Unwilling Avatars, by Mary Anne Franks

Gathered together in one place, for easy access, an agglomeration of writings and images relevant to the Rapeutation phenomenon.

Re: Unwilling Avatars, by Mary Anne Franks

Postby admin » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:25 pm

Unwilling Avatars, by Mary Anne Frank wrote:Nicole Catsouras was eighteen years old when she died in a horrific car accident. On October 31, 2006, she and her father had an argument, and he confiscated the car keys as punishment. Later that day, Nicole snuck out, taking the car keys with her. Fifteen minutes later, she crashed into a freeway tollbooth at a speed of over 100 miles per hour. The collision mangled her body, nearly decapitating her. The police photographs of the accident were leaked and published online. The gruesome images began to appear in chat rooms and fetish websites where users would discuss, among other things, how Nicole “deserved” what happened. A MySpace user posted the pictures along with sexualized commentary about Nicole; another created a fake profile of Nicole that included a close-up of her remains. [FN69] Someone posted the Catsouras' home address and encouraged others to harass the family. Nicole's parents received numerous pseudonymous emails and text messages that included the photos, along with vicious captions. They attempted to convince web site owners to take down the pictures, but met with little success: “We've asked them to please take down the pictures, and they've said, ‘No, I don't have to because I've got my First *243 Amendment rights',” says Nicole's mother, Lesli Catsouras. [FN70] Nicole's family uploaded a memorial video of Nicole on YouTube, hoping that it would help show that they “are a family with real hearts, and it hurts what people are doing.” [FN71] A number of vicious and sexist pseudonymous comments were posted on YouTube in response, including the following: “she got what she deserved ... you wanted equality, fine, fuck that stupid cunt ... hahahaha, she got what she deserved ....” [FN72]
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Re: Unwilling Avatars, by Mary Anne Franks

Postby admin » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:38 pm

Unwilling Avatars, by Mary Anne Franks wrote:Locke's notion of liberty, like that of many others, is tied to equality and independence and is not to be understood as something that can be used to harm others.

As mentioned above, Locke explicitly distinguishes between the state of liberty and what he called the “state of license.”

But though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of licence: though man in that state have an uncontrollable liberty to dispose of his person or possessions .... The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions. [FN84]


Where cyber harassment persists unchecked, women are not treated as equal members of society. Harassers use their freedom to deny freedom to the women they attack, an exercise not of liberty, but license.
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Re: Unwilling Avatars, by Mary Anne Franks

Postby admin » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:39 pm

Unwilling Avatars, by Mary Anne Franks wrote:Locke writes that when mankind finds itself unable to preserve the state of nature, it necessarily must establish the rule of law. [FN86] If individuals abuse their liberty by exercising power in arbitrary and self-interested ways that threaten the security of the whole community, the community will slide into a state of war. [FN87] In a state of war, anyone at any time might be deprived of his or her liberty and possessions. [FN88] To avoid this outcome, the community collectively establishes a central authority and rules to regulate disputes. This necessarily involves giving up some of what Locke considers to be “natural rights” (e.g., the right to personally punish someone who has wronged you). [FN89] But it also results in liberty for more people and security for most of one's other rights. [FN90] Security for the general public -- not just for the strongest or most aggressive -- is the basis for the forfeiture of some individual power. Put another way, rules ensure a measure of equality for all. [FN91]

The same can be said of regulations of speech on the internet. New legal regulations regarding behavior in cyberspace might indeed mean, in some sense, that some individuals will no longer have the same degree of “liberty” they had previously. It would mean, for example, that cyber harassers could no longer attack women with impunity. But the freedom to harass is an exercise of license, not liberty, and as such is hardly defensible in the first instance. The effects of such license, moreover, are *249 that women as a group suffer a loss of liberty relative to men as a group. Regulation and reform are necessary to balance the equation and create a cyberspace that maximizes liberty for all groups.
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Re: Unwilling Avatars, by Mary Anne Franks

Postby admin » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:39 pm

Unwilling Avatars, by Mary Anne Franks wrote:The cyber harassment highlighted in this Article is a form of social tyranny. To argue that women who are targeted by such harassment should simply not participate in cyberspace communities, as many anti-regulation advocates argue, both tacitly endorses the deprivation of their liberty to participate in any communities that they wish to, and ignores the extent to which individuals increasingly cannot simply ignore or exit the harassment they experience. Such harassment follows them into their physical lives, indeed into the “details of their life.”
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Re: Unwilling Avatars, by Mary Anne Franks

