Note: This post has been adapted from a paper and slide deck that was presented to Dr. Florence Chee’s Digital Media Ethics class at Loyola University Chicago during Fall 2018. Special thanks to Dr. Chee for the invitation and to fellow SOC student, Lê Minh Hà Millie, for being a supportive friend and documentarian.
ICYMI: Lena Dunham is still behaving badly.
Or at least that's how I felt this week, when the news broke that she lied to discredit Aurora Perrineau's disclosure. In case you missed that, or that wasn't bad enough, Dunham also managed to turn out an apology/not-apology which served to take an already bad issue and make it worse.
Perhaps this "Tis the Season Be Pissed at Dunham," but I found myself around the same last time having similar and generally irritated feelings towards her and her behavior in terms of discrediting Perrineau's disclosure.
This piece has been adapted from a "Social and Political Philosophy" course paper completed during Fall 2017. However, it sadly feels relevant a year later.
As a white, cis-gendered, able-bodied woman, I generally experience oppression in a relatively straightforward manner; I am not contending with a racial pay gap that is further compounded by an educational gap that is so ingrained in a way that takes an effort to identify. Georgy Yancy carefully points out Stephanie M. Wildman, “… Because part of racism is systemic, I benefit from privilege I am struggling to see.” Miranda Fricker and recent celebrity news have made me more aware of this privilege.
In “Epistemic Injustice,” Fricker identifies the imbalance of identity power through testimonial injustice. “The basic idea is that a speaker suffers a testimonial injustice just if prejudice on the hearer’s part causes him to give the speaker less credibility than he would otherwise have given”(Fricker 4). Fricker acknowledges that prejudice can take on different forms and that testimonial injustice is not limited to one phenomenon(Fricker 4). However, it is my position that Fricker oversimplifies testimonial injustice and neglects amplified disbelief through excluding those who experience overlapping identity-prejudicial credibility deficits(Fricker 28).
When we unpack “Epistemic Injustice,” the examples are one dimensional. We see Tom discredited because he is black (Fricker 23) and Marge Sherwood because she is a woman. (Fricker 9) While she does briefly discuss systemic testimonial injustice that is interconnected by a common prejudice (Fricker 27), this still fails to address, “What if they don’t believe you because you are black AND a woman?”
Mainstream feminism tends to focus on oppression that stems from gender. This view fails to recognize the complexity accounted for in intersectional feminism. For many black feminist and womanist writers, “black” and “woman” are not identities that can be separated and yet each carries their own unique opportunities to be discredited.
The long and well-known history of Weinstein’s behavior exemplifies a culture that is reluctant to recognize the rampant manner in which sexual assault occurs and survivors are discredited for disclosure. RAINN estimates that only 20% of female students and 32% of female non-students report their assault. To me, this indicates that women are aware that they will experience a credibility deficit.
Survivors of color appear to be even more aware of the ramifications of being both “woman” and “other.” Before being co-opted and given credibility by a white celebrity, Tarana Burke’s “Me Too” provided support to those who were typically excluded from conversations about sexual violence, and provided a means to counter-act credibility deficits through providing a support system.
With Lena Dunham’s latest feminist faux-pas, we see yet another example of WOC being excluded from these conversations and further discredited. While Lena has been quick to point out that women lie about their lunch but not about being raped, this only applies if you are not a WOC accusing her friend. I feel that Lena exacerbated Aurora’s already existing credibility deficit with a statement that was not a result of an innocent error. While Lena may have had a false belief as to the credibility of Aurora’s statement, in order for it to be ‘innocent error,’ cannot result from “immoral hatefulness or from epistemic carelessness’ (Fricke 21).
Former Lenny Letter contributor, Zinzi Clemmons, exposed Lena’slong-standing “Hipster Racism” and paints her as wealthy, entitled and running in a group who freely used racial slurs under the pretext of jokes and sarcasm(Twitter.) Lena’s attack on Odell Beckham Jr. at the 2016 Met Gala further supports her underlying racism though attempting to use her own insecurities to explain away the accusation that Beckham Jr. ignored her because she wasn’t attractive enough to bed.
Lena’s implication plays into hyper-sexuality as a common theme in African-American stereotyping. Black men have historically been depicted as “wildly lustful” with such little control that they can’t refrain from rampantly assaulting and raping white women. This storyline has been a long-standing justification for racial violence, both in courtrooms and on street corners across the country. Similarly, George Yancy points out in “Dear White America” that ‘the way in which they [black women] are objectified is linked to how they are racially depicted, some as ‘exotic’ and others as ‘hypersexual.’” WOC are simultaneously fetishized, shamed and yet expected to be grateful for the attention.
