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(Wrote a lot of this lying down, since writing sitting up was causing TMI problems, even though I usually write better when our head's in some kind of elevated position. Hope all of this makes sense. Also, brainweirdness is causing hypergraphia and it's actually very draining on our energy right now, but the nature of hypergraphia is that it's... really hard to resist. Bleh.)

So we weren't in a mood where we could expand in the thoughts in that last entry fully, when we first wrote it. But there was a lot more we've been thinking about, on the issue of trolls, and how they can shape people's perceptions of hateable communities (as defined here). How, in some cases, the Tumblr SJ community's entire perception of what a community was like, was mostly created by trolls.

Like youneedacat said about similar issues, we've tried to write about this before, but it always ends up getting really convoluted. Hoping we can keep it understandable this time.

The way the community has singled out plurals and Otherkin as acceptable targets-- and decided they were all claiming to be oppressed and comparing themselves to other groups who are unquestionably oppressed, including trans people-- is so ironic it makes me feel kind of sick, considering how most of the community's "knowledge" about these groups came about in the first place.

There was a point-- I don't know exactly when it started, but it began intensifying sometime last year-- when a bunch of trolls and griefers started coming onto Tumblr. I don't know how many of them had planned their actions in advance, but some of them had come from places, like 4chan, where people had openly orchestrated trolling campaigns in the past. At any rate, a lot of them started playing off each other and 'supporting' each other, and took advantage of the hateable status of various groups to turn the SJ community against them. Some of them were just there to mock the entire concept of "social justice," and would do things like reblog the various Privilege Denying People memes just to mock the whole idea that certain groups were oppressed. There's one guy who calls himself "socialjusticeally" (I guess the name is supposed to be "ironic" or something) who continually gets into and reblogs SJ discussions just to make fun of them.

None of them started out targeting hateable groups above all others, that we saw. But there were several of these trolls who continually went after people who didn't identify with their bodies in any way at all, calling them delusional and pathetic and so on. Which included not only plurals and Otherkin, but trans people as well.

Every single thing these trolls were saying about plurals and nonhuman-identified people, they were also saying about trans people. They trolled the hell out of quite a few trans people, calling them delusional, pathetic, stupid, told them they were mentally ill and needed help, etc-- they'd reblog trans people's posts just to "highlight" how "pathetic and deluded" they supposedly were, and declare that it was obviously "impossible" to be male or female if your body didn't match standard biological definitions of what that meant. There was one person we saw reblog posts by trans people discussing the meaning of what it meant to be male or female, just to add a big macro saying "Men have penises. Women have vaginas," or some similar dead horse argument used against trans people.

And these were the people responsible for "informing" a lot of the SJ community on Tumblr about the existence of plurals and kin/therians and fictives. The trolls who were doing all this bashing of trans people.

And for what it's worth, when we saw plural websites get "highlighted" on snark pages ten years ago, we also saw trans people's pages get "highlighted." Many of the people posting on the messageboards would constantly misgender them, or call them things like "she/he/it," or "s/h/it," which was supposed to be really hilarious and witty or something. In some cases the trans people in question were saying things we disagreed with a lot, but that does not fucking invalidate their gender or make it okay or funny to refer to them as "she/he/it." Whether we agree or disagree with their opinions has nothing to do with it.

And yes, I do know that being transgender is not exactly the same thing as identifying with a nonhuman animal or a fictional character. I know it pretty damn personally, in fact, since we collectively experience dysphoria about our body and I identify as genderqueer myself. (And my own ideal appearance would probably cause me to get harassed for not looking clearly either male or female.)

The thing was that the trolls were conflating all forms of not identifying with your body. Including being trans. And regarded them all as stupid and delusional.

A lot of the time, people seem to think that ignoring trolls will make them go away. We used to think that. We used to use "don't feed the trolls" as a tagline on Usenet all the time. A lot of people think that trolls are basically just screaming for attention and they don't care whether the attention is positive or negative, as long as they get it, and that if you don't give them the attention they desperately want they'll go away.

And yeah, there are some trolls who work like that. I've hung out on video gaming messageboards so I'm familiar with that type-- the type who really would just go away if people stopped responding to them when they posted the same thing three hundred times. The thing is that assuming all trolls are like that is dangerously wishful thinking.

Some trolls-- and we were starting to see this back on Usenet in the 90s, and it was one of the main reasons we left it-- are practiced sociopaths and manipulators who've just taken the same kinds of things they do offline, and started doing them online. Some people basically learn how to be effective sociopaths through the Internet. In a way that can't be prevented just by "not feeding them." Because the kinds of people who do this stuff are not just getting shits and giggles out of seeing people respond to very obvious bait repeatedly. They want to hurt people. They want to turn communities against each other, or against specific people. They want to use people against other people, and they don't care who gets hurt. They find it funny, and some people have the mentality that the more people they can hurt, or the more people they can get to join them in trying to hurt a certain person or community, the better. And they can orchestrate some pretty elaborate social schemes in order to do this.

