Let’s talk about 4chan

logoI’m not some sort of innocent bystander caught in the whirl of 4cahn’s big leaked photo fiasco, nor am I deeply involved by any means. Most men are not. That is the first thing you should know about this situation… the people who are on 4chan, they are people you probably know (or they’re you). I’ve seen the leaks of Jenifer Lawrence… I did not seek them out, rather I came across them on Pink Meth one night while looking for porn (I’ve seen some of them floating around 4chan too). For those unaware of what pink meth is, it is not a site you’ll find through a Google or Yahoo search engine, nor can folks type in its address into their standard browser and receive much more than an error screen….

Those details really don’t matter though (and no I’m not going to share onion links), what matters is that it is a site where one can go download a gallery of images or even videos of nude women, having sex, and masturbating and screenshots of their facebook pages and other personal information about them. What kind of personal info you might ask? Links to their social media, lists of their family members, spouses, boyfriends, what schools they attended or are attending, what city they live in and that’s just what the site lists. Read the comments section and you will find not only men talking about what they would like to do to each woman but more details they themselves gathered such as LinkedIn profiles, employment details… it goes on. That’s right. While everyone is up in arms about how some top paid celebrity’s phone was hacked and grainy images of their bodies are floating around the net, practically no one is talking about, or maybe even aware that they are not alone at all. This content is obviously not given freely but taken, by men. Boyfriends and husbands mostly. Nor is Pink Meth the only avenue for content like this… certainly much of this kind of content floats around 4chan (it’s harder for people to point to because 4chan’s content is never static), but there are countless other sites in the deep-web with this material, and many sites out in the open that tiptoe across the line.

pmpm3Nor is it the worst content out there. Beyond the obligatory child porn (which, believe me or not, I have avoided save for the accidental occurrence on 4chan and motherless) there’s Dark Scandals… where one can find videos of women being blackmailed into being videotaped (having sex or exposing themselves), and videos of women being all out raped and forced to have sex (and yes, I feel a sinking need to clarify that I have not watched these). Or how about a hidden live web cam of some dude’s 18 year old girlfriend’s bedroom that runs 24-7. Yup, if you got bitcoins he’ll send you the link and the password. I’m not making this shit up, it’s out there in full force, and I am by no means someone who knows a lot, there is much more out there I know nothing about.

What you may not know, notice, or realize about all this content is that it kind of sucks. The pictures are usually grainy, poorly lit and badly cropped (not by editing software but by the camera). The women in the photos are mainly average… they’re not porn-stars, they work at wall-mart or the bank near your house and they have acne and bad haircuts and braces. And really, the celebrity leaks are about the same. The ones I saw of Jenifer Lawrence are taken from too far away, in a dimly lit room, with a crappy camera phone. I can go out right now and in 3 minutes find, for free, a gallery of pictures of a woman’s vagina where I can see each individual hair in glistening high definition, and she has not a blemish on her gorgeous sun tanned skin, and in the next photo shoot she will put a big throbbing 13 inch cock right up her butt… and there’s a good chance with a little bit of digging I can find the video of it in HD shot from 10 different angles and 5 different positions. And so can nearly everyone on 4chan (and remember, these aren’t “other people” they are people you know).

It’s about power. And don’t be fooled and think anyone can go on 4chan and shock its users by declaring that… they are well aware and often quite proud. It is really hard to fathom (especially for women) but a lot of men (and boys, because lets be honest, the bulk of 4chan users are under the age of 18) get off more on a feeling of having power than on some kind of fantasy where they make love to a woman. Think I’m wrong? Ever really paid attention to a porn video, watched the expressions on the woman’s face or listened to what she was actually saying. If you’re not a person into the power trip, then it will gross you out. Or spend time on 4chan and you’ll find threads full of video clips of porn bloopers where the actresses break down crying, or throw up, or freak out and start thrashing at the crew (I’ve never seen one of a man doing this… and the argument that men would not feel this way is utter bullshit). Sure there is a level of fascination, and a want to see the truth behind the facade… but it is also very much a circle jerk. I swear men are in three camps here: those who haven’t noticed, those who ignore it, or those who enjoy it.

It’s also about a desire for authenticity. Men aren’t looking at porn because they like watching supermodels have sex with other supermodels. It’s because they want a kind of connection they are not getting. It’s because for whatever reason they woke up one day and noticed that the last 10 porn videos they watched featured people pretending to have real sex. Because that dead look in the pornstar’s eyes made them feel sick inside (because they kept masturbating while they watched it, not because it made them stop). That’s why they look for real videos of women having sex with their actual partners, even if was obtained without consent. That’s why websites like chaturbate and 4cam (not a typo) are exploding right now.

