Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dire Consequences of the Hurting the Male Ego (TW: DV)

“You have ruined my life”

“You stripped me of my manhood, took everything away from me, I am nothing!”

“You have tore me down completely, I have nothing left!”

“I will never, ever, be the same again because of this. I can never go back!”

All of the above quotes (and so many more) were screamed in my face, during a violent fight, 4-5 months ago. Since then, I have also heard them, many times, almost every single day, in a variety of tones. Some days it’s just whining and complaining, other days with the indignation that usually comes with righteous anger, other times its delivered before a crying jag. A few times they were spoken conversationally, but ending up as just a prelude to another fight.

So, I am asking- what do you think I said, or did, to cause this horrible suffering? What was just so utterly inhumane that he felt it necessary to stand over me, his partner of 12 years, threatening to kill me and our kids, while his beloved 4yr old son was lying on me screaming “Don’t hurt Mommy!”, and our 2yr old girl cowered in the corner? Must have been pretty bad if ripping my baby from my neighbors arms, after she ran to her for safety, seemed like a good thing to do. It must have been really cruel for him to continue to pick daily fights, frequently calling me a “feminist bitch”, and fully feeling “I am being punished for all the wrongs men have ever done!”. I must be a bad person, since I have been told that “you’re a hateful bitch”, “you love to tear me down”, “you won’t be happy until I am a shell of a man”, and so much more.

What I actually said…

I said that after a decade of PIV with no care for me, there would be no more “taking one for the team”, no more PIV that wasn’t mutually fulfilling, no more treating my body like a sex doll. I claimed my right to reject PIV, and I meant it. I was clear that the years of bending me over for 2 minutes of jackhammering were over. That it was not fun for me, that it is not, and could never be, fun to be fucked in that way.  That’s it. It is true that I said this during a fight, but it wasn’t to be malicious, it was because this was the only time I had the nerve to say it. Anger gave me courage (and now I know why I needed it).

But me taking even this small stand has unleashed a torrent of insanity that beggars belief. Instead of actually feeling bad about years of unpleasant sex and coercion (which he claimed to, initially), or at least fake apologizing, he demanded a “transition period”, during which I would give him a bunch of sex before I cut him off (which I hadn’t- but I did after this). Not even kidding. A freaking transition period, JFC. Because “it’s no big deal to let me fuck you for 2 minutes, to make my whole day better”. Male Entitlement 101 stuff here. I know. (He was never a Nigel, but this was insane even by his already lowered standards)

Anyhow…

Now I know exactly why I never said anything about his sexual prowess (or lack thereof), and why most women never will. Because if THIS is the response I got from a normal male, my long term “partner” and father of our kids, a hard working, average, not outwardly misogynist, racist, violent, or mean, I can only imagine how much worse it can get. I don’t want to, and I am sure there are women in DV shelters, or still cowering at home, that can attest to the danger of hurting the fragile male ego.

Stay safe sisters. The best thing you can ever do for yourself is stay the fuck away from men, and never, ever, marry or have kids with one. I mean it- get away fro them while you still can.

AVOCA Awareness Week- Death of Betty Todd

Content note- graphic descriptions of injuries caused by pit bull mauling

Betty Anne Chapman Todd was a wonderful women, full of life and love. A beautiful, elder, women, brutally killed by her son’s family pit bull. She was torn to pieces, her spinal cord shredded, while defending her granddaughters, the oldest of which (12), had tried to pull the dogs off and failed. I cannot imagine the horror that poor child was faced with, and the terror she lives with. I still have visions of my attack, so I know how long term it can be.

All of this horror could have been avoided. This pit had already killed a husky, and the “humane” society the family went to for advice, had told them to have the dog neutered (they did), instead of having it euthanized. This is commonplace- to tell families that dog aggression is no big deal, and can be easily handled. This lie kills.

But you know what I think about anytime In read one of these stories? I think of those womyn that don’t have their stories lovingly told, like Christina Burleson, a homeless women that was mauled to death in Houston early this year. She was a sweet spirit, that loved ALL animals and was always feeding them. She died out in the streets, her story barely made the news. All of these tragedies should be shared far and wide.

From the link:
“Half my mother’s head was draped with a sheet. There was no mistaking the damage underneath, but when I looked, it struck me that she had actually been mauled, literally ripped apart and eaten by a savage animal. Her arms and hands had bite marks all over them, like puncture wounds from the vicious dog’s teeth sinking into her and there were hundreds of them! My mother’s hands did not look like hers. Most of her face was missing on the right side, her ear, her scalp looked detached or loose, and it looked like her spine protruding from the back of her neck when I looked closely. She appeared to have not a drop of blood in her body.

