That porn-sharing web site: Time for a reality-check

Today I wanted to offer some comments in relation to an article entitled The police response I never expected, by Nina Funnell (18 August 2016). This article was prompted by the now highly-publicised discovery of a web site that is alleged to contain many nude photos of Australian high school girls.

The web site that was the focus of recent Australian media attention went off-line for a time only to re-emerge ten days later. The author of this article claimed that “police managed to have it taken down“, although I have found no evidence of that being the case.

Nina bemoans the ‘fact’ that Australian authorites are not taking the problem seriously, and that the action they did take included warning girls not to take compromising photos of themselves. The latter action is apparently not seen as constituting ‘education’ but rather ‘victim-blaming’.

This is the default feminist response to the issue of taking responsibility for one’s own actions, and doing what one can to minimise risks to oneself. This aspect, in the context of online porn, was addressed in an article by Corrine Barraclough. Articles detailing the feminist perspective on this issue can be reviewed here and here.

By way of background, articles *very* similar to those that recently appeared in the Australian media have regularly appeared in other western countries in recent years without generating much in the way of a fair and meaningful response. A cynic might suggest, given the salacious appeal/guaranteed outrage of the subject, they appear on a cycle as per gender wage gap, etc.

It is dubious whether Australian police can wield any power in relation to the ongoing operation of the web site. And even if they could – presumably via cooperation with foreign law enforcement agencies – they would still need to identify those photographed and prove they were underage at the time they were photographed. No small task, especially when it appears that very few of those whose photos featured in the web site have lodged police reports. Perhaps, realistically, all Australian police could do was to warn young people of the danger of allowing themselves to be photographed whilst naked.

It’s ironic that various articles use the term ‘victims’ to describe the girls whose pictures are featured in the web site, whilst running photos of the girls within their articles (see for example).

The article contains a quote from Sharna Bremner, from ‘End Rape on Campus Australia‘:

“I agree we must be talking to young people about these issues, but we should start by talking to potential perpetrators about the consequences of their choices, rather than always putting it on girls to manage [and prevent] their own exploitation and victimisation”

Wait a minute – time for a reality check, for we know that:

As a consequence, Ms Bremner’s implication that “potential perpetrators” = men/boys is incorrect, as is the implication that girls have a monopoly on “exploitation and victimisation“. I might note here also whilst implied, it has not been verified that the web site in question only contained photos of nude women/girls.

Ms Bremner was also quoted as saying that:

“To direct parents to warn their daughters, without also directing them to talk to their sons is inappropriate. This stems from the same logic that tells girls not to get drunk or wear short skirts, while failing to spend even one second talking to boys about consent”

I agree that parents and other authority figures should talk to both boys and girls, but they should give the same message to both, in the knowledge perpetrators/victims aren’t split along gender lines.

This reminds me of ‘respectful relationships’ programs in schools, such as those run by the White Ribbon Campaign, that lecture boys about respecting girls but not necessarily the reverse. This despite that fact that Blind Freddy can see that girls can, and often do, disrepect and abuse boys.

Nina then proceeds to hold up the highly contentious Canadian public ‘awareness’ campaign known as ‘Don’t be that guy‘ as a good example of how authorities should take a more active role by educating (=shaming) people (=men/boys) into not posting online photos of people (=nude girls).

This despite the fact that the value of public awareness campaigns in changing errant behaviour is generally considered to be dubious, as is discussed in this post.

Nina claims that the Canadian campaign led to a 10% drop in the number of rapes in Vancouver BC. This article may be the source of her claim, but the evidence is hardly conclusive.

I do agree with her though that, in general terms, education campaigns targetted at specific groups in the community are more likely to be effective than broad-brush public campaigns. You just have to make sure you target the right groups based on objective evidence rather than ideological persuasion.

And yet curiously feminists lobby for/support broad-brush public awareness campaigns in the case of domestic violence, sexual violence, sexual harassment/discrimination, etc. And although these are directed at the community generally, they still routinely imply that perpetrators/potential perpetrators are male, whereas in fact they are invariably either male or female.

And to close off this discussion, just one example of the double-standard that invariably goes hand-in-hand with any feminist position on gender:

Wilderness School girls under fire for ‘hook-up wall’ of boys, who claim a double standard of sexual objectification (11 November 2016) with related Reddit discussion thread here.

