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Why not Ada Borden? - my observations of freedom of speech on an internet community

Just to introduce my self as a Malifaux player and a part of this community before I start getting on to the point:

- This is my first blog ever and it's in English language which is not my first language, so please bear with me. Feel free to correct me, both on the claims I make and any grammar I might have fudged up. I'd really like to see some discussion and criticism, so I hope people will read this with an open mind.

- I've gotten into Malifaux through the fluff and artwork and te community is the reason I stayed. I'm only a beginner miniature painter and not a very good player. I've got a lot of minis and the strongest part of my hobby besides the knowledge of fluff is my mini conversion skill. I will save all of these things for the future entries in this blog.

So without further ado, I'm opening the todays topic.

Yesterday I got insulted on a Wyrds forum and I actually had someone defend me today, which reminded me of why I love this community.

It's not because I was labeled as a creepy pervert I felt insulted, but whenever there is even any sort of point to be made on some theme that's dealing with societal symbols, issues, fandoms or whatever there is misguided political correctness thrown about laced with some angry social rights rudeness.

I made a comment and people started reading into my post and putting words into my (proverbial) mouth. Actually at first I got upset, then after I cooled off I got angry because I got upset about stupid things that happen on the internet and I started writing a post for the offtopic forum on this site.

Before I posted it, it seemed too personal and I deleted it, so a day later I decided to start a blog with a similar topic of the unwritten post. If this is a good media for it, I'd like to have an open discussion about a way people tend to communicate issues on the internet when they have their sensibilities hurt or when they misenterpret something like in my case. I feel strongly about the way this problem is vocal in this community because I suppose I share this hobby with an ok bunch of people and not some anonymous douchebags and I think freedom of speech shouldn't shut people out with its agressive stance.

Couple of weeks prior to my misinterpreted post there was a Lizzie Lovelace thread where people felt insulted because of a possible correlation with an abused pornstar and there were other mentions of pornstars and it somehow got tied to my post about tentacles. What hurts in this respect is that I love the story of Malifaux in its whole romantical insanity with its injustices and rare positive moments and people have a need to hamfist realism with its most boring moral prejudicies into ficton where it isn't needed.

Venting finished, on to the topic.

A lot of player created content gets published in the Wyrd Chronicles, Some player created content gets introduced in the games rules via beta testing and some of it comes from participation in various story tournaments and contests which sometime seep into the games ficitional world.

This is all great and it makes me happy.

The community has for the most part brought in a lot of positive changes to the game through the beta testing waves for which I'm along the ride for the fourth time now. And we've even seen some concept art being changed for the better (maybe not in the case of new Perdita, but it might be my personal preference that I prefer the alternate model than the one sold in her crew box).

If a player, or a reader feels offended by a social issue which is happening in a fictional world or a game the noise surrounding these injustices start to be very loud (and in my opinion very obnoxious). There is no thing such as a bad press, but because Wyrd listens to their player base and I guess it wears them down, because its employees do read most of posts in social media and its forums and they become more careful about it in the future. The social issues I'm mentioning are usually based on real world issues and these things shouldn't be considered in every possible instance, unless it goes against basic human decency (like Viktoria of blood wearing only leather belts, but in a perfect world even that shouldn't be a moral issue).

I belive the developers have set the tone of their world and game and there won't be big tonal shifts and things that just feel wrong with it.

From its beginning over year and a half ago beta testing has become a bit different, we start to hear less details and we as a playerbase participate in a different way because there is too much noise and stuff gets lost in translation, not just between Wyrd and the players, but between players themselves.

But that's not my only point. There will always be a wedge between people because of their different preferances and just because we're not all alike.

The point I wanted to discuss is all this social justice stuff, because when something is deemed sexist, racist, harmful to some minority it gets more weight than it deserves and there are too many negative conotations and it drives people off and it gets unwanted exposure for all the wrong reasons.

In the fiction when there are issues which are handeled like they are happening now and here the story and the immersion suffers and these things happen to a popular book, game, movie or whatever. Because of its ritchness fans get vocal about it, they feel like they are a part of something and they have to defend it and its sensibilities as if they are their own. That's all because a lot of different symbols get mixed up and the reality and ficition start feeling like one and same thing and the fictional world should have a freedom of its own, it should live apart from ourselves and be freely explored by its authors without significant outside meddling (like pressuring George R.R. Martin to finish Game of Thrones serial because he's getting old).

