Outing assholes on the internet

A while back, a girl made a Facebook page accusing a guy at her school of being a rapist.

A longer while back, the website Girl Don’t Date Him was used not to post pictures of pink bras on large boobs or as a place to house articles (pink ones) about cheating men, but as a place where women could post stories, pictures, and full names of their terrible exes, as a sort of “we’re in it together, sisters” warning to other women.

Legitimate guerrilla warfare against injustice, or terrible idea for a million possible reasons? Well, my answer depends partially on whether or not the accusations are true. If a guy gets drunk and turns into a violent psychopath and sprains his girlfriend’s wrists and leaves her unable to walk for days and makes her fear for her life, I think he deserves to be called every goddamn name in the book, in public, with everyone imaginable given access to it and made to read it. I think he deserves to pay for his motherfucking terrible actions in all ways possible.

But if I don’t know the victim, and I therefore have no reason to believe that either person is lying or telling the truth, I might respond with something like, “Well, this is a very bad idea. It could hurt the victim in court [in the case of rape, domestic assault/abuse, etc.], it could cause hostility toward the accused, who hasn’t been convicted of a crime. And also, that’s probably illegal in some way or another, as well it should be, if you can imagine being the ‘asshole outed on the internet’ who is actually innocent. The very nature of such a thing harms the spirit of “innocent until proven guilty.”

But when I know the victim, that less vindictive, more rational, more practical side isn’t very loud. And then, I only wish I knew how to make a kickass website that everyone would read with pictures and links and addresses and phone numbers and directions to houses.

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13 Responses to Outing assholes on the internet

  1. In the 70s, I worked for MAJORITY REPORT, a NYC feminist newspaper, and they had a “Used Husbands Dept” section of their classified ads (featuring a little graphic of Dagwood). No real names given, but devastating descriptions of exes. (The ads were free, written by readers.) It was said that if you actually knew the guys, you could recognize them. They did include physical descriptions (mean ones). They were sometimes purely acrimonious, but usually pretty hilarious. They always included the particular “lines” and come-ons the guy specialized in; including his specific excuses and alibis when he started cheating.

    This sounds similar, only using real names and not nearly as funny.

  2. Danny says:

    In addition to the whole “did he actually do it?” factor I’m kinda scared of the possible slippery slope. I get the feeling that some of the very people (read: women) that support things like DDHG would probably have a sudden change of heart if a Dude Don’t Date Her site popped up full exact details on horrible exes.

    The very nature of such a thing harms the spirit of “innocent until proven guilty.”
    Which is in enough danger as it is now.

    And also, that’s probably illegal in some way or another, as well it should be, if you can imagine being the ‘asshole outed on the internet’ who is actually innocent.
    I have to admit my dark side kinda likes the idea of in the event someone did plaster someone’s identity over the net for a crime that they are ultimately found not guilty of that person should be forced to publicize the not guilty verdict in the same manner as the accusation they originally blasted out.

    (As an aside when I went to that DDHG link I saw something odd. At the top of the page was an ad offering tips on spying on a guys’ email/phone while in the middle of the page was an article about the guy from a few weeks ago that got arrested for finding out his wife was cheating on him by spying on her emails. Damn shame you have to register.)

  3. Paul says:

    while I understand the temptation, I’m leery of the entire concept. For one thing I have to wonder at the reaction to a gender-flipped version of this. Fact of the matter is, in our society women are afforded massive amounts of leeway when it comes to “getting back at the ex” that men are not. Everything from nasty names, destruction of property, and outright assault is seen as a-okay.

    Also- at least with the non-rapist examples, we never get to hear his side of it. I know that I, at least have looked back on breakups that at the time were “all her fault” only to discover that… oh yeah… I did stupid shit too. If I’d blasted her on the internet as a total bat-shit whackjob, I’d feel pretty stupid after that realization.

    • April says:

      Fact of the matter is, in our society women are afforded massive amounts of leeway when it comes to “getting back at the ex” that men are not. Everything from nasty names, destruction of property, and outright assault is seen as a-okay.

      Indeed. For example:

      I have to admit, though, I loved this song when it came out. There is in fact something empowering about the idea of getting back at the person who’s abused you, although I’m uncomfortable by a lot of the imagery in the music video.

    • Catullus says:

      Private retribution runs an unacceptably high risk of degenerating into ‘might makes right’. It’s categorically unacceptable. I know; I’ve known self-styled ‘victims’ who turned out to be liars and did damage to innocent people.

    • Daran says:

      Unfortunately the video is blocked in my country.

      Here are Lily Allen and Kate Bush.

    • April says:

      Do you know what, exactly, is blocked? I can try to find another one. I thought YouTube worked everywhere 😦

    • Daran says:

      Youtube certainly works here. Not that one, though.

      “This video contains content from Vevo, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.”

  4. Kyra says:

    I’m curious as to how the acceptability might change based on how detailed and how directed the accusation is.

    I.e. how does “so-and-so raped me” compare with “ladies, you might not want to trust so-and-so.” Aside from leaving the precise nature of the complaint out, so that it only spreads to people who email the accuser for more details (rape? cheating? hidden porn/gambling/substance addiction?), the purpose of the publicization is clearly to warn, rather than to accuse.

    Obviously, it can still be abused, but potentially the damage done reputation-wise is mitigated somewhat?

    • Danny says:

      Aside from leaving the precise nature of the complaint out, so that it only spreads to people who email the accuser for more details (rape? cheating? hidden porn/gambling/substance addiction?), the purpose of the publicization is clearly to warn, rather than to accuse.
      Even doing that there are two things that might (and likely will) happen.

      1. People email the accuers for the details then they get leaked out by one those people.

      2. Without a single story to stick to rumors start popping up.

      And depending on how things go you might end up with both of those things happening.

      By the time the smoke clears the accused could very well be accused of multiple things (like “he told her she was fat”, “oh I heard he made her pay the check at dinner”, “he got a call from his friend on the phone and said ‘ill talk to you later, i’m about to close the deal, and what a sweet deal it is.'”, etc…) that are nowhere near the true accusation (“he said ‘you sure thats all you want? you look like you could really put it away'”) and may well end up accused of something more harsh than what may have actually happened (like being accused of sexual assault when all he did was lean for a kiss).

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