My first article in the Post, for a special issue that celebrates the anniversary of the Web.
As the Web turns 25, it’s worth looking back on how the Internet has changed our perception of the naked female body and the woman who is the naked body. All attempts at Internet regulation raise the same question: What is the ideal level of responsibility for the companies, platforms and websites that make up the Web? It’s not a coincidence that female nudity is so frequently the catalyst for these policy battles. Our convoluted, twisted and ever-evolving social attitudes about sexuality create a perfect flash point for issues of censorship and responsibility.
How panics about pictures of naked women shaped the Web as we know it
It’s important to understand the other side’s worldview, especially if there is a particularly vitriolic, drawn-out conflict. I thought I started out understanding the abolitionist perspective, but as more time goes by, I understand it less and less. I know for a fact that key figures and intellectuals on that side know about police violence and exploitation, know about that exacerbates the violence by clients, and are already quite vocal about dangerous working conditions for many sex workers.
But the conclusion here is that more prohibitory state intervention is necessary, not that the power that the police have (and have sometimes extended to the clients) is unacceptable. When I read articles like Who Killed the Jeff Davis 8, I’m left with nothing profound confusion about what abolition is supposed to achieve. If abolition is to be enacted by the police, is there a magical stash of good cops that we have hidden away in the back? Isn’t the war on drugs already a good barometer for how things will go?
As a personal guideline, I always accompany the airing of grievances with constructive suggestions. Quickly, the three things I think allies of #NotYourAsianSidekick should do:
- Be aware of, and speak up against, the Model Minority Myth.
- Stand up against the anti-Muslim backlash. Yes, this includes paternalistic anti-hijab stuff.
- Call for immigration reform.
Dudebros on the internet like to retreat into “Socratic logic” styles of argumentation to justify all kinds of awful opinions. Once you get to “You’re being irrational” or “Is what I said not logical?” or “That’s not an argument,” you know you’re in for some bullshit.
After four years inside of a philosophy department and three years at law school, I have a pretty okay bullshit detector when it comes to discourse (I wish this applied to poker as well, but it turns out those are completely different talents). As far as I can tell, 99% of these “logical arguments” are riddled with fallacies, assumptions, switch-and-bait redefinitions, inconsistencies, and just plain old willful stupidity. And a lot of the time, this written garbage is used to justify misogyny.
But sometimes bloviated pontification can be productive. Here is a particularly excellent example of great discourse from the great philosopher A.J. Ayer, known best for his work on logical positivism:
Quasi-scientific logical long-windedness is good for many things, though its primary effects are to delay and to confuse. Use those powers for good, my friends. E.g., to stop rape.
Bless you, Professor Ayer.
This is a parody.
It’s not a very funny parody. Feel free to read through it, but it would be a waste of your time. There are five kinds of jokes:
- oh noes men are being oppressed by feminists, this is reverse sexism
- oh noes feminists are so loud and illogical and emotional and they will never get anything done
- oh noes social justice language is weird and doesn’t make any sense to me ha ha ha
- pick a stereotype hailing all the way from second wave feminism. yawn.
- rape jokes
You know, about what you’d expect.
Users of Bitbucket have asked that the repository be removed for being harassing.
Cue the immediate misuse of the word “censorship.” (From Bitbucket).