There are countless critics (both profesisional and unprofessional), youtube, social media, journalism, advertisments and all these should have an outside veiw on a work of fiction. The final judge should be our own imagination and while sometimes a well placed criticism or review can change your world view, it's not a definitive answer to your own interpretation of the product, or a work of art.

Todays world has countless personal freedoms and it is objectivly less painful, missing a lot of desease and misery that is a big part of the world of Malifaux. We have more social rights than ever before and on the other side there is also this fantastic and also horrible world of old (which has magic along its pain and hardships) which draws its realism from fiction and popular culture. It's very immersive and the problem and the blessing is that you get to play games in it, paint and build your own characters and participate in the world. It's impossible to make everyone happy with a product, but the game itself gives you freedom to change the things your don't like about the setting. I used to play a lot of RPGs and even if their storytelling style is much more immersive, the approach toward the gaming community is much more interactive and much wider reaching in the wargames.

You also have this hobby part of the game and there is another "payoff" to that. I'll leave "faulty product" and scale issues topic for another day. I just wanted to say that as great as it is to make a game and sell your products, it seems to me this small company has a lot of painful backlash to deal with on a daily basis and I can't feel but empathise with them while I read all the posts concerning various issues.

***

Last thing I wanted to discuss is free speech and I'm writing about it because I had an issue with it recently and it still feels fresh while I've gone far off topic from it in the mass of text above.

Most people read into things with a bunch of stereotypes thrown into a mix of their thought process.

When someone breaks the norm with expressing their "subjective" thruths there is always some sort of a backlash and things usually finish off as an argument. Following these forums has shown me that people can look past their issues and work together on the internet. It means that we're not all anonymous trolls that go onto boards for some blood, but we can work as a society.

I have some friends (and their friends, with their friends of their friends etc.) on facebook that start political, atheism, pandas who go extinct because they won't have sex, gmo or anti-gmo topics day in day out and they start as constructive and smart and always finish with some social self entitled intelectual cannibal has to come out at a top of the food chain.

I don't get it why arguments and issues have to be won. They should be explored and resolved.

I mean we play wargames, you get to beat your opponent, why waste your time on forums with trying to be moral, or intellectual winner when you can rather agree and fix the issue?

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I guess everyone deserves respect.

Good night and until next hippie, peace loving topic.

PS

I was supposed to paint minis for an upcoming tournament and work on my papers for my studies, but I rather started a blog. Sigh...



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You know what, this is not the place for my full answer, so I'll leave you with this: There's a LOT of money in grievance politics. Take the money out, you take out the power. Once people can't get either by simply crying "(x)-ist!", it will end on its own.

 

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:) Your comment reminds me of this parody music video (warning for the strong language):



EDIT
Here's a short video (in Philosophy terms short) of real Zizek that's talking more on topic of my point in this blog

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Freedom of speech does not entitle you to freedom from criticism.

 

I have asked people not to joke about Deep Throat, because that movie features the on-screen rape of a woman, and if you think that's a funny thing to joke about, you are a bad person. (Look, there's that free speech in action!)

 

Talking about the porn you watch on a forum dedicated to the beta test of tiny plastic soldiers is creepy. It adds nothing to the discussion, other than commentary on what makes your dick hard, and it makes other people uncomfortable. I asked my male friends if this was normal behaviour, and to a person they responded with, "Ewww, no. Creepy and inappropriate." Most men do NOT think it's okay to talk about your dick on a hobby forum!

 

This is what women deal with in the gaming community. And this. Are you really, really telling me that someone disagreeing with you on an internet message board is comparable to that level of harassment?

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I had a much longer post than this that got eaten by the internet, and, upon reflection, that might be for the better. A lot of anger is generated when people feel like their “right to free speech” is being infringed upon, but the fact is that this is not a public space. This is Wyrd’s website, and they are kindly letting us post discussions on it. If the Mods come in and tell us to knock off a topic, we are obligated to listen to them. If someone doesn’t like it, they are welcome to make their own website where they make the rules. I really like our mod team; they work hard at keeping the fights from escalating without pre-emptively smothering people’s opinions. To the mods out there: let me know if you want me to step off, and I will.
 
That being said, I still stand by my posts. In both topics, the discussion topic wandered out of the purview of Malifaux. I can say with a reasonable amount of certainty that Wyrd is not, in fact, intentionally making a xxx game. Your point, I believe, was “I hope that Wyrd doesn’t put tentacles on the Scion of the Void because tentacles make me think of Day of the Tentacle, Lovecraft, and tentacle porn”. My point was “at no point in the fluff or on the tabletop will the Scion be engaging in sex with someone(/thing), so how about we keep a divide between a tabletop strategy game and things people masturbate to”. 
 