Postby admin » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:40 pm

Unwilling Avatars, by Mary Anne Franks wrote:A marketplace in which some are threatened, defamed, or harassed by others, where some groups are granted or denied access to the marketplace on that basis, is not a free and open marketplace. Nor is the principle of free speech upheld when some groups are judged not by the value of their speech but by the terms of their unwilling embodiment and objectification.
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Re: Unwilling Avatars, by Mary Anne Franks

Postby admin » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:41 pm

Unwilling Avatars, by Mary Anne Franks wrote:The forced avatarization of women in cyberspace is a grotesque parody of self-creation, with effects often more widespread and lasting than objectification in the physical world. Far from being the site of radical gender deconstruction, or a realm of sophisticated reflection on gender roles, or a world offering freedom from the forced objectification of women's bodies, cyberspace has become a place (or rather, places) that works in tandem with and reinforces women's unwilling embodiment.
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Re: Unwilling Avatars, by Mary Anne Franks

Postby admin » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:41 pm

Unwilling Avatars, by Mary Anne Frank wrote:A final point to note is that the effects of unwilling online embodiment are potentially even more pernicious and long-lasting than real-life harassment. This is due to four features of cyberspace that exacerbate the impact of harassment:

1. Anonymity: The increased opportunity for harassers to attack their targets *256 anonymously, making it difficult if not impossible for the targets to engage in self-help or legal remedies;

2. Amplification: The capacity for harassers to quickly find a wide audience for their harassment, including users who will join in the harassment;

3. Permanence: Online attacks, which often include personal information about their targets, such as home addresses and telephone numbers, are very difficult to erase from the web;

4. Virtual Captivity/Publicity: The options to avoid or exit situations in which cyber harassment occurs are extremely limited. Whereas specific acts of real-life harassment are often restricted to one place (for example, being harassed on the street does not necessarily impact one's experience in the workplace), [FN110] the effects of cyberspace harassment can manifest much more readily. Particularly if the online attack is indexable by a major search engine like Google, it is accessible to almost anyone (the target's co-workers, fellow students, clients, children) almost anywhere (at her place of work, her school, her home, her doctor's office).
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Re: Unwilling Avatars, by Mary Anne Franks

Postby admin » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:42 pm

Unwilling Avatars, by Mary Anne Frank wrote:Some scholars argue that we already have adequate legal remedies for cyberspace harassment, namely, laws against defamation, threats, and invasions of privacy. There are three reasons that these remedies are insufficient. [FN115] First among these *259 reasons, as many scholars and practitioners have pointed out, [FN116] is an enforceability issue: user anonymity combined with the content provider immunity provided for by CDA § 230 means that often no one can be held responsible for a given act of harassment.

Secondly, and more importantly for the purposes of this Article, there is a class of abusive online behavior that does not fall into or is not best captured by the categories of defamation, threats, or invasions of privacy. Violent sexual commentary suggesting [what] “should be done” to certain women or graphically sexual statements about a woman's physical appearance do not necessarily fall under any of the three categories. Thus, legal approaches that focus on reputation and privacy will not be able to address some of the most serious forms of cyber harassment. [FN117] Moreover, even harms that can be categorized this way may actually be made worse by legal remedies based on reputation and privacy interests. If one of the significant harms of harassment is unwanted subjection to public scrutiny, litigation over defamation and invasions of privacy are almost certain to exacerbate this harm. Defamation is particularly problematic in this respect. Because truth is a defense to defamation, harassers being sued for defamation may attempt to defend themselves by searching for and publishing “proof” of their claims. While doing so may expose these harassers to liability for invasions of privacy, they may be able to inflict severe and irreparable harm in the process.
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Re: Unwilling Avatars, by Mary Anne Franks

Postby admin » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:43 pm

Unwilling Avatars, by Mary Anne Franks wrote:The potential for cyberspace to deliver on its idealistic promise is contingent upon the recognition of and response to the discriminatory harms currently being perpetrated in it. Without thoughtful and realistic assessment of these harms, we risk allowing cyberspace to become yet another site of discrimination and social stratification -- merely one more familiar, and broken, world.
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