Adrian Chen’s outing of the real identity of Violentacrez (Michael Brutsch), one of Reddit’s most despicable (now former) subreddit moderators and trolls has caused quite a kerfuffle on the site. Violentacrez was one of the originators of such objectionable subreddits as /r/jailbait and /r/creepshots, along with others devoted to antisemitism and gender violence. Jailbait and creepshots specialized in shots of women and girls, often taken surreptitiously in public and usually of minors. Chen’s outing comes on the heels of a tumblr (currently not available) that posts publicly-available information about creepshots posters, including information that outs their true identities. (There’s a good piece on Predditors, the tumblr, here.)
If you read the comments on the gawker and jezebel pieces, you’ll find a bunch of commentators excoriating gawker, Chen, etc. for violating the privacy and anonymity of redditors, an act so vile as to bring them to the defense of people like Brutsch and subreddits that celebrate the anti-consensual consumption of women and girls as objects.
In a coincidence of timing, this story was breaking in the days surrounding the UN’s new International Day of the Girl on Tuesday. Erwin C. wrote a post for the Day that provides just a few snippets of data on how deep gender inequality continues to be in Latin America. (h/t to Colin) From the post:
- In 2009, 15.5% of Mexican girls between the age of 15 and 19 had at least one child partly as a result of 61.2% of teens who did not use birth control.
- 69% of the 7551 reported cases of domestic or sexual violence in Peru during the first eight months of this year involved girls under the age of 17.
- A survey taken two years ago showed that 43% of women in the Dominican Republic aged between 20 and 49 had married before reaching the age of 18.
- 70% of Bolivian girls do not got to school while 30% of girls residing in rural areas finish elementary school.
- 248 girls under the age of 14 were killed last year in Colombia,which is up from 176 in 2010.
- 14% of Ecuadorian indigenous girls between the ages of 5 and 17 do not attend school.
- Roland Angerer of the Plan International NGO told EFE that for Central American girls the “quality of education is worse” than other regions and the levels of malnutrition are “worrying”.
I’m struck at the cognitive dissonance of these two bits of news. While redditors debate the value of their anonymity to act out misogynistic fantasies, real girls around the world struggle daily for access to school, with sexual and domestic violence, for control over their fertility, for economic opportunity.
I find this enraging. I think there are good cases for internet anonymity– for whistleblowing, for political dissent in countries with real consequences for such dissent, etc. This is simply not the case here. In the bubble of anonymous internet communities, though, the real and daily struggles for life and justice for women and girls aren’t compelling. Trolling and violation are. These people deserve to have their identities outed. Their sense of outrage is rooted in the same gender privilege that justifies their daily violation of women’s consent on those subreddits. It’s abhorrent, and should be called such.