by Furry Girl

11.10.10

As it says in the header of my blog, my political philosophy is informed primarily by Patrick Swayze's character in Roadhouse: "I want you to be nice until it's time to not be nice."

There are two types of "politically-engaged" people: those who are concerned with reality, and those who are concerned with theory, and rarely the twain shall meet.  There are those who work hard, with what they have, in the here and now, to make the world a slightly less shitty place.  Then there's the theory camp, which likes to hem and haw about "what ifs", focusing on keeping their educated analyses in a consistent and tidy spreadsheet.  They criticize and dismiss the works of the reality camp as not being perfect enough, while they themselves contribute nothing but armchair commentary about how things should be done.  I despise the theory class with every fiber of my being.  Always have, always will.

I've been sitting back and waiting to post about the final nails in the coffin of "Alexa di Carlo".  While I doubt the saga is complete, I've decided it's time to write something about the whole thing before the sex blogging community forgets and goes back to busying themselves with writing sex toy reviews.  Plenty of other people have written pieces rehashing what's happened, so check out these select bits of commentary by Expose A Bro (the kick-off post that details all the information of the outing), Charlie Glickman, Belle de JourThe Sexademic, Miss Maggie Mayhem.

The dirty laundry in a nutshell: "Alexa" was the name of a fake escort who gave bad/dangerous sex advice on "her" blog, The Real Princess Diaries.  "Alexa" pretended to be an academic, stole photos from real sex workers and passed them off as herself, mocked and harassed sexuality activists, and was generally know for churning out poor-quality erotica about her adventures, which read like the cliche and misinformed fantasies of a man who wished he was a sexy woman.  "Alexa" also had another online persona, "Caitlain", that hit on underage teenagers, tried to get them to tell her in graphic detail about their sex lives, and even solicited and received nude photos from these minors.  But the infodump doesn't stop there - when "Alexa" was outed as being a frumpy dude in Delaware named Pat Bohannan, another secret scam was revealed his photo began to circulate.  "Alexa" was privately coaching newbie sex workers and other women to try out her favorite and most trusted client client, Pat Bohannan.  Collecting underage porn and convincing women to enter prostitution are both prosecutable crimes, and apparently, the guy has been reported to law enforcement.

As a community, many people came forward and offered their little puzzle pieces of information on the guy, and the picture formed was that of a devoted sexual predator - whose online web of deception and law-breaking was halted by the transparent collaboration of many sex bloggers, sex educators, sex workers, academics, and youth.  I can't think of a better example of what sex workers are always telling the world - it is those within sex worker communities who are in the best place to identify the truly dangerous criminals.

What I want to draw your attention to is not the "Alexa"/"Caitlain"/Pat clusterfuck itself, but the reactions to it, and how it reinforces all the things that I loathe about political discussions and how we react to anger, especially when it's coming from women.

As this all unraveled, the internet was quick to explode in commentary.  While many noted people wrote smart things about the messy, awful situation, every two-bit sex blogger from here to Kansas was also chomping at the bit to get their own post online to offer some contrarian counter-point in a desperate attempt to get traffic.  Many such commenters have been pushing a nonsensical slippery slope angle.  There's been a lot of babble about the horrors of "vigilant justice", and comparisons have been made to "witch hunts", "lynchings", and "unthinking angry mobs."

I'm an antiauthoritarian, and so as far as I'm concerned, "the justice system" and "the police" are simply vigilante justice implemented and accepted by majority rule.  I'll assign my opinion on acts of either "law enforcement" or "vigilantism" on a case-by-case basis.  "Vigilantism" is an accusation I've seen commonly used by a majority to dismiss efforts on behalf of the marginalized (or those who perceive themselves to be marginalized) to actualize their own immediate self-defense and self-offense, often after being failed by official systems.