Really, I think that the point still stands. A lot of good stuff gets said on these forums, and I’d like it to stay a place that I can direct people to if they want to read about a cool game, and it does bug me when people bring, for lack of a better word, their boners into everything. Wyrd did not name a model after Linda Boreman. Wyrd does not put tentacles on models to make them more sexy. Those are things that other people are bringing into the discussion, and it is, in fact, inappropriate.

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It wasn't my intention to call out anyone in this blog, but ok if you want to do it.

@Ferossa: Yes, internet can be a horrible and abusive place just as real life.
There is a lot of misogyny online and especially in video game circles, atheist circles or other male dominated places, but you know what, things are changing. What my point is in this blog is that people are jumping over anything on social media and there is too much noise that doesn't help anything. Why does it hurt to be civil about human rights and soical themes?

Maybe I have too much patience with this occurance, but I don't think I can change anything with ignoring things that are happening around me.

I'm completely fine with criticism (except when it gets violent) and I'm not affraid to engage in a discussion and while most sane people would ignore comments on the internet I give people a benefit of a doubt that you can reason with people without getting confrontational. I'm well aware of #gamergate and daily abuse of women everywhere, how women get payed less than men in todays advanced society and how sexism underlines most of normal human speech. I find rape jokes and a lot of normal day to day casual conversational nuances creepy, I live in the middle toward eastern Europe and in my country sexism is probably much stronger occurance in everyday life and women get much more abuse in their work places and it's harder for them to complain about and get any results, so yes I'm aware of it.
I'm also not that cynical and I don't think I can change things by being loud and rude into peoples face, most of day to day sexism can be fixed by education and basic human empathy and I know most of the people who aren't aware of their sexism and who usually cause micro-sexist remarks find it hard to believe they are sexist at all, as I think most of rehabilitation is hard it's even harder to point out to people that they have a problem without getting into an argument.

I wrote this blog because I didn't want to get personal because getting personal wouldn't be well mannered and it would also be childish of me.
I'm not sure where in any of my post you can read me writing about my dick getting hard or where did you see my intention to discuss that, or even if I liked tentacle porn. I actually find those remarks creepy and a bit abusive and it makes me uncomfortable because I don't think I'm not that open of a person to discuss my sexuality publicly, at least not with people I don't know. Some people might be and that isn't anything wrong about that, as I don't think that porn should be a taboo word. Why is mentioning word porn a big detriment toward online communication about most of day to day themes?
I think mentioning porn would be creepy in a thread about raising children or probably in a formal, noncasual surrounding, but we're all mature people in this forum and I frankly don't see a problem and how it would be found creepy.

This community has been supportive if anything and if there are exceptions of creepyness and sexism people have been pointed out where they've gone wrong in a polite manner.

It would be to farfetched of me if I called you as a sexist with those sort of remarks because I don't know you personally or your motivations, but I won't because I don't want to argue with you and not because I'm afraid to say or hear something, but because I think we are decent people. I could have just decided this was a hassle back then on the thread about Scion and forgot about it, but I take responsibility for my followup blog.
Could you give me a benefit of a doubt that I'm not just stroking my ego and I really want to help the community? Or I should take a different stance and by that I don't mean anything agressive... I don't think going round in circles benefits this. Your move. How would you like to resolve this, whatever we are discussing here?

@The Zinc Lich: How come Spiraling Cadaver read my post the way I meant it to be read?


Linus, just lending a little support since I agree on something of an overreaction there- I feel somewhere "this reminds me of X in an cliched and silly way" seems to have gotten translated as "I fully endorse it, let's try it at once!" (...possibly followed by some creepy breathing)

 

And frankly, we just had a not-quite-shouting match over in the resser beta section about "malifaux has references to sex and bad things in it, deal with it!"- not sure where those people are now. Guess it's cooler to defend a company's misinterpretable language, but not another player's?

 

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I think you should be asking yourself why you think a simple request not to mention porn on the Malifaux forums (because it is neither appropriate nor on topic) merits a 3,000 word backlash.

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Because these things bring me down. People are unfair to each other and I can't help my self and try to wrap my head around it. I read the Lizzie Lovelace thread after the misunderstanfding on the Scion thread to see what the fuss was about and I was reminded of other instances I was simillary brought down by stuff that happens behind the curtain. I don't remember anyone was poking fun at things and most of the people shared some common thoughts, but decided to argue and bring the house down.
Just for the record, I don't like how Lizzy Lovelace sounds like since I'm late for that thread and I haven't heared about any of historical figures mentioned. I like game having referances to the real life, but we'll see what happens later...