Since when did it become acceptable for public servants to block people on social media in the absence of threats or abuse? Since now it would seem

Most public sector agencies, and many businesses, develop and enforce policies to guide their employees in the appropriate use of social media. The focus of most such policies is to reduce the likelihood that employees will post something that compromises the organisation that they work for. Conversely, the main criticism of social media policies is their potential to muzzle employees from communicating freely with the public.

A study commissioned by the Australian Electoral Commission recognised that “social media afford(ed) new opportunities for engaging citizens in democratic processes” (p8), but warned that sites can “become ‘digital enclaves’ or ‘echo chambers’ for small groups of like-minded citizens who dominate discussion.” (p29)

Social media policies may make provision to block members of the public who post spam or abusive or threatening messages onto the Facebook page/Twitter stream/etc of the organisation in question.

Few social media policies, however, seem to address the issue of whether staff are allowed to block/ban or remove posts in relation to members of the public who post material that is not offensive, but which may embarass the individual/organisation and/or promote or reflect alternative ideologies or belief systems.

Granted, my research has been limited, but the sole exception I have come across thus far in the public sector is the ‘ACT Government Social Media Policy Guidelines‘. That policy includes the following clause:

“Openness and transparency should be the defaults, meaning blocking users on Twitter and locking Facebook groups designed for public interface is not advisable” (Source – refer page 27)

This topic recently reared its head as a result of my interaction with a government agency known as the Australian Human Rights Commission (‘AHRC’).

As readers of this blog would be aware, I maintain an ongoing interest in the operation of the AHRC (example). That being the case I periodically check the relevant social media accounts to maintain an awareness of what is being said and done, and occasionally to comment.

The other day I was surprised to discover this notice upon attempting to view the Twitter stream of the Sex-Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins:

Jenkins2

I looked at my most recent tweets to Ms Jenkins to see if I had inadvertently stepped over the line re: civility. This is what I found:

jenkins1

Fairly tame stuff, huh? As I expected. I challenge Ms Jenkins or anyone else I have communicated with to produce anything that they consider to be so offensive as to justify punitive action. I mean aside from generalised hurt feelings arising from transgressions against cherished ideology.

I’m both a tax-payer and a former public servant, and I would no sooner have binned correspondence from the public/hung up on people/etc than walk to work naked. And make no mistake, blocking constituents on social media is the current-day equivalent of such actions. How things have changed.

I wonder if such action is permissible for federal public servants under the existing legislative/regulatory framework? I wonder how commonly it occurs, and whether anyone actually knows?

I also wonder if the staff who engage in this type of systematic disengagement are more or less likely to hold particular ideological views? This PEW Research article, for example, found that the people most likely to block others on social media held consistent leftist/liberal views.

As I discussed in another blog post, this default position of silencing rather than engaging dissenting voices has become a hallmark of gender feminists.

It must be quite intoxicating to believe that your position is so right, and others so diabolically wrong, that dialogue with unbelievers is not just redundant but seemingly an affront to decency.

General guidelines for public sector staff,  in relation to engagement with the public including via social media, are set out in ‘APS Values and Code of Conduct in practice‘. It contains a number of provisions relevant to this issue such as:

2.2.3 The Directions about this Value require APS employees to engage effectively with the community, working actively to provide responsive, client-focused service delivery. <snip> Employees must also ensure that decisions and interactions with clients are objective and impartial, and in accordance with government policy.

4.5.7 <snip> employees should avoid partisan comment and ensure that their approach to speaking publicly about policies supports public confidence in the capacity of the APS to be impartial.

5.1.3 A real conflict of interest occurs where there is a conflict between the public duty and personal interests of an employee that improperly influences the employee in the performance of his or her duties.

(Postscript: Revised public service social media guidelines were released in August 2017)

The Australian Human Rights Commission comes under the oversight of the Australian Attorney-General. That being the case I approached that Department (the ‘AGD’) as follows:

“Today I noted that I had been blocked from accessing the Twitter stream of a senior member of staff of the Australian Human Rights Commission. Prior to this occurring I can confirm that I did not communicate in a manner that was abusive, threatening, etc (nor make an excessive number of posts for example) … actions that would reasonably justify being blocked or banned.
Such an action on the part of a senior public servant appears not just unprofessional, but amounts to censorship being applied to stakeholders simply on the basis of holding a dissenting viewpoint.
I am writing to you now to request details of the guidelines under which staff (or agencies themselves) within the AGD are permitted to ban or block members of the public from social media streams or pages. Specifically, is such an action even permissible in the absence of bad language, threats, etc?
I look forward to receiving your timely advice regarding this matter.”