It was in that room that I was cruelly slapped with overwhelming reality of what my teeny tiny, gentle mother had felt: the actual attack itself, how she must have hurt, the excruciating pain of it all, the confusion, her fear, her battle to stop the dog, to protect my nephew and nieces, her realization that she was going to die and the children were going to be left unguarded and alone, her cries, her prayer to God, and it unnerved me. This wasn’t a lion that had killed my mother. It was a domesticated pet, a dog that had been loved, treated kindly, yet she looked like she’d been used as a chew toy and eaten by a wild beast. I couldn’t breathe. I had to get out of there and I left.”

To read the rest, and learn more about AVOCA, please head to:
http://voicesofthevictims.org/victims-stories/in-their-own-words/bettytodd/

Femicide in Mexico

Recently I was telling someone about another particularly gruesome event that had just happened in Mexico, and how it bothered me, and he said:
“Why do you even care? Why do you read that negative stuff anyway, its not like you can do anything about it. What do you do other than complain online? You should quit reading that stuff, and stick to happy news!”

Honestly, I didn’t really have a good response for him at the time. I was so surprised that anyone would think this way, that all I could get out was a few pithy lines about why its important not to be an ignorant fool about the world we live in.
But it bothered me.
I don’t want to be a keyboard warrior, but there are just so many things happening out there that I simply do not have any control over, no matter how much I want to help. He made me question myself- why *was* I continuing to read more, knowing I would be getting upset over atrocities happening to women and girls thousands of miles away, knowing nothing I could do would matter?
But I couldn’t stop following these stories like these:

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2014/10/dozens-of-bodies-found-in-sewage-canal_17.html

I have decided that sometimes, just being witness to this suffering is something. These women should not be forgotten, their suffering should not go unnoticed. They lived, they mattered. I may be a nobody, but the lives of other women count to me, and if that means I bum someone out by telling them about a new narco fosa (mass grave) was found, or another female blogger was beheaded for sharing info about the cartel to keep her neighbors safe, so be it.

I am sure it was the few years I spent living in Mexico that made me aware of the extreme violence that is commonplace all over the nation. While we in America occasionally hear about the cartels, narcos, and kidnappings, we rarely hear about the toll the lawlessness takes on women and girls. As always, females are the hardest hit, most abused; in areas where men are rounded up and executed, the women suffer far worse fates. The sheer volume and brutality is shocking.

The story I linked was from 2 weeks ago, and is just one example of how women are being murdered in droves. The blog I am linking to, Borderland Beat, is an amazing work of journalism, and is run by a very talented and caring women. Sadly, she is leaving after years of this extremely dangerous work, but the site will remain valuable due to the other contributors. If you care to know what is really going on in Mexico these days, this is the place for real news.

Reblog- “Trouble at the Kool-Aid Point” (aka, never ending harassment of women online)

Trouble at Kool Aid Point

[Note: I didn’t want to have to write this. But here it is. I’m not linking it to the blog, and it won’t likely stay up long *(*Update Oct. 8** I’ll be taking it down soon, but a copy has been placed on Wired** ) It is long and rambling and unedited and one of the few things I’ve written that I wrote mostly for myself. It is all I ever hope to have to say about it. Also? Content warning.]

This month is the 10-year anniversary of my first online threat. I thought it was a one-off, then. Just one angry guy. And it wasn’t really THAT bad. But looking back, it was the canary in the coal mine… the first hint that if I kept on this path, it would not end well. And what was that path? We’ll get to that in a minute.

Later I learned that the first threat had nothing to do with what I actually made or said in my books, blog posts, articles, and conference presentations. The real problem — as my first harasser described — was that others were beginning to pay attention to me. He wrote as if mere exposure to my work was harming his world.

But here’s the key: it turned out he wasn’t outraged about my work. His rage was because, in his mind, my work didn’t deserve the attention. Spoiler alert: “deserve” and “attention” are at the heart.

A year later, I wrote a light-hearted article about “haters” (the quotes matter) and something I called The Koolaid Point. It wasn’t about harassment, abuse, or threats against people but about the kind of brand “trolls” you find in, say, Apple discussion forums. My wildly non-scientific theory was this: the most vocal trolling and “hate” for a brand kicks in HARD once a critical mass of brand fans/users are thought to have “drunk the Koolaid”. In other words, the hate wasn’t so much about the product/brand but thatother people were falling for it. 

I was delighted, a few weeks’ later, to see my little “Koolaid Point” in Wired’s Jargon Watch column.

The me of 2005 had no idea what was coming.

Less than two years later, I’d learn that my festive take on harmless brand trolling also applied to people. And it wasn’t festive. Or harmless. Especially for women.

I now believe the most dangerous time for a woman with online visibility is the point at which others are seen to be listening, “following”, “liking”, “favoriting”, retweeting. In other words, the point at which her readers have (in the troll’s mind) “drunk the Koolaid”. Apparently, that just can’t be allowed.

From the hater’s POV, you (the Koolaid server) do not “deserve” that attention. You are “stealing” an audience. From their angry, frustrated point of view, the idea that others listen to you is insanity. From their emotion-fueled view you don’t have readers you have cult followers. That just can’t be allowed.