Yes, I shouldn't be distressed by things concerning games, that's a logical thing to think. But these things do remind me of other instances in social media and everyday stuff that gets brought up. It was a good inspiration to put down some ideas into words and clear my head.
Saying that, the blog isn't written as a backlash but as a serious topic.

I didn't try to call you out for distressing me, but I did get distressed by what you wrote to me in the Scion thread. It was hurtful.
I don't know what your motivation for calling me out is, but it distresses me because I had low self esteem in the past, which was followed by long period of loneliness which I've come to terms with, but these things bring me back and since I am kind of sensitive it's becoming  hard to think when I want to choose a different path than outsmarting someone in a passive agressive way and using sarcasm (not trying to play a sympathy card, it's just the sad truth). Which might be the reason I like to wonder of and imagine things about different worlds and play games. I also don't see issues the same way you do and my educatuion demands of me to be critical and writing this blog seemed like a good training for writing my thesis for the Anthropology Masters.

I'm not trying to win an argument and I'd like to thik I can help people think some new thoughts on their own. I'm not even curious to why you're here anymore since I'm a bit broken at the moment and it's quite late. Sorry if I offended you in any way again. Good night.

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You appear to be acting from a surplus of compassion, rather than a surfeit, which is the only reason I'm responding to you. I'm going to link you to Dr. Nerdlove, specifically this article on creepy guys and what it means to be called creepy.

 

I'm going to wait for you to read that.

 

I am a woman. I have never had the luxury of attending a gaming convention without being sexually harassed. I have been raped at one. I have been sexually assaulted multiple times at every single one. Most of my friends have the same story. 20% of women in North America have been raped by a man. In nerd communities, that number is 25%. Sexual assault is 20% HIGHER in the nerd/gaming community. Women know this.

 

Modern pornography fills no artistic niche. You can argue about ukiyo-e or pre-WWI photographs (both of which I collect), but tentacle porn specifically about female violation and rape, and male-oriented porn has no consideration for what the woman is thinking or feeling. (As evidenced by the appalling sexual technique of male porn stars.) The only role modern pornography serves is to cater to male sexual appetites.

 

When men think it is okay to talk openly about their porn consumption, they are talking openly about the women they consume for pleasure. When men think it is okay to make jokes about pornography that features rape and torture of women (as much tentacle porn does, which I know, because creepy dudes liked to put it on when I was underage to make me uncomfortable). As a woman this makes me question my safety in the Malifaux community. If I want to attend a tournament, I now need to worry about:

  • Making sure my models fit into one container I can easily carry while opening the door, so I can get into my hotel easily and men cannot use it as an excuse to enter my hotel room. This severely limits the number of models I can bring and my competitive edge. 
  • Not having my forum name on my badge, because men will use it as justification to start a fight
  • Not having my real name on my badge, because men will use it to stalk me - this bars me from many tournaments
  • No dinner or drinks with men who seem cool, because if one of them rapes me, the rest will tell me it was my fault
  • That rules out making new friends btw
  • I must be aggressive and stand-offish instead of open and friendly, because creepy men will take friendliness as an excuse to sexually harass you because you were "flirting" or "asking for it". (Asking for what, exactly? To be treated with respect?)
  • No getting into elevators alone with strange men. The last time I did that at a con, a man shoved hand down my panties and finger-banged me. The con security told me I must have made it up and that he was a good guy. When I showed them my bloody underwear, they accused me of using my period to get a con regular in trouble. (This con regular went on to rape three other people that I know about.)

This is what women mean when they talk about creepy guys. If a woman calls you creepy, it means you have made her fear for her safety. You feel bad about that? GOOD. You SHOULD feel bad about that. But what can you do?

 

Go forth and creep no more. Listen to women. Respect us as people and part of the community. Because this whole post? Is an argument that women need to STFU and stop complaining about things that affect their health and safety on a daily basis. This is what happens when you tell men no. If you care about being a good person and really want to make a change in the community, come to terms with your discomfort and use it for good. Don't defend people who make women feel uncomfortable or scared. If a woman calls you creepy, apologise. Apologising and not doing it again is the difference between doing a creepy thing and being a creepy person. That's what Math did, and part of why I think he's a great guy and WOULD feel safe talking to him if I saw him at a tournament.

 

 

The worst part of this? There is always a chance that when I speak up, someone will start e-mailing me death threats. Or mailing me death threats to my physical address. And that is exactly what happened the last time I spoke up for women on a gaming forum.

