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Some Interesting Reads for Literary-Fannish Types

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Some Interesting Reads for Literary-Fannish Types

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Hobbit river
I've stumbled upon some interesting articles in my reading of late that seem particularly relevant to the literary-fannish community. First, there is A Brief History of the Beef against Women Reading. While the author gives a succinct history of women and literacy, she also makes several specific allusions to fan fiction, including another book deal for a novel that began as a fan fiction story (this time in bandom). She seems to see the connection, as I do, between the vitriol directed at fanfic and the gender of most of its practitioners. It's an interesting thought experiment to imagine the reaction toward fanfic and its writers were it a primarily male pursuit, as indeed most traditional fannish activities are. (Certainly, one doesn't generally see women wearing naught but brassieres and body paint at Lambeau Field in December.)

"As the marketplace for words increasingly skewed female, men started trolling, claiming that women’s novels were sexually corruptive, dangerously distracting, and hopelessly unrealistic, or even damaging to women’s mental health." That line isn't talking about fanfic--it's talking about Victorian-era novels--but doesn't it sound familiar? Fanfic is all porn. Or it's self-insert fantasies. Not only is this morally corrupt for the individual writer, but it also, apparently, has the power to damage the original work as well, given some of the arguments against fanfic writing by its opponents. Or it distracts women from the valuable pursuit of writing for publication (no matter how unlikely and unlucrative getting published actually is), which is another argument floated by fanfic opponents under the paternalistic guise of giving a shit about the writers they denigrate.

To narrow the focus even more, to the Tolkien fandom, it's interesting to consider how the fanfic community is regarded by the wider Tolkien fan community. Although I've had very little interaction outside of the fanfic community, I have on good authority from friends who have interacted in places like TheOneRing.net forums that fanfic-writing is looked down upon by self-titled Tolkien scholars. Again, it's frivolous and shallow abuse of the original texts. Something one would expect of women who, as usual, don't appreciate the gravity of what they do! A better use of one's time and showcase of one's so-called "scholarship" is half-baked bloviation on an Internet forum with a passel of like-minded "scholars," clearly.

Something completely different is Gawker's Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web. This is one of those Internet rubbernecking stories where it seems like it shouldn't be real, but it is and you can't quite bring yourself to look away. The article tells the story of a troll on the social media site Reddit who established the site's skeevy side, which led to its explosion in popularity, by setting up forums for such noble purposes as posting sexualized photos of underage girls, sharing stalker photos of women's breasts and butts taken on the street (without the women's knowledge, of course), and celebrating things like violence against women, racism, and Hitler. "I just like riling people up in my spare time," says the troll, who posted under the handle Violentacrez (and who is, of course, white, male, and middle-class and so has never had to be on the receiving end of the hatred he promotes). The story tells of his rise to personal trollish fame, dragging Reddit into the limelight with him and allowing for the legitimization by the site of his identity and mission as he achieved status as a respected moderator and site celebrity.

Adrian Chen, the author of the article, discovered Violentacrez's identity and outed him. The response has been interesting, with quite a bit of outrage directed at Chen. The Reddit site culture, apparently, values anonymity above all else: "Under Reddit logic, outing Violentacrez is worse than anonymously posting creepshots of innocent women, because doing so would undermine Reddit's role as a safe place for people to anonymously post creepshots of innocent women," writes Chen.

While this particular story isn't connected to the Tolkien or fanfic communities in any way, it does bring up some issues that we grapple with as well. There is the issue of online decency--where does one draw the line? I think most of us would draw the line well before establishing a community called chokeabitch for posting pictures of women being beaten by men, but what about stories describing school-age Harry having sex with Professor Snape? What about illustrations of the same, to cite a specific incident that rocked LiveJournal a few years ago? If these media suggest that a 12-year-old can consent to and enjoy sex with a grown man who holds a position of power over him? Do we draw the line?