You must be stopped. And if they cannot stop you, they can at least ruin your quality of life. A standard goal, in troll culture, I soon learned, is to cause “personal ruin”. They aren’t all trolls, though. Some of those who seek to stop and/or ruin you are misguided/misinformed but well-intended. They actually believe in a cause, and they believe you (or rather the Koolaid you’re serving) threatens that cause.

But the Koolaid-Point-driven attacks are usually started by  (speculating, educated guess here, not an actual psychologist, etc) sociopaths. They’re doing it out of pure malice, “for the lulz.” And those doing it for the lulz are masters at manipulating public perception. Master trolls can build an online army out of the well-intended, by appealing to The Cause (more on that later). The very best/worst trolls can even make the non-sociopaths believe “for the lulz” is itself a noble cause.

But I actually got off easy, then. Most of the master trolls weren’t active on Twitter in 2007. Today, they, along with their friends, fans, followers, and a zoo of anonymous sock puppet accounts are. The time from troll-has-an-idea to troll-mobilizes-brutal-assault has shrunk from weeks to minutes. Twitter, for all its good, is a hate amplifier. Twitter boosts signal power with head-snapping speed and strength. Today, Twitter (and this isn’t a complaint about Twitter, it’s about what Twitter enables) is the troll’s best weapon for attacking you. And by “you”, I mean “you the server of Koolaid.” You who must be stopped.

It begins with simple threats. You know, rape, dismemberment, the usual. It’s a good place to start, those threats, because you might simply vanish once those threats include your family. Mission accomplished. But today, many women online — you women who are far braver than I am — you stick around. And now, since you stuck around through the first wave of threats, you are now a much BIGGER problem. Because the Worst Possible Thing has happened: as a result of those attacks, you are NOW serving Victim-Flavored Koolaid.

And Victim-Flavored Koolaid is the most dangerous substance on earth, apparently. And that just can’t be allowed.

There is only one reliably useful weapon for the trolls to stop the danger you pose and/or to get max lulz: discredit you. The disinformation follows a pattern so predictable today it’s almost dull: first, you obviously “fucked” your way into whatever role enabled your undeserved visibility. I mean..duh. A woman. In tech. Not that there aren’t a few deserving women and why can’t you be more like THEM but no, you are NOT one of them.

You are, they claim, CLEARLY “a whore”. But not the sex-worker kind, no, you are the Bad Kind of Whore. Actually TWO kinds:  an Attention/Fame Whore and an Actual Have Sex In Exchange For Jobs, Good Reviews, Book Deals Whore. I mean, could there be ANY other explanation for your visibility? But the sex-not-merit meme is just their warm-up, the lowest-hanging-fruit in a discredit/disinfo campaign.

Because what the haters MOST want the world to know is this: what you’re serving your audience? It’s NOT EVEN ACTUAL KOOLAID. “Snake oil”, the trolls insist. You’re a “proven liar”. Or, as I was referred to yet again just yesterday by my favorite troll/hater/harasser: “a charlatan”. And there is “evidence”. There is always “evidence”. (there isn’t, of course, but let’s not let that get in the way.)

And the trolls aren’t stupid. The most damaging troll/haters are some of the most powerful people (though they self-describe as outcasts). Typically, the hacker trolls are technically-talented, super smart white men. They’re not just hackers. They are social engineers.They understand behavioral psych. They know their Kahneman. They “get” memes. They exploit a vulnerability in the brains of your current and potential listeners.

How? By unleashing a mind virus guaranteed to push emotional buttons for your real, NOT-troll audience. In my specific case, it was my alleged threat to a free and open internet. “She issued DMCA takedowns for sites that criticized her.” Yes, that one even made it’s way into a GQ magazine article not long ago, when the writer Sanjiv Bhattacharya interviewed weev and asked about — get this — the “ethics” of doxxing me. Weev’s explanation was just one more leveling up in my discredit/disinfo program: DMCA takedowns. I had, apparently, issued DMCA takedowns.

If you are in the tech world, issuing a DMCA takedown is worse than kicking puppies off a pier. But what I did? It was (according to the meme) much much worse. did it (apparently) to stifle criticism. If a DMCA takedown is kicking puppies, doing it to “stifle criticism” is like single-handedly causing the extinction of puppies, kittens, and the constitution. Behold my awesome and terrible power. Go me.

But here’s the thing. I never did that. I never did anything even a teeny tiny nano bit like that. But sure enough, even on my last day on Twitter, there it was again: Kathy did DMCA’s. And it wasn’t even a troll saying it, it was another woman in tech who believed the meme because she believed weev. Because in twisted troll logic, it makes sense. She must have done something pretty awful to deserve what, according to weev, “she had coming.”

