Really, how do you?
If you are a Redditor or have been following the online twittering about it, then you know of the unmasking of the anonymous poster Violentacraz who was responsible for and exceedingly active in some of the creepiest threads I have ever read about. Threads of creepshots, jail-bait creepshots, various racist subtopics, and various other skeevy message boards where pervy bastards could post pictures taken without the knowledge of the subject and other pervy bastards could comment on them. If you are unaware, the lovely S.E. Smith of XOJane wrote about it here.
Kind of makes you want to take a bath, does it not?
I have never been terribly interested in Reddit. It reminded me to much of the BBS boards of the past and all the trouble I got into with those. I also do not understand the appeal of the “creeper” style of photo. I also do not understand (and I know I am about to get flak for this) what the unmasking of this person was supposed to accomplish.
The entire Reddit thing is bringing up the issues of free speech and the issues of privacy. Issues of violation and misogyny. These are nothing if not teeming snake pits, where issue chases issue until your head wants to implode from the resulting confusion.
I am all for whatever level of anonymity you wish to engage in online. The online community is not a swimming pool, it is an ocean and there are sharks–hell there are meglodons. I do not believe that unmasking this person for generally being vile fixes any sort of problem. In the movie Strangeland, Dee Snider’s character Captain Howdy states that “For every man hacking at the branches of evil, one will attempt to head for the root.” Something close to that, anyway. It is terribly difficult to narrow down the exact wording of a B-Movie using only the internet.
Is that what we think we are doing? Hacking at the root with this one redditor? He is one man of a community, and unmasking him has not only given him his time in the limelight, but it has also opened him up for a far more personal attack than any that he has been proven to make. He took creepy photos without people’s knowledge. He posted what were undeniably objectionable opinions. He was racist, he was anti-women, he was many things; but does the right to free speech not ALLOW him to say these things? Yes, his opinions are horrendous. We do not have to agree with him. My fear now, is that his creepy and vile online antics can now be taken revenge upon in a more physical form. He has already lost his job and financial security for something he did online as an anon.
Where does the responsibility of the safety of this individual lie? He was posting online as an anon for a reason. For the same reason abused individuals post as anon. They do not want their thoughts and actions exposed for retaliation. Should harm befall this man, do we blame him or the person who unmasked him? Do we uphold those who unmask anons leaving abusive relationships for the same reasons?
This is where I fall down as a feminist in most people’s minds. I firmly believe that what he was doing was creepy as hell. But, in a world where People of Walmart is OK, why is a creep shot not OK? If we are going to make this all about women, why not take into consideration that those “nice ass comments” are not one way streets? I have sat with many a gay boyfriend and commented on the bodies on a dance floor, city street, pub, and even the mall.
I guess I am just confused. How do we become better people when we out anon’s online for posting a sly photo of a woman bending over in public, but then click over to People of Walmart to laugh at those whom we firmly believe do not own mirrors? How do we point fingers and shout “MISOGYNIST!!!” without falling into Misandry? If objectifying a female body is inherently misogynistic, should I purge my Yaoi collection as it objectifies the male body? How should I feel when I appreciate the fine figure of a jogging man’s booty as I sit in a patio cafe? Should I hate myself for staring? Should I yell at my friends when they ask for snapped photos in yoga class, or laugh it off as the joke it was? Do we really want to over use the word “predator” so much that it becomes meaningless? Or worse, all inclusive?
The same is the worry about the term “violated”. Now, I was violated. I was raped in my late teens and it quite literally fucked me and all relationships I had up for YEARS. I never got “justice” and I never received appropriate counseling. I was a victim of violence and my body penetrated against my will. This is violation. I do not see the same correlation between an anonymous butt and this experience. If there IS such a correlation, then the same needs to be said of any website that posts content without the subjects awareness including, but not limited to, People of Walmart, Passive Aggressive Notes, Regretsy, etc.
Hell, Regretsy has had cease and desist letters written, and the owners post them and their responses for the enjoyment of all. In this case, the owner of the site even links to Etsy shops and includes people’s e-mail addresses, sometimes resulting in death threats to PEOPLE WHO MAKE QUESTIONABLE CRAFTS. Really, you made an ugly headband, you deserve to die?
Like I said, pit of vipers. I don’t have the answer. I don’t even have AN answer. I muddle through the best I can. Not everyone comes here to the Net to play nice. If we don’t like them, we can always take our balls somewhere else to play.