>The echo chamber (or yet another reason I f*cking hate the internet)

>Okay, folks. Today’s post is extra disgusting, so I’ll start off with a few side notes before I get into things. Consider yourself warned.

First of all, things kind of exploded over the weekend thanks to my original post about Paizo, then my response to LPJ’s comment on that post. I was angry and my response was pretty vitriolic, so I was pretty surprised when Paizo’s Erik Mona posted a thoughtful and not bile-filled response to what was admittedly some pretty inflammatory stuff. There’s some good stuff that has happened in the comments, so I recommend taking a look if you haven’t already.

With that said, on to the awfulness!

So one of the things that I’ve found very discouraging since starting this blog is the fact that internet culture is saturated with downright hatred of women. I know that I’ve hyperbolized quite a bit here, but I don’t use this term lightly. There is so much stuff on the internet that displays a level of disregard for women that is quite frightening, and unfortunately internet culture tends to dovetail with geek culture and gaming culture quite a bit.

Case in point – demotivational posters. It got started with despair.com and quickly became an internet meme to make your own. I have a friend who has a demotivational poster screensaver slide show, and I noticed while watching it that it had so… many… boobs. So I got curious and did a little digging.

VeryDemotivational.com (affiliated with the Cheezburger Network) has a lot of egregious ones, but for the most part they don’t get beyond fanservicey boob pictures. But Motifake.com… brr. There is some frightening, frightening stuff there!

First of all, just looking through the tag cloud is an… educational experience. But man, it seems like every tag leads to porn. (Case in point: the first three results for Pokemon are hot chicks in various states of undress. I’m not sure what to make of this…)

If you look at images tagged geek, fully half of the results are variations on a theme – large chested ostensibly available women who like geeks that mostly look like this:

Of course, the first image actually spells out what the other posters only imply. REAL geeks are never women. If a woman says that she’s a geek, clearly she’s just trying to have sex with male geeks. All in all, offensive, but pretty mainstream – at least for the internet.

Of course, the a subset of the geek tagged posters are tagged with sammich, which ups the distastefulness to a whole new level. Most of these, excepting the ones that are literally about sandwiches, are variations on the theme of “stfu bitch and go make me a sammich”. And of course sometimes “a woman’s domain is the kitchen” is stated outright:

The sign on the right says “iron my shirt bitch”. Charming. Also – both of these were tagged “feminism”. Wow. I have such respect for the mind that can conceive of such irony. (/sarcasm)

The LEAST distasteful images you’ll find (besides the ones actually about sandwiches) are the ones about women being too stupid to do anything properly besides making sandwiches. There are lots of those, so I picked the two worst from the first few pages:

So with the one on the left, you get “go make me a sammich” bukkake. (I’m not going to link to bukkake. If you don’t know what it is, please don’t Google it at work.) Which, you know, is just charming. And on the left you get the added message that the only thing women have to offer in the workplace is their fuckability. Ugly chicks need not apply. Both of these display a level of misogyny that is honestly pretty shocking.

But wait! It gets worse! Check these out!

Awesome! So these not only imply that women are subhuman creatures with intelligence only barely sufficient to breathe, spread our legs, and pile condiments between two pieces of bread – they also imply that violence against women is, yanno, funny. If they fail to give you the sexual and gustatory satisfaction you desire, then clearly they are not performing their function.

I guess I’m being a humorless sexist here, but I fail to conceive of a universe in which the caption “LIPSTICK: looks better on my cock now go make me a sandwich” is anywhere even approaching appropriate, let alone funny. And as for jokes about murdering women, well, who doesn’t love those – huh?

And oh look! Two more tagged “feminism”!

So on the left we have yet another example of how Xbox Live is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. If your girlfriend interferes with your gaming, then LOGICALLY the proper response is torture. I mean, duh. But then, us wimmenz are pretty silly for not wanting our partners to smack us around. It’s good for us, right? And I know they only do it because they love us!

Ugh. It’s shit like this that makes me f*cking hate the internet. Sites like Motifake just exacerbate the problem of sexism because men with misogynistic views get to surround themselves in an echo chamber of like-minded people until they think that shit like this is funny.

About wundergeek
In addition to being a cranky feminist blogger, I am an artist, photographer, and somewhat half-assed writer living in the wilds of Canada with a wonderful spouse and two slightly broken cats.

23 Responses to >The echo chamber (or yet another reason I f*cking hate the internet)

  1. Scott says:

    >Not to excuse the examples, but many (not all) of the people who post these things don't intend them as advocacy or a reflection of their views, they post them to get shocked reactions. Some people like the thrill of anonymous, consequence-free transgressiveness. Others are probably a bit scared of actual women and use degrading humor to demystify the objects of their insecurities.The fact that they find the reactions funny, or find degradation an acceptable response to their own fears, is a different issue. And yeah, I realize some of the folks posting that stuff genuinely believe it.

  2. wundergeek says:

    >I see what you're saying, but I almost think that whether or not they agree with what they're saying is almost immaterial. The fact that they find it funny is disturbing in and of itself.