Then there's the issue of anonymity. Fandom in general values protecting the real-life identity of community members, as being outed for writing certain kinds of fiction can have disastrous real-life consequences for people. At what point should we draw the line here? It's an uncomfortable question. After all, I've outed a fannish person's real name before; it was and is a decision that I'm not wholly comfortable with. My reasoning, at the time, was that this person had done enough damage to our community and also seemed to be fishing for money; it seemed possible that she might hit another community in the same way, and it seemed fair to make information available to forewarn any who cared to look. But, as many have commented on Chen's article, his outing of Violentacrez had real-life implications for the man (who has indeed been fired from his job in the wake of it), just as anyone doing a name search for the person I outed will find the post where I do so. Was I right? Was Chen?

Anonymity is frequently cited as the root cause of much online misbehavior. Chen notes, however, that "Violentacrez/Michael Brutsch upset this idea by blurring his online and offline lives. Brutsch adopted a new name for trolling, but he built his horrible character on many details from his real life." Yet, from where I'm sitting, this is quite par for the course. I'm thinking particularly of the types who, like Violentacrez, make a name for themselves on sites like ff.net, where they bully and harass authors to the extent of encouraging them to kill themselves. These people, too, ground themselves in an identity that seems to be somewhat rooted in real life; I'd argue that that's part of their power. Even as they disgust 95% of the population, that glimmer of humanity lets them reel in the other 5%, makes them more than just a troll hiding behind anonymity, giving them an edginess and appeal for "saying what everyone's thinking":

He needed to keep his anonymity to protect his ability to express things many people think but hardly anyone says. With Violentacrez, "I got the freedom to talk about my personal life, my personal feelings... I'm sure there's more than one person in this building who's a pervert," he said, referring his office building.


You can't get to know or become friends with someone who completely lacks identity. That person's power becomes fleeting and easily dismissed. That sliver of identity, though, provides a place for other like-minded people to rally around. I remember when I had my go-around with the ff.net bully The Battling Bard some years ago, I would sometimes find comments from her to people whom she clearly considered friends, and she seemed likable then; had I not known better, I would have associated with her without qualm. Likewise, Violentacrez made friends and became more than just a troll to many people, which explains his rise to power more than the drek he posted.



This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

http://dawn-felagund.dreamwidth.org/304142.html
  • Being a woman in a man's world is already a subversive thing. Being one who reads and writes is still scary (to them I mean).

    A better use of one's time and showcase of one's so-called "scholarship" is half-baked bloviation on an Internet forum with a passel of like-minded "scholars," clearly.

    I cannot go to that site without getting annoyed! I do love the word bloviate. I learned that word from my ex-husband a fairly skilled bloviater (or would that be bloviator?) himself. Tolkien scholarship is no big whoop if it means you own The Silmarillion and HoMe and know how to use the indices in the back of the books. Get over yourself, gentlemen bloviators, someone already pulled it all together for you. You don't even have to go farther than the index of a book. Summarizing in an entertaining manner is useful. But what makes the better Tolkien scholars interesting and praiseworthy is their attempts to compare what they read to existing literature, myth and legend, both in their original contexts and the contexts in which this body of work continues to be read and perhaps speculating on how that might have affected Tolkien's choices. He was a well read man, with an excellent education in those matters!! (Oh, I haven't been near a university in years and when I was in that milieu, I was a rebel, so this may be old hat and not super-cool at the moment, but is still my stance.)

    If these media suggest that a 12-year-old can consent to and enjoy sex with a grown man who holds a position of power over him?

    There is a question of effective consent, of course. I've rarely heard it discussed in a satisfying or objective way. Children deserve a protection against likely harm, as do all humans, but we are not talking about a person here, rather a fictional character in a fantasy world. There is also the question that writing about something is not the same as doing it or advocating that anyone else do it. Not wanting to read it does not necessarily mean a lot more on a level of morality than wanting to read it, really. The moral high ground is often an anti-humanistic swamp of the narrow-minded and mean-spirited. Fiction is just that: fiction. Personally, I watched what my kids watched and read what they read and we talked about it. Did it work? Beats me. But I did know what they were thinking about and could interject my personal values onto it without necessarily having a long list of prohibitions (nothing is more attractive to the curious youngster than the forbidden).

