On May 20, 2015, Time magazine published a short article about a nasty kerfuffle that happened on Twitter. “Short article” is an understatement — it’s a fluff filler item at best. However, the content is weighty enough that I feel moved to compose something of greater heft. I will explain this, but first you should read the Time article. It will take you all of three minutes:
The nearly faceless author of this piece (Kia Kokalitcheva) has no readily discernible political standpoint, so the piece looks like straight-up reporting and little more. Yet there lurks an unpleasant core of greater interest, from which we may extract a topical object lesson.
To recapitulate the article: an unknown person opened a Twitter account and pretended to be the Australian feminist Caitlin Roper. Under this false personna, the hoaxer tweeted calls for transgendered people to commit suicide, evidently wishing to character-assassinate Roper by making it appear that Roper was personally saying this.
Not very sporting, I must say! Personally, I don’t hold with such methods.
Of particular interest is, that the hoaxer used “promoted tweets” – basically a system where you pay Twitter to signal-boost your tweets to a much larger public. For some reason, it took Twitter a while to discover the offensive nature of those promoted tweets, but when it did, it promptly suspended the account.
After this, two important things happened. First, Time published the above-linked news item. Second, shortly thereafter, a Twitter account called Conservative News (@BreakingNews) signal-boosted the Time article, also as a promoted tweet. (Which means, yes, for some reason they were paying to make the story better known.)
All of this leaves us with a few questions, and in order to address those I will make the Time article my focal point. That article contains the following highly significant paragraph:
“This isn’t the first time that the victim of the impersonation, Caitlin Roper, had been targeted with fake accounts. She’s also been attacked by men’s rights groups, including A Voice For Men, for her political and philosophical views. However, it is not clear whether any of them were behind Tuesday’s incident.”
This is where the plot thickens, and I think it is right to go “hmm” at the mention of AVFM. The emotionally-charged context of the entire article makes it just a tad suspicious that AVFM’s name would pop up here, and we are entitled to wonder if a politically motivated targeting was intended.
The final sentence in the paragraph carefully puts the writer, and Time magazine itself, beyond the reach of legal action for defamation. The editors in their professional wisdom surely know how to play this game, and wouldn’t let anything slip by that might compromise them.
Let’s take a closer look at what the article is saying. We are first told that Caitlin Roper has been targeted by fake Twitter accounts in the past. We are next told that Roper has been “attacked” by “men’s rights groups”, and that these “groups” included AVFM.
The nebulous phrase “men’s rights groups” is a standard intellectual cop-out, since nobody is named and no evidence is given. By contrast, “AVFM” is a definable target. Mind you, AVFM is not a person, and only questionably a “group”. But a lot of people are loosely clustered around this website and benefit from its existence. Those people would now find themselves living under a smog of unwholesome imputations.
I was naturally curious to learn how AVFM had (allegedly) “attacked” Caitlin Roper, so I did a quick search. I found the following article by Dr. Greg Canning, from June 17, 2014:
It was an interesting, well-written piece. It pulled no punches, but it was in the best of journalistic traditions and I could discover no fault with it. Certainly, it did Caitlin Roper no favors — but when you make yourself a public figure you must expect scrutiny from that very same public whose lives you overshadow. This comes with the territory.
So what I’m saying is that AVFM’s hands are entirely clean in this matter — certainly cleaner than Caitlin Roper’s, to judge by Dr. Canning’s article.
Additional detail on Caitlin Roper might be of interest. Roper has left the following tweet on Twitter:
A copy of my twitter profile, offering sex to men on the internet. This is how far some men will go to silence women pic.twitter.com/6sCK1BA85S
— Caitlin Roper (@caitlin_roper) October 27, 2014
While the action allegedly directed against her was reprehensible, I must note that she uses a feminist linguistic ploy. When she says “this is how far some men will go to silence women”, she dishonestly conflated women as a plurality with women in the abstract. But Roper herself is neither a plurality of women, nor women in the abstract. She is a singular female person who cannot possibly fathom the motives of her unknown abuser. Hence, she cannot hope to know if this alleged “man” wants to silence “women”, or merely wants to silence Caitlin Roper.