  3. megpie71 says:

    >As has been said in so many places, and will probably be said in so many more: in order to change this, other men need to speak out and say it's offensive to them. The types of people who create and enjoy this sort of thing won't listen to women saying it's offensive – they'll just say "it's a joke" or "geez, it's supposed to be ironic" or make comments about feminists without a sense of humour. They can't ignore it so much if men make the comments, because while women aren't real people, men are. It's important for men to speak out about these things, because masculine silence on these matters is read as implying at the very least passive agreement with the attitudes expressed, and at worst, active agreement with them and willingness to propagate them in an extreme fashion.

  4. Scott says:

    >I don't think the threat of censure works effectively here, as it's toothless. Nt only does it carry no negative consequences for people with no discernible identities and little or no ad revenue, it's often positive reinforcement because it's exactly what they're looking for. If someone derives pleasure from ineffectual outrage and you give them ineffectual outrage, that's not a deterrent, it's a reward.I can say with some assurance that in any of the dedicated cesspools of the internet, a man or woman expressing disgust will provoke the regulars to amp up whatever it was that got the response.As I was talking about with someone earlier, I look at the fact that people can say anything they want on the internet without fear of reprisal as a feature, not a bug. The flip side is that some vile things will be said.Trying to correct the behavior of the worst is a doomed enterprise. Reason doesn't reach the unreasonable and unreasoning. There's real potential to make changes by bringing concerns to the attention of otherwise pleasant people who may not have even thought they were pissing anyone off – e.g., Paizo, Blizzard, intelligent members of the gaming community – but some corners of the internet are best left to the inmates.Civil rights activists don't reach out to white supremacists. They write them off and work on the reasonable but possibly uninformed people. That's what I think is exactly what this blog is trying to do, and I think it could be effective at that.Just my two cents.

  5. >I wanted to chime in as well & agree with megpie. I've generally stopped posting on message boards & other open forums because I always run into shit like this & when I do call it out (because silence=consent, amirite?) I am, as she remarked, blown off as the humorless feminist who can't take a joke and clearly needs a good dicking. I'm not even really angry about it any more, just fucking tired of it. Oh wow, a joke about how I should be cooking, can we move on please?

  6. >I definitely don't think you're being a humorless feminist here, but I do think you're engaging in some ghetto tourism here.My impression is largely that demotivational posters are pretty much entirely the product of 14-year-old internet trolls (and similar sufferers of arrested development) and are really only shared and enjoyed by places I would consider to be the assholes of the interweb.I would not consider them "mainstreamized" at all, inasmuch as I would consider that that kind of "get a rise out of someone" sort of humor is mainstreamed in certain immature communities. Petty wink-wink-nudge-nudge racism seems to be similarly rampant, in a clear effort to translate the shocking into the norm.I would agree with Scott that the threat of censure is largely fruitless, but note that that's contextual as to where it's posted.

  7. Renee says:

    >@ ScottHere's the thing, civil rights activists might not reach out to hate groups (I'm not specifying White Supremacists because civil rights advocacy goes well beyond a black and white issue), but they do call hate groups out on their hate. They do it all the time. I know, because I am one.And the point of doing (especially publicly) isn't so much about changing the minds of the truly hateful as it is about giving voice to the people who really need it.For one, while you may not persuade the person you are directly talking to, if you make a smart and informed argument, you may just be able to reach others who may be listening. And on the internet, you never know who that is. There are lurkers out there right now, potentially reading this, and they may be trying to make up their minds about a few things. Secondly, visibility is important in and of itself; it's like wundergeek says in this post…being part of an oppressed minority (or two or three of them) is freaking lonely…the bad is overwhelming and the good is so rarely on display…there are people out there who may not speak up for themselves but will be encouraged to see or read something from someone on their side. Thirdly, you can't just let this stuff go on unchecked. It's easy to get burned out this way, but progress is never going to be made when the good guys stay in their own little corners not saying anything.Poo-pooing censure as a method of activism is poo-pooing activism. Civil rights advocates know that silence is the greatest enemy to equality there is. Unfortunately, they also know that no oppressed minority has ever really gotten anything without the help and support of at least some of the people from within the privileged majority (aint democracy great?). Seeing the guys on here rationalize their own silence is a little disheartening.

  8. Scott says:

    >For one, while you may not persuade the person you are directly talking to, if you make a smart and informed argument, you may just be able to reach others who may be listening. And on the internet, you never know who that is. There are lurkers out there right now, potentially reading this, and they may be trying to make up their minds about a few things.I don't think that's too far off from what I was saying, so I can co-sign that. :)Seeing the guys on here rationalize their own silence is a little disheartening.I'm not so much rationalizing anything as pointing out that one's efforts may be better spent on thoughtful blog posts and talking to that "privileged majority" than trying to make headway into motifake or the *chans.

  9. wundergeek says:

    >arrogantfutility: Hell, most of what I do here is ghetto tourism. But even if all the people making these things are 14 year old guys (which I suspect is not the case), stuff like this deserves to be spoken out against. And I get that these are hardly mainstream positions. But at the same time, you DO see less extreme versions of the same attitudes as mainstream among a large segment of gamer men.Scott & Renee: It is a truism that in order to reverse discrimination people from the privileged group must speak out against discrimination. HOWEVER. "Don't feed the trolls" is also a truism – at least as far as the internet goes. I think you're both making good points.