    I still abide by the maxium of Terence, "Nihil humani a me alienum puto." (Nothing human is alien to me.) The Christian version is "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." Meanwhile, I am far more afraid of dangers of censorship than skeevey-to-me fanfiction that violates my taste or invades my personal comfort zone.

    I feel differently, of course, about creepshots of unsuspecting real women with a real right to privacy than I feel about offensive-to-some stories about underage dubious-consent sex involving fictional characters. To me controversial fiction containing explicit sex is simply not even in the same ballpark as racist and fascist or anti-woman expressions of views which promote real violence against real people in the real world.

    Edited at 2012-10-16 03:18 am (UTC)
  • I enjoyed reading your thoughts and think you have some good points. We writers give far more pleasure that those self styled scolars.

    You were absolutely right in naming the person who caused so much misery for so many.If you hadn't done, she would still be wrecking lives.

    Edited at 2012-10-16 03:50 am (UTC)
  • I started reading this post and I could not stop, Dawn. I have mixed emotions and I'm pretty sure I'll be preaching to the choir, but here goes.

    I wish I was more surprised about the Violentacrez website, but I'm not. I've seen it before on a listserv. While I agree that anonymity is important, it is equally crucial to note that there are individuals (underage individuals) that have an equal right to not have indecent pictures posted of them. Why are we (society) focused on the rights of the perpetrator? There's needs to be a shift in society's thinking. We cannot silence these individual's point of view, but I will not accept it.

    In regards to fan fiction and reading, that is a personal choice, I believe. I choose to pay close attention to warnings. I, personally, have a problem reading stories like the example you gave. It's a situation that happens to children, and it's not pleasurable. I draw the line there, but I do not assume that everyone does. I believe that exposure (reading, experience, etc) leads to desensitization. Desensitization can lead to new norms. A child in an abusive home is likely to become immune to that level of violence and to consider such behavior normal. A reader who perhaps only reads fiction that reveals an unhealthy power/control dynamic may, over time, begin to acknowledge such as normal. Of course, every person is different.

    I assume you know that I am not attempting to make any generalized/sweeping statements. This is such an individual and societal issue. I feel like I'm starting to ramble, so I really appreciate this post, Dawn. I hope I didn't preach too much!
    • Rambling and preaching to the choir are both welcome, being practiced by the hostess as well. ;)

      Why are we (society) focused on the rights of the perpetrator?

      I think it's the enshrinement of the notion of free speech. Which, of course, I support, but I can't support when it infringes on another's safety. To me, the potential to do harm is the litmus in most cases. I support a reader's right, for example, to express an opinion about a story, but I don't support a reader's right to harass teenage authors and tell them to kill themselves. I support a creator's right to write underage!Harry/Snape fiction, but I don't support a creator's right to take pictures of actual high school girls in sexualized situations and post them on the Internet.

      You mention drawing lines, and I think that each community will differ in that. For example, I appreciate MPTT as a site for Tolkien genfic (that does not apply the rules other genfic sites use that I find morally objectionable), even as I appreciate HASA and the SWG for a more anything-goes attitude. But I agree with you that we as a society often need to do more to draw the line when actual harm is being done.

      I assume you know that I am not attempting to make any generalized/sweeping statements.

      That's always my assumption. I am an expert only on myself--sometimes not even that! :D
  • I agree that those people who fool themselves they're scholars don't realise the ways fanfiction can shape a person's headcanon and their perception of a character. Having said that, some of those who denigrate fanfiction/fanart are (hopefully) having their own fruitful discussions. I can't imagine fandom without fanworks, and I agree that they provide valuable ideas. It could be argued that these people don't know what they're missing out on, but to dismiss their experience as "half-baked bloviation on an Internet forum with a passel of like-minded 'scholars'" is unfair of you. I've never been to TheOneRing, so I don't know how productive the discussions are over there, but from what I can gather in your entry, neither do you.

    However, I'm talking here about fans who dismiss fanfic/fanart in general. I don't at all condone the behaviour of those who view it specifically as a "frivolous female pastime" and dismiss it entirely on the grounds that a) the majority of fanfic writers are women, b) women don't know what they're doing, and so c) fannish pursuits are rubbish. I'm in total agreement with you there, and I for one will keep writing fanfiction no matter what, because I enjoy it. So, I'm sure, will many female fans.

