's appearance. The only solution I've every seen that significantly affected the tone of comments on the web are systems that limit anonymity.

  119. Anony Mouse says:

    I don't know how well it would work on a site as massive (and as infected) as YouTube, but community reputation systems — voting posts up/down and moving them higher or lower, down to invisibility, based on how the community sees them, seem to be effective on smaller sites.

    Oh, you mean the system Youtube has had for years now?

  120. AWM says:

    As has been said here by many, people who want to make a personal attack count in a online comment go for what hurts most and that's different for different people, characters, race, sexes, shapes, ages or whatever. Negative comments on looks and weight are usually a slam dunk if your target is a woman. I understand the protective father emotion motivation here but hey, as you so often remind us all – we've got no right not to be offended…

  121. MosesZD says:

    Men get called 'cunt' on the Internet all the time by Oceanic and British trolls. It's, despite your Americanism, not any more an 'anti-female' swear word than 'dick' is an anti-male swearword. Problem with cunt is so many Americans are ignorant of swear words in other cultures that they impose THEIR understanding on the words instead the understanding of the person making the insult.

    And, FWIW, men are also threatened with death, rape, etc. all the time, ESPECIALLY IN GAMING. You should get on an open Steam, Vent or TS server sometime.

    Here's a couple of girls to demonstrate the point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08uSwTDZq6k

    NOt only do they swear like saliors on a three-day bender, one of them calls the guy a cunt, a shitty-ass player, and drops more swear words than Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket. (BTW, notice the two guys don't over-react to the griefing or take it personal.)

    Not all girls do that. Not all men do that. You have not one shred of evidence that men are worse or women have it worse. It's just whining.

    Honestly, before you pontificate on yet another area you're completely ignorant in, you should get out more as you really do live in the sheltered area of the Internet.

  122. I went through all the comments to the particular video he mentioned. The only one that had a personal attack was apparently one he responded to that was no longer up.

    How exactly does that equal a trend?

    Seriously? One comment and suddenly it's a Patriarchal Conspiracy to make women feel bad about themselves?

  123. Joe Pullen says:

    But nobody calls me anything comparable to cunt. They don't make fun of my manboobs. They don't tend to make fun of my body.

    I think it might be because I'm a guy.
    </blockquote

    I think you spoke too soon Ken. Schmalfeldt just played the "bald" card on Twitter.

  124. Castaigne says:

    @Ken White: I think the most Vox Day-ish Vox Day post I have read was the one where he explained the logistics of the Holocaust prove America could control illegal immigration. That was back when he was writing for WorldNetDaily, if memory serves.

    Oh Lordy, I remember that one. It was the PANTS, let me tell you INTERNETS. Let's see if I can dig that up…ah, yes, the unedited version (before WND dropped the hammer on it) is here: http://www.voxday.net/archive/2006/051506.html

    My. That's a heck of a…screed.

    I celebrate living in a country that gives him the freedom to be a freak.

    I wish I could not agree. I really, really do. I would like to live in a country wherein, should someone act like Vox Day, a "rod from God" kinetic kill system will automatically pinpoint him and strike him down. I then get to do the victory dance over his grave.

    But my jackboot daydream aside – and despite my authoritarian inclinations, it is just that – yes, you are correct. It is better that we give him free reign to speak his hateful diatribe. Why? Because then we can just as freely let it be known that he's a fuckwit. And behold, he will hoist himself by his own petard.

    It's truly intellectually satisfying.

  125. Castaigne says:

    @Tarrou: I consider myself literate, but I have no idea what you are talking about. I mean, the words are English, I recognize them, they just don't make any sense the way you put them together. Just gonna smile and keep drinking.

    I will translate. You sound, and are speaking the dialectic, of the typical Men's Rights Activist. You can see what they are like at Manboobz [1], which documents the antics of the MRAs on the internet. There you will learn what an alpha male and beta male is and the typical websites they come from. When have educated yourself – and I doubt it will be a pleasant education – let me know.

    [1] http://manboobz.com/

  126. Ken White says:

    Men get called 'cunt' on the Internet all the time by Oceanic and British trolls. It's, despite your Americanism, not any more an 'anti-female' swear word than 'dick' is an anti-male swearword. Problem with cunt is so many Americans are ignorant of swear words in other cultures that they impose THEIR understanding on the words instead the understanding of the person making the insult.

    So every troll on the internet who uses "cunt" is secretly from England or its former colonies?

    That explains a lot.

    Honestly, before you pontificate on yet another area you're completely ignorant in, you should get out more as you really do live in the sheltered area of the Internet.

    I know mentioning how women are treated is really infuriating and more than a little unbalancing to people like you. Sorry about that. Kind of.

  127. Ken White says:

    @Castaigne:

    Of course, one of my friends would say Vox Day is trolling rather than a freak. He does have a talent for taking not-uncommon political or religious sentiments and putting them as offensively as possible:

    As for the frightening flames of hell, they need not be viewed as a matter of punishment, either. After all, even earthly compost is known to produce a good deal of heat by the mere virtue of being thrown into a pile. Hell may well be nothing more than an eternal compost pile for human trash that has rendered itself useless to God by rejecting His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ.

  128. Tarrou says:

    @ Castaigne,

    Still not following you. I am not "affecting the dialectic" of "manboobz" or whatever you happen to be obsessed with this week. I was, as a humorous poke, "affecting the dialectic" of a PBS nature special. I gather from context that "alpha male" and "beta male" have some sort of special meaning to you, but I never said either of those terms. Long story short, you seem to have me all fitted out for an intellectual straightjacket that I don't think I merit.

    And no, I don't feel the need to "educate" myself by reading whatever your most or least favorite website is at the moment. Not my job to do your research for you, and you've not answered or even criticized any of my several arguments in this thread. You've just made a rather unhinged non-sequitur ad hominem. I must be a bad person because you think I sound like the sort of person who frequents a website where someone once posted something ludicrous. Quite frankly, it's a poor trolling at best.

    If you have some sort of beef with "MRA's" I suggest you take it up with them. If you have a problem with me, surely you can do better with the personal attacks. That last one was just weird.

  129. CJK Fossman says:

    Amusing how many comments on the psychology of women appear to be made by men. Seems to me a lot of these folks have no experience with women pr simply haven't been paying attention.

  130. mythago says:

    Not all girls do that. Not all men do that.

    Unintentional irony is the BEST irony.

    @Tarrou: Scientific method? We're still working on Logic 101. You contended that if a man insults a woman's appearance that cannot be sexist because women also insult other women's appearances. (Also implying that women can't be misogynist, but let's set that silliness aside for now.) This is the equivalent of saying that if a white person insults a black person by hurling the N-word, that cannot be racist because black people also use the N-word at each other. Is this indeed your contention?

    @AWM: One's behavior may be offensive whether or not the target is actually offended. You are confusing effect with intent.

  131. TM says:

    @CJK Fossman

    So is it your assertion that in general, women do not care about their looks and how other perceive their body more so than men? Because a quick flip through the channels will demonstrate that the vast majority of beauty products are marketed to women. Certainly there are exceptions (weight loss products seem to be equally targeted, but targeted differently), but it's a clear trend. Likewise, the vast majority of "sexual enhancement" products are marketed towards men. I rarely see or hear a commercial asking women if they are "concerned about [their] performance and stamina in the bedroom". Hence common insults to women target the body, common insults to men target sexual ability (for example, "basement dwelling freak" has nothing to do with job status).

    Now you can argue that such concern and caring is not innate and is learned and culturally enforced, and you will get little argument from me on that point, but that doesn't change the fact that it exists. You can also argue that there are exceptions to this general rule and again you will get no argument from me on that point, but the exceptions do not disprove the trend.

  132. TM says:

    @mythago

    Someone has to be offended for an action to be offensive. By definition offensive behavior is defined by how it makes others feel. Now obviously you can offend someone other than the target and therefore still be offensive even if your target took no offense, but then that gets into whether anyone has an obligation to change their private behavior merely because it offends someone uninvolved.

    And for reference, I consider actions which while nominally targeted against an individual but calculated to get a rise out of the uninvolved to be targeted to the uninvolved as well. That is to say that a homosexual couple engaging in a public kiss on the sidewalk is not offensive, even if Fred Phelps happens to be across the street and takes offense but are offensive if they are doing this on the steps of Fred Phelps' church as the service is letting out.

  133. mythago says:

    @Castaigne: It helps to remember that many people are of the No Tagbacks Theory of Free Speech. That is, when someone they agree with or admire has opened their chew-holes, that is Free Speech. However, criticism or disagreement with that person is not Free Speech, because it might suggest that original thing should not have been said, or might lead the Admired One not to say exactly the same thing in the future, and that could possibly maybe be the dreaded censorship.

    You can see this curious doublethink when the same people who talk about 'no right not to be offended' and 'grow a thicker skin' scream about disagreement and criticism being 'PC oppression' and 'a virtual lynch mob.' It's the reaction of a bully who runs crying to Teacher the first time someone hits them back.

