In 2015, it is only a foolish man that organizes an all-male panel, rescinding a woman’s spot for fear of “drama.”
Yes, this is something akin to a call-out.
On Friday, it came to my attention hacker-troll-type Jaime “asshurtACKflags” Cochran had her speaking privileges at Suits and Spooks revoked. The organizer Jeffrey Carr changed his mind about her spot on the panel, now comprised entirely of males, because he feared potential “drama.” Carr then repeated this term in a comment on his own blog post, writing “I’m also not interested in gossip or drama around this panel.” The panel Cochran was to speak on included two other members of the same trolling crew she belonged to (Rustle League), along with the infamous FBI informant Sabu, now a pariah in the Anonymous community after radicalizing his teammates and then helping arrest them. Needless to say, gossip and drama has surrounded Sabu’s panel even before Cochran was to speak on it…in fact, the Anonymous community has been up in arms over the panel since it was announced last week. Members of the collective are harassing Sabu right now on Twitter as I type this.
Rescinding Cochran’s spot does nothing to alleviate the gossip and drama that surrounds the panel. Further, the choice of words he uses, “gossip and drama” are, no doubt about it, sexist. Gossip and drama are words commonly used to dismiss women, and are gendered words. Carr could have said “controversy” or “argument,” but he didn’t.
In an exchange of DMs between the two made public by Cochran, Carr appears to willfully misunderstand Cochran when she says her presence is the counterpoint to Sabu. You know, for the purpose of a balanced panel. He seems to take it as if Cochran would disrupt the panel and fight Sabu, which would cause …. oh no…..drama!!!!! Carr wants none of it, despite asking Sabu, the drama-llama on the panel, to speak. Moreover, in the DM exchange Cochran implied no such thing. But but BUT even if she were to disrupt, this is a conference of hackers. Hackers disrupt. She is a troll. Good trolls troll. That’s what they do. Trolls and hackers belong together, they are of the same tree, the same family of internet trouble-makers.
We can’t give Carr the benefit of the doubt for rescinding Cochran because she was a “troll,” someone who by nature causes controversy… because the two other trolls on the panel, of the same trolling crew as Cochran who happen to be men, are allowed to speak. The only difference between Cochran and the other trolls is…. she is not a man.
The title of the panel in question, that Cochran was supposed to be a counterpoint of, is “Anonymous Operations and Techniques revealed by Former CabinCr3w and Anonymous Members.” When Anonymous affiliates are running operations, members need to watch out for Sabu-types. How can members of Anonymous protect themselves from being arrested, from being entrapped? From having their teammates turn on them? These questions, and thinking about them, are necessary if Anonymous wants to keep carrying out operations. Social engineering, and recognizing infiltrators, are just as important as technical skills. Cochran possesses both.
If her membership in the Anonymous community was any doubt — her being part of a trolling crew that was originally formed to make fun of Anonymous– the largest Anonymous Twitter account YourAnonNews proceeded to tweet support for Cochran. The account even called her the leader of Anonymous. This is, of course, a joke — there are no leaders, in the traditional sense, of Anonymous.
Carr did not respond to further questioning on Twitter, but he said in twitter conversation that Cochran was “lying” and “dishonest.” Cochran is trans, and perhaps this was unintentional and Carr didn’t realize how dismissing her by characterizing her as dishonest or deceptive comes across a tad transphobic. Let’s stick with the “lying” and “dishonest” woman characterization for this post, which is already problematic. Or maybe he meant, because she is a troll, she is a liar and dishonest, but she’s never lied about being a troll … and then there’s the matter of the two other trolls on the panel…
There is something to be said for a troll playing a feminist, and using feminist language to get my attention (and if we were to doubt the outcry of “sexism” among the Anonymous community), but I’ve known Cochran for years now, and I’ve always thought of her as a feminist (in the most basic of ways, regarding equality). See, even in this blog post, I am trying to find ways to discredit Cochran in order to uphold Carr, a phenomenon feminists call internalized misogyny.
The infosec community has long been lambasted as a sexist industry unkind and unwelcoming to women, and Carr’s reasoning for revoking Cochran’s spot only reinforces that image. He can say it was because she was dishonest, and lying, and causing gossip and drama, but those words themselves reinforce said sexist image.
Carr doesn’t seem to be interested, or even care, about how sexist his language is, or about changing the industry to make it more inclusive. Near the end of his blog post, he wrote:
“The bottom line is that I have never and will never edit my choice of speakers for political correctness or to cater to my sponsors. I’ll shutter this event first.”
Women in the industry be damned.
People tell jokes about violence against women all the time, either because they don’t realize violence against women is a cultural norm, or because they think laughing at said cultural norm will somehow make it less horrible. This is the only way that I rationalize the astronomical rise of the tumblr “Exploding Actresses” and the lack of any adequate critique of it as a form of Internet art.
As the title of the viral tumblr suggests, actresses explode. Not any random actress in any random movie either, these are actresses in movies very much beloved by women. There are GIFS, YouTube videos and stills.
“Have you ever imagined your favorite actresses and Disney princesses without heads?” opened one gleeful blog post about the subject. Huffington Post labeled their “hilarious” post about it “satire” but was unclear as to what was actually being culturally commented on: that women iconography was being destroyed rather violently, or that a male was behind it?