    As for Brutsch... that's just vile behaviour. The misogyny, racism etc. are bad enough, but posting pictures of dead children and grieving mothers, and then posting pics of real women online, without their permission, and using these to "perv", as the article puts it? Disgusting.

    Edited at 2012-10-16 05:52 am (UTC)
    • from what I can gather in your entry, neither do you.

      Oh, I do know that there's half-baked bloviation, having borne witness to it. ;) It's not a site where I hang out, so can I say it's the norm? No, and I won't. There are generally lovely people and asshats wherever one goes, and I like TORn, having gotten involved in Tolkien fandom there and having even been introduced to fanfic there, before they hid the "Moon Letters" section behind the link to the old site. All communities are prone to those who like the sound of their own voices more than they like things like, well, facts and information and informed analysis, including fandom. I don't generally view as particularly productive conversation the denigration of part of a community while pumping up one's own--and often factually incorrect--views as more worthy of consideration than someone else's and seeking other opinions only in an echo-chamber, but that's my opinion, dismissive though it may be.

      I was about to type something about most critics of fanfic having probably read very little of it and not understanding that there are immensely talented writers (along with those ... less so, who seem to get all the press), but then I caught myself in that old fallacy: Why does that even matter? No one criticizes someone who wants to play guitar badly in their spare time, or someone who wants to play softball badly on a rec team, so why are writers held up as needing to achieve this impossible level of mastery and, of course, always wanting to aspire to publication and fame? No one's trying to turn the guitarist and softball player into Jimmy Page and Cal Ripken, Jr., but when I tell people I write, the first thing they ask is if I've even published a novel. You mention continuing to write because you enjoy it; I guess I've never seen the threat people feel from those who write for fun. I don't know if it's a gender issue or what, but it's annoying.
  • Very interesting post and a lot of food for thought.

    With 50 Shades hitting the market (in Germany) and getting nationwide press, I had hoped some of it would rub off on fanfiction. But if you read those articles, most concentrate on the fact that a woman is *shocking!* writing pr0n. Despite the fact that the book is selling like crazy - probably to women who never even considered reading erotica before, otherwise they could just go online and read a gazillion more stories of the like - journalists can't cope with the fact that women have a libido, too. Go, figure. So there's a rare mention of the fact that the book started as Twilight fanfic. Pity. I had had high hopes that the fanfic scene would get its five minutes in the limelight.

    Maybe next time, then:(
    • Maybe the fanfic angle is getting more play in the U.S.? I've heard it mentioned a couple of times in contexts that surprised me. I'm actually seeing many more references--including positive references--to fanfic here, in popular press. I was pleasantly surprised that the first article I linked mentioned it multiple times and in a positive context, not, "Haha, look at what these stupid geeks do in their spare time!"

      I have mixed feelings about fandom coming into the limelight, however briefly. I kinda like flying under the radar. :)
  • Although I've had very little interaction outside of the fanfic community, I have on good authority from friends who have interacted in places like TheOneRing.net forums that fanfic-writing is looked down upon by self-titled Tolkien scholars

    I had a very small amount of interaction ( not on TORN) a few years ago, when I was first writing fanfic.

    The people were not canon experts (some knew much less than I do, and had many things wrong) and their way of talking about it was simply stuffy, pretentious and narrow minded. If they did write fic it would be the kind that never looks outside the box, or realizes that there is even a box to look outside of.

    Their attitude didn't bother me however, because they were boring; I have seen much richer and more intelligent discussions on LJ, the Heretic Loremaster, the LC etc.

    I didn't realize there was much outside the fanfic community. d;-) And for me, there isn't. I am a near-obsessive reader and writer. Some fanart is very good, but beyond that, I am not terribly interested in what goes on on sites like TORN. They can do their thing, and I'll do mine.

    Edited at 2012-10-16 08:44 am (UTC)
    • The people were not canon experts (some knew much less than I do, and had many things wrong) and their way of talking about it was simply stuffy, pretentious and narrow minded.