After the GQ story came out, the one where weev “justified” the harassment of me by introducing the DMCA fiction, I asked him about it on Twitter. “Where, seriously, where exactly did I ever issue a DMCA?” His answer?  Oh, right, he didn’t have an answer. Because it didn’t happen. But see? he doesn’t have to. He’s already launched the Kathy-does-DMCA-takedowns meme. Evidence not required. For that matter, common sense not required.

(For the record, far as most people have been able to determine, most of what happened to me long ago was triggered by a blog comment I made that said “I’m not moderating my blog comments, but I support those who do and here’s why.” That’s right, Blog. Comment. Moderation. Just a tiny hop, really, from that to full-blown DMCA takedowns. Easy mistake.)

For me, the hot button to rally the army (including the Good People) against me was my (totally fictional) legal threat to freedom. But there are so many other hot buttons to use against women in tech. So. Many.

A particularly robust troll-crafted hot button meme today is that some women are out to destroy video games (shoutout to #gamergaters). Another is that they are taking jobs from men. Men who are, I mean obviously, more deserving. “If women/minorities/any oppressed group are given special treatment, that’s not equality,” they argue “I guess you don’t believe in equality, feminists.” Quickly followed by, “wait, did I say ‘oppressed group’? There’s no such thing as an oppressed group I just meant Professional Victims Who Pretend To Be Oppressed And Serve Social Justice Warrior Koolaid.”

Life for women in tech, today, is often better the less visible they are. Less visible means fewer perceived Koolaid drinkers.


THE GAME IS FIXED

I’m not sure I like comparing trolls to animals (because insulting to animals), but as an animal trainer, I’m painfully aware of the power of operant conditioning. Yes, sure, “don’t feed the trolls” has been the standard advice, a bullshit talking point propagated by trolls to blame their targets. “You brought this on. You don’t want this? Don’t engage.”  Except that’s not actually true. It’s the opposite of true, once you’ve been personally targeted.

As any parent of a two-year old can tell you, ignoring the child usually leads to escalation. Cry harder, scream louder, and in the most desperate scenarios, become destructive. Anything to get the attention they crave. Simply moving on is not an option for the haters once you’ve been labeled a Koolaid server and/or a rich source of lulz. Ignore them, and the trolls cry harder, scream louder, and become destructive.

If you’ve already hit the Koolaid Piont, you usually have just three choices:

1. leave (They Win) 

2. ignore them (they escalate, make your life more miserable, DDoS, ruin your career, etc. i.e. They Win)

3. fight back (If you’ve already hit the Koolaid Point, see option #2. They Win).

That’s right, in the world we’ve created, once you’ve become a Koolaid-point target they always win. Your life will never be the same, and the harassers will drain your scarce cognitive resources. You and your family will never be the same.

The hater trolls are looking for their next dopamine hit. If you don’t provide it, they’ll try harder. But the escalation to get a response from you? That’s not even the worst escalation problem.

The more dangerous social-web-fueled gamification of trolling is the unofficial troll/hate leader-board. The attacks on you are often less about scoring points against you than that they’re trying to out-do one another. They’re trying to out-troll, out-hate, out-awful the other trolls. That’s their ultimate goal. He who does the worst wins.

Which may explain the slow, steady increase in both frequency and horror of online harassment. What was mostly drive-by nasty comments in 2001 then progressed to Photoshopped images (your child on a porn image is a particularly “fun” one), and what’s after images? Oh, yeah, the “beat up Anita” game. And what’s left when you’ve done as much digital damage as you can?

Real-life damage.

Doxxing with calls to action (that — and trust me on this — people DO act on).

Swatting (look it up). That nobody has yet been killed in one of these “pranks” is surprising. It’s just a matter of time.

Physical Assualt: the online attack on the epilepsy forums, where the trolls crafted flickering images at a frequency known to trigger seizures in those with “photosensitive” epilepsy. Think about this. People went to the one safe space they knew online — the epilepsy support forums — and found themselves having seizures before they could even look away. (Nobody was ever charged.)

Side note: I have epilepsy, though not the photosensitive kind. But I have a deep understanding of the horror of seizures, and the dramatically increased chance of death and brain damage many of us with epilepsy live with, in my case, since the age of 4. FYI, deaths related to epilepsy in the US are roughly equal with deaths from breast cancer. There isn’t a shred of doubt in my mind that if the troll hackers could find a way to increase your risk of breast cancer? They’d do it. Because what’s better than lulz? Lulz with BOOBS. Yeah, they’d do it.

But what disturbed me even more than the epilepsy forum attack itself were the comments about it afterwards (I won’t link to it, but you can search for it on Wired). “I lol’d”  “That’s awful, but you gotta admit… hilarious!”  Once again, high-fives all around. This is the world we have created.

So I don’t have the luxury of assuming “it’s just online. Not REAL. It’s not like these people would ever do anything in the real world .” And what you don’t hear much about is whatmost targeted women find the most frightening of all: the stalkerish energy, time, effort, focus on… YOU. The drive-by hate/threat comment, no matter how vile, is just that, a comment that took someone 2.5 seconds to think and execute. It might be annoying, offensive, maybe intimidating the first few times. But you get used to those, after all, it’s not like somebody put time and effort into it.