    Also re the SFWA, I don't think it's accurate to say that anyone is trying to get rid of the panicked bigot contingent; the folks worried about girl cooties, the neckbeards on their pleather fainting couches mourning the loss of RAH, etc. – there is no action (as far as I am aware) to officially kick these people out of SFWA or revoke their memberships a la VD. There is a sentiment that the days of cringing and saying "well gosh, he's old and set in his ways" are over.

  134. Tarrou says:

    @ mythago,

    I've contended nothing of the sort. I took issue with the assertion that insulting a woman's looks is by necessity motivated by a hatred of all women. I have no doubt that there are men in the world, and even a few women, who have various levels of antipathy toward women, or some stereotype of them which does not conform to reality. Where I differ is when this phenomenon is broadened to all men generally, and overused in every situation where any woman anywhere is mistreated. A woman can be insulted without any specific broader bigotry toward women being involved. The rush of people to claim they know the inner workings of another human being based on an internet posting strikes me as rather silly.

    My contention is that Ken's thesis, that men are not insulted "in the same way" is merely cosmetically different. Men are insulted the same way as women, if one considers the motivation of the insulter, which is to insult. I further contend that the internet is full of people trying to be insulting, to both men and women, and it is fairly difficult to single out bigotry as the driving cause for all of it.

    The logical failing here is to assume that because someone insults someone else, they necessarily hate all people like the victim, rather than just the victim. It may well be that some of them do harbor some antipathy, but blanket accusations of all behavior by one group are…….kind of bigoted.

  135. mythago says:

    @TM: Imagine if we were having this discussion about physical, rather than verbal, insults. It would be considered extremely bizarre to argue that lots of people have learned to take a punch, so if I punch you and it hurts, that's on you and not on me. Or that if I take a swing at you and miss, then I did nothing wrong because I didn't actually hurt you.

    Point in, I was responding to AWM's argument (echoed elsewhere above) that, in essence, if I hurl insults at you, I am blameless because it's your job not to feel hurt by them. This is not only looking in the wrong place, it's just silly. Is anyone really arguing that if someone mistakes me for a black woman online and calls me a "dumb n—–", no harm no foul because I'm actually not black and so have no reason to be offended?

  136. TPRJones says:

    I think ultimately it's not misogyny that is on display but rather misanthropy directed to the subject of sex. It only appears as misogyny because when you look at a woman being attacked you are only seeing that half of the misanthropy.

    It seems that the default cheap-shot on the internet is to attack sexual attractiveness. While of course not universally true, it is generally the case that most women are judged by our society for their sexual attractiveness based primarily on physical appearance while most men are judged by our society for their sexual attractiveness based primarily on social and economic status. This is clearly on display throughout our pop culture. So when attacking a woman's sexual attractiveness the default is to insult her physical attractiveness: fat, ugly, slut, etc. Similarly when attacking a man's sexual attractiveness the default is to insult their socio-economic status: loser, 40 year old virgin, living in parent's basement, etc.

    (I would also lump "fag" into this category of insult as well, even though that is irrational nonsense. One's sexual orientation has nothing to do with their social or economic status of course, but I suspect by the types of commenters that make these cheap shots it subconsciously does, and they aren't being rational in the first place.)

    This is why I don't think trying to stop this by tackling misogyny is going to solve the problem. Rather tackle the hate in general, and this facet of it will dry up.

  137. Bill says:

    @Mythago – Yes, and if we were talking about bullets instead of punches it'd be different too. That whole point is that Verbal insults are fundamentally different by their very nature. They don't hurt you unless you decide at some level to hurt them. If I shoot you and three other people in the head, you'll all either be dead or seriously hurt. If I utter the same insult to three of you, you may or may not be 'hurt' but the hurt can certainly be avoided. If I punch each of you in the nose, physical characteristics may cause teh damage to vary, but at a certain level, all three WILL be hurt. Not so with words. Words are just words – I guess you never believed the Adage of Sticks and Stones. I'm not arguing that insulting people is just fine or defending boorish behavior, but the moral equivalent of rape/lynching or whatever else people whine about is just absurd. Words are different, completely different and their power to hurt resides solely in the 'victim'

  138. Bill says:

    @Mythago – and yes, I'd argue that. I'd say that the person that said it is churlish and dickish in the extreme, but if you got offended by it, it's pretty lame and whether or not you get offended its completely in your court. Let's play this game, someone calls a skinny guy a lard ass and the skinny guy gets offended – Lame. Perez Hilton calls a straight guy a F***ot , str8 guy takes a 'consider the source' approach – not lame. See how it works.

  139. mythago says:

    @TPRJones: You're stretching a bit here and, respectfully, sanitizing the issue a bit. "40-year-old virgin" is not about socioeconomic status – certainly the stereotype of that guy is a sheltered IT dude, not a grocery bagger or a day laborer, yes? Also, 'slut' is not about sexual attractiveness; kind of the opposite, as by definition 'slut' means 'having a lot of sex', and I don't see how you square sexually unattractive with that.

    Additionally, while I certainly agree that hate and bad behavior are greater than just sexism (ffs, look at online racism), but the latter also drives the former. The added dimension with bigotry is not simply "I disagree with this person and want to attack them", but "this person should not be speaking up."

    @Tarrou: I don't think anyone argued that every person calling a woman ugly is motivated by a hatred of all females.

  140. TPRJones says:

    @mythago: "Also, 'slut' is not about sexual attractiveness; kind of the opposite, as by definition 'slut' means 'having a lot of sex', and I don't see how you square sexually unattractive with that."

    Well, yes, but you are being rational and this is a distinctly irrational problem. Slut can indeed be an attack on sexual attractiveness because it is an attack on sexual value. It implies someone who is so cheap as to be not worth wanting. And 40-year-old virgin as a stereotype is the other end of that same stick; someone who is undesirable because he is undesired.

    And at no point did I imply that the conscious basis of these attacks is "I disagree with this person and want to attack them". Again you are trying to apply rationality to a completely irrational topic. You are giving way too much credit to the people that use these sorts of insults. The only thing close to conscious thought here would probably be something along the lines of "This person is making me angry so I hate them so they must be a slut/fat/ugly/loser/fag/etc."

    I don't know how to fix that. How do you make people that refuse to think learn to think? I do know that making appeals to stop misogyny won't fix it. This is a much deeper problem than that. And it's nothing new; we've had these people among us throughout human history. It's only that we can now hear them now that everyone can hear everyone else because of the internet.

  141. mythago says:

    @Bill: 'Words are just words' is a ridiculous tautology. Words are how we communicate. They have meaning and effect, as they are intended to. Your comments to me consisted of words that you picked for a particular reason – to convey meaning and persuade. If words are as genuinely powerless as you say, then you could interchangeably have said "Only someone with a monochrome avatar would say something that stupid!" or pasted in lipsum text, because words are just words, right?

    The 'on some level' is a particularly strange weasel phrase; in effect, this is saying that if someone has an emotional vulnerability or a strong feeling that can be attacked, that's a failure on their part because they should just stop having that feeling. I have trouble seeing this as much more than a roundabout version of self-congratulation; well I am so tough that I don't give a shit if people call me a whore, so you shouldn't either, sissypants.

    As for bullets, if I shot you in the head, nobody would buy it for a minute if I said "Maybe you should have worn a Kevlar helmet", or that you should have learned how to take guns away from people, and so really it was up to you that you got hurt. If I shot and you and missed by a mile, nobody would shrug and say that, hey, it's not like the bullets actually hit you so why are you getting your shorts in a knot?

  142. Xenocles says:

    @mythago-

    The point is not that words are powerless, but that words have only the power that the receiver gives them. A bullet or a fist will cause damage independently of the target (and Kevlar isn't immune, it absorbs the damage in lieu of the wearer and is discarded after impact) they are external causes of harm.

    The insult against your avatar is a perfect example. If you don't care about my opinion or if you don't have anything invested in your choice of avatar, the insult is powerless. Those are choices you can make.

  143. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    "The point is not that words are powerless, but that words have only the power that the receiver gives them."

    Aisu far&gur bargkarb? uncet Makoni blibllecutcheon wizt neccccc. Parmit nock "ferdle:, hut miggy batz wunk.

    (…or maybe the power and utility of language is derived not just from the receiver.)

  144. Xenocles says:

    @Mark-

    There are words that carry external power with them, but I don't see any examples of simple insults that meet that threshold. Threats are the first sort of words that come to mind for that category.

    Your attempted example fails to drive your point because regardless of your intended message I got nothing from it. And now that I think about it, the receiver is far more important in interpreting communication than the sender. The best example is art. Regardless of the artist's intentions – sometimes even stated explicitly and plausibly – there are countless interpretations of any significant work of art. Each of those interpretations is real, even if to nobody other than the interpreter.