The AGD subsequently replied:

“Thank you for contacting the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department (the department). The department is not able to directly assist you. Your enquiry would be more appropriately directed to the Australian Human Rights Commission … “

The social media policy for the Human Rights Commission is provided here. The policy does not clearly state whether staff members are empowered to block people for reasons other than those specified therein – which I did not contravene.

I then directed relevant questions to the Australian Public Service Commission (‘APSC’) and the AHRC. In their initial response the AHRC directed me to their social media policy, which I had already indicated I had read. I replied:

“I am seeking an indication from you as to whether the Commission has either a policy or accepted practice whereby members of staff are empowered make
unillateral decisions to place blocks or bans on members of the public
seeking to access and engage with various online portals estatblished
by the AHRC.

As I indicated in my initial email, my focus is on situations where
there has been no clear contravention of the  standards of behaviour
set out in your policy.  I look forward to receiving your further advice on this matter.”

The subsequent response from the AHRC again directed me to their Social Media Policy. From that I think we can assume that they have either not understood the nature of my concern, or that such concerns are only to be addressed on an ad hoc basis.

In contrast I received useful feedback from Paul Casimir, Director Integrity, Employment Policy Group at the APSC:

“The Australian Public Service Commission has not developed guidance for APS agencies about the circumstances in which it would  be appropriate for an APS employee or an APS agency to block access to a Twitter feed or similar social media platform. This is a matter for individual agencies to consider in each case having regard to a number of factors including, but not limited to, the obligation under the Commissioner’s Directions to engage effectively with the community.

Where an APS employee has acted in a manner inconsistent with the APS Values or Code of Conduct that matter may be referred to the head of that agency for consideration as a potential breach of the Code of  Conduct.

However, it may also be relevant to you to know that the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Ms Kate Jenkins, is a statutory officer appointed under the terms of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. As such, she is not an APS employee and is not bound by either the APS Code of Conduct or the APS Values in the way that APS employees are. The excerpts of your blog post from the APS Values and Code of Conduct In Practice do not apply to her.”

rightstalk-access-cropped

My own position on this matter? I don’t take Ms Jenkins gesture personally in the least. I do find it ironic, however, that someone whose job it is to protect rights should be so amenable to the removal of rights. Indeed the Commission is on record as asserting internet access to be a fundamental human right. The possibility that Ms Jenkins action was tainted with a degree of misandry is similarly repellent.

I believe that the sort of waspish and self-indulgent behaviour common to online feminist echo chambers is completely inappropriate when transposed to the digital portal of a public sector agency. In the latter situation the priority should not be shunning and shaming, but rather sharing and engaging. Such as approach should be consistently applied to all interested stakeholders – regardless of their ideological preferences and/or the extent to which their views align with those of the relevant agency or individual managing the account.

(Postscript 13 October 2018: Should politicians be allowed to block voters on social media?)

(Postscript 10 July 2019: ‘Ocasio-Cortez Sued for Blocking People on Twitter‘)

Feminist advocacy group ‘Our Watch’ seeks shield from public scrutiny

The President The Chairperson: These drug cartels Men’s Rights Advocates represent a clear and present danger to the national financial security of the United States Domestic Violence Industry. (With apologies to the late, great Tom Clancy)

On 9 December 2014 I sent an email to the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission:

“I have made several attempts over as many days to access info about the charity called ‘Our Watch Limited‘. Each time I find that most fields on their page show as “Information Withheld”. I have not seen this message on the pages of other charities. Can you please advise why such is information has been withheld? I am also awaiting the lodgement of the first annual return for this organisation – I understand that this should occur sometime this month. I look forward to receiving your advise on this matter – thank you” On 11 December 2014

I received the following reply: “Firstly, I can confirm that the Our Watch Limited is a registered charity. This can be confirmed on the ABR here. In relation to the withheld information, charities do have the right to apply to have charity information withheld from the Register if they have valid reasons for the ACNC not to publish some of the charity’s detail. Not all information can be withheld, only information that fits within certain criteria (such as information that the information is commercially sensitive and there is a risk that publishing it will cause harm).

When charities submit a withholding application it places a temporary blanket over the charity record on the ACNC Register so the public cannot access any details until their application is processed.  Therefore, you would not be able to access any details on the Register. Please see click here for further information on withholding.  

Furthermore, the 2014 Annual Information Statement (AIS) is the second reporting requirement for all registered charities. The due date for the Annual Information statement is within six months of the end of your reporting period. However, the Commissioner advised yesterday that the due date has been extended for charities that use a 1 July30 June reporting period to 31 January 2015.”