Wonder why I know this? Because I am a man… and like it or not men have a desire to feel powerful. I look in the mirror sometimes and flex and it makes me feel good. And sometimes I can be more bossy than I should. And I get some amount of gratification when I help lift something heavy, or fix something, or seem knowledgeable. And there is a part of me that enjoys the idea of being in charge while having sex, weather or not I get to act on that (yeah, I often don’t… I imagine a lot of men don’t, especially those who claim to be alpha). It comes from the same place where the men who masturbate to Jenifer Lawrence photos are coming from, or even Emma Watson photos (which are by the way either fake or fully clothed… and is definitely a thing). And I also have a sex drive like a beast. And I’m not at all ashamed of it, its a matter of pride. But it means that I often don’t get to have sex as much as I would like. So I get the idea of wanting something more authentic in porn… because it is filling a gap in my needs. And yes, I watch porn, and yes I have had that moment when I have watched an actress have anal sex with a guy I can tell she hates, and I can tell it feels uncomfortable… and I’ve watched it anyway because it sometimes feels better than masturbating alone in my bed, or in the shower.

So what’s the solution? What’s the takeaway? Shutting down 4chan is a ridiculous proposition. Right now as we speak there is upheaval on 4chan as hordes of feminists with bones to pick are trying to bully the users into submission (both because of the celebrity photo leak and gamergate… which I wont get into). This is mainly resulting in gore threads devoted entirely to women (that would be pictures of dead and mutilated women) and frustrated users making exoduses on to 8chan and other anonymous image boards of less popularity (there will always be more if 4chan looses it’s anonymity). And a loss of anonymity does not mean people’s behaviors and opinions will change, there will just be less of an avenue to communicate with them, which is more horrible than I think outsiders realize. And obviously the idea of shutting down deep-web sites is equally if not more laughable… either authorities are unable to do so, or they rely on these very sites existence to capture those who create the content (probably a little of both). Nor is all of the deep-web negative. There is a real need for information that is not censored.

We need men and women to be on the same side for once. There is this screaming mass of feminists that are saying men shouldn’t objectify women, that pornography is awful, but offer little or no alternatives (or we aren’t hearing you… because the porn industry is very, very, loud). I was raised on porn, for better or worse. I watched my first videos of women having sex in porn when I was 12, possibly younger (I’m in my 30’s now). I heard talk about how it was inappropriate, how it was objectifying, how it didn’t represent real sex… but I was given no actual explanation as to why these facts were true. No one sat me down with those videos and said “this right here, this is objectifying… this right here, this is not how women actually like to be treated… this woman right here, being held by the throat while she screams ‘daddy’… what do you think that says about her? What do you think it says about the guy with his cock in her ass?”. And some may think that those facts are self evident, and obvious… and those people would be wrong.

We need men who aren’t comfortable with this stuff to not only speak up when appropriate, but to shut up when appropriate. Men know exactly what I mean… and maybe women need to know too (because I see you out there screaming your heads off). 4chan and that whole mentality (because it extends onto other parts of the net… youtube and twitter and more) feeds on attention. On Facebook, where there is no anonymity, and your mom might see the crap you post and know it’s you, that’s when to speak up. But when anonymity exists the key is to discourage. Don’t post on the woman gore thread, even if to say how awful it is. When someone posts a thread asking for celeb leaks, or “pictures you aren’t supposed to share” let that guy self bump that thread all by himself. And next time there’s a raid on someone’s facebook because she’s apparently a slut, remind that bro that you’re not his personal army and then leave… or just leave. And maybe don’t share that photoset you have because you think it will make you king for the day (don’t save it in the first place). Because really a lot of the power that keeps this all going is men’s (and boys) want to participate, and be part of something. You can have that without being a sexist asshole, there’s another thread that will pop up in 2 seconds that’s about something you actually give a fuck about.

And this isn’t just about the internet. The internet is one manifestation of our lives. The same ideas apply in person. Speak up, stand up and defend women when you need to… and shut up and stop participating when it’s just you and your bros. You know what I mean. Don’t say that sexist shit because it will get you a laugh, or a pat on the back or a fist bump. Don’t encourage guys when they do that crap. You might find the authenticity of those interactions are much more rewarding than you expect.

And while I don’t speak for 4chan, because no one speaks for 4chan, I am one of its members. And so are your brothers, and boyfriends and husbands… and you.

