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Misogyny, racism, and homophobia on Slashdot (long)

Elbereth (58257) writes | more than 2 years ago

User Journal 2

Is it just me, or does Slashdot seem to be a bastion of misogyny, racism, and homophobia? I'm not talking about the simplistic trolls who just throw around offensive words. I'm talking about people who really, truly mean what they're saying and write passionate posts about just how much they hate women/feminazis, gays, and various racial/religious minorities. It's startling. Normally, I'd chalk most of those posts up to simple trolls, but... well... take a look.

Is it just me, or does Slashdot seem to be a bastion of misogyny, racism, and homophobia? I'm not talking about the simplistic trolls who just throw around offensive words. I'm talking about people who really, truly mean what they're saying and write passionate posts about just how much they hate women/feminazis, gays, and various racial/religious minorities. It's startling. Normally, I'd chalk most of those posts up to simple trolls, but... well... take a look.

The story that made me actually write this is about the revenge blog order. A man wrote a revenge blog, harassing his ex-girlfriend, and a judge ordered him to take it down. I figured most of the debate would center around free speech vs harassment (and I was mostly right), but a few misogynist threads popped up, too.

The first post that stuck out is actually relatively harmless. The guy says that he doesn't date women when he's unemployed, because he can't provide for them, if they get pregnant. Well... OK. That's a bit patriarchal. It's nice that he takes responsibility for his actions, but, like another poster, I was a bit struck by his flippant attitude toward women. I think we can assume, given his user name, that he was just trying for laughs, which perhaps backfired, giving some people the impression that he's a bit of a dumbass. Then again, it's entirely likely that he's also role-playing an erratic personality. In any case, nothing he said was misogynistic -- simply patronizing and a betrayed a bit of lack of respect for women, even as he seems to pride himself on his sense of responsibility.

I have certain sympathies with the radical feminists, and I think they are right about some things. I'm probably going to sound a bit like one right now, critiquing this post. It reeks of "men have been emasculated in our society, and now women/feminazis have all the power". Without actually saying anything specific, he insinuates that women are faking their fear, when they seek restraining orders, only to use them as offensively, as a weapon, against the poor men. This may very well be true, and I'm not saying that it can't happen, but it's a very dangerous POV that diminishes sympathy and compassion for victims of domestic violence. I find it disturbing. I will stop short of saying that he's actively sympathizing with actual abusers (his friends, who are the victims of these restraining orders), because I dislike when people make those kinds of assumptions about people. I'd also like to believe that, in his mind, at the very least, these guys are actually innocent of any wrong-doing and that he's not making excuses for their behavior.

There's another "men are powerless in today's society" post following that, decrying that men are now commonly scapegoated as the cause of all things bad in this world. He doesn't stop there, though. He also claims that they are essentially non-citizens in family law. While I understand that there are certain issues that we as a society still need to resolve (traditional gender roles dictate that the women raise children), instead of recognizing that strict gender roles are the problem, the poster turns his anger toward women, instead. This is not healthy. It's also deeply frustrating.

And this post seems to be saying that it's only the poor, emasculated men who have face the repercussions of the actions. The law does not apply equally to women, because that would be not be PC. At least, that's my reading of his post. I may have put a few words into his mouth. I don't understand where these people are coming from or why they believe the things that they believe. Did someone repeatedly hurt them, without repercussions? That sucks. I feel bad for you. But that does not mean that women are out to get you.

The emoticon on this post indicates that the poster was joking, but... come on! This is a really disturbing thing to say. You're taking the side of someone who broke a restraining order, wrote a revenge blog that violated the privacy of a mentally ill person, and then aggressively advertized it to her friends, family, and coworkers? You're saying what he did was a good thing, for the benefit of society? I understand it was supposed to be a joke, but I'm not laughing. I'm not claiming to have some kind of moral ground here, like I'm some kind of saint, as I can be an unrepentant asshole at times, but, seriously.... this is just wrong, and if an acknowledged asshole can see that it's wrong, you should know better, too. I'm astounded that my own lack of empathy is soundly trounced by others. This, more than any moral outrage, is what shocks me the most about this guy's post. But it's just a joke. Yeah, sure. Let's just give our implicit support to those who would harass the mentally ill.

Moving on. This post could simply be a troll. However, there are a lot of people out there who -- without any irony whatsoever -- use terms such as feminazi. While this poster showed admirable restraint, I think he got the point across, just the same, by characterizing the judge as a "neo-feminist windbag". He further asserts that "a lot of them [judges] are [neo-feminist windbags]". It would be nice if that were true. My fear is that he's just so much of a misogynist that it seems true, from his viewpoint.