But Photoshopped images? Stories drawn from your own work? There’s a creepy and invasive horror knowing someone is pouring over your words, doing Google and Flickr image searches to find the perfect photo to manipulate. That someone is using their time and talent to write code even, about you. That’s not trolling, that’s obsession. That’s the point where you know it’s not really even about the Koolaid now…they’re obsessed with you. 

This is a very long way from the favorite troll talking point “Oh boohoo someone was mean on the internet.” 

Mean: “You’re fat and retarded and deserve to be raped”. (we all get tons of those, but those aren’t what we’re talking about)

Stalking:  “Here’s yet another creepy and terrifying thing I made for you and about you and notice just how much I know about you…” (1/200)

There is a difference. 

We need to stop propagating the troll-driven meme that “it’s all just trollin’ and boohoo mean words you should cry more” and start making the hard, fine-grained distinctions. The hater trolls use the ‘just trollin’ and ‘just mean words’ to minimize even the worst attacks and gaslight their targets. In hater troll framing, there’s no difference between a single tweet and a DDoS of your employer’s website. There’s no difference between a “you’re a histrionic charlatan” and “here’s a headless corpse and you are next and here’s your address.”  It’s all just trollin’ and mean words and not real life.

It’s all ‘just trollin’ unless you, you know, actually deserved it. Then they’re all, “sure, things got a little out of hand, and threats of violence are never acceptable but, um, what did you expect?” Followed by, “Well actually, if it WERE actual HARASSMENT, then it’s for The Authorities.”

Fun Troll Logic:

IF no legal action happens
THEN it wasn’t actually "real” harassment

You’re probably more likely to win the lottery than to get any law enforcement agency in the United States to take action when you are harassed online, no matter how viscously and explicitly. Local agencies lack the resources, federal agencies won’t bother. (Unless you’re a huge important celebrity. But the rules are always different for them. But trolls are quite happy to attack people who lack the resources to do anything about it. Troll code totally supports punching DOWN.)

There IS no “the authorities” that will help us.

We are on our own. 

And if we don’t take care of one another, nobody else will.

We are all we’ve got.

Which brings me to why I really wrote this.


WHY I CAME BACK

Most of the back-story is not important, and I hope to never have to talk about it again, but here’s the relevant bits:

In 2007, I was the target of a several-week long escalating harassment campaign that culminated in my being doxxed (a word I didn’t even know then) with a long, detailed, explicit document, posted pretty much everyone on the internet (including multiple times to my own wikipedia entry). It was a sort of open letter with a sordid (but mostly fictional) account that included my past, my career, my family, and wrapped up with my (unfortunately NOT fictional) social security number, former home address and, worst of all — a call to action for people to send things to me. They did. I never returned to my blog, I cut out almost all speaking engagements, and rarely appeared anywhere in the tech world online or real world. Basically, that was it for me. I had no desire then to find out what comes after doxxing, especially not with a family, and I had every reason to believe this would continue to escalate if I didn’t, well, stop “serving the Koolaid.”

A year later, I had one of the worst days of my life. I got a phone call from a journalist, Mattathias Schwartz. He’d been working on a long-form feature magazine story about trolls for the NY Times, and it was about to come out. He wanted to warn me about something in the story, something nobody expected: one of the main subjects of his story had just — out of the blue — announced that he was “Memphis Two” the author of That Document (i.e. my dox) and added that he was part of the harassment of Kathy Sierra.

I sat down. “I’ve never heard of this person. Am I in any danger?”  He gave me the only truthful answer, “I don’t know.”  But then he added, “I don’t think so, because honestly I don’t think he sees you as important at all.” So, whew. He was right. I was not important. And after all, they’d already put checkmark in the WIN column for me. I was gone. I’d not be serving any more Koolaid. Nothing to see here, etc.

And there I hoped it would end, fading away as all things do as the internet moves on and this troll I’d never heard of would just go back to whatever it was that trolls do.

But you all know what happened next. Something something something horrifically unfair government case against him and just like that, he becomes tech’s “hacktivist hero.” He now had A Platform not just in the hacker/troll world but in the broader tech community I was part of. And we’re not just talking stories and interviews in Tech Crunch and HuffPo (and everywhere else), but his own essays in those publications. A tech industry award. His status was elevated, his reach was broadened. And for reasons I will never understand, he suddenly had gained not just status and Important Friends, but also “credibility”.

Did not see that coming.