Through publically discrediting Aurora, Lena plays into these stereotypes of black sexuality and invalidates Aurora’s disclosure. She is not only disbelieved for being a woman, in part to the belief that women false report after waking up with remorse, but that her black, hypersexuality put her in the position to have something to be remorseful for.
This public discrediting has more significant consequences than lost Twitter followers. This broadcasted testimonial injustice sends a message to other survivors of color that their reluctance to disclose and report is warranted. It validates their worst fears that they will be disbelieved and worst of all, shamed. Secondly, it reinforces the idea that women are likely to false report and is more common than it actually is. Lastly, it enforces the belief that abusers can revictimize survivors and avoid responsibility through playing up credibility deficits.
In order to continue to raise awareness to bring about systemic change, it is paramount that we come together in support of those who make a choice to disclose. This requires a recognition that different identities will experience unique and at times, overlapping prejudicial credibility deficits. To be better advocates for one another and systemic change, we must ensure that we are supporting all stories and being cognizant that some stories are in exceptional need of support, as they are more likely to be frequently and vehemently dismantled through stereotypes on a societal level. If we are going to believe all voices, then it must be ALL voices.
Clemmons, Zinzi. “My Statement on Why I Will no longer Write for @Lennyletter, and the Behavior I Witnessed Firsthand from@Lenadunham's Friends. It Is Time... ” Twitter,Twitter, 19 Nov. 2017.
In late 2017, YouTube began to roll out a series of changes that impacted its platform, creators, “partners” and viewers. Many of these changes were in response to criticisms that the platform was failing to police fringe content, particularly videos that fell into their more mature category. Both demonetization and view suppression have led to not only high stakes but high emotions. Some disgruntled YouTubers found productive ways to combat these factors while others engaged in more nefarious behaviors.
One of the greatest points of contention was that YouTube has continued to up the ante and revise requirements for their partners enrolled in the YouTube Partner Program. Changes have consistently included a rising threshold for monetization, manual content reviews and improved control of ad placement. After the January 2018 roll-out, it required that anyone who wants to profit from ads needs to generate 4,000 hours of “watch time” within a 12-month period and attract at least 1,000 subscribers(Swisher). These changes hit the smaller video makers much harder than those who were more established, with many of referring to the program revision as “demonetization” and even calling the day of the roll-out “Demonetization Day”, complete with trending hashtag.
YouTube further added to the complexity by applying these rules retroactively. While existing YouTube Partners were given a 30-day grace period to get their viewing hours and subscribers up to par, many were kicked out and lost their enrollment in the revenue-sharing program when they fell short. Creators like Christine Barger and others part of the #SmallYouTuberArmy, took to their channels and other social media platforms, begging their fans to not only to help them gain subscribers but to also run their videos in the background, to help increase those hours of watch time. For many, it wasn’t the fear of losing out just on future ad revenue, but it was the fear of not being able to finish slowly crawling to their next $100 minimum withdrawal marker. In short, they were afraid that the money that they had slowly and painstakingly worked towards would also evaporate if kicked out of the program. I have been unable to confirm if this was the case. Perhaps no news means good news? (Alexander Lesser Known)
The new rules, while positioned in response to censoring offensive content, didn’t’ actually make it more difficult to upload these sorts of videos, it just made it more difficult to turn a profit off it. This is an interesting revision to the policy considering that in April of 2017, again in response to negative feedback about content in poor taste, YouTube implemented a requirement of 10,000-lifetime views in order to participate in a monetization program. This attempt to police YouTube content and ensure appropriateness did little so stop YouTube heavy hitters, like Logan Paul, from posting the now infamous suicide forest video. For many YouTubers, they interpret the 2018 revisions as a response to this incident, especially after YouTube faced harsh criticism regarding this incident, which resulted in their public revocation of this Partner status and suspension of his YouTube Red projects (Alexander YouTube).
Even before the revisions to the partnership program, YouTube began to crack down on platform monetization in different ways. While YouTube shooter, Nasim Najafi Aghdam, was the loudest person to talk about view suppression, she was not the first. YouTube’s position, that in Ms. Aghdam’s case, her channel was suppressed and terminated due to Terms of Service violations, others with less controversial content have experienced this as well (Fortune).