Vigilantism (and by extension, all controversial methods of creating change or redressing grievances) is neither ethical nor unethical as a whole - is it a tactic, not a philosophy. For example, would I consider it an ethical response to break someone's legs for cutting in line at the grocery store?  Of course not, but that is not because I believe that violence is always wrong.  When a friend of mine once happened upon a gay-bashing and intervened by assaulting the attackers, I thought that was awesome.  This doesn't mean I think that breaking people's noses is always the best solution to every problem, but violent bigots are rarely compelled to stop through means other than a violent response.  Politically-engaged people seem to have the darnedest time wrestling with these issues of tactical dogmatism.

Outing and publicly shaming someone is a tactic, and one that I personally think was ethically correct in the "Alexa" situation, because it was a case of a persistent sexual predator who was causing harm to people - most obviously, the women he tricked into having sex with him, and teens who felt violated by sending him nude photos of themselves.  Various people have tried other methods of ridding the community of "Alexa"/"Caitlain" for years.  He was able to persist because of shame and silence, and his complete public outing shattered his power.  I remain in agreement with Dan Savage's take on similar matters.  To paraphrase: outings are brutal, and must be reserved only for brutes.

There's this idea floated by people are who not terribly mentally sophisticated that if the sexuality community supports a "vigilante" outing of this one man, no matter how vile or illegal they admit his behavior to be, then the community surely has opened itself up to being obligated to support all outings of all people in all instances.  This is the sort of junk you get from the theory class - they're too busy working on keeping their theories perfectly consistent.  They might as well be arguing, "I am against putting people in jail for murder, because once we start jailing anyone for anything, we will have to jail everybody."  There is no slippery slope.  It's lazy thinking, pure and simple, from people who don't care enough to determine ethics on an individualized basis, and prefer to make sweeping decrees without paying any attention to circumstance.  It's morality as an auto-reply form letter.

Throughout this latest (and hopefully final) bout of "Alexa"-induced drama, there's been a strong undercurrent of some people smugly clucking their tongues at women who are angry, dispassionately reminding us to not get bees in our dainty bonnets.  The nerve of us ill-mannered floozies for losing our cool!  How dare we act up in such a crude and extreme manner as to cuss and use all caps?

It's highly impolitic of women to ever be hateful, no matter if what we're screaming about is something as cut-and-dry as anger directed at a sexual predator.  Even when this attitude is coming from people who consider themselves progressives or radicals, it still feels like someone trying to drag women - kicking and screaming, of course - into a past where women were not allowed to be upset, and it was their job to keep up decorum and suffer injustices quietly.

I've long felt like the most uncouth person in the world, because I readily admit my capacity for great scorn.  I genuinely do hate oppressive people and groups, and unlike silly hippies, I absolutely do identify certain people and groups not as lost souls in need of saving, but distinctly as enemies.  I hate, and I love.  I smile at things like the creep behind "Alexa" losing his job, and I take care of my friends and my community with great affection.  I cheered aloud and clapped my hands when Andrea Dworkin died, and I feel real pain and sadness when I see people in my communities suffer tragedies.  I don't hide my so-called "ugly" feelings, I don't play Stepford Activist.  You might catch more flies with honey than vinegar, but when your underlying goal is to kill flies, why not just use a flyswatter and save your sweet stuff for those who deserve it?  I express anger on a regular basis, and as such, I'm violating an unspoken social rule of most progressive scenes: there's this idea that the first person to get angry loses the battle, as though ours is a race to see who can be nicest to predators, criminals, and abusers as they work to destroy us.  Anger, spite, hatred, and a desire for revenge are supposedly never an acceptable response to injustice - least of all, from women.

After the release of the Afghan War Logs, WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange commented to the media, "I love crushing bastards."  I'm a WikiLeaks fan and supporter, and that line is one of my favorite things I've seen come out of Assange.  It's so perfect in its simplicity - taking satisfaction in exposing war crimes.  Later, at a more informal conversation with the British press, a journalist said something to him like, "A while ago, you made this tongue-in-cheek statement about how you love crushing bastards...", and Assange corrected him with his standard calm fierceness.  No, he wasn't joking.  He loved crushing bastards.

