I’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.
Nor 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.