A large number of struggling YouTubers turned to Patreon to generate more income and combat view suppression, well before the YouTube Shooter accused the platform of these practices. For many of them, they posted their Patreon link in the comments of their YouTube channel to drive traffic from their current fan base to the new platform. In September of 2017, YouTube went on to announce that creators who weren’t enrolled in the partnership program would no longer be able to link to external sites, like Patreon, in their videos (Kulp) For many, this was just one of the factors responsible for platform exodus.
Simone Giertz of “Shitty Robot Nation” sums up her Patreon channel, tone of her content and problems that led her to change platforms entirely in her intro, “ I build shitty robots and hang out on the internet for a living and have gotten into a lot of trouble because I say the S-word, the F-word, the D-word, the P-word, the W-word, the K-word, the B-word and let’s not forget the T-word. Ok, now I’m just writing random letters. K-word? Ketchup? Knickers? We’ve got a bad one over here.” (Giertz)
All silliness aside, Simone points out some similar problems that other Patreon creatives are having—overarching censorship. Giertz laments on a recent video that she lost sponsorship on her YouTube channel because of not censoring her speech or opinions. (Which really aren’t that out there, she literally got dropped for making an analogy in which she compared advertising to a dog who poops on your bathroom floor and not the carpet… I didn’t really understand the recap on that. I guess you will have to find out yourself. (Giertz) Shitty Robot Nation seems to not be doing so shitty actually—at time of writing, she already made her $1000 monthly goal, on May 1st.
Phillip DeFranco became an “independent creator again” when he created an offshoot of his popular YouTube channel on Patreon under the name “DeFranco Elite.” The demonetization of YouTube was a factor in his relocation. However, DeFranco stated that he wanted to “make sure no corporate interest can manipulate and control how the news is presented.” He also expressed that by changing platforms, it allowed him to move his craft towards being a more collaborative effort with his audience. DeFranco appears to make good on this promise by holding monthly “Town Halls” where Patrons can collectively collaborate with him to change the direction of the content.
After reading many articles and looking at a ton of Patreon accounts, specifically those of YouTubers who changed teams, I came to almost no conclusions about what created a successful Patreon or monetized platform aside from consistent use of tangible rewards and passion. However, as famous YouTuber, PewDiePie pointed out “there’s an expectation that if you work hard enough, you can make it, but it’s not true.” I found a large number of equally passionate creators with equally impressive reward incentives who were not making their entire living off of monetization. For some, they lacked the tenure of some of the heavy hitters. But for others, it was simply a matter of, while their content was well done, it was too niche to amass a following that could be profitable.
I initially went into researching this paper hoping to find a sort of Map to Monetization El Dorado. Needless to say, I didn’t find one. What I did learn though, is that there are a lot of passionate creators out there who are willing to connect and collaborate with their audience while sharing their work. Many harness these platforms as a way to grow their art. For many of them, while platform monetization isn’t the way to internet fame and riches or is even lucrative enough to necessarily cover their projects or supplies, it is a way for them to find new and unique ways to connect with true fans and recruit new potential true fans. So, for me, as a maker and creator who also doesn’t make a lot of money off of what I do but find passion in sharing it with others is, “Aren’t Patreon and YouTube other platforms to just keep doing what I’ve been doing all along—sharing my passion for the sake of sharing what I love to do?”
Alexander, Julia. “Lesser-Known YouTubers Band Together on ‘Demonetization Day’.” Polygon, Polygon, 20 Feb. 2018.
Alexander, Julia. “YouTube Introduces New Criteria for Creator Monetization, Google Preferred Structure.” Polygon.
DeFranco, Phillip. “Philip DeFranco Is Creating a News and Entertainment Network.” Patreon.
Giertz, Simone. “Simone Giertz Is Creating Shitty Robots.” Patreon.
Kulp, Patrick. “Bad News for YouTube Creators Who Depend on Patreon.” Mashable, Mashable, 29 Sept. 2017.
“Police Have Identified the YouTube Shooter as a Video Creator Who Railed Against the Site for Suppressing Her Views.” Fortune.
Swisher, Kara. “Here’s YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki Talking about Controversial Monetization Changes on the Platform.” Recode, Recode, 4 Apr. 2018.