      This is true of many of the so-called experts who lecture other people on canon. Dull as dirt until it turns annoyingly biased in interpretations based upon incomplete knowledge of the texts and/or Tolkien's possible influences and sources.

      There are those who obviously know more. Two leap to mind--Michael Martinez is a self-taught Tolkien expert. I disagree with him on a lot of his specific conclusions, but still enjoy his speculations based on his knowledge of the texts, often written with humor and including his own interesting biases which are quite different from mine. Others have done some useful line-by-line comparisons of the works. An example of the foremost among those is Arda Reconstructed: The Creation of the Published Silmarillion by Douglas Charles Kane.
    • (no subject) - dawn_felagund - Expand
  • Although I've had very little interaction outside of the fanfic community, I have on good authority from friends who have interacted in places like TheOneRing.net forums that fanfic-writing is looked down upon by self-titled Tolkien scholars.

    I've had that same impression from my interactions on German Tolkien fandom forums (and the DTG, the German branch of the Tolkien Society) until one day I came across a story titled "Bilbo's Journey (NO FANFICTION!!!)". As I started reading, it became very clear that this was fanfiction (it was not an essay, and it was not merely a summary or re-telling of The Hobbit or the like). So what was up? Well, apparently it didn't contain any slash, so it wasn't fanfiction.
    ...
    Granted, this was Germany (so, non-native-speaker re-interpretation of the word "fanfiction", perhaps), and it was a few years ago. But ever since, I've been wondering how much of the "Eww! Fanfic!"-sentiment is powered by the delusion that all fanfiction must be slashy, and that all slash must be pornographic.

    EDIT: Also, I keep wondering at the phenomenon of published "inspired by" books. There are entire anthologies of fanfic that just aren't considered fanfic because they're published for profit. Which apparently makes them better than fanfic, too? But that's (for the time being, anyway) a lost battle...

    But, as many have commented on Chen's article, his outing of Violentacrez had real-life implications for the man (who has indeed been fired from his job in the wake of it), just as anyone doing a name search for the person I outed will find the post where I do so.

    I have to admit that this is something that gets me onto a soapbox, and I'll say: You were right, and so was Chen. Part of the trouble with trolls is, after all, that they abuse the relative anonymity and distance of the internet for their dubious pleasure. Would they do all that if everybody - online but especially offline - knew who they were? Some certainly would - there are more than enough RL trolls. But I like to believe that at least the more petty, casual trolls, those who just do mean things because they know they can, might be a bit more cautious when they see that their online asshattery can have serious offline repercussions. After all, they generally affect real people, too. (What of the women whose boobs or butts were uploaded without consent? What of the friendships that Despair O'Crack purposely undermined?)
    So... yeah. On the web as well as off it, I think the same rule should apply - you're free to do what you want, privately, only as long as you do no harm; and when you do harm, it's right that other people should be warned, and it's right that there be repercussions.
    Arr.



    Edited at 2012-10-16 04:46 pm (UTC)
    • Fanfic seems to inspire a knee-jerk "eeewwwwww" in many people. I'll admit that I was among them--I once swore I'd never stoop to the level of posting my fanfic!--though for reason of literary snobbery more than anything. My creative writing professors looked down on so-called "genre fiction"; fanfic must surely have been lower than that! Of course, I came to realize that many fanfic writers were better than published writers and smarter too, and could and would challenge me in a way that university writing classes could not. I was typically one of the best writers in the class, so "feedback" consisted of various permutations of positive gushing. I find much more thoughtful responses to my writing here.

      There are entire anthologies of fanfic that just aren't considered fanfic because they're published for profit.

      I've wondered at that too. Neil Gaiman has several stories in Fragile Things that would be fanfic if he wasn't Neil Gaiman.

      I think the same rule should apply - you're free to do what you want, privately, only as long as you do no harm; and when you do harm, it's right that other people should be warned, and it's right that there be repercussions.

      That pretty much sums up my view perfectly. For example, I think a person has a right to express an opinion about a story posted online. I don't think that they have a right to harass the author and tell her to go jump off a bridge because they didn't like what she wrote.

