Thank you, hater, for helping me improve the Web accessibility of my blog

There is a hate blog on Tumblr that has called me “evil” and begun recording dramatic readings of my posts. As I understand it, blogs like that are technically against the Tumblr “Community Guidelines,” because it’s directed solely and wholly at an individual (me). But their readings means that I can use their recordings to improve the Web accessibility of my blog by adding links to audio versions of my posts. :)

So, I’m doing that. Some of my posts now have audio versions, which you can listen to by following the “Listen to an audio recording of this post” link near the top or bottom of the post.

This audio recording is the reading of a post called “Importance of applying Ethic of Consent beyond sex,” itself an excerpt from a series called “Radical Ethicism,” a follow-up to an essay I co-authored called “You Can Take It Back: Consent as a Felt Sense.”

Thank you, anonymous haters, for helping improve my site’s accessibility. I’m sorry you apparently feel the need to (intentionally misunderstand and) misrepresent me, but I do appreciate the way you’re helping republish my content. Here is a video entirely about you:

And here’s a note I wrote directly to the folks publishing that hate blog:

Hi. Love your blog. ;)

I think I’d enjoy recording a conversation with you over Skype or similar where we can talk about me being hilarious. Perhaps it’ll offer your readers a more accurate, even FUNNIER understanding of me.

I totally understand if you’re too busy hilariously misunderstanding my posts to be interested in having an honest conversation with me, though. (Unless I’ve misunderstood you, you seem pretty invested in maintaining such misunderstandings.) Still, invitation stands. :) You seem to know how to reach me for dialogue, if you’re interested in that.

Otherwise, I’m happy you’re using your time to copy content I created to more parts of the Internet, since that’s rather helpful for me. Although I bet there are even more useful things you could do with your time, if you had the motivation to. Linking directly to the posts of mine that you’re referencing is one thing I think might help make your site more useful. I guess we’ll see….

Thanks again.

Take care, give care,

-maymay

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How to make sure sexual violence prevention advocates never get effective tools

To my right are two people being interviewed by a woman with a soundboard connected to a computer as I sit down at my table in the café. A minute later and it’s clear they’re wrapping up an interview of some kind. They’re using words like “oppression” and “microaggression.”

Then I hear the interviewer say, “I’m going to a conference on domestic violence this weekend.” My interest is piqued.

“Excuse me,” I say to one of the interviewees at the edge of the table. “I’m sorry if I’m interrupting, what were you interviewed about? I’m very interested.”

The interviewee hands me a flyer. “This,” he says.

The flyer reads: “Ha Mapah. I am the sum total of all my ancestors: a multimedia dance journey tracing the intersections of African, Jewish, and Native American Heritages.”

The man who handed it to me says, “I hope you’ll join us. It’s a dance piece I created about being Black and Jewish and Native American.”

“You’re Adam McKinney?” I ask, reading the flyer. He nods. “Wow, cool, thank you. I just couldn’t help but overhear what you were talking about, and this conference on domestic violence…?” I turn to the interviewer.

Her name, it turns out, is Mary-Charlotte Domandi, host of KSFR’s Santa Fe Radio Cafe.

“It’s the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence conference,” she tells me. “What’s interesting about the conference is that they’re going to talk about messaging. ‘Cause y’know, so many people who work in that field are academics and they use words like ‘social construction of masculinity,’ and when you talk like that, people in mainstream America, their eyes just glaze over.”

Adam and I are nodding along.

“It’s like that in a lot of ways,” I say. “Like when rape crisis centers put up posters on college campuses, for instance, that’s not inherently bad, but it requires a self-assessment on the part of the person reading the flyer to identity themselves as someone who’s been raped, and then it requires them to go the rape crisis center. This is interesting to me, this thing about messaging, because I work on Internet sexual assault prevention tools, and one thing we’re trying to do is get people in ‘mainstream America’ to talk about it.”

They seem like they’re listening, so I go on.

“For instance,” I continue, “we have an app on Facebook that mimics parts of the systems that domestic violence shelters have, internally. They keep track of the reports they get from people and won’t, for example, shelter Person B if they’re already sheltering Person A who is Person B’s abuser. But the app won’t talk about it like that. It’ll be more like a social background check: ‘Hey, how’s Jake in chem lab?’”

