Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Everyone is Wrong. And Right. Whatever.

73 Responses

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  • David Hood,

    On boycotting, the Latvian gay community (and Latvian vodka makers) has been pointing out that Stolichnaya vodka is made in Latvia not Russia, so boycotting it is not going to change Russia's mind. That said, the parent company, SPI, is Russian.
    http://www.theatlanticwire.com/global/2013/08/gay-latvians-want-gay-people-stop-boycotting-stoli/67905/

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison,

    Nicely put - I've had trouble agreeing (or at least agreeing fully) with either side of the discussion myself. One thing I'm not sure of, though:

    "...tactics which are clearly intended to silence women" - I've seen variants on this phrasing used quite a bit, and it always seems to me to give the trolls too much credit. Is this sort of behaviour really the result of entrenched privilege seeking to eliminate opinions that threaten it, or is it just the action of idiot bullies who see an easy target and aren't interested in anything more than the immediate reaction? Obviously, silencing women can be the outcome of this sort of trolling, but I'm not sure that you can say it's the intent.

    Not saying this is a non-issue, or not a feminist issue - the very fact that a woman becomes an "easy target" simply by commenting visibly on anything shows that that can't be true.

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Nobody remembers the 1976 Olympic Boycott. Almost nobody at all. 28 countries boycotted that Olympic Games, because NZ maintained sporting links with apartheid South Africa. 28 countries.

    Our out NZ speed skater Blake Skjellerup is taking his stand to the Olympics (as well as magazine covers – SFW, roughly). Louisa Wall is now making representations to the NZOC and Sport NZ on his behalf, and I’m confident he’ll have some level of support. But he can do with more.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to George Darroch,

    Nobody remembers the 1976 Olympic Boycott. Almost nobody at all. 28 countries boycotted that Olympic Games, because NZ maintained sporting links with apartheid South Africa. 28 countries.

    I remember it. In the sense that I know about it. The 1976 Olympic Boycott happened during my Dad's OE. You know that story of American's overseas pretending they're Canadian? It might have been wise for New Zealanders at that time/place to pretend they were Australian.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Josh Addison,

    Is this sort of behaviour really the result of entrenched privilege seeking to eliminate opinions that threaten it, or is it just the action of idiot bullies who see an easy target and aren’t interested in anything more than the immediate reaction?

    Okay, in this case, we're talking about a group of men, co-ordinating rape threats against women because of their political position. This wasn't some casual trolling. It's not just more likely to happen to women, it's more likely to happen to feminists. I do think in cases like these, it is a silencing tactic.

    In my 'more than I'm comfortable thinking about' years working in community moderation, I've seen women carry out some pretty appalling bullying, in one case including threats of theft and violence. But I've never seen a woman threaten sexual violence.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison,

    OK, I guess I haven't read enough about the case - I hadn't heard of the co-ordination aspect, just "lots off arseholes piling on with rape threats".

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • Brodie Davis,

    I support boycotts, from the simple reason that you shouldn't be giving money to companies/countries who practices you disagree with. It is one of the few powers left to consumers, and as long as you tell the maker why you are declining to purchase their product the message can get through. As a individual you sometimes can be the tipping point to cause them to change.

    Since Aug 2008 • 54 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I changed from Visa to Mastercard (yes, I know) because Visa were sponsoring the China games. The Olympics in general are a corrupt circus - even when held in a democracy, they're an excuse to crank up the authoritarianism - remember the "Zil lanes" in London?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Brodie Davis,

    I support boycotts, from the simple reason that you shouldn't be giving money to companies/countries who practices you disagree with.

    You must lead a very ascetic existence, then. The way the economy is structured there's no way you could not give your money to companies/countries whose pracices you disagree with.

    That said, in the right time and place a properly done boycott can certainly be effective.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I was babbling inanely about this on Twitter last night and I found myself mostly in your position, Emma. Which was: I get why you're doing this, but I think it would be pointless for me to take part because I aspire to be a Lindy West type, not a silent protest type. Yet I'm not going to be angry or judgey about the pointlessness, because why be that way? People do what they can to deal with Being a Woman on the Internet. (To quote Lindy, linked up there, "I'm sick of being told that I'm navigating my own abuse wrong.")

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Danielle,

    (To quote Lindy, linked up there, "I'm sick of being told that I'm navigating my own abuse wrong.")

    Yup, I can totally grok that. I guess the sticking point for me with #twittersilence is that it really helps to me mindful of the kind of privilege involved in choosing to be silent. For a lot of people (and not just women) that's just another bullshit day in suck city and there's no choice involved.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    The quote that struck me was this

    Twitter cannot don a policeman’s helmet.

    I understand the logic behind this, not many would like to see what is a business, taking on a role as judge, jury and executioner. But equally Twitter operates a service, if, as in this case, it becomes clear that this service is being used to harm then they have some respnsibilty. It does seem as though they are aware of that and are trying to do something. But it's worth noting that twitter doesn't make a profit, employing a bunch of people to clean up the service they provide from the worst is yet another cost on a business that doesn't turn a profit.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    But it’s worth noting that twitter doesn’t make a profit, employing a bunch of people to clean up the service they provide from the worst is yet another cost on a business that doesn’t turn a profit.