      For myself, as someone who has "outed" a fellow fandom member, I guess some of my unease comes because I'm less trusting that I can discern between responses based on emotion and those based on evidence/logic. Did I out her because I wanted to protect others (and had ample evidence that harm was being done), or did I out her because I was angry and wanted her to bear consequences? I believe it was the first--hence, I remain comfortable with my decision--but I was angry and was vindictive. I can't say that the obvious signs of her flailing didn't feel at least a little bit good. >;^)

      But then people have commented here saying, "Yes, she did actual harm to me, and your outing her stopped it," so that's reassuring.

      I agree that one would probably pause before behaving like an asshat if one knew of what happened to the likes of Violentacrez and Hope McSquid. My doubts come in, having been in the situation myself, of whether I can trust that outings are motivated by a desire to stop actual harm or an emotional reaction to someone whose views are personally abhorrent. I know that I have a very hard time remaining unbiased toward religious fundamentalists and people who are rabidly anti-gay--I would like to see such people discredited--so I could see how that could happen.
    • (no subject) - heybritney - Expand
    • (no subject) - oloriel - Expand
  • A better use of one's time and showcase of one's so-called "scholarship" is half-baked bloviation on an Internet forum with a passel of like-minded "scholars," clearly.

    *snerk* I've seen some of that on TORN, and I used to see even more of it on r.a.b.t./a.f.t. on usenet. There were, of course, more than a few genuine scholars who enjoyed swatting them down. But there were also the arguments about Balrog wings--such a great use of one's time and SO much more productive than writing fanfic! NOT.

    I never realized until I began to see references to it in the posts of others that some of the prejudice against fanfic was sexist. I always assumed it was the objections of the "purists" against polluting the Master's work (much like the r.a.b.t. regular who constantly railed against the films even before they were released on the grounds that it was "sacreligious" to even attempt to make a film of such great works). But once I became aware that some female fans felt put down by the attitude, I began to notice it.

    OTOH, it was through a link in one of those forums that I discovered fanfic, so not everyone was quite so hidebound!

  • That's a reason I stick with the fanfic part of fandom: how I engage the text (whether book, movie, or TV show) is welcomed and encouraged, and I'm generally assumed to know what I'm writing about. (Minus the people on ff.net who pick out little details. I called Elrond "lord" in RAFA, and got dinged for it because "it didn't happen in canon." RAFA's set at minimum six thousand years later, in Aman. Lack of imagination.)

    As for Roisin and your actions: I remain grateful you did that. I dreaded coming onto LJ to see what had happened next to her. I truly think she worsed the depression I suffered from at the time, because a month after the revelation, I noticed myself feeling somewhat better.
    • I called Elrond "lord" in RAFA, and got dinged for it because "it didn't happen in canon."

      What numpty thinks that? In Many Meetings, it says 'He (Elrond) was the Lord of Imladris, and mighty among both Elves and Men

      Lord is capitalized. That was his title. I believe he would keep the title of nobility, and be referred to as Lord Elrond since he was of noble blood, whether he was in Middle-earth or not.
      I know he was called Master Elrond by Boromir and Bilbo, but they were not his subjects. (I personally hate the word 'master', Sam calls Frodo 'master, too, but to me it has connotations of servitude: when I was a child, the older people who worked for the Lonsdale's referred to Captain Lonsdale as 'the master', and would always pull their caps when speaking to him. Hated it then and now, so Lord Elrond is far more acceptable to me).

      Golly, some of these people who nitpick don't even know the most basic bits of canon! O_O

      Edited at 2012-10-17 10:33 am (UTC)
    • (no subject) - dawn_felagund - Expand
  • Good lord, Dawn, I'm practically speechless yet felt I had to try and leave some sort of comment to this most provocative post.

    I'm shocked, actually. I must have been out of the fandom when the whole Roisin thing happened. But how terrible. When I first came into it back in 2005 or whenever that was, I admit to being terrified of all these terribly intelligent people who knew much more about JRR Tolkien in every possible way and much more than I ever would. And of course I met some very lovely people along the way, but others as well, and suffered the usual criticisms about my writing which made me feel even stupider than the stupidest Dummy McDimtwat, but still I hung on and wrote here and there whenever I could. And stubbornly stood my ground on detesting canonatics, censorship and anything being used in any way to pump up the critic's ego as the sole purpose of the criticism in the first place, if I suspected that was what was truly happening.