Mary gave me a puzzled look. “Jake in chem lab? What are you talking about?”

“I’m sorry,” I say. “What I mean is, many people who I’ve talked to, before they go on a date with someone, they ask their friends about that person. Y’know, they ask their friends, ‘Hey, do you know Jake in chem lab? Is he safe? Should I go out with him?’ So this app does something that, but on the scale of Facebook. If there are reports of abuse by Jake, the app will let you know that.”

The interviewer, the same person who seemed to me to be complaining about oppression dynamics, suddenly looks aghast. “Oh my god! The potential for lies!”

I scoff. “Is no greater than anywhere else on Facebook.”

The conversation moves on. Neither the interviewer nor the person she’s interviewing give me a second look. I go back to my table.

I start writing this.

Eventually, Adam gets up to leave. “Bye, Mary,” he says, “and bye, maymay.”

“Bye, Adam,” I say. Then I quickly add, “Does this flyer have some way to get in touch with you or…?”

“Let me give you my info,” he says, and turns to Mary. “Do you have a pen?”

I take the opportunity I’ve been given: “Do you have an email address or some way to get in touch with you, too?” I ask the interviewer.

“Yeah, let me give you my card,” she says, and does. “I get a lot of email, so put your name in the subject line. Send me something about what you’re doing.”

“Okay, thanks,” I smile. “I will.”

I come back to my table with their contact info. And I write this email:

Hi Mary,

Thank for the invitation to send you what I’m working on. I’ll keep this short, because I know you’re busy and I know you already have doubts about what I described in person. Here’s the important take-away:

There is no good reason not to build sexual assault prevention tools into every social network on the Internet.

Over the past two years, myself and a small group of collaborators have created a suite of tool that we dub “Predator Alert Tools.” We’re starting with the most popular dating and social networking sites, like Facebook and OkCupid.com. They’ve been written up in several news outlets already. Here’s one example:

http://www.dailylife.com.au/life-and-love/real-life/filtering-out-the-cyber-creeps-20130409-2hio1.html

The tools themselves have a very detailed FAQ page, which address a lot of the knee-jerk reactions many people have, such as “But the potential of lies!” In particular, see this FAQ section:

https://github.com/meitar/pat-facebook/wiki/Frequently-Asked-Questions#dont-you-think-this-tool-could-hurt-some-people

Our personal blogs are stuffed to the brim with a back-and-forth dialogue about the kinds of reactions you had upon learning about what the tool does. See, for instance:

http://unquietpirate.tumblr.com/post/69233676374/maymay-how-we-teach-our-kids-that-women-are

So, I apologize if I seemed annoyed at your reaction. It’s been grating for me. To learn more about what I was trying to explain regarding the “Jake in chem lab” example, see this post:

http://days.maybemaimed.com/post/63739559569/l-et-me-tell-you-what-actually-happens-when-a

Thank you again for inviting me to message you with this information. I sincerely hope you will take a moment to at least skim over these resources and maybe to present some of these ideas to the folks at the conference you’re attending this weekend.

Cheers,
-maymay
Maymay.net
Cyberbusking.org

I send it. And now, I’m gonna publish this blog post.

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The difference between an accident and an assault is what happens next.

The binary consent models only consider two-thirds of the scope of an interaction that involves a withdrawing of consent: everything that leads up to the breach, and the breach. They posit that these are the only determinants of “was it rape?”, not anything that happens afterward. My partner was terrified they’d assaulted me, but everything that makes the difference between an accident and an assault happened *after* the incident itself. What we did afterward made it an accident—and, in the long run, actually kind of a fortuitous one, given what we’ve learned from it.

Part of a comment by Meredith on my essay, “You Can Take It Back: Consent as a Felt Sense

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I’m puzzled that neither you nor any of the subsequent commenters mentioned the work of maymay, both in exposing the problems of Fetlife and providing a work-around for the problem of abuse reports being censored, namely the PAT-Fetlife browser extension. It highlights people who’ve had abuse reports against them in yellow as you browse the site, and you can find out what the reports are (and whether to ignore them or not – some are just trolling) by clicking their profile. Maymay’s been doing some pretty unethical things to promote the tools (a viral marketing campaign telling people to ‘kill themselves’ on twitter for instance) which I don’t agree with, but I think the tools themselves still should be publicised and used. The code for them is publicly available, so they could be taken from maymay and hosted by someone more impartial and trusted. The more of us who use them, the safer Fetlife becomes for those who still want to use it.