  10. Renee says:

    >I concede, bombing onto a place like 4chan would be daunting and largely pointless. I think my point was more that (or would have better expressed as) reserving conversation for only the temperate and reasonable, while important, isn't always going to be possible or preferable. We have to confront the worst of the worst sometimes, but in doing so, our sanity is best preserved if we also remember that changing their minds isn't the only possible good that can emerge from such encounters.But yeah, picking the battlefield is important too. On those occasions when I've had to wade into the muck, just seeing a random comment of support, particularly from someone I wouldn't have pegged as an ally, goes a long way towards bolstering my spirit.

  11. Ed says:

    >I'm pretty sure the very last one, the one with the spanking image tagged "FEMINISM", is actually pro-feminist. All the text on it is a parody of the sort of stupid thing that people say against feminism, including stereotyping feminists as "silly lesbians." While that ad proves that YES the threat of violence for not pleasing your man is something that was a part of very mainstream culture (even if as a joke) very recently, and YES that does maybe imply that there really might be such a thing as a "patriarchy."YMMV, that's how I read it.

  12. wundergeek says:

    >Ed: I'm not really sure I agree with you, but I'll acknowledge that the intent seems ambiguous. If that is the case, it's definitely an example of the type of joke that just doesn't work on the internet. Without any sort of context, it's impossible to know the intent of the creator, and some people WILL take it as serious.

  13. JemyM says:

    >REAL geeks are never women.REAL men are never geeks.Not fitting norms is part of being one.

  14. wundergeek says:

    >(Why am I even responding to this?) I have played every Final Fantasy from 6 upward. I used DDR as my primary method of weight loss. I have both played and designed roleplaying games. I read around 20-30 fantasy novels per year. My favorite CDs are game soundtracks. I obsess over BioWare games. I took Japanese in university because I really like anime. I have played in four different MMOs and maxed out characters in two of them. And I met my husband on the internet eleven years ago before it was normal or acceptable to do so. If that doesn't make me a "real" geek, then "real" geeks don't exist.

  15. Kali says:

    >Does anybody get the irony of repeatedly and unselfconsciously using the phrase "ghetto tourism" in a discussion on the horrors of internet misogyny. As a feminist and an antiracist activist, I sure do.

  16. Doug S. says:

    >(Why am I even responding to this?)There are some places on the Internet where, after seeing that kind of post, you could actually end up having a reasonable conversation with the person who posted it. Unfortunately, those places are pretty rare, because people who make that kind of post are usually drive-by commenters who never come back or trolls who aren't interested in being honest. So, yeah, we're probably never going to hear from JemyM again. Still, hope springs eternal, and there's always all the other readers to think about.

  17. Karl says:

    >Pretend you are a black person. Look at the motivational posters again. The Internet is racist, isn't it?Pretend that you're a gay man. Wow, the Internet is so intolerant, isn't it?Now pretend you have a child with down syndrome. Or have family members that perished on 9/11. The Internet is so heartless, isn't it?This ain't no feminist issue. The culture of the Internet belittles and makes fun of and attacks ANYTHING, your little issues included.

  18. Seven says:

    >"It’s shit like this that makes me f*cking hate the internet."I… the internet?Sorry to break it to you (as if we really don't know this) but it's not the internet, it's men. Having a penis makes them feel entitled to having sex with whoever they can, belittling those they cannot, and starting as much drama as possible. It's a Catch-22. There is no explanation for penis. If you ask a man "why so penis?" he will not know the answer and will instead think of fucking you (speaking to females here).DUH BEECHES.

  19. wundergeek says:

    >Karl: My little issues? Yawn. I've seen much better trolling. C-Seven: The reason I'm berating the internet is that it's like an echo chamber. People can immerse themselves in communities that think exactly the same things they do, which can sometimes have an amplifying affect on those with anti-social opinions and viewpoints.I refuse to believe that the problem is that the penis somehow causes all thought processes to circumvent the brain. If I did, I would be sinking to the level of men who claim that being a woman and being capable of rational thought are mutually exclusive.

  20. Anonymous says:

    >So let me get this straight. The blog owner more or less lets herself get trolled by the internet equivalent of potty humor. Then the comments of said blog feed the trolls.If you talk to a troll you've already lost. Ignore and move on. It's really not hard to do.If you engage the *chans, you will only give yourself and marginalize everything you're trying to accomplish.(Also: lighten up. You don't get mad at stand up comedians do you?)

  21. Anonymous says:

    >Left off part of a sentence in the above post, my apologize*give yourself a headache*

  22. Anonymous says:

    >I found your blog by acident. I love it! you know what? Seeing that some one is raging about funny stuff makes it even more funny! =)

  23. Anonymous says:

    >Many people will pass these off as "off color humor", or as the products of teenagers/young adults. But, I will say I know many an adult male that buys into this horseshit (what the demotivational posters present), and I must admit it's quite frightening.

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