    Anyway, to get to the internet trolling part of your post, I admit to being hopelessly naive about this stuff, yet I know I am savvy enough to avoid certain people or situations that seem 'fishy'. I actually have a pretty good radar for this type of thing. If it doesn't 'feel' right then it probably isn't.

    Scarier, though, is the exposure our children have to these things. A couple of articles on recent horrendous examples of internet bullying are here:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2156365/Nicola-Brookes-victim-internet-trolls-wins-High-Court-backing-reveal-identities-targeted-her.html

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/10/15/bc-amanda-todd-tormentor-anonymous.html

    I read all the comments to your post, and agree with Oshun on everything she wrote. You cannot watch your kids enough. My own parents were very 'hands off' but still managed to keep us safe by being smart and we certainly did have certain rules we had to obey. Curfews, not being allowed to ride in cars with boys until we were at least 18, that sort of thing. XD

    All kids should be closely watched by their parents, but sadly, so many are not. However, it is not the job of everyone else from teachers to the moderators or owners of websites to take care of every child. There are far too many for that to be successful. It should begin in the home where you only have your own kid(s) to worry about.

    Sorry. I could go on and on about this. :(
    • I actually have a pretty good radar for this type of thing. If it doesn't 'feel' right then it probably isn't.

      A lot of us (including me) felt that way about Roisin, but it was a Catch-22 in a lot of ways because she was portraying herself as someone dying of cancer. If you read the post I linked to, you probably picked up on the fact that someone had already accused her of being a faker, and that person was nearly run out of town. (To be fair, that person didn't present evidence of her accusation, whereas Roisin had pictures of herself bald and had even met someone who confirmed she was wearing a wig at the time, so the issue was interpreted by many--including me--as between a girl with cancer and a bully. I realize now how wrong I was and wish I'd done more to hear out the person who made those initial claims, as it turns out she had evidence but was afraid to share it publicly.) Her supposed diagnosis had the effect of paralyzing people who probably would have sounded the bullshit alarm a lot sooner. I'm endlessly grateful that she didn't have the willpower to confine her dramatics to just herself and her supposed husband; the creation of a third personality and matching IP data gave me what I needed to out her with confidence that I was doing the right thing.

      However, it is not the job of everyone else from teachers to the moderators or owners of websites to take care of every child.

      This is something I feel really strongly about. I am an adult and enjoy fiction for a mature audience, written by and for other adults. When I was a kid, my parents weren't helicopter parents, but there were rules in place, and I didn't have Internet or TV in my room until I was in college, ensuring that my parents knew whatever I was up to.

      I've never gotten a complaint from a parent on any of my web projects. I'm glad because I don't know that I could remain professional if someone blamed me because they weren't watching their kid online. O.O But there seems to be an inordinate amount of handwringing in this fandom over that issue; the recent ToME discussions are startling evidence of that. Part of me wonders if it isn't a convenient straw man to detract from the fact that people want to restrict content because of their own discomfort with adult-rated items, but don't want to say so. It's seems patently ridiculous to me to expect a website to be responsible for someone else's kids a half-world away, especially when that site is warning for content and putting controls in place.
  • I was a bit taken aback that in an article about the subversive progress women have made on the literary front, fanfic was denigrated as "fantasy." I mean, here's a genre (if you want to call it that) mostly associated with women. And... it's not literature. There's no theme, no serious art, just fantasy. I find that offensive, as both a woman and a fanfic author.

    Here's an ironic bit, though: I go to school at a Jesuit school where a lot of the profs work with Tolkien. We have a sister relationship with Marquette. At least one member of my dissertation committee is an avid Tolkien fan and has given academic talks on the link between Tolkien and academic philosophy. And so I've met genuine, published academic Tolkien scholars. They know I write fanfic (indeed, I introduced them to the concept... we're talking mostly 60ish white priests), and thy find it a fascinating way of exploring the source material. I've given them some pieces of my fanfic (okay, I've left off the B/T slash since they're priests, but I've included some serious work on the Akallabeth) and they thought there were some really interesting connections I'd drawn between Denethor's pyre and the human sacrifices on Numenor. They said these connections would have never occurred to them in a scholarly mode, but they found they really enriched their understanding of what Tolkien was saying, to say nothing of being moving creativity in their own right.