It seems unlikely that you’d accidentally leave maymay out of a discussion like this (even just to disapprove of them) so my conclusion is that you’re trying to deny them the oxygen of publicity because you disapprove of their methods. In which case, perhaps this comment will not be published. I do think the PAT-Fetlife tool is too important to ignore, though.

Comment by Anonymous on Safe Words, one of a slew of articles talking about the undeniable epidemic of rape perpetrated by supposedly “consent-positive” BDSM community members that totally ignores any mention whatsoever of, well, anything that might actually make a difference.

Also, I didn’t realize telling people whose first interaction with me is telling me that I’m “garbage” to kill themselves amounts to “a viral marketing campaign,” but, hey, at least this person has the right idea with respect to what marketing campaigns are: efforts to get you to kill yourself.

If any of you are marketers, kill yourselves. But seriously. If you are, do.

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FetLife Video Sharer: share pay-walled content with the whole Internet, for free

Did you know? Premium content that you “have to” pay for to watch on FetLife can actually be viewed by anyone, even if they never log in to a FetLife account (because FetLife “privacy” and “security” is piss poor). This means people who paid for a FetLife subscription to watch videos can share those videos with others using free, direct links that never expire.

The FetLife Video Sharer script:

Lets you share videos on FetLife with anyone for free. Gives you a direct, free link to bookmark so you can watch FetLife videos even when you are not logged in to your account. Send the link to someone without a paid FetLife membership account to make it possible for them to watch the video for free, too.

Learn more at maybemaimed.com/fetlife-video-sharer.

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Facebook’s “50+ NEW Gender Identity options!” is still doing it wrong

There’s not much to say about this but I expect a lot of people will be very excited to learn that, starting today, the benevolent gods of your social media existence at Facebook have now granted you the privilege of identifying your gender using words other than “male” or “female.” I’ve already seen fawning and praise for Facebook’s über-”inclusiveness.” I’m not excited.

facebook-custom-gender-option-screenshot

The reason I’m not excited is because this isn’t very well done. The Facebook field for Gender now looks like this, a drop down menu that gives you an option of “Custom.” Choose that, and you’re presented with what appears to be an open text field, but what is actually a strictly “validated” set of certain terms. I described an open text field for gender years ago in my post “Gender Is A Text Field“:

The binary coarseness with which our technology encodes this information should serve as a humbling reminder to anyone arrogantly proclaiming humanity’s superior intelligence; if your laptop’s screen can display millions of colors, why can your Facebook profile only display one of two options for gender?

Today’s standard for such things is defined in the International Organization for Standardization’s specification titled “Information technology — Codes for the representation of human sexes,” referred to as ISO 5218. This worldwide standard, most recently updated in July 2004, defines 4 mutually exclusive options: “male”, “female”, “not known”, and “not applicable”. It’s a simple scheme that takes a total of 2 computer bits to record.

That’s woefully inadequate—and we can do better.

So again, while the user interface Facebook is presenting to you looks like a text field, it’s actually a bunch of pre-determined boxes behind the scenes, not a true open text field. In other words, “LOOK! MORE BOXES!” Instead of “dude, frak these frakking shitty boxes.”

Diaspora, the open source, distributed Facebook that I’ve been enjoying for a while, already uses a truly free-form text field. There’s absolutely no reason Facebook can’t do the same. Except a profit motive, of course.

This move by Facebook will doubtlessly appease a lot of people who should fucking know better.

For what it’s worth, I’ve already created the Preferred Gender Pronouns for Facebook app, which will let you enter and then display not only your gender but also your pronoun (which Facebook still only lets you choose from “she/he” or, as of today, “they”), with whatever text you want, to you and your friends who also use the app. Check out some screenshots, or this list of gender identity terms being used right now in the app that Facebook still won’t “allow,” and share it with your friends if you like it to make sure people know Facebook, like all the other social networking corporations are still purposefully doing it wrong.

For more on this topic, see my video presentation, “Gender and Technology.”

For more on why Facebook’s utter domination over this is a huge social problem, see “On Having Birthdays in an Oppression Culture.” (It’ll make sense if you read the post, promise.)

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