Loyola Advocacy Services
- Phone: 773-494-3810
- Hours: M-F 8am-4:30 pm | Weekends 24 hours *Hours may vary when school is not in session
DePaul University Survivor Support Advocates
- Phone: 773-325-7129
- Drop- Ins: Located in Lincoln Park Student Center Rm 307. Availability may vary.
UIC CAN: Campus Advocacy Network
- Phone: 312-413-8206
- Hours: M-F 9 am- 5 pm
- Email Scheduling: email@example.com
University of Chicago Student Counseling Services
- Phone: 773-702-9800
- Please ask to speak with a "Confidential Advisor"
Roosevelt University Counseling Center
- Phone: 312-341-3548
NEIU Student Advocacy Program
- Phone: 773-442-4600
- Hours: M-F 8:30 am- 4:30 pm
Columbia College Chicago Counseling Services
- Phone: 312-369-8700
- This number is specifically to schedule an appointment
This morning, I went to pull together a list of resources for survivors of sexual and domestic assault to accompany another blog.
Reflecting on the educational diversity of my social circle, "What happens if one of my friends, who doesn't go to Loyola, needs an on-campus resource? I don't want to have to dig through a school's website during a crisis. Surely, someone has compiled a list of resources for students at various Chicago universities in one place!"
With that, I embarked on my mission of locating resources for survivors on the owned-websites of 10 Chicagoland universities. As I went through each website, I found that some schools were quite direct and concise with their presentation. Other schools had either limited or buried information.
Once I had finished reviewing websites, I wanted to present it in a way that was easy to review, carry and share.
RAINN offers a variety of free-print materials that range from posters to handouts, including a customizable campus resource card. Utilizing this free download, I tweaked their double-sided resource to include the publicly accessible advocacy information.
Please feel free to share, tack them to your fridge, your friend's fridge.
Note: If there has been a recent update to this information that was not reflected on a particular university's page at the time of creation, please don't hesitate to contact me to update!
Admittedly, I have spent more time looking at the history and nuances of rural Canadian grain trade in the Prairie Provinces than the American Midwest.
This photo collection, at this juncture, has no research and is purely driven by aesthetics. My immediate observation when determining photo subjects was to document grain and flour elevators in the United States that are built in a similar architectural style to the Prairie Sentinel-style elevators that have become an iconic symbol of the Canadian Prairie.
Camera: Olympus Epic Stylus 35mm f/2.8 lens
Film: Expired Kodak Gold 200 (35MM)
Today I attended both the 8th Annual International Symposium on Digital Ethics and Panel 1 at the Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science at Loyola University Chicago’s Water Tower Campus.
To be honest, there’s a lot to unpack right now.
1. DIGETHICS 8: Invited Speaker Susan Fowler
I don’t even know where to begin unpacking this presentation. Honestly, I am waiting for the School of Communication to post the recording of the conference in order to go back and specifically review Susan’s presentation. As an individual who has begun to find outlets of expression for my own #metoo narrative while examining the ethical methodology behind this disclosure, it was wonderful to hear the methodology behind another individual’s decision to disclose. As I currently have another blog post in the works discussing an ethical framework that I utilized for my own disclosure, it is highly likely that I will circle back to Susan’s presentation after I have had time review her presentation again.
2. DIGETHICS 8: Powerlessness and Personalization: The Limits of the Privacy Argument Robin D. Burke (DePaul University), and Victoria I. Burke (Ryerson University)
During the question and answer session, Dr. Victoria Burke, briefly covered four concepts of privacy that need to be considered when looking at the limits of privacy. This was interesting as I have always viewed privacy as an umbrella that could be applied to different areas of human interaction but never siloed into independent themes as “right to a room of one’s own” but to see that narrowed down into “informational privacy” and “volitional privacy.”
3. DHCS 18: Circulation Modeling of Library Book Promotions Robin Burke (DePaul University) & The Geography of Circulation and Sentiment: Mapping ‘One Book, One Chicago.’ John Shanahan, Ana Lucie, and Nandhini Gulasingam (DePaul University)
During this presentation, I had a ‘Eureka’ moment; collaboration can leverage research talent from other disciplines that don’t frequently overlap and allow for projects to reach new heights. This seems obvious but to see it in action– whoa!
4. DHCS 18: The Sanctity of Stories: Haitian Churches and Oral Histories in Chicago Courtney Pierre Joseph (Lake Forest College)
Dr. Joseph was incredibly passionate about this research and was an incredibly dynamic speaker. I felt that it was beneficial to observe a presentation style that reflected the drive and passion of the project.