We saw several trolls approach trans people, and other people who didn't identify with their bodies-- again, it doesn't matter that not all these things are the same as being trans, it was that the trolls were TREATING them all the same way-- with typical concern trolling bullshit. "Get help. You are obviously delusional if you think you can be a woman/man when you're clearly not." And some people tried to argue with them, and the trolls responded with increasing insults-- calling them stupid and pathetic, reblogging their posts just to mock them and get other trolls joining in. (Because that's what people who are genuinely concerned about another person's psychological health do. Yeah.)

Meanwhile they were all saying the same things about plurals, Otherkin, fictives, etc. "LOOK, LOOK, THIS PERSON BELIEVES THEY'RE A CAT/DRAGON/THE MASTER FROM DOCTOR WHO/THAT OTHER PEOPLE LIVE IN THEIR BODY. LOOK AT HOW DELUSIONAL AND PATHETIC THEY ARE."

And for some reason this made the SJ community start to sit up and notice them. People who weren't checking the Tumblrs of the people blogging this stuff to see that they were saying the same things about trans people.

And this idea got started, I don't know how it got started, I think it was from a minority of people taking some kind of simplistic model of privilege and oppression, and trying to apply it sledgehammerishly to every form of human difference ever, like it worked the same for every single group. But anyway, suddenly it seemed like almost everyone talking about them in the SJ community was convinced that Otherkin, fictives, etc were all claiming to be persecuted on the same level and in the same way as trans people and people of color and disabled people and so on. And that they believed transgender experiences were perfect mirrors of their experience, you just replaced "gender" with the name of some species or something. That EVERY SINGLE ONE OF "THEM" BELIEVED THIS, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, AND THAT "THEIR" COMMUNITIES WERE ENTIRELY BASED AROUND THESE BELIEFS.

(Most of the people I know with those identities, who participate in SJ communities, are pretty damn closeted, actually, or very low-key about it. Or no one ever responds to them when they say that actually yes, they do bodily belong to various oppressed groups. And most of them are pretty adamant that no, it's not exactly the same as being transgender, or similar things, even if they have experienced oppression from the psych system.)

And a lot of the SJ community's callout beatdown rage response, in many places, seemed to be based in this myth that they were "claiming to be just the same as trans people." WHEN THE SJ COMMUNITY WOULD PROBABLY NOT HAVE KNOWN ABOUT THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE, OR WOULD NOT HAVE CARED ABOUT THEM AS MUCH, IF NOT FOR TROLLS WHO WERE CALLING TRANS PEOPLE PATHETIC AND DELUSIONAL AND INSANE AND ALL KINDS OF OTHER NASTY THINGS.

Oh and some of these people who eventually ended up being "cited" by the Tumblr SJ community as supposedly being typical examples of how spoiled privileged teenagers with these silly, ridiculous identities were appropriating the oppression of trans people, and various other marginalized groups, and how we should all be angry at them and attack them for it? Those people were trolls themselves. People who had created troll personas, pretending to be members of hateable communities, trying to make those communities look as ridiculous as possible. Or because they believed they were making some kind of "point" about some supposed nonexistant widespread problem of the Tumblr SJ community supposedly accepting everyone who claimed any kind of marginalized identity at all, and therefore invalidating people who experienced real oppression. (Given the mass dogpiling and knee-jerk reblogging and agreement we saw when Tumblr SJ people attacked various people considered hateable-- or trolls pretending to be hateable people-- I'm not sure where they got this impression. We have seen people in various hateable communities who seemed to be treating every single form of identity in the same way, but they are a definite minority, from everything we've seen.)

For example, there was one person on Tumblr calling themselves "prince_koyangi," who claimed to be, if I'm remembering correctly, a pangendered, asexual, polyromantic, autistic catkin, as well as "trans-Korean." (...I have another rant I'm working on about various assumptions about the so-called "transethnic community," or more specifically, the fact that we have NEVER BEEN ABLE TO FIND IT outside from isolated trolls, and a very small number of people who naively but sincerely believed it referred to people of different ethnicities within a plural system. Which is actually something that was reported as early as the 18th century in Western medical literature. But this is definitely not the time to sidetrack into that.)

Anyway, after going on for a while, answering questions in various ways which all gave off indicators of being a troll to us but apparently not to a lot of other people, getting featured on Oh No They Didn't and Fark.com (mainly because of their claim to be "trans-Korean," I think), "prince_koyangi" declared that they were actually a troll and the creation of three separate people working together, to "show the absurdity" of the various identities they had claimed to have. Actually we weren't able to read their full "explanation" post because we were having a rough time of it offline for unrelated reasons, and frankly got too triggered to finish it. Just that we, and various other friends, definitely saw them admit to being a troll.

