Here’s the recording of the interview.
If you have any comments, questions or follow-ups ask in the comments and I’ll try to address them. I’ll probably append some notes and links anyway.
[00:10] – It’s Dez-Buh-Ruh, rather than Dez-Bo-Row, but I didn’t have the heart to correct him.
[01:18] – I didn’t want trigger warnings, for reasons which become obvious later.
[02:10] – A reasonably full – but incomplete – bibliography of my work is here.
[02:45] – The blog post ‘In Defence of Rape’ can be found here. The image at the top is of Leda and the Swan which at the time (spring 2012) was being subjected to censorship.
[03:05] – Tomb Raider rape controversy. Keep in mind this game/scene was written by Rihanna Pratchett, one of the more prominent female writers in gaming.
[04:28] – ‘In Defence of the Use of Rape in Fiction’ is also a rather clumsy and unnecessarily long title. Part of the argument was about knee-jerk reactions so perhaps it made a powerful point than I intended.
[06:57] – I’ve had a quick look for a cached version of the original petition but have been unable to find one. If you can please link in the comments. The petitions in support of me are still up and I include the links here for sake of completeness.
[08:00] – I believe the pieces referred to were mostly the Mongoose Publishing humour books, Nymphology: Blue Magic, The Slayer’s Guide to Female Gamers and The Quintessential Temptress. I believe these are still available in PDF form at RPGNOW if you want to check them for yourselves to judge whether they qualify or not. Hentacle and Cthentacle probably also concern these people.
[08:40] – Referencing Tom Lehrer who remarked that satire was dead when Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize. I’m saying something more like people no longer recognise satire. They seem to take everything at face value. The whole Dickwolves saga is a pertinent example to our subculture of humour flying over people’s heads, despite supporting their PoV.
[08:50] – I’ll write a short piece on the new censorship below this timeline.
[13:00] – Orson Scott Card.
[13:40] – Prop 8.
[14:30] – ‘Rape Culture’.
[15:40] – I think I answer this fairly completely but it’s worth reiterating. Tastefulness and skill cannot be criteria to judge because they’re too subjective. We need to be able to examine the subject whether we’re good at it or not so setting stipulations about respect and talent etc are non-starters.
[17:20] – These are what I would consider instances of rape culture. Now, I’m not saying what happens around some rapes in other countries is not also bad, but I am saying these are not even close to anything that could properly be termed a rape culture.
[18:00] – Steubenville.
[22:25] – A recent case highlighting this was the ‘Don’t be that guy’ and ‘Don’t be that girl’ controversy. GirlWritesWhat does a good interview about this with links etc here. It’s, apparently, fine to paint one entire gender as dangerous potential rapists, but point out the double standard and it makes national and international news.
[26:25] – Examples of the ‘ends justifying the means‘ (note that this oft-quoted statistic would be on-par with war rape in the DRC, which is an extraordinary claim.
[28:15] – I did a few Twitter and G+ searches before and after the interview and while I don’t want to single anyone out by name for fear trolls will exploit is, it was quite clear that people weren’t willing to listen and even if they did sit through the interview weren’t listening. They take any quite of questioning or probing as an attack or evidence of their conclusions. It’s a kafkatrap.
[29:20] – If I use a certain air of derision when I say ‘allowed’ it is because it pisses me off enough that emotion leaks through my attempt to be reasonable and polite in this interview. I think people are intelligent enough to moderate their own media intake.
[30:15] – The Handmaid’s Tale.
[32:00] – Tumblr. For it to truly be said to be free expression it must be both expressed, and received. You can express anything you want mumbled into your pillow at night but this does not count as free speech.
[36:00] – The hypothetical excludes erotica, which I felt was a mistake and I want to address that a bit more than in the video. People can tell reality from fantasy and women’s erotica very often contains scenes of ‘dubious consent’. Many women (and men) do have rape/rough/forced sex fantasies and these people deserve to have access to material that tickles their fancy. It doesn’t mean they approve of rape in reality. Note that this would include rape victims themselves who can find something cathartic or useful in exploring it as fantasy.
[36:10] – Past examples of people blaming/confusing reality and fantasy would include the Comics Code, D&D as Satanic, games as murder simulators etc. Hopefully people watching this would all agree that these claims are nonsense, but some would part company when it comes to sexual content. Why?
[37:42] – And this is why.
[37:50] – Nullius in Verba is the motto of The Royal Society and roughly means ‘Take nobody’s word for it’. “It is an expression of the determination of Fellows to withstand the domination of authority and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment”.
[38:30] – These definitional problems are consistent and need to be addressed for meaningful discussion to carry on. When we say ‘harm’ are we including hurt feelings or being offended? Should we avoid criticising or lampooning politicians because they might get offended? Or religious leaders? We need some kind of idea of what we actually mean by the word.
[40:20] – Shaming is a huge issue for men and women. I offer my thoughts from a male perspective here. I think Alyssa Royse’s TED talk about this in a broader context is required viewing.