  145. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    @Xenocles

    "There are words that carry external power with them, but I don't see any examples of simple insults that meet that threshold. "

    My point was, that *all* words – as opposed to gibberish – carry external power with them. Can you provide an example of one word that does not?

    "the receiver is far more important in interpreting communication than the sender."

    This is backing away from your earlier position –

    "words have only the power that the receiver gives them."

    - more than just a little. Before, the sender and words had zero power – the receiver held it all. Now, you concede that the sender has some and that "There are words that carry external power".

    Again, which words – besides the likes of "miggy watz burtle" – do *not* carry external power?

  146. Ken White says:

    I'm just wondering.

    If words have no power, why are some people so upset about being criticized about them?

    I mean, the criticism is just words, too, right? Doesn't the criticism only have the power that the criticized person gives it, under this theory?

  147. Xenocles says:

    As I alternately implied and stated outright, insults carry no external power. If during the course of a discussion you called me an ugly Pollack faggot (some of which would apply to me personally), you may think you are offending me wickedly and have hurt my feelings. But all you would really have done to me is expose yourself as an intellectual lightweight unworthy of further correspondence with me. Thus the insult has no external power, it has only the power I give it – which is to say, less than none.

    Likewise honors carry no external power. Let's say right now I offer you the title of world's fastest marathon runner. I'll even write it down on parchment and sign it for you. What, if anything, does that honor mean? Does anyone's interpretation of it ultimately matter but your own?

  148. Xenocles says:

    @Ken-

    I didn't say words have no power. I said they have only the power the receiver gives them. Big difference.

  149. Ken White says:

    How does that difference impact the answer to my question?

    The context is the argument that I'm exaggerating or distorting the experience of women on the internet.

    The specific assertion is that words only have the power the receiver gives them.

    My question is this: if that is true, then why are people so upset about being criticized for their words?

    Let's give a specific example. I seem to recall the Penny Arcade guys played the "only words" card at some point in their slow-motion meltdown. If the criticism of Penny Arcade — fair or unfair — was just words, didn't it only have the power they gave it? Didn't they give the criticism vast power by the whole "Team Dickwolves" approach?

    I'm just playing out the idea, and seeing if people act as if it is true.

  150. Xenocles says:

    The answer is simple. They value the opinion of the people criticizing them, or at least they value the general perception that they are not what their critics are calling them. Thus they feel the need to defend themselves against the criticism.

    The problem you are having is that you are applying a context to my words that I did not say them in. I do not have anything to say about your depiction of some women's experiences on the internet. What I am trying to do is to offer an alternative strategy to dealing with the internet assholes who by all right ought to be totally irrelevant. Like all such strategies, it has drawbacks. Take it for what you will.

  151. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    "insults carry no external power."

    Convenient I guess. So "stupid pollack" may be taken to mean "large sweet smelling rutabaga barn" by the listener and responded to as such properly. The receiver of the insult holds the power after all. That exchange *would* be entertaining.

    Insulter: Stupid pollack!
    Insultee: Thanks! Few people properly appreciate the roominess or root vegetable storage capabilities.

    That would be fun in a Dada/Discordian kind of way, but that doesn't mean it is not a complete breakdown of language.

    "Likewise honors carry no external power."

    I see. So honors can equally mean

    1) Valid or invalid recognition of an achievement
    2) A recipe for low carb pumpkin bread
    3) blurbit
    4) 101000010110
    5) Fred

    depending on which meaning the receiver ascribes. All of these understandings are equally valid if honors have no external power.

  152. Xenocles says:

    @Mark-

    Well, why not pick the one that makes you feel better? At the end of the day, what is it to you if a stranger calls you a name?

  153. Ken White says:

    Xenocles:

    Here's the thing. Some people like to deal with this by talking it through, some people like to offer open defiance, some people like to offer support for others experiencing it.

    Are those the only ways to handle it? No.

    But sometimes I'm perplexed by the "why don't you all just shut up about this" approach.

  154. Robert White says:

    We've manufactured women who are very sensitive about their bodies, and we've manufactured men who are very sensitive about their masculinity.

    So that certain breed of internet troll will jump on the "fat tits" or the "gay", the "cunt" <= female or the "pussy" <= male (et. al.) as target gender dictates.

    It's nothing new. The only thing the internet does different than real life is embolden the coward because of physical safety. It's the same, well documented effect as what turns those same people into scum when they are inside a car.

    In previous epochs people probably wanted to outlaw cliffs because when a douche-nozzle is on top of one addressing those below his douche-nozzle self comes out.

    Men _are_ thicker skinned because we've dealt with our peers this way our entire life. As such the personal attacks are harder to score. Plus we are programmed to "try to protect women" even when those women don't need our protection (I know some very bad-ass women) so everything is worse when we see them getting "the treatment".

    Fairness is an illusion, doubly so when the inherently unfair can attack from cover.

    The main reason I doubt in Alien Visitation™, aside from statistics, is that we are still a bunch of uninteresting, poo-flinging monkeys.

  155. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    @Xenocles

    "At the end of the day, what is it to you if a stranger calls you a name?"

    It is communication to me. No more, no less.

    Picking the one that makes me feel better damages communication. Ignoring it takes communication away. Responding with my own honest beliefs, reasoning and words improves communication just a tiny infinitesimal bit – which is enough.

    So what is the answer to words you don't like?
    More words.

    It's a cliche at this point, but that's still a better answer than
    "All in all it's all just bricks in the wall."

  156. Xenocles says:

    I advocate the shut up about this approach (though I'd call it something more like the silent treatment) because I see that as being the approach that hurts the most offenders the worst. I see trolls as attention whores. Give them attention, get more trolls. I see internet assholes as people who want to hurt feelings. Thus, even if your feelings are in fact hurt, why would you want to let them see it? Treat them like the dust on your sandals and shake them off without a word.

    Reason is for reasonable people. You can make the best case in the world for how awful these insulters are, what bigoted scum or whatever. You might put some people on the defensive, but you really only have a chance of affecting those with a permanent or semi-permanent identifier. (Vox Day, perhaps, is an example.) What impact do you think this has on [username redacted] other than, "Hell yes, look at all the trouble I caused?" I'm not sure you're doing anything other than preaching to the choir. Pretty much everyone here as far as I can tell thinks saying things like your chosen comment adds nothing to discussion and that it would be better, other things being equal, if there were no comments like that anywhere – or perhaps even anywhere outside certain enclaves of scum and villainy. We're with you on that.

    Ultimately the reason to not talk about anonymous scummy people is the same as the reason you don't talk to police. It has hardly any chance of helping you, and it will likely backfire.

  157. James Pollock says:

    "If words have no power, why are some people so upset about being criticized about them?"

    I don't think that there's an argument that words have no power. The argument (I think) is that words have the power that we give them. (Thus, one of the ways you can reduce the impact of hurtful words directed at you is to depower them.)
    A person who really, really knows you, and knows what your soft spots are and what you're really concerned with or insecure about, can deliver a devastating blow (that's why fights between siblings are only exceeded by divorces and breakups for vicious button-pushing… they know right where to target.)
    A person who doesn't know you at all has to guess what those soft spots are, based on your perceived similarilities to people they do know. So if they know even one (person of type X) who is sensitive about (topic Y), and you ALSO are (person of type X), guess what topic the opening salvo will concern? This is true for EVERY subgrouping of people… women (you aren't attractive!), short people (tall people are more attractive!), 49ers fans (how about that Super Bowl, huh? Wasn't that a great game?), or whatever.

    It's a fact that there are people who will say mean things on the Internet. It would be neat if there weren't, or at least, if there were fewer of them, or they were less likely to drop into that mode. Coming to the attention of one (or more) of them is going to lead to having mean things said about you. None of us has the power to stop this (look, the most powerful man in the U.S. probably has the most mean things said about him and his family).
    What you CAN do something about is rise above. That's how the Civil Rights movement made its broadest gains. (I'd say it's a safe bet that the only people who had more mean things said about them than black civil rights movement leaders were white civil rights movement leaders.)
    You can't make jerks stop being jerks… you can't make juvenile and hateful people stop saying mean things… but you CAN choose not to let it get to you. It's hard, and not everyone can do it, and almost no one can do it consistently. (um, do as I say, not as I do)

    I remember one time, when we were kids, my little sister was so angry at me, so wound up, that she pulled out the biggest, meanest insult she had in her arsenal. In full-throated fury she screamed at me "you BITCH!!!"
    As I recall, the laughing only made her angrier. (She got better at it when she got older. I wouldn't cross her now.)

  158. Elliott says:

    @Tarrou, have you even considered that fact that one of the reasons women are so insecure about their bodies is BECAUSE their bodies are constantly the butt of jokes, insults and lewd comments generally? Oh no…things could NEVER have a social cause, people are totally just born insecure about their weight, with eating disorders, and an inherent belief that the correct outfit, diet regime or lipstick will finally make them visually appealing enough that their body can just be IGNORED for one moment so that the fully dimensional human being that they are can be seen as worthy of love or at the very least, respect.