“So how do you organize the digital resources when conducting research and do your citations?”
Cue: the awkward scene in which girl shows multiple Chrome browser windows on a laptop, each so maxed out with tabs that only the icon is visible. Full disclosure, my iPhone had over 400 open tabs as well.
In 2016, the Northern Policy Institute partnered with the Northern Ontario Workforce Planning Board to release their report; Northern Projections: Human Capital Series.
This report highlights the contrasts between urban and rural populations in the Thunder Bay District and serves to provide data that supports what one can see while driving through this part of northwestern Ontario along MOM’s Way.
MOM’s Way is an acronym for Manitoba, Ontario, and Minnesota and includes portions of Manitoba Highway 12, Minnesota State Highway 313, Minnesota State Highway 11, Minnesota State Highway 72 and Ontario Highway 11.
As Northern Projections reports, Thunder Bay district’s population declined by 3 percent between 2001 and 2011. While the overall population of the district declined, the urban population increased whereas the rural population declined. This urban migration has impacted rural schools in the Thunder Bay district as enrollment has declined.
In several instances, in the western portion of the Thunder Bay district, schools have closed and those populations have been consolidated with nearby schools. In 2005, a report completed by an independent auditor for the Ministry of Education identified a number of schools that have experienced a decline in enrolment and would subsequently close with those students being consolidated into “neighboring districts.” For some of these communities, such as Finmark, Shabaqua, Kaministiquia and Shebandowan, the closure of the Four Way School in Sunshine increased the commute time for students by 20 minutes or more in most cases to the Kakabeka Falls School.
During my time in rural areas of Northwestern Ontario, I noticed a number of practical and creative bus shelters. For this photo project, I documented bus shelters in the western portion of the unorganized Thunder Bay District. These shelters are predominately used during the winter months, where the average January high/low temperature is about -8/-21C (18/-5F). However, I was always particularly fond of the color contrast with these structures and the landscape during the summer months, when not in use. These photos were taken in the communities of Sunshine, Conmee, Sistonens Corners, Jelly, Kaministiquia, Finmark and Oliver Paipoonge along a stretch of MOM’s Way.
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel SL1 Digital SLR
Lens: Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM
BUREAU, CARL CLUTCHEY, NORTH SHORE. “8 out of 11 Northern Ontario Districts Have Experienced a Population Decline.” The Chronicle-Journal. Accessed November 9, 2018. http://www.chroniclejournal.com/news/local/out-of-northern-ontario-districts-have-experienced-a-population-decline/article_9cb6b16a-cc48-11e8-b0da-eba0f947cb92.html.
Cooke, David. “Independent Facilitator Report - Review of the Lakehead DSB School Closure Decisions,” n.d., 9.
“MOM’s Way.” Wikipedia, March 10, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=MOM%27s_Way&oldid=829773539.
“Northern Policy Institute - Two solitudes in Thunder Bay District? Urban or extremely rural.” Accessed November 9, 2018 .https://www.northernpolicy.ca/upload/documents/news-releases/en-press-release-thunder-bay-district-09.pdf.
Press, Nicole Thompson The Canadian. “Rural School Closures Hit Some Communities Hard, Main Parties Pledge Action.” The Chronicle-Journal. Accessed October 31, 2018. http://www.chroniclejournal.com/news/national/rural-school-closures-hit-some-communities-hard-main-parties-pledge/article_132a0898-3426-5601-b928-1b842ff7496b.html.
“Student Transportation Services of Thunder Bay :: School Zones.” Student Transportation Services of Thunder Bay. Accessed October 31, 2018. https://www.ststb.ca/en/schools/school-zones.
“I think part of the problem is the internet. I know that sounds like a typical thing for your tired, old mother to say. I’m not scapegoating technology. I think that your generation has a tough time establishing relationships because of all those app-thingys. Too many options–You can manipulate the world to suit your desires in a way that I never was. You can alter things to meet your exact preferences. There is less struggle, less hard work, less excitement from the “luck of the draw.” The world’s potential is too easily accessible. It leads to endless searching in a way that prevents forging of genuine human connection. This is a blessing, a lesson, a catalyst. Not a curse. It’s the universe showing you that you have more to do for you, to be you.”
During the summer of 2017, I moved from Duluth, Minnesota to Evanston, Illinois to attend university. It was a difficult move and I had a hard time reconciling that I would be leaving “Canada Lite” and trading Lake Superior “grains and trains” for EL cars.