I wish more people stood up and admitted their love of crushing the bastards in their lives, and of the need for more bastards to be crushed.  You are not a monster because you hate bad people and bad social constructs.  I happen to think there's something dead inside you if nothing stirs hatred within you.  Hatred and anger are passions, like love and joy, and I've found that people either have deep passions or they don't, but no one is truly comprised of all hatred or all love.  Some of us are just more intense and open about all of our feelings.

I imagine that The Obtuseness Brigade will process this post as "Furry Girl says that violence and hatred are the only way to achieve social change, and that everyone should carry out acts of vigilante justice against anyone who annoys them."  Oh well.  Those types always need something to whine about.

Seeing as how quotes from movies starring Patrick Swayze are the final arbiters of all matters, I'll close with another - this time, Red Dawn.

"All that hate is gonna burn you up kid."
"It keeps me warm."

[Note: I will not be publishing any comments from people who want to debate or defend the actions of "Alexa"/Pat Bohannan.  That's not the point of this post, so you'll have to take it elsewhere.]





24 Comments

  1. "Various people have tried other methods of ridding the community of "Alexa"/"Caitlain" for years. He was able to persist because of shame and silence, and his complete public outing shattered his power."

    I hope he's gone, but I'm not counting on it. I have a terrible feeling that sooner or later he will reinvent himself somewhere in the online sexual realm. And when he does, it won't be with a sedate little sexblog. He seems to get off on interaction.

    So those of us who care about this kind of thing watch and wait.

    Comment by aagblog — November 10, 2010 @ 10:20 am

  2. I am officially impressed beyond belief at this essay! Bravo! :-)

    Comment by Maggie McNeill — November 10, 2010 @ 2:46 pm

  3. Fuck yeah! Keeps me warm too. :)

    Comment by Tara — November 10, 2010 @ 3:20 pm

  4. Challenging and persuasive, Furry Girl. This post is honest like my favorite songs!

    Comment by JRB — November 10, 2010 @ 3:21 pm

  5. AAG: Personally, I imagine that the real final nail will be an arrest. That's what I'm hoping for, because you're right, this person is not the type to give up on their games.

    Maggie, Tara, and JRB: Thanks!

    Comment by Furry Girl — November 10, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

  6. As a great man once said, anger is an energy.

    I'm in the UK, and our news today has been dominated by a student demo against education cuts, which ended with a minor trashing of the Conservative Party HQ.

    I wish more people stood up and admitted their love of crushing the bastards in their lives, and of the need for more bastards to be crushed.

    Brilliant. Have spent most of the day reading/hearing voices saying 'tut, tut, most uncouth, where are your manners?'

    This blog has come as a breath of fresh air. Glad I found you.

    Comment by Ally — November 10, 2010 @ 4:51 pm

  7. "It's morality as an auto-reply form letter."

    This is brilliant. Also, the rest of it. You are one of the most intelligent people I read.

    Comment by yb — November 10, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

  8. Yes! As someone who has always tried to balance my misanthropy with my humanitarianism, I very much agree.

    Comment by Royce Icon — November 10, 2010 @ 8:19 pm

  9. Thanks, Ally, yb, and Royce! You are all too kind.

    Comment by Furry Girl — November 10, 2010 @ 9:24 pm

  10. Funk yeah. Morality isn't about rules and catch alls. No action is inherently good or evil - judgements like that rely on the context surrounding it. We, as individuals and communities need to stand up against behaviour that threatens ourselves and others, especially the vulnerable.