    You're right, this is just the way things are so lets totally not think about it ever again.

  159. James Pollock says:

    Or, in bumper-sticker terms:
    Just because someone offers insult doesn't mean you have to take it.

  160. James Pollock says:

    "You can make the best case in the world for how awful these insulters are, what bigoted scum or whatever. You might put some people on the defensive, but you really only have a chance of affecting those with a permanent or semi-permanent identifier."

    I think this argument rests on an oversimplification. It is that there are [good people] and [bad people], but rather than there are [people who do bad stuff almost all of the time], [people who do bad stuff most of the time], [people who do bad stuff some of the time] and [people who hardly ever do bad stuff]. If every person took a step to the right on that scale, the Internet would be a much nicer place to find ideas. Barring that, if you can just get some people to move right, that's a plus, and I think that's the target.
    You could spend some time analyzing WHY people turn mean on the Internet, but this is closer to "do you know how often YOU slip into this?" combined with "is this what you want to be doing?" with the hope that increased self-awareness creates that positive shift.
    It's not unlike teaching Marines who've just completed their enlistments and returned to civilian life just how often they use the word "fuck".

  161. Xenocles says:

    @Mark-

    I guess I just don't think communication is a good in itself. If the purpose of a particular communication is to cause harm, why should we ensure that communication goes through?

    But even if our goal is clear communication, we should also consider the unintended messages. A person who says "ur a douche" is saying a lot more than those three 'words.' It's just as valid to read that and get the message "I am a fool, don't waste your time on me" as it is to read it and launch into introspection about the ways in which you might be like a product in the feminine needs aisle. In fact, I'm hard pressed to see why the former isn't the more correct reaction there.

    As I said before, reason is for reasonable people. Likewise, communication is only a good when it's with reasonable people. Why cast your pearls before swine?

  162. Joseph says:

    In the context of the previous post, how is this just not hypersensitivity of women toward socially sexist comments from men? I dont think Jon Ham cries about the objectification of hams ham. What if the poster was an Englishman, whom finds the word cunt pretty awesome. Moreover, would a fat man cry about a tosh quip against his largess? And finally, think of the rape jokes!

  163. Tarrou says:

    @ Elliot,

    When did I ever say we should never think about it? I've actually thought about it a good deal. I encourage others to. I just caution against the simplistic "women are insecure about their bodies because PATRIARCHY".

    There's a world of interplay there, one which I am but an observer to. I'm quite certain that parts of body image are male-originated. After all, what's the point of "attractiveness" if there is no one to be attracted? Other parts of it are not, I think. Fashion seems to me to be far more about signalling to other women than to men. Much the same way that men working out in the gym is more about male status than it is impressing women.

    In any case, that drags the argument rather farther from the original thesis than I like to go. I did not chase that particular rabbit because I don't like to broaden the scope any more than I have to. And for this argument, it is enough that women have body issues. Why they have them is an argument for another day, one which I would be glad to engage you on, should the opportunity arise.

  164. Bill says:

    @Mythago – you made the assertion that we could transplant words with fists to show how harmful they are – unless I misunderstood your point. I'm saying this emphatically, Insults are only as powerful as the insulted lets them be. That's not saying they are harmless or that any words are ok but it's still a true statement, far from ridiculous. Someone can call me X (let's say it's a racial slur). I can get offended, I can get mad, In can flip out or anything in between. In the case of a racial slur, I personally would be more sympathetic to someone getting bent out of shape than if they were called a Dork, but the point remains the same, you don't have to react one way or the other, how you react is up to you. I've seen people get physically violent immediately b/c of racial slurs. i've seen another person burst out an laughter. Iv'e seen another respond with "That's the best you can come up with?' track. Each settled it at the moment. You can call it a weasel phrase or anything else, it doesn't change the reality of it. I'm not begrudging anyone the right to get offended, if you get called X and don't' like it, fair enough that's your right. I personally think it's more effective and a better response to laugh at the source (which renders the insult and any further ones of that nature , impotent). With all that said, any notion that insults have any comparison to physical assualts is just bs

  165. Bill says:

    @Ken – I didn't mean to imply in any way that you were exaggerating or wrong about what you were reporting (I couldn't tell if your comments were in response to me but I did make the "Words only have the power people give them " argument, which I do believe. I'm not saying anyone should just take insults or that they have no right ot respond. I do believe laughing at such insults is the most strategic way to handle them – it shuts down the original insult and pretty much ensures that other people just trying to get a rise out of you don't do so. I remember Andrew Sullivan talking about this once- some thuggish kids in his neighborhood frequently hassled gay people – he was walking (I don't remember the story exactly but it's essence is correct) and they started on him, one of htem yelled "Faggot" – they were expecting some angry response but Sullivan responded with "Duhhh!" and that was the end of that. It's not incumbent on him to take the abuse, but his response was really effective, the thugs realized they'd need to try something else to get a response out of him and since they couldn't get a reaction from him, they just let it go. I think it's a great response but again, don't begrudge someone else from responding angrily.

  166. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    @Xenocles

    "I guess I just don't think communication is a good in itself. If the purpose of a particular communication is to cause harm, why should we ensure that communication goes through?"

    Whoa. Bigger Topic.
    There are two parts to this I would like to talk about – 1) is communication good in itself and 2) Why should we ensure that a communication intended to harm goes through – but my reasoning for the first might get a bit metaphysical so I'll go with the second first, ok?

    Why should we ensure that a communication intended to harm goes through?

    Having heard – or read – the communication in the first place, it has already gone through. If it was heard or read in a public forum such as the internet we are speaking of, it has in fact already "gone through" to multiple receivers. But as I understand the question from context, you may be asking why should one continue that communication or acknowledge it by responding?

    The short answer would be to illuminate precisely all of the un-intended messages you mentioned along with the intended message.

    Barring that, you may respond because you want to, have the right to do so, and believe that those saying you should be quiet are wrong. Either reason or both are sufficient to me.

    "A person who says "ur a douche" is saying a lot more than those three 'words.'"

    They certainly are.
    But who has picked up on it? Have they, in fact, picked up on it themselves? Usually, the best way to make the unintended messages explicit or near-enough explicit to be heard is to draw out more speech/communication through response. Possible outcomes from such acknowledgment:

    1) No change on either side of the exchange or in the audience that witnesses it – I list this one first as it mimics precisely what happens if I stop communication entirely by not responding.

    2) It is eventually revealed through my response that *I* am the stupid one whose logic is faulty or whose views are deplorable, etc. etc. etc. In short, my response reveals to the the audience that I am a douche in either fact or metaphor. My response has allowed more people to see my douchiness and enact social consequences – as available – on me. The other listeners to the communication benefit even if I remain a mystified douche. I suffer, but my opponent and the audience benefit.

    3) I am convinced *myself* – screw the audience – that I have been acting the douche. This gives me a guide to how I can either not look like a douche in the future while continuing to be one – benefit to me, loss to others. Better I can use the information to actually be less of a douche or not a douche at all – bigger benefit to me, huge benefit to others. The uradouche guy gets to "win" too, which people usually enjoy so – benefit there as well.
    4) Same as number 2 but with the ur a douche guy and myself switching places – benefit for all but ur a douche guy.
    5) same as 3 but with uradouche and myself switching places – benefit again.
    6) My response lead's uradouche to change outlook or tactics *and* I contemplate how I might be a douche. As for the audience, some think about the situation, some change their minds, some stopped reading already, some start thinking "Internet sucks!", some join in the debate, chaos! banhammers! mass hysteria! Popcorn is gleefully consumed. In short, the participants are to a greater degree than before engaged and – just maybe – thinking. Communication (overall) increases – benefit.

    That last one gives me as good a segue as any to why I think communication is a good thing in itself.

    A little clarification may be in order first. By "communication" I am talking about the exchange of ideas, opinions, emotions, etc. through speech – written, typed, spoken, visually portrayed or otherwise. A sharp punch to the face or massive standing army could fairly be described as an eloquent means of succinct communication, but that is not what I am talking about.

    Communication through speech is good in itself because it is superior to any other method we have yet figured out for resolving differences or disseminating new ideas. If this communication breaks down through inaction or intent, a human is left with the old ways of getting ideas across: violence, might makes right, pheromones, instinct, grunting, territorial tree pissing, etc. Those old methods do hold a certain charm, but I prefer communication through speech – it is less smelly, bloody, and dangerous.

    Yes, this amounts to me saying communication is the best tool we have for the purpose, and a tool is only as "good" as its use? Fair enough – in part.

    (here is where it gets metaphysical and I depart from reason and logic.)

    First, communication requires acknowledgement of another human *as* a legitimate human to at least a minor degree. For me, that acknowledgement is at the heart of any moral system that (for me) can be called legitimate. Indeed, I can think of few definite evils that do not arise from treating a human as less than they are. Withdrawing their ability to communicate with others puts them – if to vanishingly small degree – a little closer to the animal than the human. As communication reinforces that acknowledgement I view it as intrinsically good.

