Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Bronies Phenomenon

I'd run across some dismissive references to "Bronies" on the Internet, but had little idea who or what they were until I happened to catch a documentary by Morgan Spurlock on Netstream tonight. "Bronies" are fans of the cartoon program "My Little Pony Friendship is Magic." There are, by conservative estimate, seven million self-identified "Bronies," 85% of whom identify as male, most of whom identify as straight. The average age of a Brony is 21, although they range in age from adolescent to middle aged.

I was stunned to learn this.

What draws these men to a program that was originally targeted for little girls? The values of kindness, loyalty, and optimism... a determination to expand the narrow confines of conventional masculinity... and an attraction, I must surmise, to adorably cute pastel animated horses.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Randi Lee Harper: Coder, Gamer, SJW

For the sake of my own mental health and quest for personal happiness, I have been trying to lay off the "manosphere," but the other night found myself pulled back in. I'd seen a retweet on Chris Kluwe's feed from Randi Lee Harper, a young coder and game enthusiast, who has been working on an app that will allow twitter users a means to block gamer-gaters from accessing their feeds. I thought that was an interesting idea given that social media platforms like twitter are unable or unwilling to develop anti-harassment policies with any teeth.

Harper's project isn't sitting well with the misogynists, and they've reacted in predictable ways: by attempting to use the power of SEO to smear her name on Google.

I watched in real time as Mike Cernovich threw up on his twitter feed shot after shot of Ms. Harper's old personal blog (in which she candidly discusses a bad breakup, among other painful experiences) along with a mugshot from a traffic violation ten years ago and other personal pictures. This was not the first time Ms. Harper's reputation had been violated by disgruntled, anonymous trolls -- this seems to go with the territory of being a young woman in tech or journalism -- so he dug around there too, to throw up a post that is a bizarre mash of innuendo, frank speculation, fact, and outright fabrication.

I sat at my laptop, my mouth agape, and watched this online attack unfold. Of course, Cernovich deleted most of the offending tweets immediately (and moved the attack to a post on one of his blogs). I'm sure the tweets have been screen capped and saved. Cernovich appears to fully expect, and even anticipate, being banned from twitter.

As enraging as it was to watch this online attack take place, Randi Harper's responses, curiously, made me feel stronger.

Randi Lee Harper now proudly joins the ranks of the reigning anti-gamergate heroines: Zoe Quinn, Brianna Wu, Leigh Alexander, and Anita Sarkeesian. Social Justice Warrior Princesses? (Or, as Brianna Wu joked, "more like social justice operatives.")

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Safe Place For Gamers

I for one fully support the new addition to Roosh's media empire, a gaming site for heterosexual men. He saw a need and he stepped in to fill it like the true entrepreneur he is. Glad too to see he has a strong ethics policy which explicitly prohibits doxxing and online harassment. Most of the SJWs and feminists are equally thrilled. As one wag tweeted, "Can we now replace the gate with a wall, put razor wire on top, and keep them all in there?"

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Wall of SJW Champions

Following the manosphere can really fill an old broad like me with despair. And it's been a particularly horrible year for many women on the Internet, thanks to the misogynistic shit goblins and grifters who broke out of the confines of the manosphere to invade gaming. What gives me hope is seeing so many successful men come forth and stand up as self-identified feminists in the wake of a twitter-driven witch hunt -- a veritable orgy of doxxing, threats, and harassment -- that was ostensibly about "ethics in journalism," but was never, ever about anything but angry white, mostly anonymous guys having meltdowns over their perceived "loss" of privilege. 

Today my students are writing about whether celebrities and professional athletes should be role models, so this is on my mind today:  

To anyone who uses his position of power, his louder voice, to champion those who have relatively little power, I salute you. I want to throw you a ticker tape parade, bury you in flowers, buy you drinks, kiss your hand. You make a difference. You give others hope and strength.

I have so many masculine heroes right now, I can't name them all: Aziz Ansari, Louis CK, Stephen Colbert, Chris Kluwe, Arthur Chu... Help me out, who am I missing here?

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Trip to the Middle East

OK, so this video has been making the rounds. And it's been criticized for perhaps being racially biased (i.e., they edited out the white guys).

And here is a typical manospherian response:

Matt Forney retweeted
Being called a slut is a compliment. American feminists need to take a trip to the Middle East to see how bad women really have it.

OK, Mr. KirillWasHere, I am an American woman who spent ten fucking years in the Middle East (Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen), and guess what? It was pretty much the same damn thing.

One day I was strolling down the streets of Teheran with a male colleague. All along the route, we heard the hiss of "coos... coos... coos..." (= cunt... cunt... cunt...)