But hard as I tried to find a ray of hope that the case against him was, somehow, justified and that he deserved, somehow, to be in prison for this, oh god I could not find it. I could not escape my own realization that the cast against him was wrong. So wrong. And not just wrong, but wrong in a way that puts us all at risk. I wasn’t just angry about the injustice of his case, I had even begun to feel sorry for him. Him. The guy who hates me for lulz. Guy who nearly ruined my life. But somehow, even I had started to buy into his PR. That’s just how good the spin was. Even I mistook the sociopath for a misunderstood outcast. Which, I mean, I actually knew better.

And of course I said nothing until his case was prosecuted and he’d been convicted, and there was no longer anything I could possibly do to hurt his case. A small group of people — including several of his other personal victims (who I cannot name, obviously) asked me to write to the judge before his sentencing, to throw my weight/story into the “more reasons why weev should be sent to prison”. I did not. Last time, for the record, I did NOTHING but support weev’s case, and did not speak out until after he’d been convicted.

But the side-effect of so many good people supporting his case was that more and more people in tech came to also… like him.  And they all seemed to think that it was All Good as long as they punctuated each article with the obligatory “sure, he’s an ass” or “and yes, he’s a troll” or “he’s known for offending people” (which are, for most men, compliments). In other words, they took the Worst Possible Person, as one headline read, and still managed to reposition him as merely a prankster, a trickster, a rascal. And who doesn’t like a “lovable scoundrel”?

So I came back because I saw what was happening.

I came back because I connected these dots:

* Weev writes an explicit warning to all women in tech that speaking out (in his words “squealing like a stuck pig”) will be “punished”.

* Weev demonstrates this by punishing a woman that was, for better or worse, a role model for some in the already-way-too-small group of women in tech.

* Weev then becomes celebrated in tech, spun as a straight-talking, no bullshit, asshole who speaks truth to power. Truth. Weev. Is. About. Truth. And Privacy. Ours. He wanted to protect Our Privacy with The Truth.

(If you want an example of gaslighting, imagine how I felt watching this unfold)

* And there it is. I came because if weev is credible, and endorsed as a “friend”, then thedocument he, at the least, ENTHUSIASTICALLY CONTINUES TO ENDORSE, is… well what does this mean?

I came back because I believe this sent a terrible, devastating message about what was acceptable. Because nobody in a position of power and influence in the tech world ever, NOT ONCE, brought up the explicit threats in that document, except for The Verge. (Tim Carmody, Greg Sandoval, you are my heroes).

I came back and watched endless streams of funny, casual, online banter between weev and some of those I respected and trusted most in tech. You know who I mean. I watched him being retweeted into my stream in a positive way. I actually did lol, though, when Twitter’s algorithm kept insisting You Probably Want To Follow Him! That’s how much our Venn diagrams overlapped.

But the one thing I never expected was that after all these years, he’d suddenly deny it. Even more so, that reasonable, logical, intelligent people would actually believe this. He’d suddenly, after 6 years, claim that a world-class, international, Livingston-winner (“Pulitzer of the Young”) journalist would just somehow… come up with that.  And that in six years it never occurred to weev, not once, to publicly deny it no matter how many times he was asked about it.

(Schwartz himself came into these conversations more than once over the past year to remind weev about their conversation, to confirm that yes, it happened exactly as he described in the 2008 feature. Not that it made a difference. After all, in weev vs. amazing writer with everything to lose by lying, who are you going with? Weev. They went with weev.)

As I said in a now-deleted Twitter exchange, I couldn’t imagine “what sort of suspension of disbelief” one needs to accept a context in which a journalist who has never heard of me, somehow pulls MY name and that document out of thin air, then somehow mistakenly attributes it to the object of his story. Or that why, in all those years, weev never once publicly tried to refute this? He even wrote a response to the NYTimes story (the story where he outs himself as the doxxer) on his own blog, where he takes issue with several aspects of the article but never disputes the facts, and never even hints that weev-as-my-doxxer was inaccurate.

And he’s been asked about it many times over the next years, including that GQ interview where he explained his reasons for doing it. Never once, until I returned, did he ever publicly deny it. The NYTimes article stands, for 6 years, without correction or challenges. Weev of course now claims he wrote to the NYTimes, but has never produced, you know, “evidence”.

So there I was, now having unbelievable conversations with prominent people in tech that were more willing to believe the most absurd story over, well, one of the most respected journalists still left in the world. That they were willing to believe weev over… common sense. Logic. That they had the fantasy belief that though weev was known to be one of the most skillful and manipulative liars (and that description is from a friend of his), somehow, he wasn’t lying now, to them. I pushed back, but only if it was someone in the tech world who was not a troll, but an intelligent, rational, reasonable, person.

I underestimated the willingness of people to still, no matter what, believe him.

But recently I came to realize that OK let’s say we do suspend disbelief and let’s say hedidn’t do it. Let’s say he simply wanted people to think he’d done it. That doesn’t actually change it.

Because the problem, the reason I came back is this:

Weev unequivocally, enthusiastically, gleefully, repeatedly ENDORSED it. He tweeted, many times, that I “had it coming”. I deserved it. That the “truth” in my dox was why I left the internet the first time.