    Second, the act of communicating requires thought. The less thought, emotion, and reason that goes into it, the poorer the communication; the more, the better the communication. Any tool that encourages *more* thought, emotion and reason for efficient usage is – for me – a good thing. This is because I believe thought, emotion, and reason are intrinsically good things. Providing an evidence based case for that belief – if it is possible at all – could take volumes. In short, I will base it on a preference for being human as opposed to being (respectively) a vegetable, calculator, or wombat – even if I do like wombats.

    Third and finally, I just plain enjoy communication. At some level, I cannot explain why I think communication is "good" to someone who does not any better than I can explain why I think crunchy peanut butter is good to someone who likes plain. Raucous, quiet, civilized, raunchy; I love it all. That is at least one of the reasons I come to this blog, and at least one of the reasons I responded to your post. I believe you are a good communicator and wished to draw out more of your thoughts. That may sound like buttering up – maybe it is – but it is still the truth.

    On a total side note – and because I use sci-fi references as a defense mechanism – I wanted to recommend Frank Herbert's The Dosadi Experiment. Several comments upthread reminded me of the Gowachin courtarena and Gowachin views on civilized communication and debate. This recommendation is *very* likely useless to many here – I know at least one "JorjX.Mckie" posts here and have seen BuSab referenced a few times in the past – but wanted to throw that out there for those who do not know it.

  167. Xenocles says:

    @Mark-

    I can appreciate where you're coming from, but I suppose I'm a little jaded after so long on the internet. I have a low tolerance for bad behavior (mostly in the form of dishonest arguing and gratuitous insults), so I tend to disengage in the face of it. I recently got into a discussion with a commenter who objected to something I said. I attempted to explain in more detail what I meant and what the other person might have been missing. The response indicated to me that this person was either intentionally making bad arguments (a sock puppet) or earnestly and solidly believed them (a kook). (It doesn't matter how I came to this conclusion, you may have encountered something similar or you can charitably imagine such a series of events.) So I declined to say anymore to the person. I assessed that no good would come of my further attempts to communicate; I had no partner in my communication.

    Then again, I do frequent the boards at Reason, which are pretty Wild-West. Maybe as a rule one should lurk for quite a while in order to really understand what's being said and to try and develop character profiles. I would prefer to treat anyone I'm communicating with as humanly as possible, but this becomes difficult in places without relatively fixed handles or when some people have their own personal shtick to penetrate. (Sarcastro on Volokh, if he's still around, is an example.) So that much, at least, is complicated. I do like good discussion, but I also feel the need to husband my time and effort.

  168. Mark - Lord of the Albino Squirrels says:

    @Xenocles

    "I do like good discussion, but I also feel the need to husband my time and effort."

    I can definitely appreciate and understand that. A *lot* of the time my urge to communicate only leads to headaches and raised blood pressure. I am also obsessed with kooks in general – sent a lot of SASE's to the addresses in that High Wierdness by Mail book – so that gives you an idea on my approach to some internet forums.

    Sock puppets give me the fricking screaming hives, as you might imagine. As the man said:
    "I would not snare even an orc with a falsehood"
    Faramir

    That said, I do not see you as sock puppet, kook, or orc. It has honestly been a pleasure discussing with you sir.

  169. Xenocles says:

    Likewise.

  170. CTD says:

    To be fair, we can see Ken's "fattits" on every post, so it's hardly worth mentioning.

  171. Greg says:

    tl;dr

    Admittedly I haven't read _all_ the huge mass of comments up there.

    1) Generally I want to give a huge heap of kudo's to Ken for discussing this.

    2) I think we, as a culture have allowed to continue, without a lot of peer-pressure, the abuse and demeaning of women.

    3) Since this is "typical" it is disappointing, but not surprising, that a huge number of people "up there" seem to think it's "normal." And further, that "normal" = OK. [Or mostly so. Or that there's nothing you can do, so give up. Etc.]

    4) But it's not OK, it's perhaps "typical" but certainly not acceptable – and if we want the world to be a better place for our wives/daughters/sisters/female-friends then we need to quit being acquiescent and kick some ass the next time it happens in your space.

    For a while, you'll probably come out worse for the ass-kicking – but eventually the tide will shift.

    I think my point is: Don't freeking accept misogyny! Make it clear to your kids, that [like rape] we can stop it by making sure our friends, our children know and respect women. It's a societal thing and to stop it requires us [you, me, the guy next door - everyone] to stand up and say – "Dammit – you're going to treat women with respect and if you don't, I'm gonna kick your ass."

    When that kind of stuff happens – society will start to change. Until then, society will, by-and-large continue to abuse women and the rest of society will defend, shrug its shoulders and mumble about how it's "normal."

    [And we almost certainly are not the only culture/society - I'm sure there are others. But before anyone claims the "well group X is worse, why don't you complain about them first?" - well, this is MY society. It's the one where *I* can make a difference directly. It's MY responsibility in my society. So while I'm sure I could complain about someone else first - it would by hypocritical and useless [at least if you really want change] to point the finger elsewhere.

    Change starts at home. Change starts with me making clear the "norm" I expect and to let others know I won't sit silent when abuse happens. Change starts where we make it clear that not "winning" any particular battle won't keep me from taking it up. I/We will lose for a while. Eventually we'll start to fight to draws. And eventually we'll win.

    And in the end, Women will win in gaining a spot at the table that isn't "gifted" to them, or granted because they're pretty or because "I might get some." They might be pretty [or not] they might put out [or not] but we'll talk with them in ways that recognize their ideas, their basic value as people instead of baubles to praise or abuse.

    "I have a dream that my daughter will one day live in a nation where she will not be judged by the shape of her body, or the tighness of her clothing, or the way she puts out, [or not] but by the content of her character. I have a dream today!" [Apologies to MLK.]

    -Greg

  172. Mark says:

    As someone who's run a site since 1997 that involves opinion, I think you're on the right track but my solution would be a simpler one, and one that doesn't involve sexual discrimination:

    Get rid of Internet anonymity.

    Privacy? We all have a right to that. Visit my site and you have the right to know that I won't tell anyone. But if you write on my walls, don't expect me to hide your identity.

    The problem is that most folks don't grasp the difference between the two.

    Keep writing, great essays.

  173. Tarrou says:

    With you Greg, but why stop at physically assaulting people? We have trees, we have rope, let's just hang anyone being misogynist! This is clearly one of those areas where we just cannot tolerate women being told they are fat. String em up, I say! I've always found that the best way to get adolescent boys to respect someone is to threaten them with violence over the internet if they don't.

    Remember why we do this, if we don't, our daughters will be objectified, lusted after, and most diabolically, insulted on the internet. Will no one think of the chilluns?

    I have a dream, of a day when women are not thought of as sexual beings at all. Sadly, I won't be around to see it, and neither will any of you with a penis. But we, as the human race, will get there!

  174. Tarrou says:

    I thought today's SMBC was particularly relatable to this discussion.

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/comics/20130909.png

  175. Greg says:

    @Tarrou

    "Kicking ass" that was a metaphor. Since much of the talk above was about "on-line" conduct – kicking ass in a physical sense doesn't make a lot of sense. But since you take such glee in misconstruing obvious context, don't let me stop you.

    More importantly…
    Evidently thinking of women sexually, for you at least, includes abuse, mistreatment and disrespect? Hmmmm…

    And it's *us* that has a problem?

  176. James Pollock says:

    I have a different question for you, Greg.
    Why is abusive language towards women the ONLY type of abusive language you're against? Is it because no one else gets any abusive language thrown at them online, because ok, they get that abusive language, but somehow deserve it, or is it because women cannot handle abusive language the way others targeted by abusive language can?

    Why limit your campaign against abusive language to only one form?

  177. Devil's Advocate says:

    @Nettie

    This sort of stupid sexist response offends me less because the commenter does not think I'm pretty or something, and more because they act like my arguments are worth less than my appearance. So I would actually say it's even worse than someone just straight out saying 'your arguments are shit' since it's still implying that by apparently ignoring my arguments as not even worth responding too.

    Maybe the appropriate response is to assume that the commenter is too dumb to understand your argument or come up with a coherent argument against it.

  178. James Pollock says:

    "Get rid of Internet anonymity."
    It's not that easy. Anonymity is part of the problem, but so is distance. People who won't say, say, racial slurs, sexist insults, or other objectionable things to someone in the same room will feel quite safe to do so from somewhere else, and the greater the distance, the more likely it gets. The Internet provides a LOT of distance. That part is likely irremedial, even without anonymity.