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Male Criticism

I came across a post on thought catalog that features a list of criticisms of women’s fashion generated by Reddit users.

It’s interesting to me because it demonstrates so many of the problems and tensions between people due to a gender binary. For me it shows all the downsides of applying gender definitions at all. The idea that there are inherent traits linked to one’s physical sex is dehumanizing. It takes the focus away from the individual and places it on a category, a creation of what? I’m not sure… the masses?

“Nose ring between both nostrils. I just can’t get the image of a bull out of my head.”. I read this quote and I think about more situations like it. I think about a heterosexual couple, arguing about weather or not it’s OK if the guy can keep his beard, or maybe if it’s OK that he shaves it off. Or the boyfriend who tells his girlfriend he really wishes she wouldn’t cut her hair so short. Or the homosexual couple where she is really into women with long hair but her girlfriend really wants to cut her hair short and get a piercing. Or the trans woman who struggles to find someone who is both attracted to her and accepts her gender identity completely….

Say we took away the gender in the list of 29 criticisms. What would these suggestions mean if we were not aware of the gender of either individual? I have a reaction of feeling disarmed, and having the situation seem much too personal for an internet form to figure out. Someone wants another person to act, look, be, feel, present one’s self differently than they would have chosen for themselves. No one will find the person they imagine in their minds. Because that’s what this is about right? If I don’t like what “type” of person I’m with, doesn’t that mean I just don’t like the person?

And of course there’s the argument that there are indeed types of people. I would disagree. Once I get to know a person I always discover that they are quite unique. I Think of this: Do I like her haircut because it’s short or long or do I like her haircut because she looks attractive, or beautiful? Or is it the mere fact that I am allowed to see her hair, wet, fresh out of the shower? Or when we wake up together on a weekend and make breakfast together, with her hair all matted to one side because she hasn’t taken a shower in three days and I don’t care because when I kiss her, the smell of her breath reminds me of when we lived in that little apartment on the roof overlooking our city. That seems so much closer to the reality of things than a list.

Anonymity

Have you noticed that our anonymity on the internet is beginning to vanish? Have you noticed that we need a face book account to sign into more things lately? Did you know or notice that we have to provide a phone number to have a Facebook account? This is what happens if you say an individual doesn’t have a phone number to provide:

fbkprivy

Were these rights we decided to give away? No. A company has made that decision for us. We don’t dictate what Facebook provides, we don’t dictate what any corporate website provides. Why? Because we are not the customers, we are the products.

Friend Zone

Almost no one is unaware what a person means when they say they’ve been friend zoned. What also seems to be universal is the idea that being put in the friend zone is negative in nature. For clarification purposes, the basic idea is that when seeking a romantic relationship, someone who has achieved friend zone status is someone who is thought of as being only material for a platonic relationship by the person they are seeking.

Sure, the negative connotations stem from the idea that a person seeking sexual relations would be upset to be put in a situation where they are not considered a viable or desirable option. And I agree that it can be difficult to accept rejection when an individual one finds desirable does not feel the same. However, I feel that this perception is something that people should re-think, or at the very least analyze with more scrutiny.

First lets look at this from a gender neutral position (where both parties can be of any gender and sexual orientation). The biggest problem I see with the entire idea is that one is making the assumption that the individual who has “put you in the friend zone” is incapable of making decisions about who they would like as a sexual partner.

Now lets look at it from a very classic hetero-normative point of view, where a male individual is seeking a female who has put the man in the friend zone. This situation is probably the most problematic. Obviously it perpetuates the idea that women don’t know their own sexual desires. It also supports an incorrect notion that platonic relationships between men and women are not valuable, possible or desirable. Quickly lets break these ideas down.

Assumption 1: Women don’t know their own sexual desires

  • This perpetuates a justification for pressuring women into sex either through coercion or force
  • It perpetuates the idea that women are less intelligent than men.
  • It perpetuates a notion that women should be in a submissive role in relationships between men and women.

Assumption 2: Platonic relationships between men and women are not valuable, possible or desirable

  • It is objectifying towards women, identifying them as solely a sexual object to be sought rather than an individual to establish a relationship with.
  • It perpetuates the idea that men who are sexually attracted to women do not desire non-sexual relationships with women.

Looking at the idea from the a perspective where a male is seeking another male brings up the idea that all men who are sexually attracted to other men only seek relationships (with other men) that are sexual in nature. Sure, on some level relationships between attracting genders can have underlying sexual components… but the idea that they cannot be platonic is incorrect.