And so again, I connect these dots:

A document issues an explicit threat, warning women against speaking out. Lots and lots of women in tech have seen this document.

Weev endorses this document, enthusiastically, repeatedly.

Prominent people in tech endorse weev

Which could easily be seen as…

* Prominent people in tech tacitly endorsed that threat against speaking out.

Some of those people are/were feminists. I cannot even comprehend the cognitive dissonance.

THAT’s why I wanted to push back. Every. Single. Time. If someone described me, or the article about me as a lie, (as @erratarob did on my last day) I stepped in to do what Ithought was the most rational approach: to just keep pointing to the facts that were known. To push back on the twist and spin. I believed the fine-grained distinctions mattered. I pushed back because I believed I was pushing back on the implicit message that women would be punished for speaking out. I pushed back because almost nobody else was, and it seemed like so many people in tech were basically OK with that.

But a few days ago, in the middle of one of those “discussions”, this time with @erratarob, I realized it wasn’t worth it. He concluded that I was just trolling so people would troll me back. I asked him what he thought I should have done. And his answer was “don’t feed the trolls.”  “Ignore it and move on.” Perhaps Rob didn’t know that I’d already tried that for six years, but that it was weev who kept that damn thing alive no matter how gone I was. He managed to tweet to my social security number not long before he went to prison, and well before I resurfaced. No, I didn’t troll him into that. I didn’t “engage”.

But Rob didn’t do anything wrong. He was saying what he truly believes. What, sadly, a whole lot of people in tech believe. Rob just happened to be the last “you asked for it” message I wanted to hear. So I just stopped.

I didn’t “rage quit”, I just walked away. I shut off a big cognitive resource leak. From the beginning of my time tweeting as Seriouspony, that I tweeted I was not likely to stay and that I was looking forward to where we would end up next. I’m not GONE gone. I’m just not on Twitter. But I have to add I’m not surprised to see my leaving Twitter framed as, once again, an example of someone who “just shouldn’t be on the internet”. Because nothing says “unbalanced” like having the freedom to walk away from a social media network. Because you can. Because you have a choice. Because you have the most beautiful and awesome ponies on the planet.

WHAT NEXT?

No idea. But I do think we need more options for online spaces, and I hope one of those spaces allows the kind of public conversations and learning we had on Twitter but where women — or anyone — does not feel an undercurrent of fear watching her follower count increase. Where there’s no such thing as The Koolaid Point. And I also know the worst possible approach would be more aggressive banning, or restricting speech (especially not that), or restricting anonymity. I don’t think Twitter needs to (or even can, at this point) do anything at all. I think we need to do something.

We can do this. I know we can. And many of you — especially you javaranchers — you know why I’m so certain. You’ve seen a million visitors a month in a male-dominated community year after year after year maintain a culture defined by a single TOS: be nice. You’ve seen how learning thrives in an environment where you can be fearless with questions and generous with answers. If millions of programmers can maintain one of thelargest and most vibrant developer communities online, for 15 yearswithout harassment of any kind, then anyone can. Good luck trying to convince me it can’t be done. Because I have something the trolls do not— evidence.

If you made it this far, I cannot possibly express how grateful I am for the wonderful experiences I had during the time I was on Twitter as Seriouspony. The appreciation for the horses made my heart sing. And those of you who have ever talked with me there, or sent me pony pictures, or ever sent me a message or spoken to me at a conference about what you learned from me, you have done more for me than you will ever know.

And I miss you all right now. I miss hearing the stories about your life and your work and your thoughts and your pets, especially your pets. But again, it’s not like I’m GONE gone.

After all, the ponies have only just begun to learn to code…

When I know where they’ll be, you will be the first to know 🙂  And when you all find a new space, that feels right, I know you will let me know.

<3,   Seriouspony


[footnote-I-wish-I-didn’t-have-to-add: it’s been brought to my attention that my complaints about weev’s dox of me were apparently (and bizarrely) twisted to suggest I thought prostitution and being a victim of domestic violence were somehow “shameful.” That THIS must be the reason I didn’t want that narrative out there. First, that’s, well, I don’t even. Second, OMG you have no idea what I and my children have experienced in our lives so please, let go of the “Kathy hates that dox therefore Kathy hates prostitutes and victims of domestic violence. You know nothing of my life, so please stop imagining you know what I think, feel, or have been through. Quit trying to shoehorn me into a she-must-have-deserved-it-see-she-is-a-bad-person narrative. My reasons for not wanting a false backstory about my children to be publicized by a prominent troll has nothing at all to do with “shame” and everything to do with “actual truth”. Because even if you believe Ideserved to be doxxed, the story of my children was not weev’s to tell (or let’s say it was not up to the person-pretending-to-be-weev-that-weev-thinks-did-this-awesome-thing-to-me)]

A Casualty of Sex Pozzi Beliefs- Part One, the Beginning

Where do I even start with this? How did I get into Sex Pos in the first place?