  179. David Ashford says:

    I had a twitter exchange with the "relatively unknown actress" that you mentioned recently. I had thought that I had been humorous & relatively polite. Like you, I ended up blocked, but only I had been taken to task as a misogynist. It was sad that I was blocked, as I wanted to tell her to go out & get a dictionary, as she obviously had no clue what misogyny is. It does seem that any criticism of the opinions espoused by the female gender result in the playing of the "misogyny" card, rather than any form of debate.

  180. Erwin says:

    'Identity' (persistent login) and 'Karma' (memory of prior behavior) would help.
    The implementation I like has people being able to build multiple identities and making certain measures of behavior available. Examples are: #postings, creation date, #douche reports, #impressive blogs, #liked postings (and where…).

    Then, websites that prefer reasoned debate can automatically filter out any account that is new, has lots of douche reports…et cetera. And, suddenly, the effort required to make nasty trolling comments increases by several orders of magnitude. There's a lot of potentially useful automated tasks and filters.

    There are obvious poor tradeoffs (making the internet bubble into a wall…eg, loss of anonymity)

    That said – I'm not sure whether I'm cynical or apathetic – but I still suspect that the main driver of declines in sexism, etc, is the natural turnover in the population. Perhaps I'm wrong – there's also transmission via media, et cetera.

    –Erwin

  181. Sinij says:

    I don't know if there is much to add to Tarrou's excellent points, but I will try. Assuming that women, and only women, need protection in the medium of internet is in itself propagating harmful gender stereotype of women helplessness and/or vulnerability. Sure, when physical violence is involved such concerns would be justified., but in this medium of words (and sometimes ideas) women are in no way are less capable or more fragile than men.

  182. James Pollock says:

    "Then, websites that prefer reasoned debate can automatically filter out any account that is new, has lots of douche reports…et cetera"

    You'd find this unworkable in short order as it became possible to silence your opposition by reporting them. Plus, you'd lose the voices of people who were occasionally douchey, but frequently not and pretty much anyone who generates strong opinions, both good AND bad, at the same time.
    There's just no automated algorithm that works as well as human moderation.

  183. James Pollock says:

    Also
    "I still suspect that the main driver of declines in sexism, etc, is the natural turnover in the population."

    That assumes that there's only one kind of sexism. I suggest that there's a myriad different forms, some interrelated and some entirely independent, all waxing and waning in a pattern that appears largely random.

  184. TPRJones says:

    "You'd find this unworkable in short order as it became possible to silence your opposition by reporting them."

    Indeed. YouTube shows that very clearly; any comment that is disliked doesn't just get thumbed down it gets "marked as spam" even though it is clearly not spam. In general people who dislike what other people are saying online will abuse any system you give them in every way they can to silence the opposition. It may be possible to build a system that can account for all the different ways it can be abused, but that is pretty much impossible.

  185. Tarrou says:

    @ Greg,

    "Evidently thinking of women sexually, for you at least, includes abuse, mistreatment and disrespect? Hmmmm…"

    I tell you guy, I'm trying to satirize you here, but you make it difficult to do. Clearly I never said anything of the sort. My point was that statements like this:

    "I have a dream that my daughter will one day live in a nation where she will not be judged by the shape of her body"

    are so close to the silly extreme they become difficult to mock through exaggeration. You're basically railing against male biology, because as long as there is one straight male in the country, trust me, your daughter will be judged on her attractiveness, of which her "body" is part.

    Funny bit is, you and I probably agree on the appropriateness of episodes like Ken started his post about. Ken probably agrees with me too. I think it's rude and inappropriate. And it should be treated the way we treat rude and inappropriate behavior against everyone on the internet. Mock it when we can, mute it when we can, ignore it when we can't.

    At the end of the day, it's the nature of the internet to be mean at times. I just don't think there's any way to "fix" that, and in fact there may be nothing to fix. The exercise of freedom always includes those who abuse it. I don't think you can stop adolescent boys saying shocking things to get a reaction any more than you can get adolescent girls to stop growing up and making you feel old. And I think the overreaction to some trolls has the potential to do more harm than good.

    I've seen what the overuse and the over-policing of the concept of race has done to our culture. There was a legitimate problem, and now the reaction has taken us so far the other way it's engendering yet another backlash. I'm not eager to do the same thing with sex and gender. If that makes me a "misogynist", well then the word has been so devalued as to be useless. As with all insults, it only has the power to harm if the subject acquiesces.

  186. Ken White says:

    Hits keep on rolling:

    Men really need to stop seeking women's approval because if they don't they'll be inundated with hysterical harpies making ridiculous demands to please them every waking minute of their lives. Take a page from women in dealing with men and simply choose to do your own thing. When they come a knocking with stupid claims of sexism or insensitivity show them the hand and move on. Being male does not make you a slave to women's feelings because we know for a fact women don't bother kissing butt every time another woman demands something from them.

  187. HandOfGod137 says:

    Nice to see so many men sorting out sexism for the ladies. Where would they be without us to define and solve the issue for them?

  188. James Pollock says:

    "Where would they be without us to define and solve the issue for them?"
    Gathered in little circles bitching about it, obviously.

  189. Erwin says:

    @James, TPR
    To first order, any algorithm is gameable. But, remember that reports require use of an identity and that past history can also be incorporated. Eg, even with enormous financial and political motivation to game them – search engines still work. I'm pretty sure this problem is difficult but solvable – and easier than the search engine problem because it is a closed system – so motivation is easier to trace. It is possible – although not easy – to devise measures that will be reasonably predictive and difficult to game when used in combination. For example, 'respected' likes/dislikes. Or, 'moderator' likes/dislikes. (Coupled something resembling a median filter.) (So, even if Ken really, really hates you, but Clark and Patrick kinda like you…of course…that filter alone might miss out on people who are extremely hate-able but also have something worthwhile to say.) Or frequency plots of words used. I'd personally prefer filters along the lines of '3sigma high on number of douche reports' and 'posts are 60% curse words and misspellings' and 'several moderator bans' -> automatically hidden.

    Remember, the goal isn't to be perfect. Just to be cheaper than paid moderators and better than the vast wasteland that is YouTube. And, well, I'd be willing to risk missing a few people who are occasionally well-reasoned to avoid crossing that desert in search of a comment not involving fart jokes or multiple misspellings.

    –Erwin

  190. Erwin says:

    And yes – there will be gaming – but it is important to realize that the entity running an identity engine has an enormous advantage in that it has a ton of exclusive information on how reputation normally evolves. That information can be used to significantly buffer most 'fake' reputation changes.

    –Erwin

  191. James Pollock says:

    "Remember, the goal isn't to be perfect. Just to be cheaper than paid moderators and better than the vast wasteland that is YouTube."
    Oh. Then disable commenting.

  192. Erwin says:

    ………………………………………………………………..good point. (spit-take laughing)

    More seriously, I believe that it is also possible to devise systems that will function better than simply eliminating commenting, particularly from the standpoint of blog moderators.

    –Erwin

  193. Jules says:

    Read once somewhere "Threatened privilege is like a wounded animal." So true.

  194. Erwin says:

    @James Y'know, perhaps my experience is unique, but my observations indicate a fairly steady decrease in sexism through the generations.

    My great-grandparents felt that it was essential to bind women's feet (essentially crippling them and making it quite painful to walk…discipline involved jumping on bound feet…).

    My grandparents felt that concubines were a right and nothing to complain about. They also gave their daughters male names so people would believe they had sons. They also educated their daughters.

    My parents feel that women are responsible for staying home with the children, after getting a professional degree.

    My wife believes that she has a special bond with the children, but that household chores and work should be divided in ways that 'make sense'. (eh)

    Change happens. Within a generation, there are fads and variations and missteps, but overall, I think there's progress.

    –Erwin

  195. Xenocles says:

    Privilege theory is just another worldview. Once you buy into it it affects everything you see. Discussions then tend to become all about finding more privilege for your adversary so nobody has to listen to him or her. I was talking with Mark earlier about the unintended signals in communication. These days the word "privilege" is a fairly reliable indicator that your interlocutor is going to talk about people rather than ideas.

  196. Sinij says:

    Concept of "specific individual's privilege" is fairly meaningless – privilege is societal group average. Privilege means that on average Group A does better in X than Group B. This doesn't mean that every individual in group A is better off than someone from group B.

  197. James Pollock says:

    "@James Y'know, perhaps my experience is unique, but my observations indicate a fairly steady decrease in sexism through the generations."

    Is this addressed at me?
    I'd tend to agree that most of the "-isms" are less pronounced now than they used to be. Absolutely women have come a long way since they used to be property. (Of course, we still have societal pressures pushing the other way, back towards the way desert sheep-herding nomads used to organize their society 4000 years ago because it's the "natural order of things", with some men and some women preferring that organization to one of relationships of co-equals. I'd say that I think people who choose an unequal relationship should be left alone with their choice, and vice versa.)
    I also think the world's a better place now that it's been recognized that menfolk can effectively parent, even single-parent, and they might choose the "mommy track" or, as it's now called "work/life balance" at work.