    Then perhaps it's not a viable business.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    As for the protest. Um I'm always uncomfortable about protests. Most of the protests I see grossly simplify issues. It's hard to chant a complex issue and children can't hold signs with too much text.

    As you put it, to protest about being harrased off the internet by not being on the internet seems bizarre.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Deborah,

    Then perhaps it’s not a viable business.

    I would have thought so, but unprofitable businesses can be sold for stupid amounts of money.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    But it’s worth noting that twitter doesn’t make a profit, employing a bunch of people to clean up the service they provide from the worst is yet another cost on a business that doesn’t turn a profit.

    This, indeed, is absolutely true. And their volume of traffic is mind-numbing. I don’t expect them to be able to police everything, but I also think saying “We can’t get this perfect, so we’re not even going to try,” is Not Good Enough.

    I saw one of the tweets that had been reported, and Twitter’s response to the report. It was a rape threat. I’m not going to reproduce it: take my word or go look. But there was no ‘open to interpretation’, it was just a bald threat of rape. Twitter said it didn’t breach their standards. That’s not a staffing problem, it’s an attitude problem.

    Then perhaps it’s not a viable business.

    It’s a free service that doesn’t have advertising.

    I was… fairly unamused when some people’s response to having issues of staffing, multiple accounts, etc raised was that Twitter should become solely a paid service. Hello Middle-Class Western privilege, would you like to have a wee think about the Arab Spring?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Emma Hart,

    That’s not a staffing problem, it’s an attitude problem.

    Basically, every time this sort of thing happens and responses both official and unofficial are variants on a shrug and a "whaddahyagonnado", it sends the message that it's not possible to change things and that being regularly threatened with rape and violence is kinda sorta acceptable. BLAH.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Danielle,

    it sends the message that it’s not possible to change things and that being regularly threatened with rape and violence is kinda sorta acceptable

    That's the message it sends to the people on the receiving end. The message it sends to the people who do it is even worse.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Twitter said it didn’t breach their standards. That’s not a staffing problem, it’s an attitude problem.

    Yup. Agreed. I'm always amazed when totally gross obvious abuse is treated as part of a grey continium. I get that there are cases where it really is difficult to know whether someone meant to do as much harm as they did. But there are also cases where it is just bloody obvious that someone should not be allowed a voice.

    The problem I suspect is that the person making the call is some junior on a service desk and they are terrified of doing anything, so the easy response is to do nothing. That is a consequence of culture in the organistaion of course. Had Twitter had an internal culture that defined really clearly "unacceptable" then the person on the service desk would have had no problem hitting the account terminated button.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    But would terminating the abuser's account have any effect - if people are that nasty, won't they just recreate another one, and use an untraceable IP to boot?

    If they've done the latter, then even setting the law on them would have little effect - probably encourage them that the police are chasing around the world and can't find them.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    But would terminating the abuser’s account have any effect – if people are that nasty, won’t they just recreate another one, and use an untraceable IP to boot?

    Every hurdle you put up (so you block the account and the email it's attached to), a percentage of people fall at. It's not going to get rid of the worst of the worst, no, but it is going to thin the herd.

    More importantly, it changes those messages Danielle and I were talking about. It actually sends a message that this behaviour isn't okay, which is the opposite of what Twitter is currently doing.

    If they’ve done the latter, then even setting the law on them would have little effect – probably encourage them that the police are chasing around the world and can’t find them.

    Well, except for in this case, where a couple of sad little twits have been arrested.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Also: Twitter already has a "report for spam" button. To which pretty much all those arguments would also apply.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    I took part in the Twitter boycott: I did it because I wanted Twitter to register that some of us are really, really pissed off.
    It was only a day, and I do take twitter holidays sometimes to focus on other things, so it wasn’t a big deal. And I didn’t think that the world would suffer greatly from being deprived of my opinions for 24 hours.
    I don’t always agree with Caitlin Moran, but I think she’s done a lot to keep the pressure on Twitter in the last week or so, and that’s a fine thing.

    PS I did receive one threat myself, and I found the old reporting system incredibly complicated and difficult to navigate, especially while stressed. And in the end no action was taken because the user had deleted the offending tweet by the time Twitter looked for it. Not good enough.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    I dunno, I remember the '76 boycott (and i wasn't even alive for it!) Apart from anything else, it set the stage for the more infamous '80 & '84 boycotts.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Lilith __,

    PS I did receive one threat myself, and I found the old reporting system incredibly complicated and difficult to navigate, especially while stressed.

    And when that's precisely what misogynist trolls are depending on (and they do), it's not good enough for Twitter (and Facebook and ISPs) to say "it's just too hard". I'd argue it's prettu damn close to IRL when women don't report being raped or abused by their partners because the thought of being re-traumatized and slut-shamed over and over again is just too horrible to face.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

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