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Thank you for staying, but I'm sorry this discussion is difficult on you. I didn't want for you to out yourself like this, but it doesn't make me uncomfortable, angry or anything, but only more compassionate after I read your reply.

I didn't see the mention of tentacle porn could be harmful to someone and I'm sorry about it even if it's too late - I was wrong. I discuss a lot of things with my female friends, one of which is my best friend and I've never got an idea that porn was something that made them uncomfortable if it's discussed openly, or it's mentioned without a notion that it's something uncomfortable. I didn't want to discuss porn on the thread, but I just said that it reminds me of Japanese porn and I find Japanese pop culture ridiculously over the top silly and that's what my forum comment was refering to. I know that it's rape, but it's fictional and  not something I'm into, I laugh at it because of its surrealism and not about the notion that women are getting raped in the depiction of that kind of porn. I'm also aware that things I write sound like excuses, I'll elaborate that later.
I didn't consider all the implications of tentacle rape porn when I was writing about it, I didn't think that I could shame a rape victim with it. I'm extremely sorry.

I do watch/read porn ocassionaly and I often find it very creepy at times when I'm searching the internet, "normal porn" even more than the fictional one.
I've also been looking for very different topics in my life because I'm curious, some are hard and realistic, some are seen as disgusting by most of the people, but it's mostly out of curiosity and widen my focus of life as it is.
I haven't been disinsenitised by the internet over the years, but I've gotten close to it and that's partly what made me change my lifestyle.

I disliked the notion I have to defend myself from something that I'm not in the previous replies and even more so in this discussion I can't find a "voice as a man" that can defend my intentions to feel like I'm not creepy (the way I feel while writing) and it's difficult to voice myself as compassionate because men hold power in this society. Because being creepy to me means that I'm selfish in my relations with other people, that I have hidden intentions. I've started to find happines in the last year and the notion that I'm hiding something brings me to the past when I had locked myself in and I remember being more posessive and drama prone in the past when I communicated with others.

I'm very sorry for your troubling past/present and I'm not trying to put as my problem is as big as yours, just that I wanted to make you aware of it because what I read without knowing you seemed unfair. It also seemed to me that discussing creepy things is creepy in itself, so that is the reason I've dodged it before, not because I'm ashamed of being called a creep.
I'm very aware of rape culture we live in and I have nothing smart to say about it besides that things are changing (too slowly), but it may not seem so (won't elaborate it here).
If you note my previous writings I haven't once told you what you have to do or think. I was open about it and even if this is internet and it's always possible that someone is lying (I think it's not the case with either of us). I didn't once think about talking to you differently because you were a woman than I would to another man. That has also been wrong of me, because I haven't thought about everything and you did hint it and Math realized it and I didn't.
I know I'm not entitled to respect from other people just because I am me and I am a bit difficult with words because I elaborate too much in every direction I think of. That is annoying, so thank you for having patience.
I might be deluded, but it's what I think and believe. It's possible that I have jumped in my mouth couple of times, but my intention stayed the same in the commenting section.

Will you re-read my blog if we resolve this issue?
I mean if you change your mind about me, even for a bit.

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I did read it and I agree on it and learend something new.
Maybe I wouldn't have cought up on a detail of entitlement of men shouldn't feel insulted and entitled to benefit of a doubt. That was arrogant of me, I'm sorry.

Also I know I'm an odd person, but I've misunderstood some reactions of women in the past because I didn't consider some things completely. It's hard to understand some things from a different perspective and I haven't considered instinct. Sorry for answering back at you after your first reply here, I wasn't aware of my tone. I don't care about sounding smart or dumb, but I've come out as a dumb arrogant guy.
I've heard of lot of strange, icky and offputting things from my friends and sister that they happened to them in the past, but now I do understand some things of how they've felt in those situations.


I know how hard it is when you demateralize people into a single derogatory term (no matter how small the thing is, like loudmouth or smartass) or into a sterotype how they can loose their voice (at least in the mind of the person people who place the term or sterotype). That's the reason I kept this thing going on. Well, it helped me at least to realize something important, I can only hope it didn't hurt others involved.

Uhh, I don't know if should be uncomfortable with all this sharing in this replies to other people. I've derailed everything, but thank you @Ferossa.
If you want, please edit or delete your comments. I can edit mine if you want.

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Thanks for your reply. I'd like to keep this discussion posted, because I think a lot of men relate to your perspective. It's easy to get defensive and it's hard to examine that defensiveness, and I really appreciate that you took the time to do it.

 

<3 well-wishing from internet people.

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