There’s a new app out called Samaritans Radar, offered by UK mental health charity Samaritans, that allows users to sign up to have their friends’ Twitter accounts monitored for words and phrases like “suicide,” “tired of being alone,” “hate myself, “depressed,” and “help me.” The app then sends the user a notification so that they can respond to their friend.
It’s a really, really nice idea at heart. But it’s flawed, and people are speaking out about it. The basic problem is this, as this blogger who has Lupus and deals with mental health issues points out:
You might also be thinking “What’s the big deal; they’d see your Tweets if they follow you anyway.” It’s the idea of being monitored by strangers for what they perceive as signs of suicidal ideation, who are then prompted by an app on what steps to take.
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Bye Felipe is an Instagram collection of Tinder creeps curated by Alexandra Tweten, an Los Angeles-based journalist inspired by her own bad experiences on Tinder. The difference between Bye Felipe (the name is inspired by the “Bye, Felicia” meme) and other blogs dedicated to exposing assholes on dating sites is the particular kind of asshole they expose: The guys who escalate and get angry reallllly fast if women reject them, don’t answer them, or simply exist, in some cases.
The Atlantic is calling this a “feminist” initiative. It pains me to think that asking men to be basically decent and polite is part of a non-mainstream political effort to erase the gender gap, because it seems like it should just be something that everyone does for the sake of doing it. But it’s women, not men, who are experiencing sexual harassment online — in dating apps less of the time and on social media more often. That gender difference means something about men’s attitudes toward sex and women, specifically that they feel entitled to sex and entitled to women. In that context, sexual rejection isn’t just a normal part of human interactions, it’s a denial of something they perceive to be rightfully theirs. Keep reading »
Actress and gamer Felicia Day was doxxed by people associating themselves with #GamerGate. That’s the ostensible, timely reason that I’m writing this article. The real reason is that I’ve talked with all stripes of Gaters in the last few days and I feel like banging my head on the floor over the whole thing. Keep reading »
Last week, we published a story by Tiffanie Drayton about encountering a strange man multiple times in her neighborhood in the span of a few days, including on her own block, who then hunted her down on social media and sent her creepy and “flirtatious messages.” The experience made her feel incredibly unsafe, understandably so, and I was distressed to see some commenters be quick to dismiss his completely bizarre actions as coincidental or a misinterpretation on her part, mimicking the way some of her friends responded. Unfortunately, I think that happens a lot. On one hand, the instinct to dismiss those concerns — “I’m sure he’s not stalking you, he probably lives on your block/has an innocent crush/won’t actually DO anything to hurt you” — could be a (misguided, but well-meaning) attempt to make the person feel better/safer. On the other hand, they are also an example of the ways in which we tell women to ignore their instincts and give complete strangers, in particular men, the benefit of the doubt and a trust that has not been earned. There are very, very good reasons for women to not feel safe in this world of ours. The ways in which women’s personal spaces are violated on a regular basis are plentiful, from street harassment to inappropriate comments at work to online threats, and sadly, so too are stories of these behaviors taken to the extreme. As these 12 examples from Whisper illustrate, women who have been stalked are left isolated, do not always get the support they deserve from family, friends and community, and find the fear stays with them even after they’re finally “safe.” Keep reading »
Samhita Mukhopadhyay asked today on Al Jazeera: Can online dating ever be women-friendly? She talks in her op-ed about the challenges of online dating after your mid-30s, the rash of gross misogynist messages you can expect to receive as a woman on online dating sites, and how Tinder was intended to be woman-friendly, but can it really be woman-friendly if its creators don’t know what life is like as a woman and have, now, been accused of sexual harassment? She doesn’t mention sites like Straight White Boys Texting, which cull their content from Tinder users, among others, and which seems like a pretty pertinent point: Even if you “approve” of them based on their profile, you have no guarantee of how a potential date will actually treat you in real time.
Her conclusion is this pretty depressing last-stage-of-grief coping mechanism: “It’s as though the offensiveness on dating sites becomes a sorting mechanism, a virtual last man standing; only the last man is (hopefully) not a drunk sexist jerk.” My god. I mean, I know what she’s talking about. I’ve been there. It’s just that I was 25 and after four months of being on OKCupid the well of all right guys had already dried up and I couldn’t find anyone who was neither sexist nor duplicitous nor hyper-defensive (I expect from previous bad online dating experiences of their own). Keep reading »
The Texas Supreme Court threw out a ban on “creepshots” this week, saying that it’s “paternalistic” for the government to “regulate the defendant’s mind” in a case in which someone takes illicit photos of another person, in public, without the subject’s consent.
Jenny Kutner at Slate points out the very real fact of the matter, which is that thinking lascivious thoughts about someone and making them the unwitting subject of a pornographic photograph are two clearly distinct things. However — and I don’t know if this is an unpopular opinion or not — I personally agree with the ruling for reasons other than what the court put forth. The language of the proposed law stated that it would ban “improper photography or visual recording.” Considering we live in a culture in which some people clutch their pearls over spaghetti-strap tank tops and others believe that nothing is “improper,” it’d be hard to set a standard for what exactly “improper” would mean in this context that wouldn’t be too broad. Vague language kills laws with good intentions all the time. I’d love to see a law banning creepshots that would be specific enough not to put street photographers (ahem — *raises hand*) at risk of fines or incarceration. [Slate]