December 4, 2017

"One reason female comics often seem to run afoul of Facebook’s guidelines is that the company’s content moderators fail to recognize the humor in their posts."

"Popular tropes such as 'ban men' are interpreted literally under Facebook’s current set of community standards, and women suffer the consequences for attempting to express themselves. In the past, ironic misandry has been a popular way for women to deal with living in a world where they’re exposed to frequent abuse at the hands of powerful men. Yet, if a woman takes to Facebook to vent about how she 'wants to imprison men and milk them for their male tears,' she could quickly lose access to her account. Trolls know this... Feigning outrage at statements that were clearly not written to be interpreted that way has become a favored tactic of the alt-right, Gamergate, and movements known for their coordinated harassment efforts. When moderators can’t make this distinction they punish innocent parties and embolden trolls."

From "Facebook Is Banning Women for Calling Men ‘Scum’/Women had accounts banned from Facebook for responding to male trolls with sentences like ‘men are trash,’ in part because the company classifies white men as a protected group" (in The Daily Beast).

Read the whole thing. I don't support what Facebook is doing, but I do think the use of the word "scum" warrants a historical note on "SCUM" — The Society for Cutting Up Men. The author of "The SCUM Manifesto," Valerie Solanas wasn't joking:
According to Solanas, this genetic deficiency [the Y chromosome] causes the male to be emotionally limited, egocentric, and incapable of mental passion or genuine interaction. She describes the male as lacking empathy and unable to relate to anything apart from his own physical sensations. The Manifesto continues by arguing that the male spends his life attempting to become female, and thereby overcome his inferiority. He does this by "constantly seeking out, fraternizing with and trying to live though and fuse with the female." Solanas rejects Freud's theory of penis envy, and argues that men have "pussy envy". Solanas then accuses men of turning the world into a "shitpile" and presents a long list of grievances... 
Due to the aforementioned grievances, the Manifesto concludes that the elimination of the male sex is a moral imperative.... The Manifesto argues that SCUM [a revolutionary vanguard of women] should employ sabotage and direct action tactics... "If SCUM ever marches, it will be over the President's stupid, sickening face; if SCUM ever strikes, it will be in the dark with a six-inch blade."
It was 1967, and the President with the "stupid, sickening face" was LBJ.

Solanas told the Village Voice that the SCUM Manifesto was "just a literary device." And some scholars call it satire. But I wrote "Valerie Solanas wasn't joking," because she did go out and shoot Andy Warhol. Maybe the point should be that joking isn't inconsistent with violence. You'd be a fool to think that a person who expresses herself (or himself) in a joking form is necessarily safe. Often hostility fuels humor, and the fact that the hostility finds its way into humor does not mean it will always and only channel into humor.

43 comments:

tim in vermont said...

That's some funny s hit. Calling a woman a gash, though, not funny! But she could not resist the dick joke,. Hey! They work like Swiss watches!

Bill Peschel said...

Q: How many computer AIs does it take to screw in a lightbulb.

A: BANNED!

Gahrie said...

causes the male to be emotionally limited, egocentric, and incapable of mental passion or genuine interaction. She describes the male as lacking empathy and unable to relate to anything apart from his own physical sensations.

In other words, the problem with men is that they're not enough about the feelz........

Stan Smith said...

Want to ban men? This is worth a read:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston,_Houston,_Do_You_Read%3F

YoungHegelian said...

File this bitch & moan session as example #427 of "Lefties don't like living under the rules they got imposed on the rest of us".

'Cause we all know what Right-wing troglodytes the management of FB, Twitter, Google, etc. are. I mean, where would the Republican Party be without their yuuuuuge donations, right?

Ohhhh, wait.....

RNB said...

"Please tell Mrs. Carlson that when I called her a bloodsucker, I meant in the best possible way." -- Dr. Johnny Fever

holdfast said...

Maybe the AI didn't recognize these creeds as "humor" because it's perceptive and the female "comics" just simply aren't funny.

Paco Wové said...

Twitter considers white men to be a "protected group"? I find this unlikely.

Expat(ish) said...

@Stan_Smith - I recall, now, reading that many years ago.

Have you watched the movie "A boy and his dog" - starting a very young Don Johnson? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Boy_and_His_Dog_(1975_film)

Also, a recent (and good, if long) book from Stephenson, Seveneves - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seveneves

All available from the Althouse Amazon Portal.