In fact the notion of the friend zone perpetuates the idea that men in general are always seeking sexual relationships with any individual that fits within their sexual identity, and that men do not value platonic relationships with members of the genders they are attracted to.

Looking from a female perspective is slightly more difficult for me considering my own gender identity, but I’ll do my best.

The idea of the friend zone between men and women where the male individual has put the woman in the friend zone has problems as well. Again, it supports an idea that men are always seeking sex / sexual relationships. It also supports the idea that platonic relationships between men and women (who are attracted to those genders) are not valuable. This situation also a has a much more complex or difficult to see component: it implies that a woman who is not found to be sexually desirable is somehow presenting herself incorrectly. This is obviously objectifying to the woman, implying that it is not her individuality that is important but how she presents herself. It also makes an implication that men are by nature objectifying, implying that all women who present themselves “correctly” would be desirable to a male (assuming they are attracted to women), when in fact a man is perfectly capable of looking at the individual when determining what type of relationship he desires with them.

Other problems I see with this situation:

  • It supports a universal idea or ideal of beauty, both in the physical and how woman should act or behave (of which there is none).
  • It implies that men find only certain types of women desirable.

It’s hard for me to look at this in a relationship between two women since I have no experience to draw from. Certainly I think it perpetuates the idea that women don’t understand or know their own sexual desires. And from an outside male perspective I see it as exaggerating and perpetuating the idea that women desire sex less than the male gender. I would love more insight from women (especially women who find other women sexually desirable)

So far we’ve only looked at individuals that fall within the standard male female gender binary. Certainly this idea of the friend zone stretches beyond that. I will admit it is somewhat shaky territory for me, since I am a cis-male (a male individual who was born a man) who has not had a sexual relationship with an individual who is not cis-gendered . I personally think there is a lot of crossover, especially with individuals identifying within the gender binary. It would be very nice to hear what different transgendered individuals think about the subject.

So with all that, what is the takeaway? Personally I think continuing to look at relationships where there is a friend zone is avoiding progress. Valuing platonic relationships and accepting other individual’s choices is has a much more positive outlook. Sure there is an argument that perhaps the individual of ones desires is simply unaware of the possibility of the relationship you are seeking. But at best this is a problem of communication, and many times (especially with men seeking women) an inability to accept rejection.

introductions and marijuana

Do you like introductions? I hate them. I’ve been sitting here at the computer for a good 20 minutes trying to piece together some vantage point that will help readers know where I’m coming from, or exactly what is to be expected from this blog. Truth be told I don’t know exactly. I came up with idea sitting on a couch, smoking a big fat bowl while watching cartoons. I’ll be honest here, I’m still at a point where my perception of what people think of pot effects how I talk about my own consumption, or more specifically what I think other people’s perception of it is. I imagine the general opinion is that stoner’s ideas are half-baked, stupid… what is it? When you’re really stoned one would say they were stoned “out of my mind”. That however is not my experience with marijuana. And I wonder if it is anyone’s.

This is why I’m writing this blog. Not pot (though for me it is a big catalyst), but because I want an outlet to combat the deep seated ideas that I personally attribute to “other people”. The ideas that don’t match up with the reality that I’m living. Sometimes I can attribute these opinions, or ideas to individuals, but often I’m finding they come from elsewhere. They were introduced to me at a time so early I can’t remember the source, or they’re embedded in our culture (our books, movies, music, television).

So why not focus on pot in this post, since I brought it up? Why do I smoke it? Why does anyone smoke it? I’m sure there is some aspect of it being fun or pleasurable that plays into the mix, but I personally do not find that to be the largest motivating factor or the bulk of my experience. When I want to smoke most is when I’m upset, or trying to work through a difficult situation. When I’m “stressed out”. For me marijuana helps me untangle my problems. It gives me a bit of a third person perspective of my own thoughts. I get to see past the details and instead get a look at the root of the situation. Often see that what I have perceived as a problem, or something to be upset about, is simply not so. I have not been smoking all my life, but started well into adulthood, and many of the “problems” I’m now making headway with are ones that I had all through my teenage years and young adulthood (yes folks, I’m not a teenager). It also tends to make everything vibrant, colors become more vivid, sounds more intense, touch more pronounced, smells more potent. That is fun in of itself, but for me that bleeds into my life after the effects wear off. I remember to stop and enjoy life. I’ve always felt somewhere deep inside of me that the main point of life is to experience it, and pot reminds me to do that when so often there are many other forces in the world encouraging me to hurry along.