[41:40] – Other than by dismantling shame I don’t really see a way around solving this problem. It is the job, however distasteful, of a defence lawyer in a rape trial to call things into question, to confuse the matter, to represent the victim as consenting in order to do the best for their own client. This is a feature of the justice system rather than a bug.
[41:50] – I would argue, if ever forced to concede a meaningful amount of harm from free expression, that this is acceptable given the gains it provides for us. Even in cases such as PTSD I would not accept that the acute distress of the few excuses censoring content from the many.
[45:30] – Anti-Harassment policies is a current issue and deserves more than footnotes. I’ll append that below.
[50:00] – The Amazing Meeting decline in female attendees:
“Last year we had 40% women attendees, something I’m really happy about. But this year only about 18% of TAM registrants so far are women, a significant and alarming decrease, and judging from dozens of emails we have received from women on our lists, this may be due to the messaging that some women receive from various quarters that going to TAM or other similar conferences means they will be accosted or harassed. (This is misinformation. Again, there’ve been no reports of such harassment the last two TAMs while I’ve been at the JREF, nor any reports filed with authorities at any other TAMs of which I’m aware.) We have gotten emails over the last few months from women vowing never to attend TAM because they heard that JREF is purported to condone child-sex-trafficking, and emails in response to various blog posts about JREF or me that seem to suggest I or others at the JREF promote the objectification of women, or that we condone violence or threats of violence against women, or that they believe that women would be unsafe because we feature this or that man on the program. I think this misinformation results from irresponsible messaging coming from a small number of prominent and well-meaning women skeptics who, in trying to help correct real problems of sexism in scepticism actually and rather clumsily themselves help create a climate where women — who otherwise wouldn’t — end up feeling unwelcome and unsafe, and I find that unfortunate.” – DJ
[51:40] – More people need to speak up, so please do.
[52:00] – I do think it’s worth noting that, for whatever reason it might be, gender parity in certain interests in unlikely. One does not see model train enthusiasts or quilters agonising over the fact that their hobbies are (virtually) mono-gendered.
[57:00] – I concede that it is possible that American conventions are different to such a degree that they are unrecognisable, I simply doubt it.
[60:00] – Elevatorgate.
[61:00] – This is referencing Schroedinger’s Rapist which I’ve talked about before. I would have liked to make the racial comparison more forcefully but was acutely aware of the scrutiny our discussion would be put under.
[65:00] – Contextual examination of young men as victims of violence Vs women as victims of rape.
[66:00] – Missed it at the time but Mark shifts the focus of the discussion in his example because the hypothetical man in the example is described as getting threatening. This is a demonstration of more likely harm and different to default interactions.
[70:00] – I also think trigger warnings have become a bit of a ‘Look at me! See how progressive I am!’ thing, which is also a shame.
“Censorship is where you cross the line from ‘I don’t like this’ to ‘This should not exist’.”
There seems to be a deep gap between what I – and others like me – consider censorship and what our opponents are willing to admit is censorship. I regard their PoV that censorship is limited to governmental action and that it does not apply to the things that they do. I understand why they would not want to be labelled as censors, just as non-denominational Christians seem to like to avoid the word ‘religion’ but in both cases, it is what it is.
Modern censorship is not taking place at the governmental level so much. It is taking place at the hands of the mob, through outrage and through commercial pressure. It’s no less effective and given choke points (such as payment services, hosting etc) this absolutely is de facto censorship as are actions like trying to get people fired etc.
There are legion examples of this kind of pressure beyond the attempts to censor me. I was part of the fight back against Paypal when they tried to restrict the use of money via Paypal to buy erotic fiction. The very existence of adult pay services – that charge premiums – is close to financial censorship. Nebulous ‘community standards’ and weasel words like ‘sexualised’ are used to justify these actions.
Tumblr is merely the most recent case of this happening.
Being against anti-harassment policies does not mean one is pro harassment. There are existing tools and laws to deal with these problems and other than offering advice as ‘Here is what you ought to do if this happens’ anything more is problematic for a variety of reasons.
The problematic quote from the Geekfeminism suggested anti-harassment policy which seems to be the same one endorsed by The Ada Initiative and now by people in gaming is this:
“Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue, including talks. Conference participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference [without a refund] at the discretion of the conference organizers.”
This goes well beyond trying to stop harassment and starts to impede on expression, conversation, jokes amongst friends (Donglegate). It would mean an end to anything risque, the discussion of any adult topics (such as the ones in this interview). It is not acceptable and organisations and events should think twice before agreeing to adopt it.
The potential for abuse is not just potential, it is actual.
Another example off the top of my head would be the persecution of Jessica Nigri at Pax (NB she’s a cosplayer, not a booth babe)
In the atheist/sceptic community some feminists have been trying to argue that ‘harassment policies’ should even apply beyond the bounds of the conference itself into private spaces and off-site spaces. Essentially wanting to control all human interactions even around the event rather than in it.
Thunderf00t covers, quite well, the use of these tactics and the damage they’ve done in atheism/skepticism
Video 2 (Probably the most relevant)
Having seen this happen in scepticism I do not want this to take place in gaming or SF&F.
Nerdy groups are a soft touch, they need to be less so.