  198. Ken White says:

    Privilege theory is just another worldview. Once you buy into it it affects everything you see. Discussions then tend to become all about finding more privilege for your adversary so nobody has to listen to him or her. I was talking with Mark earlier about the unintended signals in communication. These days the word "privilege" is a fairly reliable indicator that your interlocutor is going to talk about people rather than ideas.

    In my criminal defense practice, I have many clients who are white, educated, affluent, living in good neighborhoods, having their first experience with the criminal justice system.

    They tend to perceive that they are the victim of some sort of conspiracy, or special grudge by police or prosecutors, or unusual incompetence, or extreme treatment that others don't get, because they system would never treat anyone so badly if there weren't a special reason like that, that would be unprecedented. What's happening to them is so bad, so unfair, that it must be unique.

    I've never gotten that reaction from clients who are from impoverished backgrounds or bad neighborhoods, and I hardly ever get it from African-Americans or Latinos.

    Funny. I can't think why I brought that up.

  199. Xenocles says:

    Neither do I, Ken. It looks like you took issue with something I said, but what I don't see there is a denial of any of it.

  200. James Pollock says:

    I definitely think there's something to the idea that people who have privilege might not know it, because it's ubiquitous and just something that's always there (until it isn't, of course). The idea that people take things for granted because they don't know that other people don't have them is not exactly a new idea.

  201. Anony Mouse says:

    Debating privilege now? Christ, we've gone from Youtube to Tumblr.

    Abort! Abort! Abandon ship!

  202. Clark says:

    Privilege theory is just another worldview. Once you buy into it it affects everything you see. Discussions then tend to become all about finding more privilege for your adversary so nobody has to listen to him or her.

    Zing. Exactly.

  203. Clark says:

    @Ken:

    In my criminal defense practice, I have many clients who are white, educated, affluent, living in good neighborhoods, having their first experience with the criminal justice system.

    They tend to perceive that they are the victim of some sort of conspiracy, or special grudge by police or prosecutors, or unusual incompetence, or extreme treatment that others don't get, because they system would never treat anyone so badly if there weren't a special reason like that, that would be unprecedented. What's happening to them is so bad, so unfair, that it must be unique.

    I've never gotten that reaction from clients who are from affluent backgrounds or good neighborhoods, and I hardly ever get it from African-Americans or Latinos.

    I think that there's a typo or a dropped word somewhere in here.

    Are you saying that the middle class is surprised, but neither the rich nor the poor are?

    Or are you saying that the wealthy half of the people are surprised, but the poorer half are not?

    In either case, I'm reminded of the (apparently true) story that in the Soviet gulags, it was pretty common to come across True Believers in communism who had gotten swept up in the machine. They all thought that they were there by accident…but couldn't generalize from their experience; they still thought everyone around them must be legitimate enemies of the regime who fully deserved their incarceration.

    For the record, I'm a white, educated, (formerly) affluent person who thinks that when the legal system goes after a white collar person it is often acting corruptly and contrary to good sense, the Constitution, justice, and the law.

    …and that when the legal system goes after a poor person it is ALSO often acting corruptly and contrary to good sense, the Constitution, justice, and the law.

    That was a hard mental transition to make a decade or so back, but reading some of the laws on the books, reading about police corruption, reading about how witnesses are interrogated, reading about (or experiencing) how cops lie and commit perjury routinely and without shame…one has to conclude that just because the legal system has stamped its imprimitur on a conviction, a reasonable man on the street can conclude nothing about the actual legitimacy of the decision or the sentence.

  204. HandOfGod137 says:

    And BOOM we're back to "all coppers are bastards". Hurrah.

    Privilege theory is just another worldview. Once you buy into it it affects everything you see. Discussions then tend to become all about finding more privilege for your adversary so nobody has to listen to him or her.

    Zing. Exactly.

    Utter nonsense. Is the concept of checking your preconceptions against the advantages your nationality, sex or sexuality (this list is not exhaustive) bring really that hard to grasp?

  205. Tarrou says:

    @ Handofgod

    What is nonsense about it? There's any number of commenters above posting completely off-topic, non sequiturs, avoiding anything about the actual conversation, because they think they detect "misogyny" or "privilege". Hell, even Ken is going to the discussion boards at Wired to get examples of people I presume he thinks are sexist, and posting them here. Several commenters have made statements similar to "the only people who think that sound like sexists/misogynists/w/e". There's no engagement of the issue, no criticism of assumptions or logical process. Simply the bald assertion that one's opponent's motivation is vile, and therefore, ipso facto, their argument is invalid.

    Guess what? Logic works independently of motivation, and so do facts. In the hands of an intelligent debater, "privilege" could be a useful method of explaining why one's opponent's fail to grasp the assumptions you are asserting. Mostly, it's merely asserted on its own, and assumed to end the argument.

    "Because you're (rich/white/male/etc.) your argument is invalid" is a poor argument, and a bigoted one.

  206. HandOfGod137 says:

    @Tarrou

    "Because you're (rich/white/male/etc.) your argument is invalid" is a poor argument, and a bigoted one.

    Agreed. But "consider how your assumptions may have been affected by your race/nationality/sex/whatever before you formulate your argument" seems a perfectly reasonable position to me.

  207. TPRJones says:

    @Erwin: "Remember, the goal isn't to be perfect."

    Well, considering that we were discussing the theoretical moderation of the entire internet which if done badly could lead to the digital disenfranchisement of millions as they are wrongfully removed from the public debate, then the goal better damn well be to be perfect.

    But if you were just talking about how to moderate one site somewhere, then that's okay. Although I don't see how moderating a single site would erase misogyny from the internet.

  208. Xenocles says:

    "Is the concept of checking your preconceptions against the advantages your nationality, sex or sexuality (this list is not exhaustive) bring really that hard to grasp?"

    No. Is the concept that straw burns more easily than other building materials hard for you?

    At no point did I say the ethos was completely invalid. There's obviously enough truth in it to make it attractive. But there's also an extremely seductive aspect to it – the one I mentioned – that offers a convenient excuse for anything you want and shifts the focus from ideas to people. That's what I see it used for the most in my non-scientific survey.

    So I guess there's at least as much evidence to support me as there was for the original post.

  209. Ken White says:

    Privilege is a concept. Like any concept, it can be abused as part of a rhetorical device. I'm not fond of "check your privilege"; I think it is too often used as an insipid "I win" button in debate. But I don't have any doubt, based on personal experience and observation, that there is such a thing as privilege, and that it has an impact on the way that some people interpret some events and circumstances.

  210. Ken White says:

    Thanks to Clark for pointing out two misplaced words that made my point incoherent. Should have been:

    I've never gotten that reaction from clients who are from impoverished backgrounds or bad neighborhoods, and I hardly ever get it from African-Americans or Latinos.

    My point was: people who never to encounter the criminal justice system tend to think it is singling them out when they encounter it the first time; people who live in circumstances where they encounter cops a lot understand that everyone gets treated that way and don't see themselves as being singled out. That was my example of a type of privilege that colors thinking.

  211. Erwin says:

    @tpr
    I'm talking about a system with opt-in by site and reasonable configuration flexibility which still runs the risk of digitally disenfranchising people.

    I am so tired of trolls and general discourtesy that I'd be more likely to visit sites where posters were required to have a prior history of decent spelling. Given that a well-implemented identity system allows better tests than spelling, I predict that identity and karma would improve forum content from my perspective. I prefer a system that provides measures to forums and has the forums interpret those measures. Because, after all, different sites will prefer different sorts of moderation.

    Now, sure, there will be people who exhibit a range of behaviors on the internet. The workaround is to have several distinct identities, such as thoughtfulguy and angryidiot and behave accordingly.

    People would also be perfectly free to start new identities, but the cost is that they'd need to earn trust over time. I'm pretty sure this system would improve internet discourse – except for people who enjoy venting rage on others. I worry more about probable gains in state power, as well as the fact that this system is not intuitively commercial. Albeit, I can see the possibility of some sort of ad revenue sharing.

    -Erwin

  212. TPRJones says:

    So essentially the biggest long-term threat to free speech is not censorship but spam and the reaction to it that leads to a general devaluing of free speech principles. Interesting.

  213. James Pollock says:

    "My point was: people who never to encounter the criminal justice system tend to think it is singling them out when they encounter it the first time; people who live in circumstances where they encounter cops a lot understand that everyone gets treated that way and don't see themselves as being singled out. That was my example of a type of privilege that colors thinking."

    Wait, you have two independent variables here.
    Does this "singled out" belief come from the fact that they're rich/white/privileged, or does it come from the fact that it's their first interaction with the criminal justice system?
    Perhaps the reason you don't get that feeling amongst the non-rich/non-wite/non-privileged is not related to privilege, but just to experience with the justice system.