And here's another "it's just a joke" post, in which the poster asserts that all Minnesota women are crazy. This isn't so bad, and I'd probably just write it off as a guy who's been unlucky in love trying to make a joke about it, but... again, he's taking the side of someone whose actions are indefensible. This guy hasn't actually asserted that what the guy did was right or in the public's best interest, but it's disturbing that he's making jokes at the expense of the victim. That post is quickly followed up by several others claiming that all women are crazy. Of course.

This post seems to be reinforcing the commonly held belief that men are constantly victimized by false accusations and unjustly punished by society, as a result. While nobody can deny that these false accusations happen and quite certainly do destroy the reputation of innocent people, it's yet another cliched, misogynist argument that appears constantly on the internet. If you listen to these people, you'll sometimes hear crazy statistics about how most rapes are actually false accusations. It's disturbing that society seems to believe that, in some certain cases, innocence needs to be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt (rather than proving guilt), but to actively attack the very victims of these crimes is inexcusable. Our compassion for the falsely accused should never turn into an attack on the legitimate victims. This poster, however, refrains from going any further than asserting that it's the accused that we need to be sympathetic to, especially if it's a man, rather than the accuser. The implicit characterization of the accusers, however, is that they are manipulative liars. This may very well be true in some cases, but, like I said, it's not a healthy attitude to have toward the accusers. Followups by the same poster reveal a deep misogyny that was hinted at by his original post. Unfortunate.

Infuriatingly, this poster invokes "blaming the victim". I thought perhaps the poster might be a bit on the progressive side, trying to point out that people are being wildly misogynistic in the comments. Not so. Instead, he takes the defense of the man. I understand that his argument is based on free speech, which is a legitimate argument, but framing it in terms of "blaming the victim" is just inexcusable. Apparently, to the anon, telling the truth can not be a form of harassment, even when it... nevermind. I'm just getting myself worked up again, and I've already covered this elsewhere. For what it's worth, the post itself does not betray any misogyny, though it does frustrate me to no end. The followups are more misogynistic, pointing out that women will, of course, be protected by the law, while men's concerns will be tossed aide. So, luckily, we still get our quota of misogyny.

This guy annoys the fuck out of me. I don't know why I haven't enemy listed him yet. He's an ignorant, misogynistic asshole. In fact, I think I'll do it now. I had a debate with him once over whether "women's night out" was sexist, and thus feminists were hypocritical for not opposing it. I thought maybe I could reach him, but apparently he's too far gone. Well, can you really blame people for ignoring my huge essays?

A simple troll.


He's just telling it like it is.

More misogyny from gmhowell. He posted a link to a hilariously whiny Men's Rights Activist (MRA) web site once that made me laugh, until I realized it wasn't ironic. Disturbing. Still, his comments are amusingly whiny enough in themselves that I usually end up being amused, rather than outraged. Haven't enemy listed him yet. Could just be a troll, faking the misogyny, though. I haven't quite decided yet.

This is probably just a troll. It could be a kook, though. Normally, I'm pretty good at picking up on generic, garden variety trolls, but the legitimate, unending misogyny in these comments might have knocked by trolldar off a bit. I'm leaning toward legitimate kook, but it's got all the hallmarks of a troll.

I feel better for having gotten all this off my chest. I doubt anyone has read this, but it'd be gratifying to know that I'm not the only one who sees this as a real problem on Slashdot.

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Meh (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38375764)

Not to defend, but Slashdot is, by its nature:

-Very male
-Very technocratic
-Very American

First's one is, to a certain extent the third one, as the "men are the persecuted ones" meme is very much a homegrown creation and harder to find in other industrialized countries IMO.

The second one's a little harder to pin down in short sentences, but a simple way to put it is that geeks, again, by their nature, are problem-solvers. Numbers, statistics and models are much easier to deal with than actual, messy, inefficient human beings.

You'll see this attitude on a variety on topics. Anything that involves any kind of hardship or loss or injustice will always attract dozens of comments detailing exactly which phrase of law needs to be changed, or which percentage point needs to be tweaked in order to just simply fix all this.

For example, any time resource depletion is a topic, most here will happily shrug it off and point to whatever technological solution they think is best and happily consider the matter done with as far as they're concerned.

Last but not least, because Slashdot is still the only major online forum that both allows anonymous comments and doesn't censor user posts, it can and does get a little anarchic here at times. And as much as I'd happily never have to read another post by one of the sweaty cretins you linked to, this will always be way more a feature than a bug as far as I'm concerned.

So, to answer your question: Yes, but you almost couldn't have picked a better place to find this kind of stuff.

Re:Meh (1)

Elbereth (58257) | more than 2 years ago | (#38382122)

Yes, I suppose you're right. It's always depressing to find that people aren't as progressive as you'd like. Ironically, someone, somewhere, is thinking the same thing about me, I'm sure.

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