So as we said earlier, AVFM’s hands are clean . . . but when Kia Kokalitcheva places AVFM’s name next to all of that unsavory stuff, it insinuates guilt by juxtaposition and creates a Pavlovian set-building effect.
For example, we know that AVFM published sharp words about Caitlin Roper, and we know that other people did far worse things. This obliquely hints at an affiliation between AVFM and those other people, even though no such thing is demonstrable. Did Kokalitcheva willfully try to create that impression? If so, was this done with the connivance of the Time editorial team? And is the political stance of either Kokalitcheva or the editors a feminist stance? I cannot say for sure, but I am certainly entitled to wonder.
At any rate, the Time article does AVFM an injury, as well as injuring (more indirectly) anyone speaks passionately for male human rights, or anyone (like the present writer) who speaks critically against feminism.
As for the @BreakingNews Twitter feed, we can’t help wondering why they wanted to signal-boost the Time article in the first place. We find it intriguing that they would pay good money to make that specific item more famous, and we can’t help wondering if there’s an agenda behind this. Is there a pattern here, and will that pattern repeat itself? Is it officially a “thing” now, to allocate funds toward falsely narrativizing male human rights advocates ? Is it the wave of the future? I reckon time will tell, so all of this bears watching.
The story that we’ve shared in this article wouldn’t be nearly so fraught if it didn’t follow hard upon the fictional “men’s rights boycott” of the new Mad Max movie.
Just think: a handful of people in the entire world said “Mad Max Fury Road is a feminist movie – don’t see it!” You’d think this was nothing to get fussed about, wouldn’t you? Yet thanks to that paltry wisp of evidence, self-appointed pundits of the feminist persuasion have announced that there is a big social movement afoot to not see Mad Max Fury Road. Furthermore, the story has spread everywhere, and people are sopping it up like uncritical sponges for no other reason than because they saw it in print. Efforts to set the record straight have so far met with limited success, and the woozles are proliferating.
But the fact remains that the men’s rights boycott of Mad Max Fury Road does not, by any meaningful stretch, exist at all. Firstly, none of the people who bad-mouthed that movie were self-defined men’s rights activists. Secondly, I happen to know a few people who do self-define as “men’s rights activists”, and nary a one has said one bad word about Mad Max Fury Road. In truth, they were largely indifferent and hardly understood what all the fuss was about.
Yes, I see a pattern here. It seems that a lot of people will not hesitate to make up stories about reality that don’t match reality at all. They will either proclaim those stories outright, insinuate them in some way, or conjure them by the clever use of “spin.”
The Mad Max Fury Road boycott hoax was sheer fabrication out of virtually nothing, directed against a poorly defined group. The Twitter troll episode, on the other hand, was oblique insinuation directed at a relatively well-defined group. Common to both cases, however, was imposed definition or false narrativization of a marginal community, by a group in power.
Are you thinking of Gamergate now? I certainly am, for that was another marginal community which got falsely narrativized and defined.
It seems that if you belong to the ruling establishment, you have the power not only to write history (like any other victor), but the power to define and narrativize both the culture as a whole, and any subculture that falls beneath your sway.
Such is the curse that presently falls upon us. Although feminism is a minority worldview, it is highly organized as a power structure and hegemonic within society. You will get along okay if you don’t speak openly against it, but the minute you raise your voice — or merely proclaim yourself not a feminist — you can expect trouble. All manner of wildly untrue things will be said about you, and you will find yourself conflated with people, groups and ideas that you’ve barely even heard of.
False definition, false narrativization, and just brazenly making things up, is standard behavior from the feminist establishment and everybody who supports it. By all appearance they are ramping up this game, and what we see now is only the beginning. We are sailing into some dirty weather, so let’s batten down the hatches.