    The difference of course is that my fanfic writing isn't as direct a challenge to them. They have the luxury of sharing the spotlight, however indirectly, because we're really doing two different kinds of things. That makes me realize the TOR.n trolls are really just pathetic.

    On outing... I have definite thoughts on that, and will probably blog about them later tonight, if you don't mind. But the ninety-second version (since I have to run), would go something like this. The reason outing is generally disapproved of is that when people lose their anonymity they get penalized for things that aren't really objectively wrong. Take the original context: homosexuality. An outed gay person would suffer bad consequences (loss of family, friends, job, etc.) without having actually done something wrong. Anonymity should shield people from illegitimate consequences, not the legitimate ones. I'm not familiar with the situation you describe so I won't judge there. But if you're holding this person accountable for the kind of things they have no right to do, that's not a bad kind of outing.

    In the Reddit case, this guy sounds like a creep to the max. Exposing that, online and offline, isn't a bad thing. To give an example, most Reddit users I know are atheists - quite often the closeted variety. (It's apparently a bit of a hub for atheists to connect with each other online.) If someone outed a reddit user for being a moderator of an atheist community and he lived in, say, Alabama in his RL and faced bad consequences for being outed as an atheist, that would be completely illegitimate. But if this same person did something illegal or immoral in the name of his cause, and he faced RL retribution for that, I don't think that's wrong at all. Anonymity should let you do unpopular things without consequences, not immoral ones.
    • I was a bit taken aback that in an article about the subversive progress women have made on the literary front, fanfic was denigrated as "fantasy."

      I hadn't originally picked up on that (I winced more at the "navel-gazing" comment about social media, even though I am not much of a social media user myself), but I definitely see your point. I was honestly thrilled to see fanfic mentioned not once but twice in an article on a popular website that wasn't aimed at making fun of or utterly dismissing fanfic. However, I do agree that it seems the author doesn't "get it," even if I do think that her overall tone suggests that she's supportive of the myriad forms women's writing takes.

      I, too, find it more of a way to interact critically with the texts. There's not much fantasy in it for me. I mean, okay, Maedhros and Feanor aren't hard on the eyes in my headcanon. ;) But my fascination with both characters sprang more from the fact that their characters are, well, fascinating and seem to raise a lot of questions that I think are more fruitfully--and enjoyably--explored in fanfic.

      I think it's interesting--and encouraging!--that your professors have had the reaction they did. I audited a class this summer with Verlyn Flieger, who is a Tolkien scholar, but it was an online class, and I doubt I would have ever brought fanfic up.

      I have definite thoughts on that, and will probably blog about them later tonight, if you don't mind.

      I don't mind at all. Please let me know if you do so that I can read it? :)

      But if you're holding this person accountable for the kind of things they have no right to do, that's not a bad kind of outing.

      Yeah, pretty much. I think, for me, the conflict arises because I question whether I'm operating from an emotional or an objective standpoint. Being human, it's likely to be at least a little emotional--I did want this person to be punished for the sheer emotional satisfaction of it--but having heard from people, both on the original post and again here, who felt that revealing her helped mitigate the harm she was doing to them is reassuring. I didn't initially intend to out her. I did largely because I didn't want her going to another corner of the Tolkien fandom or another fandom even and doing to them what she did to us. She'd already lied and created rifts between various Tolkien groups, and my documentation ensured she'd have a harder time doing that again, and that anyone who knew her real name and did a Google check--feeling something wasn't right, as many of us did--stood a chance of learning what happened to us and saving themselves some pain.

      I Google searched her myself and my post is on the second page of results about her, among various professional references to her, which did give me pause and resulted in some of the angst in this post, to think that something that I wrote might have an impact on the RL of someone (who I also suspect is likely mentally ill, which is another uncomfortable possibility for me).
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