Well now isn’t that curious, because none of their information was shielded until about two weeks ago. So it seems the shutters went up sometime after I uploaded my post on ‘Our Watch, in which I indicated interest in undertaking due diligence on their financials. And around the same time that another feminist domestic violence advocacy group, White Ribbon Australia, attracted harsh criticism in relation to their spending priorities and unusual financial practices. Oops, that share trading can be risky business. Surely just coincidence.

OK well, under what circumstances might a charity seek approval to shield their details?

The ACNC web site includes the following information:

“You must apply to have charity information withheld. Other than for private ancillary funds, there are only some circumstances when we may withhold your charity’s information from the Register. The ACNC Commissioner has discretion to withhold or remove information from the Register if the information:

  • is commercially sensitive and it could cause harm
  • is inaccurate, confusing or misleading
  • is offensive
  • could endanger public safety, or
  • is covered by ACNC regulations.

The ACNC may also decide not to publish details of any warnings we have issued to a charity if:

  • the information could cause harm
  • the charity was not behaving in bad faith, and
  • withholding the information does not conflict with our objects under the ACNC Act.”

I wrote back to ACNC seeking further clarification, and to their credit they promptly responded in the following manner: “Unfortunately we are unable to advise what the basis of the request however I can explain the process. There is no service standard for these applications, as we do have a number these requests that are waiting to be processed. If a charity would like to have information withheld from the ACNC Register the process is as follows:

  1. The charity makes an application to have the information withheld. They do this on the Portal, in writing, or on an ACNC form.
  2. The request is received and we apply a blanket withhold rule on that charity’s record. This is to ensure we don’t publish any sensitive data (such as the address of a women’s shelter) while the decision is being made. Please note this is often an automatic step undertaken via the charity Portal.
  3. The request is reviewed by a Registration Analyst, who decides whether the request meets the requirements set out in the Australian Charities and Not‑for‑profits Commission Regulation 2013.
  4. Once the decision has been made we remove the blanket withhold, and only details that were approved for withholding are withheld from the Register. For example, the charity would appear in a search along with their financial details, but the street address may not.

The ACNC Act sets out the rules around withholding information at Subdivision 40–10, which can be found here. The policy on withholding is also available here. If you have concerns in relation this charity, you can raise a concern about any registered charity to us for further investigation if it is something that is within our jurisdiction. There is further information that can be found here about the issues that ACNC may be able to look at.”

Thus at this point in time, one can only speculate on why ‘Our Watch‘ sought to have their details suppressed and/or what reasons they might have advanced to support their application. Perhaps this will become clear in the fullness of time.

Running my eyes over the possible criteria earlier provided by ACNC however, my eyes kept returning to the word “harm”. Could it be that ‘Our Watch‘ engaged in that peculiar feminist practice known as damseling, breathlessly asserting the potential danger/s posed by unknown people unknown men crude disaffected men of vile character and who are intent on mischief*?

I would like to be able to state that, sooner or later, all pertinent details of ‘Our Watch‘ will be subject to scrutiny and any anomalies exposed. ‘Our Watch‘, as with any other similar group receiving substantial amounts of public funding, should operate transparently and be properly accountable to the Australian community. Unfortunately I cannot do so, however, as moves are well underway to abolish the ACNC by way of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (Repeal) (No. 1) Bill 2014 (and related debate).

The three key dates to watch now are the revised deadline for ‘Our Watch’ to submit its annual report (31 January 2015), the lifting of the shield on Our Watch‘s details in the ACNC website, and the ceasing of operations by ACNC.  

(*the feminist view of mens rights activists)

Update 10 January 2015: According to the ACNC website, on 8 January 2015 ‘Our Watch’ lodged their annual return and financial details to the end of June 2014.

These sources show a total annual revenue of $4,845,880 mainly comprising government grants totalling a whopping $4,675,550, with only a paltry $6k sourced from donations. Almost all of their expenditure was attributed to staff-related costs ($807,579), “transactions with key management personnel” ($354,021), and professional fees ($960,196).

Under “Transactions with key management personnel” it states “Key management personnel of the entity and the Board of Directors and senior management. Key Management Personnel remuneration comprises the following expenses ($354,021).”

The annual return lists only nine full time employees and two part time employees. Given that compensation for “senior management” is wholly or partly excluded from “staff-related costs”, suggests that average annual salaries for other staff are well in excess of $80,000 per person per annum.