  214. James Pollock says:

    "I am so tired of trolls and general discourtesy that I'd be more likely to visit sites where posters were required to have a prior history"

    You just blocked EVERYONE. NOBODY has a prior history (of anything) the first time they post. If you can't post unless you have a prior history, you can't make a first post. If you can't make a first post, you can't make a history.

    (side note: Does your theoretical "bad spelling" filter distinguish mis-spelled words from typos? 'cause I can spell, but sometimes can't quite type as fast as want to write.)

  215. TPRJones says:

    @James: "Perhaps the reason you don't get that feeling amongst the non-rich/non-wite/non-privileged is not related to privilege, but just to experience with the justice system."

    To which the reply would of course be that not having to have had experience with the justice system is due to their white privilege.

    But I'd still argue the problem there is mostly with a crappy justice system.

  216. Erwin says:

    There's a difference between free speech and speech without consequences. Free speech is what we, in theory, have in the physical world. And it works better in conjunction with social shunning.

    One problem on the internet is the lack of consequences.

    One of the consequences of continually posting:
    '$#R%$# #$$# #$#$ u be so wrongo leetsauce' is that I won't want to read your posts and will be grateful for nearly any automated filter that automatically hides your posts.

    Social shunning is the physical world is also problematic. But, it does act to regulate hurtful speech reasonably effectively and is better than a government regime.

    Honestly, I'm not sure that an identity system will necessarily be a net benefit. The base idea of simplifying the infliction of consequences probably will improve internet discourse. Still, there's virtue in the freedom of anonymity – and it would be perfectly possible to envision a stifling identity system that was held together by network effects.

    Overall, I hope people will be left with the freedom to choose – with people comparing the results and costs of automatically moderated, human moderated, and unmoderated forums and deciding where their time is best spent, along with forum runners deciding the sort of discourse they prefer. I also hope that Ken's daughters will have the ability to chose to never even notice every poster whose response to females involves gender slurs.

    On the other hand (perhaps more on topic), there's a danger in creating the ability to easily ignore speech. If you consider the distinction between public and private areas in the physical world – wherein I can throw you out of my home to restrict your speech in private areas but must walk past you and hear your protests in public areas…the internet is currently, by default, almost entirely private areas that are being treated as public. I think it would be a bad thing if the internet became primarily private areas treated as private. I'm not sure how things will evolve over time.

    –Erwin

  217. Erwin says:

    @James
    Not exactly. I'd prefer a system where my browser simply hid the first 10 posts / first week of a new identity's forum postings. If other people were responding to those posts, I might take a look at a posting. Heck, I'd prefer a probabilistic system, where the probability of displaying a post was a function of identity age and number of posts. There's a lot of possible implementations that increase the cost of trolling significantly with only modestly increased moderation. Whether or not that is good depends on the current S/N ratio of a forum and the current costs of moderation.

    –Erwin

  218. Erwin says:

    @James
    Oh, and, the misspelling filter I'd set would be aimed at targeting posts that are nearly incomprehensible or filled with misspelled obscenities. (Occasional misspellings are not predictive of posts that waste my time. However, at a threshold approaching 30% misspelled words, I can accurately predict that I don't want to read a given post and don't even want to know it exists. Sure, maybe someone typed in some marvelous experimental poetry…but probably they're just drunk typing or crazy.)

    –Erwin

  219. Erwin says:

    @James
    But, you are right in feeling discomfort. One problem with an identity system is a stifling of discourse because of the knowledge of consequences.** In this case, you'd probably feel obligated to edit or use a spellchecker.* There is something marvelously freeing about anonymity on the internet that would be lost – I'd prefer to minimize that loss with a system in which any one person could have many identities.
    –Erwin
    *Which would actually make me slightly happier – I have a small hangup about spelling errors.
    **Just like free speech in a public area.

  220. James Pollock says:

    "To which the reply would of course be that not having to have had experience with the justice system is due to their white privilege."

    But that's a selection bias. NOBODY has experience with the justice system until they do. So by your argument, blacks who are having their first experience with the justice system, were advantaged by white privilege up to that point.

    (And there's also the question of whether it's because of privilege, or because they don't do criminal things, and if it's because they don't do criminal things, is it because they wouldn't do criminal things anyway, or because privilege meant that they had other choices (i.e., doctor-shopping for an Oxy script instead of scoring heroin on the street). I'm pretty sure I can go as many levels deep as you like, and still find a privilege argument.)

    I've gone through my entire adult life without having justice system experience. Is it because I'm white, or is it because I live in the comfortable suburbs and not the gritty urban center, or because I've been able to make a good living through honest work, or because I didn't do illegal stuff? Is it some combination of these things? How can we tell what the proper allocation is?

  221. James Pollock says:

    "Overall, I hope people will be left with the freedom to choose – with people comparing the results and costs of automatically moderated, human moderated, and unmoderated forums and deciding where their time is best spent"

    That's what we have now, so no change is required.
    The problem is that you want different moderation from what sites' operators have chosen to apply.
    People self-select… if they don't like profanity-driven misanthropy, they don't read comments on sites that feature profanity-driven misanthropy. The problem seems to be that more (or at least, enough) people DO prefer profanity-driven misanthropy, or are willing to tolerate it.
    The world WOULD be better if there weren't so many mean people in it. But, it would also be better if supermodels found me attractive. It would be better if everybody's sports team could win the Big Game. It would be better if foods with sugar, cholesterol, and artificial flavoring were good for you.
    It is worthwhile to ask people to be on their best behavior. Sometimes, they're going to decline. You only get to control YOUR behavior.

  222. James Pollock says:

    "On the other hand (perhaps more on topic), there's a danger in creating the ability to easily ignore speech."

    Silly, there is and always has been a mechanism to easily ignore speech on the Internet. That little "x' button up in the top corner will do it, and there's certainly been times in nearly everyone's lives when exercising that option would have been the superior choice for us to make.
    The danger is not at all in creating a system to automatically ignore commentary… we do this everyday by the simple expedient of not going to sites. I don't go to the leftist blogs, and I don't go to the rightist blogs, and I largely ignore, to the best of my ability, what anyone on either one of these categories of blogs has to say.

    The danger lies in outsourcing the decisions as to what things to ignore. Some people do this by party line ("I don't want to hear anything some leftist says") and some do it by source (this one's highly redundant with the first, i.e. "The NY Times? That leftist rag.")

    Some do it by profanity level. Heck, some brave souls even SEEK OUT opinions that are counter to their own, whether the goal is to enrich one's own understanding or to seek out and slay the opposing opinion in it's own lair.

    On the one hand, no progress was ever made except by someone who says "there's got to be a better way to do this!" On the other hand, not journeys that begin with "there's got to be a better way to do this!" lead to an actual better way to do "this", whatever "this" is.

    Find sites that are moderated so as to draw the type of people you wish to interact with, and visit them. Avoid the comments portion of sites that are NOT so moderated. You have to put in the effort yourself instead of having it automatically done, but the end result is the same.

  223. Erwin says:

    @James
    Not exactly. Right now – I choose between unmoderated, mild automatic moderation on a site-by-site basis, and manually moderated. And I've seen a fair number of site owners quite frustrated about the overhead of moderation.

    No one's built a working identity system and offered it to bunch of sites (that I know of)

    …I'm pretty confident that, if, when, someone does – many forum owners will incorporate that system and that I'll enable it and set it to filter out people with a clear history of douchery.

    …this isn't about controlling other people. This is about simplifying the process of ignoring someone completely – which is something I'm free to do.

    …I'd also love the option of having moderation being person-specific…but I just like things with lots of dials…that's more of a personal failing.

    …the reality is that, although yes, there are sites with people who prefer profanity-driven misanthropy – there are plenty of sites where profanity-driven misanthropy shows up even though the vast majority would prefer not wading through it and the forum owners would prefer to moderate it. I think developing the capability for those sites would be useful.

    –Erwin

  224. James Pollock says:

    Erwin, the real demand for the service you imagine is not "moderators who want comments by people who aren't dicks". It's "moderators who want comments by people who aren't spammers". Watch that market, because when THAT product hits, it'll be easily modified to your specifications.

  225. Erwin says:

    @James …you are probably right.

    –Erwin

  226. Robert says:

    Try looking at any blog comment thread or twitter hashtag where guns are discussed and you'll soon see the same thing applied to men, just because they are men. I'm sure you'll recognize what I am speaking of without me having to say it.

  227. Chick Ken Wants to Lay says:

    Oh, Ken, you're soooooo sensitive. I mean, you really get it! You're not like those other guys who are such pigs. Wanna go shopping tomorrow?

  228. Ken White says:

    See what I mean? Douchebros.

  229. Jonathan says:

    Ken how on earth did you even find such an obscure video?

    Also: The offensive comment would actually be pretty funny if it was a male of similar size and in a see-thru shirt in that video. Or maybe that's just me?

  1. September 7, 2013

    […] is the one in which Ken White doesn't understand about generalizing from a small sample size. He's got a post up over on Popehat oting that some random chick who posted a polemic on […]