A friend of ours wrote to them and said that while you could debate about the oppressed status of the other things they claimed to be, appropriating an autistic identity, to suggest that being autistic was somehow "trendy" or for any other reason, was definitely not okay. They never got an answer to that question, because the next day "prince_koyangi" deleted their Tumblr. I'm not sure how many other autistic people ever knew about this, although I expect that if large numbers of people had been saying similar things to them, the trolls (or some other troll watching the whole thing from the sidelines) might eventually have started strategizing to pit the autistic community against people considered hateable.

Anyway, summary of this entire mess: they were a troll, anyone who continues to point to them as any kind of "example" of the kind of identities they were claiming, do your research. They were a troll, the end.

And some trolls actually didn't seem to recognize that they were a troll-- the same trolls who were trying to pit the SJ community against everyone with a hateable identity. So in some places, the trolls actually ended up being trolled by other trolls, because their worldview was so pessimistic that they believed anyone claiming any 'weird' identity, even if that identity would actually be considered questionable, outlandish or offensive within much of the person's claimed community, is being totally honest.


There is something really weird about how certain people respond to hateable groups of people, which we've never really understood. Which is that they get seriously obsessed with them, or with following/stalking particular people or systems in them. In a way that goes beyond "ha ha, let's all make fun of these crazy people." I've seen people publically announce their intentions to stalk specific people, to follow them and find them wherever they go. I think anyone who engages in stalking behavior completely forfeits their right to play any version of the sanity card-- stalking can't be regarded as "normal" or "healthy" by any stretch of the imagination. (And yes, we do know the technical definition of stalking. We actually found it out years ago because we were trying to figure out whether another multiple system's actions towards us qualified as stalking. And we have seen some people who were unquestionably stalking.) Even though we've seen people continue to insist "they're delusional, we're sane" after publically announcing their intention to stalk somebody.

And the way these types of people act about it is like... when they claim it was all to show how absurd this identity is, how stupid these people are, there's kind of a feel of "lady doth protest too much," to me anyway. Because we've seen some people get really wrapped up in creating detailed troll identities, and interacting with other people in various hateable communities. Like to the point where they were obviously devoting several hours a day to doing it. Like they hate the idea of this identity but at the same time are also somehow fascinated by it, to the point where they end up seeming to use their troll persona to experiment with the idea of being this thing.

And then there are people who actually do turn out to genuinely identify, on some level, with the group they're snarking. We've never been in the furry community, for instance, but have had friends who were. And saw a few people maintain double identities for long periods of time-- one identity where they snarked furries on some snark site, and one identity where they actually were in the furry community/fandom. And we actually saw people admit to doing this; this isn't just going on what we heard.

Anyway, I don't know why people do this. Sometimes we think it has to do with the fact that part of hateability, in this culture, is that many hateable groups seem to be perceived as hanging onto some form of make-believe and fantasy that "everyone else" has to give up when they "grow up." That these things supposedly can't co-exist with experiences of real oppression-- homelessness, being denied health care or housing or jobs, etc-- or that they can't even co-exist with the day-to-day "independent self-supporting lifestyle" which everyone in Western culture is expected to aspire to. (Never mind that tons of people who have no hateable identities at all, can't sustain that lifestyle for any number of reasons either.) That in order for them to co-exist, a person would have to be literally delusional. Because otherwise it's assumed that the "lure" of the "fantasy" would be so great that they would spend all day wrapped up in it or something, and that this is actually what hateable people do all day and the reason for their identities to begin with. Or something like that.

(Not that I think there is actually anything wrong with fantasy, or with adults doing it, and we've seen adults who would be perceived as "normal" by all the rest of the dominant culture's standards having various hobbies involving fantasy, and did not sacrifice their entire job because of it or anything like that. But... that isn't actually what my identity is based on.)

And that since these things are seen as unable to co-exist with any kind of "adult mentality" at all, anyone who has them is clearly living a very privileged lifestyle in which someone else completely supports them, and anyone who says they aren't must just be a liar. It's like some kind of divide by zero error in the "explanation" that a lot of people seem to have bought into for the existence of hateable groups and their identities, or something.

And, well. I don't have an Official Definitive Answer on whether all hateable groups are also oppressed (and I don't think it's contingent on me to come up with one either). I think that in many cases, whether they're oppressed is dependent on whether people with power over them perceive them as mentally ill or not (since I do think that being labeled mentally ill makes a person oppressed, no matter what they did to cause the label to be given to them in the first place). But... I do find it bizarre, on some level I can't describe, how the rationales for bashing hateable people overlap with some groups whom almost everyone in the SJ community agrees are oppressed. Being hated because you don't identify with your body, which gets thrown at trans people too. Being hated because people think you just sit at home and do nothing all day because you just don't want to work and are supported by everyone else, which gets thrown at disabled people living on government income and people on welfare and similar.