    Comment by Sven — November 11, 2010 @ 7:06 am

  11. Crowdsourced justice.

    Comment by Jef Poskanzer — November 11, 2010 @ 11:23 am

  12. If this does not make sense Furry, would you help me form it better? Sorry the other was so out of touch.

    After being bullied through school and having a family that had their mental and physical violence issues, I (luckily) grew a non confrontational ability to get soft instead of strong when venting frustrations. As I grew a voice which did not start until 24-25 the people around me were used to this weaker voice and claimed my emerging voice was aggressive. As aggression is defined as overly assertive, I claim it was just their first sight an assertiveness. So I learned to see when they were using this form of putting me (back) down just to keep their point of view strong. 'Your aggressive.' was the key term. Its amazing that even your friends can be comfortable with you/prefer to have in a place.

    It taught me to reason though, and the strength that comes from the anger now keeps me standing tall.

    Society is built upon violence. To paraphrase, I think David Hume said that - 'The power is in the hands of the people. You can just not let them know it.' So states upholds laws that keeps the poor, poor, That is violence. But fighting that force is illegal and the wrong kind of violence?

    Brother, please!

    Comment by Toby Barber — November 11, 2010 @ 4:59 pm

  13. fg,

    this is one of your finest posts and I'm not just saying that because I happen to agree with you. whether we are talking about anger or "outing" (which is just as much investigative reporting as it is vigilantism), all things have their place. they wouldn't exist, if they did not.

    I too, will be happy when this guy is apprehended. I will further celebrate when the cultural mechanisms that support him and other predators are gone.

    -arvan

    (...and mad props to Ally for quoting Johnny Lydon!)

    Comment by sexgenderbody — November 11, 2010 @ 9:25 pm

  14. Just finished reading the 'Expose A Bro' link which is a star shining light in the sky! So many intelligent women and a literate moron trying unsuccessfully to knock them down.

    Comment by Toby — November 13, 2010 @ 8:27 pm

  15. thanks for posting this, it makes me feel good about being an angry bitch sometimes. :-)

    Comment by Sequoia — November 15, 2010 @ 1:12 pm

  16. Thanks, Sven!

    Jef: I love your comment.

    Tony: I think you're agreeing with me, so thanks.

    Arvan: Thank you. I also hope he's arrested.

    Toby: Yes, it's amazing what an internet full of angry women can find when they all pool resources and information.

    Sequoia: It's good to be an angry bitch. :)

    Comment by Furry Girl — November 15, 2010 @ 4:48 pm

  17. I think for myself, the desire to keep cool instead of running full-on into hate has grown over time, as I've seen how many things that I used to get angry about were often things I didn't fully understand. That's one reason (and you shouldn't read that as, "...so if you understood this situation better, you might not hate" - NO NO NO, in this situation, the response was, I feel, totally apropos).

    The other reason is that I honestly find being hateful to be draining. It's okay that you don't, and I support your right to hate (I mean that sincerely). But for some of us it's a heavy weight that doesn't lead to positive action, but rather a sense of hostile apathy.

    That said, I liked reading this, I liked seeing how someone else who does it differently than me makes it work for them. And I think it's incredibly valid that women especially aren't supposed to be haters. Good god, no. We're supposed to be NICE! We can be spunky (how cute!), and occasionally if we're really lucky we can be....wait for it....a little uppity. (WOO!) But hating is basically off the menu if you want to be taken seriously. I respect your post a lot for calling attention to that.

    Comment by Obie — November 27, 2010 @ 4:15 am

  18. Not only should Obama give his "peace" Nobel to Assange, you should be awarded some kind of medal of bravery or cluefullness.

    I continue to be impressed. You are a libertarian intellectual who markets her (nice, natural) bod. Your intellectual attractiveness will outlast the flesh, though damn you're pretty. Its just my Y chromosome talking.

    But curves are cheap, abundant, ephemeral. Minds are not.

    I very much like your in-your-face cultural hacking.
    Your ability to generate agitprop and the bravery to perform is
    inspiring.

    Kudos, cheers.

    Comment by Major Variola (ret) — November 27, 2010 @ 3:57 pm

  19. Comment by Trackbacks — April 29, 2017 @ 11:19 pm

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