-XC

AlbertAnonymous said...

What a crock !

"...the company's content moderators fail to recognize the humor in their posts"?

If I go to a comedy club and don't laugh, is it because I 'fail to recognize the humor' of the comedian/comedienne, or because the comedian/comedienne isn't funny? I say its the latter.

But then I guess that makes me a woman hater or something.... deplorable, irredeemable, etc.

Rigelsen said...

Of course if you take some anecdotal evidence of some women who were silenced and compare it to some anecdotal evidence of some men who weren't, you can prove whatever you like. Now, if the writer had actually bothered to research what tends to get sanctioned on a larger scale, I'd bet the conclusions would be very different.

Anyway, the article seems to be complaining that Facebook doesn't currently use the logic of "intersectionality" in deciding what to sanction and who to silence. The chilling part seems to be that Facebook is working on doing just that. Like you, I'd rather that Facebook refrained from any content moderation outside of clear cases of threat, etc. Just give users the ability to better moderate their own feeds. Of course, Facebook wants to keep the control and here we are.

As far as the "SCUM", well, you'll have have violent supremacists of every variety, and some of them will be women. Even without the violence, it's less funny than mean. That's one thing about some "comics". While humor must push the envelope and always has, you can't actually tear the envelope without going in the territory of "mean" or "vicious" and no longer funny. Sure, where that line is will vary from person to person, and another talent of really good comics is to understand their audience.

Rick said...

Feigning outrage at statements that were clearly not written to be interpreted that way has become a favored tactic of the alt-right, Gamergate, and movements known for their coordinated harassment efforts.

I'm not sure which would be funnier: that she doesn't recognize this as a standard campus tactic and is pretending the alt-right invented it or that she does and is hoping no one else will notice.

n.n said...

When she says: Off with his/her head!, she may be a, speaking figuratively, b, speaking literally, or c, speaking comically. It's her Choice.

Rick said...


If I go to a comedy club and don't laugh, is it because I 'fail to recognize the humor' of the comedian/comedienne, or because the comedian/comedienne isn't funny?

It doesn't matter if it's actually funny. Activists routinely cite humor they claim is anti-women as evidence of misogyny. It's ridiculous they want to pretend this is even a defense.

tcrosse said...

Anybody can pretend to be morose, but nobody can pretend to be witty.

chuck said...

There are female comics?

Drew W said...

This past season on American Horror Story, they revived S.C.U.M. for their own purposes, and cast Lena Dunham as Valerie Solanas, with Evan Peters as Andy Warhol (and Charles Manson and Jim Jones too). I remember my big sister bringing a copy of The S.C.U.M. Manifesto back from college in the early '70s.

Roy Jacobsen said...

"One reason female comics often seem to run afoul of Facebook’s guidelines is that the company’s content moderators fail to recognize the humor in their posts."

You can't recognize what isn't there.

Lucille Ball? Funny.

Carol Burnett? Funny.

Gracie Allen? Funny.

Hell, Margaret Dumont (Groucho Marx's favorite foil) was funny, because she knew how to be the straight [wo]man.

Gilda Radner? Funny.

Jane Curtin? Funny.

So it isn't that women can't be funny. It's just that the ones pretending to be comics nowadays, by and large . . . ain't.

Big Mike said...

There are female comics?

Not since Lucille Ball passed away.

Big Mike said...

Forgot Carol Burnett and Gilda Radner. Sorry.

bgates said...

Feigning outrage at statements that were clearly not written to be interpreted that way

One might say these women would prefer to be taken seriously, but not literally.

wild chicken said...

I thought joan rivers was funny. Esp when skewering Hollywood celebs. No one did it better.

bgates said...

But when they tell me ironic misandry is cool but ironic racism is horrible, how much of that am I supposed to take literally?

Sacto_Dave said...

Yikes! All you have to do is reverse the gender in that 'shitpile' of a rant and you'll see how vile it is. As an unapologetic and aging male, I'm not going to get to excited about this but Geezus, whoever wrote that steaming pile of crap is seriously one sick puppy.

FIDO said...

From the reaction to Amy Schumer's latest 'special', the audience has the same problem.

Leland said...

It is amazing how difficult it is to explain nuance for banning some types of speech. Amazing because it seems so much simpler to acknowledge the difficulty and just avoid it.