When I was a young, feminine looking feminist, I bought the sex pozzie fem (SPF) crap hook, line, and sinker. I didn’t really get into it as an all encompassing philosophy, I just knew that I wanted to be one of those “good feminists” that wasn’t a man hater (no, not me!) and loved sex. I was liberated! I could have sex like the boys did! It was a perfect fit for me, since I had been very promiscuous as a teen and felt the shame and social pressure because of it. Sex Pos let me not only feel good about these sexual experiences (many of which were horrible), but even made me feel free, even superior, for having all this casual sex. It was an antidote to the shame that came from my sexual desire, and gave me permission to have the sex I (thought I) wanted.

There are reasons why there are women that *feel* sex pos is empowering. One of the big ones is that after a lifetime of hearing how women that wanted/had sex were worthless slutty sluts, all of a sudden our sexual choices were considered enlightened and progressive, among our peers. All the people that I respected and liked held these, or similar, ideals. Yeah, the godbag conservatives still thought we were soiled (while buying us in their spare time…), but who cared about those uptight dinosaurs anyway? We knew they were just regressive perverts that hated women (true), and were oppressed about sex, so we would show them! How very rebellious of us!

Other things that we took as empowering were some types of sex work. Stripping was just a job, where I could feel attractive and get positive attention for my looks. A job that could even turn the tables on men, giving me power over them, just like being a Dominatrix could. Every job I had prior to stripping had a huge heaping of sexual harassment, even assault, but required unending hours of drudgery for the most meager of paychecks. It was actually a step up to be making huge stacks of cash, all in a small fraction of the time- with *less* harassment than my low wage jobs. I always said if I sold my body, I still got to keep it, but if I sold my time, it was gone forever, so getting the most cash in the shortest amount of time was paramount. Gross sexual behavior was always part of any job, why not get paid for it?

Plus, SPF meant I didn’t have to change anything; Iooking sexy was great, powerful, so long as I willingly chose it. Make up, provocative clothing, and even plastic surgery may be part of the evil beauty industry, but since femininity was just a put on that you could opt into, it was an acceptable choice. If it improved your self esteem, it was a good choice. Sleeping with many men, and having all manner of sexual exploits, was just a matter of free expression. Experimenting with bisexuality was not taboo, it was exciting, and open minded. Participating in BDSM was edgy and cool, as were any kinks the men had. Best part, I could do all of this, while thinking I was a feminist, helping the cause, expanding minds, raising consciousness.

Of course since sex positive “feminism” mirrored my behaviors, I wanted to think this was healthy and awesome, so I latched on uncritically. I did think about it, but what I heard seemed to make good sense. Girl Power was just starting to get influential back then, so I thought it was what feminism was all about, and didn’t know there was any other type of feminism. I wanted equality and equal pay, the end of double standards, available birth control and abortion rights. I knew beauty myth was harmful, gender was made up, and both were damaging, and I was aware that we lived in a patriarchy.

And that is as far as it went. It’s not like I was unwilling to learn, its just that feminism was not a big part of my life, so I didn’t search any harder than what I happened across. The web was so new that it wasn’t part of my everyday life for years to come, but being among other women like me, (and men, men, always men), was, so it was easy to overlook other feminist thought. SPF was merely one choice among many, chosen mostly for the way it made me feel (which was good), and because of my existing desire to see women have better lives and status.

While believing in SPF is not an excuse for my choices, it absolutely influenced them. At every turn I was told that what I was doing was right, even making empowering and radical (HA!) choices. Any doubts I had were easily explained away as a hang over from a repressive culture, just baggage holding me back. Uncomfortable feelings about sex were things to be worked on, in order to become fully empowered, and open minded- two things I so desperately wanted to believe about myself.

Next up- Part 2. The Damage Done

And Who the Hell Am I?

I am a nobody. Just a female trying to live in this sick, sick, world, and remain as whole as possible.

If it matters, I am a “generic white” woman, upper 30’s, 2 kids, PNW transplant from a fly-over state in good ‘ol ‘Murica. There really isn’t much else to say; career and family has wiped my identity clean over the last decade and I am working to reclaim it.

As a baby RadFEm, I cannot claim to know much, but I am learning! What I do know is that I love womyn, and try to put them first in everything I do. If women don’t care for other women, no one will. I cannot believe how long it took me to learn this very simple lesson.

Why, Why, Why?

Everyday I hear about  the harm that befalls women, so much of it based on being female. It never fails to hurt, and enrage.  While some types of violence are well known, like murders and DV, others are hidden land mines, ready to be stepped on at any time. I am no expert, so I will focus on what I know from lived experience and simple facts and stats, what is on my mind at the time.

Why blog? Who cares? Honestly, I have no idea, and probably no one. But I have to do it, if only to regain my voice and sharpen my ideas.