The only information still being withheld is the office address and details of ‘Responsible Persons’.

 

Women are held accountable for … (say hello to the Teflon Gender)

I was reading this article today dealing with suicide. It includes the statement:

“Mental health organisations are increasingly targeting their public awareness messaging towards men, given the data shows they’re three times more likely to suicide.

“Men aren’t very good at asking for help and addressing the issues,” Hayden said. “That’s something we need to focus more attention on.””

I was thinking that when health and personal safety issues disproportionately affect women (or when it’s claimed that they do, as in the case of domestic violence) then invariably men are blamed. Yet even when men are disproportionately afflicted, they are still blamed. Rarely has there appeared the suggestion that women contributed to serious problems affecting men (or even to their own problems). No,  because according to cultural mores today that would be victim-blaming. That would be misogyny. And that would be wrong.

Can anyone think of an example, in say the last ten years, where such a suggestion has been put forward in the mainstream media? None, as far as I can recall. The root cause of social problems is usually, and conveniently, sheeted home to men and/or the patriarchy.

Take the case of suicide for example. What of the stress caused by a family court system that is biased against fathers? What of the pressure borne from the expectation that men contribute more financially in a relationship from the first date onwards? What of the pressure of being expected to take the lead, yet at any time to be criticized for doing so?

What of the pressure of expectations to be chivalrous in the face of mocking of traditionalism? What of trying to satisfy women’s needs and expectations when those needs and expectations vary widely from one woman to the next, and from one month to the next?

What of the continually demonisation of men in the media? The ongoing attacks on mens integrity and sense of self-worth by feminised government bureaucrats and feminist organisations?

No, no, no. It’s because men are reluctant to visit the doctor. It’s because men are frightened to talk about their feelings. Yes, that’s it. If only men would, you know, ‘man up’. There you have your solution.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Feminists often disparage men by falsely claiming that we believe that “men have it worse than women” and that “men believe that everything bad that happens to them is because of women“. Well, I don’t believe that and I don’t know anyone who does.

But surely it is fact that women, both individually and collectively, do generate significant problems for men, for themselves, and for their children. It is just extraordinary that this is not more openly acknowledged and discussed. And a very clear indicator, if one was needed, of the extent to which feminism has permeated and distorted western culture.

It’s true, I have a headache at the moment. Perhaps I’m suffering from some sort of a mental block. So will someone please tell me, in our modern western society, just exactly what women are being held accountable for? Are they in fact held responsible for anything in this world that is bad?

Go on, won’t someone throw this dog a bone?

Postscript: Alternative question for feminists to answer – Can you conceive of a problem/situation/dilemma where you wouldn’t blame a man?

See also:

Why are so many women with good careers being forced to freeze their eggs? (13 July 2018)

Toxic femininity and lack of personal responsibility (1 July 2018) Makes mention of the suicide of Anthony Bourdain

Woman held accountable for her (rude) actions on first date – world goes into meltdown … mutual responsibilities? Cease such seditious thoughts! (19 May 2017) Video

Telling women not to drink during pregnancy ‘sexist’ (18 May 2017)

Men should do everything, apparently (26 March 2017) Reddit discussion thread and linked article

Women hate responsibility (7 March 2017) Video by ‘Sandman’

‘Very lonely guys spend hundreds to cuddle with me’ (27 December 2016) TL/DR version is that many guys are such losers that they have to pay an enterprising (exploitative and condescending) plain-looking woman to allow them a human touch.

Subject of article says her clients “have a hard time finding companionship organically and lack human connection and touch”, i.e. they’re lacking in some regard. Because the fact that they are paying someone to hold them couldn’t be due to a deficiency in women. But then in the next breath she observes that one particular client told her that his wife “never just wants to lay and be with him”. You think Lisa, that maybe the wife is at least part of the problem here?

Michael Moore told that ‘Women can commit wrong too’ (31 October 2016)

A Network of Men (11 August 2016) Video

The ‘Women are Wonderful’ effect, by Christina Hoff Sommers (30 March 2015) Video, related reddit mensrights discussion thread, and Wikipedia entry on the WAW phenomenon

Feminism: It might just be ruining your love life (5 March 2015)

We should stop putting women in jail. For anything (6 November 2014)

Feminism vs. responsibility (16 October 2014)

Are men to blame for the plastic surgery obsession? (22 October 2014) See readers comments

malesareculpable

Elsewhere in this blog see:

On the punishment of women and the notion of a ‘pussy-pass’