"My gawd, Cinzia," my colleague said. "Is it like this every time you walk down the street?"

Well, yup, it was, which is why I took to wearing a chador when I went out. If I could have managed to pass as a man (as another British teacher did with her anorak and slim hips) I would have done that instead, but presenting myself as a pious Muslim woman was the best I could do. Disguising myself in a swath of black nylon didn't eliminate the harassment entirely, but it kept it down to a dull, manageable roar.

Now that I'm identifiably post-menopausal, I am no longer the victim of this kind of walking nightmare forced to walk a gauntlet every time I venture forth in public. And no, I don't "miss" being cat-called in the street. Being ignored in public is one of the few consolations of becoming a crone ( = invisible to the Masculine Gaze). Having one's sexuality acknowledged by John Q. Public is not a compliment, it's simply harassment. 

This iconic photo from the fifties speaks as powerfully as last week's video, doesn't it?
Embedded image permalink
Nothing new here. And no, I don't think she's enjoying that attention one bit.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

He's The Boss

I've been trying to rent one of my duplex units for two months. We've tried various means of marketing it, including hiring a rental manager who appears to have done nothing more than post an obscure sign for his company on the lawn. Part of the problem is that we're putting it on the market at a time of year when relatively few people move. With the holidays fast approaching, we started to get impatient. We finally decided to post our own sign, and finally started getting a few calls.

This weekend a likely prospect showed up. A young woman (I'll call her Emily) took a look at the place, and was very enthusiastic. "It's so clean and spacious! I haven't seen anything this nice!" Since moving to the area a month ago, she, her husband, their three small children AND a large dog have been sharing one room in a budget motel while they look for a house to buy.

"I can't take being cooped up in there one more day," Emily said. "I can't even put the baby on that filthy floor."

We offered the couple a three month rental agreement. That would tide us over the holidays, when the rental market was likely to pick up, and would be a great mitzvah for this pleasant family in need. The rent they would be paying us would be less than what they were paying for the motel; it would take them at least two months to find and close on a house; they would be able to spread out and relax in comfort. They even had a fenced yard for the dog.

It seemed like a win:win for both parties, and we expected them to sign the agreement and move in today. 

We were surprised to get a tense call from Emily this morning. "Dale doesn't want to move out of the motel," she said. "I'm still talking to him about it."

As the day wore on, my partner and I wondered how Emily's conversation with Dale was going, There was not one doubt in our minds that Emily would quickly prevail. After all, as the old adage goes, If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

At three the phone finally rang. Emily was sobbing. "Dale won't let us leave the motel," she said. "He says it won't kill me and the kids to stay here another few weeks."

That didn't make sense to us, and we couldn't help expressing our surprise.

"I know it doesn't make sense," Emily said, "but he's the boss."

I felt a frisson of fear at these words. Were Emily and her children (and their large loveable dog) safe?

My partner said, "He's gonna pay for this later."

I thought about some of the men of the manosphere who brag about their ability to exert dominance over their wives, and the other men who complain bitterly about women who "frivorce" them. I thought how Dale may have won this particular "battle" but is likely to wind up losing everything. I thought about how people fall out of love, so often, because over time their needs and desires have been dismissed by the partner with more power.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Videogames and Disco

Here's an interesting article by Arthur Chu comparing #gamergate to the anti-disco rebellion of the seventies. I actually came of age during the seventies, didn't much care for (or about) disco, and have no recollection of the frenzy of violence that was triggered by an ill-advised White Sox promotional stunt (burning disco albums in front of a crowd of hysterical rock "purists"). I guess I was too busy listening to the music I did like (Neil Young and other folk-rockers; the taste for punk came later). 

In making the analogy, however, Chu makes an interesting and important point that applies equally well to the "manosphere" and the MRM: The people who embrace these reactionary movements are always, almost exclusively, white guys who perceive themselves as victims.

"Our various “culture wars” tend to boil down to one specific culture war, the one about men wanting to feel like Real Men and lashing out at the women who won’t let them. Whenever men feel like masculinity is under attack, men get dangerous. Because that’s exactly what masculinity teaches you to do, what masculinity is about. Defending yourself with disproportionate force against any loss of power? That’s what masculinity is...  I’m afraid of masculinity, and privilege, of the male sense of “honor” they combine to create, and the incredible reservoir of madness that “honor” can unleash when it’s threatened. Of how incredibly petty the offense can be and how insanely disproportionate the retaliation can be."

Yes, this. 

Chu points out, the ugliness of their rhetorical chest-thumping and behavior (doxxing, threatening, harassing) is in direct proportion to their desperation. They know they can't win. They know they're on the wrong side of history.