Them exploding is no big deal, it’s a joke, it’s supposed to be funny, all the write-ups imply. This is problematic for a variety of reasons but Lindy West can explain those best somewhere else.
Perhaps the tumblr creator Simone Rovellini — who lives in a country the UN flagged for having particularly bad domestic abuse problem — didn’t mean to be sexist with his movie choices or in picking the “greatest actresses in film history,” and merely chose the movies he did because the depictions of love in those movies make men’s heads explode. Or maybe he was implying that while watching these movies might make women happy, it will really leave them braindead. Oh wait. Both of those reasons are still sexist.
It’s interesting to note that as Rovellini’s mini-art project picked up press all over the world, he began exploding men’s heads in his work. Still only in movies beloved by women though. Hmm.
Sexism drove Asher_Wolf away from Cryptoparty and it looks like Twitter as well.
Last night she “ragequit” due to something related to hackers posing as “bronies” attacking her website? That is what the rumors on Twitter are saying, at least. I write “bronies” because Internet pranksters love disguising as them (or anyone they hate, really. The #cutforbieber folks, for instance, tried to blame it on 9GAG in various comment section of YouTube vlogs on the controversy).
The time stamp for the brony attack is from December, but the intention behind whatever drove the people to harass Asher_Wolf is still the same.
Her last tweet, according to Topsy, was “offline.”
While I had yet to attend a cryptoparty – it was on my agenda – I relied on her Twitter stream to keep me updated on all acts of Internet activism. She was in Australia, and her timing jived with my late night Internet wanderings when insomnia kicked in.
I get her point of not having to stick around and take abuse, but why quit Twitter when it was her site that was disturbed, not her news distribution service?
I feel like I am being punished.
1:30 pm Update:
On secondary inspection, it was probably the trolls that came out following her Aaron Swartz post.
Asher_wolf is back on Twitter, no explanation for the hiatus.
I would first like to clarify that I did not play the entire game, just the demo (I am not about to pay for a porn video game, thank you very much). I would also like to mention that I have never played a porn video game, or an “action adventure porno game” before in my life. We live in a world where a good chunk of our population plays video games, or watches porn, so it is only a matter of time before someone combined the two: hence, Bonetown.
Even though the game came out in 2008, I found the cartoony ‘Bonetown’ the other day when this article was on the front page of digg. Other outlets have written about how “morally depraved” Bonetown is, or how offensive the game is on a variety of different levels, so I am not going to go there in this post. Writes Jessica Wakeman over on The Frisky:
“Bonetown” touts itself as “the world’s first action adventure porno video game,” but it’s more like thoughts from the internet’s most ignorant trolls set to animation. You know, the trolls who think racism and sexism have been “solved” so it’s really hilarious to perpetuate stereotypes about minorities and women.
via ‘Bonetown: “The World’s First Action Adventure Porno Game“
Bonetown is supposed to take place in some GTA universe, where everyone is running around drunk, stoned, or both, and you have sex right on the street. Because I was playing the demo, I was confined to this small area around a beach (here is some very NSFW gameplay in a trailer park that I did not have access to), and I quickly learned the world map. (The only building I was allowed to enter in the demo kept crashing my PC.) I spent my time running around beating up Asian tourists or stoners and sexing up fat ladies.
Online gamers know what happens when a female (or a dude pretending to be female) joins a match. Every sex-starved dude pounces on her like a dog in heat. She doesn’t even need to speak if her handle contains words like “chick” or “lady”. You can guarantee that at least one tongue-wagging guy will flood her inbox with messages or attempt to
harassflirt his way into her heart, completely unaware that she’s probably a hideous monster. On that note, it’s tough competing with all that testosterone, and even tougher finding a hot gamer girl, but that’s about to change, courtesy of GameCrush, the world’s first website that hooks you up with hotties who can handle two analog sticks at the same time
This news is ridiculously apt, considering my latest post on gender issues in video games…
On one hand, this sounds like a great way to make some extra cash if you are an attractive lady, but at the same time, it doesn’t really help with the whole “women aren’t respected in the gaming industry” bit. Hmm…. 30 dollars an hour? Tempting, but I must remain strong on principle…
After a session you can rate your PlayDate on her hotness, gaming skill, and flirtiness. The highest-rated girls will receive preferred placement on the site. GameCrush is assembling a team of its most highly regarded PlayDates called JaneCrush, which should be similar to Ubisoft’s Fragdolls. Members of JaneCrush will generate content for the site like blogs and editorials. GameCrush wants to turn its most popular girls into gaming stars.
This newest development might as well say “only sexy ladies (or those that pretend to put out) have a place in the gaming industry”! And GameCrush wants to be like Ubisoft’s Frag Dolls? Please. The Frag Dolls are normal, respectable ladies that did not start out on some sleazy pay-to-play chat-roulette style game site. I don’t know who is being exploited here, the ladies, or the “sex-starved” males that would fork over cash…
Also, why isn’t there a website like this for girl gamers? I mean, there are some really atrocious looking male gamers and I would love to play with some attractive males. Oh wait, I almost forgot, they wouldn’t make a site like this for women, because women aren’t that desperate-
Or maybe I am overreacting, and this will be the newest way for gamers to meet each other… What happened to the good ol’ fashioned way of falling in love with one another over the internet before you saw each others faces…. : /