And there's a really fucked-up thing I've never understood where, when a person is considered to be actually, clinically delusional, people will waffle back and forth between saying "they can't help it" or "compassion for the mentally ill" (even if their compassion is actually pity and/or based on condescending stereotypes), and regarding it as a hateable characteristic in and of itself. I've seen it in members of our own family (whom we're not out to, and will probably never be). Pulsing just beneath the surface. This absolutely livid hate for people they claim, with their words, just can't control themselves and have an illness, but are saying something different with everything that's not words. It's like this deep undercurrent embedded in the dominant culture. And I think it is, on some level, feeding the whole hateability phenomenon. Along with the hate for the concepts of people not identifying with their bodies and people who "just sit at home and are supported by others all day" (whether they are or not-- we'd probably not be alive right now if not for the help and emotional support given to us, over the years, by people who can't work for various reasons and would be perceived as "sitting at home being supported by others all day" by this mentality.)

So it may not be oppression in the usual sense of the word. But whatever it is, it's definitely being fed by cultural attitudes and undercurrents that also feed various forms of oppression.

And the fact that the members of the Tumblr SJ community who jumped at the "new target" being offered to them, by trolls who used all the same rationales to hate trans people, didn't notice that they were also hating on trans people, also scares and disturbs me in a way I can't describe right now.

In general. Like we said in our last post. It seems to be turning in many places into a big scary clusterfuck of... a search for new targets, new people to rip down and feel like you're on a righteous crusade in doing so.

This kind of mentality doesn't deal with ambiguity well in general, when people fall into it. We noticed that the real complexities of the politics behind the DID diagnosis, over the past three decades, for instance, have been... it was like people didn't just ignore them, they didn't even seem to be aware they existed. Like the SJ community had handed them this simplistic black-and-white list of What To Defend, and somehow DID ended up on it, despite the continuing and often vicious and petty debates over the diagnosis. It also reminds us of late 90s-early 2000s survivor culture "you're in denial, believe the therapist, you must always believe the therapist about these issues" that was used to keep people whose doctors had wrongly convinced them they were plural, acting out a role that wasn't right for them. Like, there is no room for any shade of grey here. There Is Only One Way Of Being Plural And That Is DID And All These Other People Are Privileged Teenagers Appropriating DID, this is now your manual, go forth and trash everyone who does it wrong and this will somehow create justice. If this is justice now, I'm not sure if I want it.

(Can I just have a moment of bitterness here: We were studying it before the diagnosis name, in the DSM anyway, even WAS DID. Back when a lot of the trolls who are currently trashing various hateable groups because it's the cool thing to do, were children or not even born yet. If you don't know what the person you're trashing on does and doesn't know about the community you're assuming they're claiming to be in, you do not have enough information to form an informed opinion about them. Also, please read this about the "claiming to have DID" stuff: On the manipulativeness of being held to nonexistant claims.)


...Anyway. I don't know what to do right now except to keep writing the truth as I understand it and dealing with various myths, distortions, and outright lies as we encounter them.

(And if I've genuinely gotten any of this wrong, like about the timing when the trolls started to interact with the Tumblr SJ community or similar, let me know. Because if I'm going to deconstruct something I want to do an accurate deconstruction of it.)

-S.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-07-26 11:29 pm (UTC)
fascination: A crop of the cover of Florence + The Machine's 'Lungs' album (Between Two Lungs.)
From: [personal profile] fascination
Unfortunately, I've grown used to being ignored on Tumblr whenever I address any misconceptions or bad behaviour (like what happened with the 'Prince Koyangi' troll tumblr). Well, not just me, but I'm the one who usually bothers dealing with this stuff in our system; the rest of us just can't be bothered much with Tumblr SJ. I'm getting sick enough of it to not even really identify with it, heh.

The idea that you Must Be Like Everyone Else™ to be 'functional' is incredibly frustrating. It's this...one-size-fits-all definition of health, of selfhood, of identity, and it's restrictive and ignores the diversity of human ability, cognition and experience.

There's a lot that reminds me of 'survivor culture' too. We came to the plural community a bit later, but there were still vestiges of it when we came across it, like on some of those old classic multiplicity websites, and from some systems we met, both online and off. The One True Way of Plurality, the lack of empowerment, the 'therapist is always right' mentality—all of it. It's just being given a shiny Web 2.0 veneer, and it's easier to spread the ideas through a reblogging mechanism like Tumblr than it is something like static Geocities and Tripod webpages, Diaryland/Diary-X journals or private Delphi/Topica mailing lists.

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