Quaestor said...

The SCUM Manifesto — All things considered, a rehash of the eternal complaint of the Unattractive Woman.

Kevin said...

Yet, if a woman takes to Facebook to vent about how she 'wants to imprison men and milk them for their male tears,' she could quickly lose access to her account.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Feminist said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Feminist, “which is to be master—that's all.”

n.n said...

Six-inch blade. Hardly. Female chauvinist pigs prefer two-inch scalpels, and they cut up males and females in selective-child societies with equal fervor.

What a world this would be if male and female chauvinist pigs were the democratic majority.

mandrewa said...

It's a lie. The implication is that the same standards are being applied to everyone. That's not at all true. The purpose is knock out conservative and right-wing voices, while not completely giving away the game that this is the purpose.

To that end some voices that are not conservative and right-wing get their hands slapped. Slapped is about it. They don't get banned.

Bob Boyd said...

" Maybe the point should be that joking isn't inconsistent with violence. You'd be a fool to think that a person who expresses herself (or himself) in a joking form is necessarily safe. Often hostility fuels humor, and the fact that the hostility finds its way into humor does not mean it will always and only channel into humor."

The Funniest Joke In The World
https://youtu.be/WwbnvkMRPKM

Luke Lea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Luke Lea said...

"Every man, deep down, knows he's a worthless peice of shit." from Wikiquotes on The Scum Manifesto.

For some reason that made me laugh. There are a lot of interesting things in those Wikiquotes. She comes across: https://goo.gl/tLDkyz

JMW Turner said...

Women are funny, just not humorous...

JMW Turner said...

It all comes down to will to power.

whitney said...


"...the company's content moderators fail to recognize the humor in their posts"

That's Funny!

Robin Eatmon said...

Many great comedic women actors from the past. SNL has given a path to many in the modern era. For stand-up...Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers are the best. Wanda Sykes was once funny to me. There is not a current female stand-up comedian that I find remotely funny.

SGT Ted said...

Solanas was ahead of her time. Her man hate is now taught in college courses with more academic language.

John said...

Judy tenuta
Carol Lieffer
Mo Gaffney
Ellen Degeneres (back in the 80s when she did stand up)

A whole raft of others.

But also a barge load of others that aren't. Lots of unfunny men too.

John Henry

Caligula said...

I'd have a lot more respect for those complaining that FB/Twitter "silence women" if they were calling for an end to moderation, or at least an absolute minimum of it.

But, they're not. It's all too obvious that they're fine with moderation just so long as they're not the ones who are moderated. Indeed, they don't even seem to be OK with moderation based on neutral principles.

So, this looks like just another call for "repressive tolerance": it's OK (perhaps more than OK) if you ban those we dislike from these forums, just not so OK to apply the same standards to us.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

If I understand the complaint it's that the moderator/reporting tools designed to allow individuals to prevent the spread of speech they don't like are being used by the "wrong" people...are being used by "bad" people against "good" people we're all supposed to agree are good? And that's some unexpected, wrong, unjust thing?

My snap response is: too bad you stupid bitch. You whined for tools you could use to shut down the people you don't like. That those tools are now being used against you (when you behave in similar ways) is no cause for complaint! The defense of "oh, WE were just joking around when we said bad things" is exactly--and I mean exactly--what the pro-Nazi idiots say: "we're just giving nazi salutes ironically, this is all just LARPing, it's just a joke!"

Who could have forseen that the tools and power of the pseudo-state could be used against the very groups that called for giving the state power?! Totally unprecedented.

autothreads said...

In the past, ironic misandry has been a popular way for women to deal with living in a world where they’re exposed to frequent abuse at the hands of powerful men.

"Ironic misandry"= We think our bigotry is funny.

Zach said...

In the past, ironic misandry has been a popular way for women to deal with living in a world where they’re exposed to frequent abuse at the hands of powerful men.

Ironic misandry sounds like ironic racism, of which we have heard so much.

Ironic bigotry and bigoted bigotry can be difficult to distinguish.

Yet, if a woman takes to Facebook to vent about how she 'wants to imprison men and milk them for their male tears,' she could quickly lose access to her account.

This doesn't even sound very ironic to me. Humorously exaggerating how much you hate somebody isn't really irony.